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Guiding Principles of Worship Programming

Guiding Principles of Worship Programming

Written by Corb H. Felgenhour on Monday, 11 August 2014. Posted in Worship Philosophy Statements


Some Guiding Principles for Worship Services

1) Gospel-oriented and Scripture-centered– Gospel is preached, taught, nuanced, and reinforced constantly because of the public reading and singing of the scriptures throughout every service. By underscoring the Gospel, this will naturally reinforce the theme or message preached because of the inherent Gospel woven throughout all of Scripture. The Word of God should be preached and proclaimed throughout every service. The gospel unifies us as a church.

This does not mean that all services must bend or force scripture studies to fit an overt gospel theme. Preaching the scriptures exegetically will reveal the Gospel inherently to the glory of God, enjoying Him forever. I Tim. 4:13

2) God-honoring and God-exalting- all worship is for the glory of God alone. Every aspect and element within a church service should be programmed to exalt the Godhead for His glory.

It does not mean that the worship should be only done one way or another; it may have a somber, reverent tone at times and a joyful zeal at others. It does not mean that people should not enjoy what they participate in during the worship service.

3) Engages mind, body and spirit of the saints – we should worship by engaging our emotions with our intellect covered in God’s Word. We are free to respond to God. Worship is reciprocal. It prompts us to ascribe worth to His name. We are worshipping God and He edifies and matures His saints. His Holy Spirit guides and teaches us. By worshipping God in “spirit and truth” will sometimes motivate us to physically respond (ex. kneel, clap, raise our hands, etc.). These types of biblical responses are encouraged.

This does not mean that we worship Him to get something out of it. God is the purpose of our worship and the end result is He is glorified and we will be blessed as a side benefit. This also does not mean that the church service is to only be a mental exercise. This also does not mean that an individual should respond to God in a distracting way
drawing attention to himself but should physically respond submitting to the saints around him.
Hebrews 5:11-14, I Cor. 14:14-15, 1.Ps. 95:6; 3:3; 123:1, Hab. 3:2; Ps. 4:4, Ps. 121, Phil. 2:10; Ps. 95:6, Ps. 141:2; 143:5-6, Rev. 4:10; Ps. 95:6, Ps. 149:3; 150:4, Ex. 15:20, Ps. 98:8; 47:1, Is. 55:12

4) Thematic - we want all of our service elements to tie together and support the sermon of the day. Clarity is the rule. Sometimes this can be executed in a simple way and sometimes it can be done in a complex way. But the “packaging” of any theme should always be done with clarity. All service elements are either thematically synchronized or unified around the sermon theme.

It does not mean that a theme drives the decision over choosing a message or sermon series. Programming is always geared towards the glory of God, enjoying Him forever.

5) Multigenerational - worship styles and service elements should reflect the four generations represented in the church body. Musical variety expresses God’s heart for all people groups. All aspects of service should be representative of the Christian values,
culture, and generations involved in the service to the glory of God, enjoying Him forever.

This does not mean that we do demographic or token programming to appease a certain group versus another or be motivated by sentimentalism invoking an emotional response.

6) Value in utilizing multiple musical forms – Because we are multi-generational and thematic, the songs chosen will be taken from various biblical musical forms including hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs. Musical style should not become a stumbling block
in our worship but it is important to pull from the valuable songs of the present day as well as songs written hundreds of years ago so the present church can be edified by the saints of old and understand the historicity from which we come as well as sing new songs to the Lord expressing even greater clarity of our beliefs due to the wealth of
writers and theological thinkers that have gone before us. We submit to our brothers and sisters in Christ and appreciate the music that ministers to them to the glory of God, enjoying Him forever. Col. 3, Eph. 5

This does not mean that the music supplants the Word. It also does not mean that we place musical form above lyrical content.

7) Creative – Both inside and out, we are all fellow image bearers of the creative God of the universe. Within the constructs of His design, we emulate God by trying to do the same as He: to create. Our church services should reflect that reality. We should model God’s creativity and be good stewards of the giftings and talents available and represented within our church body. This encourages service opportunities and underscores the value we place on the corporate gathering of the saints.

This does not mean that our creativity should cloud or drive the message nor does it mean we are mandated to “push the envelope” artistically. Our creativity should not distract the onlooker from the worship of God and become the focus of attention. All should be done to point us to the glory of God, enjoying Him forever.

8) Spirit-led planning and spontaneity – All aspects of executing our church services should be Spirit-led. The Holy Spirit works through our planning and spontaneous action; we are prompted by His guidance. We should be well prepared yet open to Him at all times to do what His Spirit directs us to do as long as it does not contradict His Word. All aspects in the service should be done in an orderly way.
This does not mean we plan so much that we are entrenched in our agenda and quench the Spirit. It also does not mean we shouldn’t plan at all and shoot from the hip “trusting the Lord” to simply let the Spirit lead. I Cor. 14:36-40

9) Undistracting excellence –All aspects should be performed well, selected in good taste, and done to the best of our skill level. All public up-front ministry should be done for the applause of God alone. All platform ministry should be performed for the glory of God, enjoying Him forever.

This does not mean that excellence drives what we do or should trump the spiritual integrity or shepherding of those involved in the ministry. It also does not mean that we are driven by the performance to receive the applause of men.

10) Efficacious in outreach – The service should be efficacious to the non-believer. Because of the Gospel laced throughout any given service it is not only for the saints but zealously evangelical in its content. A non-believer observing the service will know that he is missing something that he wants. Preaching Christ crucified will be compelling.

This does not mean that every Sunday is an outreach service driven to be overly sensitive to a non-believer. I Cor. 14:16-17

11) Measurable – Since various perceptions and opinions can rise up within a group of diverse people, it is important that we establish ways to quantify certain aspects of our services so truth about opinionated and sometimes volatile subjects can be properly evaluated. Making objectivity out of subjective material will aid us to understand the true
reality of what we observe. And this will encourage us to submit our opinions to proper reality even when our perceptions don’t match what is actually happening. We should always be open to evaluation by observers and consider their point of view.

This does not mean that we quench the Spirit by being driven by the “measureables” or certain people’s observations. We should always program according to the Spirit’s leading and then measure it to see what He did through us and make any necessary adjustments because of our own inadequacies.


About the Author

Corb H. Felgenhour

Corb H. Felgenhour

Corb is currently one of two worship pastors at South Church in Lansing, MI.  He has been in music and worship ministry for over 18 years.  10 of those years he has served as a pastor of worship and/or worship leader in the local church.  He studied music composition, conducting, and voice at Eastern Illinois University and University of Southern California receiving his bachelors and Masters in Music Composition respectively.  Corb has his ministerial credential with the Evangelical Free Church of America.  Corb is married to his wife, Carol and has three children, Ari, Kiran, and Asher.

for more information on Corb, click here.

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