Details and Problems in Service Planning

Planning and running a worship service is hard – at least for me. I love doing it and enjoy the challenge of it, but the truth is that it’s difficult. I’ve found lately that one of the things I’ve been challenged with is how I deal with details and problems.

I care deeply for the details of a service. Lighting, transitions, what goes on the screen, making sure people can be heard – all of those things contribute to effectively communicating, which I think is at the apex of any kind of large gathering. We’re trying to communicate with each other and with God. I don’t think God really cares about those things, but I think that we as people either can be distracted by them or engaged by them, and when we’re engaged I think communication is much easier. So I try to make those things work – plan meaningful experiences during a service where people can hear and see the truths of God and respond appropriately.

What happens when something goes wrong? A projector doesn’t work, the lighting cue is off, a mic isn’t turned on… the list is endless. I’m trying to learn a few things and have them resound in me more and more as I deal with the good and bad of service details and problems:

1. It’s not the end of the world. Getting frustrated doesn’t help at the moment – deal with the problem the best way you can and move on. Have faith in God that He will speak in spite of us and our programs. One of the dangers of understanding the details so deeply is that I often thing that the service depends on them. It doesn’t. Sure, they can help things when they go right, but if you’ve prepared well and things still go wrong, God will still work.

2. Evaluate the problem after everything is over. Before evaluating, be thankful for the good that happened. After rejoicing in the good (which there is always more of than the bad), sit down with the right people and see how you can avoid the problems for next time. Prepare better, get someone to help out in an area instead of doing it all yourself and laugh about your mistakes.

I had an experience like this last week. I felt like everything was going wrong in the service, and I let it get to me. I broke two strings, my guitar was horribly out of tune (as was the one that someone graciously handed me after breaking my first string), Mediashout (which we use to project words on the screen) crashed completely once and did some other funny things a few other times, I forgot to set up audio and a VGA at the front of the room for the guest speaker and the service went longer than it should have. Truth is, it was a great service. People saw God and were challenged to respond. We had lots of people, people sang well. Do the details like that matter? Yep – we probably would have had a “better” service if I hadn’t broken strings or had set up things earlier. Did most people know all the things that went wrong? No – there were probably 3 or 4 of us who panicked and everyone else was somewhat clueless. That is what I have to keep in perspective – just because there are problems and I need to deal with them doesn’t mean that everything is going down – I need to remain positive and cheerful in everything that I do! (and always bring a backup guitar… always)

This is something I need to continue to work on. I’d encourage other worship leaders or service producers (or those of us who do both) to continue to value the small details and improve them – but to remember that God is still in charge and can speak through any amount of problems. Remember why we do what we do and keep the big picture as the big picture.

Okay, I’m off to redo my order of services so I can better keep track of these details…