Recently, as our team is hard at work, planning & preparing for Hillsong Conference in a few weeks time, I realised how easy it is to get caught up in the runsheet and details of a worship service. We sometimes emphasise the planned order running on time. Between co-ordinating song lists, microphone allocations, lighting cues and scriptures on screen (which can all help to point people to Jesus, by the way!), we can forget to lift our heads and look around at the service.
We must keep Jesus as the main priority to see what God wants to do and follow His direction.
I’ve been involved in co-ordinating the creative elements of our services for many years, and I’ve learned that there’s a big difference between reading a service and reading a run sheet.
Here are some tips I’ve learnt along the way:
1. The run sheet is there to serve you — not the other way around!
We’re there to serve people and the service, not to serve the run sheet and to be bound by it! Let us remember the run sheet is a guideline, not the law.
2. Follow your pastor & follow the service
Keep a balance between focusing on your run sheet and assessing the service. You will then discern the shifts in the service, and you won’t miss your chance to go with it!
There are so many examples we could use, but I have particulary noticed this in services when the MC or campus pastor has felt to come up during the worship set (not in runsheet) to encourage the congregation to lean in or to pray about something. Teams that are not watching the service have often slipped straight into “oh, worship is finished and we are going to MC spot”, and changing all the lighting and media etc. Which in hand has changed the whole atmosphere of the meeting at that moment, and the platform team needs to work to regain momentum. This could have all been avoided if they were reading the service.
3. Look UP and AHEAD
Be careful with the mindset that says “it’s supposed to be this way,” so you can look ahead and acknowledge when the service is going in a better direction than what you have in your run sheet. We, not just the senior pastor and team, should pay attention to read the service. We must try to be a step ahead of (or keep up with) the senior team. Watch, learn and remember what you’ve learnt for next time. Learn to read the signs of satisfaction or dissatisfaction of your leaders, then try to fix the issues before they even need to mention it to you.
4. Be aware of what God is doing in people’s lives
Don’t always finish a service with upbeat music just because that’s what is normally done (if that’s what you normally do). Take a look around. See if people are still being prayed for. You could end on a more gentle song instead. The key is to be sensitive to the needs of the service instead of automatically doing what we’ve always done.
5. Look for distractions
Distractions can hinder the course of the service—People connecting with God and His Word. Avoid distractions or remove them. For example, if a microphone sends feedback every time an MC walks near a specific monitor wedge, work with the audio engineer to address the issue instead of letting it reoccur.
6. Pray for discernment
Discernment is a gift! Learn to see the difference between a good moment and a God moment.
7. Know the run sheet well
Understand everything in the run sheet and why things are where they are in context. Know how to transition in and out of each section of the service. Transitions will help to make changes easy and less bumpy, which will also help you avoid distractions.
You’ll end up with an amazing service where God will impact lives and changed them forever.
P.S. if you’re interested in hearing more from our team about how we craft worship services, we’d love to invite you to join us for Hillsong Conference this year!!