Blended Worship Planning 101
In our church, we have one blended worship service per month where we follow our traditional liturgy to some extent, but we use contemporary music in place of hymns. I assist with the defining of the music for these blended services so over the years, we have come up with a format that works for everyone involved (Pastor, Church Secretary & Musicians). We basically use a WORD document that is a table of all of the information that we all need to do our jobs. For example, it contains the scripture references for each song and how the song fits into the weekly theme (information that our Pastor needs), it also contains bulletin information on how the song will be arranged and sung (information that our secretary needs) and the song choices (information that the musicians need). In addition to this basic information, I also include details on the level of difficulty, which is also information that our Pastor has asked for since he is not familiar with most of these songs and he likes to keep an eye on how much new music is being used and the level of difficulty so that the congregation doesn’t get overwhelmed in any given week. And yes, I’ve been known to throw too much at them so the Pastoral check is appreciated.
We also follow a format that requires 7 songs per service. These are as follows:
- Pre-Service – Band only
- Opening Song – Congregational
- Psalm of the Day – Congregational
- Musical Response to the Forgiveness/Absolution of Sins – Congregational
- Hymn of the Day – Congregational
- Offertory Music – Band only
- Closing Song – Congregational
In our monthly table, all of the song choices are listed in order and identified accordingly. I also list any lyrics for any new songs that aren’t in our songbooks for Pastoral review. The table is disseminated at least one month in advance so that everyone has enough time for preparation.
This is a partial view of what a typical table looks like (being a landscape document it does not all fit on the screen in this BLOG format) :
Songs Listed in the Suggested Order:
|Location||Song Title||Writer||Location (which songbook)||Chosen based on:||Song Themes||Song Instructions (for the Bulletin)||DifficultyFamiliarity||Other Comments|
|Pre-Service||Awakening||Andrew Mitchell||Personal Collection||Epistle||Discipleship|
|OpeningSong||I Will Praise Him Still||Fernando Ortega||Personal Collection||Gospel||Praise in difficult times||Sing through twice||New Song||Will have to be copied as an insert|
|AbsolutionResponse||Beautiful Savior||Townend & Getty||BOB 21||AbsolutionResponse||Forgiveness||V1, V2, Chorus, V3, Chorus||Familiar|
|Hymn of the Day||Speak O Lord||Townend & Getty||CWS 735||Word of God||Word of God – Illumination||Familiar||Will have to be copied as an insert|
|Offertory||“Compassion Hymn”||Personal Collection||The Gospel Lesson||Jesus can bring the dead back to life|
|Closing Song||The Hope of Your Call||Don Chapman||Personal Collection||EpistleDiscpleshipEph 1:18-19||Benediction, Discipleship, Applying God’s word in our lives||V, Chorus, V, Chorus, Chorus 2, End||Familiar||Will have to be copied as an insert. I believe that Laura has it scanned and saved on Leah’s PC.|
I am making a copy of this document available in my file download area if anyone is interested in using the format. I would also be happy to email a copy to anyone that would like one. My address is “sjbrown58 at yahoo.com.” Please use the @ in place of the “at”; I use this technique to avoid unwanted emails sent from automated systems. The file for download is named “5-Easter 6 May 9.doc”.
Finally, I’d like to make a few comments on each type of song being selected.
- The Pre-Service music is typically chosen to match the worship theme. I usually use this opportunity to either introduce new music to the congregation that we might use in the future, or I use music with real good lyrics but are too difficult for congregational singing.
- The Opening Song is either chosen to match the day’s worship theme, or if I’m having trouble with enough songs matching the theme, I will choose a more general opening song that is either welcoming, introductory, or deals with preparation for worship. I maintain a list of these types of songs.
- The music used with the Psalm of the Day is always a song based on the Psalm being read for that day. We typically read the Psalm responsively and sing the song in between the readings.
- The Forgiveness/Absolution is not matched to the day’s theme. It always deals with either Forgiveness and/or Absolution of sins. Again, I maintain a list of these types of songs and I have about 2 dozen that I use in rotation.
- The Hymn of the Day is chosen as the closest match to the scripture readings, and preferably to the Gospel lesson.
- The Offertory music is usually also chosen to match the day’s theme but if I’m having trouble locating music, I will also consider Stewardship-themed music or prayerful songs. I also use this opportunity to either introduce new music to the congregation that we might use in the future, or I use music with real good lyrics but are too difficult for congregational singing.
- The Closing Song is chosen to either match the day’s theme or to have a blessing/departing message. Again, I maintain a list of these types of songs and I have about 2 dozen that I use in rotation.
I do hope that this article was beneficial for someone out there that is starting to use blended worship in their church. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need further assistance. In addition, there are many other articles of this nature in this BLOG that can be found by looking in the “Blended Worship” category.