Occasionally my wife and I will get in the car (i.e. minivan), with all three kids successfully fastened into their car seats, with the diaper bag appropriately packed with snacks, drinks, diapers, wipes, back-up clothes, etc., and the correct shoes on the correct feet, and have absolutely no idea where we’re going.
I’ll back out of the driveway and Catherine will ask me something like “where are we going?” I’ll respond “I don’t know“. And then we’ll proceed to decide if we want to go to Starbucks, or the grocery store, or the mall, or to a playground, or some other errand. We knew we wanted to get out of the house before we all went crazy, but we hadn’t quite figured out where we were going to go. Minor detail.
I think worship leaders can foolishly approach service planning like this sometimes. We get to the service with songs picked and rehearsed, a band/choir arranged and ready, a service outline printed out and ready to be followed, and the congregation coming to fill the seats. But we have absolutely no idea where we’re going.
I’ve heard preachers say that they know they’re in trouble when they can’t tell their spouse in one sentence what their sermon is going to communicate. I think the same is true for worship leaders. If we can’t articulate in one sentence what our songs (and whole service) is going to communicate, then we’re in trouble.
I’ve talked a lot about this idea in recent months. I used the example of the writers of the TV series LOST who obviously had no idea where the narrative was heading and just started throwing in nonsense. And last week I talked about how, when planning a service, you can approach it from the perspective of a core and an angle.
I just want to add that, just like on a successful trip in the car requires that you know where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, what turns to take, and what route is best, an effective worship leader will know where he or she is going, how they’re going to get there, what turns to take, and what route is best. Choosing songs without knowing how they make sense in the larger narrative of your service will result in you driving around aimlessly for a while and burning lots of gas.
Know your destination! Your passengers will thank you.