Verbal Elements of Worship

I was a worship leader for 13 years before I became a pastor (I still consider myself the worship leader for our church).  There are many elements of worship services I wish I had given more of my attention.  This post is the first in a two part series on elements of a worship service we should give our attention to, but might escape our notice from time to time.  You may have a small congregation or a large congregation.  The sizes of our congregations do not exclude us from giving our best when it comes to our worship services.  Here are some verbal elements of our worship services that might not get as much attention as the preaching and the singing:

  1. Announcements:  The bane of pastor’s everywhere.  They’re printed in the bulletin right?  Why should we have to spoon feed you if you can read?  Yet, verbal announcements are necessary.  Whoever is giving these announcements should know what they want to say and how they want to say it.  Announcements should be succinct and should be clear enough that a first time visitor would know exactly what’s going on and where.  “Pot luck at Katie’s house Friday night” tells a guest nothing.  
  2. Scripture Reading:  Many of our churches utilize corporate scripture reading.  This is the Word of God and ought to be treated with the utmost respect.  Readers should be taught to read with confidence, taught to look over their reading beforehand, and teach the congregation what is expected during the reading.  Congregation expectations don’t have to be repeated every Sunday, but if there are first time visitors, those instructions will make them feel more comfortable and involved.  
  3. Prayers:  There can be debate about this element.  There are some who prefer the spontaneous nature of prayer, and there are some who prefer a written prayer.  I prefer both.  I like the spontaneous corporate prayer, but I also appreciate prayers that have been thought out and prepared. We prepare ourselves to go to God’s house every Sunday.  Why can’t we prepare some of our prayers as well? Pastors should also avoid the person who prays the exact same prayer every time.
  4. Worship leader talk:  When I led worship I tried to avoid talking between songs.  I was afraid I would say something wrong, and the congregation did not come to hear me speak.  There is a level of worship leader talk that is acceptable, but anything that is said should be planned, thoughtfully articulated, and talked through with the pastor.  Yes, this would require the pastor and worship leader to sit down during the week and walk through the service.
  5. “Specials”:  Have you ever had a soloist spontaneously say something before they sang that made your skin crawl?  I knew a music minister who got fired for just such a faux pas.  In fairness, that music minister had been repeatedly warned.  We can’t prevent all of these surprises, but we can do a better job of heading them off with a 15 minute conversation with the soloist.  

Those are some verbal elements to our worship services that we should spend more time with.  The overall lesson to be learned is that more time, attention, and preparation should be given to our worship services, no matter our church size.  We may just keep some guests from wandering out the back door.

Is there anything you would add to this list?  Is there anything you’ve experienced on this list?  

Next week, non verbal elements of our worship service.

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