Welcome to beyond the noise!

As a worship director in a new, modern congregation I’m constantly looking for ways to make our times of worship more than just singing and preaching. God is a God of experiences – and our worship of Him should be an experience. I’m a firm believer that everything about the worship time, beginning the moment that someone pulls into the parking lot, should convey the message we are trying to share that day. From the way the greeters greet, to the music playing before the worship time, to the look of the bulletin, the look and feel of the platform, the colors of the lights… and this is all before the first note of the actual “service” has started! Weaving your theme through all of these elements can create an awesome experience. We know that people learn and respond to different stimuli. Some are auditory, others are visual, some are tactile. We try to have the theme represented in as many forms as we can so that the people sitting in the seats have every opportunity to connect with our message.

But let me tell you – this is a lot of work! It takes a monumental effort to pull this off every week. For someone who grew up with a very traditional worship format: a pastor, an organist, a choir, two different worship formats that never changed, hymns and scripture were preappointed for every Sunday in a schedule that never changed… Everything was spelled out for you. With minimal effort, a pastor could pull off a service with almost no forethought. Everything had already been decided for you. It’s so easy – no wonder so many churches are afraid to do good contemporary worship – it’s too much work!

So why, then, is truly good modern worship all we do at Journey? Why do we spend months preparing for a series and hours and hours planning and preparing for a something that is over and done in an hour? For two very important answers: 1. Because God deserves it. God is a creative God and He has created us as creative beings. He deserves to have our creativity directed toward Him for His praise and glory. It is first and foremost for Him that we do what we do. 2. Because people matter to God. Journey’s mission is to reach out to those around us who have fallen away or are searching for God. The hardest part is that they don’t know they’re searching for God or that they’ve fallen away. When someone comes to Journey for the first time, they need to have a good experience. We recognize that if they’re new to the whole church thing they’re not coming for spiritual growth – at least not yet. They’re coming to see if we’re real – if we are who we say we are – and to see if this whole thing is for them. If they have a positive experience – even if it’s something seemingly unspiritual like they were impressed that we used a secular song in worship to drive home the point. The better the experience they have, the more chances they’ll come back and the more opportunities we will have to share with them the answers they are looking for.

This style of ministry is something that I’m very passionate and excited about. We’ve seen some exciting things happening around Journey and we’ve only been in existence since July, 2006! What the future holds in store, only God knows – but I do know this: if we give God our best, if we put our effort and time into what we do for Him and for those around us, He’ll take care of everything else.

About Matthew Starner

Matthew Starner is pastor of Journey of Faith Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they help people take their next step on their journey with Jesus.

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