Modern worship, as I talked about in the last post, takes a great deal of planning and preparation to successfully create the experience. It’s not something that can be pulled off in just a matter of days. Often, the services we put together take months of preparation. Let me outline the process that we have instituted here at Journey.
1 Year Out: We begin by dividing the year up in to blocks of 3 to 6 weeks for series. We then plan the general theme that we plan to cover a year from now. These are pretty general in nature at this point: Family; Stewardship, Relationships…etc.
6 Months Out: We take the general topic and begin to craft a specific focus for it. We’ll take the idea of ‘Family’ and focus it to something more specific. For instance, we’re going to talk about problems families face using illustrations from famous TV families. At this point, we work out the specific titles for both the series and the individual Sundays. We put together the main ideas and a description for each Sunday’s message.
4 Months Out: We take the titles and descriptions for the series Sundays and pass them along to our creative team. The creative team gets together to plan out the creative elements of the services – from the looks and feel to music and drama ideas. The creative team is tasked with coming up with the ideas and finding volunteers to help carry them out. At this point, the information is passed along to the marketing team to begin to develop the promotional materials for the series.
2 Months Out: The creative team begins implementing the ideas for the series: writing scripts, building set pieces, finding components, and everything else that goes along with the series.
During the rest of the time leading up to the series, we start the process of promoting the series within the congregation and the community.
This process is continually happening. At our weekly staff meeting today, we looked at January 2008 (one year out) and set the topic. We looked at July 2007 (six months out) and set the specific series and worked on the individual Sunday titles and so on.
Now I must tell you that this process has not been happening since the beginning. We’ve actually just implemented it in the last month. That means that for the next six months, we’re doing double. We’ve planned out 2007 and are working on catching up on the whole process. The series that are happening in the next six months will be prepared as best as we can in the time allotted while the series beyond six months will be planned in the process that we are implementing. It all works out to a rather busy few months ahead while we try to get the ball rolling, but once it’s rolling it should be much easier to keep it moving.
Now I’m not saying that this is the only way to plan things out. I’m not even saying that it’s the best way, but it’s the way we’ve chosen to do things. It’s not to say that we won’t add steps, remove steps, or change them around from time to time. The key is to find a process that fits your style and the people you have to work with. If you don’t have a creative team, you might want to find one. Talk to some people in the church and find some of the creative minds that are out there (don’t overlook some of the younger members around you – teenagers can have some of the most creative ideas!) and ask them to join the team. But be selective – the planning process certainly isn’t for everyone!
Take some time with your staff and volunteers and see what process would work in your environment, then takes steps to implement the plan. It takes a bit of work up front, but it really pays off over time and the quality of your services will improve!