One of the most important elements of church is the Sunday gathering. There, people are invited to worship Jesus, hear God’s Word and challenged to grow in their faith. This is also the typical entry point for new people, which makes it that much more important. Each week we should strive to become more excellent by asking, “How can we make it better?” If there is one thing I could underline that makes or breaks a weekend gathering, it would be the flow of service.
There should be a natural, but intentional flow of the weekend gathering from start to finish. I like to use the analogy of a swimming pool. Imagine the sanctuary or auditorium as an empty pool. As soon as the first video plays or the opening song begins, the pool begins to fill up. Each song builds on the other, and the pool gets fuller. There’s a smooth transition into preaching and then response time…and then dismissal. Everything feels great because everything FLOWS.
Unfortunately, services do not always flow so well…and some don’t flow at all. Here are some key factors to create and keep a healthy service flow:
start on TIME
Making sure the service begins on time is very important to flow (and it shows professionalism). When services consistently begin on time, it helps those participating find a groove and develop a “business as usual” mentality.
don't drain the POOL
One of the quickest ways to drain the pool is to allow dead spots. There's nothing worse than the awkward silence that happens between worship songs or between the last song and the pastor taking the stage. Dead spots drain the pool and kill the flow. Using intentional transitions can solve this problem. Initiating applause (let’s give God praise!), continual background music or going directly into the next song is a great way to keep the pool full and everything flowing.
BUMPERS are your friend
Video bumpers are a great tool for making a transition from worship to preaching. Bumpers are typically 30 to 45 seconds and are branded with the message or series with music in the background. The purpose of the bumper is to kill the dead spot between the last worship song or prayer and when the pastor takes the stage.
leverage pre-recorded MUSIC
Most pastors begin their message with a welcome, a little humor and then moves on to the text. Eventually, as the pastor winds down towards the end of the message, there is a shift. Usually it begins with, “Let’s all bow our heads for a moment.” This is a great time for the A/V team to begin playing soft, pre-recorded music. Doing so keeps the pool full and allows a great transition for the worship band to take stage again (most people have their heads bowed, so they don’t see even it).
utilize EXIT songs
Regardless of how you conclude your Sunday, you always want to make sure people leave in an upbeat, high energy environment. Having the worship band to play the first song from their worship set is a great way to create that. When you end with energy and excitement, it creates a vibe that makes people want to come back…after all, we have a lot to be excited about.