At Calvary Church, where I serve as Director of Worship, Pastor Lionel has wrapped up a very profound series called “Saved to Worship.” In it, we have looked at what it means to be a church that is Rooted, Relevant and Real. We have learned that we have been designed to be worshippers and that God, the most interesting Being in the universe, is worthy of ALL of our worship. If you are not a part of Calvary Church I strongly urge you to take the time to listen to the podcasts at http://www.calvaryweb.net/resources-for-you/sermons/.
My hope for our congregation-and for anyone that seriously considers what the bible says about worship-is that, as we digest and unpack some of the things that we were taught from Scripture, we would evaluate our own lives as the Holy Spirit challenges us to change. Are we giving our all to God, our best to Him? Are we worshipping with the entirety of our lives and reflecting His glory? My prayer is that we will all begin to become more alive in Christ as we turn our affections to the One we were made to praise above all else.
I also wanted to speak to a few of the specifics about Calvary's worship time. There is an intentionality to everything we do in our services. Things like lighting, song choices, arrangement of music, placement of announcements, the taking of the offering, the greeting time, placement of sermon, and sound quality are thought out in great detail and done with purpose. It is our desire to not only do things excellently but also to do things meaningfully. As Pastor Lionel has said repeatedly, “If we only want to draw a crowd, let’s just bring in the circus!” In the next few paragraphs, I'll be writing about a few of the things we consider. I have focused soley on the portion of the services where the Calvary congregation worships through song.
Every song we sing is carefully scrutinized to make sure that what is declared corporately lines up with Scripture and is 100% truth. We not only want to worship from our hearts, but we also want to be doing it in truth. (John 4:24) As a worship team we are very careful what we play and do not play. Nobody on the team is free to play any way they feel. We play pre-determined arrangements that are designed to feature the song we are singing and not a particular band member. On the worship team, we strive for excellence so that we are not creating a distraction for people. We are trying to lead them in God’s praises, not ours.
We have chosen a lighting design that is not only modest but also sets an “atmosphere” or “mood” for worship. We use a mild amount of “haze” (produced by a fog machine) in the air so that the effect from our lighting is enhanced. Do we need lighting or haze to worship God? No, we absolutely do not! What we DO want to do, is to create a place where people are invited to get intimate with God. We want the worship center to be a place where people feel like what they do has weight and significance. We light the room differently for worship to help people to embrace a time of closeness with God.
We also run the sound at a specific volume, which is monitored closely. We want people to be able to sing out freely without worry, but we do not want to offend their ears with abrasive sounds. We are setting an atmosphere where we can sing joyfully to God, with all our might, regardless of our singing skill level. We have hand picked the font size on the screens and limit the number of words on each slide during a song. We don't want to overwhelm worshipers with lyrics but also do not want the context to get lost. These are just a few examples of the thought that goes in to one service.
You see, we believe the church is the vehicle that God has chosen to use to bring His glory to the world and this includes our Sunday services. We want everything we do to push people to worship and focus on Him. Its all about HIM, and there is nothing we do on a Sunday morning that is not discussed and thought through. We are in the business of pointing people to God and His glory. We are not about cool or trendy or the latest technology. We are all about using technology, trends, and skill as a means to point people to the greatness of our God. It’s all about Him and everything we do in our service will be done with that as the prime focus.