You’ve got to hand it to the audiovisual teams at churches and conferences today: They sure know how to produce an impressive worship experience. High production value has become expected at many Christian events, where enhanced worship experiences are often comparable to major players like Hillsong, Bethel or Passion.
But with high production value comes the risk of giving off concert vibes, where entertainment is placed above enriching an attendee’s relationship with God. Entertainment differs from worship in that it is a mostly one-way street of performance (the entertainer) to absorption (the entertained), says Kevin Cargill, production director at North Point Ministries’ Buckhead Church
in Atlanta. He shares six ways planning teams and worship leaders can keep God at the forefront of worship.
1. Don’t distract from devotion.
What you do onstage should never take attendees’ focus away from centering their minds on God. Distraction comes when entertainment and production value take the front seat. Your worship team should be focused on helping the audience engage with God on a deeper level rather than wowing them.
2. Be mindful of different worship styles.
While many people worship through singing and active participation, others may prefer silent reflection or prayer. To provide a balance, consider different expressions of worship when deciding on songs.
3. Determine the goal of the moment.
Is the worship team setting the right tone and environment for attendees? Ask yourself, “What is the goal of this moment in the gathering?” Should the audience sing along? Or is it a moment better suited for the worship leader to encourage the congregation to sit and consider what’s stirring in their hearts?
4. Pay attention to differing opinions.
A part of being mindful to different worship styles is listening to all opinions brought forth by your team. Rather than discounting an opposing opinion, engage it. What’s driving the opinion or feedback? What can be done about it? How can you use this perspective to make the service better? Having a team made up of different viewpoints is key to avoiding distraction in worship.
5. Use worship to strengthen your message.
The songs included in a set list should be relevant to those in the crowd and point them toward their creator. Don’t lose sight of your goal of engaging people where they are in order to create an opportunity for them to connect with God.
6. Listen to audience feedback.
Whether it’s done via social media or word-of-mouth, feedback is essential to determining “success” in worship—it’s tough to measure otherwise. Pay attention to what songs are requested most often and note when videos are requested online. This kind of feedback reveals the worship team was able to get attendees in the right headspace for worship.