The Process Really Matters

I destroy my enemy by making him my friend.  Abraham Linclon.

Ok, usually I don’t use a post to comment on another blog’s posting, but my buddy Jason Cole asks a very good question in this post (go check it out–it’s a quick read) and I can’t seem to get the comment function to work on his site.  IE 7 hasn’t been my friend so far.

The very good question JC asks is, “Is it worth the hassle (which is considerable) to occasionally use a children’s choir to lead worship in our adult services?”  My not-so-profound answer is, “It depends.”

Jason and I worked together for years at a church where time on the Sunday morning mainstage was viewed by the various constituencies of the church as the holy grail of ministry promo and validation.  All too often the leadership would simply hand over the programming of various aspects of the service (announcements, music, drama, etc.) to the group requesting the validation, leaving Jason and myself out of the planning process while still bearing the responsibility to make the service work.  Because the group didn’t understand or even value the programming process and the learnings the programming people had culled from our experiences, the results were at best amateurish and at worst embarrassing (see Malcom Gladwell’s Degree of Difficulty post about the perils of making difficult tasks look easy).

This happened at _______ for a while, particularly during VBS and Missions Conference weeks.  I know the frustration.

If having kids or youth or singles or babies or people in wheelchairs on the mainstage is done for the purpose of making them and their advocates feel validated, then it’s not worth it because that kind of thinking results in bad programming.  If it’s done for the purpose of adding some strategic variety to the worship environment, then it can be worth it if the process is done right, and if everyone understands that the group on the stage is there to lead the adults in worship, not to showcase their group’s unique talent or distinctiveness.

The best solution I’ve come across is to have a solid programming process that is robust enough to maintain established practices and values even when the uninitiated is granted a seat at the programming table.  The first time I did this was with the Director of Children’s Ministy at _________.  In August one year we sat down in my office with a whiteboard and talked through how the children could contribute to a 1st Advent service.  By the time the leadership of the church was ready to do the normal hand-off, I had pre-emptively brought the constituency into my process and made them a partner with me in creating a great experience for the adults in the service.  The result was outstanding and well worth the effort.  More importantly, I gained a strong ally and advocate on the staff team with a new appreciation for my process and world.

Variety works.  Popping the kids up there in a sensible way causes the congregation to perk up, to pay attention.  It is a lot harder and requires flexibility in the programming process, but that ultimately makes us better programmers.

Which ultimately makes for better worship.


1 Response to “The Process Really Matters”

  1. 1 Jason C December 6, 2006 at 6:48 pm

    As I ponder this question I went to see if I could learn what some of the cutting edge churches are doing. One of the churches I admire for their innovation is Granger Community Church in Granger, IN. Their service this past weekend started a new series called U2 Christmas. They just find such creative ways to get people in the doors to hear the message of Jesus. Sure enough, this week, here come the kids on stage. It makes me lean toward the “it can work” side if you plan it well. You can watch their entire service at .
    Its also worth watching for near the end of the service they do the U2 song “Still haven’t found what I’m looking for” with their adult choir.

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