planning

Making the Switch to Liturgical Worship Planning

Michelle Van Loon explains how she’s learned to appreciate liturgical traditions:

When it comes to event planning, I am a person who loves a themed event. Think a pirate party for a five year-old boy, complete with pirate-themed games, a cake that looks like a ship, and eye patches for all the mateys.

My love of themed-events played well when I was planning and producing church services. If you gave me a sermon series topic, I’d look for songs, videos, readings and other service elements that supported the theme. Since the sermon is the main course in most Evangelical church settings, making sure that all the other elements of the service complemented that meal. Those side dishes needed to be fresh, tasty and creative. There was no re-running ever a service element; it was understood to be the church equivalent of reheating great-aunt Edna’s Lima Bean Surprise Casserole. Though it was great fun for a brainstormer/creative like me to find a place in the church to use my event-planning skills, there were times when it occurred to me that the constant quest for the new (call it creativity if you must, but the two are not the same!) in content and delivery was often more about flash than it was about substance. Our inelegant but creative non-liturgies were too often marked by novelty for novelty’s sake.

I have since learned to appreciate liturgical traditions, which stand as a time-tested rebuttal to faddishness in preaching and attendant flashy production values. There is nothing weirder than sitting in a room with a pastor and worship leader and batting around topics for the next sermon series. Those conversations often focused on perceived problems with the people in the church, which meant they were driven by reaction.

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