Imagine going to a new friend’s home for dinner and experiencing this:
- your host simply opened the door and said, “Welcome! Come on in!” and then turned and walked away
- person after person in their family walked into the room and simply started a conversation without introducing themselves
- everyone in the host family seemed busy with tasks, but you were unsure of what you were supposed to do
You’d probably feel a little disoriented and vaguely uncomfortable. As a worship leader, you are usually the initial host for the worship service each weekend. I’m consistently astounded as I attend churches around the country that many worship leaders don’t consider these simple ways to make people feel at home in the worship service.
There are three basic questions people are subconsciously asking that you should answer within the first few minutes of worship. They are:
- who are you?
- what’s going to happen?
- why are we here?
Let’s examine these questions together.
Who are you?
Please don’t just have the band kick in and start singing the first song. I know you don’t want the service to feel like it’s focused on you, but welcoming people and introducing yourself is really a way to serve the people, to make them feel at home.
Yes, I know that many people will know who you are—the people that come regularly. But the people that are new have no idea who you are and may not even understand your role. If your church uses IMAG (stands for image magnification where a camera projects your image onto the screen), you can use this to introduce yourself. No matter how you do it, you should welcome people, tell them your name, and give them some context for your role in the service.
What’s going to happen?
Give people just a sentence or two to give them a clue as to what’s going to happen next. Many people (myself included) find it hard to engage in any experience if I don’t have some understanding of where we’re going. It’s like asking people to board a train with you when you haven’t told them where the train is going.
Something as simple as: “Join us as we sing a few songs of worship to our Creator” can be all we need to engage for the next few minutes. Just tell me what’s going to happen.
Why are we here?
This question needs to be answered for both the guest and the regular attender. The guest needs to hear from you about the “why” behind what we’re doing. Why are we singing? The regular attender needs to be reminded about the “why” as well. Otherwise, they may engage in the service only at a surface level. A surface service will never be meaningful or transformative.
Here are some sample “why” statements that can inform guests and remind regular attenders about the purpose of our gathering … and of our worship.
“As we sing together, we will be reminded of how big God is, how good God is, and how strong God is. And the best thing for us to remember today … is how close God is. He is here, with us and in us. I don’t know about you, but there are many times that I forget that. Let’s remind each other as we sing.”
“For thousands of years, followers of Jesus have spent time praising Him in song. Something happens in our hearts through music that is right and good—we are reminded of God’s goodness and His faithfulness to us—giving us renewed strength for each day.”
“We’re going to spend time singing together this morning because God is worthy of our worship. We are tempted to give our time, attention, and honor to all sorts of things, but there is only One who is truly worthy of our worship. Let’s reset our hearts toward Him as we sing together.”
This is also a chance to connect the weekly worship experience to your church’s specific strategy. (Imagine that!) You could say something like this:
“As followers of Christ, we believe that we need to engage on a regular basis in 3 key environments—a place of worship, a place of belonging, and a place of service. (I’m guessing at what your strategy might be, of course.) These three environments work together to help us experience the fullness of life that Jesus offers to us. Let’s worship God together.”
However you do it, you must answer these three questions in every worship service. Get creative! You don’t have to answer them the same way every time, but you should answer them. When you do, you’ll make people feel at home so that they can more fully engage in the entire worship experience. And isn’t that what you really want?