rehearsal-balcony-lake-ave-church-1-28-12 If you are a leader with responsibility for some aspect of your church’s corporate worship services and have opportunity to speak into calendaring, how about proposing a Church Worship Rehearsal sometime this Summer?  If it helps, tell the rest of your team I asked.  If it hurts to mention my name, just say you had this great idea. J

What is it?  A Worship Rehearsal is a time of practicing together those aspects of worship that you do together regularly.  Just think about how you do other rehearsals.  You break things down into separate components, and rehearse those components, so that when they go back together they are executed well.  In music, that may mean phrase by phrase, or in major sections of a song.  In preparing for a major program it may mean segmenting major sections.  Hopefully you help musicians to know the “why” of what they are singing, playing, or otherwise performing, and the “why” of doing it that way.  Rehearsing worship gives you opportunity for the same kind of breakdown of a worship service into smaller components for the congregation.  It is opportunity especially to prompt full participation in congregational singing.  Your pastor can help people know their role in receiving God’s Word through the preaching.  With a couple of examples, he can lead them to practice listening, praying, and responding.  Worship Rehearsal provides opportunity to evaluate and practice awkward points in a service like the welcome, whether prompted or left to spontaneity as people enter.  What about different kinds of prayers, confession, concern for health and other needs, invocation, benediction, etc.?  What about the invitation?  How long since you have helped people consider what decisions and responses need to be made public in gathered worship?  Here’s an appropriate opportunity to call their attention to that very thing.  If you really want to break it down, how about rehearsing the ordinances, and passing the plate during offertories?  How about just general pew etiquette?  Like what to do if someone is in “your pew.”

What is there to gain?  A Church Worship Rehearsal is a great time to unpack every aspect of a regular worship service and help your congregation know the “why” of what you do week in and week out.  In such a rehearsal you can ask them to consider ways they can enhance those aspects.  You can give them opportunity to ask questions of leadership and foster healthy interchange surrounding how we worship together.  What’s more, then you can rehearse each aspect, especially musical ones, and further draw attention to the need for full participation. (I know a good resource to help with this – wink, wink).

Corporate worship is the most important thing the church does together.  Southern Baptist, Don Whitney reminds us, “There’s an element of worship and Christianity that cannot be experienced in private worship or by watching worship. There are some graces and blessings that God gives only in the ‘meeting together’ with other believers”[1]  Pastor and Author, David Mathis, goes further to notate five of these graces and blessings as he sees them: awakening, assurance, advance, accepting another’s leading, and accentuated joy (can you tell he’s a preacher?).  When we consider Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17, surely we must consider the importance of our unity as church.  Nowhere should that unity be more clearly on display than in the time of public corporate worship, the gathering of the Bride into one body.  Insiders and outsiders should be able to feel a thickness of the unity as we seek to be the answer to Jesus’ prayer “that they would be one.” (John 17:21)  So, how does that look in your church’s worship when the congregation is singing?  Are all engaged in full-throated praise as one body?  How about in hearing the Word preached?  Is there a sense of unified listening, even when different ears may receive different words of individual lives through the miracle of Spirit revelation?  What about when the choir or soloists sing, does the person in the pew know what their part in active listening is about, or are they just spectator?  Is there a warmth of hospitality when anyone enters the worship space that overcomes social and/or economic status envy, racial or provincial prejudice, or anything else that might otherwise divide us?  Well, a Worship Rehearsal could well present an opportunity to help the church understand responsibility and biblical mandate in all aspects of corporate worship.  Seems to me Summertime might present some such opportunities.  What do you think?

[1] Donald Whitney Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life (Navpress 1991), 92.

About Paul Clark Jr

Worshiper, student of worship. Graduate of Robert E Webber Institute for Worship Studies (DWS), Director of Worship & Music Ministries for Tennessee Baptist Convention. Musician, Clinician, Conference Leader, Teacher, Author, Worship Music Leader, Husband, Father, Grandfather, fellow traveler.

Posted on June 1, 2015, in Tennessee Music Ministers, Tennessee Pastors, Worship Leaders, Worship Renewal, Youth Choir and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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