Planning and Listening

Written by ryan on
Trip Planning

Like I said in my previous post, I'm nothing if not a planner.  Give me a project, and I'll draw all the diagrams.  Give me a trip and I'll choose every destination.  No joke - I was featured on local news for being "Groomzilla" as I spreadsheeted the heck out of my wedding.  Come to think of it, I spreadsheet the heck out of life.

Now, some of my closest relationships have shown me some healthier approaches to things, and I think I've grown in that regard.  However, in the end, I will always be a planner at heart.

Every church has its own preferred method of preparing a Sunday service.  Some will write out the timing and words of every element presented from the front.  Others might enter into a time of worship without having as much as a sermon title.  Neither approach is necessarily right, and neither is inherently wrong.

The holiness of the gathering time is best preserved with the balance of two key elements: planning and listening.  Intentionality and openness.  Care and freedom.    The actual balance depends on your denomination, church, pastor, worship leader, and so on, but a balance has to be there.

When King Solomon dedicated the holy temple about 3,000 years ago (see 2 Chronicles 6-7), he offered some written prayers, and the glory of the Lord filled the space.  About 2,000 years ago, the Holy Spirit came to a Jewish feast day gathering (later called "Pentacost", see Acts 2) with seemingly no prompting.

What would have happened if Solomon's service was so well-programmed that they all missed the fire falling from the sky?  And what if Peter and company were so focused on their business-as-usual that they didn't notice the great wind from heaven?  Yes, reading these accounts make the Spirit's presence seem rather hard to ignore.  But, maybe we are, in fact, neglecting the fire and the wind within our own Sunday gatherings.  What if the Spirit is trying to break in to our services, but we're not letting it speak?

I'm always encouraging my bands to play "heads-up", because you never know when a song might change direction (or when I might mess up!).  And in that vein, I would encourage our churches to plan "heads-up", because you never know when the Spirit will move, and we certainly would not want to miss that.

Share this Post

What do you think? Keep the conversation going below...

Having grown up in a black baptist church, there was always room left for the spirit come in. Sometimes it lasted for a LONG time and sometimes, it was a short visit. It has been an adjustment for me to have so much structure in services. Like Ryan says one isn't better than the other. You need a balance. That being said, there is something nice about hour long vs. three hour long services too. 

Long ago, we had an organist who was also a planner and he constantly challenged us whipper snappers who thought the spirit was only spontaneous, by reminding us that, if we seek him, God's Spirit can plan a service which pleases him 5min or 5 months before it begins.

As you wisely reminded, it's the "heads up" part that matters.