Personal Ministries Resources

10 Ways to Create Greater Participation in your Worship Services

by Pr Lyell Heise

1. Increase the number of people involved in planning worship
Could it be possible that worship planning in your church involves simply combining two rosters? The pastor's preaching roster, and the elders' platform duties roster? If this is the case, your people might be missing out on many opportunities for participation. A well-constructed worship committee, chaired by the pastor or elder, can involve more members and have many more people invested in the success and spiritual impact of worship.

2. Communicate with the church about upcoming worship events
This enables the congregation to send good signals to newcomers:
"We make plans well in advance here."
"There is a sense of expectation and anticipation in the air at our church."
"We make our family and travel plans based on the worship schedule, rather than making plans that ignore it."
"We don't miss worship if we can possibly help it."

3. Take stock of your congregation's gifts
Be aware of those with gifts in music, oral communication, art, decoration and in communication technology. Have worship planners consider ways to include these people and their gifts. Keep records of those who have participated. Aim to expand this list.

4. Be aware of the demographics in your congregation
Involve people who will represent gender, age and ethnic variety.

5. Involve children and youth
Think creatively. Include, but move beyond "the story." Try assigning children as "apprentices" for a month. Publish their names. Have them assist in every element of the worship event, from decorations to bulletin production, PA operation, music, offering collection, prayer, testimony, preaching – the list goes on.

6. Involving non-public speakers
Affirm this group and acknowledge their participation in singing, in responsive readings, in prayer features where the congregation is invited to focus silently on nominated topics by the prayer leader. Look for the quiet, artistic types with gifts in decoration and visual art.

7. Music involvement
Make a "favourite hymns and songs" survey. Mention or publish the names of those who appreciate a song when it is used. Have a member explain why the song is a favourite. Set a goal that every child learning music in the congregation will present music for an offertory, prelude or postlude. Work with teachers and parents.

8. Scripture
Experiment with readings that provide parts for men, women, children or special characters represented in the passage. If using overheads or published texts, have children or other artists provide illustrations. Use good-quality recordings of Scripture readings from shut-ins or isolated members.

9. Prayer
Try a series of prayer participants who bring a different perspective to congregational life each week. Your series could include parents, grandparents, widows, children, singles, young married, university students etc.

10. Sermon
Preachers, think visually. Look for ways to involve your artistic members in visual aids. Prepare handouts on the sermon that can "hook" the listeners into active engagement with your theme.

Try well-planned but active interviews with people in the congregation as you develop your theme. Include "cameo appearances" in your sermon, by children, youth or others, to help underscore your point.

It's too bad we have to stop at point number 10. We have only just begun. But then, what if every Adventist congregation tried one of these ideas next Sabbath? What if hundreds of people who thought they were only worship spectators found out they really were involved, that they truly had something to offer? Then ideas, well explored, could be more than enough!