Church today looks different than it did when many of us grew up. And for the sake of reaching a lost world, this can be a great thing. While we must still cling to the foundation of our faith and some of the sacred traditions of the generations that have gone before us, we also get the exciting privilege of exploring how to use new elements like worship media and different activities in worship to communicate the gospel in a clear and relevant way.
Let’s take a quick dive into a few ideas for creative elements for worship services, and even a few types of worship services themselves that your creative church can use to engage your congregation and reach your community.
1) Mini Movies & Service Openers
Mini Movies are short films created for worship services, small groups, or other teaching times. They could be as short as a minute, or longer, like fifteen minutes. They’re often set to a worship song and have a scripture message, or sometimes have dialogue to illustrate a theme they are made to embody. These short videos are created by church media producers who are gifted at conveying the hope of Jesus through visual media and are an excellent example of creative elements for church services. You can use them as service openers to draw people in on a given Sunday, before the message as an illustration, or even in the middle of a message to reinforce a specific point that the pastor is teaching on.
One valuable worship service element for any church community is hearing from members of the congregation. A time of testimony helps church attenders know they’re not alone in what they’re going through and allows them to get to know more people in the local body. As church leaders, it’s a good idea to be sure those who share for the whole church are trusted voices. Or, if the mic is opened up to anyone who may have a testimony, the pastor or another designated leader can make sure that the platform and the time in the service is stewarded well. It is a worthwhile effort! There’s nothing sweeter or more impactful than hearing first-hand how God has worked in other people’s lives. Testimony time, or “share time” as it may sometimes be called, allows us to hear different voices and personal stories of God’s faithfulness as a part of the worship time.
3) Response Time
This one may be more traditionally known as the “invitation” in the service. Many churches are different on whether they have a time at the end of the service to respond to the pastor’s message. But even if it’s not done every week, it can be great to give people an opportunity to act on how God is moving their hearts. It is powerful to do something tangible or engage physically in response to hearing God’s Word during the service. The response time doesn’t have to look the same way every time, or even the same way for everyone participating in the service. For instance, one creative church is known to have “response stations” where worshippers can write a note and pin a struggle to the cross, light a candle and pray for loved ones, take communion, or receive prayer from a caring prayer team.
4) Sermon Slides
If your church hasn’t already incorporated graphics to support the sermon, this is a great and easy way to take the creativity up a notch in your worship services. Graphics made specifically for a theme that complements the pastor’s message can help impact listeners with the points that are being presented in the teaching. Visual aids accompanying the topic can also help some listeners retain the content of the message better than just hearing the spoken word alone.
5) Themed Worship Media
Even if you don’t have perfectly matched graphics for specific messages, try theming your worship background media and slides with seasonal church graphics. This will welcome new attendees (and regulars) and make them feel like your church is in tune with what’s going on outside the church walls. It’s okay to keep it simple, but whatever you do, make sure you are thinking intentionally about the look of your backgrounds, from worship backgrounds and sermon notes to announcement slides and welcome graphics. After all, people are used to things looking aesthetically pleasing in today’s media-driven world, so having excellent worship media is an easy and subtle way the church can lead in creativity that honors God.
6) Switch Things Up
One of the worst creativity killers is getting stuck in a routine. It’s not that consistency is bad, but when we do the same thing every week because of a lack of new ideas, things can get mundane. To break out of this, think of how you can switch things up periodically. It’s okay to try singing one song at the beginning of the service and then three or four more songs at the end after the message. Or if your church has a full worship team, try an “unplugged” set with just a couple musicians with acoustic guitars. You can even move the stage around so it is visually different than the weeks, months, or YEARS things have been in the same place. When planning for a special testimony or a person sharing their story, bring some comfortable furniture onto the stage in an interview style to make it feel like attendees are sitting in the living room with the pastor and the person sharing. There is no limit on the little (or large) things you can do to keep things interesting!
We’ve looked at some ideas for some creative elements within your worship services, so now how about some actual different types of services and gatherings you can do to mix things up and engage your community?
7) Student-Led Worship Service
Nothing will shake things up and inspire your church more than letting the next generation lead the charge on a Sunday morning. Have a special service at least a few times a year where your youth and students are encouraged to lead some or all the worship time. Let your church’s youth pastor bring the message and your student worship team lead the music portion of worship (even if they need a little assistance from the adult team). It’s a great chance for the congregation to experience and participate in what your student ministry is doing behind the scenes of your normal Sunday morning worship services. Take it to the next level by even using worship media for youth that may be more energetic or vibrant than your typical choices for adult services.
8) Community Movie Night
People love movies! But some in many communities never get to go to the theater. With the excellent video and sound systems many churches are blessed to have, it’s an easy thing to do to host a community movie night. It’s a blessing for the congregation and also an excellent outreach for those in the surrounding community who may want to come experience a movie. As a blessing to parents, church members can even volunteer to open up childcare for the little ones too young to enjoy the movie. (Just be sure to rotate the volunteers every time so everyone gets a break!) Obviously, you’d want to choose a clean movie that’s consistent with the values of your church. Or even better– a faith-based or inspirational movie where the pastor can come up to give a brief encouragement at the end and invite guests to come to a worship service.
9) Worship & Prayer Nights
No matter how small or large your worship team is, they have the highly important job of growing the congregation in their expression of worship. So let them lead an entire special service every once in a while. A worship and prayer night can be an environment where the church goes deeper and spends more time in worship than the time constraints of a typical Sunday morning allow. This type of service shouldn’t be a performance, but rather, a participatory experience for the entire church. Think of a “normal” worship set (with more songs), but leaving more space for reflection, response, and prayer. Prayer topics and different short exhortations can be weaved into the time, and prayer can be encouraged for needs in the room, the community, and even the world.
10) Service Sunday
This one takes the term “Sunday service” in an entirely different direction. With a lot of planning and communication in advance, try making your normal church service time and location into a meeting point for everyone that wants to show up and be sent out for service in the community. You could do this at least once a year for instance. Find needs in your community and ways to share God’s love like distributing food or taking worship to the streets, then have your members and church attendees break into teams to go out and take action. Let the orders for matching church T-shirts begin! Or maybe not… but either way, it’s a great way to put into practice what we preach and be the hands and feet of Jesus for the world to see.
We hope these ideas have been thought-provoking and will only be the beginning in your effort to engage your congregation and community as a creative church. Keep your eyes fixed on the goal of spreading the gospel and giving God the worship He deserves and have some fun with it! The church’s expression of creativity and excellence in everything from visual worship media to prayer and testimony, to community service will ultimately point people to Jesus!