I am curious to hear your thoughts on whether or not consistently doing the same order every Sunday is beneficial or not? I tend to think that always doing a fast song first then 3 slower intimate songs gets boring and I am afraid my congregation feels the same way. On the other hand I am afraid that if there is not some consitency that people will start focusing on what the band will do this week, instead of on worshiping God. What are your thoughts and experiences?
I probably said this somewhere before - the Bible doesn't talk about using new arrangements, new instrumentation, new music styles to worship the Lord, but we are repeatedly admonished to sing a new song. So if I am going to add changes and variations to any particular area of a worship set, I'll start with songs first.
It's tough, I know, because people these days have short attention spans. And it gets worse in charismatic churches, because many charismatics assume that if you do the same thing 2 weeks in a row you are depending on a ritual and formula, rather than the fresh leading of the Spirit. Well, I've seen more fruit from keeping the right constants in place. Let the bored criticize, in the end the fruit don't lie... :)
Here are some thoughts that I think could be beneficial to you whether you are considered to be charismatic or not. One of the things that was told to me a long time ago was, "Tell a Story" with your set. From A-Z so to speak.
One of the reasons that you open mostly with a faster songs is because you want to get the congregation loosen up and free before you hit the serious stuff. One of the things that the word does say is to make a joyful noise and to sing to the Lord a new song.
I think a lot has to do with time. Have fun with it sometimes, we do 5 songs and sometimes we do 8. It depends on what you are doing in the service. If you are a more traditional you probably would not want to do eight, but here is how we do it. We fit everything from Worship, Offering, Healing Prayer and Salvation message through the service.
You may think! "8" How in the world do you do eight. Here is how you do it in the time allowed if you are in a church that has a schedule.
Medley's is the key. We would do the first 3 songs (Fast -Medium) in a medley format, and the next 3 (medium -slow) the same way with the rest. This way all you do that is shorten each song to your medley format and it end up being just about the same time, but more intense, just different format.
In our experience though, it is a lot better to carry the attention of your congregation in worship without a split worship. Because it will really seem like worship is taking a long time to people and it is hard to get them in to the intimate worship again if you stop somewhere in the middle, like for anything that does not have to do with worship. (Announcements etc.) That is just our experience.
Let's go back to telling a story.
Praise (To Him)
Worship (About Him)
Intimacy (For Him ~ Showing him )
Salvation (About Us)
Freedom ( High Praise)
Consistency is always good, but I think we also should be open to sponteneity and sensitive to the over all tone of the service. For the most part I like to start out with faster songs. There are times, though, that I will switch it all up and start with more worshipful songs.
For me it comes down to being ready with the set you have gotten together and then being sensitive to the needs of the congregation and the Leading of the Spirit of God. There have been services where I have had one set or theme and then the Lord would say, "Not right now, this is what I want you to sing." I guess this is where it comes in that we need to be ready in season and out of season. It is great and wonderful to be prepared with the planned worship setand being ready to follow the flow in a different direction as the Lord leads.
There are also times that I will break up the order and insert scripture, testimonies, or even a special number that goes along with the theme of the service. I usually place a special song right after the faster praise type songs as a lead in for the more intimate, worshipful songs. I have found that for our congregation this works, if done sporatically (except for the scripture reading, which I do quite often), and keeps them engaged more in the worship setting. But as a rule I like to keep the music flowing durng the singing part of our services.
I'd say it's usually consistent, but there are a few times I'll change it up. It also depends on what instruments I might have. Some weeks I may not have a drummer, or guitar, etc... and I might have to alter the format of the service to fit what kind of instrumentation is available.