Tag Archives: Worship

Creating Environments of Worship

We are all affected by our surroundings in one way or another.  It either has a positive affect on us or a negative affect on us.  To help you understand this let’s look at a couple of examples:

Imagine you go to 2 restaurants.  One has paint coming off the walls, the table is kept from rocking by some cardboard shoved under one leg, a dead fly is on the table when you sit down, the menus have some sort of sticky residue on them, and you’re treated like you’re intruding on someone else’s time.  This environment will effect your attitude toward the meal you are about to eat.  You order a steak, but you’re not certain that’s what they brought you.  The end result is that your experience was less than perfect.  The other restaurant has just the right lighting, not too bright, not too dark.  You’re treated like you’re family.  The menu’s are clean.  The tables are clean. Everything seems to be good.  This environment will effect your attitude toward the meal you are about to eat.  You order a steak.  It’s just what you were hoping for and as a result you’ll definitely be back.

Imagine you go to 2 hotels.  One was built in 1970.  It was modern in it’s day, but over the past 40+ years it’s lost its’ appeal.  The burnt orange  carpet is no longer ”fancy”. The dark paneling is dented and scarred from years of guests coming and going.  Even the clothing worn by the front desk personnel is dated.  It’s almost as if you walked back in time to 1970.  It’s really no longer a relevant environment.  And you’re hoping that the bed is newer than 35 years old.  The other hotel was built the same year.  The difference is that it just underwent renovation to bring it up to date.  It will still serve the save purpose.  It’s just a little more relevant.  A fountain and greenery were installed in the lobby.  Large tile floors, abstract painting, new furnishings and much more were included in the renovation.  You can immediately feel a sense of relaxation when you walk into this environment.

The truth is that we make our choices of restaurants, hotels, even where we want to watch a movie because we like the environments that are there.  Environments are important to how we respond to situations.  This is true for our worship as well.  As far back as Genesis, we find environments of worship being created.  In Genesis 8:20, Noah built an altar for a sacrifice to God.  This had to be built before he could worship.  We also find that Solomon built the temple.  Following God’s leadership, he built it with only the best gold and precious jewels. Nothing was spared.  This was to be the house of God.  The environment had to be suitable.  We even have current examples of environments of worship.

Today, God doesn’t dwell so much in a place as much as he does within us.  However, to be able to reach the world that we live in we must be aware of the importance of environments.  The world around us uses a variety of gadgets, computer graphics and technology to communicate in large environments.  Because of this, we have to be aware that what we do in an environment of worship is important.

Our goal is to create worship environments that are appealing, relevant, changing and current.  Probably the best example of what we attempt to accomplish is our own homes.  When we have people over, we attempt to make them feel welcome and comfortable as our guests.  We put our best foot forward by making sure our house is clean (usually).  We want the decorations to look good and for everything to be in its’ place.  We don’t hold back!  It’s only the best for our guests.  And we may even surprise them with a few unexpected things.

So what does this mean for us as we develop environments of worship where we are?  How do we create a relevant environment for worship and what exactly does that mean?  There are a few things that are important.

1.  The People.  We need people who are contagious.  This is the most important aspect of setting our environment.  Attitude counts!  We’re not a looking for a fake personality, but a genuine excitement for what God is going to do.  From the time people arrive on any day of worship, we set the stage for worship.  A Guest Services team should be ready to greet people at the door to invite and encourage them to worship.  They create an environment in the refreshment area and meet and greet people there.  Praise singers, audio visual, children’s workers, instrumentalists, greeters and others all play a vital role in creating an environment of worship.  That’s why people are a vital key to a successful environment.

2.  The Decorations.  Cleanliness is important.  We should have an inviting place to come and worship and for our guests to come and worship.  Don’t be afraid to change things up.  Create fresh looks by using new banners and graphics.  Change is a good thing because it helps keep us from falling into a rut or a routine.  We set the stage for our environment by providing a visually stimulating environment.  Everything works together.  Those who work on cleaning the property, maintaining the property or decorations all work together to help create an important aspect of our environments …

3.  The Gadgets.  We live in a technical world.  Any concert you go to is maxed out with lights and sound and visuals that are top of the line.  Check out the computer graphics in movies these days.  It’s amazing what can be accomplished by the stoke of a key on a keyboard.  To reach this computer driven age, we must be relevant.  Our technology and audio visual is important in creating a relevant and current environment.  It’s important to realize how these just aren’t extras if we want them anymore.  They are things that are expected as much as hymn books were expected in many churches.

4.  The Unexpected. Everyone likes being entertained.  Although church is not “an entertainment”, it’s not intended to be boring either.  One of the main reasons people go to different concerts, movies and more is because they’re looking for the unexpected. So let’s plan to be unexpected in what we do when we worship God.  We can change our flow of worship, change how things are presented, and even change how things look.  As we create the unexpected in our worship, we must always stay true to the truth of the Bible.  That is one thing we cannot change!  Scripture demonstrates that God has been worshiped in a variety of different ways throughout history.  As we do things that are unexpected, it allows us to worship God in fresh ways.

We need to realize that we all have a role in creating an environment of worship whether we’re the Pastor or have just been worshiping for a short time.  Because of this, we need to plan ahead.  What attitude do we need to have? What needs to be cleaned up?  What needs to be changed or added?  What are some creative things that can be done to engage people in worship?  How can we have a sense of worship that is contagious?  Everything we do works together to create an environment of worship.  Our Worship involves the whole body.  Once the environment is set, we can let the worship begin!


What’s Your Plan for the Offering?

There is one part of our worship service that is often an overlooked part of worship.  This is the time when we receive the offering.  Scripture teaches us that giving our tithes and offerings to the Lord is an act of worship.  As such, we should make this part of our service a continuation of our worship.  It’s not an add-on, an extra, or a break in the flow.  It is an act of worship.  As such, this is a time where people freely give their offering to God and as a church we receive the offering. (Often referred to as “Taking the offering”, but this creates an image for me of people with ski masks and guns taking what they want.)  We should have a well thought out plan not only of how we’ll receive the offering, but once it is received have a process in place that creates integrity in handling the gift.  Let’s explore three areas together:

1.  Preparing to Receive the Offering:  Have a plan of what you will do during this time.  Think intentionally, what are you talking about before you take the offering?  Script this out. This can include an orientation to the materials that you use or even direction to how the offering will be received and opportunities available for giving at other times (i.e. online, mailed in, foyer kiosk, etc…).  Also you can cast vision by telling them “Everything we do at the church happens because you give generously.”  Continue to cast vision for what the offering will be used for as they give.  Tell them things they made happen including testimonies, videos, baptisms, vbs, missions trips, community involvement, benevolence, outreach, etc… You can also tell them, “As part of your own personal accountability, we encourage you to use an offering envelope.”  Bottom line is we need to spend time before the offering preparing to receive it in a way that will bring honor to God.

2.  Receiving the Offering: Don’t surprise people by taking the offering at random times.  During the welcome, you can tell people about when the offering is going to be received.  This helps them get prepared for that time.  Remember that the offering is worship.  As a result, you should make it easy for people to give and be involved in this part of worship. I have heard many well meaning pastors at the time of their offering encourage first time guests not to give.  We wouldn’t encourage them not to praise God in singing or to listen to the message and respond, why would we encourage them not to give as an act of worship.  For some first time guests, the best thing they could do would be to give.  It may be what they need to do to open themselves up to God.  People aren’t offended by the fact that we receive an offering, it’s how we receive it, what we say, how we say it and present it (that’s why it is important that we think this through before we get to the offering).  As you are speaking during this time, don’t make it dark in the auditorium when you tell people to fill out their envelopes.  This works against what you’re trying to accomplish.  Give a minute warning before you take the offering so people can prepare to give.  We don’t want to rush the process of giving, but we also don’t want to get stuck here either.  You should be able to receive your offering in 45 seconds to one minute.  You can do this by placing a basket/bag  per row in your auditorium prior to services starting.  This can be placed under a chair/pew or a bag can be placed at the end of each row.  By doing this, everyone can ‘pass the plate’ at the same time and the ushers simply walk through and collect the baskets/bags.  Note: If you do not actually receive the offering during services, you lose money and your people miss out on a blessing.  If you use the tithe box, people forget to use them once they leave their seat.  Because of this, you don’t need to dismiss your service until the offering is completely received.

3.  After you have received the Offering: Take it from the floor to a secure room that is not in public traffic area.  Have a minimum of 2 counters (a few more could be helpful).  You can have all the ushers go to this room and count or just a few of them.  Once your in a secure place, I have found a good practice is to have this group pray for the offering, those who gave it and for God to use it for His glory.  Have a process in place for counting the offering.  Once that is complete, have those who counted sign of on the cashout sheet, envelope or any paperwork that is used in counting.  It is good to have a safe to keep your receipts in until it can be taken to the bank.  Once the offering is counted, place it in a bag and place the bag in the safe.  (A safe that does not require a code to place something into, but requires a code to get the money out of the safe is a good one to use.)  At no time in your process should you have only one person handling the money.  This is good to protect the church as well as those who are responsible for handling the money.  It is good to have a written plan of every step the offering takes from the moment it is collected until it is deposited into the bank.  By writing it down, you can identify areas that are needing improvement.

I believe that God honors our efforts as we build integrity into this process.  I have seen what has happened at our church as we developed a solid process of handling funds as they are given.  We have seen more first time givers and increased giving in general.  I can’t help but believe that God is pleased with our desire to be good stewards with what He entrusts with us.  If there is no system in place and things just happen from week to week, it is difficult to have integrity in place. (I know this, because of where we were before we developed our system.)  But if we’re faithful with the offerings and givers we have, I believe God will honor our faithfulness.


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