It’s Sunday afternoon, or night, or Monday morning; and you are relaxing. The weekend services (or gatherings, or whatever you call them) are over, and you finally feel like you can breathe and sit down again without having a million things flying through your head.
Until … oh yeah … you realize that next Sunday is only six days away.
I remember this feeling.
To be honest, I sometimes still have it.
Sometimes it was made even worse by the fact that I was leading week to week with no long term plan or system for review and improvement.
Fortunately, I was blessed with a lead pastor who used to be a worship leader himself. He and I have been on an interesting journey as we have, with God’s help, revitalized the worship ministry of a dying church.
Along that journey, we have always had a system for reviewing and planning our weekend services.
It has evolved, and each stage has had its pros and cons.
I have narrowed down all the changes we made to three (3) main levels, and I’d like to lay them out for you in three posts.
These will be very practical in nature, and I’m hoping you can easily find where your current system falls and then quickly implement some of the things listed here.
Worship Review Level 1: The Firing Squad
This level of review began right when I became heavily involved with leading worship. I wasn’t choosing songs right away and didn’t have to make too many big decisions, so most of the comments coming my way were related to HOW I led worship that week.
I remember being told a lot of things by a lot of people. There was very little system involved in these. Everyone just kind of took notes on Sunday and then hit me with them on Monday.
The one structure we used involved how we categorized the comments. It went as follows:
- What went right?
- What went wrong?
- What was missing?
- What was confusing?
While we don’t use this format for worship review anymore, we do still use it when we debrief after a big event like our Easter weekend or a Trunk-or-Treat event. We sometimes take it a step further and tweak the questions into action verbs. Then the format looks like this:
- Something good that you should keep doing
- Sometimes, we just called these “High 5’s” and we would try to come up with at least 5 things from around the entire campus that went well.
- Something that needs some tweaking before it can work properly or accomplish what it’s supposed to
- Something that wasn’t there and needs to be
- Something that didn’t make sense or was confusing. It needs some clarity.
- Something that was just plain wrong and can’t or shouldn’t be fixed. It doesn’t align with, or worse, goes against the mission and/or vision of your church. It needs to be stopped immediately.
The first 4 are simply a rephrasing of the first 4 questions from earlier. The last one is just a very strong option for things that we need to just take decisive action on.
I call this level the firing squad not because everyone treated me poorly and I had my feelings hurt. Everyone in these meetings had great intentions and we all understood why we were doing this. I call it the firing squad because this was very early on in my worship leading experience – and I had A LOT of things to fix.
I’m very glad for this time in my life. And I thank God that all of the people who were in those meetings had my best interest at heart and understood the mission and vision of our church. Without their feedback, I would not be where I am today.
This is a great place to begin. I recommend inviting only people who actually were in the service and who are at a level of leadership where their input is actually valuable.
Here’s a shortlist of some people who you might want to include:
- Lead Pastor/Teaching Pastor for the day
- Operations/Executive position
- You, the worship leader (of course)
- Any tech team leads (audio/visual)
- Production (someone who was responsible for making the service run smoothly)
Eventually, the Lead Pastor was phased out of these meetings because they became very nitty-gritty and full of little details that he didn’t need to be worrying or hearing about. But not having him there necessitated a different type of meeting involving just he and I. (More on that in another post)
We reviewed our weekends like this for at least a year before moving on to the next level.
Oh, and the most important tip I can give you on reviewing?
DO IT ON MONDAYS!
It’s fresh in the mind, and yet you can be objective. This may mean that this meeting happens digitally through video chat or over the phone. That’s ok. Just make it happen.
It will change your weekend services for the better. Especially if someone takes notes and keeps a record of what is being worked on.
I’m reminded of the phrase I was taught as I trained to be a high school math teacher: “Inspect what you expect.” If you hope to have great weekend worship services, then have people keep you accountable and let you know when things could be better.
And listen to them humbly and with a servant’s heart.
Remember, we are doing this for an audience of One, and we’re all on the same team.