Worship Media Arts

Big Ideas, How-To, and Articles on Worship, Media and the Arts

Learning to Make Decisions Together

Note: This is the fourth of a series of articles called Worship Design Teams That Work. While designing worship in a group is no longer a new concept in many circles, figuring out how to make them work is a greater challenge. Our goal is to look at some specific principles that will help your worship design teams function at a high, sustained level.

Do you meet with others on a regular basis for the purpose of designing worship? If so, take this little quiz.


1. My favorite worship planning sessions are when:

a) We find a creative idea that everyone gets excited about
b) Everyone listens to my ideas, since my ideas are best
c) Nobody gets injured

2. When participating in a worship team design meeting:

a) Everyone engages in a group dialogue, sharing ideas in an orderly fashion
b) Everyone gets excited and speaks at once
c) Getting people to share requires low-level torture techniques

3. When listening to my teammate share a concept:

a) It generates new and more creative ideas that I am eager to share
b) I think up witty replies to how stupid the idea is
c) I patiently wait for that person to shut up so I can share my stuff

4. My worship design team:

a) Has experienced conflict
b) Is currently experiencing conflict
c) Will experience conflict

5. After the meeting:

a) I am proud of the service we as a team have created
b) I would prefer that others not know I was involved
c) I like to tell the world about all of my great ideas

The basis for any team to meet, whether for worship or any other endeavor, is to engage in a group decision-making process. Those who put together a team, at a basic level, believe that there is potentially greater value in the decision making power of a group of like-minded and passionate people than over a single person acting alone.

Yet, ironically, one of the biggest obstacles to good teamwork is learning to make decisions together. It is possible for creative, sometimes headstrong, individuals to collaborate in a way about which everyone feels good? Can we really check our egos at the door? Is it really better to design worship in such a way?

We believe strongly that it is. Unfortunately knowing team worship design is possible and potentially powerful, and getting there, are two very different things. Much has been written about teams, and the importance of working in them, but little has been offered about the nitty-gritty challenges of finding consensus among individual team members.

The Broken Body

In far too many churches, for far too long, worship has been planned in a segregated, somewhat egocentric, way. The leader of each aspect of worship works in his or her office alone preparing their part of worship in isolation. Unfortunately this is often done with little to no consideration of how it will fit with the other aspects of worship, which are also being prepared with the same disregard for cohesiveness.

Is this how we are called to carry out our ministry here on earth? We are called to be the Body of Christ, yet we design worship as if we are prosthetic limbs that can be attached and detached at will. By breaking the body into pieces throughout the week (in preparation for the weekend) we limit the potential power of what worship could be.

In an attempt to get past this broken body, many churches form teams for the purpose of designing a more cohesive worship experience. The problem is that this move toward group design often comes without a change in mentality. Even if planning is now occurring in the same physical space, individuals come to team meetings with the same isolated thinking about their respective area(s) of responsibility.

5 Comments so far »

  1. The MO Guys said,

    Wrote on May 16, 2007 @ 9:57 am

    What do you think? Leave a message if you have something to say about this article. No registration is required to post a comment, but we will moderate for spam and obscene language, so your comment will be delayed in posting until we clear it.

  2. Gene said,

    Wrote on May 16, 2007 @ 12:23 pm

    Good stuff, as usual.

    I know a purpose statement is by definition a custom thing for each team, but can you share one or more of the ones from teams you’ve been part of? It’s easy enough to come up with a single statement describing what the team will do, but 5 or 6 statements including how to deal with conflicts is trickier, so having an example or two to use as a launching point would be helpful.

  3. The MO Guys said,

    Wrote on May 18, 2007 @ 2:34 pm

    Gene,

    Good question. In fact, thinking about it gave me some flesh for what is going to be a separate chapter in the book on defining dreams, purposes and goals for worship. This of course is something the team should do together. As a start, I could identfy that there needs to be consensus on a) basic philosophy of worship (adoration, community, discipleship, and/or outreach), b) methodology, and c) style. This is a good start. Once a team has worked through this stuff, then a comflict over whether a particular song is appropriate for worship becomes a non-issue, because you’ve already taken time to work through these issues. Much better to do it ahead of time before people get emotionally attached to particular creative ideas.

  4. PDA said,

    Wrote on July 12, 2007 @ 3:17 pm

    Thanks for addressing these questions…we’re changing our creative team structure, but I’m concerned about the size of the creative team I was considering after having read your article! I was operating under the impression that my main “implementers’ (heads of worship, drama, video, etc teams) be present. But that exceeds 7 people right there. And I’m finding these folks to be great implementers but not hugely creaive. I’d love to add 2 or 3 creative thinkers to the mix. Now we’re talking 10 people…which may be too many to be effective. Any thoughts on this?

  5. The MO Guys said,

    Wrote on July 13, 2007 @ 10:00 am

    Hi PDA,

    I would definitely add the creative people to the mix, even if you have to deal with the extra bodies. Try to ensure that these people have a function outside of the meeting, though. Not just to create ideas for other people to do, but things they will do themselves. Then you can whittle down from 10 to 7 over time. Sometimes mutual discernment occurs and people realize as the team grows that they don’t need to be on it.

    Two more articles on our site that may help you. One is on team size:

    http://www.midnightoilproductions.com/reading/team-building/team-size/

    And the other on team roles:

    http://www.midnightoilproductions.com/reading/team-building/assigning-roles/

    Maybe focus on these things foremost and then return to the organizational hierarchy. In other words, if you didn’t have political ramifications, what would be your dream setup? Start there, identify if, and then come back to the current reality. This method might help you to identify the points of conflict that need resolving.

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