Worship Leadership Requires Planning and Evaluation


What is your current worship planning system? Your first response may be, “We don’t have one.” In reality, every congregation has a planning system, but it may be unintentional and lack focus. The way that worship unfolds each week is your planning system.

No matter what size the church, time spent evaluating the week’s service is helpful to the goal of a vital worship experience for the congregation.

Think about these questions as a way of understanding your system.

  1. Who is involved?
  2. How far ahead do we plan?
  3. How much time is spent?
  4. How much communication is there among worship leaders?
  5. How do we evaluate our worship services and share feedback each week?
  6. How does our planning take into account those we are most seeking to reach?

Many churches, we have discovered, need to place a much higher priority on planning and evaluating worship. Growing churches are characterized by the following worship planning practices:

  • They spend much time in planning for worship, long term and weekly.
  • They prepare extensively for each service.
  • They regularly evaluate and revise what they are doing.

A regular evaluation time is a critical ingredient of the planning process. In churches with a paid staff and multiple services that need to be considered separately, the meeting may be weekly and take an hour. In smaller congregations, the pastor may simply spend time on the phone with one or two volunteers who lead music or coordinate volunteers for the worship service. No matter what size the church, time spent evaluating the week’s service is helpful to the goal of a vital worship experience for the congregation.

At my church in Herndon, Virginia, these questions are used to evaluate the previous weekend’s services:

  • What honored God?
  • Was Christ lifted up and celebrated?
  • Where did you/others encounter God?
  • In what ways did worship components offer or hinder the Holy Spirit?
  • What are the specific action points needed to improve in the future?

Nelson Searcy uses the following questions at The Journey Church in New York City. Each question results in a list of responses. Then, assignments are made for those things where someone needs to take action (Engage, Baker Books, 2011, 168).

  • What went right?
  • What went wrong?
  • What was missing?
  • What was confusing?

These two lists of questions focus team members in different ways. One helps the group think theologically. The other enables the group to think pragmatically. Good worship planning works on both the theological and pragmatic axes, but the questions asked may provide different outcomes and results. Some team members will best engage this process if they enter through a theological doorway with a focus on glorifying God and possible personal transformation through worship. Others will feel this evaluation time to be valuable if they see clear changes to the worship plan that come as a result of working through a practical process of feedback, evaluation, and assignments of responsibilities.

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About Author

Tom Berlin

Tom Berlin is bishop of the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church. Previously, for over 25 years, he was senior pastor of Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon, Virginia. He was written several books. Most recently, he coathored The Third Day: Living the Resurrection (Abingdon Press, 2023), available on Cokesbury and Amazon.

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