Evaluating Worship and Music
It was a simple question that came in the Q&A portion of a recent workshop. The woman stood and said, "My church started a contemporary worship service a few months ago. We converted our early Sunday morning service from traditional to contemporary and now we want to evaluate it. Other than attendance, how do we do that? How can we know if the contemporary service should continue?"
I was not prepared for the question, so I was unable to respond to it intelligently and helpfully. I had not been asked this question before; and in thinking about it, I suppose that most of us are content with using the two main measures of attendance and offering in the evaluation of the success of a worship service. If attendance is good or growing and if offerings are strong, then what else do we need to know? If those two measurements are positive, then surely any other means of measurement we might come up with would also be met.
Further consideration of the woman's question has led me to come up with other means of measuring the success of a worship service. It is important to distinguish between evaluating worship and evaluating your planning for worship. It would be easy for us to become engaged in our worship planning rather than in worship evaluation. It is also important to divorce evaluation of worship from worship or music style. Means of measurement or evaluation ought to be able to be applied to all worship, regardless of time, place, leadership, demographics, or style.
Here are 25 statements of evaluation or measurement that can be applied to your church's worship. After each statement, you can select the response that best applies to your church. You may want to re-word these statements to call for an individual and personal response from the person answering or for a response that evaluates the question as a congregation.
1 -- Strongest agreement
2 -- More agreement than disagreement
3 -- Neutral, no response, don't know
4 -- More disagreement than agreement
5 -- Strongest disagreement
Have your pastor, music staff, worship leaders, even your congregation complete their responses, collect them, analyze them, and most importantly, discuss them. What are you doing now that is working well? What can you improve upon? How do you do that? Not all these responses or statements are equally applicable all the time, but this little test will help you begin to measure the success of your church's worship. Please do not send your responses to Discipleship Ministries.
There are numerous books and resources available related to planning and leading worship. The one basic, inexpensive booklet that EVERY pastor, planner, and worship leader should have is one of the Guidelines for Leading Your Congregation series, titled Worship: Creating Opportunities to Meet and Respond to God by Daniel Benedict, available from Cokesbury (telephone 800-672-1789, www.cokesbury.com). This booklet has been used in formulating some of these statements.
|1. Our worship helps the congregation experience its relationship with God.||1||2||3||4||5|
|2. Our worship helps the congregation live more faithfully as a Christian community.||1||2||3||4||5|
|3. Our worship promotes and fosters regular individual and family spiritual formation.||1||2||3||4||5|
|4. Our worship is relevant to the culture and setting of our people and community.||1||2||3||4||5|
|5. Our worship is grounded in and faithful to the best of the Christian tradition.||1||2||3||4||5|
|6.Our worship is more about God than about us; worship tells God's story more than our own.||1||2||3||4||5|
|7. Our worship is hospitable and welcoming; visitors are glad they came.||1||2||3||4||5|
|8. Our worship welcomes various ages and cultures.||1||2||3||4||5|
|9. In our worship, the congregation is a participant, not just a spectator.||1||2||3||4||5|
|10. Our worship has joy, life, vitality, celebration, but also offers opportunities for reflection, repentance, lament. People are active in singing, preaching, and praying.||1||2||3||4||5|
|11. In our worship, the people are addressed, touched, washed, fed, anointed, and strengthened in relationship to God and to one another.||1||2||3||4||5|
|12. In our worship, Jesus is experienced as present in love and power.||1||2||3||4||5|
|13. In our worship, the people and the community are changed by the power of the Holy Spirit.||1||2||3||4||5|
|14. In our worship, things (food, water, candles, furnishings, fabrics, vessels) are used generously to point to the presence of God.||1||2||3||4||5|
|15. In our worship, actions (people being baptized, greeting one another, sharing bread and cup) point to the presence of the risen Lord.||1||2||3||4||5|
|16. In our worship, space is arranged so the people can be together, see one another, and sense their participation as a worshiping community.||1||2||3||4||5|
|17. In our worship, people experience God's calling, and they respond.||1||2||3||4||5|
|18. In our worship, leaders work in concert to prompt the participation of all the people.||1||2||3||4||5|
|19. In our worship, leaders are prepared to and expectant of hearing God's Word and experiencing God's power.||1||2||3||4||5|
|20. In our worship, people experiencing hurt and isolation receive a healing touch.||1||2||3||4||5|
|21. Our worship calls people to a continuing conversion and renewal of the baptismal covenant.||1||2||3||4||5|
|22. Our worship calls seekers and newcomers to a life of faith.||1||2||3||4||5|
|23. Our worship involves laypersons in active roles of planning and leadership.||1||2||3||4||5|
|24. Our worship enables the congregation to identify and welcome people of various racial, ethnic, and cultural groups.||1||2||3||4||5|
|25. Our worship engages all the senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell.||1||2||3||4||5|