How Do Worship Leaders and Pastors Collaborate to Plan the Service?


There are many things to consider when putting together a meaningful worship service.

Worship planners often spend countless hours giving careful consideration to things such as song selection, lighting, use of scripture, and incorporation of music within the order of the service. These different elements must work together towards the end goal of leading people into sincere worship. This is important, challenging work. 

But perhaps one of the biggest objectives for a worship planner is to drive home the pastor’s message. After all, it is the preaching of God’s word that is the central focus. Worship must purposefully tie in with the message and not provide a contradictory focus.

I’m curious; do your worship planner(s) and pastor(s) meet on a weekly basis to go over the sermon and important themes that could be incorporated into worship? 

What has worked well? What are the challenges? 

I'd love to hear about your own experiences, ideas, or suggestions in the comments below!

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It depends to some degree on the pastor, but a level of collaboration is, of course, essential. Our present pastor posts a brief statement on Planning Center Online, giving his Scripture, general themes, and punchline. This is the minimum that would work. Ideally we'd meet with him on a weekly basis (a couple of weeks prior to the service) but that seems difficult logistically for us. We do use email for clarification, sharing of ideas, etc when needed. Depending on the theme, we will sometimes theme an entire service around the sermon, and at other times, will start with a more general worship theme (often on a particular attribute of God) and then lead toward the sermon theme. We do this for two reasons. Firstly, some themes don't lend themselves to songs and liturgy that will lead us all into the presence of God, and secondly some themes have very few associated songs that are familiar to us or easily learned. 

If your pastor is worship-focused, and wants to have more involvement, the opportunities for creative collaboration are endless. One great idea (from a Stuart Towned song-writing seminar) is for a musician and pastor to co-write a song that speaks precisely to where the Holy Spirit is leading the service. In general, if it works for worship leader/planner and pastor to meet together, I would jump at the opportunity.


Thanks, Graham! You are exactly right that it can be a logistical challenge to meet weekly for planning purposes. Glad that you are still able to have open channels of communication. Also, love the idea of musicians/pastors collaborating on a song led by the Holy Spirit - how powerful that would be!

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 Although we are currently without a full-time pastor, before our last one left in October of last year (2015) he was part of the worship committee, so we did work with him to choose hymns that supported the topics and message of his sermons, and we hope to be able to do this with the next pastor also. In the meantime, since we're getting classical appointments, we strive to contact the minister who will preach when one of us will be responsible for preparing the order of worship ahead of time to give them time to think about their sermon, and to find out what they intend to preach about so we have an idea of what songs to choose.  Very seldom does lighting come into the picture in our church, but when our former pastor was with us Good Friday services were almost always Tenebrae rituals.  That was THE exception to the rule.  Otherwise, I don't recall any service where the lighting had anything to do with the order of service.  Other than to light candles, maybe.  and that usually takes place mostly around Advent and Christmas.

We did most of the work by email.  Still do.  Most of the members work full-time, and some live quite a distance away from Montreal, sometimes even past the Ontario border, so meeting on a weekly basis simply is not practical for us.


We meet weekly with each other and we have a few members who join us.  Sometimes we ask a group to participate because it is lent, advent, or a specific series.  I never get the picture of the pastor's message because he doesn't write his sermon until later in the week.  All I can go by is the sermon text, season, series theme, etc.  90% of the time I can draw some elements (songs, readings, etc) that support the sermon.  Sometimes I receive the information and let the sermon stand on its own.  Not necessarily ignoring the sermon information, but sometimes, I don't have the exact resources to make a supportive theme.  That's not all bad either.

Don't give up, it's the right thing.  Sometimes i find it helpful to read a brief concordance on the text to get a general overview of the text (a study Bible works most of the time).  Then drawing from your reading, you can at least derive some theme.  Also try using the lectionary ( and search for the text and then see the corresponding passages (psalm, OT, Epistle, NT, etc.) and sometimes I can draw from that also.

I also agree with using something like planning center, etc to start the process and keep your worship participants informed.  I'm just starting this myself.