Service Planning: Avoiding the Chaos of Last-Minute Service Changes

As a technical leader, you need to be able to say “no” on a Sunday morning. While it is never a comfortable position, changes to service should not be done last minute (with a couple of exceptions).

Service Planning: Avoiding the Chaos of Last-Minute Service Changes
One such exception is if you’re having a guest speaker come in, for instance, obtaining information and media from them may happen just an hour before service. Always request the information ahead of time, but realize that with some speakers, this just may not happen.
Service Planning: Avoiding the Chaos of Last-Minute Service Changes
One such exception is if you’re having a guest speaker come in, for instance, obtaining information and media from them may happen just an hour before service. Always request the information ahead of time, but realize that with some speakers, this just may not happen.

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The countdown to service is underway and everything is ready to go, for a great morning of worship. Then, your head pastor hands you a USB thumb drive, asking if you can play a video clip at some point before he preaches. As church techs, be it technical directors, sound engineers, or worship leaders, we have all been put in similar position to this at some point.

Everyone should walk in on Sunday with a clear idea of what’s happening.

Here are some ways to change your service planning to avoid the last-minute chaos, and help your entire church focus on what matters: God.

The first critical step is having something in place to help you plan the service from a worker’s and volunteer’s perspective. Planning Center Online, Worship Planning and Ministry Scheduler Pro are all great tools to schedule and remind the people that are critical to service, what their role is on a particular Sunday. If you’re not using one of these tools already, you’re probably taking too much time to make a schedule.

Now that you know who will be there and what their role is during service, it’s time to work on the details of a particular service. This can seem daunting at first, but work from a larger scale and narrow it down slowly. If you are a church that does sermon series, what series are you in now? As a technical director or worship leader, this will help you with your choices of backgrounds, songs and possibly mini-movies to use during the service itself. This will help the service naturally flow from one element to the other.

There are some other details that should be noted as well. For example, who is the primary vocalist for a song? This will help camera operators be ready to focus on that person, and although that segment of the service has probably already been rehearsed, it will help your sound tech with the correct mix. In addition, what is the mood overall for this song? This information helps lighting choose appropriate colors and the person running slides will then pick an appropriate background for the lyrics.

Don’t leave these things until Sunday morning.

Among the things to take into account is that there are often multiple versions of a particular song with the same name. Integration with the Christian Copyright Licensing International, or CCLI, database and making sure you have the correct lyrics is critical in helping people properly enter into a time of worship. Scriptures are another critical aspect of service planning. Cueing those with the proper break points will help people see and retain the Word of God in a more intimate and powerful way.

Knowing what you need, and getting what you need, are two separate things entirely.


More About Todd Heft
Todd Heft is the director of media arts at Hillside Community Church in Bristol, Connecticut. He also serves as the Social Media Coordinator for Racing with Jesus Ministries. He holds a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Eastern Connecticut State University and a Master's degree in Computer Information Management from Central Connecticut State University. Todd also has a full-time position at ESPN as a Senior Systems Administrator, and enjoys spending time camping with his wife and their four children.
Get in Touch: todd.heft@hillsidebristol.org    More by Todd Heft

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Article Topics

Team Management · Leadership · Spiritual Health · Team Development · Volunteers · Christian Copyright Licensing International · Cueing · Planning Center Online · Service Planning · Technical Director · USB Thumb Drive · All Topics

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