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Have you experienced the pressure of others trying to get you to think or feel a certain way? Have you felt the blows to self esteem or self confidence, or the push to self-consciousness brought on by criticism, complaint or disregard by others? On the other hand have you enjoyed the blessing of compliment? Have you experienced the honor of affirmation or appreciation or accolade that confirms your gifts, honors your efforts? Now, here is the real question: How well are we doing, living between blessings and curses?.

It has been amazing to watch media coverage of the American political process over the last several months. At what seems like an eternity ago the media was wondering who might pose a challenge in the Republican Party to Mitt Romney (apparent inevitable party nominee to be elected president). Then it seemed like every week they would report a new “number 1” in the polls. But within seven to ten days each new number one would encounter opposition, challenges from other candidates and revelation of flaws by media. It seems like each and every one who has dropped out of the race was # 1 for a week. Does that seem odd to you? How can these no-names rise from obscurity to leader and back to obscurity with such swiftness? And how can it happen to leader after leader after leader? 

At the very least this journey of rise and fall of candidate after candidate has stirred interest in the news and the race. It has given the media some interesting stories to report. And I imagine it has stirred up the people to be more interested and involved in the political process. But this experience suggests a caution to consider. To what voices do we listen? Who shapes our views, our choices, and our responses?

In the 1960’s and 70’s Walter Cronkite was considered to be “the most trusted voice in America”. He made a trip to Viet Nam and reported on his journey to that tiny Southeast Asian nation torn apart by war. When he questioned the worth of our effort and losses there the government saw that the heart of the nation had turned against the conflict and our involvement in it. People listened to the CBS news anchor.

We might be well advised to carefully consider what voices we allow to influence our opinions and considerations. Who deserves to guide our perceptions and perspectives? Consider for a moment that we are precious and important. Consider that the various messages and voices we hear from advertisements for beauty products to breakfast cereal and from toys to political campaigns all vie for our attention and approval. If we say “yes” they gain our money, our support, our trust, and our vote. If we say “no” they lose.

One of the gifts of our nature is the power to direct, control and choose that to which we will agree, that in which we will believe, and that which we will allow to influence our opinions and lifestyles. Let us not give up that control. Let us not abandon our freedom or our importance. Let us not be like sheep directed or controlled by others. Let us live tall and strong and free. God has created us with intellect and wisdom, with experience and family and friends, with faith community and the unique ability to choose. Let us embrace this ability, enjoy it, and use it with a sense of excitement, empowerment and adventure.

Would you like to improve the effectiveness and impact of your worship? Would you like the worship experience to get better? How do we do that? We start by debriefing the worship just concluded. We do this naturally and virtually immediately. Hopefully we notice both the positive and negative but we evaluate the experience as soon as it ends (and sometimes earlier).

As intelligent and emotional beings perhaps we cannot help but interpret and evaluate most everything in our lives. Debriefing can be very helpful is shaping, guiding and using our propensity to analysis to make things “better”. Regardless of the style of worship we offer would it not be a good idea to evaluate the effectiveness of what we do, why and how?

Start with choosing your “evaluation” team. Bring together some folks you trust who are willing to be honest, who are focused on helping to provide help and together create the best ministry possible and support both persons and program. It may be the worship leadership team, or a worship committee, or a few friends. The purpose is not finding flaws it is about building up, strengthening, enhancing and expanding the good we do. And when you meet, I recommend allowing some time to pass before gathering for review.

In your debrief meeting begin with prayer and the focus not on the past but on using the debrief to help prepare the next worship experience.

What to debrief:

  • What were the goals? What were we trying to accomplish?
  • What was the message we were trying to communicate?
  • How did the Order of Service contribute or impede the experience and communication?
  • What did we want people to be thinking and feeling after the service ended?
  • Examine each worship element, its impact and effectiveness. From arrival trough the worship service to departure. How did each element contribute to the overall experience?

Please Note: I tend to approach worship thematically, insuring that all worship elements point in the same direction. Knowing that people respond differently and are affected by different things I work with my team to try to shape services with the idea that all elements contribute to the overall theme so that all had the opportunity to experience and understand.

Next, let it simmer. Give yourselves some time to consider the lessons and evaluation. Let the ideas mature a bit before you plan the next experience.

Finally, relax. Remember that worship development is a long and constantly emerging process. As disciples on the journey of faith and life we are constantly growing and becoming. People do not respond well to radical or rapid change, but often embrace the little changes and improvements that happen over time and enhance and enrich their experience and faith.