Monday, January 25, 2010

The 3 P's of Worship

Why does a worship service "work" for some people, and not for others? I use the word "work" rather loosely. Consulting with a number of different churches lately has caused me to do some reflection on this question.
The result is the "3 P's Of Worship." The average worship service consists of 3 P's: preaching, praise and people. As you will see, "praise" is stretched beyond it's technical meaning--but, as a pastor, I like alliteration, and I think it helps make the point.
Preaching involves the communication of God's Word. Preaching styles vary greatly: textual, topical, theological, practical, serious, funny. Preaching is a varied as the personality of the preacher.
Praise involves the elements in the service beyond preaching. While most often associated with music, praise, as I am using the term, includes things like communion, offering, testimony, video productions, and the like.
People involves the mosaic of humanity who attend the worship service. Although "worship" is an act directed towards God, the people around us matter. A month ago my wife and I decided to attend a particular service at our church because we "know more people" at that service. What about those people who prefer to attend a service where they can walk in and out, unknown to anyone else? "Anonymity" is its own kind of "people factor."
In order for a worship service to "work" for most of us, I believe that two out of the three P's need to be present to a fairly high degree. If the preaching is good, and the people are family, individuals will tolerate music that's "too loud" or drama they don't like. If the praise is great, and the the people factor is right, we will tolerate less than great preaching.
When all three P's are present, a person becomes a raving fan of the church's worship service. When only one out of three is present, a person probably finds another church.
It would also seem that different individuals rank the importance of these three P's differently. Depending on how a person prioritizes these P's, determines the kind of church to which we will be drawn. Those who value the people factor will be more comfortable in a smaller church; those who value the preaching factor will gravitate towards the larger churches which, on the whole, tend to have stronger preachers.
This is one guys opinion. What do you think?