When I was in high school, my father gave me the great opportunity to work for him in the summer for no money. Some of you had a dad like that, interested in building character instead of a bank account. My dad took me to the farm where he was born and grew up.
On one of the hottest days of the summer, we worked when the sun was at its peak. My dad stopped and said, "Hey, Mark, let me show you something." We came to a spot where there were boards on the ground. Dad knelt by the boards and began to move them aside to reveal a hole. When the hole was cleared my father laid on his stomach, with his shoulders and head over the hole. "Mark, this is the spring. When I was your age, after we worked all day, I'd come with my brothers out to this spring." He reached down into the hole and brought up water. He said, "This is the best water I've ever had." I lay on my stomach beside my father, reached down into the hole, and cupped my hands. I drank that same ice-cold water my dad drank years ago, and he was right. It was the best water I've ever had.
In Genesis 26:18, Isaac reopened the wells his father had dug. Isaac went back when he was parched, thirsty, and in need. He went to wells that had satisfied his father, Abraham, and found refreshment.
Our churches aren't trying to create some new thing. When we innovate, we're simply coming back to the same source, the same Jesus, and we're drinking that water. Jesus said, "I'm the living water; come to me, all you who are thirsty." When we plan a worship service, we simply find ways to help people connect with Jesus, the living water.
Here's our six-step planning process for worship services.
1. Select the series
We outline the entire year in blocks, usually from 3 to 6 weeks for each topical series of worship services. Each series has a topic, theme, and agenda. That helps members invite their friends. Your people can tell friends, "We're starting a new series on family (or marriage or finances or parenting or sex)."
Often, the pattern in church is to build up to holidays. But we launch a new series on big holidays, when everyone is here, and say, "Come next week so you can see Part 2." Then we give people a postcard for the important, engaging topic that will be continued the next week. (Related PDF File: Planning process)
2. Determine the themes
About two or three months before we launch a series, our team determines the series name and themes of each service. Themes can tie to a particular church season, such as Christmas or Easter. Or they can be motivated by specific events in the life of the church, such as stewardship campaigns or leadership transitions. Some of the most-popular themes tie to popular culture, such as hit television shows. (Related PDF File: Series outline for "Lost")