Each time I reread a blog, I find something I would like to change.  It is the plague of any writer/editor to want to change stuff.  However, it is in the details that good writing becomes great. I can imagine Hemingway hunched over his desk desperately trying to eliminate all unnecessary verbage.  The genius of brevity became his hallmark.

With every worthwhile venture it is the details that make and break a project.  One of my favorite TV shows has become Holmes on Homes with HGTV.  His insistence to master the details has drawn me and thousands of other viewers.  In our ministries, I’m convinced it is the minute things that others may overlook that separate okay from excellence.  Jack Haberer began pastoring Trinity Presbyterian Church when it was scarcely pushing 100 in attendance.  By the time he left, there were hundreds more coming each week.  While working for and with him, I saw that his mastery of details was the defining emphasis of his ministry.  When he first became pastor, they used folding chairs in the worship area.  He would come each Saturday night to arrange the chairs and pray for the people who would sit in them.  For him this was not a silly detail but a way to insure that people knew that they were welcomed.

Because I operate the sound system and lead the praise and worship, we use a Fender portable sound system.  It is simple/stupid.  I can set it up and not worry about the details.  Changing the volume can be done while I’m leading praise without much distraction.  However, I haven’t found any way to hide it and it a looks messy.  Therefore, I insist that the myriad of wires extending from the system are straight.  This helps in two ways.  I’m not going to stubble over them and they look better.  A small detail but important.

Straight rows of chairs I learned from Haberer and from Richard Stimson, our executive director.  Making sure that my notes are within reach and in order, I learned from Mr. Bitter Experience.  Dressing as though I’m ministering to a crowd of 7,000, I learned from my mother.  (Her motto was “It’s always better to over dress than under dress.  You can take off a jacket and undo your top button.  You can’t put a jacket on, if it’s in your closet at home.”)  Insuring that the wires of a sound system are safely in order I learned from a sound course I took from a group of sound professionals. 

Here are some other details that make my life easier and enhance the worship experience.

  • Begin and end on time, not 5 minutes late.
  • Be sure that a copy of the words to portions of the service that we will recite are in front of me.  I know the Lord’s Prayer; but it can quickly slip from my memory if there is a distraction.  Having a safety net of words insures that I don’t have to skid through an important part of the service.
  • Arrive early enough that I can take care of the details and then relax a moment. 
  • Insure that the songs I will be using are in the correct order and that the person running the overhead projector will have easy access to them.
  • Be sure that our first-ait kit is accessible at all times. 
  • Keep my mobile phone handy but make sure that I turn off the ringer.
  • A volunteer or staff should always be in a room where our members congregate.
  • Train myself  to never turn my back to the congregation.
  • Practice the praise and worship before the service.
  • Make sure our sound system, overhead projector and other electronic equipment is operating correctly. 
  • Check all CD’s or programs on the computer that I am using.
  • Speak to every person who is in our program, if possible.  Shake their hand or hug them.
  • It is really good if we can have a member stationed at the door to welcome people as they arrive.  Often volunteers are busy insuring the safety of the membership.  A peer can simply be friendly.
  • Practice the flow of the service. 
  • Notice where hitches happen (when I am trying to find a scripture or when I am calling people out to participate in the service are good examples).  I practice these  and know what I am doing.  I have a problem remembering people’s names when I am in front of an audience.  Therefore, before the service, I practice the names of the people I will call out or I have a written list.

These may not be any of the things which trip you up.  But there is something.  Mind the details of worship and the big things will seem to flow as smoothly as butter.

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