As I mentioned yesterday, our message and service planning here at Mountain Lake is not flippant, by any means. Much strategic prayer and planning goes into nailing down what God wants us to say and how He wants us to say it to the people. Here are a few more elements that help us in our worship planning process:
5. We work a individuals and as a team in our message preparation process. One of the reasons I love NOT teaching every week at our church, is because on those weeks, I get to spend more time with God, seeking Him about what He wants us to say to His people IN THE FUTURE. Honestly, the future can be as near as two weeks from now, but more often stretches out to months in the future. Each week, our primary communicator studies alone on Monday & Tuesday. Then, on Wed AM, 2-3 of us get together to listen to where the communicator senses God is leading him. We speak into that and help confirm and strengthen a strong direction and even application of the message.
6. Collective Service Planning and Creativity is a TEAM SPORT. On Monday afternoons, several of us meet to plan and examine the collective worship services. This process is not left to one person either. Tod Nichols, our Worship Pastor, does a masterful job of driving this process, and the team of several pastors who have creative bents join this meeting to bring their spiritual gifts to bear on the process. In this meeting we nail down final songs, creative elements, announcements, and orders of service for the next several weeks of worship.
7. We plan months into the future. Twice per year, we meet ALL DAY to look 6 months into the future, specifically regarding our worship services and message series content. This past week, our team met to nail down our next six month teaching calendar. I brought a sense of what I felt like God wanted us to say, and allowed our top Ministry Leaders to speak into that, push back on that, bring new ideas to the table, and confirm where I feel God is leading us. We get highly creative at these meetings, which are always held off-site to stimulate that very thing. We had an awesome meeting this last Monday, and I feel SO GREAT about where God is taking us, what He wants us to say, and HOW we're going to say it! I can't wait to begin to share SOON what He has laid on our hearts!
8. We remain open to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Often, over the years, we've had a great plan, and then we begin to sense God is up to something different; that something that wasn't in the plan becomes more urgent; or less urgent. We sense God leading us to go a different direction in our teaching. In this event, we never allow the teaching calender to control the Spirit. We always allow the Spirit to control the teaching calendar. Many times over the years, we tweaked the calendar as we've gone along. Other times, we've worked the plan just as we had laid it our months later. IN either event, we listened and cooperated with the Spirit of God!
Largely due to this process, and the leaders who helped shape it, this Fall is going to be one of the most spiritually impactful times in the life of our church! Mountain Lakers, buckle your spiritual seat belts!