How did we do today? How are we doing overall?

This post is the first of the Guidelines to Evaluate Worship series.

We all need feedback. It’s the only way to get better.

Worship services need to be honestly evaluated. Not to be critiqued, but to be improved. Leaders need to create a culture of on-going, healthy debriefing.

Develop a ministry philosophy of continual improvement. This enables teams to minister more effectively and efficiently.

Celebrate what’s good and “speak the truth in love” about what needs to be better. Don’t wait for problems to arise and use “evaluations” as thinly disguised opportunities to vent pent-up frustrations. (:

Every area of a church’s service should be encouraged with feedback. This would include:

  • First impressions (hospitality)
  • The worship plan, including content and design of the overall service
  • The music team and leadership
  • Preaching
  • Other public speaking elements
  • Technical Production elements (Audio, video, set or decor)

1. Ask the 4 Questions of Debriefing

Generally speaking these four questions of debriefing are a good starting place and are self-explanatory:

1. What was good?
2. What was not good?
3. Was anything confusing?
4. Was anything missing?

( Jason Hatley, WorshipLeaderInsights)

2. Ask: What kind of experience are we creating ?

Consider the big picture. Everyone attending your service is having some kind of experience. Put yourself in the shoes of the average person. What is he experiencing?

The little things can make the biggest difference.

Is it too hot? Too cold? Too dark? Are you making it easy for the average person to worship? Can they follow along? Can they see? Is the sound too loud, too harsh or too muddy? Can they understand the message?

Ask for feedback from the average attendee and from visitors. You may be surprised at their answers.

3. Decide what “Undistracting Excellence” looks like in your context.

John Piper advocates the value of Undistracting Excellence (from “What Unites Us In Worship” ) 

8. Undistracting Excellence. We will try to sing and play and pray and preach in such a way that people’s attention will not be diverted from the substance by shoddy ministry nor by excessive finesse, elegance, or refinement. Natural, undistracting excellence will let the truth and beauty of God shine through.

4. Understand the difference between objective and subjective criteria.

Piper’s point raises this question. What can be evaluated objectively and what can be evaluated subjectively? I suggest some guidelines for wisdom and discernment in the post “The Standard Answer.”

But suffice it to say –

Bad music is a barrier. Out of tune, out of time, poorly played = not a good experience.

So is showing off. God opposes the proud. If what we are doing communicates an attitude of “Look at me, listen to me”, that’s not good either. ‘Nuff said.

We’ll consider some very specific questions for evaluating music and other ministry areas in future posts.

Question: What questions would you suggest  for evaluating and improving your worship service?