Worship Service Premortems


plan aheadSome worship planning teams have developed an evaluative process after their worship services each week. They meet regularly to reflect on what did and didn’t work. This after service evaluation is a postmortem of what has already occurred. By definition, a postmortem occurs only after death or after the damage has already been done. Postmortem evaluators say, “We’ll do it better next time.”

What if, in addition to the worship service postmortems, those planning teams also implemented a process of worship service premortem evaluations? Premortem is the process of applying prospective hindsight before an event or project occurs. Prospective hindsight is considering what might occur by envisioning the future outcome or imagining results based on the information at hand. Premortem evaluators say, “Let’s get it right this time.”

Maybe it’s possible through these collective pre and post evaluative processes to improve, strengthen and renew our worship services as they are being birthed, rather than just having to autopsy them after their passing.

Note: Last minute worship service planning makes premortems virtually impossible and often contributes to painful postmortems

Sample Worship Service Premortem Questions

  • Is the service easy to follow or disjointed?
  • Will the announcements distract from the worship flow?
  • Are transitions and pace going to link the worship elements well?
  • Are leaders doing anything that could be done by the people?
  • Does platform personnel represent the cultural and generational character of our congregation?
  • Are there any elements generally accepted by the congregation that might be unfamiliar to guests?
  • Will the songs we have selected encourage passive or participative worship?
  • Are we using a healthy balance of familiar and new songs?
  • Are those songs singable?
  • Are the songs theologically sound and biblically accurate?
  • Are any of our artistic, visual or verbal expressions distracting?
  • Will it be evident that prayer is an important part of our worship?
  • Is Scripture foundational to every element of this service?
  • Are we reading or highlighting Scripture beyond the text of the sermon?
  • How will the congregation actively participate in the reading of Scripture?
  • What other options are available for responding to the Word if we aren’t celebrating the Lord’s Supper?
  • Is there continuity with the sermon and other worship elements?
  • Is it evident that the sermon is also worship?
  • How are we sending them out?

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