A few weeks ago I wrote an article about building community with other worship leaders in your region and the impact those relationships can have on you as an individual and on your city or region. One of the ways these relationships have affected the city I live in has been the desire to bring believers from all over our community together for city-wide nights of worship. These gatherings are ushering in a powerful move of the Holy Spirit through worship in our city, and I’m here to share some practical steps to consider as you think through what it can look like to work towards unity through worship in your city.
Begin With Relationships
Everything in this process is going to be built upon the foundation of authentic relationship, so spend a minimum of 6 months to a year developing friendships and true relationships with other worship leaders and ministry leaders in your area. When I say “friendship” and “true relationship”, I mean exactly that – invite them to your house, get to know them outside the context of coffeeshop meetings, play music and write songs together, lead worship together, develop a true sense of trust and camaraderie, all with the sole motivation to love well. And continually invite other worship leaders into this relationship-building process: the more the merrier.
Discover God’s Vision
Together, with these friends, seek God’s heart and vision for your city or region. Ask Him these questions: Jesus, what are you already up to? How can we partner with what You’re doing in our city? What do You see and what do You want to see? What are You longing for and how do You want us to participate in the movement of the Holy Spirit? Be specific and bold in your asking, and expect specific and challenging answers, ensuring this vision is derived and supported by God’s Word! With the answers you receive, do your best to specifically articulate the vision God gives you for your city and how coming together for worship supports that vision. Cast this vision to your pastor and church leadership – their support will be vital as you pursue this vision together (but don’t be discouraged if they don’t jump on board right away).
Assemble a Team
Once you’ve got the vision, you need an inter-denominational team to carry out the vision. This team will cover everything from planning and implementation to marketing and overall strategy. Choose individuals that are both passionate about worship and strategic, relational and forward-thinking, and connected in your community and still engaged in the bigger picture. Be specific with this team about your vision for the city, and stick to it. Once you’ve assembled a team with leaders and individuals that you trust can carry out the vision unwaveringly, you can prayerfully begin crafting a gathering that will impact your region in intentional, thoughtful, and powerful ways.
Plan Your Gathering
Plan your gathering as strategically and thoughtfully as possible. Collectively think through both where (location) and when (date) makes the most sense for your community, taking into account any fundraising needs you might have. In my city, whose event calendar tends to run parallel with the local University, the best time is right after classes end in the Spring semester, and we have our gatherings at a local theater downtown. Next, consider how to incorporate as many churches as possible into the leadership of the gathering: Should there be multiple bands? Maybe one band with a collection of worship leaders that transition throughout the event? What about a choir that consists of team leaders and members from local churches? How many sets should there be? How can we incorporate ministry leaders into times of prayer or transitions throughout the gathering? Think through how to get the word out to churches in your area, as well as how to garner their support. As you create your set list for the gathering, be as inclusive as possible. In our planning meetings, each of our worship leaders submits the top 5 songs that their church knows really well, and from that list we take as much overlap as possible to create our set list for the night, aiming that as many people that attend are able to participate as much as possible. Finally, somehow specifically address the vision you received from God for your city as part of your gathering – maybe that’s by crafting the event around a particular theme or vision statement, carving out time during the gathering to pray together about the vision, or crafting your song transitions intentionally, with thoughts, vignettes, and scripture, to take your gathering on a journey through the vision.
As leaders, there’s a particular posture of open-handedness that we need to maintain as we work hard to partner with others in what God is doing in our communities. Stay humble, don’t be in it for any personal gain or recognition, and value your relationships with your worship leader friends over the task at hand. In this posture of open-handed surrender, you can submit to the wisdom of the team you’ve chosen and can maintain a willingness to submit your vision back to the One who gave it to you in the first place. Chances are, the vision He gave you will turn out less like you wanted and more like He envisioned, and it’ll be a powerful step forward in His kingdom advancing in your city.