Greg Scheer on Working with Worship Committees

"People fear the unknown above all. You lie awake worrying about what might happen," says Greg Scheer, minister of worship at Church of the Servant in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Worship changes often make people fear they'll lose power, feel discomfort, or watch meaningful traditions erode.

"People fear the unknown above all. You lie awake worrying about what might happen," says Greg Scheer, minister of worship at Church of the Servant in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Worship changes often make people fear they'll lose power, feel discomfort, or watch meaningful traditions erode.

He's developed a worship committee process "that alleviates fear on the front end and smoothes the process of trying out new ideas." The key is to separate approving a concept from voting on a final product.

When a change is proposed at worship committee, the team "doesn't play out worst-case scenarios. We simply take a quick vote on whether it's worth trying and decide how long we want to do it before evaluating it," Scheer explains.

For example, the church has a Basic English Service (BES) that appeals to new refugees and immigrants. BES leaders asked for a simpler communion liturgy on the Sundays that their group joins other worshipers in the sanctuary. The worship committee could have agonized over how to adapt its traditional seasonal liturgies. "Instead we commissioned a member to write a liturgy before our next meeting. We didn't see major problems in it so voted to try it for three months," he says.

This provisional approach "lets creative people be creative and lets the committee wisely evaluate after we've all had a chance to experience a change for a while." Scheer says that when worship committees get hands-on too soon, they create problems for the creators.

When the worship committee approves the concept of changing the artwork for a liturgical season, it commissions someone to create a design, which the committee approves or rejects. Rather than let committee members "tweak artists' work to death," Scheer usually suggests that they vote on the song, artwork, or liturgy as a whole, and "make suggestions to the artist later for their consideration."

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