What Your Church Can Learn from a Broadway Show

Have you ever been to a Broadway show?

Our Journey office in New York City is right in the heart of Times Square. Literally, whenever I walk down “the great white way” to go to our office I pass three of the big shows that are currently playing.

If you’ve been to a Broadway show you know the work, effort, creativity, and planning that go into a great show. Those shows don’t come together in a day, much less a week, a month, or even a year sometimes.

The show is written by a group of skilled writers. The music is composed by Broadway legends. When the show is finally written, the most talented singers, actors and dancers in New York show up for the casting call.

After months (even a year) of rehearsal and technical planning the show celebrates it’s opening night. And if it’s a great show, like Les’ Miserables, it will run night after night for the next 5, 10, even 15 years.

Now – contrast that to what you and I do every week.

In most churches, the worship order is written not months, but days before the service (sometimes hours – ha!). The best talent in New York City isn’t available when the volunteer positions are assigned. The budget of the church is nowhere near the deep pockets of the Broadway show. When the service is finished, you won’t be able to do the same one again next week. You will put it to rest and start all over again.

Seems a little unfair doesn’t it? Here’s the rub . . .

Most churches live in a world where they wake up on Monday and it occurs to them, “Hey, we have a worship service this Sunday! We should start planning.”

I call that the Week-to-Week Mindset. You know you have it when you just can’t see past this Sunday to plan for next Sunday, or the next month of Sundays.

It’s a terrible place to be in ministry, constantly battling to bring the service to life this week, feeling the frustration of not being able to relieve the stress and get ahead. It leads to burn-out, stale services, and missed opportunities.
If I may, I believe this is an area where the church NEEDS to learn from Broadway.

Now – I know that the worship services in our churches are not the same as Broadway shows. In fact, our services are more important. The decisions that people make to follow Christ in our churches every week far outweigh the entertainment value of a Broadway show.

But because of the importance of the work we do, we need strong systems for planning our services, just as our counterparts in show business do.

What would it look like if you had a preaching calendar that laid out what you would teach on each Sunday over the course of the next year? Think of the freedom that comes with that kind of prayer-soaked planning.

What would you be able to do to teach God’s word more effectively if you knew exactly the types of creative elements in a service 4-6 weeks from now? Would you find a great testimony? Find new media to use? Empower the creative people on your team to brainstorm ideas for how to make each Sunday life transformational?

Too many of us have a “what do we NEED to do” mentality of Sunday, as opposed to a “what COULD we do” mentality?

The first says, “As long as we have some songs and a sermon, we’ll be fine.”

The latter says, “What could we do with what God has given us to make this Sunday something special?”

To do that requires time, prayer and planning . . . it requires a desire to break the Week-to-Week mentality and get to work on not just this Sunday, but the next month or even year ahead.
Here are 3 things you can do to start breaking the Week-to-Week mentality:

#1 – Hold a 30-minute (or less) meeting with your Pastor this week to discuss this Sunday’s service.

#2 – Plan a time in the next 7 days to plan for the next 2-3 Sundays. Put it on your calendar. Prayerfully plan worship orders, song selection, creative elements, etc. Discuss it with your pastor.

#3 – Create a system that will allow you to plan your services weeks, months, even a year in advance.

A good system is the key to breaking the Week-to-Week Mentality.

In my new book, Engage: A Guide to Creating Life-Transforming Worship Services, which I co-authored with my Lead Pastor Nelson Searcy, we teach you how to develop a worship planning system that will keep you planned in advance and relieve the stress of weekly thinking. We wrote this book to help you plan, implement and evaluate effective, life-changing worship services.

Engage is based on 8 years of planning and evaluating these systems at The Journey and in hundreds of churches around the country.

I encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself and anyone on your staff who is involved in the worship planning process.

The book just came out last week and is available in bookstores everywhere. But, the best (and cheapest) place to order yours is on Amazon.com:

Engage – Paperback Link                       Engage – Kindle Link

I am so proud of this new book and I believe it will be a great resource for your team, and can make a big difference in your Sunday service.

Your partner in ministry,
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TUESDAY MORNING INSIGHTS is Jason Hatley’s free weekly training resource specifically designed to provide you as a worship leader with proven principles, tips and practices to help you lead a healthy and thriving Worship Arts Team.

About Jason Hatley and Worship Leader Insights

Jason HatleyIn 2002, Jason Hatley helped launch The Journey Church in New York City, directing the programming of their worship services. He serves as the Pastor of Worship Arts and built from scratch The Journey’s worship arts team, a group of over 200 artists and technicians who develop and implement the creative and technical elements at weekly Sunday services.
The Journey has been recognized as one of Outreach Magazines fastest growing and most creative churches.

Jason has been a worship leader since 1996. He invests in Worship Pastors around the country through interactive coaching networks and worship planning resources. He has been a featured break-out speaker at the Willow Creek Arts Conference, The Purpose Drive Worship Conference, as well as seminars around the country. He has a B.M. in Sacred Music Performance from Appalachian State University.

Jason is the author of Engage: A Guide to Creating Life-Transforming Worship Services and Revolve: A New Way to See Worship as well as over a dozen worship leader personal and ministry growth resources.

Jason and his family currently live in Boca Raton, FL where he serves as the Pastor of Worship Arts at The Journey’s newest campus in South Florida.