If you attended either congregation on Sunday you heard the announcement: beginning this Sunday, we will be phasing out our printed worship guide and will begin projecting song lyrics and prayers in our Sunday services.
We wanted to take a moment and explain why. If you’d like to download or share this information in PDF format, you may do so by clicking here.
When we opened our doors in June of 2008, we did something unusual for a new church plant in the 21st century—we decided to not put a screen in our Sanctuary.
At the time, our desire was to set apart an hour and a half every week where our people did not face a screen. Instead, we put a printed guide in their hands—complete with words to songs, prayers, places for sermon notes, and announcements.
Looking back nine years later, it is clear that the worship guide was a strategy that has served us really well.
However, while vision stays the same, strategies often change. Over the next several weeks we will phase out our printed worship guide and begin projecting lyrics and prayers onto screens at both congregations.
As you can imagine, the logistics of printing weekly worship guides are complex. At present, we print over 50,000 pages every week—a process that begins at least ten days before a Sunday service. But the reason we are changing our strategy is not driven by logistics.
We have always been committed to the strategy that best serves our mission, not the strategy that is the easiest or even the most efficient. There are numerous benefits we see coming from this transition, but there are really two that stand out, and have driven the decision to make this change.
WORSHIP LEADER DEVELOPMENT
We are committed to the truth that gathered worship plays a vital role in spiritual formation. One of the central ways that happens on a Sunday is by intentional, empowered leadership in our worship gatherings. Empowered leadership necessitates qualified and competent leaders who bring their own voice, their own presence, and their own gifting to their particular area of leadership (this is, consequently, true across the board). At present, our worship guide provides significant barriers to our different worship leaders fully leading in this way. During any given service, the worship leader is leading from songs and prayers that were chosen as the most accessible for three separate teams that Sunday. Projecting lyrics and prayers on screens will allow each leader to shape a service in preparation, as well as in execution, allowing us to better train leaders to thoughtfully and prayerfully plan and lead our people in the formative practices of worship.
PASTORAL PRESENCE & LEADERSHIP
Over the last several years, there have been many occasions where we felt unable to reshape our service in response to significant events or movements in the world (from our national conversation about race, to acts of terrorism or injustice around the world). Currently, we pick songs ten days out, and print our worship guides a week in advance. There have been several times when Sundays come around and the songs and prayers are not optimal to the tone needed for that day. While it is our commitment to not become tossed to and fro by every news cycle—sometimes the most prophetic thing we can do is not address something, and root our lives and our stories in the gospel of Christ’s kingdom—there are moments where silence is a missed opportunity to address an issue, practice lament, or celebrate as a body.
This transition is not something we have done quickly or rashly.
It is a conversation we have been having as a leadership team for nearly three years now. We understand that in changing our method here we do lose something—something that is beautiful and has served us well. However, we are convinced that the opportunities we lose by not changing this strategy are greater than what we lose by changing it.
We pray that this change will be experienced for what it is—a change in our strategy, not a change in our mission. As with any transition, there is a place for sadness. Yet, we also pray that in implementing this change, we will create spaces for us to encounter and experience the transformative power of the Spirit, that we would be shaped into the image of Christ as a people, and be empowered to live on mission together for the glory of God and the good of Kansas City.