Last week I looked at templates, how we all have them (even if we don’t realise it), and why its important to use them. This week I thought it would be good to look at the evolution of our templates at EBC.
In The Beginning
When I first started at EBC our service order consisted of an A4 sheet which had a basic order on one half, and a list of songs and their corresponding Songs of Fellowship number on the other. It was primarily so the musicians were able to locate the songs in the book, and in those days the musicians did use books (including Baptist Praise and Worship), so we also had super strong reinforced music stands that were up to holding several large music books, as well as a significant supply of post-its to mark the pages. The music didn’t flow quite so well, especially if the first song was in book 1 and the second song on page 557 of book three, but the music team did have good biceps from carrying several kilos of hymn books around with them each rehearsal and service.
The first transition we made was to get rid of the two half sheet and condense it into one…each week we used to rip it in half, the musicians would take the numbers and the preacher would take the orders. And when I questioned “why” we did it this way…well, we always had. So we just had one A4 sheet which had some basic details on it (service leader, worship leader, preacher etc) as well as the basic order. We started putting in some detail for transitions between items, so we could introduce some flow into the service purposely, rather than as a happy accident!
The second minor adjustment was to get rid of the songbook numbers. By this point we had stopped using Songs of Fellowship, we had condensed down our song list and were mostly using our own chord charts which were in standard, singable keys and regular arrangements. This was a gradual transition as the church office liked to be able to use the numbers to make sure they had the right song…and in fairness there are some songs with similar titles…we did have one Sunday where I had chosen “Great is Your Faithfulness (Unchanging)” by Chris Tomlin, only to be greeted by the hymn. But generally this wasn’t a big issue.
The sea change came after our visit to Atlanta, to the Drive conference at Northpoint where we learnt about the “funnel”, or their Rules of Engagement and how to narrow the focus during a service. Off of the back of that we created a new template which had the three elements: Engage, Involve, Challenge, highlighted down the side, so we could then fill in the template accordingly. We also expanded the columns to give more direction in terms of technical notes and cues, so our Sunday team had a better idea of how it all would fit together and we could have some more control of the flow.
Our current template takes all of these things into account, again it has evolved over time to fit with what we do, just as we have. The template extends over 2 A4 sheets (we now have a double sided copier!), and as we also now have a more complex lighting set up with moving head spots and a full DMX set up, we include lighting cues with our technical notes and information. This is what also necessitated moving some of the service detail to a second page.
You can see from the templates I’ve put up here that they contain more or less the same information, and our actual structure and order is not wildly different over the course of the years. But now we have an understanding of it, and are intentional with it, we can achieve much more comprehensive and impactive services. The elements that we put into our services, be it music, drama, media, interaction, along with sung worship and the talk can be arranged so that they have the most impact and effectiveness in communicating the message that we want to get across that week. And the feedback we are receiving from our congregation would suggest that this template is working.