Seven Tips for Creating an Exceptional Worship Experience

We’ve likely all attended some pretty mediocre worship services. Bad music, unfocused sermon, inward-focused, or just poorly planned and executed. An exceptional worship experience doesn’t happen by accident. It requires planning and preparation. The goal isn’t to provide an excellent worship “performance,” but to create an authentic, excellent, distraction-free experience that connects with people and enables them to have an encounter with the risen Christ.

An exceptional worship experience is one that is both meaningful and engaging for worshippers of all ages and backgrounds and is welcoming and inclusive for guests. There are a number of things that churches can do to create an exceptional worship experience for both regular attendees and guests. Here are a few tips:

  1. Create a guest-friendly digital front door. Make sure that your website and social media pages are functional, easy to navigate and provide all the information guests need, such as what to expect during the worship service and where to park. 90% or more of your guests will check you out online before visiting in person. Some will become regular online worshipers.

  1. Plan and prepare to provide a distraction-free experience. Plan your elements and transitions carefully to avoid awkward pauses or transitions that could be avoided. Prepare your physical space – prior to the beginning of each service, walk around and tidy up any messes and remove physical distractions.

  1. Be intentional about the guest experience, for both in-person and online attendees. From the moment guests arrive at your physical location or streaming platform, make sure they feel welcome and included. Treat every attendee like a guest. For in-person guests, this means providing clear signage, having greeters in the parking lot and at the door, and offering coffee and/or snacks. For online worshipers, include a special welcome to those worshiping online, acknowledging and affirming their presence. Offer a verbal welcome to any guests from the platform at the beginning of the service. Everyone involved in leading the worship service should introduce themselves, so guests know who is speaking.

  1. Make it easy for guests to participate. Avoid using jargon or acronyms in your announcements and printed material. If you have any interactive elements, such as greeting each other or holy communion, give clear instructions. Make sure the words to any participatory songs, prayers, or liturgies are either on screens or printed in bulletins. Offer suggestions to online worshipers about how they can also fully participate.

  1. Be inclusive and respectful of people who may not be familiar with your traditions. If you include traditions or practices that may be unfamiliar to guests, be sure to explain not only what you’re doing, but also why, and invite them to participate.

  1. Keep your worship engaging and meaningful. This includes using a variety of worship elements, providing the very best music you can, and making sure the sermon is relevant and relatable to worshippers of all ages and backgrounds. Use visuals – slides, videos, or physical props – to help illustrate your message and create a more immersive worship experience. Include points that connect with the intellect and share illustrations that connect emotionally. Include clear takeaway points and a call to action that is accessible for all.

  1. Follow up with guests after the service. This might involve sending them a text, thank-you note, inviting them to attend another service or event, or simply checking in to see how they are doing. Following up with guests shows you noticed them, that you care about them, and that you are interested in getting to know them better.

Creating an exceptional worship experience requires intentionality and attention to detail. It requires vulnerability in acknowledging the areas where we need to improve. Yet, it is worth the effort! Strive for excellence in all you do. Engaging and impactful worship encourages people to come again and again. And, for many, this is the first step toward a life of discipleship as part of a community of believers actively seeking to grow in their faith.

Where does your church have room for improvement? Make a list, then prioritize the list with highest impact changes at the top and, remember, the effort will be worth it.

Yvonne Gentile is our Guest Experience & ShareChurch Lead Director, a former retail industry executive, and co-author of four books. She and her husband Frank have been part of Resurrection since 1996. Together they enjoy movies, road trips, and spending time with family.