Worship Exploration

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Jennifer Noble graduated with a Corporate Communications major and has written locally for “Etc. for Her” as well as Sioux Falls charities such as the Ronald McDonald House. In addition, two of her stories are published in compilations, “I’m Glad I’m a Mom” (Harvest House) and “God Still Meets Needs” (CreateSpace).  She is the Communications Manager at First Presbyterian Church. 

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Think like a filmmaker

For example, McFee notes early in her teaching of concept that “Today’s generation wants to be immersed in a message rather than merely hear.”

M-m-good?

A “M-m-good service” (stands for meaningful and memorable) is achieved in a variety of ways, as people notice and remember different things.

Be Intentional

“All art forms contribute to storytelling.”

Time to plan?

The best creativity happens within structure.

A review by Jennifer Noble

The June Presbytery Meeting in South Dakota featured Dr. Marcia McFee of the Worship Design Studio.Dr. Marcia McFee is a professor, worship designer, author, preacher and ritual artist.

Drawing on a first career in professional dance and musical theater and equipped with a Master’s in Theology and a PhD in Liturgical Studies, she understands the role of any worship artist in the church as that of creating extraordinary portals through which communities journey with the Spirit.

Following her teaching and leadership, First Presbyterian Church wanted leadership to explore McFee’s book “Think Like a Filmmaker:  Sensory-rich Worship Design for Unforgettable Messages.” McFee covers several points, which can be explored further to shape worship design and develop the creativity within our congregation. This small sampling of eight points of her research easily launches a free flow of ideas, where a concept for a church service can mushroom into something much larger.

For example, McFee notes early in her teaching of concept that “Today’s generation wants to be immersed in a message rather than merely hear.”  How have you seen this be true?  How do you influence those who are younger than you are?

In addition, she explores:

2)  A “M-m-good service” (stands for meaningful and memorable) is achieved in a variety of ways, as people notice and remember different things.  It is easy to know what we find meaningful and remember, but how do we do at asking others about their experiences?  How do we choose to review the impressions we gain in worship in order to recall them later?

3)  For definition, McFee provides good reminders of the roots of the structure of a service in explaining, “Liturgy means work of the people – what you see, hear and do as a proclamation.” She says, “All art forms contribute to storytelling.”

4)  Have you ever struggled with feeling the weight of a lack of variety?  McFee notes, “Monotony happens when we don’t take time to be intentional.”

5)  Along this same vein, in a worship series, consider bringing an “Oh yeah” moment and an “Ah-ha moment,” which in a formula may look like “Familiar + New = Comfort + Exploration.” This is a helpful point in looking at the emotional dynamics of a congregation at an individual level.

6)  The idea for the sixth observation of preparing worship is to engage in “deeper seeing” with others – where seeing a variation of a theme is an effective way to learn.  With this tip, think of artwork that all represents one theme, like water, but different substances are provided to complete the artwork. Dissimilar things used together will often encourage people to draw meaning to the elements.

For example, this poem, set to video, was written with inspiration from Matthew 5:14.

7)  Last, for leadership within worship, McFee suggests using a synopsis of vision and topical needs to help a team plan, as the best creativity happens within structure.  This would include structuring deadlines to include the opportunity to include others.


This final point brings us to an appreciation for the Worship Design team reviewing the opportunities to explore how they can best serve with the gifts and talents they share, as well as blessing the congregation in the process of doing so. In addition, Marcia McFee has a variety of resources available through her website at marciamcfee.com if you are interested in going deeper in your understanding and experiences in worship.