Evaluating our times of corporate worship is extremely important to our ability to improve. My friend and counterpart from the Kansa-Nebraska Convention, David Manner, offers an excellent tool for worship evaluation:
Unless an organized plan of evaluating worship based on the deeper biblical and theological issues is implemented, the tendency for congregations to focus on style and service mechanics will continue to consume the energy of worship planners and leaders. An intentional evaluation process would provide “a constructive way to articulate what a congregation has learned about itself and its worship practices, as well as to prioritize which goals are most important to address in the future.” Since most congregations do not have an instrument to regularly evaluate their worship, the following questionnaire was developed to encourage those congregations to consider worship renewal grounded in Scripture and modeled throughout the history of the church. Worship evaluation will occur. Leaders must determine if they would rather initiate the evaluation or constantly respond to congregational critics who have initiated the evaluation for them. A pre-emptive approach could reduce the conflict which will inevitably occur from the latter.
You may download a PDF file of this evaluation here.
Specific Worship Elements
- When were worshippers first greeted after arriving on campus?
- Was an attitude of community evident as the congregation gathered?
- Were worshippers embraced as a part of this community during the gathering?
- Was the congregation publicly invited to participate in this worship service? Examples: invocation, hymn/song, call to worship, processional.
- Was the congregational singing passive or participative?
- Did the music selected for congregational singing include a balance of familiar and new?
- Did congregational song selections include both vertical and horizontal expressions? celebrative and reflective?
- Did presentational music encourage congregational participation or passivity of performer and audience?
- Was the text theologically sound, and did it affirm the Scripture as central?
- Was the music multi-generational and culturally appropriate for this congregation?
- Did music get too much attention in this service?
Visual and Fine Arts
- Were visual and/or fine arts incorporated into this service? Examples: mime, drama, dance, poetry, painting, sculpture, video, film.
- Did the use of the arts in this service contribute to or distract from the worship expressions?
- Was it evident through these arts that worship is visual as well as verbal?
- Were artistic expressions used inappropriately in this worship service? Examples: glory of man instead of God, manipulation, entertainment.
- Was it evident that prayer was an important part of this worship service?
- Who led in prayer? What types of prayer were led? Examples: invocation, confession, supplication, intercession, communion, lament, thanksgiving, repentance.
- Were prayers fixed and/or spontaneous?
- Were various prayer postures encouraged?
- In this worship service was it evident that Scripture is foundational?
- What Scripture passages were read in this service?
- Who read Scripture? How was it read?
- Was Scripture read beyond the text for the sermon?
- Was there a sense that the sermon came after the “preliminaries,” or was it evident that the sermon was a part of the worship?
- Did the congregation actively participate in the reading of Scripture?
Ordinances – Lord’s Supper/Baptism
Was the Lord’s Supper celebrated in this service? If so, what was the attitude of the observance? Examples: communion, thanksgiving, remembrance, celebration, eschatology.
- Did the Lord’s Supper provide an opportunity for symbolism and mystery?
- Was the Lord’s Supper central to the worship theme of this service?
- If the Lord’s Supper was not celebrated, what other options were available for responding to the Word? Examples: offering, congregational singing, baptism, testimonies, prayers of confession, invitation, Scripture, presentational music.
- Was baptism celebrated in this service? Did the baptism contribute to the communal relationship of the congregation?
- Was the symbolism of baptism evident and understood by members and guests?
- How was the congregation dismissed at the end of the service?
- Was the dismissal a sacred expression? Examples: blessing, challenge, communal action, recessional.
- Was there a communal and unified attitude evident as the congregation left?
- Where were the announcements presented? Did they distract from the flow of worship?
- Was the offering a time of sacrificial response that encouraged an attitude of worship?
- What additional elements were present in this service?
General Worship Elements
- Did the service feature a balance of worship actions? Examples: praise, confession, dedication, commitment, response, lament.
- Was the service conversational, involving God’s words to us and our words to God?
- Did the worship space encourage my participation in worship? Examples: icons, art, symbols, colors, lights.
- Was the order of service easy to follow or confusing?
- Did the service flow well? Did transitions link the worship elements? Was the pace satisfactory?
- Did the worship leaders convey a genuine pastoral concern?
- Which of the five senses were employed?
- Was there a good balance of celebration and contemplation?
- Were there elements of the service presented by leaders that could have been presented by the people? Examples: prayer, Scripture reading, testimonies.
- Were physical actions encouraged? Examples: raising hands, kneeling, bowing head, palms upturned, clapping, standing.
- Did the service give participants an opportunity to connect with one another?
- What symbols were used in this worship service?
- Did anything in the service distract my attention from a conversation with God?
- Were guests able to meaningfully follow the service without confusion? Were elements presented that were generally accepted by the congregation that might be unfamiliar to a guest? Were these elements explained?
- Did the service offer a time of silence for reflection, repentance, or confession?
- Besides congregational singing, what elements offered an opportunity for active participation?
- Did the worship service invite the congregation to be a part of God’s story through Jesus Christ?
This evaluation comes from David Manner, Director of Worship & Administration for Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists. Check out his excellent blog at www.kncsb.org/blogs/dmanner. Used by permission.
 [The Worship Sourcebook, (The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Faith Alive Christian Resources, and Baker, 2004), 763.]