A friend told me about a wedding reception he attended?recently?where something terrible happened. There was a dance floor and a DJ, but?that wasn?t necessarily the terrible?thing. There was a bride/father-of-the-bride dance that exploded into a “spontaneous” choreographed group number with the bridal party, but that wasn?t bad either. In fact, it was fairly entertaining ? buzzfeed-worthy even (see Top 27 Choreographed Wedding Dances). It was a great venue with good food and lots of hanging string lights. Everything seemed perfect. So what was so terrible about it?
The DJ broke the cardinal rule of the DJ code. He let the music stop. Between every song there were a few terrible seconds of silence. There are two things that will increase the awkwardness of the activities on a wedding reception dance floor exponentially: 1) your uncle dancing the macarena and 2) the DJ letting the music stop. My friend said it brought the dancing and festivities to a?halt. Instead of enjoying themselves and?dancing the night away, the attendees sat along the edges and waited for the polite moment to make their exit.
This is a funny story that many of us have?experienced at weddings, but we have also, unfortunately, experienced similar moments in a church service. The separate elements of the service may be well thought out, but the transitions are bumpy and even jarring.
You?ve heard the mantra in real estate that selling property is all about??location, location, location.?
In a similar way, creating and sustaining momentum in our services is all about??transitions, transitions, transitions.?[quote]Creating and sustaining momentum in our services is all about??transitions, transitions, transitions.?[/quote]
The Holes in Our Plans
The one major area where I see holes in services is in the transitions.
My intention is not to put too much emphasis on this, but we have to understand the role?of energy and?momentum when people gather together. There is potential for a powerful unifying energy in a group setting that cannot be experienced by one?s self. This is part of a human group dynamic. It?s not guaranteed, but it is possible when people gather together.
We create energy in each element of our services with songs, words, sights, sounds, and other experiences, but we won?t sustain this energy and keep people engaged unless we connect these elements together. This is the power of momentum: Momentum is what happens when we link the chain of energy from one element to another. Momentum is found or lost in our transitions.
Sustaining momentum is not about creating a wave of emotion, but about cultivating an atmosphere of engagement. When we break the momentum with poor transitions, we cause people to disengage from the rich content we have carefully prepared. This is something we should all strive to avoid.[quote]When we break the momentum with poor transitions, we cause people to disengage from the rich content we have carefully prepared.[/quote]
Things like key changes, audio fades, lighting cues, and stage props don?t seem very spiritual, but they are directly connected to the momentum of our services. Just one of these things done poorly can bring the energy in the room to zero and the momentum to a standstill. It?s not just tech blunders, though. Bad transitions by the communicator between stories and scriptures or from announcements to offering can also put the brakes on momentum.
Because they have the potential to distract people from or focus people on what is most important, transitions are some of the most critical elements of our services.
I?do not suggest that every service needs to build to a cathartic crescendo where success is measured by the number of teary eyes in the room. Every service will have its unique direction with many ebbs and flows. But I do suggest that you pay more attention to your transitions ??that you treat them with a little more weight and intention that you have before. They should not be the afterthought or the thing you get to in rehearsal if you have time. They should be the elements you rehearse the most, because they often involve more moving parts and you are more likely to lose people in these moments than any other time in the service.[quote]Transitions?should not be the afterthought or the thing you get to in rehearsal if you have time.[/quote]
When it comes to creating a memorable experience where people engage with one another, God?s presence, and His word, the?importance of transitions cannot be overlooked. Be intentional and see if you don?t experience more people?nodding their heads along with you all the way through.
People sitting on the side at a wedding reception is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. They will all go home with something to laugh about later. People checked out in our church services is a really big deal. Yes, God works in spite of our awkwardness, but if we can increase momentum by paying careful attention to transitions, why wouldn?t we? Let?s not let the secondary issues distract people from our primary message. Instead, let?s bring people along and engage them in an experience that leads them to look at Jesus in a fresh new way.