I have always been interested in web design (well, at least ever since the Internet has become part of our lives). I built my first website in 2001, a website for young leaders (later discontinued). And, in my previous pastoral appointment, I built a website for the church.
I didn’t build this blog/site, but I have heavily modified the WordPress theme in the year-and-a-half we’ve been using it. However, web design is a hobby at most. I don’t do it enough to remember what I learn and I certainly can’t keep up with emerging web design technologies.
But recently, while doing a combination of praying, listening to music, and thinking about web design and worship, I reflected on what are, in my opinion, the three major components of web design: (1) Structure, (2) Design, and (3) Content, and what role they each play in the context of a worship service. Incidentally, I was listening to Matt Redman’s song, “Heart of Worship,” which was written about putting the content, the heart, of worship back in its proper place (you can read the story behind the song here).
Interestingly, all three web design components exist in a worship service. Structure represents the order and flow of the service. Flow is extremely important. You can’t just pack a bunch of worship elements into an hour of worship and expect it to be meaningful.
Design is the style, the aesthetics, the feel of the worship gathering. Design includes things like style of music, style of prayers (extemporaneous, written, or responsive), the type/level of congregational participation, style of preaching, etc. Design matters. It’s what draws people to particular types of worship gatherings. While some people are drawn more to traditional worship experiences others are drawn more to spontaneous, exuberant ones. But all have their place — to help different people connect to God in ways that are meaningful to them.
Content is the most important component, of course. It’s the heart of worship. It includes our words, our songs, our prayers, and our actions. And it’s more than those things — it’s all that comes from our hearts!
But while the content is most important it cannot exist on its own in a meaningful way. In web design, you shouldn’t simply fill a page with a bunch of words and expect it to be appealing or even readable. It needs structure. It needs margins and white space as well as color and images. The same is true in worship. The content needs structure and design. This is a helpful way for me to think about the worship experiences I lead at Centre Grove.
Can you see these three components in the worship experiences you attend?