In nearly every worship planning meeting that I attend, I hear the same recurring question: “What are we going to do this Sabbath?” And as we discuss the details of the service, this question inevitably reappears in various forms: “How will we begin? What songs will we sing? What will we do next?” But if our purpose in worship is to lead God’s people in prayer and thanksgiving, then perhaps we are asking the wrong questions. 

Todd Johnson offers this advice to his students at Fuller Theological Seminary: As we think through the order of a worship service, the key question should not be, what will we as worship leaders do next but, rather, what do we want the congregation to do next.1 What will they sing? What will they pray? What will they contemplate? And, most importantly, how will their attention be directed to God? 

There are of course many things that might prevent people from truly engaging with a worship service. Perhaps a good way to begin encouraging fuller participation is to rethink the questions that drive our worship planning. Maybe it’s time to ask ourselves: “Are we planning worship from the our perspective or from the perspective of the pew?”

This was originally published in “Best Practices for Adventist Worship,” a free email newsletter from the North American Division Church Resource Center. Online signup is available at www.

1 Todd Johnson is an Associate Professor of Worship, Theology and the Arts at Fuller Theological Seminary. This insight is not in any of his currently published works. As a student of his at Fuller, I have heard him mention the principle in course lectures on worship planning.


The White Estate invites Adventists worldwide to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the adoption of the name “Seventh-day Adventist” on Sabbath, October 2, 2010. Although the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was not organized until 1863, the name Seventh-day Adventist was formally voted on October 1, 1860, for use by the fledgling church’s publishing house as well as for its local congregations. For more information visit



Eddy Chong is an actively serving elder at the Jurong Seventh-day Adventist Church in Singapore Mission, within the territory of the Southeast Asia Union Mission (SSD). As a financial consultant, his job requires him to deal with people from all different social strata and background and he thanks God for these opportunities and experiences where he can witness to them. He believes all elders must develop healthy, supporting and respectful relationships with everyone, including their local church pastors. This forms the foundation for the local church leadership; any internal strife for power and glory will only result in the weakening of the church. Elder Chong states, “I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve as a church elder for the last four years. I work in harmony with six other elders and we are committed to giving our congregation the best service. I thank God for the privilege and opportunity to be able to lead, strategize and empower the members of the church for evangelism and ministry. I believe if we know and do the will of God, we can confidently serve the flock He has called us to serve.”