By: Dr. Craig Gilbert
I am often asked by church leaders about worship in their churches and their desire to reach not only those who come, but especially those who do not. There is a sincere desire to understand the where’s and why’s of this issue. The answer is as complex as it is elusive. While there are certainly many worthy areas to address, there is one area that can be studied and improved in any service, in any church, of any style, and has the ability to reach everyone, regardless of age. Relationships. People today really want to be in valuable, important relationships. There are three key relationships that should be addressed in worship.

Congregation to God
People want to be in a relationship with something greater than themselves. In working on our relationship with God in worship we can gain a clearer understanding of and deeper relationship with a powerful, forgiving, loving, and nurturing God. Spending time with God in community is vital to our understanding of everything else in the Christian walk.

Congregation to Itself
People want to be in relationship with other likeminded and committed people. We as The Body, in the words of Paul, work together for the good of the Kingdom. In order to do that work we must learn to love and appreciate each other, all of our gifts and all of our graces, even though we all have many differences as well. We can best work on that relationship in the very presence of God.

Congregation to the World
People want to make a difference. The younger generations regularly express their desire to “make an impact” on the world around them. Our relationship as Christians to those around us is a huge part of what it means to be a Christian. Jesus told us to “go out” into the world to make disciples. We are called to be the Body of Christ to the world through evangelism, through support, though social outreach and more. Where better to hear and come to understand this call and our role in its fulfillment, than in worship?

So, where, specifically, in your worship services are these relationships being built, examined and improved? Can you clearly identify the exact actions in which everyone participates to build and strengthen each of these relationships? Over time, do you have an equal representation of actions and reflections on each of these relationships, or is one or two dominating all of your time? Do you teach the importance of these relationships to the depth of our Christian walk?

If you want dynamic, interactive, and growing worship services, then being aware and, more importantly, proactive in regards to relationship building in worship will be a huge benefit for your church and the Kingdom as a whole.

With more than 25 years of service in local churches, Dr. Craig Gilbert is now a full-time consultant and coach bringing his experience, education, and passion to churches just like yours. Dr. Gilbert serves as the subject matter expert in worship for the Vibrant Church Initiative Program of the Texas Annual Conference and he is helping United Methodist congregations in this conference as well as around the country to reach their worship goals. Invite Dr. Gilbert to help your church, listen to his weekly podcast, or find out more information at

Foundations of Faith provides advice from Texas church pastors and its leadership on how to lead effectively. This blog is brought to you by the Communications Department of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. To be considered as a subject matter expert, contact Shannon W. Martin, Director of Communication at smartin@smartin