Often the difference between a great experience at Mass, and just a good or not-so-great one, isn’t an innovative tech system or a small army of ministers (though both might be handy), but something more simple and intuitive, like flow. And probably the only thing it will cost you and your team is a little extra time and forethought.
The concept of flow is an incredibly powerful and profoundly liturgical idea that shapes what, why, when, and how we celebrate the different elements of Mass the way we do. Flow is about purposeful, guided movement. Things that flow have a source and a destination. In the case of church services or the Mass, it’s about moving people’s hearts and minds. But too often the flow becomes a secondary consideration, if considered at all, and what should be bringing people closer to God ends up making the task more difficult. Maybe that’s your church, or maybe things are pretty good at your church, but you’re struggling to push the experience to the next level. Here are three things to consider about the flow of your church service.
The Music Needs to Flow
We like to say that music is the water on which the experience sails, and that can be smooth sailing or a stormy, unpredictable ride. What is the mood the music and Mass parts convey at your church? How do people feel as they experience your music?
Along with music, silence can be as effective as the best song. Some silence is poignant and powerful- too much is just awkward and feels like “dead time.” Be deliberate about it.
Proclaim More, Announce Less
We’ve seen announcements given before the readings, during offertory, after communion- basically any time. And that disrupts the flow and diminishes the significance of what’s actually happening. A public reading of a list of announcements is not prescribed in the Roman Missal, not to mention gives the mixed message that insider church business deserves the same pride of place at the pulpit as the Word of God.
Why not try a more creative and less bothersome method for communicating what’s going on in the life of the parish? We use short video announcements before Mass starts- they catch people’s attention and don’t burden the service.
Pay Attention to Transitions
The Mass is full of transitions – from music to prayer to scripture to preaching to prayer again, and . . . you get the point. Good flow is what happens in between each element of the Mass. The transitions in the liturgy are an opportunity to keep people engaged and move them through the experience. Focusing on their flow is crucial. How smoothly do your transitions occur? Are they jarring? The different parts can function together like a well-oiled machine or a clunky mess.
No matter how experienced and reverent you are in celebrating or ministering at the liturgy, there is always room for improving the flow.