Planning and the Holy Spirit

Here’s another video clip from WorshipGod09, where Jeff Purswell is interviewing CJ Mahaney and me about some of the things we’ve learned over three decades of leading.

In this section we talk about the importance of planning as well as listening for  the Spirit’s leading during the meeting. In my experience, people tend to value one or the other. Either we trust completely in our plan and wouldn’t think of veering from it, or we minimize preparation and think God is only active when something spontaneous happens. When it comes to leading corporate worship, both planning AND spontaneity are important values.

If you’re interested in reading more on the Holy Spirit, check out this post.

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8 Responses to Planning and the Holy Spirit

  1. Matt Blick October 9, 2009 at 2:56 PM #

    Hey Bob,

    This is a timely post for me. I just spoke at a conference on how Elders and Worship Leaders should work together for Spirit led meetings. One of my points was a really good way to be prepared for the Spirit surprising you during a meeting is to be clear what an average (good) meeting looks like. You can then be clearer on how and when to depart from ‘the plan’…

  2. Ty Hughes October 13, 2009 at 2:10 PM #

    This piece marries itself well with chapter 5 of Jerry Bridge’s Respectable Sins book. Both have help my understanding of the Holy Spirit in particular to musical worship mature.

  3. Jim Pemberton October 15, 2009 at 12:58 PM #

    It seems we tend to align the Holy Spirit only with spontaneity in our thinking about worship. However, the Holy Spirit is at least as active in our well-considered planning and there is plenty of ignoring the Holy Spirit when our spontaneity is laced with impulsive indulgence in the vanity of the viscera rather than focusing on the glory of God in his gift of true Christian freedom.

    • Bob Kauflin October 15, 2009 at 1:28 PM #

      Good comment, Jim. “Vanity of the viscera” is a great phrase.

  4. Pamela Smith October 22, 2009 at 8:18 PM #

    So long as we are still open to the move of the Holy Spirit during our worship… I have seen the Lord move spontaneously as well. Its abotu His plans as well. I remember when a pastor has had a plan for the worship, but the Spirit led to stop and pray for people.
    Prayer took up the whole time, the message was delayed that Sunday.
    Oh, those were awesome to see the Glory of God move in that context as well.l

  5. Dan October 26, 2009 at 9:23 AM #

    I haven’t watched the clip because my computer won’t load it for some reason.

    But I just wanted to say I really endorse Pamela’s comment; “As long as we are still open to the move of the Holy Spirit during our worship”.

    There are some key verses scattered throughout the New Testament that I have never ever heard preached on or commented on – and they give a useful and challenging insight into what worship could/should be like. For example;

    1 Corinthians 14:30: “And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop”.

    I am highly skeptical that this would even happen in a Reformed/charismatic (or continuationist if you prefer) church. And if it did, I can imagine the disturbance and possible challenges from the elders!

    However it is there in the Word of God as a DIRECTIVE from the apostle Paul. Let’s be careful that we don’t become so committed to order that we forget that our order – may not be the order of the Holy Spirit.

    After all Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones said; “There is no danger of excess in a graveyard”.

    I for one hunger to see a bit more life in the church.

  6. Greg February 8, 2010 at 3:30 PM #

    I’ve definitely been challenged in this area of over-preparation. As I was watching this video and reading this post a question came to me. What is Sovereign Grace’s position on specifically praying to each members of the Trinity, specifically the Holy Spirit? I don’t find many songs from Sovereign Grace dealing with the Holy Spirit, yet you would be very open to specific workings and leadings from the Holy Spirit.

    If I am missing some of the songs that Sovereign Grace has written that deal directly with the Holy Spirit’s work in life and worship, could you point me to them? In general, do you use songs that ask the Holy Spirit to work, or maybe songs that the church can cry out as a way of surrendering ourselves so we can break down the walls that maybe unintentionally hinder the work of the Holy Spirit?

    I love Sovereign Grace’s openness to the Holy Spirit’s work in this life especially in light of the sound doctrine that accompanies the position on the Holy Spirit. I feel that this is missing in churches in general because of the abuse that has been present in the past. But looking at an honest picture of how the Holy Spirit is active in this world because the Son has prepared the way and sent the “helper” is something that would be a gem in corporate worship!


  1. Worship, Planning, and Spontaneity « Already Not Yet - October 8, 2009

    […] Planning, and Spontaneity Bob Kauflin has a helpful post today discussing the importance of planning and spontaneity in leading corporate worship. Here’s […]

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