A: Only in the dictionary.
It's not a great joke, but it is a good metaphor to help us understand the importance of order in worship. In a worship service some things are the cart, and other things are the horse. As you plan the horse should come always before the cart. For example, confession and self-examination come before communion because they create a context for the meal. If communion comes before confession, then the congregation is not given the chance to prepare properly for the meal. This same thinking applies to all parts of the service. Below are a few examples as you think about how your opening song functions in the order:
2. Bad example of an opening song: "Here I am to Worship” is a fine song theologically, but as an opening song it lacks context. As with any part of the service, how it functions will depend on what came before. Without context, the line "Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that you're my God" can feel like a statement of pride. Here I am, I have arrived - I am here to bow down! People have told me they don’t sing because it doesn’t feel right. On the other hand, if this song follows communion, the same line feels a lot more like a response to what Jesus has done. Opening songs that engage are songs that create context their own context and provide a setup for what follows.
3. Good example of an opening song: "You Alone Can Rescue," by Matt Redman. People learn this song about our sin and God’s grace quickly and easily. "Who, O Lord, could save themselves, their own soul could heal? Our shame is deeper than the sea, Your grace is deeper still. You alone can rescue, You alone can save, You alone can lift us from the grave. You came down to find us, led us out of death. To You alone belongs the highest praise." This song builds a foundation for what you sing next, even songs about personal sanctification and acts of faith.
If you find yourself wondering why the 80 percent aren't readily engaging in worship, examine your service order. A good order of service builds meaning and connection at each step, while a bad order of service leaves the congregation distracted and confused. Of course, there are many right ways to order a service, just as there are many wrong ways. Keep in mind, however, that people are most engaged in a service where each step is connected and chosen with purpose.