I've never been asked this question before, but I'm going to pretend I have...
play along with me...
Pastor: The Rev. So-and-So (Sr. Pastor of Nameless Church)
"Rick, you've visited our church several times now, what's the first thing we could do to make an impact in our services?"
"Pastor, are you sure you want the honest answer to this question?"
"I don't know is it going to be painful?"
"Ok, go ahead and let me hear it..."
"Go ahead...I'm listening"
"Ummmm, that was it - Pay Attention!"
Thanks for allowing me to do a little role-play dialogue with you - but you ask..."what do you mean?" (Glad you asked)
I visit a LOT of churches, I'm in a lot of services, I see a lot of things, I've traveled the east coast from Maryland to Florida in preparation for where God has me today.
And the one thing I'd say over and over to all pastors is that if you want to make an immediate impact in your Sunday service - simply pay attention! (I know...all the "spirituals" out there will say "pray more" - I'm assuming you're already doing that - if not, get on your knees and start!).
Paying attention is:
- free (although it may cost a lot in terms of humility)
- easy to do (although we don't because of the curse of the familiar - what we see too often, we too often forget - i.e., the cobwebs in the back corner of the church)
- immediate (we can all find one or two things to perhaps "fix" or make better)
- the start of a journey to effectiveness
Let me give you some practicals:
- Pay attention during the worship service...does it connect? Ask people what genre or style of music they listen to during the week - does your even come close to theirs?
- In addition to the style of music...are people singing along? Clapping? Enjoying themselves? Is it too loud? Is it balanced well (voices with band)? What about the lighting? What about the quality of the graphics you use for media? Is your worship band together and ALL going in the same direction? Have they practiced? Are you introducing too many new songs? Are their some songs that are just a flop? Are their some songs that we've used too many times? Do all of our songs sound the same?
- I'll move on - there's probably enough there chew on for a while - but there's more: What about the transition off the stage by the music team and on the stage by the minister? Is it well planned? Planned at all? Do we reference what just took place? Or, do we "move on" with the next thing planned? Transitions are KEY in EVERY ASPECT of a church service!
- What about your decor on stage? Have you payed attention to the dusty plastic plants hiding the choir? (Yes, I've seen it!)
Pay attention to what you have in place now and try to make it better!
I'm not advocating the best in sound reinforcement and lighting...I'm not saying that media has to be top of line - what I am saying is this: let's take what we have now, make it better or make it gone...try to improve upon each element, each facet, each transition, each sermon point (another blog post...)...each piece of decor...each and every thing that our guests encounter weekly.
Making things better is not such a bad thing is it?
Perhaps this is too simplistic but what if our goal each week was NOT to: heal everyone, save everyone, fix every marriage, bring ethical understanding to each businessman and right every societal wrong around us...
Our goal was to get people back next week? (and in doing so, let God fix all the other things)
What do you think?