I have visited a lot of small churches over the last thirty years. This has caused me to form many educated opinions.
These are some simple pointers towards better worship services for those who can receive them. They’re not necessarily in order of importance. You might not even think they are essential. However, I double-dog dare you to think them through. Pastor, consider this a free mini-consultation. It’s from an outside source with a sense of humor and no stake in your tenure. Remember now, these are my opinions and not the Gospel.
- TIMES: They are not to be a changing. You should start services as close as possible to the advertised time. Everyone can understand a couple minutes of tardiness every now and then. But why would you have a specific time listed if you have no intention of beginning then? Punctuality is an expected character trait of mature adults. Like it or not, we are a time-conscious society. Pastor, if they are not there, start without them. Eventually, they will get the picture. Also, be sure your service times are prominently displayed on your website, social media, and on-site signage. When services begin should never be a guessing game for those who are not one of your regulars.
- OFFERINGS: Take the money and run. Seriously, get on with it. Pastor, you should receive the offering no more than once a month. Otherwise, delegate this to someone of your choosing with suitable gifts. Train them to move it along without giving a sermonette. There will be a few exceptions each year when a plea or drive before the offering will be understood by your people. But that’s not every Sunday morning. So stop the yapping. Just thank them for giving. Or share a quick verse of Scripture. Pray blessings on the givers (not the greedy or disobedient), and keep the worship service moving.
- TEACHINGS: Several have told me they never preach about tithes and offerings. Pastor, why on earth would you refuse to speak about something that the Bible repeatedly speaks about? Don’t override it like a hobby horse. Instead, plan one month a year where you can preach two or three times on the subject of biblical stewardship. And when the topic comes up in your expository preaching through a book, don’t gloss over it. We want people’s hearts to be sold out for the Kingdom of God, and how they handle money is an external indication of that. So, be apt to teach the principles.
- MUSIC: God is great and greatly to be praised! I think you should stop interrupting the music portion of services with unnecessary stuff. Load up the front end of your service with those necessary announcements and possibly even the offering. Stopping the praise and worship time every few minutes can hinder the flow of worship. So keep the music going and let the offertory be full of worship. It’s worth noting that the language of the Bible speaks about bringing and giving, which places the burden upon the individual to be sure this act of worship takes place. Music and choir leaders must be trained to stop apologizing or talking too much between selections. The special singing should have been selected way before the service, and the individual(s) ready to go at the appointed time without a break in the service. If this hasn’t been done and you ask them on the spot, it’s really not that special. You can do better in this area regardless of your congregation’s size and skill level.
- DRAMA: Save it for the drama team, if you have one. There are many subjects that are controversial in nature, and you have plenty of valid opinions. You’ve probably got some great insights. But, if it’s not an essential over which someone could miss Heaven or go to Hell, why start that fight? You pick them when you defend your conviction from the pulpit over these matters. By doing so, you’re creating division, and the author of confusion really appreciates your help. To give examples here would violate my own point. Pastor, creating a drama-free zone starts with you. Just preach the Word!
- FRIENDSHIPS: That’s what friends are for. Pastor, consider yourself your congregation’s chief friendship officer (CFO). Start with your staff and leadership board. You’ll find it easier to lead your services, win your community, and obey the great commission with a group of friends than with many adversaries. Let every leader and staff member (paid and volunteer) know, “you’ve got a friend in me.” If you’re an introvert, break out of the shell and show yourself to be a friend to a few at a time. Jesus has already set the example, and you can do this.
- HELP: It would sure do me good to do you good. Let me help. Pastor, you need some counsel. My friend, neither of us knows as much as we think. And there are many and sometimes better ways of accomplishing the same goals. Reach out for the fresh perspectives of a few trusted confidants who can provide you with some godly counsel. Let some peers help mentor you to meet your next goal.
Thanks for reading and for praying for this opinionated preacher. Even though I could say more, I’ll save it for later. I’ll stop in the name of love. We can love each other no matter what, disagree on any or all of these pointers, and still go to Heaven together.