It has been said that “Excelence honors God and inspires people”. Here are some suggestions to raise the bar in our worship services:
Bring up the topic of worship and you almost always sure to get people in two sides. Since every road has two ditches, I am hoping that the principles that I am going to share are both universal, as well as biblical.
This applies to all the worship services no matter if the style is traditional, contemporary, or blended. I have attended all three and have seen excellence at work in all three as well as some other times that I left saying “What was that?” Just because you are silent it doesn’t mean you are reverent. Just because you have added a guitar and percussion doesn’t mean it’s relevant. For example, here are some of the questions that come up as I am sitting in worship some Sabbaths. Of course, these happen in churches far away from you.
1. Why do singers always seem to apologize for being under the weather before they sing?
2. Why do we think that just because we say “it’s for the glory of God” before a song makes it OK to forget the words, sing out of tune and scare small babies with the inflection of your voice?
3. Why do some preachers say “in conclusion” and don’t conclude?
4. Why is it important for me to listen for twenty minutes about how wide the walls of Jericho were?
5. Shouldn’t there be a prerequisite that the person that reads the mission story, or the scripture, or the children’s story at least to have read it before hand?
6. Can we understand that “when people get here” is not a time. 7pm is a time. 9:30am is a time. And please, when asked, why are we not starting?, don’t laugh and say “it’s Spanish people time”. Not funny.
7. Ever had this happen? Person up front giving the welcome is nervous and says: “Good morning”. People in the pews respond with: “Good morning”. Person up front acts deaf: “I can’t hear you, good morning!”. People in the pews: “Good morning”. Person up front uses guilt: “Aren’t you happy to be here this morning? GOOD MORNING!”. People in the pews turn up the volume, even though it’s early, been a long week, Johnny vomited on the way to church and husband didn’t help at all with the teenage daughter’s attitude, and say: “GOOD MORNING”. Who do we have to pay so that this does not happen again?
In worship, it can make or break you. Pick the right song at the right time and it will be uplifting and powerful. Pick the wrong song, and it can distract or worse yet, deflate the congregation.
Here are some things to look for in the people that lead the musical part of worship:
1. Right attitude. People that know it’s not about them, never has been, never will be.
2. Right ability. People that know that just because you want to, doesn’t mean you have to.
3. Right commitment. People that know that there is more to singing than singing.
Preaching should be about transformation, not just information. Pastor Alejandro Bullon, a well-known Hispanic evangelist, tells this story. “One Sabbath after preaching an older gentleman came up to me and told me: “Pastor, I did not like your sermon”. When I asked why, he simply said: “Because I understood it!” It’s possible to be simple without being simplistic. These are some key questions to ask yourself before preaching.
a. Where is the lamb? No matter where you start, all roads must end with Calvary.
b. What’s the one thing I want to say today? The gospel is everlasting. Your sermons should not be.
c. Do the people that know me best believe what I am about to say? Never go into the pulpit with unresolved family issues.
d. What is biblical truth? It’s above your opinion or desires, it’s God’s declaration.
e. How does that truth relate to my community?
*What are my communities’ interests?
I applied those principles in the last church I was a pastor in and found out the following.
a. Interests- children, marriage, health.
b. Needs- food, jobs, adequate medical coverage.
c. Hurts- abuse, abandonment, addictions.
We went out in the community and asked them what their interests, needs and hurts were. It was a simple survey, but very telling. After the survey, we then developed programs to meet the needs. That transformed the church. First of all, a very small percentage of people we asked knew who we were. That made an impact in us, since it was a five hundred member church in the middle of the Hispanic community. Second it helped us target more effectively our community.
May God help us, to raise the level of excelence in worship.