Our new Lead Pastor and a complete stranger had the same observation and it wasn’t good.
Church growth came with an explosion in programming. New and established ministries were increasingly competing for the coveted marketing tool of the Sunday morning platform. Weeding and managing the requests was an expanding block of my work week.
It wasn’t really working.
Two voices helped me appreciate the problem: one was invited; the other was surprising.
A few years ago, with our new Lead Pastor two weeks into his role, I interviewed him about our Sunday experience. His feedback: too many interruptions, too much business, not enough time to just worship.
The other voice was more telling. A visitor stood awkwardly outside the door of our worship center as the announcements rolled on inside. I walked over and introduced myself. He didn’t bother to share his name and instead asked, “Is it all just commercials?”
No, it was never “all commercials,” but too much of Sunday had become about trying to motivate people to attend events rather than allowing the Spirit of God to transform us in undistracted worship in song and Word.
Our staff has been working to be more intentional about vetting what to share. We are forcing ourselves to be more creative in how we communicate outside of Sundays. Here are six things we have done.
- Ensure the Website is Updated Constantly. Nothing discourages repeated use of the website more than expired information.
- Improve Our Weekly Bulletin and Email. We looked at other churches bulletins and stole good ideas. A simple one was using ministry headings such as “Student Ministry” to break out the sense that the bulletin was one huge block of text. For our weekly email, we reduced the amount of text adding links to drive towards our website.
- Share the Vision with Key Leaders. This started with leaders involved in our Sunday morning including staff, worship, and tech teams. Our message: “Fewer Announcements and more Actionable Application Points.”
- Say “No.” Hard to believe but we turned down some good ideas because they didn’t fit our vision. We did this in grace and pushed people towards other ways to communicate and even helped them succeed. We added administrators to our website. We created new spaces for booths in our foyer.
- Utilize the End of the Service. We were in a rut of when we shared things. It was always after a few songs before the offering. We changed it up and sometimes just had one or two reminders towards action before the end of the service.
- Work with the Lead Pastor for Deeper Integration. The big reminder was that it is easy to lose the purpose of Sunday in the process of doing church. Our goal is worship that extends beyond the final song. Our goal is that the Word and Spirit of God would move people to action. When we are at our best is when what we offer is an application of our worship and Word. This means working to make application from the message tie into what we are offering in our programs.
We’re still working to rethink our Sunday morning worship and how we promote great ministries. How do you balance this tension in your church? Is it intentional? Is it working?