It is a delight when a service flows that moves toward the objective of worshipping Jesus and the fulfillment of the intent of the Holy Ghost.
Several places often gum up a church service. (Coaching Tip: Don’t throw a lot of change on people at one time. Leaders find a way for a new thing to be someone else’s idea – experiment with their idea, give them credit, and if it works keep using it.)
Mud-hole #1 – “Whosoever will” testimony time. Testimonies celebrating Jesus never detract; it is NOT edifying when one windily talks of life difficulties eventually expressing, “somehow I know Jesus is going to bring me through.” Multiply such testimonies a few times and the service is stuck. How to fix it:
Select testifiers and know what you are getting. When you become aware of something God has done in someone’s life make note. Prep the person that you are going to have them share the testimony. To make it even more effective during a service, interrupt singing to hear the testimony or perhaps use the testimony as part of your preaching.
Videotape testimonies. With an IPad and simple editing software a good quick hitting testimony can be offered. Art Hodges uses this with having new converts tell their story in about two minutes. You never know what a new convert is going to say! It’s better that it be said to a camera than to the entire audience.
Use a microphone to manage testimonies. The strategy here is to keep the microphone in your hand for those you call on. If one waxes on, and on, and on, find a high spot or create one (clap your hands . . . give praise, “Everybody join this brother in praising the Lord”) and move on. If the microphone is in someone else’s hand you can’t ease out of the testimony.
Mud-hole #2 – Unplanned Offerings – Some people are gifted at receiving an offering. It was not my strength so my response was to rush through the offering. At best, I’d limit the time given to what was a disjointed experience. Late in our last pastorate, I learned a bit more about making an offering a form of “praise.” The solution here is to PLAN AHEAD and lead people to take time to think about what they are doing as they brought their offering.
Mud-hole #3 – Announcements – “On the third Friday in February, there will be a baby shower for Sis. Hazel’s granddaughter Susan. It will be at . . . selections for the baby can be made at . . ..” The announcement begins being made the third weekend of December and is repeated for the next 9 weeks. So much is said that nothing is heard! Options (the first two take a bit of time to train people):
A weekly bulletin
Monthly calendar that lists events happening in the next two months.
Screen it! If you screen it, don’t say it.
Have someone other than a preacher do the announcements at the end of service. You can use a lady, we did. Missionary, this is a place to involve a newer person because announcements don’t have to be made from a platform. I used a different person (more often than not a lady) each month. People liked it and Susan’s baby shower didn’t get in the way of a move of God.
Mud-hole #4 – Talking before each song and singers not being in place. A time ago, between Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico the praise leader felt it necessary to talk A LOT between each song. It was so bad I began timing how much we sang compared to how much the person talked. He talked much more than we praised Jesus. If there was ever a flow of the spirit it didn’t last long.
Pastor this is where you “Coach” and tell the person, “Let me show you a way to do this a little better. I want you to try it this way next service. Don’t talk any, but add two more songs. We will have time for the songs.” After that service tell the person how wonderful it was and to try it again the next service.
Best general rule: no talking between songs & no talking before singing a solo. In neither case is the person there to talk, they are there to sing praises to our Lord.
Meet before every service and have a plan. A person must be in place BEFORE it is time to sing. A person coming from the back after being called on is disruptive. My principle was, “if you were not in place we just went on to the next thing.”
Mud-hole #5– Using too many different voices in a service, particularly too many preachers. One church used 7 different preachers to take care of a part of the service. Each gave a mini-sermon and none connected. It was a muddy mess.
Don’t feel guilty for not putting people up front who do not edify. You are responsible to the Lord Jesus for a service that flows.
Coach those you do use, to do what they are on the schedule to do. It is not time for their latest revelation about one of Ezekiel’s prophecies.
By the way, if someone is called of God to preach, they need to be sent to preach.
God has not called them to take the offering or lead in taking prayer requests.
Get preachers preaching – a jail service, nursing home or better yet a preaching point 20 minutes away.
Services will flow better and those called to preach will fulfill their call.
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