One of the best ways to improve your church is to improve your church service. It happens 52 times a year and provides a greater opportunity to reach people than any program or special event.
And, one of the best ways to improve your church service is to tighten up your communication. If your service has gotten a little dry or stale, some focus and creativity can breathe new life into it. Simply answering the question, “What are we going to say here?” is a huge step.
If your church is like most churches, there are a handful of things you want people to do. You would love for them to give to support the mission of the church. You’d love for them to serve somewhere. You’d love for them to connect with a group or a class. And, you’d love for them to invite their friends.
These four things are really important. Your list of four might be slightly different, but I bet it’s there.
So why do we devote most of our announcement time to random church things? When we carve out a few minutes to tell people what’s going on, why do we focus on one-time events or things that don’t happen all year?
And, here are two more crazy questions.
What would happen if you got very intentional about leading people to the things you really wanted them to do? What would happen if most of your announcement time in church centered around the four most important opportunities for people to grow in their faith?
My proposition is this: Let’s recover church communications and focus our efforts on the things that matter most.
To make this practical and tangible, here are four things I think you should communicate in your church services on a regular basis.
#1 – Highlight the Offering
I remember when I was pastoring a growing church in Atlanta and we needed to do a better job with fundraising. A friend of mine came over and coached me on some creative ways to set up the offering. He helped me approach this moment in our service with intentionality and focus. In the end, we came up with four types of “giving talks” and rotated through them each week.
- Sometimes, I would tell a story about what happened with the money that was given. People love stories.
- Sometimes, we would share a statistic (the C’s on the DISC profile loved this).
- Sometimes, we’d read and explain a Bible verse about generosity or giving. Don’t assume people know what the Bible says.
- On the fourth week, I’d do an object lesson. Like this one.
All of this was designed to highlight something that was really important in our church…the regular offering. I didn’t want to get good at special offerings or projects and neglect the ministries that happened all the time. Since we were going to receive an offering every week, why not put some time and effort into setting it up in a meaningful way.
#2 – Highlight Volunteerism
If you’re like most churches, volunteers are really important. Just imagine what would happen if no volunteers showed up this Sunday. It would be a disaster.
In my years of working with churches, I’ve never had a pastor say, “Hey Michael…we’ve got too many volunteers…can you help me come up with a way to keep more people busy?”
But most churches only talk about volunteers when there’s a need. This is a terrible cycle to be in. Instead, why not take one Sunday a month and highlight volunteerism in your church. Tell stories of people who are busy but make time to serve. Show pictures of how volunteers are making a difference. Recognize a specific volunteer for going above and beyond. Say thanks and affirm people who serve.
When you devote time to highlight volunteers (not just ask for more), it goes a long way toward creating a culture where people truly want to serve.
#3 – Highlight Inviting
One of the most effective ways to reach new people in your community is to turn your members and attenders into inviting machines.
But let’s be honest. This rarely happens. At the end of the service, you remind people to invite their friends or once a year you preach a message on the need for evangelism, but for whatever reason, there’s little action and little change.
Once a month, why not look for a creative way to emphasize inviting? Tell a story about someone who extended an invitation. Show a creative video about the power of a personal invite. Let someone share a testimony (it won’t be polished but that doesn’t matter). Guilt rarely motives people to invite, but telling stories and sharing inspirational stuff once a month will reinforce to people that it’s really important.
#4 – Highlight Small Groups
If you’re like most churches, you have Sunday school classes or small groups – some kind of community environment where people can get to know one another and/or study the Bible.
Maybe these are always open and available for people to join or maybe you emphasize them a couple of times a year during a kickoff phase.
But throughout the year, you have an incredible opportunity to share stories and highlight the benefit of being in a group or a class. Testimonies and stories and creativity go a long way toward helping people see the real benefit. Your stories don’t always need the Christian bow on them either. A story about how someone made friends or how the group came over to help move are real stories that reach people at the everyday level. With a little thought and planning, I bet you could find a good way to highlight groups in your church.
The Four Man Rotation
Major League pitchers don’t pitch every game. Most teams have a four or five man rotation in order to get the best out of each arm. Your church could adopt the same strategy with highlighting these four important things.
You don’t need to highlight all four of these things EVERY week. That would be too much and it would probably get old. But what if you decided to emphasize just one of these four things each week, and rotated through them throughout the month? That’s something you could do.
- Could you find 12 creative ways to set up the offering?
- Could you find 12 meaningful ways to highlight volunteers or volunteerism?
- Could you tell 12 stories about inviting or challenge people to invite their friends in a fresh way?
- Could you tell stories about community and talk about the value of groups 12 times a year?
With a little planning and focus, you could do this. And I bet it would make a huge difference.
So What's Next?
Feel like your church should be growing, but it's not? From someone who used to be a pastor and church planter, I know it can be frustrating.
Ultimately, church growth is up to God. But are we doing everything we can to ensure our church is healthy? How do we overcome the barriers we feel are in front of us?
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