One Big Communication Thought that Keeps Your Mission In Focus

Most churches communicate as though getting people to attend events is the primary goal. And when they do, they create all sorts of problems … and even end up, at times, working against the purpose of the mission they are trying to serve.

In our culture, most organizations have what I would call a lower purpose and a higher purpose. In the for-profit world, the lower purpose is always making money. The higher purpose has to do with the “why” behind the “what.” (For more on that, check out Simon Sinek’s TED talk on the topic.)

The same is true for churches, but most of them don’t realize it. For churches, the lower purpose has to do with attendance and giving. If we get people to attend our events … and if they give enough to keep the budget going, then we’re fine.

But that’s not the church’s higher purpose.

Every church is trying to serve the higher purpose of sharing the message and life of Jesus … and inviting people to experience that life. They all have unique ways that they express the life of Jesus, but at their core, the higher purpose is the same.

The problem is that most churches … and church communications … are designed around the lower purpose.

When that happens, ministries elbow each other out of the way for time on stage. The weekly bulletin has to contain every item that will take place at the church. Even more importantly, each event or program is measured as a success purely by attendance.

What happens when the higher purpose shapes the church … and church communications?

Implementing The Higher Purpose Strategy To Communication

Any announcements in the service are framed as next steps of engagement with the mission of the church. The bulletin contains a few prioritized next steps, not a menu of options. Ministry leaders are not simply concerned about getting people TO a program … they want to get people THROUGH an program.

What are inviting people to move into when they show up? And how are we making that easy for them?

If you’re answering these questions about each event or program at your church, your church (and your communications!) will remain stuck in the lower purpose.

When that happens, you won’t gain significant ground toward your mission to invite people deeper into life with Jesus, you will simply gather a crowd. You don’t want to settle for that, do you?

You’ve probably noticed something. This isn’t just about church communications. This is about every ministry leader and every ministry environment.

Your overall strategy as a church should be to move people THROUGH your different ministry environments to deeper levels of engagement with your mission. When that happens, communication becomes easy—all it has to do is clearly match the strategy and it will be exponentially more effective.

Don’t settle for the lower purpose of attendance. Strive for the higher purpose of mission engagement. That’s when lives and communities are truly changed.

> Read more from Steve.


 

Talk with an Auxano Navigator to learn how your communications keep your mission in focus.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Finkill

Steve Finkill

Steve Finkill is the Chief Messaging Officer at ID Digital, a verbal, visual, and marketing company. Dream Vacation: Driving the Pacific Coast Highway with my wife. Stopping for great food and some golf along the way. Ice Cream Flavor: Vanilla with real peanut butter mixed in. Favorite Films The Shawshank Redemption, The Empire Strikes Back, and Tombstone. Surprising Personal Fact: I was the Table Tennis Champion of my middle school. Favorite Album: The Firm Soundtrack, Dave Grusin. Coffee: Never. Beverages are meant to be cold.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Preaching and the Expectation to be Fed: Moving Past Self-Feeding to the Heart of the Issue

Once upon a time, there was a land filled with banquet halls. Each banquet hall was different, but one thing they all had in common was that the manager of each hall would invite all the people in the area to come to a banquet each weekend.

“Everyone should attend a banquet each week,” the managers would say. “People are starving out there and they don’t even know it. Invite them to our banquet hall so they can be fed.”

Eventually, some people began to abandon banquet halls, not because they didn’t want to eat, but because they discovered other ways to get a good meal.

The managers would say, “There’s so much more to the banquet hall than just the weekend meal, though. It’s not about whether or not you get fed each weekend. It’s about living and eating healthy all the time.”

And then the former banquet goers replied, “If the banquet hall isn’t all about the meal each weekend, why do you only seem to talk about the weekend menu? Why is the whole banquet hall organized around the meal?”

People will expect to be fed as long as we continue to make dinner the main focus.

——-

We have chosen a specific model for “doing church.” Our weekly rhythm, our staffing, our facilities, our communication materials, and our programs all sound a single message: the sermon is what matters most.

We promote our next sermon series as the reason for people to come back or the reason for our regular attenders to invite friends. We place a unique sermon series graphic on the cover of the weekend bulletin and project it onto the large screens in our sanctuaries. We devote more than 50% of our weekend services to the sermon. Many times, the songs we sing are selected because of their connection to the sermon.

And then, we seem surprised when people choose a church based on the quality of the preaching. “People need to feed themselves!” That’s true. They do. But we shouldn’t be surprised that people expect to get something out of the sermon when we structure all of our activities around it. If we don’t expect them to get something out of it … maybe we should stop treating it as the most important thing.

If church is more about fellowship, or serving our community, or growing together spiritually in small groups (“because that’s the best environment for real growth” we say), we should structure our activities around that. Let’s shape everything we do around the thing that’s most important (if it’s not really the sermon). Or, if we think a combination of those things are necessary, then treat them all as necessary, including the sermon.

We can’t let ourselves off the hook by calling people to feed themselves when we’re providing a meal every week. Instead, let’s take the responsibility to make the meal something good, something that satisfies, something meaningful.

No matter what we do, let’s be aware of—and take responsibility for—the model we’ve chosen and everything that goes with it.

 

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Mr. Steven Finkill — 04/07/14 12:58 pm

That's exactly what I was thinking, Joel. The sermon hasn't always been the central element of the weekly gathering of Christians throughout the centuries, but that's the model almost all of us subscribe to today. I'm not necessarily saying that the model should change, just that the expectation people have that they should "get something out of the message" comes from the fact that we've made it the central element of our gatherings.

Joel Sprenger — 04/07/14 12:28 pm

With apologies to Marshall McLuhan, whom I don't claim to understand, this article raises a 'the medium is the message' point. Something along the lines of 'by making the sermon the center of the service we are changing peoples perception of content of the medium (the sermon)'. Perhaps our concept Christianity is influence merely by making the sermon central versus for instance making the Eucharist central. Or perhaps I have no idea of what I'm talking about.

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Worship Leading Tips: 3 Questions You Must Answer in Every Worship Service

Imagine going to a new friend’s home for dinner and experiencing this:

    • your host simply opened the door and said, “Welcome! Come on in!” and then turned and walked away
    • person after person in their family walked into the room and simply started a conversation without introducing themselves
    • everyone in the host family seemed busy with tasks, but you were unsure of what you were supposed to do

You’d probably feel a little disoriented and vaguely uncomfortable. As a worship leader, you are usually the initial host for the worship service each weekend. I’m consistently astounded as I attend churches around the country that many worship leaders don’t consider these simple ways to make people feel at home in the worship service.

There are three basic questions people are subconsciously asking that you should answer within the first few minutes of worship.  They are:

    • who are you?
    • what’s going to happen?
    • why are we here?

Let’s examine these questions together.

Who are you?

Please don’t just have the band kick in and start singing the first song. I know you don’t want the service to feel like it’s focused on you, but welcoming people and introducing yourself is really a way to serve the people, to make them feel at home.

Yes, I know that many people will know who you are—the people that come regularly. But the people that are new have no idea who you are and may not even understand your role. If your church uses IMAG (stands for image magnification where a camera projects your image onto the screen), you can use this to introduce yourself. No matter how you do it, you should welcome people, tell them your name, and give them some context for your role in the service.

What’s going to happen?

Give people just a sentence or two to give them a clue as to what’s going to happen next. Many people (myself included) find it hard to engage in any experience if I don’t have some understanding of where we’re going. It’s like asking people to board a train with you when you haven’t told them where the train is going.

Something as simple as: “Join us as we sing a few songs of worship to our Creator” can be all we need to engage for the next few minutes. Just tell me what’s going to happen.

Why are we here?

This question needs to be answered for both the guest and the regular attender. The guest needs to hear from you about the “why” behind what we’re doing. Why are we singing? The regular attender needs to be reminded about the “why” as well. Otherwise, they may engage in the service only at a surface level. A surface service will never be meaningful or transformative.

Here are some sample “why” statements that can inform guests and remind regular attenders about the purpose of our gathering … and of our worship.

“As we sing together, we will be reminded of how big God is, how good God is, and how strong God is. And the best thing for us to remember today … is how close God is. He is here, with us and in us. I don’t know about you, but there are many times that I forget that. Let’s remind each other as we sing.”

“For thousands of years, followers of Jesus have spent time praising Him in song. Something happens in our hearts through music that is right and good—we are reminded of God’s goodness and His faithfulness to us—giving us renewed strength for each day.”

“We’re going to spend time singing together this morning because God is worthy of our worship. We are tempted to give our time, attention, and honor to all sorts of things, but there is only One who is truly worthy of our worship. Let’s reset our hearts toward Him as we sing together.”

This is also a chance to connect the weekly worship experience to your church’s specific strategy. (Imagine that!) You could say something like this:

“As followers of Christ, we believe that we need to engage on a regular basis in 3 key environments—a place of worship, a place of belonging, and a place of service. (I’m guessing at what your strategy might be, of course.) These three environments work together to help us experience the fullness of life that Jesus offers to us. Let’s worship God together.”

However you do it, you must answer these three questions in every worship service. Get creative!  You don’t have to answer them the same way every time, but you should answer them. When you do, you’ll make people feel at home so that they can more fully engage in the entire worship experience. And isn’t that what you really want?

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Finkill

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COMMENTS

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Mr. Steven Finkill — 03/13/13 8:12 am

Thanks, Paul ... aka the Path Finder.

The Path Finder — 03/13/13 7:52 am

Nice article friend ...

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Unlocking Creativity Through Laughter

One of the consistent challenges of creating compelling environments is finding new, fresh ways to engage the hearts of people. In my years as a worship leader, I facilitated many brainstorming sessions with different teams to come up with service elements that would communicate clearly and engage people deeply.

Collaborative brainstorming can be tough work. There are all sorts of things to be considered, like who gets invited, who facilitates, and what is the goal. But the simple truth is that with the right people in the room, even if it’s only 2 or 3 people, brainstorming can yield some amazing results.

While there are many ways to get to ideas in a collaborative setting, one of my favorites is laughter. When a room gets laughing, great ideas seem to follow. Why is that? I have a few theories.

1. Laughter reduces stress. 

Do a quick search for “laughter is the best medicine” and you’ll find all sorts of articles detailing the multiple positive physical effects of laughing. Endorphins (the body’s natural feel-good chemicals) get released. A good laugh releases muscle tension and stress. Laughter (through the release of endorphins) can even temporarily relieve pain. All of these things promote a relaxed body and mind, allowing ideas to flow more freely.

2. Real laughter requires vulnerability.

I’m not talking about nervous laughter here. That’s not going to help any brainstorming session. I’m talking about from-your-gut-can’t-stop-falling-off-your-chair-crying-a-little-bit laughter. That kind of laughter only happens when you let your guard down. Guarded collaboration will lead to shallow ideas. You’ve got to be willing to put yourself out there and there’s something about laughter that enhances teamwork and bonds people together.

3. Thinking free leads to laughter.

In The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership, author Steven Sample describes the concept of “thinking free.” The brain develops normal pathways over time, which leads to what most of us refer to as “thinking inside the box.” The truth is that this is helpful in many ways—it allows us to quickly and easily execute tasks that we have to do on a repeated basis throughout the day. But these synaptic pathways, or brain ruts as I call them, are the enemy of creativity. We have to get free of those pathways in a creative session. Steven Sample suggests that we start by considering completely ridiculous ideas to break free and create new pathways.

For example, if you’re brainstorming an opening for a service about God’s love and care, imagine an opening number with talking sparrows singing a song titled, “He Even Cares for Us.” But in order to really break out of brain ruts, you have to play out an idea as far as you can…usually until you’re laughing. (What if the sparrows each had a different colored leaf and the choreography ended with them flying together and forming the giant image of a heart over the congregation’s heads? AND…the moment wouldn’t be complete unless one sparrow dramatically grasped its throat, swerved erratically around the auditorium and then fell to the ground as if dead. The music would stop, the sparrows would let out a collective gasp, and the lead sparrow would simply and quietly say, “God saw that.” Then, segue into a tender version of “His Eye is on the Sparrow” as the sparrows gently lift their fallen comrade and slowly carry him off stage in a sort of funeral procession. That’s thinking free.)

Maybe I got a little carried away (so did the sparrow, though). The point is that laughter is just plain fun. Collaborative creativity is best done by a group of people that are willing to share dumb ideas to get to good ones, to have fun together. Making laughter and even a bit of silliness acceptable in your brainstorming sessions is imperative from my point of view.

Here are a few practical tips about integrating laughter into your creative sessions.

    • Talk about laughter at the beginning of your session. Maybe you could read an article together about how laughter can unlock creativity (where would find an article like that?). Normalize it. Make it OK to laugh.
    • Share ridiculous ideas about singing sparrows with choreography (or something even better) to free your mind from brain ruts and get everyone laughing. Keep pushing the ideas until everyone is laughing and someone is crying (from all the laughing).
    • After you’ve had a good laugh, gently shift the conversation by saying something like, “That was great. We’ll certainly keep those ideas in the vault (because they’re never coming out!). How else could we convey this idea?”

Laughter certainly is great medicine. And if you’re afflicted with brain ruts and anemic ideas, it just might be the cure for your collaborative creative sessions and lead to compelling service elements.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Finkill

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Transformational Teaching as Songwriting

Who’s your favorite songwriter? That usually depends on your musical taste—it could be anyone from the Beatles to Bono to Billy Joel. All great songwriters have the ability to move us deeply through their work, engaging our hearts and minds about both the trivial and the philosophical. A great song is a snapshot of life, of reality, that leaves you somehow clearer and lighter.

Your goal for every message, for every teaching moment, should be to challenge, expose, and transform people’s underlying beliefs about reality—their core beliefs—not just to communicate information. Transformational teaching must connect with the heart and the soul, not just the head. Isn’t that what great songs do? This leads me to believe that we can learn a few things from great songwriters that will make our times of teaching more effective and more transformational if we can learn to master them.

1. Think arc, not outline.

“What do I want people to feel?” This is the question that will help you craft your message in terms of arc, not outline. For decades, most teachers have leaned far to the left-brain when preparing messages, focusing all of the attention on precise theological language and a systematic presentation. This is great for academic lectures and communicating information, but does it produce transformation?

Great songwriters think about the arc of the song. What do I want people to feel at the different stages of the song? What will it take to move people there? This is a more right-brain approach to message development, but it’s imperative for transformational teaching.

Recently, I attended a service where the message was about prejudice. I don’t remember the key passage for the day or the three points of the pastor’s outline (maybe it would have helped if they all started with “p” or something), but I do remember how I felt at the end of the message. He told a memorable story that connected with me on an emotional level—that’s what hit me that day. The powerful combination of theological truth communicated in a way that connected emotionally is what made the difference.

So when you start thinking about your next message, don’t just think about what you want people to know, think about what you want them to feel.

2. What’s the refrain?

Almost every great song has a memorable chorus, a repeated section with a melody and lyrical combination that sticks in your brain.

So what’s the refrain in your next message? What will people remember? One of the best examples of a refrain in speaking is “I Have a Dream” in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech.

If you’re thinking arc and refrain instead of outline and main idea, you may find it helpful to use a standard song form for your next message: verse, refrain, verse 2, refrain, bridge, and finally, refrain with a twist.

In the first verse, you introduce the idea enough that the refrain will make sense when people hear it for the for first time. In the second verse, you expand on the idea, giving more depth and detail before returning to the refrain, reinforcing the emotional impact of it. The bridge is usually a short section that changes the timbre or focus of the song in an interesting or unexpected way, building an emotional tension that releases in the final refrain. But most times, the final refrain has a twist that sets it apart—maybe the instruments drop out or the melody shifts slightly—but it’s still the refrain, still reinforcing the memorable and powerful hook that resonates after the song is over.

Great songwriters know how to take the elements of verse, refrain, and bridge and weave them together in ways that capture and keep the listener’s attention and moves them along an emotional arc. And it’s the refrain that holds it all together. Sounds like a great approach to message prep, too.

3. Passion is key.

This one almost goes without saying, but when I think of great songs, passion is a key element. If the songwriter doesn’t feel something deeply about the subject matter, it’s not going to be a great song. The same is true of a great message.

If you’ve chosen a passage or a topic that doesn’t excite you or make you angry or incite hope or something, don’t speak on it! Or, find someone who is passionate about it and listen to them for a while. (Passion is contagious.) Or, think about the topic or passage from another angle until you get passionate about it.

We all express ourselves in different ways, so I’m not saying that passion is going to come out of all of us the same. But it’s easy to see if the person who’s speaking cares about what they’re saying or not. By the time you reach the moment you begin to speak, you should feel like you’re going to explode if you don’t get a chance to say what you came to say.

If you’re not passionate about it, change it—talk about anything else. Or, call your worship leader and tell him or her that you’ve decided to have an extended worship time on Sunday. I’m sure your congregation wouldn’t mind if you stood up and talked for 5 or 10 minutes about something you feel passionate about rather than ramble on for 40 minutes just because “you’re supposed to” or because “it’s what’s next in the series.” I’m all for message planning and calendars (I was a worship leader for 13 years), but I’d rather listen to someone who’s passionate about something than just someone who planned to speak on something. Give us passion, please!

4. Rhythm, tempo, and volume matter.

As I’ve said before, we all have different styles and ways of communicating. I’m not advocating for a certain style here, just reminding you that if you want to connect with people emotionally, keep them engaged, and move them to a place where their core beliefs are exposed and challenged, rhythm, tempo, and volume matter.

I’ve spoken in public hundreds of times, but I still rehearse (at least the key sections). I’ll tweak and practice my phrasing and wording over and over to get the rhythm right. It might be making sure that I leave enough space between statements or that a powerful section builds quickly enough or that I’ve found just the right word to complete a section. Obviously, all of this is done in submission to God’s Spirit, but the way you deliver the message God has put on your heart is a skill and an art that He can use to bring real change. I’ve seen it happen…and I’ve experienced it myself.

And in your delivery, it’s not about finding the one thing that works. It’s about using all these tools to communicate the idea at hand. Great songwriters can compose a hopeful, driving tune one day and crank out a gentle, heartfelt ballad the next. Don’t lock yourself in to one method or style. Experiment with how quickly you speak and how loud or soft you are throughout each message. The right tone, the right rhythm, can be the difference between holding and losing the attention of your listeners.

All of these ideas—arc, refrain, passion, delivery—are ways to think about crafting a message. In all of it, remember that you’re just a vessel, a carrier of God’s Spirit. People are going to feel what you communicate during a message more than they are going to remember what you say. So please, please don’t settle for an alliterated outline when you could move people emotionally, challenge and expose their assumptions and beliefs, and watch as God transforms them through the power of His Spirit and His Word.

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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Environments >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Finkill

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

You’re Not a Lead Worshipper

The term “lead worshipper” has been around for several years, popularized by some of the most well-respected song writers and worship leaders on the earth today. While I understand the intent behind this phrase, I believe that the unintended consequence of this approach has led to un-engaging worship experiences for many congregations.

Your role as the worship leader, first and foremost, is to create an environment where the people you are leading can enter into the worship of their Creator. Leading worship should be all about serving those you lead by crafting an environment that helps them worship. If I consider myself the “lead worshipper,” I will tend to put together services and set lists that are based on my personal worship experience rather than on creating an experience where the largest number of people can engage in worship.

For you, or for them?

Let me give you an example. Many great worship songs are being written today. I love these songs. I crank them up when I’m driving in my car, and many times I have to be careful when I do this because my eyes fill with tears, making the road hard to see. I have powerful personal worship times with these songs. The problem, however, is that many of these songs are not written to make them singable for a large majority of people. They work well for guys that are tenors … everyone else seems to be left out.

I’ve been a part of too many worship services where these songs are presented as a part of what is supposed to be a participatory worship service in the same key and with the same arrangement as they are in the original recordings. I look at the people around me as they struggle at first to sing along, and then ultimately give up and just listen. Can people enter into worship without singing? Of course. But don’t expect or encourage people to “sing along” or truly engage when you’ve placed the song in the best key for your voice, not for their participation.

Another place this approach can be seen is just in the songs we select. Many worship leaders today gravitate to newer choruses and newer arrangements of hymns. As worship leaders, we prefer these songs for many reasons—we’re sick of singing the old songs or they feel outdated musically. And I’m certainly not against new songs in general. But when you include a new song, you should pack some “old favorites” around it so that people can stay engaged in the service.

Create a space for worship

If I consider myself to be a lead worshipper, though, these considerations will rarely enter my mind and spirit as I prepare. Our worship team can really enter into worship well during rehearsal because we really like the new songs and we’ve got the vocal ability to really tear it up. If we think of ourselves as lead worshippers, we’ll expect to have a great worship service. On the other hand, if we think of our role as creating an environment where it is easy for others to engage, we would probably do things differently.

Create a space for people to worship. That’s your job, first and foremost. Make it as easy as possible for people to engage. You are there to serve them, not to create a worship experience that you personally enjoy. During your personal worship time, jam to all the new songs and put them in the key where your voice sounds best. When you’re leading worship, lean toward songs they will know and put them in the key where the majority of people can join in. You might be surprised at the sweet offering of worship that rises up around you. And God will be honored.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Finkill

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COMMENTS

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Ken — 01/29/18 11:00 am

"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?

Eric Olson — 02/05/13 7:04 am

This article is right on and accurate. Participatory worship is becoming a lost expression of Christ-Followers in our newer, contemporary churches. (I am part of one!) It is possible to be current, relevant and even "cool" and at the same time create an atmosphere that helps people engage. I might add that if participatory worship is a high value for a church, then Worship and Ministry must be more important than the music and the art. We don't have to sacrifice the music and the art - our Creator God lets us use them - but we must make them accessible to the non-musician and non-artist in the church service. It's a challenge, but well-worth the work. Thanks, Steve, for your well-crafted insight in this article!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.