Today, I’m going to address two more of the top six tactical mistakes churches make. Keep in mind these aren’t criticisms. They are, like the blog says, observations. I’ve worked in almost 1,000 churches in the past twenty years. I know that doesn’t make me an expert but it does give some credibility to my observations.
When I see a dying church they are most likely making these mistakes. So I think they are worth noting.
Mistake Number Two -putting a long section of announcements at the beginning of the worship service. One of my practices in many on-site consultations is to be present for the Sunday worship service. Ninty-Nine out of a hundred dying churches will begin the service with announcements, following a long boring organ prelude (by the way I seldom hear an organ in a thriving church unless it is a black church). Often these announcements take up to five or ten minutes. In some of the worst cases (I ran into a bunch of these in the early years of consulting), in addition to the pastor making announcements, other member of the congregation are called forward to make additional announcements. I was at one church where after more than ten minutes of announcements the pastor asked if there were any other announcements from the congregation. Needless to say that church was in a free fall.
Why are announcements at the beginning of a worship service so deadly- because they violate every media tenet as well slap as our culture in the face. Most younger people today do whatever they can to avoid watching a commercial on TV. Imagine what a media savvy twenty-something feels when subjected to five or ten minutes of commercials up front before they have the chance to decide if they like what’s happening in your worship.
And if you say, “That’s tough. We don’t bow to the culture,” you’re missing the point. The way to be counter-cultural is not by intentionally turning people away with your methodology. The way to be counter-cultural is to make the worship so appealing that the Holy Spirit has time to speak into their lives and transform their hearts into followers of Christ. You can’t do that if you run them off at the beginning of the service.
If you want to be able to speak to this culture, begin worship with your best piece of music for the morning, something that says “Something great is going to happen here today.” If you have to do announcements, don’t lead off with them. Please.
You say where do we put them – anywhere but the beginning. Put them at the middle or the end. Put them on the screen as people arrive. Or better yet don’t do announcements. Worship isn’t about selling your wares. Worship is about thanking God for what God has already done in your life. Keep it that way as much as you can.
Mistake Number Three – making the first staff hire a Youth Director instead of a Worship Leader.
There is an old saying that “the youth are the future of the church.” This saying is both true and false. Youth are the future of some one’s church, but not your church. Most youth move on when they graduate from High School. Depending on how grounded they are in the faith they may wind up at someone else’s church in the future, so discipling them is extremely important. However, it has little to do with the future of your church.
In addition, most churches don’t have enough youth to make their first hire a part time Youth Director much less a full time person. Unless you have 100 or more youth in regular attendance on Sunday, or one day in the week, you don’t need a full time Youth Director. Until you have 50 or more youth in attendance, the pastor or someone trained by the pastor should lead the group.
Most church leaders still haven’t gotten the message – the world we live in has one universal language – Rock n Roll music. People around the world can lip-synch the music even if they don’t speak English.
If you look at the church plants that do well from the beginning the vast majority of them have either paid part time or full time worship leader. Today, music is an essential part of the message people hear. Make your first hire a Worship Leader who loves Jesus and understands today’s culture.