Worship - Pay Attention to the Mechanics

 

The big day is over; and now it's time for the Monday morning review of the "game films." It's easy to be misled by Sunday flattery (or even genuine kindness) such as, "Great sermon pastor"; but when that same couple gets into their car it's more like, "What WAS he talking about?" Sometimes you're misled by unreasonable critics: "The music is too loud and too soft"; "The sermon is too deep and too shallow"; "There are too many announcements and we never know what's going on around here!" And still others are happy with Sunday because, "After all, we packed the place out."

Then there are the leaders who are hard on themselves. Like the pastor who gave this evaluation of his church's worship service: "The music was flat, announcements fumbled, sermon flopped, offering fizzled, ushers failed, drama faltered, soloist floundered, power-point flickered, and the sound person flubbed." Now that's a bad day.

It's important every week to get beyond the criticisms and tap into reality. You need to use an objective evaluation of what you set out to accomplish the previous Sunday, with an approach towards learning and improvement. This is commonly part of a staff meeting, but can be done in a number of creative ways including Sunday afternoon or even over lunch.

The last edition of "The Pastor's Coach" (Worship - Make Room for the Mystery) dealt with the front end of worship - preparation with a focus on God's input. This edition focuses on the other side of the desk - evaluation. The overarching question is, "What can we learn and how can we get better?"

First, let me offer three proactive things you can do to learn the art and craft of a dynamic and effective worship service:

+ Include small focus groups of church members to help in the evaluation.

The music staff (lay or paid) often makes the evaluation of the service. It is difficult for them to remain objective and fresh when, as soon as Sunday is over, they face the reality of "Next Sunday is only six days away." Their focus is naturally on "What's on for next week?"

I recommend that you put together small groups of about five people who evaluate Sunday services under the music staff's direction. These groups should include old members, new members, mature members, baby Christians, fringe people, even visitors. Mix it up. You could build a group for every Sunday, or schedule one of these groups each month. Prepare a survey for them and include a couple of "essay" questions so they can be thorough while also offering creative ideas.

Give them permission to tell you the truth and let them know that their input will be seriously considered. If they come up with an insight or idea that is helpful and useful, be sure to tell them. Make sure the group meets together to discuss their findings - 90 minutes should be plenty of time. You will get much better input from one group report in summary form rather than independent evaluations from five people (It's also a very healthy learning experience for them to discover that it's not easy to agree on what a good service should look like).

+ Visit other churches to learn what they are doing.

We often mistakenly believe we can't spare our best music staff from the Sunday morning services. The truth is that your first string won't stay the best if they aren't given the opportunity to learn and grow. One of the best ways to do this is to study live under people who, candidly, are better than they are. The ideal environment for this is a live Sunday morning service in a church you respect. If possible, plan to have lunch with a member of their music staff to ask a few well-thought out questions.

+ Continually design and develop a clear picture of what you desire to accomplish on Sunday morning.

This was covered in the last edition of "The Pastor's Coach", but again, I want to encourage you to prayerfully think through what you and God have in mind as the overarching life-change goal of each Sunday.

The following 20 questions comprise a simple questionnaire to help you evaluate your worship service. I encourage you to add any questions that would make it more valuable to you and your church culture.

Score each one on a scale of 1-7. 1=Poor and 7=Excellent. Celebrate what went well, and determine how to learn and improve the weak areas.

(To take this evaluation interactively, use the following link: http://www.INJOY.com/ServiceEval.)

1. Was the parking lot clean and ready, and did the parking attendants take care of their responsibilities?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

2. Was the nursery clean, organized, and ready with ample volunteer workers?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

3. Were the usher and host teams where they needed to be and on time with all the appropriate handouts?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

4. Was the offering/offertory organized, timely, and did it add to the overall worship experience?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

5. If communion or baptism was offered, was it organized, did it run smoothly, and did it add to the overall worship experience?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

6. Was the worship well-planned and organized?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

7. Was there good communication between the senior pastor and the music team?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

8. Did God have "permission" to interrupt the service?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

9. Was there a sense of anticipation of God's presence and power?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

10. Were the vocalists and instrumentalists prepared, rehearsed, and ready?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

11. Did the overall service have a smooth flow to it?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

12. Did the announcements help or hinder the service?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

13. Were the first time guests greeted warmly and invited to interact with others?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

14. Did the sound and light crew help or hinder the service?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

15. Was the main point of the sermon clear? (What was it?)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

16. If there was a drama of some type did it help clarify and sharpen the message?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

17. Was there an effective altar call or some point of call for commitment or challenge regarding practical application? (What was it?)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

18. Was the sermon finished on time within (plus or minus) three minutes?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

19. Was God an obvious part of the service?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

20. Did we accomplish our over-all goal? What did we learn? How can we be better next week?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

This article is used by permission from Dr. Dan Reiland's free monthly e-newsletter 'The Pastor's Coach' available at www.injoy.com.