My Notes from Preach Better Sermons Online Conference

For anyone who missed the workshop on how to ‘Preach Better Sermons’. I watched it and decided to take notes for you (with help from my friends at Elim Gospel Church). This seminar was sponsored by preachingrocket.com. Check out their website to see how this new service can help you be effective as a communicator and preacher.

Here are the main ideas/concepts shared during the conference. Enjoy.

PERRY NOBLE.
Perry Noble is an author, speaker and Senior Pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina.

  • Why create a preaching calendar?
    I need to give my people time to prepare for creative elements. My job is to serve my team by planning in advance.
  • When did you discover you had a gift of preaching?
    One of the best sermon you could ever share . . . how you discovered Christ?
  • What do you do to get better as a preacher?
    Read Andy Stanley’s book, ‘Communicating for a Change‘. Trying to preach shorter messages. I’m going to be here a long time. I don’t need to try to say everything in one week. How can I say the ‘one’ thing.
  • How many times do you preach in the year?35-40 Times
  • How do I figure out what to preach on? 
    Nearly every idea I’ve preached came out of my quiet time. A preacher preaches best when he does so out of the overflow of his heart. I use Evernote to keep track of all my thoughts, ideas, concepts that I can preach on at any time. That’s what he uses as a resource for a preaching calendar.
  • What have you learned working with your team?
    We have a Creative Pastor who takes all our creative ideas and makes them happen. He invites various people to creative team meetings. Single people, men, women, married, etc. Different people give him unique ideas that he couldn’t figure out himself. I learned how to ask the right questions to the right people and have learned to listen to other people.
  • I don’t have a big staff? I’m the ‘Lonely People’ Pastor.
    You can do this without a staff. Invite {the right} people to lunch and tell them you want them to help you put your sermon together. They will come.
  • How do you deal with criticism & praise?
    Pastors have foes, fans, and very few friends. Foes tell you how bad you are (makes you think you’re worse than you are), fans tell you how awesome you are (makes you think you’re better than you are), friends tell you the truth. Your friends love Jesus first, the church second, and you third. So you know they will always give you the feedback you need because their priorities are straight.
  • Closing Thoughts:
    Let the Bible speak for itself and be your platform. Listen to other preachers as much as you can. I’ll say what other preachers have said all the time. Podcasts are the common day commentaries. Surround yourself with people who can help you communicate better. Get a great team to support you as the preacher. Don’t ‘give them hell’ on Sunday. ‘Give them hope’ on Sunday.

JUD WILHITE
Jud Wilhite is an author, speaker and senior pastor of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas. Jud talked about how we can find common ground with other people. We have to communicate in language that people relate to. Here are a few insights to do that.
 
  • Communicate from your life.
    I often start my messages by sharing something personal in my life that relates to my topic. The most powerful illustrations are when those illustrations overlap with the person’s personal experience/life. My favorite definition of preaching: expressing truth through personality.
  • Communicate honestly.
    Be honest about what you’re thinking, feeling, experiencing, etc.
  • Communicate to the broken.
    I imagine broken people around my desk as I prepare what I’m going to say. The 17 year old who doesn’t want to be there. A single person struggling at work. A couple struggling in their marriage. Someone struggling with an addiction. I write my message to each of them. I want people to feel like I’m talking directly to them. “If you speak to the broken, you will always have an audience.”
  • Communicate the Word.
    Just preach Jesus. We don’t have to apologize for the Bible. People are there to hear what it has to say. 2 Timothy 4:2. Be careful about religious language. Don’t water things down, just remember to use language that everyone understands and explain/define things when you don’t. I try to stay in ONE Bible passage when I preach. I shifted to the NLT version because it’s at a younger grade reading level so people could track with the task.
  • Communicate for Next Steps.
    Let them know whether the Bible has something to say AND it has a connection with their life. I ask what the text says to me as a person, to the imaginary individuals around my desk, and to my church and my community as well. I define a crystal clear ‘next step’ opportunity. 

ANDY STANLEY
Andy Stanley is an author, speaker, and Lead Pastor of North Point Community Church in Georgia. Get his book on preaching, Communicating for a Change.
 
  • How did you know speaking was a gift for you?
    Taught a Bible Study in a home and a woman spoke a word of encouragement about that gift.
  • Discuss how you prepare your messages?
    Most importantly is that the process needs to be relational. The pattern I mostly use is Me. We. God. You. We. This approach can help you connect with the audience. It may allow you to be able to preach without using notes so much. It breaks your message up into chunks, instead of points.
  • How do you craft a Sermon based on application instead of information?
    I tend towards (wired) application because my strengths/gifts are exhortation oriented. I’m not satisfied if people don’t know what’s at stake and don’t know what to do. Make sure they know what to do at the end. It’s not just about what they need to know. It’s also about why it’s important to know it and what to do about it. It’s critical that you have a burden to preach.
  • How do you create these memorable phrases when you preach?
    It is very difficult to do, but the phrase is the best way to make an idea stick. You owe it to yourself to create a ‘bottom line’ phrase, question, application statement. It will equip you to be more successful as a communicator. I also prepare my sermons way in advance which also gives me a lot of time to mull over the concepts and get these nuggets. The ‘crock-pot’ approach. This approach also protects me from bad ideas. I have time to come up with something else.
  • What have you learned about ‘tension’ in communicating?
    It’s critical that you create tension in the first few minutes if you want people to track with you during the sermon. Tension makes things interesting. You are never bored where there’s tension. If it’s boring, then you haven’t interested people by creating a tension they can get into. I’m OK with developing an entire series to focus on one tension, as opposed to taking care of it in one sermon.
  • How do you preach to the unchurched & everyone else at the same time?Some of it comes back to tension. It’s not about content, it’s about the approach we use. Get his new book coming out in the fall to read about it more.
  • What are you doing lately to improve yourself?
    I watch myself preach. I listen to other people. I watch other communicators, including comedians, newscasters, etc.
  • Closing Comments
    When you speak, do it with a burden to reach broken, hurting people. Make it personal. Think of the person you know who needs to hear it or that you think needs to hear it. Pick a target audience and preach to them, not about you.

JEFF FOXWORTHY
Jeff Foxworthy is one of the most respected and successful comedians in the country. There are many similarities between what comedians and preachers do. One of them is using humor.
 
  • How can preachers lean into humor when preaching?
    It’s important for us to not take ourselves too seriously. I figured out that what I think, experience, and see probably isn’t unique to me. I trust that truth and am willing to take risks by sharing them with others.
  • What have you learned about timing with humor?
    Usually people who are good ‘joke-tellers’ have learned how to cut the fat (details). Trim humor down to the bare essentials. This includes telling funny stories. 
  • How do you prepare jokes/humor?
    I use note-cards. I put a thought that occurred to me on a note-card that I keep nearby. I try ideas/thoughts on people, either randomly or formally. The yellow notepad is where I develop thoughts and jokes to a context. When do you develop content . . . always. 
  • How can we reach the heart of men?
    Make sure we don’t portray Christianity or Christ as a ‘sissy’ faith.
  • Closing Comments:
    Be vulnerable from the pulpit. Let people see you living life to the full.

Thanks to Eric Scott, Care Pastor at Elim Gospel Church for the below notes. Unfortunately, I had to step away from the conference at this point.


VANABLE MOODY II
Vanable (Van) Moody is an author, speaker and Senior Pastor of The Worship Center in Birmingham, Alabama.

  • Start with the end in mind.
    All navigational systems start with the end in mind.  A message is the same.
  • The most effective form of preaching is behavioral.
    Behavioral preaching goes after the impact the message has on the hearer. Jesus gives many examples in this way (John 4 or Pool of Bethesda, “Do you want to get better?” this was about behavior.
  • Impression or Impact?
    Settle this issue – Do you want to make an impression or do you want to make an impact?  It’s great to hear, “Good message!”  Yet it’s better when a person’s life is impacted with the gospel and it brings about lasting life-change.
  • The Behavioral Purpose.
    Come to an understanding of what the behavioral purpose is.  What is God wanting to change and do?  Craft your message around that purpose. When you are clear with this then you should be able to reduce your message down to one crystal clear statement – your objective statement.  The message should then consistently support this message.  What do you want people to do as a result of this message.
  • Message vs Messenger
    While behavioral messages are important, it is imperative that you not separate the message from the messenger.  
  • Keep it Clear and Simple
    Make sure as you communicate the purpose, make sure it is clear and simple. Use words phrases and sentences your people can grasp onto. Give points for their head and pictures for their heart. Provide a vehicle for them to do what you have been preaching about.  Muscles grow because they are exercised.

DAN CATHY

Dan Cathy is the President and COO at Chick-fil-A.

  • Strive to be a communicator who communicates to real felt needs.
  • When putting a message together work with a smaller audience first.
  • Rehearse the message.
  • Illustrations on stage are powerful!

CHARLES STANLEY

Dr. Charles Stanley is an author, speaker and Senior Pastor at the First Baptist Church of Atlanta.

  • The most important part of sermon prep is my personal walk with God.  A man can preach no better than he prays.
  • Discipline is key to the pastor’s life.
  • It boils down to this: I must have a balanced schedule, a healthy body, healthy relationships, the courage to be obedient to God no matter what he requires and most of all a pure heart before God.
  • You must have the weight of the message on your shoulders concerning what you believe God wants you to communicate through this message.  This way you’re preaching for impact.  

Preparation Process:

  • Ask: “What’s the need of the people listening?”
  • Ask: “What is the text that best speaks to this need?”
  • Ask: “Now, what does it say personally to me?”  
  • Number your statements as you gather materials and then ask yourself, “How do I put this together into a  format that will work?”  With that in mind, ask, “What is the one thing they can walk away with?”
  • Once this comes together the outline comes next with the theme in mind – that one thing.
  • Look for clarity, movement and always with the idea that this must have impact.
  • You cannot be thinking about yourself and also have an impact on others.  You’ve got to have the people in mind.
  • I does not give an outline to the congregation.  I want it bottled up inside me until it is just right in my mind, even up to the evening before.  I do not want anything between myself and those hearing the message prior to giving it. I do not manuscript, but use an outline and memory.
  • In the midst all of this I pray and ask for help with points in the outline that are troubling me.
  • It should be a rare exception to step into the pulpit without proper preparation.
  • “Obey God and leave all consequences to Him.”
  • “Your personal intimate relationship with God is above all else.”
  • I feel a tremendous responsibility when I think about who I am speaking to and who is listening and that deeply moves me.  I am not nervous, but feel very responsible to communicate for impact.
  • My goal during personal devotions is to ask, “What are You speaking to me, Lord?”  If my life is not right, it will not communicate what it needs to a waiting world.  Every test and heartache I have had has been seen later as something God worked about for good.
  • Changing Bibles periodically helps me quite a bit in reinvigorating my personal devotional life with God.
  • Closing thought:  “See everything that comes at you as coming from Me (God).” If you’ll come to this then you’ll begin to see the purpose behind the circumstance that came.  He’ll turn it for good if you’ll turn it over to Him, listen to Him and obey Him.

LOUIE GIGLIO

Louie Giglio is an author, speaker and Lead Pastor at the Passion City Church in Roswell, Georgia.

  • Recognition of the gift came early and encouraged came in phrases like, “You have no idea what God has in mind for your life…”
  • Calling and self-discovery plus affirmation tells you that you are in the right spot.
  • There was an inner-witness inside of him that said, “I’m going to speak here someday.”  However, you need to park that in the recesses of your spirit and speak where you can, where you are invited and grow from there to the place where that word actualizes. 
  • The God Factor – At the end of the day it is the Spirit of God moving through God’s Word that impacts people.  Even Paul said he was not perfect in speech.  It’s more about the power of God happening there.
  • Ask: “God, what do you want to say and what do You want Your people impacted by?”  And then get to work.  Craft it into a message that impacts people.
  • Preparation and presentation are much like a funnel.  The wide end is all your life, experience, study, etc., but you need to bring it down to that one thing that comes from all that wide area of the funnel and work it down to that one thing. 
  • Let the text work its way through you until what comes out leads to that place of impact.

Free Christmas Video Resource from Gateway Church!

 
 

I read on Tony Morgan’s blog earlier this week that Gateway Church (Pastor Robert Morris) is offering a free Christmas Video to anyone who wants it; and it’s available in HD.

If you’re looking for a last minute video resource to show before, during or after your Christmas Eve or Sunday service – or perhaps just on your website, this video may be just what you are looking for. Enjoy!

 

Do Something Different

 
This past Sunday our church did something unique. It got people talking, created some buzz, added value to the message, and created a memory for our congregation. It was something different.

We held a ‘No-Show’ Sunday. We removed all of the volunteers from the schedule and replaced them with cardboard silhouettes. We trimmed down the service to almost nothing. No projection, videos, lights, or worship team. Our worship leader led from a guitar. The words to the songs were in the  bulletin – which people picked up themselves because there were no greeters or ushers. Everyone left right after the service because there was no cafe. Staff and key elders ran the preschool – there was no programming for gradeschoolers. I could go on, but you get the idea. Our series title is ‘Me to We’ – we’re talking about partnering together in ministry through service in the church. It was awesome.

When was the last time you did something unique, different and memorable?

I ran across this video clip at churchm.ag today. It’s about a store called ‘The Limited’ that did something different. What could you do in your church or community this winter that people would always remember (in a good way)?

Can’t see this video? Click this link.

Ten Church Strategies: The Weekend Service Strategy

 

What is your Sunday Morning or Weekend Service strategy? What are you trying to accomplish and how are you planning on doing so? This is the Weekend Service Strategy.

In this installment of the “Ten Church Strategies” series, I will outline some of the Systems that should be clarified, developed and regularly evaluated for effective Sunday services. Since Weekend Services are usually the primary focus of most church’s weekly schedule, it is understandably the most complex of all of the Ten Church Strategies. If you haven’t already, I recommend you first read Ten Church Strategies – Getting Started.

Key Systems of the Weekend Service:
Following are the various systems that directly impact the effectiveness of Sunday morning services. You will notice that the vast majority of these systems don’t actually occur on Sunday mornings, but in the days, weeks, and months prior to each Sunday morning experience. Here they are:

Systems Supporting The Message:
The message is primarily dependent on the Lead Pastor’s preparations and planning. Developing these systems will expand the message’s influence by allowing others to be better prepared to support what will be said.

  • Message Series Planning System
    This is the system whereby the Lead Pastor and his teaching team create a tentative schedule of message series for the upcoming months. Ideally, message series’ will be planned out for six months or longer. 
  • Message Preparation System
    It’s critical that the Lead Pastor or teacher has a system in place to regularly study, pray, and prepare for the Sunday morning message. Ideally, the requisite hours are etched in stone in his weekly calendar. The best system will accommodate advanced planning for future weekends and extra speaking engagements.
Systems Supporting Worship
There are many necessary subsystems to accommodate relevant worship ministry on Sunday morning. A few of the more notable ones include:
  • Song List System
    This system includes developing a ‘Master Song List’, keeping it updated with relevant songs, and determining when new songs are introduced and old songs are removed. This system will also take care of details like CCLI licensing and lyrics administration. 
  • Worship Team System
    This system will recruit, train and develop the various instrumentalists, vocalists, and technicians necessary to support Sunday morning worship.
  • Practice & Rehearsal System
    The best rehearsal system will allow room for worship teams to practice (building unity, communication skills, song dynamics and team-building) and rehearse (specifically preparing for upcoming worship sets). 
  • Worship Leader System
    It’s important the worship leader has systems in place allowing him/her to pray and prepare song lists, transitions, scripts, etc. Ideally, this system will include learning new songs; preparing for future weeks, series, and events; and developing his/her own worship leadership skills.
Systems Supporting Service Planning
Service Planning is a necessary part of exceptional weekend services. These subsystems will add creativity and increase excellence each week.
  • Service Planning System
    There are no surprises regarding what’s happening in upcoming weeks with a service planning system. The ministry team will know exactly when upcoming special service elements (water baptism, communion, guest missionary, baby dedication, etc.) will be taking place. Additionally, details concerning what will be announced each week, what handouts will be included in the bulletin, when creative expressions will take place and what prayer needs will be publicly addressed will also be clarified. Finally, this system will ensure each week’s Service Plan is developed, scrutinized and effectively communicated to key players each week. 
  • Creative Expressions System
    Creative Expressions (skits, music specials, video clips, etc.) during a Sunday morning service are most effective when they are planned in advance. With this system, creative brainstorming and planning take place for upcoming services well in advance of when the details surrounding fulfilling them must be made. Tactical assignments, preparations and rehearsals are also included in these systems.
Systems Supporting Children’s Programming
Most Weekend Services will offer programming for children during some or all of the adult service. This allows parents to participate in the services uninterrupted and provides child appropriate programming for kids. 
  • Safety System
    It is critical that children are safe and parents have peace of mind leaving their kids each week. Safety systems will include volunteer applications and security checks, enforced children’s ministry policies and procedures and a secure child check-in/check-out system on Sunday mornings.
  • Curriculum System
    This system will include ordering, developing, organizing, and preparing age appropriate curriculum for each age group.
  • Volunteer System
    This system will ideally be fully integrated in the church’s “Ministry Partner System” and includes recruitment, training, support, and appreciation of all kids ministry volunteers.
  • Facility & Resource System
    This system will ensure all kids ministry rooms are stocked with age appropriate toys and supplies. It will also include procedures for regular cleaning and maintenance of the rooms.
Systems Supporting Service Programming

The remaining Weekend Service systems will support the various elements and portions of each service.
  • Staging/Tech System
    Stage and technical preparations are vital to a distraction-free experience each week. This system includes developing unique stage designs related to a sermon series as well as the purchasing, maintenance, and care of all technical equipment. 
  • Materials Production System
    Most Sunday services will include materials that attendees receive to enhance and support the Sunday experience and upcoming activities. Preparation and production of the morning bulletin, sermon notes, handouts, offering envelopes, etc. should be systematized and streamlined.
  • Attendee Host Services System
    This includes all systems needed to host and serve attendees before, during, and after the service. Hosts (also referred to as ushers or greeters) will setup for the service, hand out bulletins, help seat attendees, distribute communion elements, etc.
  • Prayer & Care Ministry
    This system will address how leaders facilitate hands-on ministry to attendees each week both during and immediately following the service. This could include the traditional altar call as well as other means of personal ministry during or immediately after the service.
Note: Inspiration for the Ten Church Systems comes from Nelson Searcy and the Eight Systems of the Local Church he proposed in his free e-book entitled, ‘Healthy Systems, Healthy Church‘.

‘Invite’ Series by Andrew Manzano

Andrew Manzano

I’d like to introduce you to a friend at Elim Gospel ChurchAndrew Manzano. Andrew owns his own production company at www.thesoundtank.com and makes some AWESOME video’s for the Christian community.

A while back I encouraged you to consider ‘spicing’ up your Sunday morning services with the occasional Sunday Service Video Clip. Andrew’s clips have given www.sermonspice.com some great traffic – and for good reason. Check out his “Invite” series below and consider purchasing one or more of them this week!

An Exceptional Sunday Service Report

Does your church host Exceptional Sunday Services? Recently, I had the chance to provide some coaching in this area to an area church leader. After our meetings he went back to his team and with great zeal championed several small but key changes in his Sunday morning preparations. Check out this email he sent me a few weeks later . . . .

Hello Pastor Wayne,

Here is an update on our improvements on Sunday mornings. After some great discussion, we implemented a few things.

  • Our secretary changed our Service Planning meeting agenda to be more specific and include minutes.
    That alone has made a huge difference. We now better understand how everything breaks down and what needs to be improved. For the first time since I can remember we actually discussed, re-ordered and even trimmed some things in our Sunday Services. That made an immediately and huge difference in our services.
  • We began having a service coordinator for every service.
    We have three people serving in that role, I do it most of the time and the other two serve in that role when I am not around.
  • We also started a service coordinator meeting.
    This is a short 5 minute meeting where we walk through the whole service with all the key players involved in that Sunday morning service. At this meeting we discuss when music plays and lights go on and off. We talk about what microphone everyone is using and who to give it to next. Our transitions have improved quite a bit now that people know when they are to come onstage and know when to be ready. Everyone sees how efficient we are and also feel’s more part of the team! 

It’s great when we have a guest speaker as well. They see how organized we are and when I go over the details with them about when they should begin and end they actually end on time now. A few weeks ago, a guest speaker who traditionally always ends late (and I mean always) ended on time and his message was actually better than other times.

The main thing that made me want to write this email is that in the past we have been so uptight with ending on time (and often we wouldn’t end on time) that we would often just be stressed out. We have also always been concerned that if we become more organized we won’t leave room for God to move. Well, last Sunday we had an 8 minute altar call during worship. Not to mention 3 prophetic words. God moved, people were touched, and no one was stressed about time because we knew we had it all under control. The service still ended on time.

By becoming more organized and efficient we are not taking God out of the service. In fact we are giving God MORE room to move. If we couldn’t end on time with our previous schedule imagine how uptight we would get when God moved during those services? But now we end early a lot and when God moves we are free to enjoy it because time is no longer an issue like it once was. There is no doubt that all our hard work developing the services has definitely given way to a greater presence of God in our services!

Thank You Pastor Wayne for the help and coaching!

I am so inspired and encouraged when I hear stories like this from church leaders. I am also confident that this church will continue to experience God’s Presence in their Sunday morning services as they continue to grow in their preparations  and communications. Their ‘partnership’ with God just took a major leap forward.

If you’re interested in hearing more from me about hosting exceptional services then I invite you to download and listen to the “Hosting Exceptional Sunday Services Workshop I presented earlier this year at the Elim Fellowship Leadership Conference. I have included a copy of the workshop notes and several other resources as well. Click on this link to purchase it today.

Love Your Sound Tech As Yourself

There is someone else on the stage. You can’t see him, but he’s not invisible. His presence rolls of the stage in waves – sound-waves. He lives in a world of high’s, mid’s and low’s – and no, he’s probably not manic-depressive. When he’s ‘on’, you sound fabulous. When he’s ‘off’, you sound boomy, hollow, or possibly demented. He is either your hero or a villain.

I’m talking about your sound man (or woman). Pixar did a superb job of catching the essence and challenge sound tech’s (and pastors) face every Sunday in this short clip. For copyright reasons, I am only showing you the first 2 minutes. Enjoy.

Love Your Sound Tech As Yourself
All kidding aside, your sound tech is a very important part of the Sunday morning experience. He probably knows things about sound that you don’t , and even if that isn’t true . . . well, he’s back there and you’re up here, right?

It seems that a lot of pastors and church leaders nurse a gnawing frustration when it comes to their sound tech. They never seem to ‘get it right’. It’s too loud, too soft, or just mixed weird. The microphone isn’t working again, the monitors hum distractedly, or you can’t hear the video as it’s playing on the screens. Overall, the relationship tends to be strained.

I have a suggestion for you. Invest in your sound tech relationally. Ask he and his family over for dinner. Set up occasional meetings with him to just talk shop regarding the Sunday morning experience. Help him understand your values and preferences with sound. Cast your vision for ministry to him. Let him dream with you about the church and it’s future. Help him feel a part and extension of you every single week – after all, he is.

The Sunday Service Video Clip

 

We all have unique preferences regarding how we like our food. Some like it bland, others spicy. Personally, I like my food to have a lot of flavor and spices whenever possible. Everyone who eats with me is pretty used to hearing, “Pass the salt and pepper please.”

I would like to introduce a couple of websites that can and will add some ‘spice’ to your Sunday morning experience. These clips usually range in price from $5 – $20. Despite the minor expense, they will often help bridge the gap between a good and great Sunday morning experience.

I highly recommend you check them out today!

Sunday Morning Announcements

 

Remember our friend, Charlie Brown from the Peanuts comic strips and cartoons? You probably do, and you probably remember how realistic the sound of the school teacher was during those old fashioned episodes . . . “Wah, wa, wha, wha, wah, waah, wa, wah, whaa, wha, whah, wah.” Wow. Just quoting it reminds me of Jr. High History Class all over again.

Question. Is that what your congregation hears during the Sunday Morning Announcements? I hope not. The announcements usually get a bum rap. Just for kicks, check off how many of the following are true at your church:

  • You traditionally have more than 3 announcements each week, often 5 or more.
  • You decide what will be announced early Sunday morning.
  • The emcee reads most of the information to the congregation; usually that’s also the first time they’ve personally seen or thought about the announcements themselves.
  • Each announcement is nothing more than a regurgitation of what’s already in the bulletin – a lot of basic information like who, what, when, and where.
  • The emcee sounds like my Jr. High History Teacher.
  • There are no slides or images displayed during each announcement.
  • There ARE slides during each announcement and your 5th grader could have done a better job.
  • The announcements average 5 minutes or more, sometimes up to 10 minutes.
  • The content of each announcement often doesn’t include how to sign up or get more involved.
  • You don’t plan to attend most of what is announced, or you wish you didn’t have to.
I could go on, as I’m sure you can. I can honestly say that we’ve fallen into every one of these traps at some point or another at Elim Gospel Church. How about you?
 
Question. What can you do different THIS WEEK to change those patterns? Here are a few random suggestions:
  • Sell Your Announcements.
    If you think it’s important to say, then don’t just say it, SELL IT! The whole point of the announcement is to give people a reason to care. Focus on WHY they should participate, not when and where it’s happening.
  • Information is Overrated.
    Seriously. Your people are pretty smart. Most of them know how to read. If it’s in the bulletin or on your website, then point them there to get all the nitty gritty details. When was the last time you saw someone pulling out their pen and writing all the information in their calendar on the edge of their seats during the announcement anyway?
  • Find a Good Talker to Do the Talking.
    If you’re going to sell your announcements, then find someone who can and will be passionate about selling them. Monotone is so NOT in.
  • Announce Something, Not Everything.
    Ideally, you’ll only highlight 2-3 key activities. I know this means you just might offend your ministry directors – that’s OK. They’re not serving as leaders for themselves, but for the church, right? Right?
  • Follow the 4 Minute Rule . . . (wait, I mean 3 minute)
    Make a rule of thumb that you’ll never spend more than 4 minutes on announcements. Offer your emcee a bonus if they can communicate them effectively in 3 minutes. Not possible? Give it a try.
  • Create Standards on ‘What’ Will Be Announced
    Not all of your church activities carry the same weight. I recommend you reserve verbal announcements for events that will apply to a large portion of those present in the room OR to people who are still new to your church and may not be sure what their next steps should be.
  • Decide on Announcements Ahead of Time
    One of the ways to keep your announcements focused and intentional is to decide ahead of time exactly WHAT will be announced. For instance, is it  possible for you to think through and decide on Sunday announcements for each week a month in advance? You’d be shocked how effective this method can be in clarifying what you will announce, when, and how often.
  • Prepare, Prepare, Prepare.
    Your emcee should prepare in advance. Ideally, he or she will know a day or two ahead of time and will PRACTICE communicating the announcements in privacy or in front of a captive audience.
  • Creative Announcements
    Mix things up every once in a while with a creative announcement. This doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but will still add value to the service and give people something to talk about. For example, one Sunday we had two men drive into the sanctuary in a golf cart and tee up for a shot to announce our upcoming EGC Open Golf Tournament.
  • Video Announcements
    Every once in a while someone will mention to me that video announcements are reserved only for large churches. I have to disagree. You probably already own enough equipment to put together some basic video announcements. (My phone even has High Def Video capabilities.) There are two teens at our church right now who have taught themselves how to edit video’s. One of those teens has created video announcements for the teen program on occasion. Video Announcements can be a simple way to mix things up in your service and ensure your church activities get the attention and focus they need. See below for a few examples of some standard video announcements at EGC. (Note: Our video editor is a professional. You’re VA’s may not look quite as polished as these, at least at first. That said, Dave Bode learned a lot of what he knows about video editing by creating video’s for our church.)


04-17-11 EGC News (1 minute and 51 seconds)

2-6-11 EGC News (1 minute and 48 seconds)

1-30-11 EGC News: 2D Madness (2 Minutes and 34 Seconds)

5-22-11 EGC News: Talking Animals (3 minutes and 9 seconds)

4-24-11 EGC News: Easter Song (3 minutes and 53 seconds)

Hosting Great Services

 

Perhaps you’ve had the unfortunate experience of attending a church service that was a major flop. Let me describe for you what I would define as a ‘flop’. People are unprepared, there are a myriad of distractions, and there doesn’t seem to be any sense of the Presence of God throughout the meeting. That’s not to say that the Lord isn’t/wasn’t speaking. We all are quite aware that He can and will speak whenever and however He wants. That said, we are also aware that God has entrusted to His people to be facilitators and instruments of His words (more on that later).

This month I will begin unpacking key ideas and principles regarding the Sunday morning services. As Executive Pastor at Elim Gospel Church it has been one of my primary roles to ensure the Sunday experience shines with excellence and that everyone works in tandem to accomplish the mission God sets for us each week. I look forward to unpacking what I’ve learned in upcoming weeks, so stay tuned!

Additionally, I invite you to consider purchasing the “Hosting Exceptional Sunday Services” workshop by going to the Transforming Leader store. This workshop summarizes the 6 key elements of a Sunday Service and, more importantly, how to pull them all together to form an Exceptional Sunday Service. The workshop includes several additional resources and is available for purchase on CD or as a download. Click here to purchase the workshop today.

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