As a church staff person involved in planning weekend services, it’s always interesting to hear people talk about their church experiences. Sunday evening I was invited to a dinner party at a friend’s home with about 15-20 other people. I didn’t know everyone, and as the conversation turned to church, I discovered they were from several different churches. (I’m paraphrasing the conversation as I remember it, but the comments were all real.)
Apparently, at one of these churches, a secular song had been performed, but with some of the words changed. There was unanimous consensus that changing the words was lame – either have the guts to do the song the way it was written or don’t do it at all. (Not to mention the potential violation of copyright law, much like the 2006 federal ruling that editing offensive content such as graphic nudity and violence from movies violates U.S. copyright laws.)
Someone asked, “Why do they talk so much during the singing? We sang my favorite song this morning, and it got to the middle, and there’s this really pretty music part, and the guy talked through it! Why do they have to tell so many stories during the worship? Really, I can hardly concentrate…” A good reminder: your Pastor is delivering a message. So be careful not to overload the music portion of the service with additional teaching. Music touches people emotionally – words only interrupt this interaction. People need time to connect, to open their hearts, and this requires some mental space. The most powerful and rarely used tool in today’s worship service is silence.
But what the guests at the dinner really hated, (heads-up pastors and worship leaders) is someone shouting at them, “How’s everybody doing?!?”
“Oh my gosh,” said one woman, “and then they always repeat it: ‘You can do better than that! HOW’S EVERYBODY DOING?!'” Unanimous groaning.
Personally, I think we can do better than that. The point is to make the audience feel welcome, not somehow coerce them into making us feel affirmed. More importantly, if this is being repeated every week, it’s become a bad habit, which means you’re not being intentional about what you want to say to all those people who are giving you an hour of their time.
Interesting conversation. Helpful, if we recognize ourselves in any of the above, to consider.