by Todd Fields

1. Dim The Lights During Worship

A simple change in lighting during the music set can improve the worship experience for people who may be uncomfortable or nervous that everyone can see them.

2. Encourage Worship Leaders To Memorize Songs

If they know the song, they don’t need a music stand. If they get rid of the music stand, they can make better eye connection with the audience. They can also smile more and read the room better because they’re not focused on reading.

3. Play Background Music When Guests Enter And Exit The Service

There is nothing louder than silence. Have you ever eaten a meal in a restaurant with no music? It feels strange, doesn’t it? To increase energy and decrease awkwardness, have music playing before the first person shows up, and after the last person leaves. Whether it’s worship music, contemporary Christian music, instrumental music, or theme-based music, just have something to fill the silence.

4. Think Through Transitions

In the same way that you don’t want empty space before and after your service, you also don’t want it in between parts of your service. You don’t get a lot of time with your congregation each week—take advantage of it!

For example:

  • Have the host waiting on the stage as the opening song ends.
  • Have the pianist or guitar player pad some background music as the worship leader prays before the sermon.
  • Have the pastor waiting on stage once the worship leader says amen. EVERY TIME YOU MOVE FROM ONE ELEMENT TO THE NEXT, THINK ABOUT WHAT’S IN BETWEEN! How will you pass the baton from one piece to the next?

5. Start And End On Time

When you start and end on time, you communicate to people that you do what you say you’re going to do.

  • On the front end, if you continually delay the start of service until “people are in the room,” you will have to continually push back start time to adjust to people as the drag in later and later.
  • On the back end, your nursery and children’s volunteers are expecting you to end when you say you will, and you want to respect their time. The longer you let service drag, the harder it is to keep people engaged, and the harder it is to recruit children’s ministry volunteers.

6. Use Volunteers To Direct Guests To Open Seats

Most first-time guests are simply confused. They don’t know where to go, what to do, or what to say. If they’re dropping off kids, they’re usually late to the worship service. No one wants to walk into a church service late and try to find a seat. If there is a volunteer greeter/usher there to welcome them, encourage them, and help them find a seat, they will feel much more comfortable. It will help remove barriers.

7. Welcome First-Time Guests

Whether it’s a host, pastor, or worship leader, make sure there’s a time when someone on stage acknowledges guests. It can be as simple as, “If you’re here for the first time, we’re so glad that you’ve decided to spend time with us today.”

8. Eliminate Insider Language

You ever been to dinner with people who work at the same place of employment? When they talk, it’s about stuff that only they understand. It’s hard to feel like you’re truly a part of that conversation, isn’t it? In the same way, you want people to feel connected to everything that happens on your stage. Whether people are first-time guests or regular attenders, if they feel out of the loop about stuff that only core leaders and attenders understand, they’ll assume that they don’t belong. You want everything that’s said on stage to be approachable to everyone, regardless of age or how long they’ve attended.

9. Keep It Simple

It’s easy to continually add elements into your service. If you aren’t careful, you’ll wake up one day and realize that you’re doing way too much. Focus on doing a handful of elements very well instead of trying a dozen elements that are mediocre. One simple way to do this is by putting your service into three big chunks: beginning, middle, and end.

10. Connect To Vision

Each service is a journey for your attendees. Be sure to give them the roadmap! It’s easy to expect people to follow along without understanding why. But to get them to engage, oftentimes they must first understand the meaning behind it.

  • Are you having a time getting people to give? Explain to the congregation why we give and where that money goes.
  • Are you having a baptism? Remind the congregation why it’s such a big deal, what it means, and why we celebrate it together.
  • If you walk alongside your congregation and give meaning to different pieces of the service, they will be more inspired and more likely to buy in.

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