Feb
22
2012

Guest Post: Sunday Morning Commercials

I met Andy Needham ten years ago while he was leading worship at youth ministry retreat in New Hampshire.  Andy has a heart for worship, and is a talented worship leader (a rare gift)… his new project, The Andy Needham Band, is doing some amazing things all up and down the east coast… you really need to check them out and follow what he is up to.  Check out some of Andy’s thoughts:

Our new Lead Pastor and a complete stranger both shared the same observation.. and it wasn’t good.

Our church growth brought with it an explosion in programming. New and established ministries were increasingly competing for the coveted marketing tool of the Sunday morning platform. Weeding and managing the requests became an ever expanding block of my work week.

It wasn’t working.

Two voices helped me fully understand the problem. One was invited, the other was given:

  • The New Pastor: In my first extended connection with our Lead Pastor, two weeks into his new role, I interviewed him about our Sunday experience.  His feedback: too many interruptions, too much business, not enough time to just worship.
  • The Visitor: The other voice was more telling. A visitor stood awkwardly outside the door of our worship center as the announcements rolled on inside. I walked over and introduced myself. He didn’t bother to share his name and instead asked, “Is it all just commercials?

No, it is never “all commercials”, but too much of Sunday had become about trying to motivate people to attend events rather than allowing the Spirit of God to transform us in undistracted worship through song and Word.  Since these conversations our staff has become more intentional about vetting what we share.  Because of this we are forcing ourselves to be more creative in how we communicate outside of Sundays.  Here is what we are doing:

  • Leverage the Website.  We ensure the website is updated constantly: nothing discourages use of the website more than expired information.
  • Leverage the Bulletin and Email:  We looked at other churches bulletins and stole good ideas. One simple one was using ministry headings such as “Student Ministry” to break up the monotony. In our weekly emails we reduced the amount of text and added links that drive traffic to our website.
  • Leverage the Vision.  We have started to intentionally share vision with our key leaders.   This began with everyone involved in making Sunday morning happen.   Our message: Fewer announcements, more actionable application points.
  • Leverage No.  Say “No”.  It may be hard to believe, but we turned down some good ideas because they just didn’t fit our vision. We did this gracefully and encouraged people to communicate in other ways, resourcing them so that they could succeed. We added administrators to our website, and created new spaces for booths in our foyer.
  • Leverage the End of the Service. We were in a rut of when we shared things. It was always after a few songs and before the offering. Since making our changes we will share one or two actionable application points at the end of the service.
  • Leverage the Lead Pastor.  We learned that it is easy to lose sight of the purpose of Sunday morning in the process of doing church.  Our goals are that the Word and Spirit of God would move people to action, and that worship will extendss beyond the final song.  When we are at our best is when we offer an application of our worship and Word.  Working with our new Lead Pastor to make application points tie into our programming options has helped us accomplish these goals.

How do YOU decide what to promote from the platform on Sunday mornings?

 

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About the Author: Andy Needham

Andy Needham has spent the last decade as a ministry leader in New England. Currently he is the front man for the Andy Needham Band, a rising modern worship band playing over a hundred dates a year. Andy is an accomplished writer who has penned original songs shared by congregations around the world. He also serves in a part time role as the Creative Arts Pastor at Chapel of the Cross in Westborough, MA. He and his wife Bethany live west of Boston with their two children, Josiah and Mercy.

  • Eric Davis

    Helpful stuff, thanks guys. Could you give an example of offering application points that tie into your progamming options? Thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.needham Andy Needham

    One example we have is an upcoming Women’s Conference. Traditionally we would have just plugged the event in our announcement time. We have mentioned it at the end or a few services but we have also tried in the goals of the event (community, Bible study) to application points of our sermon series. This really is greatly dependent on your preacher but ours values this input and even pushes for it. 

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