Planning a Church Service

Nothing can turn a guest into a last time attender faster than a service that is poorly put together. Unfortunately, I’ve been a part of several of these services. They don’t get started on time, they have awkward transitions, and they never seem to end. They’re a lot like watching a car crash in slow motion, only more painful.

Here’s the thing, your church will never grow if this describes your services. I would go so far as to say, God will not bless a mess. He can clean up our mess, but I don’t think He blesses it. So, what do you do?

You have to get intentional about every element of your service. It’s not enough to just show up on Sunday morning and pray for God’s spirit to move. That would be the equivalent of me having a sink full of dishes and praying that God would clean it up. No matter how much I pray, at some point I’m going to have to roll up my sleeves, grab some soap, and start scrubbing.

So, where do you start? You start with a plan. The following is the service plan for our services each week. This is the same plan that we’ve used over the past several years that has grown our church from around 80 people to now over 700 people. I hope you’ll find it helpful.

  1. Pre-Service – Everything that happens before service starts sets the mood for what’s to come. That’s why we have smiling faces in the parking lot and at each entrance. That’s why we serve fresh coffee and doughnuts, and that’s why we play upbeat music. We want people to be excited for what’s to come.
  1. Opening Song – As soon as the countdown reaches zero, the band kicks in with an upbeat, fun, and captivating song. On occasion we’ll use a secular song in this spot, but most often this is something by Hillsong United, Elevation, NewSpring, or something similar.
  1. Welcome – This is a chance to welcome our guests and encourage them to fill out their Connection Card if they haven’t already. This is done by the worship pastor or someone else on staff who has the ability to engage the audience and pray over the service.
  1. More Songs – Ninety percent of the time we will play two more songs here. On rare occasions, we will do three songs with the third tying into the sermon for that day. We try to limit singing to around twenty minutes because that’s a long time for someone to stand up to sing who may not be used to coming to church in the first place.
  1. Offering – A staff member spends two to three minutes setting up the offering each week. Since we’ve become intentional about talking about giving each week, we’ve seen a drastic increase in our offerings. We pass buckets down each aisle as music is being played.
  1. Sermon – We try our best to preach a message each week that anyone in the audience can take and apply to their life. We limit our preaching to no longer than forty minutes. Each sermon ends with a next step, and many often end with an invitation to accept Christ.
  1. Closer – On rare occasion, we will end with another song. I would say around ten percent of the time. This song should fit the theme of the message and have a celebratory tone.

What does your service look like? What have you found that works best in your context?

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