This is an interesting video from Lovett Weems and the Lewis Center for Church Leadership. I have been tracking worship attendance in Excel for almost 7 years now. I have never graphed it though and I’m looking forward to what that graph will tell me about attendance habits of my new appointment. Of course that means I have to wait at least another 6 months to get some good data.
Worship attendance has a cycle and I agree with Weems that we need to understand that cycle in our current congregation. If we don’t then we miss out on opportunities. We are thinking from the inside out instead of outside in. Gone are the days when churches simply opened the doors and people came. In our current reality there are too many other options out there in the world. Crunching the worship numbers is not focusing on ‘numbers for the sake of numbers’ but is learning your community and seeing ways, even small ways, to encourage people to connect to God through worship.
Take the time and watch the video…it is worth your time.
I have been reading Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World and I think there is a lot to glean from it for the local church. (which I guess is why Cokesbury was selling it) You will probably see a post now and then telling you some tidbits I found interesting. Like this post for example…
During the first section of this book he talks about the product we are selling. He says that product has to involve WOW. Hyatt doesn’t directly define wow but states we know it when we see it. We see it when we look over the Grand Canyon or Victoria Falls. It is the feeling you have look out over the NYC skyline on the Empire States Building or watching one of those reunions of a child and their parent who has just come home from war. It is the gut check that makes you sit back and simply say, WOW. He says, “We don’t need more messages or products or services. Instead, we need better messages, products, and services. Specifically, we need those that wow.
Making the leap in my head I wondered if I was producing a ‘wow worship’. Not that CD that is made up of popular worship songs, but the experience people have when they come to worship, is it WOW or simply “mmm-eah.” I don’t think we can knock every week out of the park. I cannot deliver WOW sermons every week because of many reasons but I should be created wow more than once a year.
Hyatt states there are ten elements that a wow experience has in them. (pg.8-10)
- We simply run out of time. The deadline looms. We are scrambling to get the product out the door. or we have to wrap up the service so we can get to the next client before he starts complaining. We simply don’t have the time to give the job our best effort, so we let it go. Half-baked. Before it is really done.
- We don’t have enough resources. We’d like to do a better job. We sincerely want to take it to the next level. But we just don’t have the money or the staffing. We rationalize by saying, “I did the best I could do with the resources I had.” And again, we let it go and turn our attention to the next project or client in the queue.
- We don’t have sufficient experience. We just don’t know how to do what we know needs to be done. Our vision exceeds our know-how. We know what the product or service could deliver, but we don’t have the knowledge, the skills, or the experience to get us there. So we settle for something less than our vision demands.
- Too often, we acquiesce to the committee. Perhaps we are a little unsure of ourselves. “Everyone else seems to like it,” we say to ourselves, “Maybe they’re right There are a lot of smart people in this room. C’mon, just let it go!” And so we do. We dial back our own vision for what could be and succumb to the collective judgment of the group.
- But the biggest obstacle of all is fear. In fact, this is the primary obstacle. If we are honest, we must admit that the previous four items are only excuses. If we had enough courage, we would find the time, the resources, or the experience. We would stand up to the committee. We wouldn’t settle for something less than wow.
Sermon starts about 20:30.
It is a very strange circumstances at my church. It has taken me at least 3 years to get use to it. But the reality is that Easter Sunday has always been, historically, a low Sunday. The main reason is that many of the families own beach houses and spend the long weekend with their family at the beach. But I still remember my first Easter here and the feeling of joy that shot out of me like a circus cannon when I looked out into the congregation and saw 2/3 of my usual congregation.
We do not have many visitors on Easter Sunday. Since our small town of 25,000 people have around 90 churches to choose from I guess we are simply low on the list. Or the sign out front isn’t enough to draw in visitors. Or everyone is at the beach.
Last year seemed a little fuller but the congregation has changed. There are more new families over the last three years that have joined and they don’t have access to beach houses. As we have broken free from relying on the “from heres” and more of the “come heres” have filled the pews, those pews have stayed filled during the high holy days.
Regardless I have warned our new music director that the service will seem very ‘normal’ on Easter.
So here is an invite to all the world. If you would like to come and worship on Easter morning…come on out to Trinity UMC in Thomasville, NC at 11:00am. Heck come at 8:30am for an Easter Communion Service and stay for breakfast at 9:00am. There will be plenty of room!
|Image from UMCom’s article|
I, like many out there, is looking at December 25th as a low Sunday. Maybe not as low as the following Sunday, Hangover Sunday, January 1, 2012. After reading an article in UMCom’s email newsletter I was inspired to think outside the box about our worship on Christmas morn. I remembered that Thomasville Medical Center has a ton of Christmas trees up in their lobby from different companies and groups who donate them. I then thought how sad it would be to be in the hospital on Christmas Day for what every reason, even if it was to give birth or earning a paycheck.
You see where I’m going here…
I called the hospital and talked to a couple of people. Finally working with the Chaplain there we are okay to hold a Lessons and Carols service in the lobby of the hospital on Christmas morning at 10:00am. I’m excited. I was depressed thinking about what it would be like in our sanctuary with only 1/3 of the usual suspects in attendance. But now, those 30 can come to the hospital and join together in hearing the Christmas story be told in the scriptures and sing all our favorite carols.
I will post about how it goes, but I’m thrilled we are moving outside the comfort of our walls on the day our Savoir left his to come to earth. My hope is that we will gather together, patients, doctors, nurses, custodians, volunteers, new babies, and regular church folk from Trinity and celebrate the birth of Christ.
|Picture from blogs.telegraph.co.uk|
It is Wednesday, I guess it is time to start thinking about Sunday. Actually I have been thinking, like many preachers, a lot about this Sunday. The 10th anniversary of 9/11. A day we will all remember and a day the world changed, or at least for us Americans, our world changed.
I believe that Sunday worship should stand apart and with the culture we live in. On July 4th, I recognize it is the birth of our country but I don’t hold it up as the purpose of worship on that day. Actually I have found the prayer the best place to acknowledge the cultural holidays; Thanksgiving, MLK, Mother’s, Father’s, Independence, Memorial, Veteran’s and Labor DAY (oh, oops, actually I did nothing for Labor day and no one complained…huh).
As I have been thinking I have come to this conclusion. For me, I think this Sunday is different. In 2005 I acknowledged 9/11 in my prayer but that was really it. But it was only the 4th anniversary. Not really a huge milestone anniversary. This year it is the 10th Anniversary. 10 years holds a special time when we look back and realize where we are. When I celebrate 10 years of marriage in May, I’ll be looking back and we will mark that as a milestone anniversary.
The next time 9/11 is on Sunday is at the 15th anniversary. A milestone? Yes, but not as much as 10th or 25th. After that the next time there is a huge milestone anniversary for 9/11 on a Sunday is 2101. Yes, the 100th year. I’m going to let my great-grand children figure how to deal with that one on their own.
For me, Sunday will be a time of prayer. A time to remember and mourn. A time to pray for our enemies and once again remember. It is also a time when the Lectionary text fits nicely into the setting of the day. Matthew 18:21-35, Forgiveness. 77 times worth of forgiveness.
On Sunday I will name the date and the events that happened ten years ago. A day our culture changed. It is not a day our God changed. God was all over that day and I plan on naming that as well. I will also be naming the fact that we are called as Christians (not Americans but as CHRISTIANS) to love our enemies and forgive like we are forgiven.
Pray for me and know that you all are in my prayers as we head to worship the Living God on Sunday.
Here was a prayer service I did on the 1st anniversary of 9/11