No intro needed here. Let’s get right to it.
Now that I’m out of the day-to-day pastoral ministry pace, I feel like I can look back and see everything more clearly. Like WAY MORE clearly.
And I see with extreme clarity the things I’d do different when planning and implementing my church’s Easter worship services. These fall somewhere between mistakes and regret.
On any given day, that continuum fluctuates.
I’D TELL MORE PEOPLE-STORIES
I’d focus on creating a video story of a real person in our church – someone whose life has been absolutely transformed by the life of Christ. Forget the specific theme or whatever. Unless it’s nailed, just play the video at a time a live voice can support whatever happens after. Themes support life, not the other way around.
I’D PERFORM A SECULAR SONG THAT EVERYONE KNOWS.
Connecting with the blessed Unchurched is so important, especially on seasonal days (Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Christmas Eve). I’d find a great secular song that everyone knows, and kick off the service with it. I’ve been dying for a church to start their Easter services with Boston’s “Don’t Look Back”, or Rare Earth’s “I Just Want to Celebrate”. Talk about setting the tone for a party. And if that doesn’t fly in your church’s environment, then scrap this idea. But an important note – ONLY do this if you can really pull it off with your band.
I WOULDN’T PUT ADDED PRESSURE ON ARTISTS.
Friends – I really regret what I’m about to tell you. I used to gather all the artists together (musicians, media folks, actors, etc.) and give them a pep talk. Usually that pep talk reminded them that “this is the biggest service of the year, so do everything extremely well.” While that may or may not be true, they didn’t need me to remind them of that, placing even more responsibility on their already-volunteer-and-overworked shoulders.
I’D PAY ATTENTION TO UNPLANNED MOMENTS.
This should be #1. Once the service gets moving, there are always unplanned moments when the Spirit of God whispers, “By the way. I’m here.” When those moments happen, it’s so important for the pastor, emcee, or worship leader to say something like, “That feeling we have right now is God.” Or after a poignant song, to simply say, “The weight we all feel right now is called ‘holy'”. What NOT to say? How about, “Wow! Wasn’t that great worship!” (that’s a comment only God can make). Or “What a great song! Let’s all thank Becky for singing that”, while hearing the bar-room applause ensue.
Here’s the deal with God moments on Easter (and every other week for that matter). It’s so easy to become solely concerned with getting through the service elements, and miss the God who is speaking through those elements. And if WE – of all people – are not aware enough of what that Presence feels like, well then…. you draw your own conclusions.
I’D REHEARSE EVERY TRANSITIONAL STATEMENT.
I regret that I didn’t plan exactly what to say in key transitional moments, and winged it too much. Coming out of a reflective song, testimony, or video, you can literally implant truth into the hearts of everyone in the room, with the exact sentence you utter next. With this much at stake, I’d require that everyone on the stage write out, then memorize, then rehearse their transitional statements within the services. I’d require (read “beg please”) the teaching pastor to do the same.
Push back during creative meetings if you really believe in your idea, but without becoming a total jerk.
Tell more stories. For the literal love of God, tell more stories.
Create great stuff with the resources God has given YOUR church – not the church down the street, or the one you watch on the internet, or the pastor’s podcast you listen to every Monday.
God’s richest blessings to you and your church as you plan and implement this year’s Easter services.