Millennials and "screeners" from the Y and Z Generations are driving churches to make changes and adapt services to their perceived needs. Change is always hard and always risky. Casual dress took years to get into the smaller conservative churches. Church leaders need to move carefully through this maze of landmines. What we typically learn in a smaller church is that there are surprise "sacred cows" that can easily offend our faithful attendees, despite the fact that there's often no biblical value attached to the cow itself. In fact, there's usually nothing more than lots of emotion. Coffee in the sanctuary, chairs versus pews, pulpit verses no pulpit, placards, flags, and even the old name tote boards can still cause highly anxious moments in many small churches across the nation.
While all of this can be taxing on new and old ministers alike, there's a higher set of values which have to remain in focus. Ironically, thousands of would-be churchgoers are looking for real, genuine, authentic churches and the lighting, staging, and technology is not the allure. If you're a small church, do the math and remember the statistics. Over 85% of American churchgoers are going to small churches that are under 100 in attendance. So what you can do is make your service excellent in ways that honor the Scriptural parameters of church life. You can be sure you're following God's leading in your daily efforts and seek to build strong services that minister the Gospel and the truth to those whom God sends to your church.
The real question is this: Are you making your service excellent before God? Are you following the instructions of the Lord and keeping His priorities? Here are some examples and questions to consider as you strive to do so:
- Are you making Scriptural truths evident in your services. Is your music (whether traditional, contemporary, or blended) centered around biblical truth?
- Are your activities and small groups based on biblical teaching?
- Are you preaching the fresh truth — the Word of God — that you have invested in and sought to understand passionately throughout the week? I submit that the Word itself, when opened and taught well, will draw people to desire to know the Lord. Real help comes from the Word and if you work at teaching it well, you will be helping.
- Are you discipling your people? Are you making time to invest in the men who attend and personally helping them to grow in their faith? I submit that some people are looking for real relationships and authentic life-change and discipleship groups. A discipleship model of ministry can and will make a difference.
- Are you loving the lost and the community? Are you training your church family and modeling for your congregation what it means to love the lost and develop community relationships that are for eternal purposes?
- Are you and your people really in love with Jesus Christ? Is there a passion in your singing, serving, and fellowship that lets your guests know you really do love the Lord and one another?
Please do not entertain anyone in or with your services. Worship services are for the glory of God and not for man's entertainment. Use your corporate service times to exalt Christ (Galatians 6:14, Philippians 2:5-11), preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23), exhort and teach the Word which you thoroughly studied this week (1 Timothy 4:7-16), and implement fellowship full of agape love and grace.
As a pastor, you should work on impressing God by how you follow His instructions and values while ministering to His Bride. It will help if you are not trying to impress people at the same time. May God richly bless you are you serve and lead your church for the glory of God.