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Posted on Mar 31, 2014 in Worship Ministry | 0 comments

Are You Rushing Your Church’s Response?

The preacher closes his notes, says a prayer and walks off the stage. Then what? God’s Word has been read and your church has just been challenged–hopefully!–with how it applies to their life. So what happens then?

I can tell you what used to happen at our church and what happens in many churches like ours: We sang a song and went home! No time to waste.


Everything pointed to the sermon and when that was over, everything was over. And then I read the ol’ book written by Jim Cymbala titled “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire“.  Quotes like this one started some wheels turning in my head:

“…the writer to the Hebrews nails down the most central activity of all for Christians: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16).  It doesn’t say, “Let us come to the sermon.” We in America have made the sermon the centerpiece of the church, something God never intended.  Preachers who are really doing their job get people to come to the throne of grace. That’s the true source of grace and mercy.” pg. 84

When my pastor and I and a few other leaders started really examining the structure of our worship service, we found that everything led up the message AND once the message was given we allowed about 3.5 minutes for response to that message before moving right along.  When we asked ourselves why we planned our services that way, the only answer was “well that’s the way it’s done, right?”  That wasn’t good enough so we began asking questions like: “Is prayer a priority in our worship gatherings?” “Do we allow time for people to see God at work in our midst?” “How could we structure our services to allow more time for prayer, response, and life application?

One change we made was to create more time after the message so there was no need for anyone to feel so rushed they might not take adequate time to respond to what God was doing in their heart.  Our service structure went from something like this:

  • Welcome
  • 3 Songs
  • Offering & Song
  • Prayer & Song
  • Sermon
  • Response Song
  • Announcements & Dismissal

To looking more like this:

  • Welcome
  • 4 Elements of Worship (see post about my worship planning template)
  • Sermon
  • 2 Response Songs
  • Offering & Song
  • Announcements & Dismissal

With the new format, the sermon falls smack in the middle of the service timeline, allowing more time for worship, reflection, and prayer afterward. It’s been awesome to see people gradually feel the freedom to go pray with someone whenever for however long they need.

I just have a feeling that most people will quickly forget what they heard if they’re not given time, then and there, to process and pray about how it applies in their life. I still think our church could get better at this. For instance, we could play more instrumental music or songs with no lyrics on the screen during that response time accompanied by clear instruction to spend that time praying/meditating.

Do you have any other ideas? Is this a conversation you need to have with your pastor?


 Photo credit: ToniVC / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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