Engaging Culture

On Thanksgiving Weekend: A Few Random Thoughts About Church

My father was a pastor, so I’ve been involved behind the scenes at church as long as I can remember. As an adult, I’ve been privileged to coach and consult hundreds of pastors on how to communicate their message more effectively – particularly when it comes to media. So as we come to the Thanksgiving weekend, I thought I’d just toss out a few thoughts about church today. Feel free to disagree or add some of your own:

Music can be part of worship, but don’t think singing a few songs equals a worship service.

Don’t do what every other church is doing. Do what your specific congregation needs.

Worship leaders: watch the audience, not the sheet music. You can’t minister to people without seeing how they’re responding.

How easy is it for people to plug into your church?

Do your actions mirror your message?

The Word of God never changes, but everything else does. (Styles, people, trends, techniques, ideas, and more.)

Who’s the first person new visitors meet when they walk into the building?

If God is showing up, you don’t need moving lights and a fog machine.

Virtually 100% of potential visitors will check out your church online first. So why is your website so lame?

The day of pastor as “motivational teacher” is over. People are looking for a deeper experience.

Jesus is not your boyfriend. So don’t sing like it.

It’s not a performance.

The church really is the hope of the world.

It’s not about you, it’s about Him.

– Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo by Paul Paul on Unsplash

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  1. Well, I was going to write some pithy thoughts and then I read yours and I have nothing to add. I must say I do agree with all of them – and Phil, you’ll never hear that from me again! Those are excellent pointers about churches today – and that’s NOT just for Thanksgiving!

  2. Great points listed here, Phil.

    Limit announcements and keep them brief. Direct audience to the website (or other location) for more info.

    Address potential parking issues ahead of time.

    Don’t forget the Children’s Ministry! Believe it or not, when children have fun, learn, and experience God in church, they become big influencers to their parents in whether to keep going to church or not.

    When pastors and worship leaders truly worship and lead the people directly to His throne and His Word, enriching the experience of Christ’s presence, people respond.

    Make sure signage is available and clear. People don’t like feeling lost.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Apparently it’s easier to perform than truly lead praise and worship in some churches – the key to knowing if you are doing the latter is in the congregation. If they show up for the whole service – if they are signing along and truly in the moment then you’re doing right! If the congregation is dribbling in and chatting or sitting while the music plays you’re doing it wrong! And if the team is performing instead of leading the worship then you’re doing it wrong! Music is the language of heaven if your doing praise and worship right, song leaders should be opening the communication between heaven and the church! It’s a holy moment.

  4. Interesting post and some great points!

    A few of my thoughts…
    If your website tells people that “all are welcome; come as you are”, then you can’t judge people when they come as they are.
    When your worship lyrics are more about how you feel instead of who God is, it might be time to reevaluate.
    Having more programs isn’t a solution.

  5. So true!

    A few thoughts:

    We are looking for authenticity in a church service – not drama. We want to worship God in an atmosphere where we feel welcomed and accepted. And, while we like a positive message — we want TRUTH from God’s Word and we want to know how to best apply that truth to our everyday lives.

    The only place I might disagree, slightly, is in the area of singing — No Jesus is not my boyfriend — but He is my savior, my comforter, and my never-ending source of hope and joy. Therefore, when I sing — I sing with a deep and passionate love for Him. This isn’t something I can necessarily change or even want to change — it’s my expression of my true feelings of love for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ —who I am eternally THANKFUL for!


  6. Ugh, preach it, Phil, that “Jesus is not your boyfriend. So don’t sing like it.” Seems so many “worship” songs double as romance songs in order to cross-market the non-church audience. How uncomfortable for guys to sing about Jesus like it was a man-crush.

    And yes, pastors, enough with the seeker sensitive services. Services primarily exist to recharge the brethren through deepening the ALREADY EXISTING relationship with Christ through worship and solid biblical teaching. Keep the evangelistic outreaches outside the doors where the seekers truly are located, or your congregants will go elsewhere searching for that much-needed depth.

  7. “If God is showing up, you don’t need moving lights and a fog machine.

    Virtually 100% of potential visitors will check out your church online first. So why is your website so lame?

    The day of pastor as “motivational teacher” is over. People are looking for a deeper experience.

    It’s not a performance.”

    ALL of the above, but these four really made me shake my head YES. These days it seems churches all over need these reminders.

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