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Church Leaders, Take Note April 1, 2014

Posted by worshipconvergence in Christianity.
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For years, church leaders have taught, and been taught, to plan services by starting at the end and working backwards. On March 31, 2014, the modern church’s target demographic revealed its feelings toward inorganic, backward planning when the hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother aired its series finale. The culmination of nine years, the series finale undid the character development of most main characters and forced the series to end with two main characters who’d outgrown each other coming back together over 20 years after they’d split. The outcry from fans was a resounding, “This is an April Fool’s Day joke, right? The Mother has been dead the whole time? He ended up with Aunt Robin?! It should have been called How I Settled for Your Mom.” These are a few among other, more colorful responses.

Now, I know you’re thinking, “But this is a show. This is nine years. How can that compare to a stand-alone sermon or even a seven week series?” Bottom line: you want the congregation to be invested in the service. They are the reason the service takes place. You want the congregation to leave service uplifted and assured, not confused because the ending was planned first and forced on them after the other elements presented led to greater things. For a few years, I attended a church where the service leader forced his interpretation of the sermon in to the end of service, typically skewing things from the presented material, presumably because when he heard the sermon title and read the scripture base, that’s what decided he wanted to say about the topic. It resulted in many weeks of me leaving service wondering why he had to say anything and if I really wanted to continue in that church. What you want it to be may be a fraction of what God could make it if you start from the beginning.

Self-satisfaction has become the mortal enemy of church leaders. Upon reading solicited feedback from the congregation, and discovering some were discontent with the preaching style of multi-week series, a pastor stated, “The only reason they said that was because they didn’t have to put their name on it. If I had their phone number I’d call them and tell them why I do it the way I do it.” If they miss a week they can listen to the podcast online whenever they want. Coming from a pastor who was so concerned with guests not feeling like outsiders during service, this was an insight to a self-serving leader much like the self-serving writers of How I Met Your Mother having to have it and end it a certain way, when their followers saw greater things develop.

In the end, those chosen to do God’s work have to reach the people God wants reached. And that’s ALL people. So don’t just say “Let someone else worry about them, this is what I feel like doing and saying and if they don’t like it then too bad.” Take it from the top and trust God to make it greater than anything you could come up with. Everything humans do is synthetic. Everything God does is organic and for His great glory, why would leaders want to settle for less just because it was their idea? You might be surprised who walks through those doors when the congregation is fed the organic instead of the synthetic, when they’re fed God instead of you.

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