Some who are veteran readers of my articles and books may be surprised to find that I see weekend gatherings to be of the utmost importance. I have suffered through the slough of people “speed reading” my books over the years and mistakenly thinking my ideas are so simple there is no need to work out the details or to read the “fine print,” if you will.
“Simple” does not equal “simplistic” in the least.
One point I have made consistently is that there is a rather involved strategy with the outward-focused approach to winning a city to Jesus. Scattering seeds of kindness recklessly as the not-so-skilled farmer did in Matthew 13 did is a starting point. Then perpetually inviting the “city” to church each day – i.e., drawing people into the “net” is a large part of the plan as well. Without a great net, that is in fine shape, without holes, a net that is wisely thrown where the fish hang out – there will be a limited catch.
In saying “Let’s upgrade the net” I am alluding to our need to specifically improve communication skills at our weekend meetings.
I hope you consider yourself and your church environment as being one where “lifelong learning” takes place. It is with that assumption that I make this week’s remarks as well as the following several week’s thoughts and applications.
If we hope to connect with the ever-changing society around us, we certainly need to be upgrading our communication skills on a regular basis. As well, we need to be experimenting with the ever-present question of “What does it take to best connect with the people God has entrusted to us?”
Here is the huge question that must be clearly answered if progress is to be made in the area of connecting with those coming into the “net” at your weekend meetings:
“What is the goal with our teaching on weekends?”
Once that question has been nailed down you will no longer need to deal with pesky church connoisseurs who are not so much looking for challenge at weekend gatherings as they are looking to reproduce something in their minds was a spiritual “high water mark” in their past (content is never the issue regardless of what they say – upon probing a bit with them you will discover what really caught their attention was the focus upon the end times, the voice of the pastor, the age of the pastor, the fact that he sat on a stool, his humor/lack of humor, his verse by verse teaching style instead of topical approach… it is never about “depth”; by your lack of clarification you are inviting others to take potshots at your weekend setup).
I will give you my goal as an example, simply to spark your thinking. This is my conclusion after many years of mulling things over. Like it or not, that’s fine. To find your goal, you need to journal, pray, listen to Jesus, gather with your talent team, etc. Plus a few decades under your belt doesn’t hurt anything.
In general, I shoot for the following each weekend (in no particular order of importance):
Passion – if you as a speaker are not passionate, please don’t speak again until you have caught the passion bug from God’s Spirit; until you are in fact passionate about what you are conveying you are simply misrepresenting God’s kingdom.
Biblical content – every week my goal is that every person present will walk away with at least a couple of new insights to scripture they have never seen.
Challenge – this is missing from 99.99% of meetings in my estimation. Give specific things to put into practice – spiritual things as well as invitational things to try with our neighbors – whether we are introverts or extroverts.
Strong Sense of God’s Presence – sometimes not-yet believers are more aware of God’s active presence in a room than are already-believers; pray, seek, knock in that direction. Without Jesus showing up we are only meeting – we are not being changed.
Natural humor – in the circa 15,000 messages I have given I don’t recall ever telling a joke. However, we laugh at least a dozen times strongly. Yes, you can learn to see through the humorous end of the kalaidescope. Find that way and keep at it.
Realize the power of strategic preaching to bring about change in your congregation.
I often confess the multitude of my leadership sins / missteps over the years. One mistake I have not made, is this matter of preaching in a strategic manner from early on in my church planting experience.
Paul lists what a true, biblical leader is several times in his writings. Each time he clearly draws out the need for a spiritual leader at any level to be able to teach. Why so? There are numerous reasons for this, but primarily it boils down to this: Only those who can teach have the ability to lead others. Spiritual authority rests upon those who can convey spiritual truth. There is no such thing as a non-teaching spiritual leader according to the descriptions of Paul in 1 Timothy and Titus.
A message series or even two or three that last, say, four weeks a piece, can change the course of your church. Amazingly, as you give “anointed messages,” God will speak / work through your words.
BTW, none of us are capable of giving a single anointed message – ever. When God shows up all things are subject to change. Some amazing things are afoot for you as a walk humbly but strongly in your dependence upon God’s present strength.