For more Coronavirus Resources to Help you and Your Congregation Stay Connected When it’s Critical check out: The Church Leader’s Guide to Coronavirus: How to Continue Ministry During a Pandemic
Having a familiar routine and structure for your worship services can be extremely helpful. Imagine if you started your service at a different time every week. It would be chaos. Consistency helps you make smooth transitions and set expectations for your congregation, especially if you’ve now turned to virtual sermons due to concerns of COVID-19.
But if your services ever start to feel repetitive—to your staff or your congregation—that’s a problem. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you plan a service, but adding variety will help keep things interesting so your congregation stays engaged and continues growing in their faith.
Want to keep your services fresh? Here are eight ways to change things up:
1. Invite a guest speaker
Even if your church has been blessed with a gifted teaching team, guest speakers can always bring something new to the table. This might be someone from a local ministry you’ve partnered with or even another church in your area.
Giving speaking opportunities to other local leaders can strengthen your partnerships with them and help broaden your congregation’s understanding of the body of Christ. Your church isn’t in competition with other ministries and churches—in fact, you celebrate the work they’re doing!
Also, with the increase in practicing online-only churches, the power of live streaming your sermons gives your church the ability to broaden the variety of guest speakers you choose to invite to speak with your congregation.
If it’s in your budget or the opportunity arises, you might also consider inviting a prominent Christian to speak. When a well-known public figure such as an athlete, musician, or author comes to your church, it stirs energy and excitement in your congregation and creates valuable opportunities to invite nonbelievers to your church.
2. Highlight a specific ministry at your church
In an ideal world, your church members would be familiar with each of your church’s ministries and the people who lead them. But that’s rarely the case. Unless they serve on a ministry team, it’s often difficult for your congregation to keep up with everything your ministries does, or even what opportunities they have to make a difference through your church.
By taking some time to highlight a ministry, you can mix-up your weekend service while filling important knowledge gaps and celebrating how your church is living out your mission. You could use testimonies from volunteers, staff, or those who are impacted by your ministries. You could also interview these people during your service. If a ministry director is a gifted speaker, you might even consider simply letting them give the sermon. This gives them more exposure to your congregation, and they could focus on the heart behind their ministry.
3. Have kids lead worship
Involving kids in worship can add a fun, inspiring new dimension to your services. But if you want it to go smoothly, it needs to be well-planned. You likely have talented middle school and high school musicians in your youth group. If they have the desire, you could bring them into your worship team’s regular lineup—which also creates valuable mentoring opportunities.
Alternatively, you could occasionally have your children’s ministry team lead worship and share songs the kids are familiar with. Remember, even if you have plenty of online kids programming, many families (especially those with younger kids) are going to livestream your service together. They’ll appreciate occasional opportunities to participate in worship as a family.
4. Change your environment
When you move to an online-only service, you aren’t limited by seating capacity or the flow of foot traffic. As long as you have WiFi or data, you can broadcast your service from just about anywhere—even multiple locations! Since your congregation is all sitting at home, this could be a good time to show them yours. Or if the weather cooperates, take your service outside (you could encourage people to find a nice spot outside to join you from home, too).
Your church isn’t a building. And streaming from a variety of locations helps prove it.
5. Worship in a different style
There are many different expressions of worship. But over time, most churches slip into a groove, and playing the same songs every week is one of the easiest ways for your church services to feel stale. But now that churches are encouraged to connect their weekly sermons through live stream, this is your opportunity to change it up now that your regular format is out the door. Experimenting with different speakers, instruments, and talent, will help your congregation develop a bigger picture of worship by exposing them to different styles during this season of change at your church.
6. Take live polls during the service
One of the best ways to keep people engaged during your service is to create interactive opportunities. In the Pushpay app, you can send or share “Attitude Polls.” Anyone with your app can respond to them anonymously, and you can review the results in real-time. This opens the door to fun, creative questions about your church members’ experiences or their understanding of a topic you’re exploring together.
7. Give a gift
Giving your congregation an unexpected gift can be a pleasant surprise that makes your service memorable and different. If there’s a book your staff has especially benefited from or been influenced by recently, giving everyone a copy turns it into a shared experience and allows its ideas and theology to ripple throughout your church. You might also consider giving out gift cards to local food delivery companies, or a CD or digital album produced by your worship team. Obviously, right now digital gifts are going to be a lot more manageable than mailing or delivering physical gifts. But being digital doesn’t make your gift any less valuable.
When you give anything to your whole congregation, the cost is going to add up. But it’s an investment in your church members. And the unexpected surprise can help cultivate the joy of generosity.
8. Make every service special
Your service doesn’t need anything unusual or extravagant in order to be meaningful. In fact, having consistently good services can just mean doing everything with excellence on a regular basis. But sometimes changing things up can give people fresh eyes to see the extraordinary things your church does every week.