Is Your Service Too Long? 7 Time-Wasters Pastors Should Watch For
Most of us live in a world where time is of the essence. Our attention span has shortened than that of our parents. In our last blog, we wrote, “As a church, we have roughly 90-minutes to give visitors a compelling reason to return...” This isn’t true only for visitors, but also for the regularly-attending parishioner.
So here are 7 Service Time-Wasters Pastors Should Watch For:
1. Habitually Exceeding 90 Minutes. We live in a busy world. We all have schedules to keep, places to go, and things to do. The same goes for your church’s parishioners. So, often when a service goes longer than 90 minutes, many begin to feel that their time (which is their life) isn’t being valued, and they’ll begin to “check out”. The entertainment industry has figured something out that many churches haven’t: Always leave your audience wanting more—not less.
2. Starting Your Service Late. We visit lots of churches. Those who operate in a Spirit of Excellence will begin their church’s service on time 99% of the time. Churches who don’t begin their service promptly are subconsciously telling those who did show up punctually that their time isn’t as important as the people you’re waiting for.
3. The Time Between the End of Praise and Worship and the Start of the Sermon. Let’s do some simple math: A 90-minute service, minus 30 minutes for praise and worship, minus 45 minutes for the sermon leaves 15 minutes. What needs to happen in 15 minutes? Greeting your parishioners from the pulpit, a giving time (tithes and offerings), and announcements. But this is where many pastors somehow are losing valuable service time. And long, rambling announcements are typically the culprit. Many churches are beginning to combine their giving time with video/audio announcements, leaving even more time for praise & worship and the sermon.
4. The Opening Greeting Becomes the Pastor's Personal Monologue. Some pastors don’t have a plan of what they’re going to say during the transition time (when the service transitions between the end of praise & worship and the opening greeting). They want to be led by the Holy Spirit; which is how it should be. The problem is when the spontaneity of the transition continues through to the opening greeting, announcements, and then the rest of the service. A good 2-step rule for pastors to remember is: (1) Be spontaneous and led by the Spirit during the transition, and (2) Have a plan of what you’re going to say for everything else.
5. Not Guarding Your Announcement Time With Your Life. If there is any question in your parishioner’s minds as to whether or not your service is orderly and organized, it’s answered during the announcements. Is your announcement time concise and informative? Or does it look like you’re “winging it” and flying by the seat of your pants? Whether you, or a member of your staff preside over the announcements, there’s no reason it can’t be done within five minutes, plain and simple.
6. Not Having an Announcement About Announcements. All churches have a “Sister Mildred”. Sure, you know Sister Mildred. She’s the lady who asks the Pastor five minutes before the service if she can give a “Very important announcement” to the church about something that only concerns about 2% of the congregation. And when she takes the microphone, the announcement goes on…and on…and on. If the announcement wasn’t important enough to be in the bulletin, why would we ever give up valuable service time for it? If you haven’t told your church from the pulpit that announcements need to be submitted to the church office at least 10 days in advance, then, as they say, time is wasting.
7. The Sermons Are Too Long. The vast majority of pastors who regularly give long sermons will argue that they don’t want to restrain the Holy Spirit. Which is fine…and biblical. But if your sermons are long because you didn’t plan and rehearse your sermon enough, let's not blame your long-windedness on God. Many successful pastors today spend 75% of their workweek on their sermon (and rehearsing their sermon length). If spending three-fourths of your workweek on your sermon seems impossible, it’s very possible that you’re not using your God-given authority to delegate; both to your staff, and your non-staff church leaders (see Exodus 18:13-26).
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