28 Ways to Create Great Segues: #22
By Jon Nicol
I once attended a Sunday evening service at Parkside Church near Cleveland to hear Alistair Begg preach. A Scottish accent always makes a sermon better. It was a typical traditional pre-service time with soft music, dim lights and people chit-chatting with folks they hadn't seen for at least a week. Pastor Begg got up and said, "It sounds like your voices are in fine shape tonight." Folks gave the usual polite chuckle. But before the obligatory laughter died down, the Scotsman shot out a firm, "But you'd be better to prepare your hearts before the Lord." The place got real quiet, real quick.
A quiet preparation time before the service is likely a thing of the past for many churches. But it might not hurt to implement it occasionally. And I say occasionally just because anything that's done weekly runs the risk of losing its effectiveness.
If your church wants to try to create the pre-service preparation time, consider what you need to create that environment.
- A sign outside the worship center encouraging people to enter quietly.
- Doors closed to foyer/lobby. This will create a feeling of entering in. It also cuts the noise from the yakkers in the lobby.
- Soft music -- it could be canned music or live acoustic guitar/piano playing softly.
- Dim lighting -- quiet and reflective times aren't encouraged by bright overhead lighting.
- Scriptures or short devotional quotes looping on the screen.
Consider other elements that might help create an environment of quiet preparation: candles, pictures of nature or people in prayer/worship, a written "guide" in the bulletin or on-screen to help people know how to use prepare for worship, etc.
Here are a few things that you should consider with a pre-service preparation time:
- You'll always have the chit-chatters in the foyer, so you'll still have to figure out some way to bring them in. (Besides wishful thinking that they're conscientious of the time and care when the service starts.)
- This time could be off-putting to guests, especially non-Christians. But it also might be just what they've been looking for. You can't please everyone. Just be clear about what you want. Don't try to make it conducive for preparation and chit-chatting. People won't know what to do. My two cents: If you're not going for quiet preparation, I'd always go for the other end: a bright and celebratory environment.
- Your service may need to begin differently. Jumping right in with the typical upbeat opener will be a little jarring to those who have been in there. Consider starting with a quieter slower song, and building up. Or sing the chorus of a faster song in a "worshipful" manner. Then build tempo and volume to move people into the song as usual.
As we wrap up the segues that deal with the pre-service time, here's a last thought as you think through this stuff: Whatever you find that works to bring your people in at the beginning will most likely not work next month or even next week. People will start ignoring that countdown after they've seen it a few times and the live music will become background noise. That's just how it is. So it's up to us to be creative and segue people into worship.
July 25, 2011Tweet