My son Jacob is in third grade. As part of his studies, he has to learn arithmetic. He’s a smart kid, but he doesn’t really enjoy doing worksheets in his schoolbooks. He does enjoy following sports, however, so we helped him start a sports card collection.
Jacob counts the cards. He studies the player stats on the backs of the cards. He looks up the value of the cards. And, wouldn’t you know it, in the process of enjoying his hobby, he’s learning some basic mathematical principles he’ll use for the rest of his life. Jacob learns math precepts much more easily if he’s enjoying the learning process.
Visitors at your church are no different than Jacob. But instead of math, these people are studying for challenges they’re facing in their lives. They’re trying to learn basic concepts of hope, purpose and forgiveness. The problem is, they continue to leave the church because they find it boring and irrelevant to their lives. We’re forcing our visitors to complete their biblical worksheets, but providing little to no enjoyment along the way.
Since when does church = boredom? I love the book of Acts because it gives me a clear picture of what the early church was like. This group was committed to the apostles’ teaching, sharing life and prayer together. As a result, many outsiders accepted Christ and experienced a transformed life. And what’s more, these people enjoyed their church experience. See for yourself:
“They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved” (Acts 2:46-47, The Message).
“People in general liked what they saw” suggests the early church was “enjoying the favor of all the people,” and with that favor, came growth (NIV). Based on passages like this one in Acts, I believe boredom isn’t what God intended for the church. He wants us to offer an experience that’s both biblical and enjoyable. To evaluate the enjoyment level of your services, consider these questions:
- Does the worship music reflect a style the crowd appreciates?
- Is the message addressing a topic that’s relevant to people’s lives?
- Is there an appropriate amount of humor in the service?
- Does the service flow smoothly from one thing to the next?
- Are you using visual elements to capture people’s attention as they engage in worship and hear the message?
- Do you periodically surprise people with something they weren’t anticipating?
These are basic questions, but it’s important to review them from time to time. Naysayers might argue that by offering services people enjoy, you are ultimately just catering to our culture’s consumer mindset, but remind them that there certainly is a consumer mindset in our culture, and unless we acknowledge that and deal with it, our message—the Gospel message—won’t be heard.
It’s entirely possible to offer biblical teaching and corporate worship in a way that people actually like. If you create an enjoyable service experience, people will not only choose to return, they’ll also invite their friends. When that happens, more people will hear the truth, and God may begin to add to your number daily.