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Joe McKeever: How to Liven Up a Dull Worship Service

Meaningful worship, however, surely includes involving Gods’ people in the singing, praying, giving, and reading of the Word.

The ways to liven up a dull worship service cannot be counted. Here are a few thoughts on that, some more dynamic than others, but we send them forth with the hope that something here will help someone.

Ten Ways to Liven Up a Dull Worship Service

  1. Have something unexpected happen.
  2. Do the same things you’ve always been doing but do them better. Prayer and preparation will usually accomplish this.
  3. Add strings.  Hymn-singing accompanied by piano and organ and nothing else can be greatly improved by the addition of a couple of guitars and/or violins.  If your people resist such new things–I’m tempted to insert some exclamation here about that!–then, place the musicians off stage and not in view.  The first your people will know of their presence will be by the music they produce, and that should forever win everyone over.
  4. Plan for an interruption of the service that will produce some uplifting, inspiring lesson. In the middle of a July 4 service, perhaps the service is interrupted by the color guard entering and marching down the aisle.  Everyone stands, and the moment becomes electric.  As with anything like this, the key word is preparation.  Prepare, prepare, prepare.  (Among other things, that means to talk this through with the leadership team, making sure that the interruption is a) something good, b) desirable, c) appropriate, and d) worthwhile. Never ever have an interruption just to shake things up.)
  5. Plan for a testimony or interview.  A testimony will be better than an interview if–and only if–the speaker is disciplined and prepared.  In most churches, however, you can’t count on that, which means the minister leading the service will want to hold the microphone and ask questions to keep it on track and bring it in on time. (Btw, do not introduce the testimony.  Just do it.  Worship leaders–pastors or otherwise–often talk things to death in over-introducing.  Just do it.)
  6. Throw away the printed order of service. Mostly, all they accomplish is to remove the element of surprise from the program, something you actually want to keep.  If your constituency absolutely insists on a printed order, give them one, but without all the details of the service.
  7. Have something funny happen.  (see below)  But do not manufacture the event. No jokes please.  Never.
  8. Have someone unexpected and well-loved show up to speak, but without advance notice.  Let’s train our people to expect the unexpected.
  9. Open the service with memorized sentences from Scripture.  These should be uplifting, praise-focused, and spoken clearly and loudly.  If the theme lends itself to this, consider repeating the same passage at least twice more in the hour. Find ways to dramatize that Scripture, whether by choral readings or banners or individuals within the congregation.  (For instance, consider the opening three verses of Psalm 40.  That’s about as good as it gets.  Others that come to mind–and your Bible is saturated with great passages–include Isaiah 55:1-2 and 6-9; Matthew 9:36-38; and Hebrews 13:5-6.)
  10. Pray.  Pray, pray, and pray some more. Ask the Lord to make an appearance, to do something wonderful, to make His presence known, to do something “not in the printed order.”  Pray intensely. Get others praying toward this.

Two quick stories.