3. Consider what you want your audience to FEEL.
Not what you want them to know or hear. What do you want them to feel?
Think about it. Most things we do at church are weird. I know we don’t think church is weird because we are Christians, but try to step back and see your church service through the eyes of an outsider. Think about baptism. Adults dunking other adults under water in a giant bathtub. Take singing. It’s not a concert, yet we are standing and singing about blood, crosses and a God who for some reason feels the need to be praised. That’s weird! So let’s just agree that before things get weird for our guests, we should engage them first.
4. Consider the many ways we can engage.
Obviously, music is emotionally engaging. Who cares if it even ties in with the message. But music isn’t our only option. Laughter is engaging, and laughter breaks down barriers. We have begun services with Jimmy Fallon’s “Thank You Notes” bit. We have played games. As long as it is done with a high degree of excellence, it can accomplish the mission of emotional connection.
5. Consider removing announcements and inserting navigation.
My good friend and coworker Jeff Henderson from Gwinnett Church does this better than anyone I know. Let the bulletin handle announcements to free up this time in service for a true welcome. Jeff functions as a navigator in his services, guiding and preparing the audience for what is to come. He will use humor to emotionally connect. He will mention something current (weather, football or whatever) to connect. Jeff comes across very likable, which is … connecting! Churches too often overlook or completely dismiss the significance of the welcome. Use it well to create some laughter and connection.
Let me conclude with this: Singing secular songs or having a comedy routine to begin a church service is not about attracting unchurched, nonbelieving people; it’s about engaging everyone emotionally in the beginning in preparation for what you desperately want them to experience in the ending. And that’s worth signing Journey in church.
You can help us all get better. What else needs to be considered when creating an engaging experience? How have you leveraged emotional engagement in a church setting?