Back again with more of “what worked” at Bethel Bible. Most of us do a good bit of year-end analysis about our worship ministry. As I’ve been thinking about it, there are three things that have yielded a surprising amount of benefit!
At the beginning of 2012, our senior pastor had an idea – “tell more stories.” It’s a challenge for every church. How do you find and celebrate those great stories of redemption and calling among your people? I was pretty surprised when we heard his idea:
ON STAGE TESTIMONY EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY.
This was a surprise, for a couple of reasons.
1. Bible churches care a lot about theology and work very hard to make sure those that speak to the church-at-large have a solid understanding of God and His Word before grabbing a microphone. I was surprised we were gonna’ start letting folks up there.
2. The every week thing was daunting. Did we have enough stories? Who would schedule these? Where would they fit in the service?
Our pastor was so strong on this – he said he trusted God enough to protect the integrity of what would be said. He said the value of those stories far outweighed whatever minutia might be incorrect. I was so encouraged!
Secondly, we talked for hours on the logistics. Here’s where we landed:
- When someone was asked to do a testimony, there were under the care/guidance of a pastor on staff. The pastor would ask the testimony folks to write out what they would say. This was more about time than accuracy, but it did allow us to see what sort of themes would be expressed.
- The pastor would look over the script, make whatever suggestions/changes were needed and talk through logistics with our people.
- We decided to schedule the testimony before the last song of the worship set. *This meant cutting one of our song slots from the set each week. I would try to get with the folks to make sure our last song would serve as a companion to the ideas and thoughts from the testimony.
- After our first month, we realized we needed to adjust the schedule. Because we served Communion on the first Sunday of each month, the testimony block presented way too many timing challenges. We moved to three-testimonies per month schedule.
We weren’t able to do it every week, but we told more stories in 2012 than ever before. We worked really hard at it and it was an encouraging time for our church. There was no downside to this project – it gave our congregation the opportunity to hear real-life stories about a very real God. This year, we want to do it again but we’d like to get creative with our presentation. Not sure what that’ll mean yet, but the effect was too great to pass on it this year.
*If it makes you mad to cut songs from your setlist, you’re in the wrong and you should confess. Your songs are a tiny part of a very big thing that Christians do each week. Humble yourself or go sell insurance.