I preached my first revival meeting 29 years ago! I was only 17 and, apart from knowing that I was supposed to preach the Bible, I am pretty sure that I had no idea what I was doing. Some would probably say that I still don’t. I preached several revivals over those next few years, spent four years in an “Evangelism” major, traveled a few years to some 37 states as a College Representative, and finally embarked on what our movement calls “full-time” evangelism in the Fall of 1994. It has been an incredible journey and I have preached in all but 5 of these United States in literally hundreds of churches. I have also been able to preach in a handful of other countries as well! God has certainly been good to me.
I have never been a pastor. I have been asked to “candidate” in several churches throughout the years, but have never sensed God’s leading in that direction. However, as I travel from church to church, I have often thought about what I would do “IF” I were the pastor. Here are five things I would do:
- I would make prayer a major part of every service. I would stop the normal order of service and give people time to make their “requests known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). I would encourage people to kneel. I would encourage people to pray together. I would ask deacons and their wives to be available at the front of the auditorium should some one wish for a partner in prayer. I would make “special” requests known and would ask the church to unite in prayer. I would even be willing to anoint people with oil and pray prayers of faith over them (James 5:15). I would rejoice publicly at specific answers. I would encourage people to “come for prayer” during invitation times and I would boldly pray about their needs and their hurts and their requests. I would do all I could to make my church a “house of prayer!”
- I would have a very prominent “welcome center” staffed by well-trained people. By prominent, I would consider putting it in the parking lot if I could. I would at least have signs making it abundantly clear where it was located. I would have it staffed the entire service. I would have water bottles available for guests to take. I would want enough people there so that guests could be escorted to the auditorium and seated. I would have a map showing where to find restrooms and class rooms and nurseries and would use the map to circle the locations of their children if they are in a separate location. I would train the people to smile, to be warm, and to remember names.
- I would re-think greet and meet times. “Now turn around and shake hands with those around you” is perhaps fine for the church “family.” However, it is often awkward for those who are guests, especially if it is accompanied by a “tell someone you love them” or “tell three people why you are happy in Jesus” kind of statement. If no one has greeted a guest and already made them feel welcome, having 20 strangers suddenly smile and “shake their hand” will not do it.
- I would train greeters and parking lot attendants. Well-trained greeters are essential. A sincere “Hello and may I help you in some way?” would be vital. “May I tell you about our church?” “Would you like me to help you find a seat in the auditorium?” “My name is John and I am available to serve you with anything you need. I will be at the welcome center all morning.” And so forth. I have often thought that a parking lot attendant would be nice, especially when there is something awkward about the parking. Someone wearing a safety vest and pointing the way and answering questions would be all that would be needed. I would train these people to be sincere and warm instead of silly or funny! Very few can adequately use humor with a guest and at the same time make them comfortable with the humor. Southwest Airlines does it and it works, but most can’t seem to pull it off!
- I would likely skip announcements. If I really need to mention them publicly, I would put them on a screen during the beginning of the service or at the end. I just wouldn’t interrupt a “worship” service to talk about a “fellowship dinner” or about coming events or anything of the sort. I am not sure that people listen to announcements anyway, so there has to be a better way than what we have always done!
So what do you think? What would you do if you were the pastor? Perhaps I will add FIVE more things in a few days!
Thanks for reading.