How To Put Different Emphases on Different Services?

I'm very interested in your ideas on how to make different church services, well . . . different. I don't want to just get up and preach four times a week. I want to put a unique spin on different services. For example, I encourage Q&A during Sunday School and Wednesday Nights. I also try to do very practical topics on Sunday Afternoons, but my time is so precious that I find myself defaulting to just preaching through a NT book lately. It takes time to develop topical messages - a lot more time than just picking up 1 Peter and starting with v.1!

I don't think I'm doing enough. I want each service to really stand out as being different. What are some ideas you folks have heard of or even tried at your churches? 

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JD Miller's picture

Tyler, great question.

   I know of a couple of churches where the pastor preaches a typical expository message (they are going through a book of the Bible) for the main service and then for the other service, they simply talk about the passage that he preached through and how to apply that passage in their individual lives.  We hope to do something like this in our church plant once we start to have regular Sunday services.  This frees up a lot of prep time for the pastor (these are small churches with bi-vocational pastors) but it also has the benefit of helping the people to really think about the passage and how it applies to them personally so that they can live it out.  It also allows the people in the pew to interact as a church more so that they get to know each other better and really become a body rather than a bunch of random body parts that gather together now and then.  I have also heard of larger churches taking a similar approach, by breaking into small groups that meet in homes on Sunday nights to discuss the morning message. 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'm not sure how well I succeeded, but what I aimed to do at Grace was keep prayer mtg focused on prayer (our time in the Word on Wed. was usually about 10 minutes... but w/Ladies' and Men's Bible studies once a month).

Sunday AM I aimed to emphasize God's transcendence (though not using that term much if at all), so, tried to make it more formal, exalted, objective (stately hymns, doxological focus). Sunday PM I tried to make less formal, more teaching-oriented time. Quite a lot of systematic doctrines teaching in that meeting, regular Q & A times, etc.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Tyler,

Similar to what JD said above, our church does an "application hour" now instead of SS.  Our SS hour takes place at the end of the Sunday morning set of services.  We have a prayer service, the morning service, fellowship time (~45 minutes) and then SS/application time where the pastor uses some open-ended questions to get the people discussing how to apply what came out of the expository message from the morning service.  We are really enjoying that format, which we just switched to at the beginning of the year.  Really gives a chance for everyone to see where the "rubber meets the road" so to speak.  It's a very informal time, where the morning service is more as Aaron describes what he did.

Dave Barnhart

Ron Bean's picture

We have a sermon discussion guide we use for small groups and families to discuss the sermons they hear. It's proved to be very beneficial for everyone; preachers and people alike.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Tyler,

There are a lot of ways you can do this. First you have to answer some questions for yourself.

1) Why do you want the services to be different? Assuming you are preaching/teaching different texts, what is the purpose for making other changes. 

2) Why is it important to have all of the services you are working on? Would your purposes (question 1) be better served to eliminate one or more weekly service rather than altering format.

Now, some ideas. At one time,I pastored a small church with 4 services a week like you described. Sunday school was an interactive, age-segregated instructional time. Sunday morning was for grand themes with a big view of God and was almost always expositional working through a book. We also scheduled several church members to pray at different times in this service - call to worship, offoratory, at our scripture memory time, just before the sermon and for benediction. Sunday night was family oriented. It was the one service where we deliberately kept all of the kids other than the infants in the service together with the adults. We would sing a few songs that the kids new, then they would come down to the front rows and I would do some sort of short lesson just for them. After they went back to their parents, I would preach a short family-oriented lesson at a level kids could understand and parents could discuss later. These were still usually expositional book studies, but more topical stuff would come in here as well. I would usually preach an OT book in one service and a NT book the other alternating as I finished series. Wed night was primarily for prayer with a short lesson. Once a month we would have a pot-luck meal after the morning service and forego the evening service. About once a quarter we would have an old-fashioned singsperation Sunday night, frequently joining with other churches. The last church I attended didn't do a Sunday evening service. They focused more effort on the morning, including a testimony time every Sunday called "Magnify the Lord" when people shared what God was doing in their lives. Periodically, Sunday evening would be used for a special training on a voluntary basis. We spent the last 6 months meeting two Sunday nights a month to go through a systematic theology study. The off weeks were encouraged for community effort. My wife and I taught a small group of two other families once a month on family issues. There's no end to the things you can do once you are clear in your own mind what you are trying to accomplish.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

wkessel1's picture

At my church, Pastor has done things very intentionally.  Sunday morning is structured so we have hymns/prayers/scriptures that corporate confession, adoration and thanksgiving focused and he preaches thru a NT book.  Sunday afternoons we have times of testimonies and corporate prayer where 2 members get up and pray and then pastor preaches thru an OT book, he is just finishing Numbers.  Wednesday nights are prayer time and his teaching is more study oriented.  He goes through a book of the Bible faster than Sundays.  The prior week gives out devotional questions for the people to use during the week and then on the next Wednesday he goes over the answers as he goes through the passages. 

TylerR's picture

Editor

I have been thinking about the need for four services a week. We're starting an AWANA Club soon. I am really thinking about doing AWANA Sunday Afternoon in lieu of our Sunday Afternoon service. I also like the ideas about discussing the morning service in the afternoon. 

The reason why I'm interesting in making the services different is because I want to actually help people grow in Christ, and therefore tackle different things with the time I have. I don't want to just preach four sermons. I want to dig a little bit and do something different. That could mean Q&A and discussion; it could mean asking for topics and preaching on them, or a whole bunch of other things.  

I do like Aaron's suggestion about keeping the prayer meeting lesson intentionally short. If it's a "prayer meeting," then the focus should be on the prayer. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

TylerR's picture

Editor

The prior week gives out devotional questions for the people to use during the week and then on the next Wednesday he goes over the answers as he goes through the passages

That's a very good idea. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

TylerR wrote:

The prior week gives out devotional questions for the people to use during the week and then on the next Wednesday he goes over the answers as he goes through the passages

That's a very good idea. 

Along those lines, I used to put study passages for the next week's am and pm messages in the weekly bulletin so people could be studying before the message. Of course, I always added the caveat that I could change the message if I wanted.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?