Monday, June 3, 2013

The best leader of a church service I have ever met

Last Sunday I had the privilege of being part of a church service that was led by my friend, who is (IMHO) the best leaders of church services I have ever met. Here’s 10 reasons why.

1. Everything he says oozes the gospel.
Whether he is saying a few words of welcome, directing us to the notices for the week or interviewing a visitor, everything he says oozes the gospel. The vocabulary and themes of grace, forgiveness, joy and peace are everywhere.

2. He is friendly
You can’t help but like this guy. He makes you think that he is glad you are there. And before or after church when you speak to him you realise he actually thinks that.

3. He is structured, and the structure is instructive
The way he leads church indicates that he has thought about what he is doing, and has structured all the elements to achieve various ends. Each element teaches us something, but in fact the way in which the elements are ordered teaches us as well. For example, we confess and hear the gospel message of forgiveness before we celebrate the Lord’s supper together. Very 1 Corinthians 11.

4. There is lots of Bible.
Not only do we read big chunks of the Bible in preparation for the sermon, but also as part of the general flow of church. We are welcomed with words from scripture, encouraged, rebuked and prayers use the language of scripture. This is clearly a consequence of his Anglican and BCP heritage, and relates closely to point 3.

5. He is informal, but not casual.
When he leads, we are made to feel like we are doing this together and we are all “normal”, but not in a way which makes us think what we are doing is unimportant.  There is something special about the gathering we are participating in. We are meeting with God and with each other. And yet there is nothing “priestly” or “different level” to who he is. When we are meeting together he points us to our heavenly father, rather than “the big guy upstairs who we can call mate.”

6. He is welcoming and values everyone being there.
A consequence of point 2. He welcomes some people by name, says “it is good to see you” – things like that. He has a great knack for names.

7. What he does up front matches what he says and who he is.
The man has a lots of words to say, and his words ooze the gospel, but so do his actions and personality. From his body language to the way he treats others, everything he says is reinforced by what he does.

8. The values the participation of others.
He is not a control freak or a “I need to do it all” sort of guy. He welcomes others to preach, read, lead in prayer, give announcements etc and visibly and audibly appreciates their contribution.

9. He is unapologetic
He tells us what why we are here, what we are going to do and what we might like to do in response – and is unapologetic about it. There is no sense of “I know this might make you feel awkward and so I’m going to tone it down a bit”. No, it is all clear (while considering 2,5 and 6.)

10. He is instructive
He wants us to learn from what he does, and so he should. He is not just leading us through the service, he is teaching us how to respond to what we are hearing. As the service leader, he has realised that he has an important teaching role, and he has taken on that role with great consideration and care.

I hope you have a service leader like this. If not – feel free to pass this on!

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