How to Avoid Worship Service Hijackers

The weekly worship service of a church should be valued, prioritized, and protected. As pastors and church leaders, we should guard the worship service from those things that attempt to hijack it.

What is a worship service hijacker? It is anything that draws the attention away from the worship of God, singing praises to his name, the preaching of his Word, and responding to the message that has been preached.

The challenge is that seemingly good things can hijack a service by drawing the attention to religious entertainment and unimportant time-wasters. The worship of God is far too important to allow these things to hijack a worship service. Here are several ways we can guard against it.

1- Keep the purpose of a worship service in clear view.

The purpose of the worship service is to worship! This means that everything that takes place in the worship service should aid and contribute to worship. If you are doing something in the worship service that does not contribute to worship, it is a hindrance to worship.

2- Educate your staff and have them also guard against worship service hijackers.

This may take some time and you may have to eliminate those things that tend to hijack a worship service gradually over time, but having your staff on the same page will go a long way toward this effort.

3- Learn to lovingly say no.

There will be times you simply have to say ‘no’ to something that someone wants to do in the service so that you can keep worship as a priority. Simply explain your reasoning, and pray they will join you in prioritizing worship.

4- Understand who the sole audience is.

If the goal of a worship service is the worship of God, then we really only have one audience. The congregation is not an audience, they are participants in worship to the audience of one. Eliminate those things that turn the congregation into spectators who are entertained and highlight those things that help them be worshippers of the one true God.

Pastors, you will always have to guard against those things that hijack your worship service. Be focused on the purpose of the service, educate your staff, learn to say no, and remember who the audience of one is.

How to Know When to Eliminate (or Change) a Ministry in the Church

One of the challenges of leading a church is knowing when to make changes to established ministries. It is not always necessary, but at times it is needed. How do you know when it is necessary? There are actually some questions you can ask that can clue you in to the proper decision. Here are 4 of them.

1- Is the ministry or program helping the church accomplish its mission?

The church should have stated objectives that are centered on the Great Commission. The ministries or programs within the church should be helping the church accomplish those goals. If it’s not, then it is a hindrance to the overall church. If time, effort, energy, and resources are being poured into a program that is not helping the church pursue its mission, then you may be guilty of poor stewardship.

2- Are lives being changed because of the ministry?

The goal of ministry programs is to see lives changed. If certain ministry programs are not accomplishing that goal as effectively as it should, then perhaps you need to change to something that will have a greater life-changing impact.

3- Does it contribute to balance?

Under the overall umbrella of your church there are several sub-categories such as children, youth, young adults, and sr. adults (the list could go on and on). Each one of these sub-categories needs to be balanced in what they offer. For instance, if your church has a youth group, the programs for the youth need to accomplish the different aspects of the church’s mission, such as evangelism, discipleship, and worship. If 75% of what you do is focused on evangelism, then discipleship may be ignored. If everything is focused on fellowship and discipleship, worship or evangelism may be minimized.

There doesn’t need to be multiple aspects of a ministry seeking to accomplish the same thing. Structure each aspect of ministry to accomplish a specific task, but be sure that task is not already being accomplished.

4- Are there plenty of volunteers to support the ministry?

It is hard to maintain a ministry if there are not enough people to serve in that ministry. A lack of volunteers may signal that people do not believe in the ministry. They may not view it as worthy of their investment of time and energy. This is not always the case, but it is not uncommon. Church leaders must be able to look at such a situation and determine the reality.

Ministry is about stewardship. The time, energy, and resources that you have at your disposal need to be managed well. This means that having ministries, programs, or events that are not helping the church accomplish its purpose or mission contribute to poor stewardship.

While making the decision to eliminate or change a program or ministry may be difficult, it may be necessary.

4 Ways to Respond to Criticism

Criticism is a reality for any leader. Not only are pastors not immune from criticism, but because of the nature of pastoring, they are sometimes more frequent receivers of it. With that reality, it is important for us to know how to respond when the criticism starts flying our way. Here are several suggestions.

1- Listen to it.

Be quick to hear and slow to speak. Listen to what the critic is saying. Why? There are two main reasons. First, you may learn something about yourself. There might just be some truth hidden within the criticism that you have overlooked. In listening to a critic you might discover something about yourself that needs adjusting. Second, you may learn something about the other person that will better enable you to minister to them.

Sometimes the criticism is rooted in a real problem that you have, and sometimes it is rooted in a real problem that the critic has. In both cases you need to listen to uncover the truth.

2- Don’t overreact to it.

The temptation is to immediately respond in an attempt to defend yourself. If you are like me you are tempted to argue, explain, prove, support (or whatever else you want to call it), all in an attempt to put the other person in his/her place. This is rarely the correct response.

Overreacting has two sides: Anger and discouragement. Resist the urge toward both. Don’t become angry and don’t become discouraged.

3- Learn from it.

The only way you can learn from criticism is if you have listened to it and refused to overreact to it. If there is truth in the criticism, what now needs to be adjusted? How can you learn, grow, and improve? If there is no truth in the criticism, there are still things you can learn. What did you learn about the other person? What did you learn about ministering to difficult people? What did you learn about how your vision for the church is being received?

If the goal is to learn from all criticism, you will receive it differently than someone who tries to avoid it.

4- Forget about it.

Once you have done the first three, then you can forget about it. Move on. Don’t forget what you have learned, but don’t dwell on the criticism itself. I have seen people become obsessed with one piece of criticism to the point it has controlled them, affected their family, and ultimately ruined their ministry. The temptation is there for all of us, but determine to avoid that completely.

Once you have listened to the criticism, resisted the urge to overreact to it, and learned from it, the only thing left to do is to forget it.

There is one final thing I would say about this. True, good, strong leaders never try to avoid the critic nor the criticism. In avoiding the critic you allow problems to fester and gossip to spread. In avoiding criticism you fail to learn important information about yourself and others. This can hinder your leadership.

If you are leading, there will be criticism. The only way to avoid criticism is to do nothing (but even then you will probably be criticized for doing nothing).

Solidify the vision God has given you for your ministry, be committed to Scripture, be wise, be humble, always learn, and lead on!