I’ve been in ministry for almost 15 years now. I’m coming up on 9 years as a lead pastor in the same church. As I continue to try and grow as a pastor, preacher, and leader of the church, it’s been very clear to me how important it is to get feedback on all aspects of my ministry. That includes everything revolving around the Sunday morning service. Doing a weekly service review has been the biggest contributor to understanding what the average church attendee might be hearing or seeing, not just in the sermon, but from the moment they walk in the door until the end of the service.
Here are several reasons why I’d encourage others to do a service review…
1. It helps me grow as a preacher
I want to know if there’s something I do in the pulpit that’s distracting people from hearing the word. I want to know if I’m communicating clearly enough for people to follow along in their Bibles and grasp the main point of the passage. I want to know if people feel like my preaching encourages them to bring their non-Christians friends. Are my introductions too long? Too short? Are there enough illustrations in my sermon? Am I capturing the tone of the text? The only way to answer these questions is to get feedback. A service review builds that feedback into my schedule.
2. It helps others involved in the service improve
Pastors aren’t the only ones that need feedback. The people leading in scripture reading and prayers need feedback on many of the same things the pastor needs to hear. Our musicians get to hear whether or not a song was played in too low or too high of a key that discouraged others from singing. Our sound volunteers get help on finding a proper mix. Instead of having to have a potentially awkward conversation, all of this takes place in a context where feedback is welcomed.
3. It helps improve the Sunday morning experience
Obviously, talking through the elements of the service with those who are a part of it is going to improve the actual content and delivery of the service. But since we leave room for comments involving just about any part of the day we learn so much more. A simple comment has made for a simple change that often has big impacts on the service. For example, someone once said that they would’ve appreciated more time to reflect on the sermon during a time of silence. Since that comment, all of our times of reflection have been long enough for people to really reflect on the Word and let God’s Spirit work on their hearts. Who knows what kind of impact that has had on the church. Our service review has improved the way that we welcome visitors, find seating for people, and even organize the furniture. We learn about problems in the building that morning, and think about how we can prevent them. All of this creates a much more welcoming environment for visitors, and limits causes for distraction in our worship.
4. It’s a discipleship tool
I served as a pastoral assistant for a couple of years under a pastor I greatly admired. I remember thinking that after a couple of years of going to service review that I had learned more about preaching during that time than I did in my preaching class in seminary. It’s simply a great context for raising up future preachers. But it’s also a great context for helping any member learn how to better listen to sermons. Coming each week will encourage them to engage in what’s being preached that Sunday. It will also help them concentrate on the content of the songs and prayers. That’s a great way to help them grow and get the most of this important time on Sunday morning. In addition to this, the theological conversation that the various comments produce become a great teaching opportunity. (Plus, I might be able to fit in an extra point from my sermon).
5. Good fellowship
We do our service reviews around a meal together. The time eating and reflecting on the day is a sweet time to fellowship. The food is good, and the conversation is edifying. Without fail, there are a couple of good laughs always thrown in for good measure. It’s a great way to end the Lord’s day together, but even if you do this on another day or night of the week, the friendships that form out of this time together is just another reason that I look forward to doing these reviews each week.