Corporate worship should be one of the most meaningful events offered by a local church. But unless a proactive plan is developed, it can actually degenerate into a meaningless ritual that has very little significance.
Here are some "tested" tips on how to keep your worship events from being a blessing.
1. Put people up front who are somber and unexpressive. This will remind everyone how hard it is to be a Christian.
2. Cater to the preferences of one generation. That way everyone who isn't part of that age-group will feel unwelcome and alienated.
3. Don't try anything new or different. Change makes everyone nervous, especially if it involves butchering "sacred cows."
4. Pick only music that's 100 years old. It may not speak to anyone present, but it probably won't be offensive either.
5. Make theological controversies the focus of your service. This is a sure way to help people express their anger.
6. Take up three or four offerings. How else will people learn to sacrifice if they don't have to give "til it hurts?"
7. Make sure no one can hear what's being said. This will make them wonder why they came. A good way to implement this is to ignore your aging sound system.
8. Plan for the morning prayer to last 15-20 minutes. By the end of the prayer everyone will hate the idea of kneeling.
9. Refuse to let children or youth have any part in the service. This will remind them that the service is only for "grownups."
10. Make people feel guilty for not doing more for the church. Somehow, they need to realize that nothing else matters.
11. Forget to make Jesus the focus of your worship. You can talk about church socials, bike trips and bake sales, but don't talk about Jesus. A good starting place is to feature sermons that focus on personal development and self-help theories.
Obviously, we're not encouraging anyone to try these. The question to ponder is, are we doing any of these unknowingly? If so, it is not too late to start over. Try reversing the above negatives and find fresh, joyful ways to make your corporate worship the climax of the week!
Rich DuBose is Director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference and a producer of Christian web content.