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If someone snuck into your church and replaced Sunday’s bulletins with last year’s bulletins, would anyone notice? Need a few fresh ideas to keep your Sunday service from predictable sameness?

1. Fill prime seating. 
Challenge your church’s most vibrant age group to help lead worship by filling the front and center seats weekly.     

2. Set the mood.
Set a relaxed, worshipful pre-service tone with live or recorded music, along with pre-service audiovisuals of announcements and Scriptures. 

3. Light matters.
Use quality lighting during the pastor’s sermon. To add variety, dim light for the Lord’s Supper, backlight a musician, uplight a theme banner, shine colored lights on a focal wall, or spotlight a dramatic scene in the center aisle.

4. Theme enthusiasm. 
Plan ahead to visually reinforce a sermon series. Make banners for the worship center or exterior. Plan a serial skit or unique handout. Create a distinctive display for the foyer or stage.

5. Ushers can rope rear seating to help seat worshippers toward the front.
They should graciously seat latecomers at an appropriate time and take care of interruptions and needs during worship. 

6. Quality music with variety.
Try adding a different instrument such as bagpipe, zither, violin, or a person whistling. Try an echo duet from the balcony or worshipful solo from the audience.  

7. Smooth transition.
Intentional silence can be worshipful; “dead spots” are not. Does it take ninety seconds to arrange the children’s choir or wait for someone to stroll to the mike? Plan carefully to use every scheduled moment wisely. 

8. Intentional interaction.
Invite worshippers to reverently stand for Scripture reading. Offer a fill-in-the-blank sermon outline listening sheet (ideas at The Sermon Handout: Uses, Abuses, Ideas, and Samples). Quote 1 Chronicles 29:13–14 in unison before offertory.

9. See with fresh eyes.
Ask an interior designer or interior decorator to assess your church platform area. Inexpensive changes may make a huge impact—plants, rugs, paint colors, polished pulpit, rearranged seating, reupholstered furniture.

10. Small adjustments create interest.
Rearrange choir seating or praise team placement. Vary the Scripture reader. Add seasonal flowers or banners. Slightly tweak the order of worship—baptism at the beginning, offertory last, or sing after the sermon.  
 
As you plan worship for our great God, create anticipation with a fresh, updated plan every Sunday. Oh, and there might be an additional benefit: less snoring in church.

Diana Davis lives in Indianapolis, where her husband Steve serves as the Executive Director for the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana. A popular women’s conference speaker, Diana has ministered to women’s groups internationally. She especially loves encouraging pastors' wives and deacons’ wives at her blog, KeepOnShining.com.

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Talk about it...

John E Miller

commented on Jun 23, 2011

Mrs Davis may well be a very charming and sincere person but her suggestions are frivolous, shallow and irrelevant to the task of preaching, teaching and pastoring. Such a shallow agenda detracts from the powerful message of God's Word and the divine service of God's Spirit in directing both saved and unsaved to Christ.

John E Miller

commented on Jun 23, 2011

May I add another thought? Do you gather as a Christian church to worship the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, mighty God of eternity and hear His word, or do you come to be entertained and have your conscience artificially anesthetised?

Madonna Mcdonald

commented on Jun 23, 2011

Diane, I so agree with your ideas...the Lord is the author or beauty....beauty ministers to us...I have a friend who has a gift with decorating her home...it is breathtaking when you walk in...she is so humble about it

Madonna Mcdonald

commented on Jun 23, 2011

Diane, I so agree with your ideas...the Lord is the author or beauty....beauty ministers to us...I have a friend who has a gift with decorating her home...it is breathtaking when you walk in...she is so humble about it

Michael Morton

commented on Jun 23, 2011

For those who suggest this posting has no merit, try preaching the same sermon every Sunday and see how long you have a congregation. Part of a pastor's job is to enhance a worship experience. Mrs. Davis suggestions do precisely that. I can relate this to 1st century worship. They went house to house, different settings. They worshiped as the spirit led them; variety. Contemporary worship, a completely different worship experience than the 50's is vital worship. BTW I have no idea who Mrs Davis is and where she worships.

Leonard Davis

commented on Jun 23, 2011

I am very disappointed in the critical spirit of some of the comments offered to the suggestions. No where in the article did the author suggest that these "tiny tweaks" were to replace the essential elements of a good sermon. No where was there a suggestion that these were to be done in a manner that "detracts" from the powerful message of God's Word. If you cannot determine a way to make such things "enhance" the powerful message, then don't use them. If your preaching doesn't already have all the essential elements needed then work on that first, but don't criticize someone for suggesting that putting some iceing on the cake would make a better cake.

Gary Black

commented on Jun 23, 2011

Jesus used many object lessons of his culture to communicate God's message. He actually "flew in the face" of traditional Jewish ideas of worship. Diana is of the tribe of Issachar who "Understood the times and knew what Israel should do." Church people are leaving the church because we insist on using antiquated formats. She is right on with her suggestions to make the format and environment for preaching and teaching more relevant and accessible to people. It is still the Holy Spirit that works in all things to transform lives.

Charlotte Dean

commented on Jun 23, 2011

Thank you Diana - in our church these are all the things that people comment on being helpful to them. It is good to see a practical list of ideas. I appreciated the link about sermon outlines too.

James Galbraith

commented on Jun 23, 2011

I've heard it takes 9-10 positive comments to eliminate one bad one. Well, here's my positive one: I found the tips to be exactly that - helpful tips to think about about. It's a shame that some others have to use the sacred purpose we've been called to as a counter point to her thoughts when they do not conflict at all. Jesus may not have preached from a well light stage, but it sure helps people pay attention when we do!

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jun 23, 2011

John E Miller, you threw out a very strong criticism, but unfortunately, you did nothing to back it up. Exactly how is it that things like proper lighting, quality music, and smooth transitions DETRACT from the message of God's Word. In what way do following some of these suggestions anesthetize one's conscience artificially? Have you never seen a sunset? Have you never been outdoors and listened to the sounds of nature? The God that the Christian Church worships is the God of creation. He is the God of beauty and music and creativity. How are these things frivolous, shallow, or irrelevant? I sincerely hope you respond and clarify yourself; because as they stand, your comments seem to contradict the spirit of Christian love that is contained in the very Word you seem so passionate to defend.

Dav Ross

commented on Jun 23, 2011

Thanks for your comments Diana! John E Millar symbolises why I left the church for so many years. I had to wait for a generation stuck in "the good old days" to either die off or repent of their closed and pius attitudes before my generation was welcomed back. Worship has been changing ever since creation, yet some people think they have a mortgage on being right on this topic. Oh well, a bit of old, a bit of new, even a bit of ancient if it works. Maybe even some electricity to replace the candles....

John E Miller

commented on Jun 24, 2011

I appear to have caused offence by my blunt description of Mrs Davis' ideas to jazz up the ambience surrounding the worship of God and the preaching of His word. I regret the offence caused but have not moved in my judgement of the content. How easy it is to detract from the message of the Cross, the horrific sufferings endured by our Saviour, His humiliation and the absolute horror of His abandonment by the Father, all as our substitute. Listen to the words of Paul," The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." And again, "We preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness." I totally agree that we must thank God for the beauty of creation, that is in keeping with His word. We can do that in our daily walk with Him and indeed in our thanksgivings. However when the saints of God come together for worship or for the preaching of the Gospel, our thoughts should be primarily centred on Christ, the glory of His person, the perfection of His work and the imminence of His return. God is the God of the Cross. That is where we witness His love, His righteousness and His wrath against sin. That is where we find peace. If we have not been to the cross and heard God's voice speaking to us in a suffering, dying Saviour we do not know God. The building in which we gather is not God's house. It is a convenient place for the people of God to meet. The dwelling place of God is His redeemed people and that by the Spirit. I cannot believe that God is impressed with an attempt to mirror the outward glitter of this world in our place of worship. He looks at the heart and values piety, yes, Dav Ross, piety and holiness in the hearts of His people. The values of God's word are the same today as they were when the Holy Spirit of God breathed on the writings of holy men of God thousands of years ago. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Paul describes it to the Colossians thus, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." By all means make the building in which we meet as comfortable and convenient for all as possible, but remember that God's dwelling place is not in the works of mens' hands but in the sanctified hearts of His people. If people come to worship God because of nice music, clever lighting, artistic interior design, eye-catching banners, etc., we would do well to ask if they are being searched, challenged, even convicted by the experience or are going away having spent an enjoyable, entertaining experience which has been a salve to the conscience. I do not find any encouragement in the words of Christ Himself or His Apostles to do anything else than to confront the sinner with his need, and God's all suffiency to meet it by the word of the cross. Nor do I find anywhere that His people should decorate the worship of God with anything else than the inward holiness that His word requires. May God bless you all.

David Hodgin

commented on Jun 24, 2011

This is a good article reminding us to keep an uplifting flow throughout the worship services we lead. When reading the comments, I think Mr. Miller missed the point of the article, but he is allowed his opinion and position. Criticizing him is no different than him criticizing Ms. Davis. We are brothers and sisters yoked together by the common bond of Christ. Some need a fresh coat of paint in the sanctuary, others will never paint again. There is no right or wrong in this, the article is only suggesting things we may do and Mr. Miller simply asks us to keep the Main thing the Main thing. Peace to you and keep up the good work. Me, I think I'll go move a couple of plants on the platform.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jun 24, 2011

David Hodgin, I agree one hundred percent that Mr. Miller is allowed his opinion and position. And I agree with what he wrote concerning what you described as keeping the Main thing the Main thing. What he is not allowed to do is to mischaracterize Ms. Davis' article, and that is where my criticism of him lies. He accused her of a "shallow agenda" that "detracts from the powerful message of God's Word and the divine service of God's Spirit," but he never says how it detracts. He repeats the accusation again in his second comment: "How easy it is to detract from the message of the Cross, the horrific sufferings endured by our Saviour, His humiliation and the absolute horror of His abandonment by the Father, all as our substitute." But again, he doesn't tell us how Ms. Davis' suggestions do that. He simply assumes (falsely) that if you're paying attention to things like proper lighting, quality music, and intentional interaction with the congregation, then you must not be paying attention to the Main thing. No one is saying to get rid of the sermon or not to preach the Cross!! This article simply suggests ideas on how to create an environment where that message of the Cross can be heard. If he doesn't like the ideas, fine, let him say so. But he has no right to accuse a fellow believer in Christ of detracting from the message of the Cross without giving reasons. I don't think Mr. Miller realizes the seriousness of his accusations.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jun 24, 2011

Mr. Miller, let me put it this way. At your church, do you have pews for the worshipers to sit on? There's nothing in the words of Christ or the Apostles about giving people pews to sit on. Are you going to get rid of the pews in your church (or chairs or whatever people sit on, which is most likely NOT the floor) because they are frivolous, shallow, and irrelevant to the task of preaching, teaching and pastoring? What about some sort of sound amplification system? Nothing in the words of Christ and the Apostles about that either. What about electric lights? After all, if we shouldn't be concerned about proper lighting, why should we be concerned about ANY lighting at all? What about air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter? Do those things detract from the message of the Cross? Then what is the difference between these things I have mentioned and the suggestions Ms. Davis makes? I truly hope to hear your response. I'm really trying to understand where you're coming from, so please help me.

Carlton Burris

commented on Jun 28, 2011

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Carlton Burris

commented on Jun 28, 2011

My childhood church refused to change anything, period! Christ used a mountain and a lake to enable more people to hear His voice. He used wonderful stories to relate truth in a way people could understand. To call Diane's suggestions frivolous, shallow and irrelevant...relects the reason most churches are more empty than full each Sunday. My childhood church closed it's doors many years ago. Sadly, it stands vacant, surrounded by lost people.

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