Things that congregants never ask…

This post is from the defunct blog “Dying Church”

A friend tells me at a former church he was required to help plan worship.  By nature of his job as an associate pastor – he would participate in a weekly meeting where they would plan the worship service details for the coming Sunday.  The meeting was called 'worship planning' and was attended by the music staff, and the clergy.  In it they divided up the parts (you do the announcements, I'll do the call to worship through the Hymn of Procession). There were not a lot of variables in that meeting.  They had a set number of parts, and a set number of people — it was a matter of who does what and when…  The only dynamic part of the meeting each week was — what creed would they do.  He would always remark about one staff member who felt that the creed needed to fit into the theme of the service.  The theme of the service always correlated with the sermon, scripture and hopefully the anthem.  But the tie ins were always so subtle.  A phrase in the third verse of the opening hym was similar to the phrasing in the call to worship, which was from the same theme in the book of Isaiah that was being quoted by Jesus in the Luke passage. The creed was one more moment to pick something that would go with the theme.  He says he always cringed when the staff person would say, "Oh, there is a theme of grace in the service — so such and such creed would be best." (As if grace wasn't evident in all the creeds… ).  As the associate pastor he had perfected the disinterested mindset paired with the enthusiastic facial mask.  He could agree to just about anything – as long as it didn't violate scripture, liturgy, or require him to attend another evening meeting. As I was reading around this evening I ran across a TV media-trade weblog that was discussing the cliche approach that local news stations use to communicate the news.  You've heard it before.. the phrase "Live team coverage," "Breaking news only here." and of course the overused alitteration of "Tropical Terror from Torrential Rains."  The article opens with …

STILL PRODUCING to impress other producers? Well, knock it off. The arguments we get into – real, loud arguments – over stuff we think is important are just stupid. We seem to think too many packages in a newscast presents a sign of weakness. We think viewers will stay put in the morning if we write a clever enough tease. We're certain a plug for a report at 5pm will make the 6am viewers take note. Do you really believe this? Or have you done it so long that it's just "what you're supposed to do?" As Lost Remote discusses ways to change the news, the following are things viewers never, ever say or think. Keep the list handy by your computer when you're fighting with your EP over "flow"…
"Why did they put that story in A5 instead of A4? I think it would have flowed better." "Margaret! They're going to give me the details of that man wanted in the downtown robbery. Get me a pen!" "The police want MY help in solving this crime? Cool!" "One person was slightly injured in that accident? Good thing they had a helicopter there." "That thing that happened half a world away? I hope this local newscast tells me if it could happen here." "I'm glad this news station knocked on that neighbor's door next to where the shooting took place." "No, I HADN'T recalled that Action News first told me about this story last week. Thanks for the reminder!" "I'm glad they referred to him as 'the Pontiff' on the second reference and 'John Paul the Second' on the third reference. I would have been bored if they just said 'The Pope.'" "It's gonna snow/be hot/be very cold? I sure hope they'll tell me what to do with my pets and elderly. I have no idea."

All this made me think about the questions our congregants never ever ask in worship… (but which 'worship planning' teams are obsessed with…)

There is only one hymnal in the pew rack — but thanks for telling me that it is the United Methodist Hymnal. Is Pastor Jones preaching again — we only have one pastor. I hope the sermon is longer. I hope they take up the offering twice this morning. I think they changed the font on the bulletin. Am I really welcome — they want me to come back? What smooth transitions between liturgical elements. Did you see how they included men, women, and children in leading worship — how liturgically inclusive. Ahh could they do two childrens moments? How old do you have to be to come down for the childrens moment? What no object lesson for the children's moment?! The preacher is not using the lectionary passages for this week!? I'd like a longer pastoral prayer — and more talking – less silence. More hymns written originally in greek and set to tune names from the 3rd century. The music was beautiful — but when will the organist use the antiphonal pipes. Did Jesus wear a robe and stole?

Any thoughts? Additions to the list?

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada