Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How Mini-Sermons Mess Up a Worship Service

Have you ever been in a worship service that seemed like one long series of mini-sermons, none of which went together? I use the term "mini-sermon" to refer to those infamous 5 minute talks that people who are participating use to insert their opinion into the flow of the service but which do more to distract from the service instead of add to it. It might be the long explanation about a song before a piece of special music, or a literal "mini-sermon" before or after what was supposed to just be a scripture reading, or perhaps it is a lecture wrapped up in the guise of announcements. Whatever form it takes, it typically has nothing to do with the theme of the service and often makes the service much longer than it needs to be. Though I dislike all mini-sermons, I suppose most people in a congregation can handle one mini-sermon in a service. However, I recall one service I was in where half a dozen people gave such talks. It basically added 30 minutes to the length of the service but provided nothing of significant spiritual value. Instead the result was people looking at their watch ten minutes into the pastor's sermon wondering how much longer the service would last. That was unfair to the pastor, who had spent numerous hours preparing to teach the Word that week.

If a person has something he or she wants to share with the congregation, that person should make their desire and topic known to the pastor or worship leader prior to the service. If it is appropriate, it can be inserted at the appropriate time in the service. If it is not appropriate, then an awkward moment can be avoided. It is wrong to hi-jack the service for one's unplanned mini-sermon and take time away from what the pastor, or others, have diligently prepared.

Someone is probably thinking that I don't believe that the Spirit can give an unplanned word in the middle of the service. On the contrary. I have witnessed many spontaneous testimonies in worship services. When the Spirit is behind it, everyone present will sense it and no one will be looking at their watch wondering how much longer the service will last. However, honestly, most of the mini-sermons I have heard did not seem Spirit led. They appeared to be people taking advantage of the situation to push their private agendas.

As a person who has participated in a wide variety of different types of worship services in churches of all sizes and worship styles, I want to urge my fellow worshipers to ask themselves if what they want to say is really NEEDED in that moment or will it distract from the point of the service or unduly lengthen it. One day each of us will stand before God and give an account for the words we speak. Let's make sure the ones we used in public worship were truly from the Lord.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is an author and Christian leader in New England. He is a happy husband, proud father, adoring grandfather and thankful cancer survivor. You can find his books at:
http://www.amazon.com/Dr.-Terry-W.-Dorsett/e/B00405U4NY/

20 comments:

  1. I remember when one church I attended eliminated all of these "announcements" from the service. If was important, it went in the bulletin. If it was super important, then the pastor or worship leader might make a mention, but it was little more than to point out the fact that the details are in the bulletin. Let the communications team do its job via the bulletin/handouts, posters, and website (if the church has one). Don't turn the pulpit into a news desk.

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  2. Sometimes my wife and I will joke back and forth about which sermon this is, 2nd 3rd etc. The music minister must explain at least 1 song, the elder must share before reading Scripture, the usher must have a comment before praying over the offering, etc.

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    1. If only they realized the negative impact that has on the service.

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  3. When God isn't the focus and His Word by the Spirit isn't the informing partner pretty much everything else is an interruption and disruption. ....and when the spirit of the 'supposed prophet' isn't exercising the Fruit of Self Control, it takes a lot of creative dancing by the leaders to redeem the circus. (Tongue firmly in cheek)

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    1. God MUST be the focus, not ourselves. Amen.

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  4. I must confess that mini sermons drive me nuts!

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  5. So others have had this blessing?

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    1. I once had a lady hi-jack the service and I finally had to walk up to her and put a hand on her sholder and reach for the mic to take it away. She said, "I'm not done yet." I said "Yes you are."

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    2. Pastor Terry,
      I remember that day!!!

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  6. It all comes down to where one stands on the regulative - normative principles of worship. Pastors pour out their hearts into sermon prep throughout the week, then stand behind the Word in submission to the Holy Spirit at the pulpit. Interrupting that suggests a range of challenges, from immaturity, a low view of church, the pastor, or worse. A healthy church affords ample vehicles for free exchange.

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  7. I'm all for music being a musician and sometimes worship leader but the WORD takes first place during a fellowship on Sunday ( or whatever day your group meets)

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  8. If the worship/music minister is truly finding songs that go with the message the pastor is preaching then it should all to the message and thus the worship experience. Our whole staff have access to the message before Sunday and know what is being preached. Sometimes a longer explanation of a song is inserted or a testimony because it adds to the theme. Even in a smaller church the pastor can give the message or outline to the music leader beforehand if they have it planned out ahead of time and not just the week leading up to the service. The songs should be picked to add to the theme of the service and any extra "mini sermons" should enhance, not take away from the message.

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  9. If the worship/music minister is truly finding songs that go with the message the pastor is preaching then it should all to the message and thus the worship experience. Our whole staff have access to the message before Sunday and know what is being preached. Sometimes a longer explanation of a song is inserted or a testimony because it adds to the theme. Even in a smaller church the pastor can give the message or outline to the music leader beforehand if they have it planned out ahead of time and not just the week leading up to the service. The songs should be picked to add to the theme of the service and any extra "mini sermons" should enhance, not take away from the message.

    ReplyDelete