Learn to Read a Hungry Room

1Yesterday morning at my church, our 11:00am service went long. And when an 11:00am service goes long — you have a room full of hungry people to deal with.

By the time our pastor got to the end of his sermon, it was 12:40pm. That might not seem too late to you, but it seemed too late yesterday. The song I had planned for after his sermon was a long-ish one that we had spent considerable time rehearsing, but as I sat on the front row yesterday, it became increasingly clear to me that, while people were engaged with the sermon, they were hungry.

(In the past, I might not care that people were hungry and wanted to eat. “Too bad!”, old me would say. This is church, and we’re here to worship, and nothing is more important, and your belly can wait!)

But that’s immature. And it’s foolish. Learn to read a hungry room. And if the room is ready for lunch — then unless the Holy Spirit comes down in literal tongues of fire and everyone forgets for a moment how delicious Chipotle sounds — you cannot overcome the dynamic of a hungry or fidgety room. Just go with it, and be willing to adjust your plans.

So, as his sermon came to a close, and the band and I took the stage, I led us briefly in singing the doxology and then people were on their way to lunch. And it’s amazing… I didn’t get a single person who complained that we skipped the last song. They were grateful I was clued-in enough to skip it. And we all got to eat our lunch about 5 minutes quicker. And there was much rejoicing. And there always will be.

3 thoughts on “Learn to Read a Hungry Room”

  1. I actually used your advice this Sunday but with a different scenario. We observe the Lord’s Supper right before the sermon, and our associate pastor had a longer communion meditation than I was anticipating. With a guest preacher that Sunday, I wanted to make sure he had as much time as possible to preach the Word, so I just lead the congregation in the Doxology before the sermon instead of the longer song we had planned (and rehearsed). Afterward, our associate pastor was apologetic for going long but thankful that I changed the plan. Lesson learned: when in doubt, sing the Doxology.
    Thanks, Jamie, for writing such a great blog. I’ve been following you since I listened to your talk from WorshipGod 2011.

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