Top Ten Ways to Improve the Worship at My Church

This afternoon one of the pianists on the worship team at my church emailed me ten (humorous) suggestions of ways we could improve the worship. I thought you’d enjoy them, so here they are:

1. Do a lot more Carman
2. Install new sound system that “goes up to 11”
3. Fog machine to accompany more meditative songs
4. Play U2 for processionals and recessionals because, you know, Bono’s a Christian
5. Task Men’s Ministry to perform interpretive worship dance at 11 am services
6. Run the pipe organ through a Marshall stack
7. Give everyone in front row their own tambourine
8. Use “bouncing ball” effect on projected lyrics
9. Single out people in the congregation (preferably with spot-cam) who are insufficiently engaged
10. Call out the first four words of every line the way the Hillsongs guys do it

More Bulletin Bloopers

I can’t get enough of these. I’ve posted some before (here and here) but here are some more.

· Next Friday we will be serving hot gods for lunch.

· Nov. 11: An evening of boweling at Lincoln Country Club.

· Women’s Luncheon: Each member bring a sandwich. Polly Phillips will give the medication.

· Karen’s beautiful solo: “It is Well With My Solo.”

· Congratulations to Tim and Ronda on the birth of their daughter October 12 thru 17.

· If you choose to heave during the Postlude, please do so quietly.

· We are grateful for the help of those who cleaned up the grounds around the church building and the rector.

· Hymn: “I Love Thee My Ford.”

· Sign-up sheet for anyone wishing to be water baptized on the table in the foyer.

· Newsletters are not being sent to absentees because of their weight.

· The Advent Retreat will be held in the lover level of St. Mary’s Cathedral.

· Thank you, dead friends.

· Diana and Don request your presents at their wedding.

· Lent is a period for preparing for Holy Weed and Easter.

· Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget all His benefits.

· For the word of God is quick and powerful… piercing even to the dividing asunder of soup and spirit.

· Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peach to men.

· Volunteers are needed to spit up food.

· Please welcome our Head Deacon and Dead Deaconess

· There will not be any Women Worth Watching this week.

· I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirty and you gave me drink

· The visiting monster today is Rev. Jack Bains.

· We are always happy to have you sue our facility.

· Hymn: “I am Thin, O Lord.”

· This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Johnson to come forward and lay an egg on the Altar.

Good Old Bulletin Bloopers – Pt. 2

You’ve probably seen these before, but I can never get enough of them. Enjoy:

Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

Chili Supper, Money goes to missions. $5 a bowel.

The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.

Evening massage – 6 p.m.

The Pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.

Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 to 8:30 p.m. Please use the back door.

Ushers will eat latecomers.

For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

The Rev. Merriwether spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience.

The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, “Break Forth Into Joy.”

Next Sunday Mrs. Vinson will be soloist for the morning service. The pastor will then speak on “It’s a Terrible Experience.”

Due to the Rector’s illness, Wednesday’s healing services will be discontinued until further notice.

The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the church basement on Friday at 7 p.m. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

22 members were present at the church meeting held at the home of Mrs. Marsha Crutchfield last evening. Mrs. Crutchfield and Mrs. Rankin sang a duet, The Lord Knows Why.

A song fest was hell at the Methodist church Wednesday.

Potluck supper: prayer and medication to follow.

Don’t let worry kill you off – let the church help.

Pastor is on vacation. Massages can be given to church secretary.

Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa will be speaking tonight at Calvary Memorial Church in Racine. Come tonight and hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.

The senior choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.

This afternoon there will be a meeting in the south and north ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.

Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. there will be an Ice Cream Social. All ladies giving milk please come early.

“At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be ‘What is Hell?’ Come early and listen to our choir practice.”

On Sunday, a special collection will be taken to defray the cost of the new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the carpet, please come forward and get a piece of paper. 

This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Johnson to come forward and lay an egg on the Altar.  

Good Old Bulletin Bloopers

I was going through some old documents on my computer today and came across this list of bulletin bloopers that I used to read on our church’s Alpha course. Sure, you may have received them in an email forward about fifteen times over the last couple of years, but for me they never get old. Enjoy:

The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment, and gracious hostility.

Our next song is “Angels We Have Heard Get High.”

The Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday “I Upped My Pledge – Up Yours.”

Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.

Attend and you will hear an excellent speaker and heave a healthy lunch.

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

Eight new choir robes are currently needed, due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

The Lutheran men’s group will meet at 6 pm. Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, bread and dessert will be served for a nominal feel.

Remember in prayer the many that are sick of our community.

Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say “hell” to someone who doesn’t care much about you.

The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled due to a conflict.

“Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don’t forget your husbands.”

“The cost for attending the Fasting and Prayer conference includes meals.”

The sermon this morning: “Jesus Walks on the Water.”
The sermon tonight: “Searching for Jesus.”

Sermon Outline:
I. Delineate your fear
II. Disown your fear
III. Displace your rear

Don’t miss this Saturday’s exhibit by Christian Martian Arts.

If you would like to make a donation, fill out a form, enclose a check, and drip in the collection basket.

Helpers are needed! Please sign up on the information sheep.

A new loudspeaker system has been installed in the church. It was given by one of our members in honor of his wife.

The maintenance of the church graveyard is becoming increasingly costly. It would be a great help if parishioners would do their best to tend their own graves.

Would the congregation kindly remember that the box marked ‘For the Sick’ is for financial contributions only.

Bilingual Chicken Dinner this Sunday at Noon.

When is it OK to Use Humor?

My friend Mike Payne commented on my Checking for Ticks post last week and asked: “in what circumstances, if any, is the use of humor appropriate in a worship service?

In general, the worship leader should be as invisible as possible. The more attention worship leaders draw to themselves, the less attention the congregation is giving to the greatness of God. Trying to be funny just for the sake of being funny doesn’t serve the congregation, it serves the worship leader’s ego.

Sometimes, though, worship leaders can actually serve the congregation by using humor. While I’m sure there are more, here are a few circumstances in which humor coul help:
Breaking tension or awkwardness:
If the person projecting the lyrics accidentally puts up instead of “How Great is Our God”, you are not going to be able to cover that up. Just laugh about it, say something short and funny, and then transition back to the song.
Cleaning up a train wreck:
Here’s a perfect example.

Addressing the elephant in the room:
If it’s pouring rain and hail is falling outside as people are coming into a service, don’t ignore it. Just say something like “good morning, thanks for swimming to church today”. It shows the congregation that you’re aware it wasn’t easy to make it, and it makes them chuckle, which helps them relax.
Helping people feel comfortable:
At our lessons and carols services this past December, I sang Andrew Peterson’s song “Matthew’s Begats” in the middle of the service, which tells the story of the family history of Jesus all the way from Abraham. If you’ve heard the song, you know that it has more of a bluegrass feel, complete with a banjo. This isn’t a style we use that often at my church, so before I sang the song I said:

“this next song is a little different from what you might be used to hearing here on a Sunday morning. We’ve even imported a banjo for this one. That may or may not be glad tidings of great joy for some of you – but… oh well! If you’re  anything like me, when we get to the genealogy of Jesus at the beginning of the Gospels, you might kind of tune out. But hopefully this next song will help us all hear it in a new way. You can stay seated for this one, and let’s hear together the genealogy of our Savior.”

I wasn’t trying to be a comedian, and I didn’t go on and on. My goal wasn’t to leave people in stitches. I just made a little joke that the song would be a bit different, and I picked on the banjo player a little bit, and it helped the congregation feel comfortable.

I don’t think it’s appropriate for a worship leader to use humor when:
A medical emergency interrupts a service:
Oftentimes the first thing a worship leader will be tempted to say if someone has a medical emergency during a service and has to be taken out is: “I guess they didn’t like my singing.” It might make people laugh, but it’s pretty insensitive. If you found out later that the person was indeed in serious trouble, you would regret making light of the situation. Instead, just lead people in a short prayer for the person, and then move on.
Someone’s cell phone goes off:
A few years ago we had finished our opening song (I think it was “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name”) and someone’s cell phone started ringing “YMCA”. I was tempted to make a joke about it, but it would have more disruptive to do that than to just let it go. A joke would have embarrassed that person even more, and if they were a visitor or a seeker, that would have been a shame.
Referring to another service:
I cringe when I hear worship leaders say things like: “you guys are singing so much better than the 8:30 service” or “are you all more awake than the last service?” It’s insulting and insensitive to everyone who attended the service you’re making fun of. Not a good idea.
To make inside jokes:
Inside jokes are fine for rehearsal or for one-on-one, but not when the congregation is listening in. They’ll feel left out, and you’ll come across as inconsiderate.

Ultimately, you really have to practice discernment and pray for wisdom. Err on the side of playing it safe unless you’re sure your humor will, in some way, serve the congregation. If you’re just trying to be funny for the sake of being funny, it’s probably a good idea to keep it to yourself.