September 23, 2015 Tony Morgan

Predictable: 9 Practical Challenges for Church Leaders

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If you’ve been reading along for the last few days, you know I’ve been talking about why churches have become so predictable. Because new ideas don’t typically show up spontaneously, let me offer a few challenges to discover something new with your team:

  1. Pray for the unpredictable.

    Not to overstate the obvious, but God responds to prayer. Since God’s character is creative and creativity is reflected throughout the Bible, I’m confident that God will also answer prayers to eliminate predictability. The bigger question is whether or not you will have the courage to follow through with His direction.

  2. Start with an object.

    Find an object that helps your team visualize the key thought. What questions does the object generate? What story might the object tell? How might you incorporate the object into one of the service elements?

  3. Haaaaave you met Ted?

    Study a number of Ted talks. How do speakers creatively connect with their audiences in such a short amount of time? Is that “short amount of time” a key to the message impact? Discuss some of the strategies they use and incorporate them into your teaching. Look for how they communicate beyond the words they use.

  4. Join in if you know it.

    Brainstorm opportunities to allow the audience to participate before, during or after the service. How could you generate key questions before the series or service? How could you engage social media to start the conversation? What could you give the audience to provoke their thinking? How can you add “movement” to the message you want people to hear?

  5. Watch The Tonight Show.

    As a team, study how Jimmy Fallon connects with his audience. What’s the flow of his show? How long are the segments? How does he interact with his team, guests and the audience? What’s the same in every show? What changes?

  6. Paint a picture.

    What if you weren’t allowed to use words on a screen during the teaching or worship music? What other ways could you help people visualize what they’re hearing? In many ways, as an example, photos and video can be more powerful than words. And don’t forget about being intentional with your lighting. God created our minds to associate different styles of music with uniques colors, and certainly how we represent songs with lighting can make a powerful emotional connection.

  7. Mix the music.

    Call in a DJ if you need to, but use your favorite music streaming service to discover new songs that capture the emotions behind the message. I can’t fully comprehend it, but God designed us as cerebral, emotional, relational and spiritual beings. We’re all of that mixed together. That could explain why different types of music engage people’s minds and hearts in distinctive ways. Sometimes music helps us feel the pain or the conflict and opens our hearts and minds to the healing or answers that only God can provide.

  8. Make people laugh.

    Good humor catches people off guard and recaptures their attention and focus. Youth pastors have been using it effectively for years. Just in case you didn’t know, adults have a sense of humor as well. Not only will humor add unpredictability to your service, it will serve another key purpose as well–people need to laugh. Research has proven another truth from Scripture–a cheerful heart really is good medicine.

  9. Get out!

    Take the creative team outside the walls of the church to gain a different perspective. Let the video team capture stories from different people.

Test-drive some of your new ideas coming out of these challenges to see if they work for your church services. If they don’t, stop it. If they do, stop it. Use the ideas that work again in the future, but look for ways to make them new again. The worst thing you could do, though, is find a creative idea that works and use it over and over and over again.

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Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, theunstuckgroup.com. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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