I Believe in the Resurrection — An Easter Sunday Reading

I believe in the resurrection. I believe that Jesus died on the cross, his hands and feet held to the wood by metal spikes. I believe that his body was pierced by the soldier’s spear, and even the sun was darkened as all creation grieved the death of God’s eternal Son.

 I believe in the resurrection. I believe that Jesus’ body was placed in a borrowed tomb, where it lay for three days. I believe that the power of God, his heavenly Father, brought life to his dead body and rolled the stone away from the entrance so all might see that Jesus was no longer there.

 I believe in the resurrection. I believe that the unbelievable story of the women was true, just as the angel had announced: “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”

 I believe in the resurrection. I believe that there is no force in the universe that could stop, hinder, contain, or successfully oppose the risen Savior, my Lord, Jesus Christ. No nails are long enough to hold him to any cross unless he wills it to be so. No tomb can be sealed so tightly—by Pilate or Herod, or Caesar himself. Were there an army of a thousand men guarding the tomb, it would make no difference. Jesus said he would lay down his life and take it up again. And he did.

 I believe in the resurrection. I believe that Jesus appeared to eleven discouraged, defeated, demoralized disciples in a room where the doors were locked and all hope was lost. I believe that when he showed them his nail-pierced hands and his spear-pierced side, they fell at his feet and cried out, “My Lord and my God!” I believe that in the days that followed, hundreds saw him alive. All their doubt was removed; their fear was gone. What could the world do to them? Jesus was alive.

 I believe in the resurrection. I believe that Jesus lives today—as powerfully and perfectly alive as he was two thousand years ago, and for all time past and yet to come. I believe he empowers his followers to follow in his footsteps, fight the forces of evil, and find their peace and joy and eternal hope in him.

 I believe in the resurrection. I believe that Jesus calls women, men, and children to join him in changing the world, one heart and life at a time, starting with their own. One day soon, he will come again on the clouds of heaven with an army of celestial warriors whose numbers are beyond counting and whose power is beyond imagining. Then Jesus will establish his eternal kingdom, where there will be no more soldiers or spears or sepulchers or battles or bleeding wounds or crosses.

I believe all this because I believe in the resurrection.


By Ed Baker of Orchard Hills Church, Cedar Falls, Iowa. Published in Reformed Worship magazine, December 2011.


Seven Sentences We Never Expected to Hear in Churches in 2020

Seven Sentences We Never Expected to Hear in Churches in 2020

By Thom Rainer

I can only imagine how we would have responded in 2019 if someone had told us we needed to be prepared not to gather in-person in worship services for several months in 2020. Indeed, if we had been given a glimpse of this crazy year ahead of time, we would have thought the world had gone crazy.

It probably has. 

Look at these seven sentences we hear in churches today. We could have never predicted them. 

  1. “We need to decide if we are going to require masks in church.” If I had heard this sentence would be common in churches, I probably would have wondered if we are having mandatory costume parties in 2020. With the different masks used today, maybe we are.
  2. “We can’t take the offering anymore.” Really? I think many leaders would have freaked out if they heard financial support would become dependent on digital giving. Probably many more would have been surprised how many members were willing to move to digital giving.
  3. “We can no longer have the stand and greet time.” This issue was contentious in many churches before 2020. While many churches held tenaciously to this tradition, it was fading overall. But, imagine if we outright banned it in churches. That has happened for the most part. In case you’re wondering, I’m really okay with this development.
  4. “We need to measure our streaming views over 30 seconds.” For sure, a few churches were doing live streaming services prior to 2020, but they were a distinct minority in number. I don’t think any of us anticipated that streaming views would become a common church metric.
  5. “We need to arrange our worship center seating to accommodate social distancing.” Prior to 2020, I would have thought social distancing was only something we introverts practiced. Now it is something church leaders plan on a regular basis.
  6. “We need to move all of our small groups to meet on Zoom.” If most church members had heard this statement in 2019, they may have wondered if small groups would be in some drug-induced state. Zoom? What is that?
  7. “We will no longer visit church members in the hospital.” This development in 2020 is painful both to those confined to the hospital and to those in the church who really want to care for these members. It is indeed one of the tragedies of the pandemic.

Who would have predicted the articulation of these sentences in churches prior to 2020? It has been a strange year. It has been a painful year.

What unexpected sentences would you add?

This article was originally published at ChurchAnswers.com. Thom S. Rainer serves as founder and CEO of Church Answers. Dr. Rainer publishes a daily blog and podcast at ChurchAnswers.com and can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.


Five Early Findings from Churches That Are Regathering

Five Early Findings from Churches That Are Regathering

By Thom Rainer

The regathering of churches for in-person services is garnering a lot of attention in both the religious and secular media. I totally get that. There are very few organizations other than churches that meet as a large group every week. The implications are significant.

We are following closely as more churches open for in-person gatherings. While we are not yet seeing even half of the churches open, more are added each week. It thus behooves us to get these early reports. Those that are open will be making adjustments. Those that are not yet opened can plan accordingly.

For now, we see several early trends. The list is not exhaustive, but these five findings are the most common we are observing.

  1. Most churches are cooperative with local and state officials and desire to comply with their guidelines. While the media will highlight adversarial relationships between churches and governments, such tension is simply not the norm. To the contrary, the vast majority of church leaders desire to work with governmental entities. The real story is not a battle between church and state, but a cooperative spirit between the two.
  1. Early attendance is significantly lower than the pre-quarantine era.At this point, one-half of the churches we have surveyed have an attendance of 60 percent or less than the pre-quarantine numbers. We rarely hear of a church that has an attendance of 80 percent or higher. For now, those churches are the outliers. 
  1. Returning senior adults present a unique challenge for many church leaders. We have numerous reports that senior adults are among the most eager to return to in-person services. Frankly, this trend is going contrary to our initial expectations. We thought most senior adults would be the last returning group because of potential health concerns. But as many of these older adults return, leaders are concerned how to minister to them spiritually and protect them physically. 
  1. The negative church members and naysayers are back. When the pandemic began, many churches had to hit the pause button on a number of fronts and issues. One of the unintended positive consequences was the pause taken by the negative church members. It has been a blissful silence for churches. Now that churches are planning to regather, the pause is lifted and the acrimonious few are back. 
  1. Most churches are utilizing some type of extra service at least for the short-term.The regathering churches are adding space to allow for social distancing. Some are adding services. Others are adding overflow rooms. Some are doing both or providing other creative solutions. The need for extra space has been exacerbated by children coming to the worship services who were previously segregated in their own age-graded area. 

For certain, the way churches are returning is changing regularly. These five findings will undoubtedly change as church leaders make necessary adjustments. Stay posted to ChurchAnswers.com as we continue to provide the latest updates on the regathered church.

This article was originally published at ChurchAnswers.com. Thom S. Rainer serves as founder and CEO of Church Answers. Dr. Rainer publishes a daily blog and podcast at ChurchAnswers.com and can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.


  • We are aware that our churches are going to be in the spotlight, My church has been back for a few weeks now with most of our congregation back in the pews. We are a small church so our numbers don’t really make any waves, but all of our members have stayed healthy.
    Personally, I trust fully in God. I am 64 and work full time in a hospital, I have two prosthetic heart valves, I have had three strokes when I was younger, I’ve dealt with other issues associated with the heart. Every instance, God was present with me giving me strength to push through and at the same time giving me a sense of not fearing, which I see so much of at this time. Fear drains energy from the body, which is needed to protect and heal. I’ve always like the saying, “Let Go, let GOD”! Short, simple but true. Get rid of your fears, and attach yourself to God…

  • Pingback: Don’t Let the Angry Ten Percent Control the Direction of Your Church | The Pastor's Helper

  • Pingback: 15 Characteristics of Genuinely Friendly Churches | The Pastor's Helper

15 Characteristics of Genuinely Friendly Churches

15 Characteristics of Genuinely Friendly Churches

As churches begin to regather for in-person services, some areas of guest friendliness will change, at least for the short-term. For example, for precautionary reasons we likely will not be giving guests physical gifts.

As I have consulted with churches over the years, I have assembled data on what I called GFCs, genuinely friendly churches. I set certain parameters for GFCs; then I attempted to measure the guest return rates for those churches. A guest return rate is simply the percentage of guests who will return to the church for at least a second visit.

Here is the simple but profound difference I found in GFCs and all other churches: A genuinely friendly church has a guest return rate six times greater than other churches.

Did you get that? If a church meets the guidelines to be a GFC, the probability of a guest returning is six times higher than all other churches! Sadly, only about one of twenty churches meets the criteria necessary to be a GFC.

When I began as a consultant, I had 10 criteria, and the church had to meet at least eight of those criteria to be a GFC. I have since expanded the list to 15, and require churches to meet 12 of the 15 to be a GFC. Here are the 15 characteristics of genuinely friendly churches:

  1. They are intentional about being friendly. Warmth and friendliness are clear values of these churches. They are articulated regularly. All organizations, including churches, naturally drift toward an inward focus unless they are otherwise intentional.
  2. The leaders model warmth, humility, and friendliness. The friendliness is not contrived or phony. These leaders have prayerfully become genuinely friendly men and women.
  3. The leaders are clear that genuine friendliness is more than a brief stand and greet time in a worship service. The efficacy of a stand and greet time has been debated extensively in a previously published article. Regardless of a church’s decision in this practice, leaders in GFCs were adamant that true hospitality and friendliness extends beyond a two-minute welcome time.
  4. GFCs utilize a secret guest at least twice a year. One small church of which I am aware budgets $100 a year for a secret guest. They pay the guest with a $50 gift card to come to the church and provide feedback on their experience. I call this process “looking in the mirror” because it gives the church a real opportunity to see itself as others do.
  5. GFCs had a guest friendly website. The website typically set the tone for a guest. If it did not have obvious information for a guest, such as worship times and addresses, the guest came to the church with a more negative disposition.
  6. The church has clear signage. Far too many churches lack this signage. They assume that everyone knows where everything is. First-time guests know nothing about the church or its different facilities.
  7. GFCs have a well-organized greeters’ ministry. They have greeters in the parking lot, greeters in the entrances, and greeters in other strategic locations inside. Many GFCs utilize newer members in this ministry.
  8. These churches have clear information places. It may be something as simple as a well-marked table manned by a member of the church. The signage points clearly to the information table, booth, or kiosk.
  9. GFCs have clean and neat buildings. It is amazing how much a clean facility adds to the positive mood of a guest. It is equally amazing how few churches pay attention to this issue.
  10. They have a guest feedback process. To the best of their ability, GFCs follow up with guests to get feedback on their experiences. They also encourage the guests to be open and frank in the feedback.
  11. The children’s area is clearly safe and sanitary. Don’t expect young parents to return if the church does not give clear attention to this matter.
  12. The majority of church members in GFCs are involved in the community. They thus exude genuine friendliness in the worship services because they are regularly connecting with non-church members other days of the week.
  13. Small groups are highly intentional about reaching people beyond their own groups. Thus when these group members are in a worship service, they are already accustomed to reaching out beyond those with whom they already have relationships.
  14. GFCs have new member classes that emphasize the responsibilities and expectations of church members. Members are thus more apt to look beyond their own preferences to serve others. That attitude shows up in the worship services.
  15. GFCs demonstrate an awareness of and sensitivity to COVID-19 concerns. This issue will likely be around for a while.

Give your church an honest evaluation of these 15 items. See if you can give an emphatic “yes” to at least 12 of them. If not, what should your church change?


This article was originally published at ChurchAnswers.com. Thom S. Rainer serves as founder and CEO of Church Answers. Dr. Rainer publishes a daily blog and podcast at ChurchAnswers.com and can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

Pastor2Pastor — In His Grip


  • annette logan

    i am enjoying reading your articles God bless your ministries.

  • Carl Meyer

    I like these words from the Bible. As Christians, sometimes we forget what a wonderful blessing it is to be in his grip every day. Important words and thoughts from the bible (and of course Brother Davis).

  • Adetokunbo oni

    Thank you for your encouraging message. When we are lonely, we are confident that our Lord is always there, even though we cannot see Him physically. God bless.

  • Thank you for the encouraging word. Praying for you.

  • Tom Skowronski

    Thanks Barry. Very nice message. It is amazing how similar the church you are in is to the one I grew up worshiping in -> St. John Kanty, Buffalo, NY. Thanks for the memories as well. “Keep up the fire”

  • Hein Makkink

    Thank you Barry. You always bless and encourage me. Awesome work.

  • Pastor Aaron T. Lewis Sr.

    I just watched the video of Pastor Barry and was moved and touched to know that there are pastors out there that gets lonely also. Thank you Pastor Barry for sharing with me my greatest fear. May my God Bless and keep you!

  • Maxine Taylor

    Thank you pastor Barry , Ilisten and it’s very encouraging , and I ask God’s blessing on you so you can continue to bless and encourage many more pastors that are lonely.

    Be strong in The Lord and in the power of His might.

  • Pastor Eddie

    “In is Grip” was an encouragement, thanks so for the connection!

Ten Troubling Statements Church Leaders and Members Make

Ten Troubling Statements Church Leaders and Members Make

Arguing-WorkersBy Thom Rainer

If you want your church to move toward a slow yet certain death, make certain your church leadership and membership affirms most of these ten statements. They are troubling statements. Indeed they are proclamations that virtually assure your church’s decline and probable demise.

What is troubling is that these statements are not uncommon. They are articulated by both staff and lay leaders at times. See if you have ever heard any of these ten.

  1. We hire our pastors and staff to do that. “That” can be evangelism. Or discipleship. Or caring for others. Or visiting people in the hospital. Some lay leaders view pastors and staff as hired hands to do ministry they should be doing themselves.
  2. We have enough churches in our community. I rarely see a community that is really “overchurched.” The number of unchurched people in any one community is typically increasing, not decreasing. This comment usually comes from church leaders who view new churches as competition.
  3. We are a discipleship church. Or an evangelism church. Or a ministry church. Church leaders who say their churches are focused on only one area of ministry are offering excuses not to be obedient in other areas.
  4. We have never done it that way before. Yes, it’s cliché. But it’s still a very pervasive attitude among change-resistant people in the church.
  5. We don’t have the money to do that. More times than not, the church does indeed have the money to focus on necessary priorities. The problem is that some church leaders don’t have the courage to reallocate funds toward those priorities.
  6. We really don’t emphasize small groups. Churches that do not give a priority to small groups or Sunday school classes can count on a big exodus of people out the back door. Those in groups are five times more likely to stay involved in a church than those in worship services alone.
  7. We have enough people in our church. This is a tragic statement by leaders of inwardly focused churches. And it is an excuse not to do evangelism and ministry.
  8. We aren’t a church for those kinds of people. Though similar to number seven, this statement is an appalling declaration made by church members who really believe people of a certain race, ethnic group, income group, or other descriptor should be excluded from the congregation.
  9. We really shouldn’t expect much of our members. Low expectation churches are far too common. Too many church leaders communicate unwisely that it’s okay for members to do nothing, give nothing, and not be concerned about growing spiritually.
  10. We focus only on our members, not guests and others. Many church leaders make this statement either explicitly or implicitly. Sometimes the facilities, the worship services, and the small groups shout “Guests not welcome!” I released a resource today that addresses this critical issue of guest friendliness.

What do you think of these ten troubling statements? Are they accurate? Are they fair? What would you add or change? [Please leave your comments below]



This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on December 8, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.


  • “We don’t have enough _________ to do that. ” “We’re too small”

  • Thanks for telling it like it is. Our churches need to wake up band realize it’s not about our church. ..it’s about the kingdom agenda.

  • Francis K. Tamba

    This is amazing and most acurate especially for a dying church.
    To add also, We will preach only the word the increase will come by faith.

  • Francis K. Tamba

    Amazing and acurate.

  • Pastor Jerome

    I agree that those are statements that can ruin a church. We as church leaders should look to the father for our guidance. When we make decisions on our own 9 times out of 10 we make the wrong choices. Only God knows the direction He wants His people to go in, when we look to Him for those answers, we can’t go wrong.

  • Robert Walker

    I have been involve in my church for over 30 years ,and as a lay leader, 25 of these years. Unfortunately, I have ,and even more so, am experiencing the slow death of my church. I and my Pastor both have introduced Dr. Rainer book ,The Autopsy of a Deceased Church, to the membership, in trying to get them to understand our present state. The 10 symptoms are so prevalent in so many churches. Thanks!!! for your acknowledgement of this subject. I see it as confirmation to keep pressing onward. I believe Christ, that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His church. Thank you and Please!!! don’t stop bringing your prayerful insight of these subjects to the populations.

  • Bob

    Not accepting help when some one wants to help.

    Being judgmental and not supporting others in there walk.

  • Dr. Mark Lynch

    I agree with these statement whole heartily. I have always led smaller churches and I have found that most of the problem with smaller churches growing is the fact that they are stuck in a tradition that they are unwilling to change. In my case it is most often the unwillingness to even try to bring praise & worship music into the service to help draw younger families into the church. Most smaller churches are stuck using 250 and 300 year old music and unwilling to use any newer more spiritual praise and worship music into the church which will both bring life, spirit and joy into the service. They all to often consider it “satanic music” when in reality it is just as or more spiritual than some of the older hymns. They have sung the older hymns so long they have lost most of their meaning in the peoples lives, they simply sing the words without feeling what they are singing. Another major problem I have faced in my 27 years of ministry is the unwillingness for smaller churches to evangelize the community in which they reside. They claim “it is the Pastor’s job to do the visitation” and say “that’s what we pay you for” when the Bible is very clear that Pastor’s are called to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry.” If a Pastor is doing what God “called him to do” he will have a full time job and if the members would do what they are called to do then ” we would all come together in the fullness of God’s glory and our churches would grow and prosper.

  • J. R. Padgett

    Very accurate.
    If your not part of the solution,
    Then your part of the problem.

One Question You Must Never Ask in Ministry

One Question You Must Never Ask in Ministry


By Joe McKeever

“Sow your seed in the morning, and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good” (Ecclesiastes 11:6).

Was it worth it?

You do not know which will succeed.  If both will.  Or neither.

Disciples of Jesus Christ must never try to calculate the cost/benefit of some act of ministry.

Our assignment is to obey. To be faithful.

We have no idea how God will use something we do, whether He will, or to what extent He will.  We do the act and leave the matter with Him as we move on to our next assignment.

Every pastor will identify with the following scenario….

Let’s say a family member of someone in your church is facing critical surgery in another city.  You get up at 3 am and drive the distance, and meet with the family just before the patient is wheeled into surgery.  You sit with the family and do whatever you can (prayer, conversation, witness, sharing Scripture–or none of these things, depending on the circumstances, on the prompting of the Spirit, etc).  Then, you drive home.  You have devoted most of the day to this one act of ministry.

Invariably, someone will ask the critical question.

“Was it worth it?”

Perhaps it was your spouse who asked.  Or a staff member.  Or just as likely, your own accusing heart raised the issue.

You answer, “God knows.”  As indeed He does.  And no one else, for the moment at least.

And He’s not telling.

What follows is my story.  You’ll have your own variation of it….

For all my adult years, I’ve been a sketch artist.  I draw people wherever I go.  When I preach in churches, the host will usually encourage the people to come early and/or stay late so I can draw them.  A typical drawing takes two minutes or less, and I can go three hours without a break.  Once in a while, I will drive long distances to draw only and not to preach.  Several times a year, I draw at wedding receptions. (The first weekend in January, I’ll be in East Texas sketching at the wedding reception of the daughter of a preacher friend.)

This weekend I’ll be at a local church here in the Jackson, MS area.  After preaching in the two morning worship services, I’ll be sketching people and speaking at a luncheon banquet.  Then, the following weekend, I will be sketching nonstop at a mega-church’s Christmas presentations (before and after each of the five events), from Friday night until late Sunday night.  The following week, I will do three Christmas banquets for pastors and spouses in Louisiana.  I’ll arrive early to sketch couples, draw right on through the dinner, get up and do my talk, and go right back to drawing.  It’s an exhausting evening.

But I love it.

What am I accomplishing with all this drawing and sketching?

Honestly, I don’t know.

A family member used to observe me dragging home late at night after a full evening of driving, sketching, and speaking.  Voiced or not, the question was always there: “So, why do you do this if it makes you so tired?”

I was too tired to answer. (smiley-face here)

But I can think of some reasons: I love doing drawing people, it seems to bless people, they pay me (often, not always), and when I stand to speak, the people I’ve sketched listen well. There’s something about the personal time we’ve had at the table while I drew them that seems to bond us enough for them to want to hear what I have to share.

I do high school programs on “lessons in self-esteem from drawing 100,000 people.”  I’ll sketch the kids before and after the program (teenagers love this), then draw the principal and coach during the session and deliver my 12 minute presentation.  Often, a few classes want me to come by and sketch them or give a talk to the art students on cartooning.  Finally, after several hours, the host pastor has to take me by the hand and lead me out of the building and toward a restaurant for nourishment, I am so drained.

And what did we accomplish?

There is no way to know.  And here’s the thing: I don’t need to know.

I do it because God has gifted me with this love for people, a talent for sketching them, and a delight in using the gift.  I walk up to strangers sometimes. “May I draw you?” (A woman with a floppy hat and earrings down to her shoulders, or a man wearing a cowboy hat and a handlebar mustache are just begging to be drawn!)

Friends think I use the sketching for a ministry of evangelism, that I’m winning a lot of people to Christ by drawing them.  I’m not doing much of that as they think or I’d like.  It’s hard to talk and sketch at the same time. And, when we have a line of people waiting, there’s little time for meaningful conversation.

So, what is accomplished?  I have no idea.  Perhaps it’s nothing more than to add a smile to someone’s day.  A little joy.  Or, to build a memory into their lives, when they find the sketch years from now.  And was that worth it?  Again, I do not know.

I do not need to know.

But I will keep on doing this as long as the invitations keep coming in, the fingers keep working, and the eyes and brain don’t give out.  The occasional bout with arthritis is a problem, but thankfully it’s rare and light.

None of us know

We preachers could ask the same questions about the sermons we preach and the ministry we give.  What was accomplished? Was it worth the many hours of study and prayer and work?  The many miles driven? God knows.

And we’re good with that.  Scripture commands: “Do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Whether we render a solo in church, serve a meal at the nursing home, preach a sermon in the jail, or sketch a few people in the mall, we do this “unto the Lord,” and leave the results with Him.

My friend Bertha bakes loaves of banana bread which she gives away throughout the year.  Jim, a deacon and a friend of 25 years, gives away chewing gum, thousands of pieces a year (the sugarless kind, he is quick to point out).  Stephanie takes her violin into nursing homes and hospital rooms and plays for people.

And when people ask, “Was it worth it?” or “Why did you do that?” we might just smile, but what we are thinking is something like “Ask the Lord who told me to do it. It was for Him.”

“When the Son of Man comes,” Jesus said, “will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8)

Those who serve Him in ways large and small without knowing what He will do with their efforts know the answer.



Used with permission by Joe McKeever. Joe is a Pastor, Preacher, Author, Professor, Cartoonist, Jesus Lover, Friend.


    • Leon Mohammed

      I believe that this a good question to ask yourself from time to time, seeing that we do things sometimes which does not seem to be appreciated, but keep on doing it anyway

Six Reasons Some Churches Are Moving Back to One Worship Style

Six Reasons Some Churches Are Moving Back to One Worship Style

guitar-man-music-1221By Thom Rainer

You could not help but notice the trend of the past two decades. Numerous churches began offering worship services with different worship styles. It is not unusual to see a church post its times of worship for a contemporary worship service, a traditional worship service, and an occasional blended worship service.

The trend was fueled by two major factors. First, many churches were fighting worship wars. The great compromise was creating a worship service for each faction. Unfortunately, that created divisiveness in some churches as each faction fought for its preferred time slot. Second, some churches had a genuine outreach motivation. Their leaders saw the opportunity to reach people in the community more effectively with a more indigenous worship style.

Though I am not ready to declare a clear reversal of the trend, I do see signs of a major shift. It is most noticeable among those congregations that have moved from multiple worship styles back to one worship style.

So I spoke to a number of pastors whose churches had made the shift back to a singular worship style. I asked about their motivations for leading their congregations in such a direction. I heard six recurring themes, though no one leader mentioned more than three for a particular church.

  1. Multiple worship styles created an “us versus them” mentality. Worship wars did not really end with multiple approaches. In some churches the conflicts were exacerbated because those of different preferences did not interact with each other.
  2. The church did not have the resources to do multiple styles with quality. In many churches, inadequate resources meant one or all of the services suffered. It was deemed better to put all the resources toward one style of worship.
  3. The church moved from multiple services to one service. I heard from a number of pastors who have led their churches back to just one service, a move that naturally necessitates one style. Some did so to engender a greater sense of community; others did so due to excessive space in the worship center.
  4. The Millennial generation has influenced many churches. This generation is much more flexible in its preferences of worship style. They are questioning the need of multiple styles.
  5. Worship wars are waning. Many congregations with multiple worship styles created them as a response to worship wars. Now that the conflicts are waning in many churches, the need to segregate by worship preferences is no longer necessary.
  6. Multiple generations are becoming more accustomed to different types of church music and worship style. Contemporary music, in some form, has been around a while. It is not this strange aberration it once was to many congregants. And many church members who did not grow up on traditional worship are hearing those hymns in new and meaningful ways. Simply stated, there is a much greater appreciation for different forms of church music than in the past.

Again, I am reticent to declare a major trend to be taking place. But, anecdotally, I am seeing more congregations move to the singular worship style approach.

I would love to hear your perspectives. If you have any specific information about this trend, please bring it to this community so we can all benefit.

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on August 30, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.


  • There is an elephant in the room with this article. Dying, long established churches with traditional worship simple aren’t surviving today. So they either have two styles or they go to contemporary worship. But the vast majority of thriving churches in the U.S. are contemporary – some form if rock. But not to avoid worship wars or to have one style. They do indigenous worship because they want to reach people.

  • Steve Phifer

    To me this was all totally foreseeable. I have never understood how so many leaders could go the route of style-based worship services when the clear teaching of Scripture calls for the church to be a holy counter-culture with its own artistic and worship culture. Unity and consensus is the essence of New Covenant life. The presence of the Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit is the source of the church’s impact on the world, not the style of the music.

    • Bob Hudson

      Dave Wilkerson published a great sermon entitled “Strange Fire on the Altar”. I think that is the title. My fear is that we will not achieve a “balance” in ministering to different generations.

  • Bob Hudson

    Putting together a worship service that is meaningful to two generations has never been easy. The easy way is to go to one extreme or the other. However, a meaningful service can created that will minister to multi-generations. My worry is that this current generation will never experience the depth of a worship experience that is based on sound doctrine and is Christ centered. Superficiality seems to be an accurate description of most worship services today.

Nine Observations about Announcements in Worship Services

Nine Observations about Announcements in Worship Services

origin_4274024184By Thom Rainer

To have or not to have announcements in the worship services? That is the question many church leaders ask today. And indeed there are several tendencies or trends related to announcements, and they are often related to the size of the church.

I asked a number of church leaders of congregations of varying sizes about their practices in this area. They pretty much confirmed what I am seeing as well. Here are my nine observations:

  1. More church leaders do not think announcements should be a part of the worship services. Their churches are more likely to have announcements projected on a screen prior to the worship service, or not to have them at all in the worship center.
  2. Large churches (700 and up in average worship attendance) are highly unlikely to have announcements as a part of the worship service. As noted above, they may have the announcements projected on a screen prior to the worship service.
  3. Smaller churches (under 200 in average worship attendance) are very likely to include announcements as a traditional part of the worship service. Excluding them would likely cause some level of conflict in the church.
  4. Video or projected announcements have grown commensurate with the growth of projected lyrics during the worship music. Because the technology and equipment is available for the music, more churches also use it for announcements.
  5. With greater frequency, pastors limit making announcements unless they are a major or visional issue. This trend is growing in all churches except smaller congregations.
  6. More congregations limit announcements before or during the worship services to those issues that affect most or all of the congregants. For example, it is becoming less likely for announcements to be made about a committee meeting that involves only six people.
  7. Many pastors are still asked to make announcements right before worship services begin. Often they are handed a slip of paper or told adamantly that something must be announced. I will address this issue in a later blog post.
  8. Pastors also receive pressure from different groups and individuals to make certain their announcements are made. Most every church member has his or her own idea about priorities in the church. One pastor recently told me that a church member got mad at him because he did not announce that the member’s daughter was named salutatorian of her senior high school class.
  9. Most church leaders believe that the retention rate of announcements by members is low. If retention is indeed low, it would indicate that most times of announcements are done due to pressure or tradition or both.

What is your church’s approach to announcements in the worship services? How effective do you think they are? What is your reaction to these nine observations?



This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on January 7, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

One comment

  • Glen McBride

    Our church is a small congregation, and I attempted to simply encourage the congregation to read the bulletin that is circulated. … Wow, the respose of some was great, but there were some, you would have thought I was asking for the sacrifice of their first-born. I went back to making announcements, but slowly began to minimize them and eventually was able to go from a 8 to ten minute block of time to about three minutes, now making only basic highlighted remarks to encourage people to read the bulletin. I have also added some humor to the weekly bulletin to add interest for people to read it … that is of course if they have a sense of humor. Thanks for the idea of projecting the announcements, good idea I will pursue.

1 2 3 4