I don’t want to miss the moment!
Many churches are so accustomed to their end-of-service routines (announcements,offerings, altar calls, closing songs, benedictions, etc.) that unique opportunities can pass by. We want our people to be doers of the Word (James 1:22), but how can we help them cross over from hearing to obeying? Is there a context where they can immediately obey the prompting of God?
How can we encourage every person in the room to respond?
Here are four ideas:
- Give everyone a take-home illustration gift.I’ve sent people home with dominoes, salt shakers, prayer cards, 7-day commitment cards, free books/resources … even poker chips, because we should go “all in” for Christ! This allows every individual to continue to think, pray, and respond in the days following the message.(By the way, for Father’s Day 2015, Life Action is offering a perfect take-home gift. Copies of our Revive magazine “What’s a Dad to Do?” can be ordered for just $1 each. This will make a perfect handout for dads as they leave the service on June 21! Call 800-321-1538 if you’d like some. If for any reason your church can’t afford them, e-mail me personally and I’ll see what I can work out for you.)
- Ask people to tell one person about their next step before leaving. Sometimes in Life Action events, we will conclude a service by asking people to connect with someone before leaving. For example, on the last weekend of a series, you might encourage people to turn to someone around them and “share one thing you’ve learned over the last six weeks as we’ve talked about (series name).” This approach might spark some deeper post-service conversation and connection and, even better, you will probably see people praying for each other.
- Invite the congregation to kneel with you. After a message on humility or surrender, you might say something like, “As we conclude today, I’d like to ask you to do something a bit out of the ordinary. If you are physically able, and if you have the desire to do so, would you turn in your seat and kneel along with me as we ask God to help us …”I recall one first-time visitor who told me about a month after doing this that she had decided to come to our church in that moment, on her knees. She reported that she felt like “this is exactly the kind of church I want to be a part of!” There’s an even more compelling reason to kneel, however, and that’s to set a different spiritual tone; a posture of humility is a great place to begin a new week, a new year, or a new season of obedience to Christ! (Text to consider: Ephesians 3:14-21.)
- Use an abrupt ending to add gravity. The first time I saw this was watching Alistair Begg (Truth for Life) preach a message on the road Jesus walked to Calvary. After making us feel as if we, along with Jesus’ disciples, were watching our Savior struggle down the street with the heavy cross on His bloodied back, Begg pulled off an amazing conclusion—it still gives me chills, years after the fact.He simply read the text where Jesus looked at the women on the side of the road and said, “Do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28). In that moment, the stage went dark. The congregation sat in stunned silence. That was it. Nothing more to sing, nothing more to announce. Not even background music. Just the heaviness of Jesus’ words. Wow!
All of that being said, even creatively planned conclusions can still “miss the moment” if we don’t maintain sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. This is where humble prayer, openness to new ideas, and a hint of boldness can go a long way in calling people to respond to God.
How do you end your services? What ideas have helped you call for an immediate or long-range response to God’s Word?