What's in this session?

  • #1: Walkthrough (2:25)
  • #2: Run-Through (4:00)
  • #3: Sermon Feedback (5:14)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Alex Mills: In this podcast you’re going to learn three advanced tips for prepping your church’s services. I’ll show you how my church prepares for Sunday each and every week, and by the end of this episode you’ll know exactly how to implement these tips in your church as well.

Well, hey there and welcome to Pro Church Tools, the show where in 10 minutes or less you’re going to get a dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift in 500 years. I’m your host Alex Mills joined as always by the boss man Brady Shearer.

Brady Shearer: Alex when I began attending the church that I’m serving at now there were a number of dramatic shifts in expectation for me that I had to make, because up until this point I had only served at really small churches. In fact, the three churches that I served at previous to the church I’m at now were new church plants in mostly rural Canada of 100 people or fewer. So, the church that I’m at now has about 2,000 in weekend attendance.

Alex Mills: Wow.

Brady Shearer: And this was something that I had never experienced before, but in the last three to four years that I’ve been serving at this church, and serving on weekends I’ve picked up a number of different strategies that I wished the churches that I had served at previously had been implementing. And I don’t think that they’re necessarily only for big churches.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: And so, what we want to do in this episode is talk through these three unique strategies that I had never experienced before, but I think can be beneficial to every church.

Alex Mills: Well Brade I’ve been to your church, I’m really familiar with your church, and so when we were talking through this episode before we even started recording I immediately thought, “Well, I wonder how applicable these things are going to be to my church context.” You know, for those of us who’ve been listening for a while, you know I’m a pastor of a church of about 100 people, but as we walkthrough this episode I realized, “Oh, I’ve been doing these things in our church without knowing it, but I usually only reserve them for special services.” So, like if we’re planning a big service for Christmas or for Easter we’ll just naturally do these things because we’re taking more care for that service, because we know there’s going to be more people there. But like you said, I think that these things we’re going to talk about in this episode are so relevant and so practical for every church, in any context, and it’s just going to take your services from where they are now to a new level that you haven’t experienced before.

Brady Shearer: So let’s talk about the prep that we do throughout the week in preparation for the Sunday service. The first thing is that we have a Thursday night worship practice.

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: Which isn’t unusual, that’s something that we did even at the church plants that I served at prior to the church that I’m at now. And then on Sunday morning the worship team arrives to the church building at around 6:15 am.

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: Real early.

Alex Mills: Yep.

Brady Shearer: And they spend about an hour again, rehearsing the songs that they’re preparing to share, and sing with the congregation. I arrive as the host, so I do announcements, and giving, and transitions, and kind of offer that onstage presence at church. I arrive at around 7:15.

Alex Mills: Fashionably late.

Brady Shearer: Exactly, feels good. Walk in, everyone’s been at it for a while and I’m like, “Don’t worry I’m here now.”

Alex Mills: Yeah, I’m here guys it’s fine, we can start now.

Brady Shearer: And then that’s actually what we do because at 7:20 we all sit down, the entire team that’s serving on that Sunday morning and we do what’s called a walkthrough. So we’ll have the service director, and he or she will have printed off the planning center order of service.

Alex Mills: Yep.

Brady Shearer: And basically he or she will then walk us through exactly what’s about to happen in a Sunday morning. So, they’ll say like, “Okay, five minute countdowns going to hit at this time on the clock. Brady you’re going to come out on stage with two minutes left on the countdown. You want to welcome any guests, make sure you acknowledge the online viewers, and then at one minute Brady’s going to walk off the stage. Worship team you walk on.”

And so, literally like step by step we are going through every single part order of service just talking through it. And here what I’ll often do, ’cause I’ve already prepared my announcements but nobody else has heard them, is I’ll kind of ask questions and be like, “Okay, so we’re doing this backpack giveaway. I was a little unclear, are we doing this or this?” And I’ll just make sure that all the details that I have in mind are correct, and so that I can flow in my hosting portion of service well.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: So, that’s the walkthrough portion.

Alex Mills: One might call this the talk through walkthrough.

Brady Shearer: The talk through walkthrough, that’s exactly what you could say.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: From there we graduate to what we call the run through.

Alex Mills: Nice.

Brady Shearer: And we’re not purposely naming these ridiculous things. The run through though is where we do a service from beginning to end with nobody in the auditorium, no one in the sanctuary, but we do it as if it was a full regular service.

Alex Mills: So you’re singing every song, you’re doing all your transitions, you’re doing everything?

Brady Shearer: Exactly. And we have three services on a Sunday morning, this is like our fourth hidden secret service.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: And it really allows us to go through everything and make sure that what we’ve talked through, and theoretically are preparing ourselves to do actually will then be doable.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: And so, we put on the five minute countdown. I come out at two minutes and I do my hosting introduction. Then the worship team comes out, they do every single song that they’re going to do in service. And then I walk out, we work on the transition from worship to hosting, I do announcements, I do giving, I transition into the message series, pastor walks out, we do that transition. And then the only part about a run through that’s different from an actual service is that the pastor won’t deliver their full 20, 30, 40 minute message.

Alex Mills: Of course.

Brady Shearer: Basically they’ll do their bullet points, they’ll make sure that they’re on the same page as those in the production booth. Slide comes up here, okay video needs to be triggered at this point. And then that’s the run through. And then the third and final thing that I really, really appreciate and what we do at my church, and this is specific to our lead pastor Bill who speaks three out of every four weekends, is that every single Sunday morning during our walkthrough, our run through, before that first service at 9:00 am begins he is asking questions, and purposefully eliciting feedback on his upcoming message. He’ll say, “Okay, I’m speaking about this and I’m going to use this story, or this analogy, or this study to illustrate and hopefully drive home this part of the message. Does that make sense to you?” And look, Pastor Bill is a brilliant man.

Alex Mills: Pretty smart guy.

Brady Shearer: And he has been preparing for this message all week.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: He has done way more research, and way more prep work than any single person he’s asking for feedback from.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: But, we are still being invited into the process, because we’re hearing that content for the first time just as he knows the congregation is going to be hearing that content for the first time. And he’s asking, “Does that make sense? Is there anything that I should change?” And the great thing about this Alex also, is not only does it help him deliver a better message, but it also demonstrates ’cause he’s at the top of this organization.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: It demonstrates to everyone else, it doesn’t matter how prepared you are. It doesn’t matter how good you are at your specific role. It doesn’t matter how great of a drummer you are, how great of a talker you are, you can always get better. And so, him modeling that shows to the rest of us, “Hey, if you ever get criticism or feedback that’s what everyone gets.”

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: And so, it’s good. Use that to be better.

Alex Mills: Yeah, you know that demonstrates such a high degree of humility that Pastor Bill just kind of walks with, that’s just who he is. And like you said, when somebody in that kind of top leadership position emulates that attitude, that willingness to be wrong, or be corrected, or just kind of the content that he creates holding it with open hands instead of closed hands, that’s going to trickle down to every part of your leadership team. And just going to kind of create this new culture where it’s okay to be wrong so that we can learn and be better.

And that’s what’s so important about these service prep tips is that if you’re a church that does multiple services, you don’t want that first service to be the first time you’re doing all this stuff, and kind of treat those first service people as guinea pigs. And if you’re a church like mine where you only have one service, you only have one shot. And so, you don’t want to be learning after that service and then hope that you implement those changes next week. And so, to do this prep before the service, whether your church is doing one service, three, six, however many you’re doing, it’s just going to deliver a better experience to the people that are coming to church. And really help get rid of any barriers. You know what it’s like to be sitting in church and things are flowing really well, and then all of a sudden there’s like this awkward transition that obviously hasn’t been rehearsed. It’s like, you can actually disengage from what’s going on in that moment.

Brady Shearer: Yeah.

Alex Mills: And so, if we’re trying to facilitate an encounter with God for all these people who come to church, why not deal with all this stuff first before the service? Get rid of any of those barriers, and then lead them well when it’s time, when that countdown hits zero, when it’s time to go we can lead them well.

Brady Shearer: And look, maybe you’re not at a place as a church where you can get everyone who’s serving on a Sunday to do a full run through service, but maybe you can just implement this walkthrough, it only takes about five minutes. And you can just have a sheet in front of you, print it off maybe directly from planning center, and you can walkthrough those tricky transition moments that you know you’ve gotta get everyone on the same page about, otherwise they could be that thing that you said, stalls the momentum of the service. And that can make a big difference when it comes to the atmosphere that you’re trying to set on a Sunday morning.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: So, feel free to implement these. Doesn’t matter what size of church that you are, they can be helpful. The featured resource we wanted to highlight on this episode of Pro Church Tools is that, hey we’ve lowered the prices of nucleus by 50%.

Alex Mills: We have.

Brady Shearer: Nucleus is our church website builder that we’ve been working on for the last two years since we introduced it. And one the things that we’ve always wanted to do is take some of the profit that we’re earning, because Nucleus has been very successful, and return it back to churches. We’re not a publicly traded company, we’re bootstrapped which means we have no investors, or angel funding, which means we don’t have to answer to a board, we get to answer to our churches. So, the full announcement to that lower price and what it means for you if you’re already a user, or what it means for you if you’re thinking about Nucleus is linked in the show notes for this episode.

That’ll do it for this episode of Pro Church Tools, we’ll see you next time.

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