10 Worship Service Disruptors


Nostalgia can cause a congregation to romanticize, idealize and even embellish past worship practices to coerce present generations to perpetuate that past. The end result is worship that attempts to re-create divine moments, events or even seasons based almost completely on the emotions that were originally stirred.

The worship service Meet and Greet can cause anxiety sweats and heart palpitations for first time guests and congregational introverts. Some see it as shallow, contrived and intimidating. So what is intended to welcome can sometimes alienate.

Novelty can cause a congregation to over innovate, over stimulate and over imitate. Each Sunday then becomes an exercise in surpassing the creativity of the previous Sunday. So when excessive worship novelty occurs our focus is often on the creative instead of the creator.

Spectators attend or watch an event. They could be fans or foes depending on who is playing and what is being played. And it seems like they are in the game just because they are in the stands. But if worshipers are never more than bystanders while others do it all for them, then how can we expect them to transform from spectators into participators?

If we aren’t exhorting our congregations and modeling for them how to worship not only when we gather but also when we disperse; then we are leading worship as an event that occurs only when we gather in our building. Worship is a daily occurrence, not a weekly locale.

Worship traditionalism begins when we take a good thing (how we worship) and make it the only thing. Traditionalism has forgotten the foundational tenets of why we worship and landed on how we worship. Traditionalism always begins with what we prefer, what we’ve earned, what we like or what our past demands.

Cheerleaders generate spirit and rally enthusiasm. To motivate their congregations, worship leaders can sometimes display similar traits. But worship leaders are not cheerleaders. They can’t generate the Spirit of God through synchronized actions and song selections. Those actions might prompt, exhort, encourage or even prod more response but they can’t generate the revelation.

We are created in God’s image, not He in ours. We should, therefore, step into His story instead of expecting Him to step into ours. Our worship acknowledges a conversation that he started and invites us to join. So if we create worship just to accommodate our needs, then the god we worship looks a lot like us.

Little or no preparation is given to announcements that let the church know how to be the church when they leave. The result is a long-winded discourse of verbosity, clichés and detours that have little to do with worship. Maybe we should spend as much time praying over and rehearsing our worship service announcements as we spend praying over and rehearsing our songs.

We can sing certain songs or even styles of songs because of how they make us feel but never move beyond those feelings to worship. And if we don’t experience certain feelings because we don’t know or like the songs, we can leave the service believing worship didn’t occur. We don’t experience worship we experience God.


5 Responses to “10 Worship Service Disruptors”

  • David Manner Says:

    Great thoughts, Glenn. Dr. Constance Cherry calls it finding the voice of your congregation. Passing the Peace is a much richer connection than shaking hands and visiting about the weather.

  • Glenn Sharp Says:

    Certainly all items are worthy of note, and one should also keep in mind that they are both subjective and objective. As the salesman so brilliantly declared in the opening scene in THE MUSIC MAN…”Ya Gotta know the territory!” Know your congregation, know the history of OT and NT worship, appreciate the oldest to the youngest member, and realize that if a great many are not singing in a manner that shows connection to the content or style…we are failing.

    Concerning the Greeting Time…that goes back to knowing your congregation and our history. In the NT they called it “Passing of the Peace”, which many faith traditions still observe..”.Peace be with you and also with you” Call and response…handshake…brief embrace…eye contact…smile…etc. I think that’s we are all trying to accomplish. My two cents.


  • David Manner Says:


    Thanks for the reconnection and your commitment to smaller church ministry. Smaller churches are actually normal churches since 80% of churches nation wide are under 150 or so in worship. Glad your church has worked through some of those issues on the list. Some of those issues on the list are more difficult to overcome than others. Glad to hear your church is doing well with almost all of them. Sounds like a healthy congregation.

  • Leon Boss Says:

    Thank you for this article! I was doctorate student seven years ago at Liberty and I enjoyed the session you taught about justice. We’ve been able to avoid all the things you have mentioned except the welcome. We have a new pastor and the former pastor both believe it is important to welcome everyone. So I guess I’m stuck. I’m committed to staying in the small church and teaching the biblical pattern of authentic private and corporate worship.
    Again, thank you for your spiritual leadership.
    Have a blessed day!
    Leon Boss
    Minister of Worship/Executive Pastor
    Dutch Fork Baptist Church
    Irmo, SC

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