Are Sunday worship services working?
This is the question I’d like to explore over a series of newsletter messages.
This is part 4.
Last week I discussed the crucial need for church services to stimulate friendship.
If we are not connecting our hearts together as a community, the doctrines and programs of the Church will not have the power to connect to each individual heart in the group.
Typically when friendship and connection is needed in our wards or organizations, we default to irregular activities or maybe even silly get-to-know you activities.
I’m not saying these efforts aren’t effective, but most friendships are created organically in very subtle ways, and there are simple ways leaders can stimulate these connections.
The ways of doing this are unlimited, but let me share with you a handful of ideas to get your wheels turning.
The administration of the sacrament is definitely the most important time spent at church, but a close second are the transition times at the beginning and end of meetings.
These include before sacrament, between 1st and 2nd hour, and the end of church.
Anything an individual can do to stimulate connection during these times goes a long way.
This may include making sure you connect with one individual before you find your seat for Relief Society.
It might be introducing two individuals who have similar interests.
See the value in this transition time, and let it breathe if you need to.
Starting elders quorum late isn’t a problem if people are connecting.
Tell Their Stories
If I was ever an elders quorum president again, I would prioritize the telling of individuals’ stories in the quorum.
I think many would agree, especially after the positive feedback I received related to the podcast episode, Why Your Ward Needs a Podcast.
You could do this via a simple podcast feed or by taking time (15-20 minutes) at the beginning of each Relief Society or elders quorum meeting.
This isn’t a quick get-to-know-you session: this is about asking questions that dig deep into their life journey and faith development.
It may lead to them sharing heartache they have experienced in life or huge successes that have helped their heart come alive.
No matter how you do it, when you create the space in the appropriate containers to share authentic stories, it naturally binds hearts together and lays the foundation for effective gospel learning.
Mini Activities > Big Activities
When it comes to community building, we typically default to larger activities like the annual chili cook-off, the Christmas dinner, or the elders quorum pizza party.
These are great but are too complicated and too expensive to plan on a regular basis.
One idea with which I have found success within a ward is stimulating mini activities in the private homes of members of your ward.
This might look like asking one family to invite two other families over for a simple ice cream night at their home.
The connection that can be made over ice cream in an individual’s home is beyond effective in creating friendships.
I could go on and on.
The point is it would help us improve our Sunday worship experience by shifting the attention spent on activities, reducing the time during church spent on gospel instruction, and considering ways to invest in the connection of the community, or friendship.
By building that community foundation, we will then be better prepared to help individuals build a foundation on Jesus Christ.
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