The closing of the sermon and the worship service…

…is one of the most important times for someone who has paid attention and might think about changing some habit or belief in response.

But, alas, I have heard the following closings to sermons:

* “That’s it. See you next week!”
* A prayer that reviews the sermon…..Amen….Guitar player gives some thoughts about the sermon, sometimes showing she was not listening….then starts a song.
* “Shake hands with three people on the way out!”
* “Let’s sing something — what shall we sing, Freddie?”

Years ago, many churches had a response song — often “Just As
I Am” (as in a Billy Graham service)…..and some invited people to
come to the front of the church room to show they wanted to
“Accept Christ as Savior” or respond to “how God had spoken to

Maybe in response to that, some went to the “alas” ways noted.

______Clearly a sermon is given to urge obedience and application to life.
______Clearly a pastor should think carefully about a response avenue.
______Consider the following:

Sermon (with practical obedience and application calls throughout)
Prayer by sermon person. Not a review of the sermon to God, who does not need a review….

A brief prayer++ of worship and appreciation to God for the main truth given…then giving people a private quiet moment to thank God for that gift, or to ask His help to obey and apply it…..(Many will actually pray that way…)

Then a moment of quiet prayer introduced by, “If you are not sure of this connection with Christ as Lord and Savior, ask God for help to go that way, and to be sure….(Quiet moment)…. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Then, to show the chosen response song is tied to the sermon, not a separate issue or a production number but a response-from-the-heart song, the speaker intros the song in two or three sentences….and asks, “Please stand” as short intro to song immediately starts…. And the speaker sings it also. Maybe even stays up front to sing along with the people, for he is responding also, and helping others to respond with thanks to God and obedient faith.

This also positions the pastor-speaker to give a meaningful benediction or blessing from the Word of God to tie together the whole worship service, followed by a sentence of care or sendoff.

++(To remember: I have watched a lot of closing prayers on video and “playback” where the praying pastor is straightening his notes and closing his Bible or moving his lectern out of the way, causing me and other cynical viewers to wonder if he is really praying :-). Of course you can pray while you drive or do something, but this is about leading the church and viewers in worship and response.)

Seems like the closing
of the service should be carefully
thought through and purposeful

Helping Staff Teams to Know and Understand Each Other Better Without Paying for Personality Tests!

The best exercise our staffs ever did to know and appreciate each other, and see God’s grace in action

“The Ten Most Important Decisions or Events in My Life”

Each staff member prepares the list, to be given and described in just seven minutes in front of all staff, just one at a time, early in a staff meeting.

(Does not include physical birth, which is assumed ☺ )

Okay, everyone will say he or she cannot do it in seven minutes, but stick to that, and allow three minutes for brief questions after.

➢ Very healthy exercise for people to go back through their lives and narrow down the most significant decisions or events, positive or negative, that affected them. And still do.

➢ Very healthy for their teammates to hear where they, the presenters, have been and see why they are the way they are.

> God always ends up getting a lot of credit

New Covenant Church

Pastoral Director of Seniors and Care

To plan and manage the pastoral care and general church ministries to and by the over-65 people to New Covenant, always in step with the direction of the pastor and to fulfill the overall implications of the church values and vision

Report to: the senior pastor, through regular verbal and paper reports
Time: an average of 8-12 hours per week
Compensation: _______ per month, with no benefits or extras; and with 10 weeks off each year (though still responsible for assigning special and regular needs those weeks


…Provide or assign pastoral care as needed for seniors when ill or in need

…Give vision and strategy to the ministry of the church to these people in general, related to care ministries but also outreach ministries toward the unchurched

…Represent the needs of these people to the pastor, proposing options for ministry


… Provide or assign pastoral care for the individuals in this group when they are in need (as defined by the pastor if ambiguous) — when unbelieving, sick, shut- in, hospitalized, or hurting from tragedies or death of a loved one; advise the pastor of needs.

…Lead the scheduling of senior socials for fellowship and edification and ministry to others; help organize them in line with policies and pastoral vision.

…Oversee with the pastor the Sunday and home community groups and teaching groups for this age. Perhaps host or teach one yourself. Appoint a group leader, a teacher or facilitator, a care captain, and a missions manager.

… If possible, lead or ask someone to lead a true small (4-7) discipleship group of all men or all women for this age group, meeting at least twice a month for personal growth, accountability, and ministry.

Expectations for a pastoral staff member

 In a church concerned for best ministry. What seems best for the ministry of the church, a fair return to the people who pray and give to make this possible, with committed love to the Lord Christ, head of the church

…in this for Christ and his church first, not self — a commitment that is obvious.
…practices a daily connection with the Lord and his Spirit, and this is apparent in attitudes, actions, witness, conflicts reactions.
…with a family committed to the same, if married. A “one-woman” man, if married.
…supportive of the team spirit of the staff and the pastoral leadership, and willing to take any concerns or criticisms to the appropriate person.

…willing to serve at least 50 hours in a normal work week, given that many lay people give 40-55 and more in their jobs, then add ministry time. Aware that many weeks it will be more than that.
…leads a true discipleship/accountability group of four to six other men (or women) that meets at least twice a month to study character and the church. (Talk about discipleship in general means little. Get a group going and reproduce it every two years,)
…reports to someone else on staff or to the senior pastor, on a regular basis and with true accountability for character, goals, workload, job description.
…contributes to the team and “school spirit” on staff, and is trustworthy.
…is willing to be evaluated regularly (annually in a formal way) for spirit on staff, work-ministry contribution, and love and service to people.
…willing to turn in a “master schedule” as an ideal allotment of time in an ideal week — shown to person he or she reports to on staff.
…shows concern and teamwork for any and all areas of church ministry rather than serving in a silo.
…willing to do “other things as assigned” when asked.
…seeks to expand/grow ministry areas rather than settle for status quo.
…committed to world and local missions and personal evangelism, no matter what personal assignment is.

…attends worship services and participates heartily.
…participates in staff meetings in a positive and contributing manner.
…supportive of the church in a financial way.
…prays regularly for the church.
…participates joyfully in any events leadership asks participation.
…invites outsiders to the church, even if the ministry is not his or her main area of ministry.
…shows love to people in any corner or ministry of the church, not just one’s own ministry areas.
…committed to and supportive of the statement of faith and vision and goals of the church.
Ideas that have worked well for church staff meetings

1. Eating together. Staff meetings that start with brown-bag lunches (okay, Mac or Burger) get people relaxing and talking and being a team.

2. Getting to know each other, A great way: Each person, only one each week, Gets seven minutes, give or take 10 seconds, to give a carefully planned list of “The Ten Biggest Events or Decisions of My Life.” (Not counting birth, which is too obvious.). When she or he is done, guaranteed teammates will understand why the person is the way they are. I went first as senior pastor, to model candor; everyone seemed honest, and it built the team.

3. Having each department take ten minutes and tell their best emphases at the present and any new hopes for the next six months. This is followed by questions and suggestions from the rest of staff, who go in on the plans because they are in the know.

4. Staying away from the boring calendar lists that dominate many staff meetings.

5. Praying together on Fridays just for Sunday services. The worship leader took thirty seconds to summarize the worship theme and I the same to summarize the sermon and its target. Everyone joined in to pray for Sundays, becoming co- owners.

6. Learning to pray together following the P-R-A-Y guide: Praise, where many do that with a one-sentence praise to God; Repent or confess, where the leader calls for a quiet personal time to search the heart, and then gives an assurance of forgiveness; then Ask is in groups of 3-5, and you pray for “something you are worried about,” and then someone near you backs it up with a support prayer. (This does do away with the all-too-normal long time for prayer requests and the very short time actually to pray!)

7. Fun events every three months at staff time — pickle ball tourney, volleyball, lunch together at a restaurant, a picnic outdoors, a lunch with another church staff, a tour of a museum, and the sort.

8. A careful weekly normal staff agenda that includes the above plus the input about Sundays (but not just that or the preaching pastor is the target every week!), a discussion about reaching new people — that should involve all the staff in a small or large church; and how staff are experiencing their required small discipleship-accountability group of five or six.

Plus a little bit of careful discussion about current events and world events and the changing landscape of morality and ethics. How do we pray? What do we say? What shows up in groups and in the pulpit.
Plus input on needs in areas of volunteerism, witness, good works in the city or village, and world missions.

Plus major care for people in crisis or need, with any staff of three or more in pastoral-people roles taking “horizontal pastoring” (ideas and discipleship and advisory for an adult age group).

9. SO…..
… Lunch and joy together
… Prayer of thanks for food and each other and especially grace of God … Song of worship if larger staff
… Current events we should all care about
…”Ten events or decisions that shaped my life”. (One at a time.) …Presentation by a department (Each does once a quarter.) …Sunday review and preview
…”Command performances” coming up — where all staff is needed …Appreciation for a recent particular
…People and pastoral needs and who will follow up
…”Senior moment” — theology or a challenge …P-R-A-Y to close. 60-75 minutes, same noon each week when possible.

The local church and “getting on the map”

We can easily assume that people driving by the church or even living nearby know who we are and why we are here and that we’re OK!

How do we help them consider that we might be a Good Place?

… Provide a ministry to needs of the community, meeting at a convenient time for the target person and lasting 70-80 minutes once or twice a month:

Mother’s Club — to provide excellent helps for the mother for the first time Single Moms — practical and workable ideas, and mutual support

“Celebrate Recovery” — guides from the national group for support groups for addictions, abused, special needs.

… Food bank — be a drop-off place for a local food bank.

… Sponsor a 5k or 10k race in the spring. Would need to get other sponsors and also get the police or sheriff department behind it for traffic help. Start and stop at the church building and have people at intersections.

… Rent a gymnasium to have a weekly “open gym” for basketball or volleyball or pickleball…..with good supervision and a five-minute devotional and referees.

… “Business Leaders’ Lunch” — a monthly lunch with an excellent speaker or subjects of interest to men and women….for networking and continuing education. Issues of industry and business, not Bible studies.

… “Open Breakfast” — a men’s or women’s early breakfast with a strong leader for people of the church to invite friends to go with them…..In a side room of a restaurant so can order off menu and have a 25-minute talk-study that is interesting to seekers. Not churchy or designed for strong believers. Timed so people can get to work by 8:00 am.

Cautions: Stay away from politics and controversial Christian issues….Avoid “Christian” talk and habits…. Put no one on the spot…

Ministry Assistant

A preliminary proposal for an administrative and ministry assistant in a church of 200-500

Report to: Pastor
Time: Four days a week,  five weeks off without pay at agreed-upon times;  two weeks with pay on top of that.
Wages:  ______ per month.    
Benefits: None are included.

General responsibilities

  • Manage the flow of work and recruit volunteers where possible for the weekly publications,  meetings,  and records of the church.
  • Keep the pastor’s schedule and assist him to be ready for meetings and boards and appointments.    Be responsible for printed agendas for any board or committee meetings where he has responsibility.
  • Be the “point person” on staff responsible for the ongoing areas of assimilation, building-use schedule,  volunteers, special events,  and women’s.
  • Work with the volunteers in these areas to help with with the vision of excellence for these ministries,  and to have them do much of the administrative work.
  • Keep our website up to date,  working with someone who manages the technical and the details.
  • Be responsible for the good record-keeping of the church.
  • Be responsible and give excellence to the communications systems of the church,  keeping and assuring a good mood of joy and grace in the telephone connections and a short weekly email to all the church.
  • Assist in any other ways as needed.
  • Generally bring good cheer and grace to any part of the church ministries and staff responsibilities.

Basic minimums for a worship service

You do not have to have Tim Keller or Craig Groeschel speak; neither do you need to have the finest auditorium, worship team, or coffee. But we still all can care for some basic minimums, and to do less may mean you are yawning at your main billboard for the church, your weekend worship service.

The least we can do starts at the parking lot:

…Clear directions from the parking lot, after the driver chooses a space left open for guests.
…Greeters at the door with a smile and readiness to help you find the nursery, restroom, coffee, or worship room.
…A service that starts when the big hand hits 12. Nothing sillier than a countdown to zero on the screen followed by a three-minute lull.
…A first song that most people know and can sing well.
…A joyful and warm welcome from up front.
…Just the right number of worship songs so that your legs do not quiver or your voice give out.
…A “modesty nazi” who checks what the singers wear so there are no distractions.
…Songs that are addressed to God and not just how you feel about yourself.
…A pastoral prayer that is not made up while guitar-strumming, and has some worship involved. I recommend the P-R-A-Y guide — Praise, Repent (or confess, in a quiet moment); Ask, a series of requests to our Lord; and Yield, to the theme of the day.
“Bridge prayers” are not acceptable, just to move people around on the stage.
…A sermon that gets your attention at the start, exposes what the Bible says, applies this to real life, and ends somewhere near the expected time. Pastors who say it does not matter how long you go are not aware why regulars do not invite guests.
… A brief explanation of how personal salvation with assurance relates to the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.
…A response song or prayer that gives you an opportunity to respond to the sermon applications.
…A way to find out more about the church or our Lord as you leave — a way that seems feasible.

FINANCE TEAM, local church

To give excellence to the setting and management of the finances and budget of the church ministries, including staff compensation and overall policies

PERSONNEL: A chairman from the main board, at least two or three others from that board; the chair of that board and the senior pastor ex-officio; one or two other adjunct members approved by the board and skilled in heart (love for Christ and the church) and hand (in financial matters.


  1. Propose the overall budget to the main board of the church after input from program staff through the staff leadership team; and after assessment of the trends and capabilities of the church and vision for the next year.
  2. Assess the methods of principles and procedures of all the financial management and recordings of the church.
  3. Assess and give careful detail-protection to each monthly report and make recommendations on it to the main board each month. Do the detail work on behalf of the board.
  4. Make policies about perks for staff, policies for reimbursements, and guidelines for financial arrangements with outside vendors or ministry people.


  • Set salaries for all staff according to the “steps for setting salaries in the church.”
  • Lead the annual review of the senior pastor before setting his annual salary and benefits without his being present.
  • Set salaries for senior staff with the input of the senior pastor.
  • Set a percentage increase or guideline for the senior leaders of staff to set the salaries or wages of others on church staff.

Missions policies and proposals for the local church

…Every local church will want a strong portion of its budget to go “outside the walls” of that church.

…It is prudent to count all offerings that are not for the maintenance and ministries of that church as their “outside the walls” or outreach ministries — local ministries, global ministries, benevolence, evangelism in its community and area, and “walk-ins” care. These are truly missions or evangelism efforts.

…The board of oversight, with the pastor in the lead, should the the lead in setting a goal for what percentage of the total budget should be for such outreach.

…Some churches like to make a difference between ministries that are pure evangelism or missions and those that are simply charity love.

…Some churches set goals of seeing missions giving be 10% of offerings of their total budget or offerings. A few exceptional churches have made the 50% goal for money going into missions. The norm is more like 15-25% of total offerings, with a few seeing 25-40% go this way.

… The pastors and boards of oversight, often called board of elders or “the board,” should set a goal and challenge the church to increase and designate their giving so they get there. (A few churches have just one fund for giving and the leaders designate how it is distributed,)

…Church leadership must decide how to direct funds if personal designation is not the practice, or how to publicize the needs if givers designate.

…Each Sunday and home group appoints a missions captain who helps that group keep in touch with and pray for and support one missionary and one local “mercy partner” that the church supports. This makes missions more than a “program” of the church, and helps the group pray for individuals.

…One Sunday each month can be designated as a time for a 2-4 minute update and prayer for one of the ministries or missionaries supported by the church.

…It is expedient to have two small appointed teams to promote missions, and care for and serve the ones supported — one for local ministries-missions and one for global. Often there is one committee for missions, and many of these think only of missions overseas as true missions endeavors — the “salt water doctrine” is the label given to that kind of thinking.

…Prayer at staff meetings for missions is essential.

… Church leadership must decide if people can designate giving for a specific missionary or ministry, or if they allow leadership to direct money given to missions to each specific ministry or missionary.

… Local missions will usually be lean in giving if people must mark their missions giving that way, as many think only of global (overseas) missions as real missions. One way around this, when people give to a general missions fund, is to decide that 21% or 31% or whatever will go to local.

…It seems healthy for a church to adopt three or four local ministries as their “mercy partners,” designating offerings from the local portion of the missions budget. This can also include an arrangement where the church promises a certain amount of support (and volunteer hours perhaps) every year and the church has, to help with guidance, one member of the board of that ministry. Obviously, that is in the case of generous support.

It would seem a prudent way to support an existing way to support a local ministry — rescue mission, food bank, pregnancy ministry, jail ministry — rather than starting a duplicate or “competing” ministry.