I know you TOTALLY asked for my opinion. And you know me, happy to oblige. I know some people couldn’t care less about the things I’m going to talk about but, darnit, they bug me!
If it is your church’s tradition to stand and sing all the children out of the sanctuary after the story for all ages? Then put an asterisk in the order of service and let people know that.
*After the Story For All Ages please rise as you are willing and able and join us as we sing the children out of the sanctuary with “Go Now In Peace” #413.
It’s SUPER easy. It makes you more welcoming to new folks who won’t be totally thrown off when suddenly everyone stands up and starts singing a song that is not printed anywhere in the order of service.
If it is the custom in your church that everyone stays seated after the benediction to allow time to reflect and meditate? That’s fabulous.
“Please rise now and join in singing hymn #347 Gather in Spirit after which we will have time for reflection and meditation before leaving the sanctuary.”
If your church does not stand until AFTER the pianist has played the hymn through once?
“We will first hear the music through once then please rise as you are able and join in singing hymn #1014 Standing on the Side of Love in your teal hymnal”
Your chalice lighting SAYS “unison” but it actually means “the minister reads everything but the last two lines?”
DON’T WRITE UNISON.
If there is a parish meeting scheduled for directly after the service? Don’t hold it LITERALLY directly following the service as in, not giving people the chance to leave the sanctuary. It’s really, really off putting to new people for them to awkwardly leave the sanctuary and have nowhere to go or nothing to do while the members have all been thrown from “worship service” into “meeting.”
Does everyone in the congregation just know that you are supposed to get your cups from the third cabinet from the left above the sink for coffee hour?
Appoint a bored looking kid to stand near the cups, holding a couple of them, and letting newer looking folks know where to get them. Additionally, tell the new folks where to put their cups after they are done. Or just laminate two signs, one that says “CLEAN MUGS!” and one that says “DIRTY MUGS.” Problem solved.
I’m not saying I’m any kind of an authority on running church. But seriously, do you know how monumentally awkward it is to hear “please rise as you are willing and able and join in singing Spirit of Life” to then rise and realize the rest of the congregation stays sitting until the song has been played through once? Or when, after the benediction, you stand up to leave and realize everyone is still sitting around in silence?
Or to be the only one sitting when the entire congregation suddenly stands up to sing the kids out while you are sitting there going “wait, WHAT?”
And, please, I’m so glad that you’ve found a system that works for the mugs during coffee hour! Just please, tell me what it is.
I don’t think a congregation should need an instruction manual to worship at their congregation. I don’t think that would be a good thing at all. I just think that if we want to be open to everyone, even to the really shy people who like to know what is going on, that some things could be explained a lot more.
One last thing. If the big, giant, prominent doors are not the ones that people are supposed to use to enter your church? PUT A SIGN ON THEM OR SOMETHING. I know it’s second nature to every single person in your congregation that you actually enter through the awkward side door that looks like it was last painted in 1904 and you have to turn the handle like a combination lock to get it to open, but it’s not exactly obvious to people who have never been there before. This is where bored looking children can come in useful again.
(I have no idea if those are the right hymn numbers. I usually have a pretty good memory, but I don’t have SLT in front of me)