At least for that time they lead and love the Sunday gathering, your MC should have the authority to make the calls they think need to be made… cut a song, do an extra prayer, cut and ad, change the song order mid-service, even tell the preacher they’ll need to rush through their talk (although I imagine something would have had to have gone seriously wrong for that – but the principle still holds).
See, if you’re going to hold them responsible for the meeting being an encouragement to those there, you need to give them the reigns. From 10mins before the meeting starts to the moment the meeting ends, for everything to do with the meeting, the MC should have the right to make the call he thinks is best. Even if the Pastor thinks its the wrong call at the time, that’s usually something that can be discussed later.
They say the TV camera puts on 10pounds… As thin as you might look in person, it never gets fully captured on TV.
Being out-the-front at church does something similar… But not to your weight (no one would care anyway… Right!?). Rather, being out-the-front makes you slightly more uninteresting, slightly more boring, slightly more one-dimensional.
Partly it’s just the room and the dynamics of trying to hold the attention of 100 people. They all have their own little voice going on inside their head, their own little mind buzzing on their own things. It’s not a face-to-face conversation, and it’s socially acceptable to pay less attention.
The good thing is, unlike TV, being out-the-front can work fine as long as you invest 10% more energy into speaking than you would face-to-face. It needs to be slightly louder, slightly more vibrant, slightly more exciting… Not to be more vibrant or exciting, just to be normal.
Don’t you love the person who can just read the mood in a room? Whether its a small group, a big church meeting, a special event, or just in a social setting.
This is what a great MC will do… they’ll speak into the feel of the room. A sermon might have left a solemn mood, or a song might have ended on a high. A (spiritually) gifted MC will see/feel that… they won’t ruin it, they won’t make a clunky change of gears. Their tone of voice, their words, their mannerisms will match.
Going one step further, a gifted MC with added skills will pick that mood, and then push it one way or another, to help people in the room move on.
Churches seems to have such a quandary about saying no to advertising things out the front. Its hard when someone runs up to you and says they need, really really need to you advertise their thing today!!! When the reality is that, if you said yes to everyone, you’d have no time for bible, singing or sermon. There’s just so much that goes on that legitimate church stuff, let alone the other things. I’ve had one guy come up to me 5 mins before a meeting and insist they get up and invite people to join their soccer team!
So, rather than just avoiding those people so they can’t ask you, have a clear basis for why you advertise things… here’s ours (courtesy of our brilliant Magnification Pastor – that means he cares more about making meetings good environments for hearing and responding to God – Pete Witt).
Only things that tick all three boxes:
- They affect a huge number of people (at least over half)
- They are significantly urgent
- They are closely aligned to your visions and values as a church.
If it hits all three, go for it. It’s worth advertising.
Don’t pretend you don’t know what’s going on. Don’t make out like that interview answer surprised you. Don’t act like you’re being spontaneous when you’ve planned it all out.
First, because unless you’re a trained, seasoned actor… You suck at it. It’s SOOO obvious that your pretending… It’s embarrassing. Embarrassing for you, and for your audience.
Second, why are you doing it at all? Before you ask me why you shouldn’t do it, I’d really like to hear you explain why you think the best way to communicate something (which you obviously think is very important) is by pretending its so unimportant that you didn’t plan what your going to say?
You see, the method of communication communicates MORE than the content of the communication. By acting like you’ve made it up on the spot, you’re communicating that it’s not very important to you, and thus it shouldn’t be important to me.
At one level, this shouldn’t be a hard question… surely you design your meetings for the people who are meeting with you.
So, since the meeting is for everyone – especially Christians (see the last post) – you have to think about the different types of people in the room, and there’s really only two types of people: people who are not Christians who need to hear the gospel, and people who are Christians who need to hear the gospel.
So proclaim the gospel. Proclaim it in the welcome, in the songs, in the reading, in the sermon, in the prayers, in the invitation to hang around for supper. Christian or not, they need to hear it and be reminded of it.
But, since the gospel is the power to save from God’s eternal wrath, there’s a right priority to make the most of the opportunity afforded by the non-Christian in the room. Don’t do everything for them, but don’t ignore them as though they’re not meant to be there… they are meant to be there! They just don’t know it yet.
Your normal voice is the voice you use in normal situations… and preaching/mcing is not a normal situation. It’s a very strange situation. You’re infront of hundreds of people. How would you speak if you didn’t have a microphone? Loud? Overly animated? Slower? Yes! That’s your normal voice… for that situation.
So why have a microphone? A microphone now gives you more ranges, volumes, options. Now the situation is: In front of a large crowd, with a microphone. So speak as the situation requires.
Speaking out the front requires more animated, energised vocals and attitude. The microphone doesn’t amplify your personality, just your sound waves.
We used to say, “Dress slightly more dressed-up than the average person in your church.” One of the main reasons was because we didn’t want people to think, “hmmm, this is too casual to be ‘church’ – it’s meant to be formal and reflective – but he’s dressed like a slob.”
But really – who’s gonna’ think that? Probably the type of person who’s going to find fault with EVERYTHING!
But what happened to your visitor when they come in for the first time and see the person up the from looking more dressy than they are? Chances are it’s another thing for them to (wrongly) feel judged about.
Why try to appease the 5% by dressing up when the same action could be off-putting to the 50%?!?
Dress just below the average “dress level” and see how it makes people feel comfortable to see Jesus as part of their whole life – trakidacks and all.
Every Christian in that room is a “convert”.
They may not be your convert (but who cares). They may have converted years ago (but again.. so what?!). They may have converted as a child in a family that never knew a day when they weren’t a convert (praise Jesus!). But they are all converts. Every soul in that room is someone who God, my the majesty of his Holy Spirit has chosen before the beginning of time to drag into his love in Christ.
We need to keep preaching the gospel to ourselves and remember this, so that we don’t loose heart. So that we don’t fall into the trap of thinking that God saves this nice bunch of people because they turn up every few weeks or so.
Rather, we need to remind ourselves, and our congregations, “If God saved me, the wretch I am, he can save others.”
…learning how to NOT speak, and being comfortable with the silence.
Whether you’re training MCs, band leaders, prayers or preachers, if they’re not able to cope with not-speaking, they’re going to try and fill all the gaps. And when you’re trying to fill gaps, you’re not thinking about what you’re saying, you’re just thinking, “ahh, I need to fill this gap!!” And that’s when you do one of two things; either you speak for too long about nothing things and bore people (imagine the band leader who starts their song intro, but doesn’t quite stop). Or you say something silly, wrong, hurtful or heretical.
The solution is silence.
Tell your band leaders, “This week, show me that you can NOT speak, and then we’ll move onto speaking next week.”
Just because it’s short or brief DOESN’T mean its “token”. Just because a conversation goes for 5mins, doesn’t mean it’s “token”.
Token describes an assumed attitude. You might be making it “token” by the fact you don’t really care. It’s your attitude that’s token – and that shows in your action.
But if you do think something is valuable, worthwhile, important, etc. it doesn’t matter how much time you give to it; either brief or long.
Something can be important and at the same time, brief. And all without being “token”.
Sometimes sermons don’t hit the spot, they don’t resonate, they don’t touch a nerve, they don’t point to our sin and Jesus’ grace, etc…
So make sure the gospel is in your meetings.
Use the gospel to explain why you meet. Use the gospel to explain why you pray. Use the gospel to shape your songs, and the welcome, and the farewell, and the interviews. Just a sentence here and a mention there. Wrap Jesus into and through everything.
And one step further; shape the whole meeting on the gospel. Start with the good God who we’ve rebelled against, hear his word — that he initiated for our sake — respond to his word in prayer and songs. Encourage each other to live in line with the gracious calling we’ve received.
And not just Sunday meetings; youth group, Growth Groups, special events, 121s, etc…