Relevance is in the eye and ear of the beholder. Put yourself in the place of various segments of your congregation to see how your worship service relates to them.
We typically go through life focused on ourselves, paying attention to what we find interesting. We leave what we find uninteresting. Worship services are no different. Unless worshippers feel or think the service is speaking to them, they will stop listening.
Here are seven ideas to help make your worship relevant:
1. Invite guest speakers. Don't get stuck in your church walls and denomination. Bring in speakers that offer fresh, new voices. It could be a United Methodist pastor, a clergyperson from another denomination or faith or a non-religious speaker who motivates and inspires.
2. Speak their language. During a service for youth, talk to them in the same way they talk to each other— texting. Imagine a worship service that incorporates texting. Have the service in the church building using audiovisual equipment or offer a "remote" worship experience where everyone prays together but isn't in the same location. This article shares tips on how to satiate the tech-savvy in a worship environment.
3. Connect to your community. If your town puts on a big annual festival or other community events, consider how to incorporate that into worship and service. Basic themes reflected in worship could be "many hands make light work" or "generational interaction." But think deeper—the possibilities are great. In addition, have your church community participate in the event by volunteering at a food booth or a carnival game. Learn how to host a service fair that draws the community and connects volunteers with humanitarian organizations and service projects.
4. Offer variety. Many churches already do this by having a variety of worship styles, from traditional to rock or folk music-infused. Talk to your congregation about what styles of worship they would like that you don't have. Survey Monkey offers a convenient way to do free e-mail or online surveys.
See how other well-attended churches in your area are making worship relevant.
5. Go beyond Sunday. Appreciate that some people work on Sundays or care for family and cannot be in a Sunday morning service. See how your ministries can expand worship beyond the one-day-a-week pattern. Caring for the caregiver is an article that explains how to support people who can't always make it to Sunday service.
6. Connect to topics of the day. If you can deliver your worship service, particularly your sermon, at any time, consider tailoring it to the time of an event of which you are speaking. How can you connect it with world, state and local events? Don't talk politics; talk themes and messages. Perhaps take something from the news that people may not have read or noticed.
7. Stream the service. Have someone record your traditional service (both sound and video, if possible) so you can reach the at-home audience. Recording allows people to worship in their own home in their own time. Also, seekers can "test drive" the pastor and sermon before attending! Post information at the end about how to get involved in the church or whom to contact for a ride to attend the next service. MyCom has more information on how to offer your sermons online here.