First of all, I would like to say thanks to all of those who lead in our services and Bible classes. It is a great testimony to this church to have such a large number of men and women who serve in such a variety of ways. As I watch you lead, I see great sincerity and thoughtfulness in the things you do and say. With this is mind, I would like to make some simple observations and suggestions for all of those who lead in our services. Some will be reminders of things you have known and some may be things you have never really thought about.
For Those Teaching Bible Class: Remember first of all that it is a Bible class, so the Bible must be the focus of what you are doing. It's easy to allow the class to get sidetracked by "chasing rabbits" and it is your job to control that. Good classes are usually balanced between the giving of information and learning how it impacts our lives, so try to get both accomplished in your class. Make sure the class progresses. Some classes move like a car stuck in the mud. This can be discouraging to the students and is not effective. There is no standard for how much to cover in a class, but you should cover something. I remember a class on Romans where stayed in one chapter for a couple of months. That's really too slow. Some teachers are more prone to lecture while others spend the whole time in discussion. You have to teach in the way that fits you, but some combination of both seems to work best.
For Those Leading Singing: You do not have to be a perfect singer or even the best singer at church to be a good and effective song leader. Your goal is lead people in worshipping God, don't lose sight of that. When you announce your number, it is helpful to say it at least twice and probably three times. You can also say it different ways. Like, "Number 134... Number 1-3-4." Also, announcing the name helps ensure we are all looking at the same page. Give everyone a chance to find the song before you start singing. Try to sing out and keep the pace moving. Think about the nature of the songs you are singing ahead of time. Are they scriptural? Sadly, not all of the songs in a songbook are. Do they teach and admonish people? Again, it is sad but there may be songs that are not good because they spend a lot of time saying nothing at all. Also, make sure if the song depends on people coming in and filling out the parts that there are enough people present to do that. Finally, preachers appreciate a song that is very encouraging and uplifting to be sung before the sermon. For instance, "Send the Light" is much preferred in that situation over "We Are Going Down The Valley One By One" (a song about dying).
For Those Leading Prayers: Remember that you are leading people in prayer. Your prayer then becomes the prayer of everyone else who is present. Avoid phrases and thoughts that you know people have problems with, making sure that it is something to which everyone can say "Amen." Public prayer is not a time to preach a sermon or to re-preach the sermon just finished. It is also not a time to correct or rebuke others, whether it is a person or a group of people. This type of prayer carries the nauseating stench of self righteous pride (like the Pharisee who prayed next to the tax collector). Keeping in mind that you are leading people in prayer, be considerate about the length of the prayer. While we all should be able to stay focused on the prayer, no matter how long it is, not all are able to do this. Some have short attention spans and some are wrestling with children (some are doing both). This can leave people discouraged and filled with guilt because of the wandering of their minds during the prayer.
For Those Serving The Lord's Supper: If you are handling the bread or the cup, try to know that ahead of time and put some thoughts into what you will say or read. Remember, the bread represents the body of Christ, His death on the cross, and the cup represents His blood, the blood of the new covenant. Try to make sure your thoughts and scriptures reflect that. As you are serving people, be aware of what is going on around you. If someone has some disability or is wrestling with a young child, they may need more assistance than normal. Don't forget, you are observing the Lord's Supper too. Don't get so caught up in serving that you don't reflect on the meaning yourself.
For Those Giving Talks And Sermons: Remember, you are teaching people God's word. This is an amazing opportunity, but a sobering challenge. If your lesson is not focused on the scriptures, using the scriptures, then it probably doesn't belong in the public worship of the church. Have a clear idea before you get up about what you want people to take home from your lesson. In other words, ask yourself: "The object of this lesson is for every study to..." (TOOTLIFEST). A talk should be kept short. Five to eight minutes is the maximum. A sermon is meant to be longer, but still should fall within the time constraints (hello kettle, my name is pot). This is a challenge, but can be accomplished. Remember, you don't have to tell people everyone you know about a subject or use every scripture in the Bible on that subject. Challenge people with the word of God. Be sure to give an invitation. If you can, tie it into your lesson so that it flows.
For Those Making Closing Remarks: Keep your comments short. This is not a time to re-preach the sermon or start a new one. Services are supposed to be closing and the remarks should show that. Be positive and encouraging. The service could be very uplifting, but if your comments are discouraging people are likely to leave with that tone on their hearts. This is a good time to remind members of any upcoming events and special prayer requests. Keep it short and call on the one leading us in prayer.