Because they care so much about your place of worship, your members can sometimes be picky about how things get done. To make matters worse, they often don’t agree with each other. For example, one recent survey asked people from various churches for their pet peeves about their worship leader. The responses were all over the map, and some directly contradicted others!
We are unlikely to solve the worship leader conundrum anytime soon, but some church member pet peeves do have merit. As church leaders, it’s important to consider your members’ frustrations and, when possible, solve the issues underlying them. Let’s look at a small selection of common pet peeves that can be easily remedied.
The “Welcome Time”
Called the welcome time, the handshake time, or a handful of similar names, many places of worship kick things off by having the leader encourage the congregation to greet those around them. While welcoming visitors and increasing fellowship are good goals, this may not be the best way to do it. Thom Ranier suggests it’s time for this practice to end.
First, how much real and deep interaction, other than a handshake and a hello, can really be had in this short amount of time? Second, consider the often overlooked introverts. While they may not say so out loud, certain members of your congregation may find this interaction uncomfortable — or even scary.
Third (and this is especially relevant during flu season), mass-handshaking is a tremendous opportunity for the spread of germs. Do the pros of this “welcome time” outweigh its many cons? See if you can come up with more constructive ways to make visitors feel welcome and build fellowship.
Speakers’ Distracting (and Fixable) Bad Habits
We all know that public speaking is hard. But those who make a living (in part) speaking in front of crowds multiple times a week need to hone this skill. Some things are outside your control: if you have a squeaky, nasal voice, you can’t just turn a switch and become a resonant baritone. But some speakers have bad habits that are quite fixable.
It may be a favored and overused verbal clutter (for example: saying “ya know” 50 times per sermon), or a worship leader who bellows out of tune. Transitions that are either abrupt or painfully long fall into this category as well. If a speaker at your church has a (fixable) bad habit that’s distracting the congregation, take that person aside and lovingly inform them so they can work to correct it.
Using Bizarre Terminology
American Christianity has developed some strange terms that can be very confusing for visitors. For one example, take the idea of a “love offering.” To someone who has never heard the phrase before — and may not even be familiar with church giving in general — “having a love offering” might sound really sketchy. Why not instead explain it in terms the public will understand?
The same goes for the names of various programs and classes your church may offer. F.O.C.U.S. Gatherings and THRIVE Saturdays may be catchy names, but without further explanation, only your church’s “insiders” know what’s going on.
We can’t get rid of every potentially confusing term, of course, but we can do a better job of explaining or defining these terms for our guests. Always remember that you might have a visitor who is completely new to all things church-related. Speak in such a way that they can follow along and not feel like even more of an outsider.
Limited Options for Church Giving
Many people these days are accustomed to using their mobile devices to pay for just about everything in their lives. But many of these people are still stuck “in the dark ages” each week when it comes to church giving. Are you missing out on contributions from members who reach for their wallets and find only methods of payment you’re not equipped to accept?
Being forced to change routine in order to give to the church certainly qualifies as a pet peeve. Fortunately, it’s easy to solve. New technologies make implementing more convenient solutions, like mobile and online church giving, incredibly simple. By adding these methods to your options, you can easily resolve a major pet peeve for some of your members while not disrupting the routine of those who are content with their traditions.