Earl Creps wrote a great article for Monday Morning Insight about the X factor in worship services. He writes, I get a strange sensation with unnerving regularity when visiting Sunday morning worship services around the country. Sometimes it hits me right away, and other times I realize it’s happening only afterwards, when the pastor takes me for lunch and over chips and salsa asks, “so what did you think, what could we improve?” What I’m feeling could be described most clearly if I were to answer the pastor’s “what can we improve” question with one simple word: everything. What is this X factor that seems to be missing in churches that are struggling?
Here is the response that I posted:
It is true that there is an X factor in church worship services. This is where worship services become more of an art than a science. The X factor that we strive for is much more artistic than it is scientific. Meaning, I do not think that we can boil it down to an exact formula.
There is the “spiritual factor” which refers to the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit.
There is the “relational factor” which refers to the love and friendship (partnership?) between the people present.
There is a “missional/contextual factor” which refers to the relatability of music, language and the aesthetic of the service. Are there cultural barriers in a worship service that drain the X factor?
There is a “leadership factor” which refers to the worship leader and pastor ability to lead people in worship. There is a difference between leading “songs” / preaching sermons and leading people into a time of deep encounter with Jesus.
There is a “flow factor” which refers to the worship planning process that places worship elements together in way that causes worship to flow uninterrupted. This also includes thinking through transitions and creative elements of the worship service.
There is the “suck-a-bility factor” which refers to the musicians and preachers. Are they mildly talented and having a bad day or are they just crummy musicians? Does the pastor have a spiritual gift of teaching or exhortation or are they just really nice guys who have no public speaking ability?
There is the “superstar factor” which refers to the charisma of the pastor and worship leader. I have found that this increases with the brightness of their teeth! So if we can all get bleech white teeth like Chris Tomlin then our superstar factor rises! Insert laughter here 🙂
There is the “enthusiasm factor” which refers to the energy level of the people in the worship service. Charles Finney talked about preaching to “sinners” at certain times when it feels like “pulling a freight train uphill.” Haven’t will all experienced services where the congregation is just not engaging, because they are tired or distracted?
(I added two factors after posting to the original artical on MMI)
There are some factors that make worship services better than others, but I can’t say they are the X factor. Maybe the X factor is a combination of these things???
What do you think? What is the X factor in the worship services that you attend?