What do you do when your service sucked?


We make sure everything looks great on our social media posts. The room looks full. The stage looks amazing. The people look like they are having a blast. But lets be honest. Every message isnt epic. Every gathering isn't packed. Every service isn't amazing. Sometimes the worship was flat, the message was off, people are bored, and something that sounded great in a creative meeting, just didn't work. 

You probably can't tell it by my Instagram photos, but I've had more, "that was horrible" moments in ministry than I care to remember. So after 25 years of great services, good services, and "what in the world world" just happened services. I thought I would talk about the 10 things we do when our service sucked. 

1. Remind ourself of the "win".

Every time we have a service that is subpar, we get together as a team and remind ourself of why we do services in the first place. We gather together on a weekly basis to "Bring people to Jesus and help them live like Him".  In order to do this our services need to be "remarkable" and "life altering". Our worship and message needs to be so good, powerful, or thought provoking that people will leave not only remarking to friends about what they experienced but most importantly begin to change the way they live. 

2. Be honest.

When we gather together as a team we have to trust each other enough to be completely honest about what happened. Nothing will change without an open and honest discussion about what we did that was not remarkable and life altering. 

3. Celebrate the wins. 

Some things did not work, but some things did. We don't want to focus only on the losses of the day. We want to take some time to celebrate the wins. Maybe someone came to the church that had not attended in a long time, accepted Jesus as their Savior, or starting serving behind the scenes. These are huge wins. They might not change the fact that our message was flat, but they did build momentum in some way and they deserve to be celebrated. 

4. Fix at least one thing before the next service. 

Some things that go wrong are going to take some time to get right. But most weeks can be fixed with small tweaks. We don't ever want to procrastinate, we want to be proactive. So we fix at least one thing before our next gathering. 

A few years ago we had an exceptionally bad weekend. The worship was flat. The message was subpar. The attendance was down and our offering was low. So I text a ministry friend to see if he had any advice on how to bounce back from a tough weekend. The following three points are some tips that he gave me. We have applied them ever since.  

5. Realize it wasn't as bad as you thought. 

Because we are so invested in what we do, we look at it way more critically than others. Sometimes we are much tougher on ourselves than we should be. When the service is off a bit, we want to be honest about it but also realize it probably wasn't as bad as it seemed. 

6. Know that one bad service will not kill you. 

Jesus said that he will build His church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. If Hell itself will not stop the Kingdom of God, I doubt that bad song selection in one church service will stop God from redeeming the world. One bad service will not kill us. 

7. Keep your head up. 

Don't pout. Don't sulk. Don't put your head down. We are leaders. We can't lead anyone anywhere with our head down. We need to keep our head up and lead our church, lead our people, and lead our team. 

Making Jesus known to the world is the most important work taking place on planet earth. Because of that ... 

8. Don't Quit. 

Don't quit striving for excellence. Jesus deserves your best. Your people deserve your best. Don't have a "poor me" mentality and quit when times get tough. 

9. Do better next time. 

Regroup. Be honest. Fix problems. Do better next time. It's just simple. 

10. Remember it's never about us. 

It's not about our guitar solo. It's not about our funny story. It's not about our chance to shine on stage. The reason for gathering together is to bring people to Jesus and help them begin to live like Him.  When we have a bad service, we need to remember it's not and never will be been us.  

I hope this has helped. Now go do something great this week for Jesus!

If you want to get more practical advice for you and your entire team check out Youth Ministry University