by Chuck Lawless

I’ve been in churches where the way a worship service ends almost overshadows the rest of the service, especially when the ending is awkward, disconnected, or repetitive. Here are some ways to consider if you want to vary your service endings:

  1. Pray a blessing over the congregation. Prayers and blessings straight from the scripture (e.g., Num 6:24-26, Gal 1:3, Eph 1:16-21) work well for this task. If you show the words on a screen and allow participants to hear them and read them, you increase their application.
  2. Offer one specific challenge based on the preached Word that week. I trust you do this in your preaching, but folks are more inclined to remember what they hear last. Quickly but clearly offer a final challenge (e.g., “meet one neighbor this week, and ask how you might pray for him or her”).
  3. Pray specifically that the enemy will not snatch the Word away from the listeners before they get to their cars. He will try (Mark 4:14). Sometimes we help him, I think, when we move so quickly from the Word to announcements that we have very little time to let the Word sink in.
  4. Using materials from Joshua Project, briefly introduce an unreached people group for whom the church might pray the rest of the week. Show a picture of the people. Tell about their religion. Turn your congregation’s attention outward as they go.
  5. Just read the Word, with no commentary or explanation. Read texts like Psalm 150, Philippians 4:1, Revelation 21:1-4, and lead your congregation to simply let the Word settle in their heart.
  6. Share the Lord’s Supper together. More evangelical churches are taking the meal more regularly, and that’s a good move. When you do it, though, make sure you explain it well and emphasize it clearly. This meal is both reflective and celebratory; don’t weaken it by following it with something less significant.
  7. Sing a song of praise together. Make sure it’s a singable song – one the congregation will readily join and will remember throughout the week. Let the neighborhood around the church building hear your singing.
  8. Leave with a time of meditative silence. This one is not easy to do, but it can be powerful when everyone quietly leaves with his or her attention turned to Him. Even a few minutes of silence might be new for some members.
  9. Show a brief recorded testimony of a church member. Why not end a worship service with a story of the power and grace of our God who is so worthy of worship?
  10. Lead the church to pray by name for friends, family members, co-workers, and fellow students who need Jesus. God meets us in worship, and He expects us to lead others to worship Him as well. End the service by inviting God to burden your church for your community.

What other ideas would you add?

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This article originally appeared at Reprinted with permission.