One of the greatest things I learned while a pastoral intern at Redeemer Church of Dubai and through my attendance at a 9Marks Weekender was the tool of service review during staff meetings in the days immediately following the worship gathering. I benefited greatly from the safe space for criticism and encouragement to be offered so that we could think more deeply about the things we do as a church and grow in faithfulness to our calling.
Of course, I admit that it is possible for service review to be unhelpful. Its helpfulness is entirely in relation to its aim, and in relation to the earnestness of those involved to be honest, humble, and to actually take to heart and grow as a result of what is learned in the review. It is also possible for service review to merely become technical, about aesthetics. But when the right questions are honestly asked with right aims, it becomes a wonderful tool for growth and encouragement.
The big questions with service review should be: How can we grow in or persevere in faithfulness to our calling as a church? Is what we are doing building up the body of Christ? Is the whole church being considered? Are we clearly communicating and keeping central the matter of first importance – the good news of Jesus Christ?
As we aimed to use service review in this manner, I found it to be so helpful for myself. Most often I see this utilized among staff or elders at churches, but if you are at a small church with little or no staff, like I was at Immanuel, I encourage you to include members of the church who are willing to give feedback.
In fact, in my last months at Immanuel, I developed a service review form that elders received and then at random I would hand one or two out to others members and ask them if they would please help me serve the church better by filling it out after the service.
Below is an image of the form I developed and found helpful which follows the different elements of our weekly service. Whether you use this or something else, I do encourage greatly that you create a time and space for encouragement and admonishment.
Final Note: If you are a church member and your feedback is not often invited, I encourage you to make a point to lovingly share encouragements with those who were involved in the service, point out things specifically that were helpful to you. In the context of affirmation, also feel free to ask questions about something that was done that perhaps could have been done better. But remember, accountability like this should go both ways – make a point to approach your elders often with the question “How can I better love and serve the body right now”? And if you serve in some public way, such as music, prayer, or Scripture reading you take the initiative and ask “What should I keep doing and in what ways can I keep growing?
Hint: In the from below, encouragement of something to continue doing is “Keep Doing” and an admonishment for growth is notated by “Keep growing”. Remember to be specific. Vagueness doesn’t usually help or encourage.