A few weeks ago, a guy in the front row winced during a speech I was making during a wedding rehearsal dinner. I had been asked by my in-laws to help emcee their youngest daughter’s rehearsal dinner, to help make sure that there weren’t any long pauses when no one was making toasts and to keep any ramblers from going on and on. So I told the crowd what would happen if that went on too long during their toast. I forget my exact words, but I think they were something like,
“If you start to ramble and lose your way during the speech, I’m either going to slowly come up beside you, put my arm around you and thank you for speaking in the middle of whatever sentence you’re in or I’m going to stand up and start clapping as a signal that it’s go time.”
I was the hook man, that was my job and apparently a guy in the front row was not a fan. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him wince painfully and tightly wrap his fingers around the handle of his steak knife for what I can only assume was for stabbing purposes at that point.
OK that last part was an exaggeration, the crowd that night certainly wasn’t that tough and looking back on it, they were pretty easy to work with. They pale in comparison to the toughest crowd of all – the early church service crowd.
This is the crowd who hours before much of mankind is awake, has decided to get showered, dressed, and ready for church. It’s 8:30AM, they’re sitting quietly in rows with a blank stare on their face and an early morning glaze on their eyes.
I know all about that crowd because my wife and I attend the first service at North Point Community Church and one of my favorite things about doing that is seeing how the announcements guy or worship leader tries a “wake up” technique. There are several good ones to pick from:
5 techniques to wake up an early morning crowd:
1. Tell us we’re better than the other services.
Go on, butter us up. Tell us, “I love the early morning crowd. First service worships the loudest and is so engaged in the experience.” Create a sense of competition between us and those heathens waking up at 10 to go to church. They’re so lazy! We’re so not! I can feel the adrenaline of team unity surging through me right now. Success, I’m awake!
2. Remind us we’ve had coffee.
Sometimes we just need to be reminded that there’s coffee coursing through our veins right this very second. When you say, “Good morning, everyone ready to worship? Everyone had their morning coffee and ready to make a loud noise?” It helps us remember that there might still be a cup right in front of us on the floor. We should take a sip. Right now, we should do that. Thanks for the subliminal coffee cup message.
3. Pretend morning is God’s favorite time too.
Quote a verse from Psalms about God being a big fan of mornings and that will make us feel 14% better about how tired we are. Say, “There’s something about a sunrise that helps me remember God’s love for us, something about the stillness of an early morn that brings God to mind.” Try Psalm 90:14, that one works like a charm.
4. Make us stretch or have an awkward conversation with a seat neighbor.
If you feel like we’re really dead, that there’s absolutely no energy in the room, you might have to get us to stand up and wave our arms around to get the blood flowing. If that doesn’t work, ask us to tell the person next to us what we did last night. Introverts will suddenly be filled with the adrenaline of nervousness and extroverts will suddenly be filled with the excitement of a chance to over share. Win, win.
5. Berate us.
This is a worst case scenario here. If you ran through all four attempts and we’re still doe eyed and slumbertastic, secretly hoping there will be a long period of quiet reflection during the service so that we can grab a quick cat nap, feel free to berate us a little. From a faith angle you can say, “We serve a big, loud God. You need to wake up and shout to the Lord!” From a competitive angle you can say, “Second service destroyed you guys last week as far as worship goes. Do you want that to happen again?” Or just make something crazy up and say, “Every time an early morning crowd doesn’t sing, an angel loses its wings.”
Hopefully the next time you go to an early morning service you’ll be so awake the church staff won’t have to use any of these five techniques. But if you’re not, if you find yourself slouching and sliding lower and lower into your seat as the service starts at least you won’t be surprised when the worship leader tells you the third service gets their worship on way better than you.
Have you ever experienced a “come on, wake up” technique at church?
Did I forget to add one to this list?