“The Practices and Agreements of Impactful Service Programming” with Elizabeth Lincoln

From The Drive Conference 2022 at North Point in Atlanta:

Programming and executing impactful weekly adult worship services is challenging!

Guiding Principles and Agreements:

Agreement 1 – We will value preparation because preparation communicates value.

Excellence: The number of iterations over time of an idea from its conception to execution.

We never want our effort to get in the way of the message.

Don’t use the short time between services or central services or the senior pastor as an excuse.

Execution trumps the idea. If execution falters then the idea has to be even better!

Ideas are just one part of the process. Every part of the process between idea to execution helps make it even better.

Agreement 2 – We will master the rules so we can break them on purpose.

Working hard to make something more relevant is important.

Understand the rules and master the rules in order to gain

“Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.” – Picasso

“To break the rules you must first master them.” – Audemars Piguet

Fight the urge to making something mine vs. making something better.

Micro-moments can be powerful! Don’t miss these opportunities.

Build trust by knocking small things out of the park to get the green light to do big things. Work really hard and celebrate the things you can do in order to gain more freedom to do more.
Do what you can. Celebrate it like crazy!

“This is a great idea, but it’s too big for us right now. Let’s add it to a list of big ideas that one day we will be able to pull off.”

Agreement 3 – We will be intentional about gaining and maintaining the trust of our audience.

Intentionality, consistency, and excellence

allows us to create

Appealing, engaging, and helpful experiences

so that

We gain and maintain trust with our audience

so that

The audience is compelled to come back and invite others.

Agreement 4 – We set aside our personal preferences and prioritize the one-question evaluation or the audience’s experience.

One Question Evaluation – “Would our staff be proud to have invited an unchurched friend, neighbor, or family member?”

This is not the same as “Would our staff like the experience?”

Agreement 5 – We will use creativity to solve problems for our audience, not ourselves.

Creativity can naturally be self-indulgent so this agreement fights against that.

The end goal of art is self-expression. The end goal of design is to solve a problem.

We are trying to break down walls so that people can connect with God and others.

“What do people need right now?” – North Point Creative Team
“People need to hope and people need to laugh.” – Tony Morgan

Service programming is not art, it’s design. The end goal of service programming is not self-expression, it’s to solve a problem for your audience, your lead pastor, or your community.

We need to be more sensitive to the weight of what the lead pastor is carrying in the service.

It is a vulnerable thing to be on stage. Remember that about all who stand on stage.

Agreement 6 – Everything will fight against our commitment to the unchurched, but we will fight for it.

The natural gravitational pull at a church is to focus on the insider.

“We are not a church for the unchurched. We are a church, and we want unchurched people to feel comfortable coming here.”

“We plan as if they have never been here, but we treat them like they already belong.”

The power of the invitation goes beyond a particular Sunday being someone’s first visit.

The invitation is about the invitee and the inviter.

Every Sunday is someone’s first Sunday.

We need to be aware that someone took a risk to invite someone and the person they invited took a risk to come.

Agreement 7 – We will value preparation because preparation communicates value.

To reach Boomers and GenXers, we needed cultural relevance delivered with excellence.
They were asking: “Are you better at this than me?”

To reach Millenials and GenZers, we need to maintain cultural relevance and excellence while adding emotional relevance delivered with authenticity.
They are asking: “I don’t care if you are better at this than me. Are you like me?”

Cultural relevance and excellence may be easier to define than emotional relevance and authenticity.

Emotional relevance involves demonstrating an understanding of how people are feeling about the world, themselves, and the church.

Authenticity for these generations may be more about relatability than integrity, although both are important.

We need both excellence and authenticity!
The younger generations cannot imagine a world that is not authentic.
The older generations cannot imagine a world that is not trying for excellence.
We don’t want the production to get in the way of the personal story.

We will have more impact, the more of these we include.

The clearer I can be as a leader, the better I will be to protect my team from wasting time and energy.


These agreements are not meant to be prescriptive; rather, they are meant to illustrate how a framework can help you program services with consistency and impact.

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