Why Do You Have a Church Service?


Discover the importance of understanding the "why" behind church services and how shifting focus to purpose and transformation can revitalize your church community.

Have you ever been in the middle of preaching or speaking and discovered your mind is wondering a bit? 

It’s a terrifying feeling! Like driving a car and not remembering the past 10 minutes.  

I was recently preaching at a church and had this experience. My mind didn’t wander too far, but I found myself thinking about the larger church while preaching to this one church. 

The Worst Question to Ask

My message that Sunday was primarily about motivations and the heart behind our behavior. I’ll save you the entire outline (you can watch the message here if interested). 

The idea was simple: The church in Ephesus started so strong, but for some reason, they “lost their first love.” I began writing the content several months before I preached and realized I was asking the wrong question. I kept wondering, “What happened?” And while that’s a fine question, the better question is: 

“Why did it happen?” 

“Why” is a motivation question. “Why” is a question that cuts right to the heart. 

In Ephesus, the church started strong, continued doing well for a while, then quit. During this middle space, their behavior looked right, but their heart wasn’t in it. They “lost their first love” because they lost their why. 

Your Church’s “Why” 

So back to my daydream. As I taught this idea that Sunday, I had this thought: 

“Why do churches have church services?” 

Cutting to the heart and investigating the real motivations, why church? 

I suspect many churches would say, if honest, because this is what we do. Churches host services. Why? Because that’s what we do. 

It’s like a model becoming the mission. You’ve heard of that (or seen that), right? When a church’s methods become more important than the mission, maintaining the approach becomes more important than the outcome or success of the mission. The mission is the model. 

I think this is happening in a lot of churches. 

I believe too many churches are hosting church services because it’s what they’ve always done and it’s what they think they should do. 

But why? Why are you hosting services? Why are you singing that number of songs? Why is your order of service your order of service? Why did you say what you said? Why did you preach what you preached? 

What’s the “why” behind the what?” 

Always Come Back to Why

Simon Sinek wrote the book “Start with Why.” It’s a great read.

He’s right. We should start with why. But we should also continually come back to our why, too.

I’m guessing every church started with a relatively clear why. All the same, the why under the what has been lost on too many of us.

How can you tell if you’ve lost your why? Here are a few indications or red flags:

1. You’re hosting church services weekly because “that’s what churches do.”

2. Your church service is nearly identical week in and week out, you’ve lost your why.

3. You struggle to find any stories of life change.

4. You feel bored with your church.

5. It feels like there is no momentum in your church.

6. New people aren’t attending the church?

7. Engagement metrics (group participation, giving, volunteering) are declining.

8. You sense that your church could disappear and not be missed.

Jesus Was in the Movement Business

Jesus and Peter’s famous exchange couldn’t have been more straightforward or movement-oriented. “And on this rock, I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus intended a moment, not a church service. Jesus described and prescribed a mission, not a pew. When the Apostle Paul wrote his church letters, he didn’t seem passionate about services. Paul was fueled by life change and the pursuit of Jesus.

What is your church doing this weekend? And WHY are you doing it?

Don’t allow yourself, staff, or volunteers to simply host a service. Let’s commit to launching a movement every single day we’ve been given.