At the start of a new year, as a pew-sitter, I have a few wishes for the church leaders I know and love:

1. Banish the “stand and greet your neighbor” time in the worship service. I know your intentions are good, but it’s forced, fruitless and goofy.

2. Forget everything they taught you about three-point sermons. You’re wildly successful if you can get across one point. Just one point. Then sit down.

3. Get out and spend time with real people. Schedule lunches at your members’ workplaces and schools. Listen. Get a feel for how real people live.

4. Encourage regular evaluation. Use comment cards. Ask us what we remember from last week’s sermon. Then take us seriously, and adjust.

5. Crank down the volume of the band. Allow us to actually hear the voices of the flock.

6. Burn the fill-in-the-blank sermon guides. They’re insulting, distracting and ineffective. (Can you imagine Jesus using them? Let’s see, “Feed my _______.”)

7. Show hospitality. Encourage people to enjoy a cup of coffee—during the service.

8. Let us participate. Entertain our questions—during the service. Let the real people around us tell how God is working in their lives.

9. Relax. Make some real friends. Spend more time with your family. Don’t schedule every evening with church meetings.

10. Get rid of the pews. Really.

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