John D. Witvliet

John D. Witvliet ( is director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Articles by this author:

  • Confronting Constraints


    I love RW, but I attend a congregation with minimal resources, minimal talent, and minimal openness to creativity. It is my congregation and I don’t want to leave. But my frustration is growing. How can I manage the gap between my ideals and reality? Is there anything I can do to help expand our vision?


  • Serious Joy in Lenten Obedience


    Thinking about Lent again makes me feel a bit fatigued, especially when I think about all the energy required to defend and promote all the disciplines of obedience that are so important during Lent. Our congregation resists all of that “spiritual protein.” How can I overcome my congregation’s resistance?


  • On ‘Tired,’ ‘Clueless,’ and ‘Impressive’ Advent Services

    Q  After twelve years of planning worship, Advent is starting to feel a bit tired to me—we seem to fall back on the same texts and songs. How can we freshen up our approach?

  • Ten Reasons Why Hymnals Have a Future

    The function of hymnals in the life of the church has changed dramatically over the past thirty years. Many congregations rarely use them. Thousands of Christians seldom, if ever, open one. When people hear of the publication of Lift Up Your Hearts (LUYH), it’s natural for some of them to ask, “Why would you ever want to publish another hymnal?”

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  • Virtual Lord's Supper

    Q:Are there ever instances in which it could be appropriate for people to celebrate the Lord’s Supper using a video feed over the Internet, especially for small rural churches in northern Canada that are separated by miles yet served by only one pastor? Could that be considered a real celebration of the Lord’s Supper?

  • Connecting With God’s Big Story

    Q: Sometimes I worry that the kids I teach don’t see how the Bible fits together. How can I help them get “the big picture”?

    Several recent books have lamented that while many people know some Bible stories, they really don’t have a sense of “The Big Overarching Story” of God’s mission in the world. Some people wonder whether worship reinforces this problem by jumping around from one part of the Bible to another.

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  • "City-Positive" Worship and 24/7 Discipleship

    Q: We recently welcomed a visitor with limited church background who loved our music and was open to our preaching, but said that she felt our church had a negative view of our city. We are scratching our heads about what to make of this.

  • Welcoming Children to the Table

    Q: How can we publicly welcome children who are ready to participate in the Lord’s Supper for the first time without putting too much pressure on very shy children?

    A: Churches are wise to find ways to publically celebrate this milestone moment in children’s lives. Here are a few suggestions from a variety of congregations for doing so in age-appropriate ways:

  • What I learned on Sabbatical

    Eleven Things to Celebrate, Ponder, or Lament

    Over the past fifteen months, it has been my joy to worship with more than forty congregations from twenty different denominations as part of our family’s sabbatical in southern California. It would take a book to unpack all the things we experienced. For now, here is a brief report on eleven things that we noticed—some to celebrate, some to ponder, some to lament.