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Content about Public worship -- Planning

March 1, 2009

We are excited to introduce Bob Langlois to you in this issue. Bob has extensive experience in the world of technology, particularly as it relates to churches. We hope you’ll be inspired to send in specific questions for Bob to answer—whether you’re considering investing in new equipment, trying to solve a thorny techno-problem, or just want to discover the best way to use what you have. —JB

December 1, 2007

Good Friday is a day of confrontation, a day when the forces of hatred and evil tried their best, or rather, their worst, to destroy Jesus. This is no “warm fuzzy” worship service. Instead it dramatically challenges participants to experience the reality of Christ’s crucifixion through all five senses, so the significance of Christ’s sacrifice is not only understood but felt. Here we acknowledge the ugliness of sin and our own participation, through our sins, in Christ’s death. We are there when they crucify our Lord.

September 4, 2005

A year ago, I received a brochure inviting me to the Calvin Symposium of Worship, 2005. Even though the dates precluded my attendance, I could not put down the striking booklet, full of black and white pictures of hands: clapping, praying, welcoming, signing hands—hands performing on musical instruments, in drama and painting. The photographer beautifully depicted hands not only engaged in communal worship but also in preparation for worship, across generational and cultural divides.

June 4, 2005
2/12 Afternoon Ruminations . . .

LOFT has felt so flat these past weeks, and I’m not sure what that’s about. But God is good: today Nord and I talked about his work helping students to have healthy devotional lives, and how that’s a prerequisite for healthy weekly worship. Then I found this quote while digging around some old sermon files: “We can do all sorts of things to try to generate vigor in our worship, but if we do not have fire for the Lord on Wednesday afternoon, how can we on Sunday morning?”

June 4, 2005

What does it take to become intentional about intergenerational worship?

The first step is to take an objective look at your congregation. You probably have a good idea of the balance of age groups in your congregation and how well each is represented in worship. But you might be surprised at what you can learn if you ask some of the following questions.

Who worships at our church?

March 5, 2005

Norma de Waal Malefyt (norma.malefyt@calvin.edu) and Howard Vanderwell (howard.vanderwell@calvin.edu) are Resource Development Specialists at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. This article is adapted from their new book (see box) based on many years of fruitful collaboration as senior pastor and music director at Hillcrest Christian Reformed Church, Hudsonville, Michigan.

December 4, 2004
Introduction

These excerpts from my LOFT notes indicate that sometimes the synergy promised by team-based worship planning goes unrealized. On the other hand, there are times when efficiency isn’t necessarily a virtue—when a little team-based diversity of opinion might be welcome.

December 4, 2004

The adventurous pilgrim in search of true wisdom will brave harsh clime and harrowing climb to question the mountaintop guru about the meaning of life. Modern pilgrims in search of worship-related wisdom need only brave slow Internet connections. The era of the point-and-click expert is here, via the World Wide Web. Of course, not all experts are equally helpful or equally wise. What follows, then, is a report of three helpful worship guru websites I’ve discovered on my electronic travels.

Robert Webber
March 4, 2004

The Worship Sourcebook stands in a long tradition of worship books in the Christian church. The biblical Psalms may well have functioned as a prayer book for the people of Israel. Some of the earliest Christians compiled their advice about forms and patterns of worship into church order documents, the first of which, the Didache, dates back perhaps into the first century a.d. Over time, especially in the early medieval period, these documents grew very complex, with detailed instructions about every aspect of worship.

September 2, 2003
2/16—Sunday Night after LOFT

Something’s been bugging me the last few LOFTs. Couldn’t put my finger on it before, but now I think I know what it is. It’s God’s voice. I could hardly hear it. Noticed its absence particularly after our prayer of confession tonight. We sang a Kyrie but there was no assurance of pardon after. There was a song about grace, but I’m not sure anyone understood the connection between the two. There was no clear absolution of guilt. No declaration of emancipation. No welcome home.

June 1, 2002
1/7 Pre-planning

Brian just called with his text and theme for this Sunday’s LOFT. Matt. 6:33—“First Things First.”

March 2, 2002
4/10 Working Group

After another dreadfully distracting prayer at chapel today (of the earnestly meandering sort), we talked about how wonderful it would be if everyone who leads worship on campus—in whatever capacity—could receive some rudimentary worship training. Not a seminar, not even a workshop—just some basics about speaking and singing, and a basic theology of worship too.

December 1, 2001
4/10 Planning Meeting

The team helped me make sense of the cryptic note I’d made on our order of worship for last year’s service: “Too big, too fast.” They remembered how the beginning especially felt like forced celebration. All those “Alleluia”s and “He is risen”s and a long set of exuberant songs to start things up. But the night was cloudy and dreary, and the team was tuckered out from helping to lead the “pull out the stops” services in their home churches that morning.

August 31, 2001
11/27

Neal just e-mailed his topic for Sunday’s service. Texts are Genesis 1, John 1, and Ecclesiastes 3—“A Time to Be Silent.” Says there’s a rhythm between silence and speaking, a rhythm as old as creation, seen in the Incarnation. In the fullness of time, God finally speaks the Word into the world.

Makes sense to use silence in the service. The trick will be how to make the silence as lively and participatory as the singing.

May 31, 2001

When I began working at the LOFT, the worship staff at the college agreed on a worthy goal: to embrace with both arms, and to lift up with both hands, the practice of singing the Psalms—a challenging task in a very contemporary setting. These are notes from a number of different Sundays recording the variety of ways we have tried to use the prayer book of God’s people in our worship.

10/14 Post Rehearsal
March 1, 2001
9/27 Advance Planning for Next Month

That “testimony” service is coming up soon. Part of me knows it’s a good thing, yet another part of me is nervous. Just about anything could happen if we just open things up for students to come forward and talk. Like open mike night at improv. How worshipful is that? I still remember an Easter service at an Episcopal church where a fellow stood up and droned on and on about El Salvador or something until the pastor finally cut him off. Ouch!

May 31, 2000

Sermons on praise in the narrow sense (Ps. 95) and on worship in all of life (Rom. 12) are immensely important to preach. But suppose that you want to preach about the worship service, the liturgy, the event of gathering in Jesus’ name (for more on these three meanings of the term worship see p. 46). Perhaps worship has become a source of conflict in your congregation. Perhaps you want to deepen the congregation’s experience of common worship. To preach about worship, what text would you preach? Where in Scripture would you look?

March 1, 1999

Moving through the parts of a worship service has become more complex in recent years, particularly for churches that do not follow the same order of worship every Sunday. Also, using a variety of worship leaders calls for taking even greater care that the congregation be led in a way that helps them do what they have come to do: encounter the living God. Part of the task of a worship leader is to help the congregation move from one action to the next, to help them know what is coming and why it is coming.

March 1, 1999
Q. I’ve been working hard on worship planning, but no one seems to notice.
March 1, 1999

This article is excerpted from a new booklet on planning worship in the popular So You’ve Been Asked To . . . series (see inside back cover for more information).

So You’ve Been Asked to . . . Plan a Worship Service includes sections on The Role of the Worship Planner, The Planning Process, Patterns for Efficient Planning, Long-Term Goals, Questions, and Resources.

August 31, 1998

This article is adapted from an address Witvliet gave at the inauguration of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.

Most of us probably read Reformed Worship for practical ideas. We want to find resources, songs, texts, scripts, and images that we can use in our congregations—preferably by next week.

December 1, 1997

This past year was one of the most invigorating enjoyable, and exhausting years I have spent for a long time. In the March 1997 issue (RW 43:2) T wrote that I was on a partial study leave to deal with a number of questions:

August 31, 1997

One of my strongest memories, of growing up is the tradition we and many others used to share of coffee time after church on Sunday morning. Mom would always bake a cake on Saturday, and Dad would often invite visitors at church to come over for coffee, perhaps to stay for dinner. As a matter of course, one of the topics of conversation was the sermon we had just heard. I cut my theological teeth on those conversations, while listening to the adults wonder about this point or that emphasis or that interpretation.

August 31, 1997

Quiz time! Without digging out that old bulletin, what did your pastor preach on last Sunday morning?

Not a clue? You're in good company. You belong to the ninety-and-nine percent of the Coro's sheep who don't remember either.

May 31, 1997

John D. Witvliet has been appointed assistant professor of worship and music at Calvin College and adjunct professor of worship at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Two future articles will explore the way in which lament can function in the ebb and flow of weekly worship, apart from times of crisis.