Book: Getting ready for Sunday: A Practical Guide for Worship Planning

Martin Thielen. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1989. 239 pages.
Reviewed by Ruth Hofman, a student at Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

There is something tragic about stagnant worship. Worship should laud the worth of God, thrill over his majesty, bow before his mercy, embrace his Word, enfold his beloved, and reach out to his creatures. This weekly celebration is so critical in the life of believers that through inatten-tiveness to careful planning, worship leaders run the risk of not bringing worshipers into the presence of God.

Assuming we, ministers and other worship leaders, already know this and deeply desire to prepare meaningful worship, we may lament that we do not have the time we wish to put into designing weekly orders of worship. A busy pastor himself, Thielen suggests that we work with the organist/music director or a small worship committee.

Thielen uses a basic formula for worship, placing the Scripture readings and hymns under the appropriate elements of worship (call, invocation, praise, intercession, teaching, etc.) and centering them around the day's theme (selected from the liturgical calendar or suggested by the pastor's message). His most creative work comes in the orders of service that follow headings from Scripture or hymn texts. For example, from Isaiah 6:1-8, Thielen arranges the following order of service:

A Time for Praise: " I Saw the Lord, High and Lifted Up"
Hymn of Praise
Concerns of the Church

A Time for Confession: "Woe is Me! For I Am Unclean"
Prayer of Confession
Affirmation of Forgiveness

A Time for Hearing God's Word: "Then I Heard the Voice of the Lord"
Scripture Reading or Litany from Scripture

A Time for Commitment: "Here Am II Send Me"
Hymn for Dedication

The strength of this book is its immediate usability. One could buy the book on Tuesday and have a service ready for the bulletin by Wednesday. Thielen has written many orders of service like the above example that stand ready for worship planners to use, inserting hymns, readings, and prayers of their choice. He also offers several written calls to worship, prayers of invocation or confession, and litanies of praise or dedication. His examples also provide a framework around which worship planners can write original services to suit their situation.

It is evident that Thielen has researched Old Testament, New Testament Jewish, and Early Church worship. The reader can be confident, therefore, that the author's suggestions are rooted in Scripture, church history, and Christian practice.

Ruth Hofman is an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church.


Reformed Worship 19 © March 1991, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.