Feature

Sending Forth

Litanies for Commissioning a Mission Team

Use these two short worship litanies to build a bridge connecting your congregation to youth or adults who go out to serve on mission trips. Both litanies can be easily inserted into your church’s regular worship service. The first is designed to commission the group before it leaves on its trip. The second is designed to welcome them back. Read through these litanies carefully and adapt them as necessary to reflect the focus and tasks of your particular mission trip.

The following is the third of a three-part series based on a transcript of a lecture given by Dr. N.T. Wright at Calvin College on January 6, 2007. (Parts 1 and 2 of this lecture can be found in RW 89 and 90.) Much of this lecture is based on Dr. Wright’s previous writings, particularly the book Simply Christian (New York: HarperCollins, 2006). We are grateful to Dr. Wright for allowing us to share this lecture with our readers.

Music and weddings go together hand in hand—in fact, music gives voice to the celebration in ways no other medium can! While the church considers weddings to be private family events, the gathered guests, who function as the congregation, can and should have opportunity to praise God joyously, pray for the bride and groom’s new life together, and encourage them with Scripture. Much of this can happen in song!

Praise him with the sound of the trumpet:
praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance:
praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals:
praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
—Psalm 150:3-5, KJV

Symbols of the Atonement

Five Images for Confession and Assurance

One ordinary Sunday morning, I sat in my pew praying customary words of confession and hearing familiar words of assurance. My pastor announced, as he did every Sunday, “God assures us with these words of pardon . . .” But at that moment, the words surprised me. Immediately, I turned to my wife and whispered excitedly, “Pardon! That’s an image of the atonement!”

In addition to teaching and praise, the psalms can be a great resource for prayer. Those appointed by Year B of the Revised Common Lectionary lend themselves particularly well to that. What follows are examples of the psalms for Year B used as building blocks for prayers of the people for Lenten Sundays.

The Wild Olive Tree

An Interactive Visual Metaphor for Lent/Easter

Every time our worship planning team faces another major season of the church year, the same nagging worry creeps into the back of our minds: Can we come up with any new creative ideas for this season? You’ve probably been there too (which is why you’re cruising this periodical for ideas, right?).

Every year I stick to my guns and assure the team that all we need to do is open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit, listen with curiosity to the pastor’s ideas for the next sermon or series, and be faithful in collaboration.

A Music Director's Dilemma

Practical Advice for Working with Instrumentalists

Here’s the typical music director’s dilemma: you want to use instrumentalists in the service because that adds a unique dimension to your worship, but you also know there’s a wide range of ability among your willing volunteers; many, if not all, are amateurs.

How can you select repertoire that honors their capabilities and helps them reach their full potential in using their gifts to serve the Lord? Here’s some practical advice for doing just that.