December 2002

RW 66
Reformed Worship issue cover

Articles in this issue:

  • From time to time all of us who plan worship need some new ideas and triggers that will spark our creativity. Using handbells in worship can be such a spark. I like to think of bells as a seasoning to the “meat and potatoes” of the liturgy. Used with discretion, bells can be an outstanding asset to engage the congregation’s senses in worship.

  • Directing a children’s choir offers several opportunities to teach children what worship is and what it means to worship. As choir directors, our primary tool for teaching children about worship is the music that we sing. This article will focus on how the music we choose can be a teaching tool for children to understand worship—and at the same time, how it can help them lead the whole congregation in worship.

  • Most Sundays when I go to worship, I feel like 80 percent of me stays in the car in the parking lot and the other 20 percent actually makes it through the front door and into the pew.” I’ve never forgotten that comment because it points to a deep truth about the character of worship: In worship we are invited to bring our entire being, together with the community of faith, into the presence of the Lord.

  • Q   We’re hiring a new worship director.  Do you have any advice about how to set up a job description?

    —New Jersey

    A    Based on learning from a number of congregations that we have heard from at the Worship Institute, I would recommend thinking about three things that churches sometimes miss:

  • Every Sunday, and especially on the great festival days of the Christian year, preachers and worship planners search for ways to tell the old, old story in fresh new ways. On the other hand, many congregations cherish longstanding traditions such as a Christmas Eve candlelight service or an Easter sunrise service. Those services may include a few of the same elements year after year.

  • For dozens of generations, hymns have been the mainstay of worship music. Christians have praised with them, prayed with them . . . and played with them. Good pastoral musicians have always played around with hymn arrangements, seeking creative expression and the best liturgical effect. And of course, texts and tunes are made to mix and match.

  • Winter can sap the life out of anyone. The forlorn landscape causes hearts to contract, shrinking inward until it’s safe to come out again. Broken branches, shriveled foliage, and rasping dry winds—all discourage any hope of life, either in plants or in our own dispirited hearts.