June 2004

RW 72
THEME: Worship in Difficult Times
Reformed Worship issue cover

Articles in this issue:

  • One church is dealing with a major conflict between the pastor and the elders. Another is struggling to keep together factions that have polarized over changes in worship. A third is reeling from the sudden suspension of its pastor. A fourth is grieving over the tragic death of a child. A fifth is facing the loss of a large portion of its membership; yet another is adjusting to the consolidation of a smaller congregation into its midst.

  • Soon after September 11, 2001, I received requests from various congregations throughout the United States for permission to sing from “A Congregational Lament” in worship services. They needed a song to fit the evil besetting them. They wanted to mourn the terrible loss of life and to cry out to God for the Lord to lessen their pain somehow in what seemed so brutally destructive. As believers they wanted to sing a sad song of faith that did not pretend in Stoic fashion to take on the chin whatever happens.

  • In the summer of 2003, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship studied the use of video technology in worship in West Michigan. Over 900 churches in Kent and Ottawa counties were surveyed, with a 36% response rate. The following summary includes the key survey questions, a summary of the response, and some additional questions for considering your own media program.

  • This service was prepared as a pastoral response to a series of deaths, illnesses, and other traumatic events suffered by our congregation over a short period of time. The lights of the sanctuary were dimmed. A table was set up in front of the pulpit and draped with purple and black cloth. The pulpit Bible served as centerpiece, surrounded by approximately fifty (unlit) votive candles in clear glass containers. A cross was set up in a front corner of the sanctuary with a small table draped in purple in front of it. A Christ candle was lit on this table.

  • t is difficult to imagine worship without music. Indeed, for too many worshipers the music is the worship. As congregations are working to make their worship more accessible to a wider range of people and more expressive of the voices of young and old, traditional and contemporary, modern and post-modern worshipers, the greatest struggles and most obvious changes often have to do with music.

  • Maranatha! Praise Band with Angela Dean and Bobby Brock. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003. $27.99.

    Like many resources for churches doing “contemporary worship,” this collection (a book plus a VHS video or a DVD) focuses primarily on the technical aspects of leading a congregation with guitars, drums, mics, monitor speakers, and so on.

  • When words fail us, whether in times of joy or sorrow, it is often the words penned by another that help us give voice to our soul’s prayer. Maybe the written prayer expresses our thoughts so profoundly we use the same text, or maybe it helps free our own tongue to form a new prayer. But where do we find those prayers? There are many great prayer books, but another readily accessible source is the Internet. Many good sites provide prayers and other worship resources free for use in congregational worship.

  • Sara Singleton. Carol Stream, Ill.: Oasis Audio, 2002. 14-page booklet and 4 CDs. $29.99.

    Producer Sara Singleton has assembled an “audio sanctuary” that clearly reverences the Scriptures, warmly embraces the prayers and spiritual disciplines of past generations of believers, and, through vocal and instrumental selections, encourages the listener to savor the truth of the gospel and sweetness of close communion with the Savior.