June 2009

RW 92
THEME: Faith Formation
Reformed Worship issue cover

Articles in this issue:

  • Even Google knows about David and Goliath. Enter “five smooth stones” and “sling” in the search box and you’ll get thousands of websites about the well-known Bible story. Many explain the story as a tale of courage, which is how you may have learned it in Sunday school.
    Sermons posted online ask listeners to name their personal Goliaths: things like cheating, using drugs, or problems as giant as AIDS and poverty.
    Preachers describe David’s five smooth stones as the ammunition we need to face impossible odds.

  • Soul shaping takes time. Some people go to church a few times hoping for a dramatic encounter with God and an entirely new life—in six weeks! That does happen occasionally. As Jesus said, “The wind blows wherever it pleases,” a metaphor he immediately applied to the Spirit (John 3:8). But instant transformation is not the typical pattern. What with our own obtuseness and tendency to suffer from bad worship and all, most of us require years of churchgoing before showing improvements.

  • Faith Formation

    Congregations have always been charged with forming the faith of their members. Regardless of how well your church currently handles this important task, it is helpful to learn from the best practices of others. Of course, it would be difficult and probably unwise for any single church to try to do all of the ideas presented here. We hope you’ll use them to spark discussion and creativity in your own congregation.

  • OK, I’ll admit it. I’m not especially fond of those plaques with large decorative words, usually in capital letters made out of wood, that command us to PRAY or BELIEVE or IMAGINE. I’m not sure why. Probably because they are so popular. Or maybe I just wish they said EAT or SKIP or SLEEP instead. Who knows!

    Having said that, I’ll also admit that the design of these baptism and profession of faith mementos comes dangerously close to those wooden words. I justify their use because these are events that should be shouted out.

  • In early September, many churches begin a new season of church education classes and a host of other programs with a special “kick-off” worship service. Most often these services focus on a theme of dedication, and there never seems to be enough songs with words like “Take My Life and Let It Be.” While this is a strong theme, it can also focus a lot of attention on the enormous outpouring of busyness the new year promises.

  • By Faith

    © 2008 Tom S. Long. Permission is granted for churches to use this script in nonprofit settings. For all other uses please contact Friends of the Groom, fog@fuse.net, 909 Center St., Milford, OH 45150; (513) 831-2859.

  • This service is full of worshiper participation, including lay readers, instrumentalists, lots of congregational singing, and the opportunity for congregants to write their own prayers of thanksgiving. Each bulletin includes one or two slips of paper printed with the words “I am thankful for . . .” Worshipers are invited to complete the sentence. These slips are gathered as a second offering, organized to avoid too much duplication, and then brought to the pastor, who incorporates them into the congregational prayer.

  • The sermon ends and the organist launches into the “sermon hymn.” In many congregations this is where the service begins winding down. But at Eliot Presbyterian Church in Lowell, Massachusetts, the sermon hymn signals a worship practice that people look forward to all week.

    As the congregation sings, several people move forward to sit in the front pew. Others join them. Two by two, they talk quietly and then pray together—with eyes open or closed, heads bowed or not, hands folded or clasped.

  • Table Fellowship

    For the last fifteen years LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church has welcomed children to the Lord’s table by means of a Table Fellowship liturgy.