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June 2012

Holy Offerings

Using Our Gifts for the Glory of God

Historically, this final issue of the liturgical year has been dedicated to one topic, such as psalms (RW 96), faith formation (RW 92), or the Lord’s Supper (RW 88). In that vein, this issue is focused on our gifts and how we use them for the glory of God. In a way, that’s the subtext of every issue of RW, but this issue takes a closer look, expressing the theme in four related subthemes.

The Story

A Series on God's Work in the Lives of His People

Life is a story. Or, rather, a series of stories. “What’s your story?” is a question we like to ask each other. Your story, like everyone else’s, has a specific arc to it: birth, childhood, education, work, family, and eventually death—but every story is different.

Echoes of the Way God Made Us

Creativity in Worship

At breakfast recently, my two-year-old, Maggie, was having an animated conversation with a sausage. When I asked her with whom she was talking, she held up the link and told me it was Olivia, the precocious pig who is the subject of her favorite books. While the irony of pretending that a sausage was a pig was lost on Maggie, the joy of imagination was not. Her “Olivia” went on an adventure around her plate, chatting with strawberries, playing in the oatmeal, and finally suffering a tragic end, eaten by a “Maggie-monster.”

Holy Grounds

A Coffeehouse Worship Service

A coffeehouse service is a wonderful opportunity to use your imagination in a setting where you have more freedom to present the gospel in creative ways, especially if your church tends to be more traditional.

For this service, use your fellowship hall or another casual space, rather than your sanctuary. Set up this space as you would for your coffee hour, complete with coffee, tea, and juice as well as snacks like doughnuts or other food appropriate to your theme.

Because the atmosphere is casual, the following rules apply:

Dance Without Music

Dance without music, you say? That sounds rather intimidating! Where is the rhythm and the underlying flow and melody to accompany the dance?

Dance without music and with Scripture or other spoken words can be very effective and pow- erful. Dance has the ability to make words come alive as the movement helps paint the overall picture. Many Scripture passages and poetic litanies have a natural flow to the wording, making them appropriate for pairing with dance.

Tree of Life

Creating a banner is an excellent way to promote intergenerational interaction and involvement in worship. While this banner was fairly labor-and time-intensive, elements could be simplified to fit time or budget constraints.

Interactive Preaching

A Conversation between Two Pastors

Pastors encourage people in our churches to be more than passive observers. Affirming the priesthood of believers, we encourage members to be active participants in the life of faith and in the work of the church. But usually these encouragements happen in the context of a sermon, where we do the talking and they just listen. We teach with our words about participation, but the way we do it teaches people to be disengaged, silent, and inactive. In this article, pastors Michael Kooy and Mark Brouwer engage in a conversation about interactive preaching.

Guided Prayer for the World

This guided intercessory prayer could be used for a variety of liturgical occasions, but may be most appropriate for Pentecost, World Communion Sunday, or another service that focuses on church unity.

By Grace Alone

A Litany and Song for Reformation Sunday

This litany includes quotes from the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism. Both documents are ecumenically Reformed. The Belgic Confession was written primarily by Guido de Brès in 1561. He was martyred in 1567. The Heidelberg Catechism was prepared by Zacharius Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus, and was approved by the Synod of Dort (1618-1619). While written in the sixteenth century, these documents are useful today for their summary of biblical teachings.

Scripture Alone

Reforming or Reverting?

The god of the innovative is hard to resist. While this issue of Reformed Worship encourages us all to pay attention to how multiple intelligences and multiple learning styles inform worship planning, we need to do so with thought and discernment. This article causes us to pause and to take the time to think about what we do in our worship. Nothing is value-neutral.

In The Beginning God Created

A Hymn Festival Celebrating God's Gifts

Worshipping the Triune God: Serve

A Study Guide to Global Dialogue, Part 5 of 5

Of Fumes and Fire

Hidden Dangers of the Pulpit

There it stands, so innocent, at the front of the sanctuary. Yet whether it’s a modern Plexiglas lecturn, an elevated baroque booth, or a humble music stand, the pulpit should come with a “Danger” warning label. Externally, the preacher must contend with spiritually toxic fumes that collect around the pulpit; internally, there is a fire.

Shaped by a Psalm

When I first began preaching and my chosen text for a Sunday was a psalm, I would simply preach about the psalm at the prescribed section of the liturgy, seeing myself as the one who was called to explain and expound on the psalm as a piece of biblical text. Of course, liturgists and I would also include other elements in the litany that connected to the psalm’s language or meaning, and we would search for a great song of response to “seal the deal,” but the psalm itself remained intact as the preaching topic.

"City-Positive" Worship and 24/7 Discipleship

Q: We recently welcomed a visitor with limited church background who loved our music and was open to our preaching, but said that she felt our church had a negative view of our city. We are scratching our heads about what to make of this.