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March 1992

Out of Africa: What North Americans can learn about celebration in worship

Stephen Githumbi, raised in a Kenyan village and later educated in theology in the US, has had close experience with the Christian church in both cultures. He offers the following observations on celebration in African worship as "a way of living out the Christian faith that can be instructive to the American church."

Inner-City Pentecost, c 1992: Bridging the gap between congregation and neighborhood.

It was so easy for so long—so natural that we did it almost without thinking. Worship, that is.

Jerusalem was our home, not only geographically but culturally. And so we were at home with everything. Including worship. It was a reflection of us, of our people, and of our culture. We spoke the same language, sang the same rhythms, danced the same dances.

Canceling the Summer Slump: A summer series based on the Apostles' Creed

Lyle Schaller, the church-growth guru, suggests that one strategy for revitalizing a church is to cancel the "summer slump." Most churches do go through a slump period in the summer: the pastor and the choir go on vacation; the Sunday School doesn't meet; and church attendance drops dramatically. Schaller points out that summer is also the time when the greatest number of visitors (and potential new members) come through most churches, so he advocates maintaining a full program throughout the summer.

The Personality of Worship: Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to understand worship preferences

Things are not going smoothly at First Church. Everything was quite peaceful and predictable until the new pastor arrived. He hadn't been on the job for more than a few weeks before changes started creeping into the liturgy.

Bring Them In: Three models for evangelism through worship

There is a story in the Russian Primary Chronicle that tells how Christianity came to Russia. According to this true story Vladimir, Prince of Kiev, sent several of his followers in search of "true religion."

First they went to the Moslem Bul-gars of the Volga but returned with the report that they found "no joy" but only "a mournfulness and a great smell."

Next they went to Germany and Rome, where they found the worship more satisfactory but still lacking in power.

The Chief Singer: Reviving the title of "cantor" to describe what a church musician really does

I have trouble with some of the terms that are used to describe church musicians. They can be very misleading in a culture that views musicians as entertainers—people who provide the extra, ornamental frills. Even though the nature of the entertainment may vary widelyófrom dance band to lounge piano to symphony orchestra to ballpark organ to solo recital—the general perception remains the same: music is regarded as an extra, an ornament.

The Seeker Service at Fair Haven

The Seeker Service at Fair Haven

Fair Haven Reformed Church is located in Jenison, a southwest suburb of Grand Rapids. Although formerly a very conservative town—a place where nearly everyone was Dutch and nearly everyone went to church on Sunday—our community has changed considerably in recent years. Georgetown Township, where Jenison is located, now boasts a population of thirty-nine thousand, a sizeable proportion of whom are non-Dutch and nearly half of whom have no church ties.

What We Sing is Not What He Wrote: Evolution of "God of the prophets"

Every spring, from New Brunswick Theological Seminary's commencement to dozens of ordinations and installations across the country, organs swell to the strains of toulon, and congregations lift their voices as in prayer, singing "God of the Prophets." This hymn, a special gem of our Reformed tradition, is rehearsed over and over again in celebrations of ministry.

To Reach Out and Touch Someone.

To Reach Out and Touch Someone

An understanding of personality trite action to perform in the middle preferences may help explain why some people like to greet others in church and others don't. Invariably when a church introduces the practice of turning around and extending a greeting to fellow worshipers, some members are very pleased to do so while others find it unpleasant. Perhaps personality has something to do with it.

Hymn of the month

God of the Prophets

Pentecost, the celebration of God's gift of the Holy Spirit to the church, falls on the first Sunday of June this year. At this time of the year we also find ourselves in the midst of a variety of ordinations, making "God of the Prophets" a good hymn to sing.

Crown Him With Many Crowns: A festive service celebrating our Lord's ascension.

We Gather to Worship

Prelude: "Jesus Shall Reign"

Introit: "Lift Up Your Heads"
[from Messiah, Handel]

The Greeting

Book: Singing the Lord's Song: A History of the English Language Hymnals of the

James L.H. Brumm. New Brunswick: Historical Society, RCA, 1990. 77 pages; $12.00 (spiral). Available from RCA Historical Society, 21 Seminary Place, New Brunswick, NJ 08901.

Alleluia, Amen!: A litany of praise for choir and congregation

He Ascended Into Heaven

Pastor: Jesus Christ has come into heaven, and is at God's right hand—with angels, authorities, and powers in submission to him.

Congregation: Since we have a Great High Priest who has gone into heaven— Jesus, the Son of God—let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. Let us praise his holy name!

Crier: [from balcony or back of sanctuary]

Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!

Book: Worship & Evangelism

Andy and Sally Overby Langford. Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 1989. 84 pages.

The authors of this book are United Methodist pastors who specialize in worship (Andy) and evangelism (Sally). They have written this little manual in the conviction that call and response are central to both worship and evangelism and are therefore never far removed from each other.

Sound of a Mighty Wind: The Pentecost story in Scripture and song.(1)

Leader: When the evangelist Luke recorded the outpouring of God's Spirit on the early Christian church, he was led by that same Spirit to incorporate the Old Testament prophecies that Peter included in that first Pentecost sermon. We will now listen to that story and sing together those Old Testament prophecies.(2) Hear now the Word of the Lord.

Book: Liturgy, Justice and the Reign of God: Integrating Vision and Practice

Frank Henderson, a.o. New York: Paulist Press, 1989.132 pages.

Book: Willow Creek Community Church: Church Leader's Handbook

Barbara Stewart, ed. Willow Creek Community Church, 1991. 177 pages.The Handbook is available by writing Seeds, Order Processing, 67 East Algonquin Road, South Barring-ton, IL 60010; (708) 765-5000. Cost is $14.95, plus $4.00 shipping and handling; 7 percent sales tax for Illinois residents.


Services Available on Disk

Beginning with this issue of Reformed Worship, we will make available a computer disk containing services and liturgies found in each issue. The disk will be formatted in MS-DOS on an IBM-compatible computer, and files will be saved in both WordPerfect 4.2 and ASCII. If you would like to try it, send $10.00 US (or $12.00 CDN) along with your name and address, and indicate whether you would like a 5.25" or 3.5" disk.

Book: Using Art in Sunday Worship

Eileen Gurak. San Jose, California: Resource Publications, 1990. 76 pages. $7.95.

This book includes simple, basic principles, clearly stated, to serve as an introduction for the people who plan liturgy and design worship environments. The guidance in the small book is direct. It is based on contemporary Catholic practices, many of which are also applicable to currently used Protestant liturgies.

Thinking About the Seeker Service

I'm in trouble when it comes to the seeker service. Not with anyone else, but with myself. I usually evaluate a new idea in light of some basic convictions I hold to, and then come to some conclusions. But when I evaluate the seeker service in light of such convictions, I come out both for it and against it.

The Seeker Service: A new strategy for evangelism.

Reaching out—for many Reformed churches that's become the focus of the nineties. Congregations who in the past seemed content to minister to their own and to those in distant places are now taking a closer look at the men, women, teens, and children who live and work in the church's neighborhood.

No longer is it safe to assume, as it was in former decades, that the majority of these people have church homes of their own. Surveys have shown that the numbers of people with no church ties continue to grow.

"Break a Leg!": Using drama in a seeker service

"I love playing the heavy!"
"I love these plays. They're a great way to get to know other people in the church."
"I've been impressed with what a powerful impact they have."
"It's a way I can give something to the church. Maybe the Lord can use me to reach someone."
"So often people have said that the drama really spoke to them."
"They're just so much fun!"