The computer is on. I’m staring at the screen, stuck on a phrase. Seated on chairs arranged in a half circle around me are the members of my pastor’s class. Their handwritten creeds lie on my desk. We’re involved in the creative process of pulling together their individual efforts into a statement of faith that speaks for all of us—something that includes an idea, a turn of phrase, a metaphor that each person can claim as his or her contribution to the whole. It’s hard work.
Articles in this issue:
This article is excerpted from a new booklet on planning worship in the popular So You’ve Been Asked To . . . series (see inside back cover for more information).
So You’ve Been Asked to . . . Plan a Worship Service includes sections on The Role of the Worship Planner, The Planning Process, Patterns for Efficient Planning, Long-Term Goals, Questions, and Resources.
When I was a child, my congregation sang the first verse of the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” as the worship introit every Sunday. Because the congregation sang the verse by heart, I learned it by ear only. For many months I sang:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, bless eternity!
My children still can’t believe that I am unable to discern the three-dimensional image in a magic-eye picture. “Dad, go like this,” they advise, looking at the picture cross-eyed, or touching their nose to the surface and backing up slowly. But no matter what I try, still no image. Only a vague sense of failure and frustration. “Don’t worry, Dad,” they say with a sympathetic pat on the shoulder, “you’ll get it one day.”
In preparing this service, I chose passages that could be read dramatically and directly from the book of Revelation, a rich resource for reflections on the ascension and reign of Jesus Christ. These readings are taken from the first, fourth, and fifth chapters.
After Pentecost comes Trinity Sunday and the beginning of a long period of Ordinary Time or Growing Time, as many churches teach their children. Ordinary Time (time not connected to the Christmas and Easter cycles) stretches this year from the beginning of June until the end of November. Either the beginning or end of this long period would be a good time to review the entire Christian year. The first two services here were planned for June, and the children were able to sing songs they had learned throughout the year.
In the basement of Seventh Avenue Church the furnace was going, the computer humming, the Xerox running, and, upstairs, the organist practicing for Sunday worship. We’d been working on Pentecost. I’d been reading through the passage in Ephesians 5, the very famous passage about not being drunk on wine, but being filled with the Spirit.
This is the second of Hawn’s three-part series on global music.
MUSIC IN COMMUNITY: CONVERSATIONS WITH A WEST AFRICAN "TALKING DRUM" INSTRUCTOR
[The] community dimension is perhaps the essential aspect of African music. . . . [Africans] do not want to distinguish the audience from the musicians at a musical event. (1)
—John Miller Chernoff
Q. I’ve been working hard on worship planning, but no one seems to notice.
How to Start a New Service by Charles Arn. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997. 269 pp. $17.99US/24.30 CDN
Charles Arn’s book is a technician’s delight. Its aim is clear. Its approach is confident. Its process is comprehensive. If you are thinking about starting another worship service in your congregation’s ministries, don’t do it until you have read this book (see also his article on p. 22).