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March 1999

The Rhythm of Community: Enliven your worship with music from the African church

This is the second of Hawn’s three-part series on global music.


[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

On Worship Planning

Q. I’ve been working hard on worship planning, but no one seems to notice.

Book: How to Start a New Service

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).



I enjoyed the article “The Care and Keeping of Church Musicians” by Gregory Crowell (RW 49). Most of what he said was right on the mark, and his comments regarding the creation of a nurturing environment and compensation issues were greatly appreciated.

Book: The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church

Hughes Oliphant Old. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998. Vol. 1, 383 pp. $35.00; Vol. 2, 481 pp. $42.00.



Do you have a dream for worship in your church that has not been possible because of lack of funding? Do you have a vision for worship renewal in your congregation that is waiting for a catalyst? If so, read on. . . .

How to...Speak Words of Transition: Ways to move smoothly through worship

Moving through the parts of a worship service has become more complex in recent years, particularly for churches that do not follow the same order of worship every Sunday. Also, using a variety of worship leaders calls for taking even greater care that the congregation be led in a way that helps them do what they have come to do: encounter the living God. Part of the task of a worship leader is to help the congregation move from one action to the next, to help them know what is coming and why it is coming.

Hail the Day That Sees Him Rise; O Sing to the Lord; Like the Murmur of the Dove's Song; Gracious Spirit, Heed Our Pleading

The liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter take lots of time and energy. By the time Ascension Day and Pentecost come around, sometimes our energy is waning. The school year is coming to a close, choirs are finishing up, and we are looking forward to the freer time of summer. Suddenly Ascension Day is upon us. Since Ascension Day and Pentecost are two of the major religious holidays of the year, they deserve some special musical attention.

Some Pros and Cons: Shedding light on overhead projection

Our thanks to the thirty-nine members of the Calvin Theological Seminary community (students, spouses, staff, faculty) who responded to an open invitation to participate in this pro/con feature. Respondents were from the U.S., Canada, Korea, and Romania.


Using overhead projection of songs in worship is helpful for the following reasons:

Different Strokes: 7 reasons your church should consider adding another worship service

  • Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, has grown in fifteen years from six couples meeting in a living room to a congregation of three thousand that holds seven weekly worship services in its six-hundred-seat auditorium. Despite the fact that it has planted twelve daughter churches, it continues to grow. Twenty percent of its new members are recent converts. “I’m seriously praying about going to an eighth service,” says founding pastor Steve Sjogren, “because it would make room for more seekers.

"The Lord Be with You...": Learning the language of faith in a society of niches

I recently heard a story about a woman in a shopping mall who accidentally dropped a large bag of items that scattered all over a busy aisle where lots of people were coming and going. As she quickly knelt down, trying to pick up everything, another woman also bent down and helped until every item was retrieved. The first woman, searching for a word of gratitude, blurted out, “The Lord be with you.” Instantly the other woman responded, “And also with you.” They laughed with joy and embraced.

Reinventing the Youth Service: Discipling young people in a way that benefits the whole congregation

If you’ve ever suffered through trying to organize an unfocused group of teenagers into a cohesive team of worship leaders, you may have asked yourself, “Why are we doing this?” That’s the way we felt when we started working with our church youth group eight years ago. It took us a while to figure out how the youth service we had inherited fit in with the rest of the youth ministry program. Were we only going through the motions each year because “We’ve always done it that way”?

I Believe: A confession class prepares a statement of faith

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.

Planning Primer: A checklist for worship planners

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.

Trinity Matters: The Trinity needs to be named regularly in our worhip

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!

God in three persons: service plans for a four-week series on the Trinity

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.”

Worthy is the Lamb: An Ascension service with dramatic readings from Revelation 1,4, and 5

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.

From Advent to Alleluia: Two options for walking through the church year in one service

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.

Madelyn Ringler's Fiery Exit: Why two hundred Bic lighters never made it to our Pentecost service

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.