Church worship can easily be destroyed by extremes. The same is true for the worship planning process. One extreme occurs when no one is ultimately in charge; the other occurs when everyone is. Establishing a worship committee can help churches avoid these extremes.
Articles in this issue:
What instrument leads your congregational singing?
In past decades, the answer to that question was quite predictable. Nearly every church had an organ, and that instrument was central to the music of each service. Today for a variety of reasons (including the cost of organs and the lack of trained organists) other instruments are taking on that leadership role. Many congregations, including my own, are led by the piano each week.
The traditional service of nine lessons and carols traces the story of our salvation from the disobedience of Adam and Eve to the birth of Christ. In this service, following each carol, a symbol is brought forward. (You'll find the symbols in boldfaced type in the leader's readings.) Each of these symbols recall the lesson just read and also point to our redemption in Christ.
Are you looking for a way to make the Scripture narrative come alive for your congregation during Advent and Christmas this year? Try a program based on one of the gospel accounts of Christ's birth. Make the experience even more meaningful by basing your Advent sermon series on the same passages.
Would you be surprised to find an ad in your local newspaper announcing an Epiphany service in your church?
Most of us would. Traditionally churches in the Reformed tradition have not observed Epiphany. Many of us are probably not even sure what Epiphany is all about or where the idea of celebrating it began. Although a growing appreciation of the church year has given Christians a better understanding of Advent and Lent, Epiphany still seems a bit "foreign" to some of us.
To guide your worship during this Advent season I comend to you the prologue to the gospel John. I even have a suggestion for a series title: "A Believer's Guide to Virtual Reality".
The lonely peppermint has had a rough ride in recent years as critic after critic of Reformed worship practices has pointed to the eating of peppermints in church at the onset of the sermon as either a silly habit or a nasty addiction.
I don't know who first "discovered" Kierkegaard's contribution to the nature of worship, but a lot of people have been referring to it. Here's how it goes: Imagine a worship service as a drama. Who is the audience? Who are the actors? At first glance, most would say that the congregation is the audience, and the minister is the actor. But no—Kierkegaard supposedly claims that God is the audience, the worshipers are the actors, and the minister is the prompter.
The three songs in this issue are all built on short repetitive refrains. None are in the typical hymn structure; two are simply refrains, and one is intended for leader and congregation.
One of the appeals of short refrains and choruses is that they are easily committed to memory. All three songs are short enough so that most worshipers will find themselves singing them during the week, long before the month is over. All three will also be included in Songs for LiFE, the new children's hymnal to be published this fall by CRC Publications.
Since many congregations are still new to observing the Christian Year, a teaching service about the various church seasons can be very instructive The following service was first conducted at the Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Although hymns are suggested in the service, feel free to substitute other seasonal hymns Also, whether you use more or less choir participation will depend on your local situation.