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Using The Worship Sourcebook: Practicing the Work of the People

The Worship Sourcebook is valuable as a teaching tool to expand our concept of worship’s purpose. Underlying all our worship is a rhythm of call and response and the understanding that worship is the work of all the people, not just those leading us.

I was so relieved to discover The Worship Sourcebook (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2013)! The rich creativity and deep theology of Christian Reformed worship is evident in these pages. It both teaches and equips us to practice worship as the work of the people in every part of our lives.

In the four congregations of which I have been a member, I have experienced several liturgical structures and appreciated their variety. As a seminary student, now preparing for ministry, researching sources for liturgical prayer is not how I want to spend my time. The Sourcebook is a great gift, having more resources than I could possibly develop on my own, enabling me to sacrifice neither theology nor creativity in our worship.

Communal Words

While spoken liturgies may not be the norm for many, The Worship Sourcebook is valuable as a teaching tool to expand our concept of worship’s purpose. Underlying all our worship is a rhythm of call and response and the understanding that worship is the work of all the people, not just those leading us. Using communal words in our worship, we are reminded of the priesthood of all believers. We are taught and continually reminded that all Christians are called to the vocation of reconciliation.

In this way, the worship service is a miniature of our lives, in which we interact with God and each other as we praise, confess, forgive, restore and are restored, heal and are healed, and live our lives in gratitude. On behalf of God we proclaim the truth of the gospel to each other and on behalf of each other we pray to God for fulfillment of his Word. Experiencing this rhythm at work in communal worship gets us into practice for speaking and doing the same work in the rest of our living.

Prayer

The Worship Sourcebook has a flexible organization which offers prayers for each part of worship. It also breaks down the parts of worship so that no matter what season of the year, you can pull together prayers and liturgies that reflect the service’s Scriptural topic or theme. Sources are drawn directly from Scripture, Reformed Creeds and Confessions, and from thoughtful practices in our churches. I appreciate that we can listen to each other’s practice and find strength in the tradition upon which Christ’s Church is built.

In practice, The Worship Sourcebook can be very effectively and efficiently used to connect prayers along a theme. I usually start by praying through the major themes of the Scriptural passage so that I can articulate what key ideas to bring out in the spoken liturgy. This may be what you already do when selecting songs. Then, for each part of the service, I peruse the section of prayers for one that particularly resonates in that theme. It may be useful, especially during a liturgical seasonal or sermon series, to use a particular prayer for several weeks to let the truth more deeply connect between what we say and our practice of it. Letting Scripture resonate through the whole worship liturgy opens us hear God to speak in every part of the service.

I thought my worship experience was typical, but I find it is not universal to practice an overt liturgy in our worship. Nonetheless, I wonder how many would resonate with the value of intentionally building our worship services using the strong theological and experiential structure found in The Worship Sourcebook. How do you use The Worship Sourcebook? I would love to hear your thoughts and practices. Send your stories and comments to editors@ReformedWorship.org.

Let’s continue this conversation on Facebook where you are invited to tell us about your go-to worship planning resource.

DIGGING DEEPER

See more articles and blogs on the organization and practical idea on using The Worship Sourcebook (both first and second editions):

Well-Chosen Words: Introducing The Worship Sourcebook by Rev. Dr. John D. Witvliet
Consider Those "In Between" Words: Spoken Transitions in Worship by Rev. Paul Ryan
John Calvin and Our Identity as Reformed Worshipers by Phil Majorins
Something Old, Something New by Julia K. Start Fletcher

The Worship Sourcebook, 2nd edition, which includes a companion CD that contains the entire text of the book, is available for sale at Faith Alive Christian Resources and Amazon.com.