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Content about Public worship

March 1, 2009

We are excited to introduce Bob Langlois to you in this issue. Bob has extensive experience in the world of technology, particularly as it relates to churches. We hope you’ll be inspired to send in specific questions for Bob to answer—whether you’re considering investing in new equipment, trying to solve a thorny techno-problem, or just want to discover the best way to use what you have. —JB

December 1, 2008

Music and weddings go together hand in hand—in fact, music gives voice to the celebration in ways no other medium can! While the church considers weddings to be private family events, the gathered guests, who function as the congregation, can and should have opportunity to praise God joyously, pray for the bride and groom’s new life together, and encourage them with Scripture. Much of this can happen in song!

December 1, 2008

The Revised Common Lectionary offers a three-year plan of Scripture readings (Years A, B, and C). The Lectionary does this so that once every three years, public worship services can include readings from every book of the Bible.

December 1, 2007

This sunrise service began with contemplative instrumental music. Because the service was held indoors, a picture of a sunrise was projected on the screen before the service and during each of the prayer/reading segments. Parts for Reader 1 were adapted from an Easter prayer titled “Lord God, Early in the Morning,” from Stages on the Way by John L. Bell and Wild Goose Worship Group © 2000, GIA Publications, Inc. p. 184)

Call to Worship: “Come into His Presence” CH 420, SNC 3, SFL 4, WR 119

June 1, 2007

At a summer planning meeting on her back porch, Laura Smit, Dean of the Chapel at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, mentioned a Psalm Festival she had done with her church in Boston—all 150 Psalms in one night. That sounded like a great project for Calvin College.

March 1, 2007

When Steve Caton gets that glint in his eye and I see that hint of a smile working around the edges of his mouth, I know he has something unusual in mind.

Steve, the Director of Worship and Arts at Covenant Life Church, had just stuck his head in my door and said, “How about if we have the congregation go out into the community for some kind of service activity on that Sunday?” I knew exactly which day he was talking about: an upcoming Sunday when he and many key members of our worship leadership team would be out of town.

June 4, 2004

Worship planning during a crisis, transition, or conflict may be more stressful than usual, but thoughtfully planned services can relieve stress and help keep the church focused on its mission. In fact, worship during a difficult circumstance may itself provide an important opportunity for learning and healing in the congregation. Those who are involved in planning worship should ask some of the following questions as they plan during a difficult time.

June 4, 2004

The idea for this service came from a similar one planned by InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship at Harvard University. Each year the group organizes a service for graduating students called “Ordination to Daily Work,” to affirm to these students that their training for their profession and vocation, even if not explicitly Christian, is still holy work dedicated to God.

June 4, 2004

One church is dealing with a major conflict between the pastor and the elders. Another is struggling to keep together factions that have polarized over changes in worship. A third is reeling from the sudden suspension of its pastor. A fourth is grieving over the tragic death of a child. A fifth is facing the loss of a large portion of its membership; yet another is adjusting to the consolidation of a smaller congregation into its midst.

March 4, 2004

For more information about Redeemer Presbyterian Church, visit www.redeemer.com.

Seek the prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
—Jeremiah 29:7

March 4, 2004

I remember unsettling conversations in the fellowship hall after worship. A middle-aged woman once said to me, “We returned home from Bethel Christian camp last night and the worship there was so inspiring! My husband and I were deeply blessed. I must confess it was difficult to worship here again this morning.” Another time a teen had this to say: “We got back late last night from a week-long SERVE project. It was a blast! We all felt so close to each other and I grew so much in my walk with God.

March 4, 2004

Ever been scheduled to both take the offering and play the offertory during the same service? Found yourself the sole soprano while singing hymns? Been locked out of your worship space because the only two keyholders were both out of town? If so, you probably belong to a smaller congregation.

December 3, 2003

Isn’t it self-evident that we worship God with who we are? Not really. In the medieval period priests and singers performed before silent spectators. And at the Reformation Ulrich Zwingli “conducted a monologue in the presence of a completely silent congregation” (Howard Hageman, Pulpit and Table, p. 120). There’s not much difference between those two practices. The people could watch or listen, but who they were was omitted.

September 3, 2003

Q   One big change for us in the past few years is that our pastor just preaches in worship, while our worship team leads the rest of the service. We enjoy leading, but don’t have a lot of training. Shouldn’t the pastor take a more active role in the rest of the worship service?

—Iowa

June 1, 2001
Q. Why is the musical repertoire in our church so limited? We sing only about fifty of the top choruses and hymns. I tire of singing the same songs all the time.
—British Columbia
March 1, 2001

We asked Robert Webber, a long-time friend of Reformed Worship, to write an editorial for this issue in which we explore ways churches are dealing with the intersection of worship, culture, and evangelism. In this issue you’ll find several different approaches from a variety of denominational traditions that we hope will stimulate discussion in your worship committees, and perhaps even better, in combined meetings of worship, youth, and evangelism staff and committees in your congregations.
—ERB

March 1, 2001

As Spirit-filled parents and children, we all need the Spirit’s guidance each day. I prepared this prayer of thanks and petition for mothers based on the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5, which was read before the prayer. Although Mother’s Day is not part of the liturgical calendar, it is certainly appropriate to pray specifically for mothers. This prayer could be used as part of the intercessory prayer on Mother’s Day or any other Sunday.

June 1, 1999

I recently spoke at a Christian Growth Conference that had as its theme “Thirst for God.” Three to four hundred “thirsty” people showed up on a Saturday morning to learn how they could satisfy their thirst, and the numbers grew as the day progressed. Many Christians today, it seems, are thirsting for something more than they have found. Tired of learning about God, they want to experience God. And one of the ways they’re seeking to experience God is through prayer—all kinds of prayer:

March 1, 1999
  • 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.
March 1, 1999

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.

March 1, 1999

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.

March 1, 1999

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!

March 1, 1995

The sign in front of most of our churches says, "All Are Welcome." But is our worship really as welcoming as it could be? Two fairly recent (though unrelated) incidents have me wondering.

The first of these events took place a few years ago when I was just beginning a pastorate in a small town. On the edge of town was a state facility for developmentally disabled persons. Periodically, area mainline churches took turns hosting residents from the facility who were interested in attending worship.

March 1, 1995

The 930 a.m. service has ended, and the organist slips off the organ bench with her Handel and Bach pieces. Downstairs, the choir members are hanging up their robes. The director congratulates them on having sung a difficult arrangement of "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty." A few members come back up to the sanctuary and begin setting up for the 11:OO service.

December 1, 1994

I'm writing these thoughts at the end of August, after visiting and preaching in a number of different churches. Although these congregations were theologically rather uniform, their worship idioms differed greatly—ranging from stately Canterbury to enthusiastic Nashville. And some of the congregations showed cracks and crevices in their koinonia, because of differences in their worship preferences. All of which made me take stock again of my stance on various worship issues.

Here's my worship credo of ten years ago: