Worship Planning Theme: Spirit

Hooray! You made it through Easter!

Pull out those leftover chocolate eggs and a pad of paper, because there's not much rest for the weary, as they say.

It's time to plan for Pentecost!

Each year, we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday (June 4, 2017). 

On Pentecost Sunday, we remember the story from the book of Acts about how the apostles gathered, were filled with the Spirit, and with tongues of fire resting above their heads, began spontaneously speaking in different languages. 

This was the beginning of the church, in a way - a group of people that gathers together and goes forth to share the Gospel throughout the world.

Today’s post is all about planning a worship service centered on the Holy Spirit. From hymns, spirituals, and contemporary worship songs to choir anthems, liturgy, and visual aids, everything in this post would work well for a Pentecost service, but may also work throughout the season of Ordinary Time in a service focused on the Spirit.

Enjoy!


Music

Hymns and Spirituals

I’m Gonna Sing When the Spirit Says Sing
There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit
Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart
Spirit of the Living God
Spirit Song
We Are One in the Spirit (They’ll Know We Are Christians)
Open My Eyes, That I May See
Breathe On Me, Breath of God
Every Time I Feel the Spirit
Come Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire
Have Thine Own Way Lord
Come Down, O Love Divine
Creator Spirit, By Whose Aid
Filled With the Spirit’s Power
O Church of God, United
Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying
O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
The Spirit Sends Us Forth to Serve
Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness

For more suggestions, see this list.

Contemporary Music

Holy Spirit (Jesus Culture/Martin Smith)
Where The Spirit Of The Lord Is (Hillsong)
Shine Jesus Shine (Graham Kendrick)
We Believe (Newsboys)
This I Believe (The Creed) (Hillsong)
The Potter’s Hand (Darlene Zschech)
Where the Spirit of the Lord Is (Stephen Adams)
Spirit of God (text by Steve Garnaas-Holmes)
There’s a Spirit of Love in This Place (Mark A. Miller)
Come, Share the Lord (Bryan Jeffery Leech)
Gather Us In (Marty Haugen)
Come Just As You Are (Joseph Sabolick)

Anthems

Come All You People (Uyai Mose) (arr. Holland)
Gather Us In (arr. Hayes)
Come Just As You Are (arr. Harlan)
O Breath of Life (Choplin)
Holy Spirit, Hope, and Healer (arr. Carter)
Every Time I Feel the Spirit (arr. Schrader)
Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart (arr. Pinkston)
Holy Spirit, Living God (arr. MacDonald)
Many Gifts, One Spirit (Hannibal)
Fill-a-Me-Up (Choplin)
Gracious Spirit, Heavenly Dove (arr. Purifoy)
Every Time I Feel the Spirit (arr. Helvey)

Visuals

There are lots of things you could do to add spirit-themed visuals into your worship service. If you’re planning for Pentecost Sunday, you might use fire or flame imagery, as mentioned in the story in Acts 2. Use red, orange, and yellow ribbons tie to a pole to make a ribbon banner, use crepe paper streamers to make a backdrop behind the altar, tie red helium balloons to the ends of the pews, or hang simple red flags or pennants.

If you’re planning a spirit-themed service for some other time of year, you might incorporate the imagery of the dove, either on a banner of some kind, or, if your sanctuary would permit it, an actual dove kite (like this one) that could be “flown” overhead on a long pole during part of the service.

Looking for inspiration? See visual examples from various churches here.

Liturgy

Calls to Worship, Prayers, Litanies, and visual ideas from Ministry Matters
Calls to Worship, Prayers, and Litanies from UMC Discipleship
21st Century Worship Resources for Pentecost from UMC Discipleship
Calls to Worship, Prayers, and Reflections from re:Worship
The Fire, the Wind, the Water: A Dramatic Reading for Three Readers from Reformed Worship

Other Pentecost Resources

Lectionary resources for the Day of Pentecost - Year A
A comprehensive Pentecost Resource Guide from the Calvin Institute
A Pentecost Hymn Festival

What are you planning for Pentecost? I'd love to hear!