How to Start a Worship Arts Team

How to Start a Worship Arts Team

The arts - whether it's music or dance or drama or visual - are a wonderful way to enhance the worship experience, engage the congregation, bring stories to life in new ways, and create meaningful, memorable experiences for all involved.

Related post: Integrating Visual Arts in Worship

The term "worship arts" means different things at different churches, but often times, it includes things like:

  • altar decorations
  • paraments
  • banners (including ribbon and streamers)
  • visual aids for worship
  • flower arrangements, wreathes, and other decorations
  • visual art
  • audio and visual technology
  • dance
  • drama

There's been an effort at my current church to incorporate more of these things into our worship services on a regular basis, so last year, I started a worship arts team.

Music for Stewardship: 40+ Songs, Hymns, and Anthems

Music for Stewardship: 40+ Songs, Hymns, and Anthems

"Christian giving is a responsive act. It represents gratitude to God. It is a symbol of self-giving. Therefore, giving is not a once-for-all event, but a regular part of life. It is a spiritual discipline that reminds us who we are and whose we are.” - Herb Mather (source)

Stewardship is about taking care of the gifts God has given us. This includes managing our earthly possessions and monetary gains, but it also includes tending to the relationships we have and caring for the world around us.

Many churches spend some time during the fall months talking about stewardship. Centered around themes of gratitude and giving, stewardship is a time to talk about God’s abundant blessings and ways we can be good stewards of the gifts we’ve been given.

Stewardship often culminates in a Commitment Sunday or a time to make a pledge of time, gifts, and financial contributions to the work of the church.

It’s important that stewardship not just be about financial giving, but how we can give ourselves to God’s work, commit our lives to God’s service, and use God’s gifts to bless those around us.

Worship Planning Theme: Spirit

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.


10 Creative Ways to Use Handbells in Worship

10 Creative Ways to Use Handbells in Worship

One of my favorite parts of worship planning is finding creative ways to incorporate music into the services. From introits to benediction responses, prayer responses, transitions, and even underscoring.

Handbells are a great way to do this!

Over the past few years, SD and I have come up with several creative, meaningful ways to include handbells in worship, beyond the traditional prelude or anthem slot. We recently inherited a bell choir at church, so I’m revisiting some creative, out-of-the-box from our past experiences and coming up with a few new ideas for our group this spring.

I mean, who said you have to have tables and foam and covers and special folders and notebook stands to play? We're breaking with tradition and using handbells in a whole new way.

Here are a few of our favorite ideas:

Worship Planning Theme: The Good Shepherd

Worship Planning Theme: The Good Shepherd

Throughout the Bible, there are many analogies of sheep and their shepherds:

Moses was a shepherd for the Israelites, leading them through the wilderness for 40 years.
David was a shepherd before he became King of Israel.
Jesus described himself as "the Good Shepherd” in John 10, one who “lays down his life for his sheep."

We hear about sheep and shepherds in the Parable of the Lost Sheep, where the shepherd went after the one sheep who had strayed from the fold and did not stop looking until he found it. We read about God as our shepherd in Psalm 23 and throughout the book of Psalms:

"But he brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the wilderness." (Psalm 78:52)

"Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care." (Psalm 95:6-7)

"Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture." (Psalm 100:3)

8 Inspirational Reads for Worship Leaders and Planners

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” - Dr. Seuss

There’s a lot of truth in that statement. And the exciting thing is, we are never done learning. There are always new ideas, new processes, new perspectives to discover, explore, and seek to understand.

Reading is a great way to escape, unwind, and rest, but it’s also a useful way to learn, grow, and find inspiration. In our work as musicians and teachers, directors and coordinators, worship leaders and planners, this is extremely important.

A few years ago, I shared a few book recommendations for church musicians - choir directors, children’s choir directors, organists and accompanists, and others. Today, I’m sharing a book list for worship leaders - those of you involved in planning, leading, and facilitating worship services (traditional, contemporary, and everything in between). 

Integrating Visual Arts in Worship

Integrating Visual Arts in Worship

There’s no denying it: We live in a visual age.

Statistics show that only 10% of people remember things they hear and only 20% remember things they read. But, a remarkable 80% of people remember things they see and do. (source)

Visuals play a huge role in how we learn and process information. Did you know that our eyes process visuals 60,000x faster than text? (source). Understanding the power of visuals and the role they play in our everyday lives is crucial to planning and creating meaningful, engaging worship services.

”The visual arts used in worship bring the gospel to life.” (source)

Modern worship is informed by a rich heritage, a collection of sacred symbols and icons, and tangible things like bread and wine. How can we integrate visuals into our worship services on a more regular basis? How can we depict the story of the gospel through art and media? How can we enhance the spoken Word, the prayers, the rituals, the music with visual art forms?

17 Instrumental Collections for the Small Church Ensemble

17 Instrumental Collections for the Small Church Ensemble

Instrumental ensembles are a great way to include and involve instrumentalists from your congregation and add a new dimension to worship services throughout the year. But, what if you don't have enough players to create a traditional instrumental ensemble (wind band, brass ensemble, woodwind quartet, orchestra, wind quintet, string quartet, etc.)?

Instead, you have violin, flute, trombone, saxophone, and ukulele. Can those instruments really play together as an ensemble? Where do you find music for that instrumentation?

Don't worry - I'm not going to suggest you write your own!

The solution? Flexible arrangements.

5 Ideas for Creating Meaningful Advent Services

5 Ideas for Creating Meaningful Advent Services

Advent is a time of waiting. Preparation. Anticipation. Expectancy. Hope. We retell the story we all know by heart. We reread the prophecies and remember the journey - the years of waiting, the sense of unknown.

We light candles and sing ancient songs and dwell in the moments of darkness before the season of light, holding on to hope and promises yet to be fulfilled.

This is the essence of the Advent season, for me.

How can we convey this in worship? How can we make this season more meaningful? How can we capture the quietness, the sense of wonder, the shimmering light in the midst of darkness in our Advent services? 

Here are 5 ideas: 

25 Ways for Youth to Participate in Worship

25 Ways for Youth to Participate in Worship

Several weeks ago, I wrote a post about ways for children to participate in worship. Not sit in the pews with a children's bulletin and a pack of crayons, but actively participate in meaningful ways. It's important to create a welcoming and inviting space for all who come to worship and plan experiences that include children and youth, as well as adults. This creates a worship environment that is inviting, inclusive, intergenerational, and inspiring. (For more about each of these points, read this post).

Youth participation in worship should not be limited to Youth Sunday.

From serving as worship leader to helping serve Communion, bringing Scripture readings to life or contributing to music ministry, many middle and high school students are capable of participating in and contributing to worship - often, they just need to be asked. 

Here are 25 ways for youth to actively participate in worship: