worship planning

A Creative Service Outline for Hanging of the Greens

A Creative Service Outline for Hanging of the Greens

Hanging of the Greens is a traditional Christian ceremony of decorating the church for the Advent and Christmas season, often celebrated on the first Sunday of Advent or during a separate evening service.

Some churches have a Hanging of the Greens service on a Sunday afternoon, the week before the first Sunday of Advent. Others have a workshop-style event the day before the first Sunday of Advent, where families come and learn about the significance of our Christmas decorations and help prepare the church for the new season.

How to Use the Metrical Index in Your Hymnal

How to Use the Metrical Index in Your Hymnal

Have you ever flipped through your hymnal and come across all those indexes in the back? 

The one we probably use most often is the Index of First Lines and Common Titles - a quick way to find the page number for a particular hymn you want to sing or play. Another index that sometimes proves helpful is the Index of Hymn Tunes, where you can look up a hymn by its tune name (for instance, NEW BRITAIN for “Amazing Grace” or HYMN TO JOY for “Joyful, Joyful”).

How to Use the Revised Common Lectionary

How to Use the Revised Common Lectionary

“A lectionary is a collection of readings or selections from the Scriptures, arranged and intended for proclamation during worship of the people of God.” (source)

Used as a guide in services of worship across denominations, the lectionary is a useful tool for choosing and sequencing Scripture readings and related music and liturgy for weekly worship.

Today, I’m writing about the Revised Common Lectionary - its history, benefits, how it's organized, and how to use it to guide your worship planning from week to week.

Let's get started!

3 Small Ways to Create Better Flow in Worship

3 Small Ways to Create Better Flow in Worship

What does it mean to have good flow in worship?

For me, flow means:

  • continuity
  • cohesion
  • an uninterrupted experience
  • continuous movement in one direction without bouncing around, pausing, or redirecting partway through

In contrast, a worship experience without flow may feel:

  • disjointed or mismatched
  • inconsistent
  • confusing or disconnected
  • distracting
  • awkward
  • thrown together

How I Choose Hymns and Songs for Worship

How I Choose Hymns and Songs for Worship

I don’t know about you, but I love taking a look behind the scenes.

Maybe it’s all the second-guessing that goes on in my head on a daily basis (Am I doing this right? Is this the best way? Is this how other people do it? etc.) or maybe it’s my curiosity for learning about other people’s processes, creative approaches, and perspectives on the everyday things that I spend some of my time doing, too.

I find there’s always something to learn from watching others work through a problem or task - their step-by-step process, their insight, their strategies - I find it fascinating and informative. Next time that I sit down to work on a similar task, I have a few different options and ideas of ways to go about it.

A Modern Resource Guide for Advent Worship Planning

A Modern Resource Guide for Advent Worship Planning

Advent.

A time of waiting, watching, listening.
A time of remembering, anticipating.
A time of renewal and wonder.

The beginning of a new year.

Each year, we celebrate the season of Advent in the weeks leading up to Christmas. We read the words of the prophets, we tell the stories of Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the angels, the magi.

We put ourselves back in that time and place of watching and waiting for the Savior of the world, expectant and hopeful. And then, we find ourselves here, in the 21st century, watching and waiting for the return of our Savior, expectant and hopeful.

Often times, our worship services during Advent have a particular sequence to them: We begin with the prophetic words of hope and faith; then, the promise of peace in the world; the joy of God’s fulfilled promises; and the gift of love into the world.

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.

Celebrating Ordinary Time with Not-So-Ordinary Summer Worship

Celebrating Ordinary Time with Not-So-Ordinary Summer Worship

Summer can often feel like an ordinary, even dull, part of the church year. Choirs are usually on break, and there may be a dip in church attendance.

In fact, the time between Pentecost and Advent, as well as the time between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday, is known as “Ordinary Time” in some Christian denominations to distinguish the “ordinary” parts of the year from seasons of celebration (like Christmas) and penitence (like Lent).

But Ordinary Time doesn’t have to mean ordinary worship. Fortunately, there are many creative, musical ways to make the “everyday” season of the year special and meaningful in its own way.

Our Music Sunday Service

Our Music Sunday Service

Earlier this year, I wrote a post on planning a music-themed service with liturgy, music, hymns, anthems, and other worship planning resources. (Read it here, in case you missed it.)

This past weekend, we had a Music Sunday at our church and I thought I'd share a copy of our service for those of you looking to do something similar in the future.

We decided to use the basic pattern of worship as an overarching structure: Gathering, Praise & Thanksgiving, Proclamation & Response, Sending Forth. Within each section, we pieced together hymns, music by all our ensembles, and short readings that helped tie everything together.

I tried to find something creative to add to each of the hymns: a modulation up a half step, a harmonization for the last verse, a 4-bar interlude before the last verse, a trumpet fanfare before the introduction, etc.

Overall, it was a great day in worship, and it was so fun to see (and hear) everyone come together in worship and song!

Here is a detailed outline of our service:

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.

Enjoy!