Worship

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”).

Signs & Symbols of the Church (and What They Mean)

Signs & Symbols of the Church (and What They Mean)

Have you ever wondered what those letters on the altar stand for? What is the significance of the symbols in the stained glass windows? Why is a fish a symbol of our Christian faith, and what does a peacock have to do with anything?

Yes, the church is full of sacred signs and symbols that tell us about our past - our history - and inform our faith. Each one has some significance and connection to our faith, and each one represents a time in history, a story, a body of believers.

Worship Planning Theme: Grace

Worship Planning Theme: Grace

When I was in high school, I heard a pastor explain grace in the form of an acronym: God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.

Grace is a gift, an invitation to receive God’s riches and become heirs of God’s kingdom.

I grew up in a United Methodist church, and the more I learned about what it means to be Methodist, the more I learned about grace.

You see, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, considered grace the cornerstone of the Christian faith. He described God's grace as having three different forms: Prevenient Grace, Justifying Grace, and Sanctifying Grace.

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

Star of Wonder, Star of Light: Worship Planning for Epiphany

Star of Wonder, Star of Light: Worship Planning for Epiphany

Epiphany, celebrated on January 6, marks the end of the Christmas season (commonly referred to as the 12 days of Christmas).

It’s a time in the liturgical year when we remember the magi’s journey and Jesus being revealed as the Savior of the world. In fact, the word “Epiphany” comes from the Greek epiphaneia, meaning “manifestation” or "striking appearance.” (source)

In some churches, Epiphany is considered the start of a new season that runs through the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. In other churches, Epiphany is celebrated as a single day, and the period that follows is considered Ordinary Time. (source)

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.