Worship: Come and Have a Go

On Tuesday night, I led my house-group for the evening. The previous week had been all about worship – what is was, what it looked like in our day to day lives, what we worship and how there’s a distinction to be made between the worship that should make up our daily lives and specific and chosen acts of worship (participating in a church service, for example).

I decided to run this session as a follow up, focusing specifically on the last of these.

In preparation, I filled a box with a variety of service books, lectionaries, prayer books, my i-pod, speakers, icons, candles, incense, some flash paper, a bottle of wine and a bread roll. Having driven to the venue, I put the bread and wine and two candles on the table in the front room and sought out a glass, a plate and a napkin – these having been found, I went and joined the rest of the group for coffee.

Post coffee and fig-rolls, we regathered in the front room and, once we were all sitting comfortably, we began by recapping last week’s session and followed that up with a discussion of what people thought were the important elements of a service of worship and why. In no particular order, we came up with the following:

  • Silence & a chance to focus
  • Singing Praise corporately
  • Prayer (responsive or otherwise)
    • thanksgiving
    • confession
    • intercession
    • supplication
  • Something that states truth about God / reveals or states his character – bible reading or creed
  • Honesty
  • Liturgical basis
  • Competency (especially in musical leadership)
  • Corporateness: unity of the body
  • Bible
  • Prayers that have been ‘thought about’
  • Communion

In pairs, we spent fifteen minutes or so preparing a section of a service: ‘prayers’; ‘reading and reflection’; ‘Creedal Statement and opening and closing songs’ and I worked out a draft order of service.

Then we ran through the service that we’d just prepared (including the flash-paper confessions) and it was good. There was a sense of God’s being with us, of being connected with what was happening and of the value of each part of the service.  We all left enriched by the experience.

So, question time:
What do you think is important in a service of worship?
Do you agree with the list we came up with and what would go on your list?
What’s essential for every service and what’s essential for inclusion sometimes?
How would you make services more engaging?
And how would this work with a larger congregation?

Liturgical Flash Paper

This is for @raquelita_e:

Explain, towards the beginning of a short group service, that “all have sinned”, that “the wages is death”, but that “if we confess our sins, God… will forgive us.”
Hand out pens, and strips of flash paper, asking group to write out something they’d like to confess and give them time to do so.
Whilst the writing is going on, light a votive candle for each member of the group (so the confession remains private).
Hand out the candles, explaining that Jesus is the Light of the World and the darkness hasn’t put out the darkness and that one image in the bible is of God being fire, eradicating sin.
Ask the group to hold the confession strip to the paper and watch the reactions as whatever was on the paper disappears in an orange flash.