Using Gifts and Planning Worship

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When we worship in community, we are blessed when we can engage the gifts and talents of a variety of people to lead various parts of the service.  Some of our churches use multiple musicians, some engage the speaking gifts of liturgists to read scripture.  Sometimes the Elders make announcements, the Deacons pray and the Director of Children's ministries gives thanks to the volunteers.

The more people involved in a single worship service, the more well prepared and planned we need to be.  This is not just for the practical reason of keeping things in good order (and good time), it is also a hospitable behavior when we value the gifts of others enough to make room for them in the service.

In a simple service, the few people participating can agree who is doing what, but the more people who get involved, the messier it gets.  What are some ways we can communicate well with each other so that the service still flows orderly?

In our congregation we use a form that I used when I was a producer of large conferences and events.  It is a chart that puts a timeline down the left column and the events, people, tech notes and other items across the top row.  Check out the attachments below.

What form do you use?  What has worked well and what complications do you find?

Posted in: Worship; Blog Photo courtesy Annette Young - http://www.flickr.com/photos/annettepedrosian/2108145618 Image: See Credit

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We prepare a second version of the worship order for those who are involved in worship. It is basically the worship order as included int he bulletin for everyone, but with extra instructions for those leading worship. This is emailed out during the week to everyone who is serving on the upcoming Sunday, and copies of it are printed on green paper each week so all those involved can have a copy with the notes on it. It's not a perfect system, but it definitely helps keep us organized.

 

***** Here's just an example. From our bulletin *****

 

God Speaks to Us through His Word

     Old Testament Scripture Reading: Exodus 20:15

     New Testament Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 6:3 – 19

     Sermon Title:  The Good Life: (8) You Shall Not Steal         

We Respond to God’s Word

    *Song of Response: Take My Life That It May Be (Hymn #289; v. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6)

                                          Knowing You (All I Once Held Dear)

     Offerings of Financial Blessings

 

***** The same section, from our "green sheet" (PT=Praise Team) ***** 

 

God Speaks to Us through His Word

 

     Old Testament Scripture Reading: Exodus 20:15

     New Testament Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 6:3 – 19

 

     Sermon Title:  The Good Life: (8) You Shall Not Steal         

                   [PT enter up stage steps, ready to go at amen]

We Respond to God’s Word

    *Song of Response: Take My Life That It May Be (Hymn #289; v. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6)

                   [piano under reading of 2 Corinthians 9:6, 8 (beginning with God), 11]

                                          Knowing You (All I Once Held Dear)

                   [PT exit stage back]

     Offerings of Financial Blessings

I forgot to add one of our bigger challenges is that although we often have many people involved in worship each week, our Pastor often helps with the flow by making certain announcements. On weeks when he is not here, we do need to do more organizing: Who will announce the offering? Who will make this transition? Who will say "Please be seated"? Our format doesn't specifically call out those things because many times our pastor just does it.

Another thing is something like the reading of scripture between the two songs after the sermon. It's not assigned ahead, one of the Praise Team members will volunteer during rehearsal. It's a tossup between how much time we spend ahead of time, and how much we can handle more efficiently by making Sunday morning assignments, but sometimes Sunday mornings get a little harried when we realize we have extra details to arrange.

One of the things about worship services that can be irritating is the inability to be flexible with time.   When we worship together, we are visiting with God.   Imagine if you are visiting with friends, and everytime you visit, you would say, oops, time is up, better get out of here, have to get to my coffee and relaxing time at home, to read my book, take my nap, eat my soup, and watch my favorite sport?   yet we often seem to have no problem doing this with God.  

I would suggest that every service ought to have a flex time built in of perhaps a half-hour (maybe more).   If extra time is needed for prayers, then it is there.   If extra time is needed to get a wheelchair down the aisle, then it is there.   If extra time is needed for a testimony, or a witness about a mission trip or local neighborhood help, then it is there.  If extra time is needed for a confession, or profession, or longer sermon, or congregational announcement, then it is there.   Our stinginess with time, and our inflexibility with time, is not a good evidence of our desire and joy in worship.  Just thinking.....

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