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Welcome! From projection screens to professions of faith, from sacraments to song selections this is where worship teams and planners can connect with others about all aspects of worship.
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Thank you, John for posting this. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness in this article.
Hi Terry and Michele:
It looks like this litany/prayer was provided by Church of the Crossroads (with permission to use). I've added in this information.
Thanks for asking!Staci
Yes, please use it, Michele!
BTW, even though the Network attributes the litany to me, I am not the author. I inherited it in my RCA Disability Concerns role.
Do you mind if I use this in Sunday's order of worship?
This is a beautiful reminder of how we can minister to others. Thank you for this post!
What if it's not an either or proposition? What if we can work on making our liturgy flow more by making transitions more seamless (unless we want intentional silence)? What if we "boldly" decided to have the music continue in the background when we hear God's word? What if we made sure that when someone is reading they came up at the ending of the song instead of when it was over? No comment on right or wrong, but ideas.
Thank you for your review of my post, I appreciate it even though we may have misunderstood each other.
For starters I do not think you mean what you say in the first line of paragraph two of your review. You do not mean to say that you disagree that I am dumbing down what I think you meant to say is that you disagree because you think I am dumbing down. Correct?. I sometimes think faster than I can write as well and do not say it quite as I intended to. Not a problem. I do not think there is any need to dumb down our worship or in order to make it more accessible to untrained musical and theological members would involve dumbing down.
Actually, I am reflecting some feedback I have received from mature believers in the CRC. They are family members, college students who have worshipped during college at evangelical community churches and other non-muscians and non theologians. They think this form of muti-message worship is confusing and not edifying because it is dis-jointed. The college students I refer to have gone from their home CRC and experienced evangelical more seamless worship while at college. When they come back they do not appreciate Reformed Worship as we practice it. So they find a church home now which is more like what they had in college. Perhaps I'm the only CRC pastor with such experiences. I hope if there other pastors like me out there that they will speak up. If I'm alone or only a few agree with what I say I will be quiet and direct my time and energy elsewhere.
I keep hearing words like yours from our worship leaders but I also keep reading about how we are losing our young adults.
Thanks again for your feedback Ken. I would like to meet you sometime and discuss these thoughts further with you.
I read this post and gave a lot of thought. I am coming from the "well-established" congregation experience. You have some valid points about what to include, not include, etc, in the perspective of Reformed Worship and new church plants, small congregations, etc. We don't always do that either. Some seasons of the church year or if a sermon series calls for an emphasis of something, then we might lessen some of the other elements to give focus to the theme or focus.
But I would have to disagree with you that you are dumbing down to those who you are trying to reach. No, they aren't going to get it all and it all shouldn't be thrown at them at once, but if you start somewhere "one-inch" at a time, I truly believe they will receive it well and it will become the fabric of the worship experience. How you present it is the "Robert Schuller" grade you will get from the congregation. Robert Schuller did some unorthodox things to gain TV ratings, not to instill good liturgy.
I was at a seminar with a Christian college Chaplain and he described his new position and the worship life of the student body. He described the Sunday chapel service as a "Holy Ruckus" when he first arrived. SLOWLY, the dean of the chapel developed a well meaning liturgy one semester at a time. This is a few years ago so I'm sure some great progress has been made and it all started with lighting the Christ candle and acknowledging God has called them to worship and God's presence in worship.
The people we are "reaching out" to are intelligent, the only ignorance is not knowing. Telling them and showing them why it is important and why God has called us to confess our sins in a time of confession, etc. is just as important and making them aware of the Psalm 150 incorporation that all called to "Praise the Lord". We aren't very good at telling what is important to us as reformed Christians as far as heritage, worship, traditions, etc. because we are afraid to offend them. Other well established religions are not afraid to tell and show - and they are growing!
Yes, we cannot assume that they automatically walk into worship knowing those things, but neither does a 3 year old child. But as they mature in their faith, so doesn't their worship and their approach in worship, but only if you tell them and show them.
As for a unified thematic approach to worship, I don't always have one, sometimes it is better. Themes and "take home" messages don't always present themselves up front. But I always trust that the Holy Spirit will guide the worship and that we will give God the glory and be edified by his Word.
I'm sorry for this post if it sits with you in a different way, but I would have to disagree with your post. I could say more, but I'll end it here, reach out to where they are - meet them - and walk with them in a way that they should go.
What is the question about Robert Schuller?
Please let me know if one is planned!
I would consider being a part of such a group!
I would be very, very interested.
Praise Jesus! I love that He has us on similar journeys even though they were not overlapped.
We did a once a month healing prayer time for anyone that would like to come at Discovery CRC Church (in Cutlerville) for a couple of years while we were all learning. I am thinking of starting something like that up again. So I guess I will just throw it out there. I would be open to anyone to come, those who have been through the Embers to Flames prayer training, those who want to come and receive prayer, those who want to come and learn, those who want to come to be together with the body of Christ in the Presence of Jesus....
That sounds like a good response Mary. Thanks. I like the image of after church prayer being more like triage, but also recognizing that God is not limited, and he can do significant work in a very short time frame.
One image that sticks in my mind from my prayer ministry days is that of the paralyzed man who was brought to Jesus by his friends who had to break through the roof to get to him. Sometimes there is work to do to get people to Jesus - but that is always the posture in prayer ministry, bringing folks into the presence of Jesus and letting Jesus do what he will. Often it's not what we would expect or can even imagine. The passage says that Jesus saw the faith of the man's friends, and healed him. Sometimes we need to have faith for one another. It's a great image for me of healing prayer.
As a prayer ministry group we also met regularly to practice praying with and for one another. We also went through a Theophostic video training course (Ed Smith) and we read a book by Leanne Payne together. Regular time as a community, practicing with one another and learning together was wonderful for all of us and built a lot of trust in the group as well. (It was an ecumenical group, so we didn't all go to the same church). We didn't stick to one process or procedure, but felt our learning together gave us several "tools" that we could use, under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The main thing is bringing someone into the presence of Jesus so that Jesus can do his healing work, whatever that may be. Learning to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and Listen to the voice of Jesus is important.
Just very quickly in a nutshell, after church prayer team prayers are going to be fairly quick, but that does not mean necessarily "light". I have seen persons healed in this time frame and I believe that God is delighted when persons come to church and walk out healed and transformed. That is church! That is the gospel! That is the Kingdom at work! I pray that would happen every week at every church.
A deeper healing prayer appointment, that would be set up for a couple of hours or more, digs way down to spiritual roots that may be causing the trouble or dysfunction. Sometimes things are systematically confessed, forgiven, delivered. Some times deep inner wounds from childhood are healed in these sessions. Your after church prayer ministry time is kind of like Triage, and some of those persons ought be referred to someone for more intensified healing prayer by those who are trained in such.
yes of course Katy, and others, that is why I typed it all out. Use it!
Thanks Mary! Good stuff here. May I copy and use some of your words? I may come to you specifically and ask some more questions too, if I may?
Just ordered the book!
It would be interesting and helpful to outline the differences between healing prayer after a service and a healing prayer appointment.
I understand that time is one factor. What are other differences?
Mary is right that this is designed for a deeper inner healing kind of prayer - not after the service on Sunday. In our ministry people signed up for prayer appointments with a 2-3 person prayer team. We scheduled 2 hours for a prayer appointment.
Hi Sam, Actually, Terry Wardle has written at least ten books, but the one specific to this discussion is "Healing Care - Healing Prayer."
It's called "Healing Care, Healing Prayer".
What is the name of Terry Wardle's book?
I used to be a part of a prayer ministry before taking my current position in Grand Rapids. Several people from our prayer team went to Terry Wardle's training at Ashland Theological Seminary and found it very valuable in our work of prayer ministry. I've used information from his book and website.
that is so exciting that you and a group are going to the Formational Prayer Training. I have had that on my to-do list for several years. Pastor Bob Boersma and a group from Providence CRC in Cutlerville also went to that training this year. It is good training for those who will be involved in deeper level of healing prayer than the "after church" altar ministry. Mary.
If you want to equip people for prayer for deep healing, you can look at Terry Wardles website, Healing Care: a ministry of formational prayer. Actually, I will be going to a three and a half day training, from Jan 13-16, at Ashland Theological Seminary, where Terry teaches, on Prayer Formation. Several other people (mostly shepherding elders and prayer ministry volunteers) from my church are also going.
While we are waiting for what others have to say, I remembered a couple of very important and accessible resources that will address this very question. Pastor Dave Huizenga has prayer resources that can be accessed on the web through Empowerment Institute, www.empowermentinstitute.org.
Harvest Prayer Ministries has a brochure called "Praying Through The Worship Service" - Training for Intercessors - The Praying Church Series 2000. It can be downloaded from www.harvestprayer.com. Topics are Preparation for Prayer, The Place of Prayer, How to Pray through the Worship Service, Additional Suggestions.
Hope this all helps!
Thanks Mary! I can't wait to hear what others have to say.
This is an important question. Thanks for asking it Sam. In our church I periodically lead a one hour training class for those who will be praying with others after the service. I have led this in other churches as well upon occasion. I will give you an abbreviated quick summary of the course. Basically this session includes things like: 1. Self preparation (self examination, confession, humility, dependence upon the Spirit, not self, etc.) 2. A little teaching about the ministry of the Holy Spirit - as prayer servants we are totally dependent upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit as we pray for others and ask God to do His work. 3. We minister under authority of the governing elders of this church. We follow their leadership and direction. 4. General Etiquette (Bible, name badge, breath mints, anointing oil, modest dress, personal hygiene). Pray in pairs or teams when possible. Ask permission before laying on hands or anointing with oil. LISTEN! Avoid telling your own story, listen well to theirs. Keep one ear to the Holy Spirit and one ear to what person is telling you. In this context, you don't have too much time for them to talk, so you may need to gently say, "What I am hearing you say is you need prayer for ______; let's pray about that now." Then start to pray. Help redirect them from talking too much to seeking the Lord. Keep your eyes open and watch for visible manifestations of the Spirit's working and evidences of healing. For example, you may see tears stream down their face when you pray certain things and you know you are right on and the Spirit it working. You may witness peace flooding over a person. 5. After listening carefully to the person, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, choose a prayer strategy. ex. PRAISE, Often if we start with praising God, our hearts and minds are opened up to what God may have in mind and clarity may come even if at first you have no idea how to pray. PRAY IN AUTHORITY OF JESUS, Always pray in Jesus' name and from our identity in Christ. INTERCESSION - LISTEN - LOVE - PRAY, Stand in the gap for the person bringing their needs before the Throne of Grace. BLESSING - If you don't have a clear direction on how to start to pray, you can always pray blessings over the person. Remember Al VandeGriend's BLESS acronym. Body, Labor, Emotional, Social, Spiritual. That will give you a good start and the Holy Spirit will flow as you obediently pray. 6. How to Pray for Healing - How to anoint with oil (James 5:14-18). Pray in faith believing God to provide answers. He may not do what we thought, but He will always do something! Pray expectantly! 7. Pray Biblically! Let the Holy Spirit remind you of scriptures and let them roll off your tongue as you pray. 8. Do not be judgmental or condemning. It is not our place to judge. Keep everything that you hear in confidence (unless someone is going to hurt themselves or others - or if you have their permission to tell the pastor or some other key person that should know about this.) 9. End the session also in PRAISE! Praise God for what He has done and what He will continue to do in this person's life. 10. Cutting Free Prayer. It is a good spiritual practice to always pray after you have ministered to others to give to God all of the things you have heard, all of the burdens, they are not ours to bear. Also cut free of any ways the enemy may try to attach, defile or transfer his ick to you. Refuse it in Jesus' name. Now that was indeed a crash course in prayer ministry! Go forth to love and serve Him and watch Him do all the work!
I've really appreciated the Presbyterian Reformed Ministries International trainings that I've participated in, including some at their training center in Black Mountain, NC. For more information see prmi.org
Great suggestion, Diane!
Another good resource is The Worship Sourcebook - it has many prayers suggested for the different elements of the worship service - prayers can be read directly or used as a guideline to pray your own prayer. There is also Prayers of the People - a shorter book of model prayers to help someone pray in church. I would think these could be helpful training tools.
One set of resources that I would like to offer is the Embers to Flames Prayer videos. The videos are a recording of a 12 week prayer training that took place last year in Holland, MI at Calvary CRC. Many have found the training to be very helpful in teaching people to deepen their prayer life.
You can find them on the Home Missions Great Lakes Team website. Follow this link and scroll down the page to "Watch Embers to Flames Videos here". The handouts and class materials are all posted on the page!
I'm afraid I don't have an answer as we do not train our post-service prayer volunteers. I'm realizing what an oversight that is. We choose people who are mature in their Christian life, model a life of prayer and wish to be there for others. I can see where training can be affective and bring more depth and meaning to the prayers that are prayed. I look forward to other people's answers.
The audio is badly distorted. Someone forgot to set the gain properly :)
The startup/shutdown sequence is reversed in the handout. The mixer should always be powered on before the amps to avoid popping when the mixer/processors start. When shutting down the speaker should always be shut down first for the same reason.
A couple of things have helped me with this difficult question. One is that we only find out truly about the depth and seriousness of our sin at the very place where that sin is dealt with, that is on the cross of Jesus Christ. He became sin (2 Corinthians 5.21) for us. To try and look deeply into our sin apart from Jesus life, death and resurrection - in other words apart from Jesus himself - is not only futile but may even be harmful. I think you could almost say that the closer we get to Jesus the less 'sinful' we become. No one could or should have to see the full extent of their sin on their own.
The other thing is that along with what we mean by sin is just the fact that we are not God, that we are God's creatures. That in itself calls for confession, self-examination, honesty about who we are. The first temptation was not really to disobey God but to try to be like God. This is always a temptation for us.
Is "Just a Closer Walk' too adult for kids? I don't think so.
Our (urban) church sings mostly gospel songs, led by our fantastic worship director, team, and band. One advantage of gospel is we repeat so many times, it's easy to catch on. (Of course musically gospel songs are typically simpler than hymns. Our main keyboard player -- excellent at improvisation, btw -- has joked that it's the same few chords over and over.) If it's a newer song, Maurice or another vocalist will sometimes sing the verses alone, with the rest of us joining on the chorus(es), but even then some of the congregation will already know it and sing enthusiastically from beginning to end. The hymns we include tend to be well-known and well-beloved by at least one of our ethnic groups.
When people are new to Christianity they are probably not going to know any songs. Why would they think they should? it might even be good for them to know that they are not the only ones who don't know a song. That everyone has to learn them at some point.I agree about not putting a new song right after the message.
In our church the worship team will introduce a new song by singing it just before the service begins.Then it will be sung again during the service.We do not teach it line by line, but it is stated that it is a new song and that most of us might not know it. We will be invited to join in the chorus after the second time or maybe in the last verse.
If we are told it is a new song we know that and we just join in when we can,I have not heard that this is a problem for people.Sometimes a new song will be sung as a solo or just the worship team during the offering.Then another day it will be sung before and during the service.
I do not have to sing to get good from a song.In fact when i am deeply impacted by the words I often stop singing and listen.
Great topic, Christy. A few times, I've noticed that our musicians often introduce a new song first as an offeratory (sung as a solo, or duet) with words on the screen. Seems like a good approach, and sure helps adoption of the song later. Have others taken that approach, or found other ways of 'sneaking it in' before the congregation is asked to sing it?
Definitely agree, especially with #2. If the worship service is well-planned, the appropriateness of the song will override individual members' concerns about whether or not they know it. They can hum along or simply meditate on the words. If you're reasonably certain the majority won't know it, you can have the accompanist or worship band play it softly through once before it is sung, or depending on the style at your church, maybe have an individual member of the worship team sing a verse or chorus through softly and then everyone join in to repeat that section and go on together. The important thing is to keep the focus on worshiping God or responding to the sermon or scripture.
Some good points. Especially the one about breaking the flow of worship. Thank you.
But in fairness I think that we can note when a song is new to most people, such as knowing we've not sung it before in this congregation's worship, and help the people sing it well. The following will only apply to churches that use a hymnal.
We introduced Lift Up Your Hearts about a year ago. When we are singing what I am quite certain is a song unknown by most I will generally do two things. I will mention that it may be unfamiliar to many and invite those who read music to open their hymnal rather than just using the projected lyrics. And I will ask the accompanist to play through the whole song one time. It creates a minimal break in the flow while acknowledging that we may need to work a little harder to sing this song well.
"Amazing" and "life-changing experience," among others, I suppose, are as shopworn as "awesome." Maybe we should retire "Awesome God" and some others to the songbook shelf for a while. It's sad that words--which are gifts from God--can so readily inflate like grades and the Venezuelan Bolivar. Thanks, Jim.
Kory, Friendship Ministries is producing a new curriculum called "Together" that can be used in small group Bible studies that include people with and without intellectual disabilities. It's really exciting! Also, Walk with Me, a popular Sunday school curriculum for children, as well as hymnals, liturgical resources, and materials for adults are available in braille and/or large print from Faith Alive Christian Resources.
Important conversation Christy. Thanks for encouraging us to reflect on this topic. Here are a few of my reflections:
1. There are so many good, theologically balanced songs available to us that I think it is ok sometimes to not choose a song because it doesn't quite maintain the balance we are looking for even though we could argue a case for it.
2. Someone mentioned LUYH's 7 songs listed in the sin section. These were hard to come by. But we felt that if we didn't include sin and the fall of humanity there wouldn't be any need for grace.
3. Part of my struggle with MercyMe's text as presented (and the many other texts it represents) is that it seems to treat the cross in an almost trite way. I don't know if we have a big enough appreciation or understanding of the cross, not just the pain but what it meant for Christ to be fully separated from God, to have descended to hell. Its so easy to say "the cross paid it all". I need a little more holy awe and reverence of the cross itself (When I Survey the Wondrous Cross!). Maybe that's found in the rest of the song or another of their texts but again back to #1... but maybe we could create the balance by singing the MercyMe text followed by "When I Survey"?
Thanks Sam. We are big Crowder fans here; I'll have to check out Audrey Assad.
I once heard a verse to the song "Jesus loves me" that said:
"Jesus loves me when I'm good, when I do the things I should
Jesus loves me when I'm bad, but it makes him very sad."
I liked that because it acknowledged the sadness / consequences while still affirming the chorus, "yes, Jesus loves me". The fact that he loves us still is the amazing part.
Knowing that we have caused grief to our Lord, and also experiencing own sorrow for sin is part of the process of repentance. I think we can dwell too long on the negative consequences of sin, waste time being fearful of them, and become overwhelmed at the sin and brokenness we see around us. But we can also spend too short a time in that space of sorrow for sin; we can choose to ignore the very real consequences. We're not in heaven yet. It's OK to be "in process", "on the journey" hopefully on the right road going in the right direction. This is where we are until that great day. In the end, we need to move beyond the darkness into his light, where we stand holy and wholly in God's grace.
Sin is not a popular topic, and apparently never has been. The gray Psalter Hymnal doesn't have a topical index listing for "sin," but redirects you to "forgiveness of sin." The Lift Up Your Hearts hymnal has 7 listings under "sin." I know many other songs reference sin, but I would think and hope they all do so in the context of forgiveness or grace or salvation. It's important to find the right balance, as you well note.
As for contemporary songs, it seems the metaphor of broken is more popular than the label sinful. Sin is seen as a result of our human brokenness (theologically not so far off from original sin). A few good modern songs that have blessed me:
"Come As You Are" by Crowder
"I Shall Not Want" by Audrey Assad (the whole Fortunate Fall album is good!)
"Open Our Eyes" in the Lift Up Your Hearts hymnal is good modern hymn that names brokenness/sin.
MJill, that's really good advice. We all need to hear it. Thank you.
For me I continually need to be reminded about Grace so I appreciate this song.It never occurred to me to think that this was making light of sin.But I can understand why you could think that.
Regarding teaching your children about sin.Your example is important.Letting them hear your own confession, repentance, acceptance of forgiveness (age appropriate of course)Asking their forgiveness when you have wronged them and teaching them to say I forgive you and praying with them about the issue, asking God to heal them of what you did to them and again letting them hear that you are thankful for His forgiveness.When your kids need a timeout or other consequence praying with them about that. Asking them to tell you and God that they are sorry. Reassuring them they are forgiven by you and God. Praying for them to learn not to do whatever the thing was. Asking forgiveness of siblings, friends and giving forgiveness.