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On March 9, 2023 worship leaders from across the US and Canada gathered for a conversation about the particular challenges of being vacant (without a pastor).  The attached recording has the full hour-long recording (intros end at 15:00). There were so many really wise tips shared in this conversation for those who are currently vacant or anticipating vacancy in the coming year. Here are a few notes, but we encourage you to watch and learn. 

  •  Find good thematic content that works week after week regardless of who is preaching.  
    • Someone used the "Messy People, Merciful God" theme from an article in Reformed Worship to shape their confession each week.  Someone else used Psalms of praise, attributes/names of God to shape the front of the service. A good theme provides continuity regardless of who is preaching and helps to be able to plan some in advance. 
  • Video Sermons: Many on the call had used/currently use video sermons.  Several shared their experience and also some good ideas like finding a pastor who pre-records sermons for a full season/series for your church. Or if your live stream is zoom based, zoom someone in live.
    • When using video sermons, make a strong effort to be sure the other pieces of the service are all LIVE with lots of up front congregational involvement to preserve some of the incarnational aspects of corporate worship. 
  • Sacraments: We had an interesting conversation about what to do for administering the sacraments.  It took us into a deep dive into the CRC church order but we came up with some good tips. 
  • Spiritual care responsibilities: We together recognized that serving a church as a worship planner/leader during a vacancy comes with a lot of extra "duties", including feeling an added level of responsibility for the spiritual care of the congregation. We encouraged each other to set good boundaries and also ensure that we are making good space for our own self-care. 
Attached Media
Remote video URL

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