New Way of Worship – Three Suggestions
During this time when we are all pushed to think more creatively, especially as we do the work of ministry, we can follow the principles laid out for us by the God who is creative and who created us in God’s image. You are probably already creatively ministering during this time that appears to be our “new normal.” Here are some thoughts that might help as you reach out to your congregation every week. Please accept them as my humble attempt to advance the kingdom. If you have others, please share:
- Use video-based websites and social media to stream worship and make it continually available.
It is great that these resources are available to us; however, using them to stream the same format of our worship services may not hold the congregants’ attention for an hour or more. So, do something different! Here is one sample worship order a bit less than an hour:
- Dress as biblical characters—open the service with an invocation by Paul the Apostle, 3 min
- Continue with a song by a musician dressed as David, 4 min
- Thank the biblical characters for helping during this crisis-welcome all to the service and invite to virtual altar prayer, 10 min
- Proceed with musical praise of two or three songs, 15 min
- Preach a lively, compelling sermon of hope in Jesus, 20 min
- Extend the invitation to discipleship – request they email/text/phone to inform that they accepted the invitation (so you can continue ministering to them), 7 min
- Encourage giving, 3 min
- Invite them to sing along – words posted, 4 min
- Final words and Benediction
If you have returned to in-person worship, remember to exercise the three W’s (wear masks, wash hands, watch distancing among the few participants who will be in the worship space.)
- Have 10 to 60-minute ”touches” during the week to keep your congregation engaged.
One of the meeting platforms can be used for these, if desired and appropriate.
- 10-minute Prayer – Using whatever means of communication with your congregation, let them know this will take place, for example, weekdays at 11a.m.—each day or whatever day and time you choose. Ask the congregation to send their prayer requests in advance and let them know that the requests will be read during the service (without their names) if they give their permission. Various ministers and lay leaders can be assigned to host the prayer service so that the burden will not be on one person to do all.
- The format for the 10-minute prayer time could be: Begin the service with a welcome to all, Scripture of God’s promises appropriate to the season, followed by prayer.
- For a prayer session longer than 10 minutes, read five or six prayer requests followed by prayer and repeat this process according to the time allotted.
- Discussion Groups – This is a good way to see what people want to discuss during this time of social distancing. Ask for their interests and frame discussions around contemporary publications that are easy and quick reads. Invite subject-matter experts to join and talk with the discussion group. A video meeting platform is ideal for this.
This is a tough and touchy subject even during normal periods of absence from the church like summer vacation times. How do we maintain the support for the physical plant, administration, and more? Here are suggestions:
- Find a way to reach members of the congregation weekly.
- Encourage the membership to use electronic methods.
- For members who do not have the digital capability or who prefer not to use digital methods to give, encourage the old-fashioned method of mailings.
My colleagues, you know this is not business as usual and we when that will return. I know you are creative and will be led by the One who is in charge of all things. My prayer for you is that you remain strong as we weather this storm. Jesus is on the boat!