Resources for worship
Worship should be crafted around the themes of reVision. While it is critical to talk about how the revision themes apply to the church, it is also critical to help those present reflect on their own transformation, core values, mission, vision, etc. You cannot (and should not) spend three months talking about the church’s goings on. Help people to expand their focus by asking about God’s dreams for them, what their purpose is, and how to actualize the changes necessary to make God’s dreams come true.
Optimally, you will focus worship during the initial phase of reVision on the themes of transformation being explored in small groups. If you are able to take this on, twelve of your worship services will be driven by this process, with additional services to follow celebrating your progress and consecrating your new efforts. However, depending on your context, you may find it more helpful to focus on just six key worship services, to be used toward either the beginning or end of the 90 day season. Linking sermons, music, and experiences to the 90-day first phase of reVision will support and reinforce what members are hopefully experiencing through the small groups and in their own spiritual practices. Worship will help to communicate the new or renewed vision/mission so that it permeates the whole Body.
We have made worship guides for six services available, and while you can make use of those, forming a team to craft twelve transformational worship experiences might be a smart way to involve more people and ignite worship. Remember that they are meeting in small groups every other week to look at and reflect on these topics, so this is your opportunity to put their story in the context of the Sacred Story. God is still speaking, and this time hopefully it is both to them, and through them.
Worship services should focus on themes such as:
- Transformation: While the church is notorious for being change resistant, that really isn’t our true heritage. The call of Jesus is "Repent (change directions) and believe the good news (that you really can be different).”
- Core Values: What do we believe, care about, and hold dear? How have our values shaped our identity? What were Jesus’ core values? How do we, as the Risen Body of Christ, express these core values?
- Vision: What would it look like if God’s will were “done on earth as it is in heaven?” What would our lives look like? Our church? What are God’s dreams for us?
- Mission: If our lives were “purpose-driven” what would the purpose be? What is this church’s unique history? What might God be calling us to do differently in the 21st century? What cause empowers, excites, and motivates you?
- Strategies: We know much more than we do. How do we live strategically so that the Realm of God comes in us and on earth? We may start with “what we believe” and then move to “so what,” but this is the place where we illustrate “how” those beliefs find expression.
- Commissioning: Each week send people out to struggle together to hear God’s still small voice, to live with greater hope and faith, and to move irresistibly toward becoming who God dreams they can be.
It is amazing how often the lectionary readings speak to where we are and what is going on in our lives and in our church, but it is also okay to suspend the lectionary for a period to mark a special occasion in the life of your church. Regardless of the themes and worship components that you choose, every Sunday people should leave feeling challenged, hopeful, and energized about the possibilities for their life and for their church.
Other suggestions for worship include:
A theme song for your church’s reVision may be chosen so pieces of it are used as an anthem, solo, prelude, call to worship, gradual, sermon response, etc.
You might celebrate communion every Sunday for ninety days as a deliberate act of connecting with one another and God. This won’t have the same impact for churches that already observe communion weekly, so you may need to find a different sacrament or ritual.
Invite people to come forward and light a candle as a sign of their hopes and prayers for their own lives and for the congregation.
Additional Helpful Resources for Worship Planning:
- Text Week: textweek.com
- Narrative Lectionary at Working Preacher: narrativelectionary.org
- Facebook group for Narrative Lectionary users: facebook.com/groups/NarrativeLectionary
- African American Lectionary (Not updated since 2013 but still useful): theafricanamericanlectionary.org
- Christian Theological Seminary’s curated resource page: cpx.cts.edu/preaching/resources/sermon-helps
- Sermon Seeds: ucc.org/worship_samuel
- Duncan, Geoffrey. Courage to Love: Liturgies for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community. Pilgrim Press: 2002.
- Jordan, Marshall. Another Brown Bag. Pilgrim Press: 1980.
- Harding, Thomas. Worship for All Seasons. United Church Publishing: 1993.
To learn more about how to create transformative worship, featuring Molly Baskette, Senior Consultant for the Center for Progressive Renewal and author of Real Good Church: How our Church Came Back from the Dead and Yours Can Too. (Password = renewchurch)