When Your Church Can’t Meet: The Value of Liturgy

When Your Church Can't Be Together, It Can Be Together In Its LiturgyLiturgy is the form of worship that a church walks through when it assembles.

“Liturgy is the customary public worship performed by a religious group. As a religious phenomenon, liturgy represents a communal response to and participation in the sacred through activity reflecting praise, thanksgiving, supplication or repentance.” source

In our church, our liturgy takes the form of Call to Worship, Confession of Sin (or Lament), Remembering the Gospel, Thanksgiving and Prayer, Offering, Scripture Reading, Sermon, and Benediction (Blessing and Sending). These elements include both songs and responsive readings, as well as times of silent meditation.

A benefit of a liturgical form is that when your church has to assemble in small groups or cannot assemble at all, the people know what to do. When your people cannot be together as a whole, they can be together in their liturgy.

If your church can’t assemble this Sunday, and you need a worship service in your home, our church posts our entire liturgy with song videos on our blog. Search the “Service Previews.” Then go to Sermons page to hear the message for that Sunday.

Need more songs to sing? Visit my worship song page or Hymnicity.

Fear and Sparrows — A Song for Days of Uncertainty

Fear and Sparrows — Luke 12:4–7“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

— Luke 12:4–7

Continue reading “Fear and Sparrows — A Song for Days of Uncertainty”

The Gospel of an Imperfect Worship Service

I subscribe to Seth Godin’s blog. I enjoy his short, pithy posts, often full of wisdom about life, productivity, and service to others. Saturday morning, I opened my email to find a new post from him in my inbox—“A note from 2020.” The content was simple and insightful: “Twelve years from now, your future self is going to thank you for something you did today, for an asset you began to build, a habit you formed, a seed you planted.”

The first thing that struck me, however, was not the content but the math error. 2020 is not twelve years from now. I followed the link to his blog, which opened to the same title but quickly refreshed to “2030.” Seth had caught his error.

I laughed. And I relaxed. This was good news. Even Seth Godin, a master of social media and blogging, knows that moment of panic and frustration when you discover your error five minutes after it publishes. The content of Seth’s post served me, even with the error. It reminded me that I don’t have to be perfect to serve people well on social media.

The same holds in our corporate worship services.

Those of us who lead services, serve in music, prepare service guides, preach sermons, read scripture, pray publicly, manage audio-visual components, and attend worship serves need to hear this message: Mistakes preach good news. Continue reading “The Gospel of an Imperfect Worship Service”

“They Are All Gone!” — A Song on Forgiveness Inspired by Charles Spurgeon

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me this paragraph from Charles Spurgeon’s sermon “Forgiveness Made Easy:”

All our transgressions are swept away at once, carried off as by a flood, and so completely removed from us that no guilty trace of them remains They are all gone!

O ye believers, think of this, for the all is no little thing: sins against a holy God, sins against his loving Son, sins against gospel as well as against law, sins against man as well as against God, sins of the body as well as sins of the mind, sins as numerous as the sands on the sea shore, and as great as the sea itself: all, all are removed from us as far as the east is from the west. All this evil was rolled into one great mass, and laid upon Jesus, and having borne it all he has made an end of it for ever.

When the Lord forgave us he forgave us the whole debt. He did not take the bill and say, “I strike out this item and that,” but the pen went through it all;—PAID. It was a receipt in full of all demands, Jesus took the handwriting which was against us and nailed it to his cross, to show before the entire universe that its power to condemn us had ceased for ever. We have in him a full forgiveness.

She suggested that there might be a corporate reading for our worship service in there. As I read it, song lyrics naturally emerged. Within a few minutes, I had the first draft of a song, which I sent off to David Ward. Continue reading ““They Are All Gone!” — A Song on Forgiveness Inspired by Charles Spurgeon”

Worshiping God After a Hurricane

The Fury of the WindIn early September of 2005, I traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi to work with a disaster relief crew following Hurricane Katrina. We spent ten days preparing and delivering meals to survivors, those whose lives and possessions had been ravaged by the wind and water.

As an Iowa native, I’ve seen what weather can do. We’re no strangers to tornadic destruction. But the aftermath of Katrina was unlike anything I’d ever seen in person.

v1a - FuryAs we worked that week and then returned home, the words of Job stuck in my head (Job 26:14): “Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?” Continue reading “Worshiping God After a Hurricane”