Chris P writes; A number of us met on Monday 09 March to think about how we might make this objective come to life in our services.
As it happened most of our conversation was about the breaking of bread, so maybe there is scope for thinking about other meetings at another time. Here are some bullet points to let you know our ideas: Chris summarized the examples that came out of the Bible Class held in January about why and how people gave glory to God in the scriptures.
They fell into 6 categories:
• Everything you do can give glory to God (mentioned 4x)
• Things associated with worship (such as thanksgiving)
• Posture (we don’t do any that were mentioned, e.g. kneeling
• Things we do in everyday lives (doing “good works”
• Praise (e.g. using instruments)
• Attitude (including “with gladness” and “being built into Christ and each other”) With the right attitude, to being us full circle, we can give glory in everything.
flow of the service The way a president connects the elements of a service helps make them relevant to the purpose of the service – including collections as offerings are a way of giving God glory (but for some watching the bag go around is distracting)
While we want to give our best in glorifying our God and his Son, it is not about performance / perfection. Also, we want to be creative in our expression but novelty for the sake of novelty is not helpful.
Nothing we do now is wrong and there are no ‘new rules’ – however, there are things to be mindful of. We would like everyone, particularly those who are leading services, to think about how best we can consciously give glory to God.
This starts with the first prayer a president gives – which is the one he makes when he begins his preparation.
The different elements of the service can seem unbalanced at times, for example when the announcements are longer than the readings. Can they be reduced to even only the welfare matters? Could the collections be taken up at the same time as they are being given? Could whoever is on the Rota for the following week be put up on the screen rather than be read out or left to the emailed announcements?
In some ecclesias a member of their care team gives the welfare prayer, as they may be in the best position to know what to bring to God. Some presidents would find this helpful.
Prayers could be enhanced by varying how they’re given, on occasion; e.g. said by the whole congregation from words on the screen. This may include words of a hymn, prayer from the Bible or a well selected prayer written by someone else. A ‘call and response’ prayer / opportunity for quiet personal prayer are other possibilities. Jan reminded us that there was a favorable response to these suggestions in the questionnaire on prayer last year, but we have rarely put any of them into use.
Similarly, a suggestion that mediation may be used to focus minds after the children have gone to Sunday school has not been practiced. Some people might be helped in mediating by a verse, a phrase or a picture being put up on the screen to concentrate on.
A useful framework for prayers is expressed by the ACTS acrostic – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication, as in the ‘Lord’s Prayer’. We tend to do more of the last than the others and rarely do our prayers concentrate on ‘Adoration’.
Musicians (and possibly readers and those who pray) can be helped to give of their best when they have the chance to practice before hand – and an opportunity to say, ‘sorry I can’t play that one!’ Not everyone is comfortable using the technology and sometimes it lets us down – so no one should feel under pressure to use it. Offers of help might be gratefully received, though People asked to give thanks for shared lunches tend to be ‘dropped on’ by the president at short-notice. The meals are family occasions so perhaps other members of the family could be invited to give the thanks, including our children (many of whom do so at home).
Readings & Music
Readings can come at a point in the service they are most relevant / helpful, and some (not all) lend themselves to be read in different ways, particularly as different parts.
There is no scriptural reason we could think of for sisters not to give a reading and on the occasions they have it has been well received.
Having a mix of hymns & songs means everyone gets the chance to worship in a way they enjoy. Having the words on the screen helps lift our heads and can be easier to follow than some of the songs that require careful following of the music to work out what to sing next. Books are still useful to follow the tunes, especially harmonies – so feel free to use them too.