Many worship leaders around the globe find themselves serving in a vacuum. They don’t have a robust staff of worship leaders and interns to bounce ideas off of or pray with on a weekly basis as they plan one of the most catalytic events of a Christian's week: the Sunday gathering.
When it comes to thinking through and writing liturgy, we can all get stuck. One of the graces of our modern age is that resources are everywhere and here are 3 of my favorite when thinking through planning a Sunday worship gathering.
This book is a collection of more than 2,500 prayers, litanies, and spoken texts. From the Call to Worship to the benediction, this resource is full of great helps. It comes with a CD that has the text available for cutting and pasting as well.
After spending some time in this book, you might find you use it less and less because the examples will teach you how to go to the Scriptures yourself and pull out confessions, prayers for illumination, and other readings for the congregation.
2. The Valley of Vision from The Banner of Truth Trust
One of the greatest needs of the church is to pray in public gatherings. So often it is difficult for people to form their own words, so praying as a congregation can be a powerful means to help others express what is in their heart. We see this all through the song book of Psalms in the Bible. When I don’t know what to pray, I can lean on those who have gone before me.
The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions going back to the sixteenth century. This is one small excerpt from a prayer entitled “The Broken Heart”:
Grant me to hear thy voice assuring me:
that by thy stripes I am healed,
that thou has been made sin for me
That I might be righteous in thee,
that my grievous sins, my manifold sins are all forgiven,
buried in the ocean of thy concealing blood.
Although some of the language is antiquated, the richness of these prayers are fertile soil for our personal devotional times as well as our congregational gathering.
3. Rhythms of Grace by Mike Cosper
We recently preached through the book of Colossians at Sojourn Church. I was given Colossians 3:16-17 to preach on, and though I had plenty of material already written on this passage, I felt led to study it again with fresh eyes. So after soaking in the Scripture, I turned to the commentaries and dusted off my Rhythms of Grace copy. I was quickly reminded what a gem this book is. I’ve worked alongside Mike Cosper for 13 years now playing music and for the last decade as a pastor. Mike has dedicated so much of his life and work to helping the church understand what worship is, why we worship as the body of Christ corporately, and how to practice the rhythms of grace God has given us to be transformed by the beauty of the gospel story.
This book is full of the theological foundations of worship and how we at Sojourn plan out our services to have gospel movements that we want our people using everyday of their lives. If liturgy is something new to you, this would be the book to start with. Whether you are re-reading it again or picking it up for the first time, you will be blessed.
As you study and use these resources, don’t forget the basics. Pray and ask God to awaken your heart towards Him and His truth. Pray for your people to catch a vision of God’s love for them that is greater than they can imagine. And pray for the Holy Spirit to stir affections to love Him more and more.