Help, we've got to plan our own worship!

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By now I guess we're all aware that churches in the Circuit need to do more 'own arrangements' on a Sunday. However, I've been really heartened to see people grow in confidence, and the creative ideas that they come up with. There are lots of resources provided by the Circuit and other groups. There's a lot of talent about!
But what exactly is going on in an act of worship? What should we include? It's not dissimilar to making a cake- leave one ingredient out or have too much of another and it doesn't taste quite right. So, what kind of ingredients should go into an act of worship?

Praise and thanksgiving
Giving thanks and praise for who God is — we might do this through prayers, songs and hymns. Maybe people might like to share what they've been thankful for this week. Don't forget too to thank God for Jesus and the Holy Spirit!

Confession
We all come to church with burdens; some of them of our own making. Are the things we regret about past days? Hasty words? Failing to act upon something? Confession is a time when we lay our burdens at the foot of the Cross and say we're sorry for where we've gone wrong, and ask God to forgive us and help us to amend our failings. We might do this through singing a hymn, or having a prayer of confession. Times of silence are good too when we can offer our regrets to God. It's also important to hear the good news that our sins are forgiven, so don't forget to include words to that effect.

Hearing words from the Bible and thinking about what they might mean for us today
I can hear those famous words from Dad's Army 'Don't panic Mr Mainwaring . Don't panic!' Everyone who comes to church comes with a store of great wisdom (even if you don't feel like it!) Why not take just a sentence or two from the day's Bible reading and share together what it might mean. You can ask questions like;
I wonder who the people were who first heard these words?
I wonder what they made of these words?
I wonder what the message was the writer or speaker was trying to get across?
I wonder what these words mean to us today?
Are they telling us to go and do something practical?

If people are a bit nervous about speaking in front of others then it's often helpful to say 'Chat to your neighbour about..(whatever you want them to talk about)' People are then nearly always more able to share their answers with a larger group. Chatting to your neighbour is like a practise run!

Praying for others (intercession)
We don't leave the world outside the Church door. What are we worried about? What's going on in the world that needs prayer? Who are the people we know who are in need? There's lots of written prayers of intercession available but be creative! Perhaps you could all write down your concerns on coloured paper and make a display of them on the Communion table.

If you include all these ingredients in a Service then you are well on the way to offering God a full and rounded act of worship. Some elements will be brief, and some will be a little longer. It will all depend on what seems right as you plan the Service.
I look forward to discovering yet more talent in our churches!

Revd. Frances Biseker.

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