Category Archives: Reflections on Worship

Celebration of a New Appointment 2015

As I was talking with the leaders at my new appointment, I got the feeling that they felt this service needed a face lift.  Here is my attempt at making something old new again.  One of the things I am trying to emphasize is the aspect of the Word in ministry and Local Missions.  Feedback would be appreciated greatly!


Service of Installation for 2015


By leader: 

Friends, today we welcome Pastor ________________.

Through prayerful discernment Bishop _____________ has sent him/her to serve, lead, and love in Christ as our Pastor.

_______, you have been called by God and sent by the Church

to live among us as an example of the Word,

to preach and teach the Word in mercy and grace,

and to offer the Word at Table, at Font,

in Mission and in Service.


You are sent to love, lead, and with us make disciples for the transformation of the world.


By Pastor:

I have been called and sent, and with God’s grace and help

I will love, lead, and with you make disciples for the transformation of the world.


By leader:

Friends in Christ, let us celebrate this new beginning!



God is with us.  God is with you.

You will pray for us – We will pray for you.

You will be with us in joy and in grief.

We will be with you in celebration and sorrow.

You will give your gifts to God among us.

We will share God’s blessings to us with you.

Together we will serve and witness to Christ’s Kingdom

in our community and to our neighbors.


By leader or volunteers with symbolic items given or lifted up:

Preach the Word (Bible)

Baptize new Disciples (Water)

and Offer Christ constantly (Bread and Wine)

as you Lead us to be Servants of all (Towel and Basin)

in Mission in our Community.  (Something that represents the local community)


By leader:

This stole reminds us that you have been set apart for the ministry of an Elder. (Stole)



 Shepherd us as our Pastor.



 This yoke is laid upon me, I take it willingly.



Lord, bless the ministries of our church.

Live among us as your Living Word.

Preach your Word through our words and actions.

Give us grace to share with one another and the world

as we seek to be Disciples who make Disciples

in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Worship Wake

Someone asked me recently why I call this site Worship’s Wake.  The answer is because Worship should be and have Wake.

Worship should be like a Wake.  Not many people do this anymore, but a traditional wake, family night, or viewing is a gathering of loved ones around the deceased before the funeral.  They tell stories,  They cry.  They hug and support the family.  They are reminded that this life has impact, this life makes a difference, this life lives on in resurrection.  Worship should have all of these characteristics… and more.

Worship should be aWake.  We all giggle when it happens.  That elderly gentleman in the back nods off and we begin the hear the rumble of his snore two minutes into the sermon.  Worship needs to have an energy.  This doesn’t mean that we’re all moshing for Jesus or jumping in the house of God every Sunday.  But within the given context, the worship experience should cause a change within us from the potential to the kinetic, from the everyday to the supernatural, from the mundane to the spiritual.

Worship should have a Wake.  When a boat goes through the water, it causes a ripple behind it called a wake.  When other boats hit this wake, it causes them difficulty and changes their course.  God knows where our boat is heading, and God willing, the Lord is the captain with the vision.  Our worship experience needs cut through the waters of this live and other boats should be affected by it.

Worship’s Wake is my site for helping this happen.  Community Worship, Energetic Worship, Visionary and Transformational Worship.  Knowing God is in the mix, I’ll do my best.

Improving Worship by Don Nations

I received this in an email and it was worth sharing.

Four Steps to Improve Worship

  1. Eliminate distractions.  Poor sound systems, flickering lights, burned out lights, the wrong date on the bulletin, uncomfortable seats, lack of directional signs, bad coffee, etc. all can distract people and lower the perceived quality of the worship experience.
  2. Improve transitions.  Poor transitions can make even good content seem disjointed and mediocre.  Watch for dead spots.  Make sure people are in place and ready to speak instead of waiting for them to come to a microphone.  Each element should flow into the next instead of feeling like a jarring turn.
  3. Align the elements.  Everything in the worship service should tie together.  Each service should have a clear theme and primary message which is being communicated.  Each prayer, scripture text, reading, etc. should further the delivery of that message.
  4. Know the target audience.  You must know who you desire to reach with the service in order to be able to effectively design it.  The target audience determines the language you use, the elements you include, the stories told, the announcements made, etc.  No service is equally effective at reaching all kinds of people.

Planning Worship 101

So the pastor is going out of town, to a conference, or died recently and you have to plan worship this Sunday… hmmmm.  Where to begin?  Or maybe you are a new pastor arriving at your first appointment or call, and suddenly realize that no one in seminary bothered to tell you how to create a bulletin.  Well, hopefully, this isn’t too far fetched for you as a Christian who has attended church and paid attention to what happens inside each worship service.  Here, I offer a simple guide to anyone planning a worship service in any tradition or pattern:

Step 1:  Pray.  

Yes, Pray.  You’d be surprised at how easy it is to begin this process without first going to the primary source – GOD.  Believe me, I know.  I’ve been guilty, and if you ask your preacher to be honest, I’m sure she or he has been guilty of quickly putting a bulletin together without first talking to God.  Every worship plan should beginning with prayer.  Remember back when you did research papers for high school and college and the English teacher constantly said, “first read the primary source.”  When it comes to worship, the primary source is God.  Worship begins and ends in the Heart of God.  The Spirit is about preparation in prayer just as much as inspiration in work.

Step 2:  Text.

Now remember, I’m just talking about planning the worship service, not the sermon.  The sermon (I hope!) also follows these steps.  Whatever way the text is chosen, whether you are following the lectionary or a sermon series or going through a book of the Bible, read it several times before setting down to plan worship.  Make time to read prayerfully and intentionally read the text.  I suggest five to ten times as a minimum so that you get breathe deeply what the Spirit is cooking from the recipe.

Step 3:  Context.

The very word con text implies that this is intended to go with the text.  Each worship service has it’s own flavor.  Theologically, in a worship service, the audience is God.  As you plan the worship service, keep in mind who the players on the stage are – the people!  If they are accustomed to the formalities of high church processions, go with it.  If they crave Gaither songs and knee slapping, go with it.  What I am emphasizing here is that they need to be a part of the plan.  Worship is from God through us to God.  So don’t forget us, eh?

Also keep in mind the context of the building, the atmosphere, and who’s leading.  The space we meet in comes with plus and minus signs as does the ambiance and feel of the room.  While we can’t change these, we must realize they are there.  Everyone comes to worship with different energy levels.  Don’t put a monotone reader in charge of reading Psalm 119, nor put someone who’s had eighteen cups of espresso in charge of leading the congregation through a responsive reading – wemayreadjustabittoofast!

Step 4:  Theme.

One of the most tragic things that happens in poorly done worship is knee-jerk emotions and inappropriately placed events.  Having a central theme that runs throughout the worship service is ideal.  A sermon on transformation in Christ shouldn’t be followed by “Just as I am.”  The thought just doesn’t follow.  Nor should a hymn take us emotionally someplace the sermon wasn’t.  If the service is focused on praise, let’s not sing a slow love song for a savior.  And definitely don’t throw in a random event like honoring Graduates when the theme is Pentecost.  If it interrupts the flow, it probably should go.  A service with a theme has a thread that connects and guides us closer to God and one another.

The theme should be the big picture; that one concept that everyone at every age is exposed to in the worship.  An example would be a service on John 1:1-14 (notice I began with the text) which focuses on God’s coming to us in the flesh.  Every part of the worship service should be about this theme – prayers, songs, kid’s time, sermon, benediction.  This takes a lot of time, preparation, and choreography; but the end service to God through the people is worth it.

Exceptions to the Rule…

Weddings, funerals, and high holy days already have their themes (and yes, a wedding is a worship service if clergy are signing the marriage license).  Weddings usually deal with the love of God expressed in human relationships.  Funerals should be about the person who died, how their life reflected Christ, and the promise of resurrection.  Easter is about resurrection, Christmas is about the Birth of Christ, etc.  In these worship services we should pray, honor the theme, keep an eye to the context, and read the text (unless you are following a strict lectionary style).

My prayer is that this will help all worship leaders in their planning.  Please feel free to contact me, I’ll be glad to help in any way I can.