Month: December 2017

Mission Our Worship, Part 7: Sent Out To Serve

For the last several weeks we have been looking at each part of worship and considering how we can “mission” that element of the service.  From being called together to confession of sin, from hearing God’s Word and responding with what we believe, we have discussed how each part relates to social justice and the command that Jesus gives us to “love our neighbor.”

Typically the end of our services includes some kind of Charge and Benediction.  Often a pastor leads it by coming out to the center of the room, raising her hands, and gives some final words to the congregation.  This part of worship reminds us that God sends us out into the world, and blesses us for that journey with the knowledge that the Holy Spirit goes with us.

What are the places God is calling your congregation to go?  What message does God give us to share in those places?

Here’s an exercise you can do with your youth to “mission” this part of worship.  Ask your pastor(s) for a few standard charges and benedictions that they say, or that are found in the Book of Common Worship.  Choose one and re-work it to be specific to your local context and situation.  How might you share this new benediction with the congregation?  Here’s how one might sound if we were doing this exercise here in Asheville, NC…

“Go out into Asheville in faith.  Don’t be scared, but be brave.  Hang on to the things you know to be right.  Don’t disrespect any neighbor, even if they disrespect you.  Give strength and comfort to the patients at the Haywood Respite who need a friend, and the folks at A Hope Day Center who feel they don’t have a future.  Love everybody, from Livingston Heights to Pisgah View Apartments.  from the mansions of Biltmore Forrest to under the bridges downtown, being joyful about the hope and possibilities that the Holy Spirit gives each one of us, because God’s grace, mercy, and peace is promised to us all, no matter what.”

We hope this blog series has been helpful to you and your youth group.  May God continue blessing you and your church, so you might in turn be a blessing to others!

Bill Buchanan is a pastor, husband, father, and avid fan of live music.  He’s the Executive Director of Youth Mission Co 

 

 

Mission Our Worship Part 6: What Do You Have to Offer?

Welcome to Part 6 of our blog series, Mission Our Worship.  We are looking at the different parts of worship and considering how we can engage in related acts of mission.

In our last post we discussed that after hearing God’s Word read and proclaimed, we are inspired to stand up and say what we believe.  That’s more than some litany read aloud by a congregation once a week– it’s a call for our whole lives.  Whenever we see injustice or strive in the context of our world, we are called to speak out based on our faith and our convictions.

Today we look at the part of worship known as the “offering.”  No matter what flavor of Christian you might be, this is a part of worship we definitely all hold in common.  (Perhaps because collecting an offering is a major way that churches stay open!)  In the earliest times of our faith (like, Old Testament early) worshippers brought whatever they had to give as an offering.  If they were farmers, they brought their produce.  If they were shepherds, they brought some of their sheep to offer up to God.  Even today in our worship services people bring not only their money, but also their talents. If they are musical, they might offer a song in worship.  If they are an artists, perhaps their art might be utilized to enhance the service and point to God.

Engaging in mission is all about worshiping God through our actions towards others.  It is about loving our neighbors.  So, what do you have to offer…. to God, and to your neighbors?  If you are musical, who needs to hear that song, not just in worship, but in the world?  If you are academically gifted, who can be helped, and benefit from your intelligence?  Are you a good friend?  Who needs a friend right now?  Are you a good writer?  What needs to be said, and to whom?

Don’t worry if it’s not perfect.  God doesn’t expect perfect… just faithful.

Next up:  The Prayers of the People.  Stay tuned!!

Mission Our Worship, Part 5: Saying What We Believe

Welcome to Part 5 of our blog series:  Mission Our Worship.  Week by week, we are looking at each section of worship and thinking about how we can engage in acts of mission that are related to each of those elements.  In previous posts we have discussed how God calls us, not only to gather together in worship, but also calls us to love and serve our neighbors.  We have considered how adoration of the creator leads us to care for what God has created.  Confessing our sin requires us to be aware of the ways that we, individually and collectively, have hurt our neighbors through social injustices.  We’ve also talked about how the Spirit uncovers more of the power and meaning of Scripture when we study the Bible in community… particularly with neighbors who are different from us.  Our collective wisdom and collective experiences of life provide a richer soil for our growing understanding of God’s Word and its application in our lives.

Everything that comes after this point in worship is in response to hearing God’s Word read and proclaimed.  For many of us, the sermon is followed each week by some kind of creed or litany.  You could say it is a kind of “dialogue” with the proclaimed Word.  Given what we have just learned from the Scriptures, what do we now have to say in response?

Often this “response” is a statement that is read by the whole congregation.  Often the text of what is said is something that some group of people (past or present) has created as a public declaration about faith and life.  Some classic examples of what I’m talking about are The Apostles Creed and The Nicene Creed.  Those are very old statements, but some are more “modern” (as in, written in the last centruy).  For instance, The Barmen Declaration was written by German Christians in the 1930s because they found it important to say publicly, “Jesus is Lord.  Not Hitler or anybody else.”  All these statements were written within a context, with all the politics, concerns, debates, and societal problems that came with that context.

So, how do we “mission” this part of worship?  In many ways it is by simply doing what so many groups of Christians have done before us… discerning and saying what we believe!  What are the issues and questions that we are discussing as a people today?  Locally, nationally, or globally, what needs to be said, and said together as a group of Christians?

In the past, these statements have typically been made by “official bodies” represneting countries or denominations or elected groups and assemblies.  Technology has now “flattened” alot of those ways of communicating.  Now anyone can make a statement and send it around on social media to see if others agree or disagree.  (Such as, “If you feel this way too, like and share it!”) Another example of how folks have made a statement together is the let’s be neighbors signs that have been put in many front yards or businesses. There’s no “official body” deciding that we all will now believe this statement of inclusion.  But many folks have made the choice to say it, and they have let their neighbors know that they feel this way.

So, what is it that your faith and the guidance of the Holy Spirit is leading you to believe and say?  What is God putting on your mind and heart that the world needs to hear, at this time and in this context?  What statement can your youth group make together, and how can it be shared with others?

Having heard God’s Word read and proclaimed, let us stand and say what we believe!

 

Bill Buchanan is a pastor, Christian Educator, father, husband, and live music enthusiast.  He’s the Executive Director of Youth Mission Co.