Creative Ideas for Renewing

Worship Service

Elder's Digest file

Performed music

1. Schedule some unusual instrument for the special item a harmonica, saw, musical bottles, etc. Have the performer tell how he or she happened to learn to play that instrument.
2. Have an entire family provide the musical item.
3. Include the story behind how the song happened to be written.
4. Try the old-fashioned musical monologue background music while the words are read or recited.
5. Try an "illustrated song." An artist can do a chalk drawing or sketch while the song is sung. Or slides can be shown on a screen.
6. Have a group of singers lead a rousing praise service, providing an item or two themselves.

Congregational music

1. Feature a variety of instrumental accompaniments to complement the organ and/or piano. It can be stringed instruments one week, brass the next, etc. Any instrumental addition will help to raise the decibels and increase the quality of the congregational singing.
2. Conclude a moving sermon that features an appeal with a song of commitment, sung while the entire congregation holds hands as a symbol of commitment and unity.
3. Take 20 to 25 minutes to create an "entire-church choir." Have the basses, sopranos, tenors, and altos all move to different quadrants of the church so they can learn their part. After a practice run or two, have the "choir" render the special item.
4. Learn a new hymn from the hymnal.
5. Sing one hymn's words to another hymn's tune. The hymn's meter is listed in the hymnal. If the meters match, the words and tunes are interchangeable.
6. Sing Scripture songs one week instead of hymns from the hymnal. Use an overhead projector so people can see the words.
7. Feature choruses for the young one week.
8. Divide the church into two or more groups and try some of the canons (rounds) in the new hymnal.
9. Have those who announce the hymns choose their favorite hymn and tell why it means something special to them. It will help the congregation to get to know that member better. It may even give the hymn new meaning for some of the others in the congregation as well.
10. Have two or more "support singers" sitting in the front row singing into microphones during the hymn singing. It helps to "fill out" the sound and encourages better singing.


1. Have people from different groups within the congregation offer the prayer each week. Introduce the person as representing that group grandparents, parents, youth, singles, young couples, university students, etc.
2. Use a written prayer for variation. Many books of prayers are available, offering a variety of beautiful prayers.
3. Have three people share the prayer. One can be responsible for praise, another for thanksgiving, and another for intercession.
4. Invite a child to offer the morning prayer. The words may be simple, but the impact may be great.
5. Instead of a person up front offering the entire prayer, he or she can invoke God, then suggest topics for the congregation to pray about silently. The prayer leader should pause after each topic suggestion. Topics can include things to praise God for, things to thank God for, and various people and activities for which a blessing is sought. It is crucial to explain before the prayer begins just how it is going to proceed.
6. Try a responsive prayer, with a refrain from the congregation. Psalm 136 could be used as a prayer for this purpose. Or the prayer leader could compose a prayer with a congregational refrain, following the pattern of Psalm 136.
7. Have a family, Sabbath school class, children's division, etc., all pray, each offering only sentence prayers. Active participation is a crucial element to long-term enjoyment of the worship hour. Get as many people as possible involved.
8. On a special occasion plan a "season" of prayer, with several people praying. Be careful not to make it too drawn out or it will have a negative impact, particularly on the younger worshipers.


1. Have a family read the Scripture, each taking a segment.
2. Try antiphonal Scripture reading, with young and old or male and female responsively reading segments of the Scripture.
3. Have a shut-in or isolated member read the Scripture. Videotape it, then replay it on Sabbath. Churches often make provision for the shut-ins to hear the sermon, but rarely provide for their active participation in the service. If video facilities aren't available, voice tape and photographic slides will work well.
4. Vary the people reading the Scripture singles, couples, single parents, ethnics, etc. Reflect the diversity of the church through the participants.
5. Prepare an illustrated Scripture reading. Many of the psalms lend themselves to illustration through nature slides, film, or video.
6. Provide a musical background to the Scripture reading.
7. Invite the congregation to read the Scripture responsively. If diversity of translations is a problem, put the verse on an overhead transparency.
8. Invite someone to paraphrase a well-known passage, showing how he or she perceives the passage and its message.


1. Have several families be responsible for collecting the offering.
2. If it is Christian Education Day, have children in school uniforms collect the offering.
3. Invite the congregation to "bring" their offering to God by actually coming forward and depositing it in a basket at the front of the church. It provides movement for the younger worshipers and has significant symbolism.
4. Sing a hymn while the offering is collected.
5. Read Scripture i.e., the story of the widow's mites during the offering collection.
6. Have someone read poetry while the offering is collected.
7. Invite each member of the congregation to offer a silent prayer on his or her offering before it is taken, rather than having the prayer from the front.

(To be continued)