Worship Service Planning 101: Fighting Over Byrds, Ministry Of Place, more

by Bobby Gilles

in Church Communications

A church campus, built in 1915 as an elementary school, rests at the corner of Silver and Ekin. A parking enforcer follows behind a street sweeper, writing tickets for cars parked in the street sweeper’s way. Yes, wisdom cries out in the streets of Anytown, USA. A church creative team prepares for the coming Sunday’s worship service.

They’re in the third week of a sermon series on the book of Esther called Steady: Standing Strong In A World Of Chaos. Pastor Jonah Sage will preach Esther 4. Worship Director Justin Shaffer is away on a mission trip. In his place, Staff Administrator Kristen Gilles will write the liturgy and lead the band. (see the various ways this church creates pieces of communication that come out of these weekly meetings here)

This Week’s Players (in alphabetical order)

  • Lindsey Blair – Women’s Director
  • Bobby Gilles – Associate Pastor
  • Kristen Gilles — Administrator/worship leader
  • Stephen Pierce — Family Pastor
  • Jonah Sage – Lead Pastor

Jonah: I guess everyone knows Bobby is writing down everything we say and publishing it on his blog. Not sure how I feel about that.

Lindsey: Look at it this way: It makes you more relatable.

Bobby: Before you dive into talking about the sermon, remember that we’ll need to do a big push for the Cosper event on the 30th. (Author Mike Cosper, himself a Sojourn founder, will be the featured guest at a Q&A lunch 12:30pm Sunday July 30, centered around his book Faith Among The Faithless: Learning from Esther How to Live in a World Gone Mad.)

Lindsey: Do people have to sign up for that?

Bobby: Yes, so we’ll know how many subs to buy from Jersey Mike’s.

Jonah: Okay. My text is Esther 4, which is usually centered around “for such a time as this.” It becomes a verse taken out of context and it desensitizes some of the nastiness of what happened. God draws straight lines with crooked arrows but we shouldn’t gloss over the wrong that happened.

The shift in Mordecai has brought about a shift in Esther. We don’t get any hint that she was dissatisfied with her life, but she’s willing to stick her neck out. I want to hit on the place of ministry – trying to help people see that God uses all kinds of people. Esther has a checkered story, yet God uses her.

I meet with people all the time, like a guy who is really good at many things and could be a doctor, but he wants to become a minister because his idea is that spiritual vocations are the highest calling. “Ministry” is significant but “secular” jobs are not. I want to fight against that. Nehemiah was an urban planner.

The place of ministry is wherever God has placed you. The posture of ministry says “I’ve been brought to this place to be a blessing to this place.”

Stephen: Reminds me of Jeremiah 29:7 – “seek the prosperity of the city.”

Jonah: Yes. I want to say that “Ministry” gives and ministry risks. To join God’s work in making all things new, we must be willing to risk the palace. I’ll end with Jesus as the greater Esther. He secured our eternal souls and ensured God’s kingdom will come, his will will be done on earth.

I want to leave everyone with some vision-casting: What could happen if this was our posture?

Bobby: I love that vision-casting. Without it, the sermon could seem overly harsh.  You wrapped it up brilliantly.

Jonah: In your blog post, make sure you write, “Then Bobby said Jonah was brilliant.”

Then Bobby said Jonah was brilliant. This is getting so meta.

Stephen: For the joy set before him, Jesus endured the cross. We are saying, “Give yourself away to someone” because it really is better for you, even if it doesn’t feel that way at first.

Jonah: There’s a cognitive dissonance between what we know and what we feel. For instance, Jesus can be so anxious that he’s sweating blood – that’s his physical reality, in spite of what he knows to be true. The fear in Esther is real. She knows what has happened to Vashti, and even the worse things that have happened to others who angered Xerxes.

Lindsey: Is that how you want to set it up for next week?

Jonah: Next week we’re doing three chapters, and all of the “reversals of fortune.”

Bobby: Let’s talk about the liturgy. Given the “such a time as this,” how about we sing “Turn, Turn, Turn”?

Kristen: Uh …

Jonah: By the Byrds? We’ve done that?

Stephen: We’ve done it twice.

Bobby: It’s straight scripture.

Kristen: I’m going to say no.

Jonah: I love it when you all fight.

Kristen: I’m thinking of “God Of Wonders” with the Call To Worship (either prior to or after). Maybe “O My Soul Arise: for the Confession, and “Our Great God” for the Assurance.

Lindsey: Last week there was like an almost spiritual tension because the text was so heavy. This week, I love the notion of all of us belting out “Our Great God.”

Kristen: Maybe for Communion, “New Wine,” from Hillsong, which I led at women’s night of worship. (Jonah plays it on Apple Music, says, “Yeah”).

Kristen: For the sending, “O Church Arise.”

Stephen: I was just thinking of that one. The Spirit is at work.

Kristen: In the first half of the set we told our own soul to rise. At the end we are rising together in Christ, to the ministry, the risk he has called us to. This is a good call to action, high energy.

Bobby: This will be the first Sunday of Ordinary Time on the church calendar. What if you started the Call To Worship by introducing Ordinary Time — like, “In the past few months we’ve journeyed through Lent, Easter, etc. and now we’re in a time where we remember that normal, ordinary Christianity is Spirit-filled Christianity.”

Kristen: Yes, I see where you’re going with that.

Bobby: When you send your liturgy document, include a note on the translation of any scripture passages in the liturgy. That way, as long as we hold the license for that translation in ProPresenter, we can save time on slide creation.

Then someone rang the doorbell, and the meeting broke down. How did the service turn out? Did our gang make any changes? Did the Spirit move differently than they might have supposed? Why did Bobby just now type “surpose,” and then give thanks for autocorrect? See yesterday’s Liturgy 101 post to read the finished liturgy and/or watch either the video of the entire service or the video of the sermon in particular.

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