Worship Service Planning 101: Three Kids Walk Into A Fiery Furnace …

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 tick crouches on the leaf of a tree, hanging over a sidewalk. “Jack And Diane” plays from the stereo of a passing convertible. It’s just another morning in Anytown, USA. Inside, a church creative team prepares for the coming Sunday’s worship service.

They’re in Week 3 of a sermon series on the book of Daniel called Stand: Staying Strong In A World Of Chaos. Pastor Jonah Sage will preach Daniel 3 (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
  • Stephen Pierce — Family Pastor
  • Jonah Sage — Lead Pastor
  • Justin Shaffer — Worship Director

Jonah: My sermon intro might change in light of a conversation that Bobby and I just had.

Bobby: I don’t think it needs to change this week because the announcement (for an upcoming Marriage sermon series) in your intro makes sense within the context of your sermon. Plus, we’ll need time to train everyone before we switch.

Stephen: Wait, what?

Lindsey: Is this about getting the scripture readers involved?

Bobby: Yes. So Lindsey and I piloted this last week. We had a lot of announcements to get to, so rather than her reading the sermon text, and then me doing the announcements before starting my actual sermon, she did the announcements first, then the reading. So when I started speaking, I was able to dive right into my sermon — it felt more connected to the scripture reading that the congregation had just heard.

Justin: I thought it was smooth.

Jonah: Great job, Lindsey.

Bobby: I think that Justin, Lindsey and I should work on getting a list of readers together, then hosting a training on how to do announcements and readings. That will help things go smooth when we launch the new pattern. And hopefully we’ll be getting more women involved in leading liturgy.

Jonah: Sounds good. So let’s walk through my sermon for a bit. The key passage in the chapter is Daniel 3:16-18. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego can say “God can save us” but also “even if he doesn’t, we’ll be safe.”

I hear so many stories of someone saying words like, “I haven’t been back to church in ten years because I did everything right and then God didn’t come through.”

With these three, it isn’t explicit in the text but (Keller does this too), they wanted God more than they wanted their life to be rescued. Relationships are meant to be reciprocal, a participation in the life of another. Not simply take, take, take.

I also want to bring up the theme in Daniel of kings who refuse to listen. In your sermon last week, Bobby, the king dreamed of a statue that was crushed by God. So what does he do in the next chapter? Builds a 90’ statue.

Stephen: That’s so funny.

Jonah: We get in this trap of waiting for our “in the fire” moment, but that moment is every day. It’s day to day, hour by hour. These Hebrews had been praying daily for years. We saw them last week, praying with Daniel. We saw them in chapter 1, refusing to defile themselves with food from the king’s table. They didn’t just rise up in this one crucial moment. They loved God for God’s sake, and they trusted him no matter what.

God may rescue you from death. But the great promise of the Bible is that God will rescue you through death.

Bobby: What a line.

Lindsey: Yeah, that’s good.

Bobby: Justin, what are you cooking with the liturgy?

Justin: We’re starting with the old gospel song “Fourth Man In The Fire.” I’ll record a demo because I don’t have a bluegrass/country band this week, so these guys will need to have a clear vision of how I want to arrange it. We’ll read from Psalm 96 – a classic Call To Worship. And I want to spend some time in 1 John 4 (loving one another) in the Celebration of Assurance and Passing of the Peace.

For communion we’ll play “Another In The Fire” by Hillsong for the first time. Man, it’s a jam.

Everyone listens and agrees it is a jam.

Then we’ll send everyone out with a benediction from Romans 8:38-39 — I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jonah: Good job, man.

How did the liturgy turn out? How did the band arrange, “Fourth Man In The Fire” How did Jonah work the Marriage series announcement into the intro of his sermon on Daniel 3? Read and/or watch it in yesterday’s Liturgy 101 recap, here. You can read the entire liturgy, watch the service on our Facebook Live embed, or watch a higher res video of the sermon alone.

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