A Play About Worship Service Planning: The One Where The Playwright Leaves

by Bobby Gilles

in Church Communications

A church campus, built in 1915 as an elementary school, rests at the corner of Silver and Ekin. It hasn’t rained for awhile. Parked cars line the street. They are going to get ticketed if the street sweeper and parking patrol come through. It’s just another Tuesday in Anytown, USA. Inside, a church creative team prepares for the coming Sunday’s worship service.

They’re planning the second week of a sermon series in Matthew 8-10 called Receive: Finding Freedom Through Healing. The gang is itching to go (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
  • Jonah Sage — Lead Pastor
  • Justin Shaffer – Worship Director

Jonah: Bobby, what are you doing?

Bobby: Getting my stuff together. I have to leave in 15 minutes. Got a meeting at Coffee Crossing at 9am.

Jonah: You scheduled a meeting during our meeting … somewhere else?

Bobby: Non-staff deacon. Important meeting and I’m trying to be as convenient as possible. Plus, the word count on my blog play never goes very high. Hence, these service prep meetings don’t last that long.

Justin: Whoa.

Lindsey: I don’t know what’s happening.

Jonah: So later on, when you’re typing your “play manuscript” based on this meeting — it actually determines the length of the meeting that we had? That we’re having right now? In the flesh?

Bobby: Does it?

Disembodied voice of Pastor Travis McGowan speaks: “The secret things belong to the Lord.”

Jonah: Let’s get on with it, I guess.

Lindsey: Who is the scripture reader this Sunday?

Bobby: Actually two: Kate at the 9am and Melissa at the 11am.

Jonah: Great! The reading is Matthew 8:23-34. My title is “The Man Is In The Boat.” I’m trying to take titles seriously. This passage carries a predominant theme of chapters 8-12: suffering goes with mission. I was struck by the “suddenly” of v 24 (“Suddenly a fierce storm struck a lake …”)

I want to ask our people, “When has the bottom dropped out on your life?” I want to press into the things that produce despair and distrust when something sudden happens.

You could fit anger, bitterness, all kinds of things into despair and distrust. What do we do with our pain? Who is in charge?

8:25 in Greek is three imperative shouts “Lord! Save! Dying!” Faith and doubt is mixed together.

Jesus asks an obnoxious question, “What’s wrong, guys?”

Lindsey, Justin and Bobby laugh. Bobby glances at his watch when he thinks no one is looking.

Jonah: Because He is in charge, we must reconsider the thought that our pain doesn’t matter. Jesus wants to do something about it.

So, then I want to move from “So if he cares” to “Where is he?” No big deal, just want to solve the “problem of evil” in the last eight minutes of the sermon.

Lindsey: Seems reasonable.

Justin: You’ve got it, Rev.

Bobby: I like it! looks at manuscript. The stuff about the pigs is funny.

Jonah: I want it to dovetail into “healing as a way of life,” and go with the Church Fathers’ allegory of the boat as the church.

Justin: That’s strong.”

Lindsey: Do you have a “God in the Boat” song this week? Last week’s sermon title, “God in the Dirt,” spurred Justin to right a song of the same title.

Justin: Not this week. For the liturgy —

Bobby gets up to leave

Jonah: You’re leaving before we get to talk about the liturgy?

Bobby: We’ve almost hit our word count anyway. When we do, this meeting will come to a hard sto—–|

How did the liturgy go? It was “Choir Sunday” – what songs did they work up for the choir? Did they adapt an old Irish prayer for the Benediction? Did Jonah solve the problem of evil in the final eight minutes of his sermon? For answers to these and other questions, see yesterday’s Christian Liturgy 101: How One Church Worshiped post.

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