Benediction Introduction


Benediction Introduction

At the conclusion of worship, before the Pastor says his blessing, consider having a Lay person read an introduction to this very special blessing. As parishioners, we hear this so often that we tend to forget its importance and meaning. Its helpful every now and then to reminded of “why we do the things we do in worship.”

One of the great miracles of life is that God pays attention to us – each one of us. In a moment Pastor is going to announce that the very God that we’ve been worshiping and singing songs to all morning, will turn His face toward us, to make His face shine on us and to give us peace. If you think about it, to turn your face toward someone is to give that person your whole-hearted and undivided attention. This is God basically telling us that we matter to Him and that we are important to Him. It is not the casual listening of a preoccupied mind. It’s God saying to us: “I have nothing else that I’d rather do, nowhere else I’d rather be. I’m fully devoted to being with you– right now, in this house of worship, and after having heard you worship me.” In Pastor’s blessing, this is the kind of attention that our Creator God lavishes on us.

But it gets even better than this. God not only turns his face towards us but He lets His glorious and holy face shine on us. This shinning face is an image of delight. It is the face of a proud parent beaming while a child plays her first piano recital. It is the radiant face of a bride as she walks the isle to her groom. We can turn our face and pay attention to anyone, with little effort. But our faces shine, and gleams, and grows radiant only in the presence of those we love most deeply. And this, says the Benediction, is how God loves us, and how God pays attention to us.

Can we top this “attention” and this “love?” Yes, it goes one step further. God gives us peace, the type of peace that transcends our understanding. The peace with God that comes from Christ and what He accomplished for us on the cross, as well as the peace in our souls to know we are right with God because of Jesus. The type of peace that makes us children of God and brothers and sisters with each other. We have found peace, because He is our peace.

So get ready people: it’s about to happen. This awesome God is about to give you His undivided attention and make His face shine on you, and give you his peace. Let’s listen now as Pastor lifts his arms in praise of this incredible God and bestows on each one of us God’s abundant blessings.

Credits: Some of the above text comes from the book “Love Beyond Reason” by John Ortberg.

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Layered Scripture Reading


The beauty of this reading is the fact that its’ God word, but also, it uses three readers where there is an overlap between parts.  This is a nice affect that really draws attention to the Word.  It is helpful to practice this technique with your readers before the service.

Introduction: There are many references throughout God’s Word to the creation account. They remind us of the greatness and power of our God, while at the same time they prompt us to give him deserved praise for his goodness and wisdom. Our next reading will bring together three different sections of Scripture that will further serve to underscore the greatness of our Creator Lord. We now hear words taken from John, chapter 1, Colossians, chapter 1, and Revelation, chapter 4.

Pastor: In the beginning was the Word,
Pastor & Reader 1: and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Reader 1: He was with God in the beginning.
Reader 1 & Reader 2: Through him all things were made;
Reader 2: without him nothing was made that has been made.
Reader 2 & Pastor: In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
Pastor: He is the image of the invisible God,
Pastor & Reader 1: the firstborn over all creation.
Reader 1: For by him all things were created:
Reader 1 & Reader 2: things in heaven and on earth,
Reader 2: visible and invisible,
Reader 2 & Pastor: whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
Pastor: all things were created by him and for him.
Pastor & Reader 1: He is before all things,
Reader 1: and in him all things hold together.
Reader 1 & Reader 2: And he is the head of the body, the church;
Reader 2: he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead,
Reader 2 & Pastor: so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
Pastor: For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
Pastor & Reader 1: You are worthy, our Lord and God,
Reader 1: to receive glory and honor and power,
Reader 1 & Reader 2: for you created all things,
Reader 2: and by your will they were created and have their being.

Note – all scripture text is from the NIV (Zondervan Publishing)

God is !!! – A Dramatic Call to Worship


Call to Worship:

Instructional Note: This is a dramatic reading involving four readers.  Each reader is to place a special emphasis on the words “is” and “will” when underlined.  The scripture references are not to be recited and are for reference only.

 

PASTOR: God is!

 

READER 1: (Deut. 4:24)

the Lord your God is a consuming fire

 

READER 2: (Deut. 4:31)

the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.

 

READER 3: (Deut. 7:9)

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.

 

READER 1: God is!

 

PASTOR: For the Lord your God is “God of gods” and “Lord of lords,” the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. (Deut. 10:17)

 

READER 2: my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation.  He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior–(2 Samuel 22:3)

 

READER 3: “God is exalted in his power.  Who is a teacher like him? (Job 36:22)

 

READER 2: God is!

 

READER 1: The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2)

 

READER 3: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3)

 

PASTOR: For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. (Psalm 47:7)

 

READER 3: God is!

 

READER 1: Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:8 )  

 

PASTOR: For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. (Psalm 84:11)

 

READER 2: The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zeph. 3:17)

 

PASTOR: God is!

 

READER 1: And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Cor. 9:8 )

 

READER 2: This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

 

READER 3: And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16)

 

All Four together: God is!

 

Congregational Response to the “God Is” – Call to Worship

 

Leader:            God is present!

All:                  God is present among us.

Leader: God’s presence is with us whether or not we are aware of it, whether or not we feel it, whether or not we believe it.  God was here before we arrived, so we do not have to ask for God to be present.  We simply have to awaken to the one who was, who is, and who will always be.

 

(Moment of Silence)

 

Leader:            God seeks us!

All:                  God seeks us and loves us.

Leader:  God seeks us and loves us whether or not we are aware of it, whether or not we feel it, whether or not we believe it.  God sought after us and loved us before we even knew and loved Him.  So we do not have to ask God to accept us and love us.

We simply have to awaken, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to the love that was, that is, and that will always be.

 

(Moment of Silence)

 

Leader:            God cares!

All:                  God cares about us.

Leader: All our problems are known to God, all our pains are known to God, all our faults are forgiven by God, and all our concerns are understood by God.  We are not alone.  So now, we awaken ourselves to the presence of God, so good, so kind, so holy, so just, so powerful, so real, so near, so here.

 

All:                  We lay all our problems at the foot of the cross.

 

(Moment of Silence)

 

Leader:            The light of Christ shines upon us!

 

All:                  Amen and Hallelujah!

 

Credit: The first portion of this post came from http://jonnybaker.blogs.com/

Other portions were inspired by the works of Brian McLaren

Note – all scripture text is from the NIV (Zondervan Publishing)

 

Amazing Grace Intro Reading


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This is an introduction to be read by the worship leader prior to singing the hymn.

John Newton, the writer of the hymn “Amazing Grace” was, at one point in his life, “the worst of sinners.”  He personally ruined over 20,000 lives selling 20,000 young Africans; that’s 20,000 people created by God, in His image, and Newton sold them like cattle into a life of unending slavery.  He never knew their names, never cared to know their names, in fact history tells us that Newton simply referred to them all as “grunts.”  Newton was guilty for grievous crimes against humanity.  But God used this man to change the course of History.  John Newton was lost; but now He’s found, He was blind; but now He sees.  Newton was writing about himself.  Newton was the wretch.  He came full circle.  This is a story of one man coming to faith, renouncing the life that he once served.

 

You may have come here this morning thinking that you’re sins are unforgivable.  This may be the first time that you’ve been in a church for over 10 years.  On Good Friday, some 2000 years ago, a Roman soldier plunged a sword into the side of a dying innocent man.  In fact, this innocent man was God himself.  Quite a sin you must be thinking, right?  But guess what covered that sharp tipped sword when it was removed from Jesus’ side.  It was literally covered by the blood of Jesus.  I don’t know if that Roman soldier ever came to faith in Jesus; but if He did, that sin was covered and paid for in full.  It’s amazing grace!

 

My chains are gone.  I’ve been set free.  My God, my Savior has ransomed me.  And like a flood, His mercy reigns, unending love, amazing grace.  (Chris Tomlin; lyrics to “Amazing Grace – My Chains are Gone)

Some of the text in this reading are from the major motion picture “Amazing Grace”.

Psalm 107 / John Newton (Amazing Grace) Experience


A Responsive Reading

Based on Palms 107:23 – 32

Background Information:

John Newton, the writer of the hymn “Amazing Grace”, had received some early religious instruction from his mother, who had died when he was a child, but he had long since given up any religious convictions.  However, on a homeward voyage, while he was attempting to steer the ship through a violent storm, he experienced what he was to refer to later as his “great deliverance.”  He recorded in his journal that when all seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, he exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy upon us.” Later in his cabin he reflected on what he had said and began to believe that God had addressed him through the storm and that grace had begun to work for him.

Pastor:              Others went out on the sea in ships;
Congr:              they were merchants on the mighty waters.

Pastor:              They saw the works of the LORD,
Congr:              his wonderful deeds in the deep.

Pastor:              For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
Congr:              that lifted high the waves.

Words of John Newton:

I went to bed that night in my usual security and indifference: but was awaked from a sound sleep by the force of a violent sea, which broke on board us.  So much of it came down below as filled the cabin I lay in with water.  This alarm was followed by a cry from the deck, that the ship was going down, or sinking.  The sea had torn away the upper timbers on one side, and made the ship a mere wreck in a few minutes.

 Pastor:              They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
Congr:              in their peril their courage melted away.

Pastor:              They reeled and staggered like drunken men;
Congr:              they were at their wits’ end.

Words of John Newton:

I was obliged to return to the pump, and there I continued till noon, almost every passing wave breaking over my head; but we made ourselves fast with ropes, that we might not be washed away.  Indeed I expected that every time the vessel descended in the sea, she would rise no more.  About nine o’clock, being almost spent with cold and labour, I went to speak with the captain.

 Pastor:              Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
Congr:              and he brought them out of their distress.

Pastor:              He stilled the storm to a whisper;
Congr:              the waves of the sea were hushed.

Words of John Newton:

Just as I was returning from him, I said, almost without any meaning, “If this will not do, the Lord have mercy on us!”  I was instantly struck with my own words, and as Jehu said once, What hast thou to do with peace, so it directly occurred, What mercy can there be for me?   I concluded at first; that my sins were too great to be forgiven.  

When I saw beyond all probability, there was still hope of respite, and heard about six in the evening that the ship was freed from water, there arose a gleam of hope; I thought I saw the hand of God displayed in our favour: I began to pray.  I could not utter the prayer of faith: I could not draw near to a reconciled God, and call him Father.  My prayer was like the cry of the ravens, which yet the Lord does not disdain to hear.  I now began to think of that Jesus whom I had so often derided: I recollected the particulars of his life, and of his death:- a death for sins not his own, but, as I remembered, for the sake of those who in their distress should put their trust in Him. 

Pastor:              They were glad when it grew calm,
Congr:              and he guided them to their desired haven.

Pastor:              Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
Congr:              and his wonderful deeds for men.

Pastor:              Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
Congr:              and praise him in the council of the elders.

Words of John Newton:

When we came into port, our very last victuals were boiling in the pot; and before we had been there two hours, the wind, which seemed to have been providentially restrained till we were in a place of safety, began to blow with great violence; so that, if we had continued at sea that night in our shattered enfeebled condition, we must, in all human appearance, have gone to the bottom.

 About this time I began to know that there is a God that hears and answers prayer.

 

While Amazing Grace has a reference to 1Chronicles 17:16-17 in the Onley hymnal, it is more likely to be based on Ephesians 2:4-9, Paul’s great treatise on Grace, which says:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. [NIV]

 Sources:

1. Scripture text is from the NIV (Zondervan Publishing)

2.  http://www.johnnewton.org/Mobile/default.aspx?article_id=72948 – modifed and adapted by S. Brown.

What does a worship leader do?


An effective corporate worship leader,
aided and led by the Holy Spirit,
skillfully combines biblical truth with music
to magnify the worth of God and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ,
thereby motivating the gathered church
to join him in proclaiming and cherishing the truth about God
and seeking to live all of life for the glory of God.

-Bob Kauflin

Shout to the Lord


During the song “Shout to the Lord” use your choir members to really bring the congregation into the story by discussing the last line of the chorus while the band continues to play the song softly in the background.  Here’s a script that we followed:

 

 

CHORUS: Shout to the Lord.  All the earth let us sing.

Power and majesty, Praise to the King.

Mountains bow down, And the seas will roar; at the sound, of Your name,

I sing for joy, At the work of Your hands,

Forever I’ll love You, Forever I’ll stand.

Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.

 

Here’s where the choir members, one-by-one recite biblical passages that describe some of the promises that God has told us in His word.

 

Reader 1:  Oh Lord you tell us to Come to you, all who are weary and burdened, and you promise to give us rest.   (Matthew 11:28 )

Reader 2:  Lord you promise to give strength to your people; and you bless us with peace.   (Psalm 29:11)

Reader 3: God, you tell us that you so loved the world that you gave your one and only son and that whoever believes in you will not perish but have eternal life.  (John 3:16)

Reader 1: God, you are our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in times of trouble.  (Ps 46:1)

Reader 2:  Lord, as far as the east is from the west, you promise to remove our transgressions form us.  (Ps 103:12)

Reader 3: Lord, you promise to give strength to the weary and to increase the power of the weak.  (Isaiah 40:29)

Reader 1: Lord, you promise to take hold of our right hand and you say to us: “Do not fear; I will help you.”  (Isaiah 41:13)

Reader 2: Lord, you promise to love us, and to those that seek you; will find you.  (Proverbs 8:17)

Reader 3: Lord, you promise to respond to the prayers of the destitute and that you will not despise their plea.  (Psalm 102:17)

Reader 1: Lord, you promise to keep us from all harm, you promise to watch over our life, you promise to watch over our coming and going, now and forevermore.  (Psalm 121:7, 8 )

Reader 2: Lord, you promise to be our God, forever and ever and to guide us, even to the end.  (Psalm 48;14)

Reader 3:  Lord you promise to be our stronghold in times of trouble.  (Psalm 37:39)

Reader 1:  Lord, You are my hiding place; you promise to protect us from trouble and to surround us with songs of deliverance.  (Psalm 32:7)

 

Notes:

 

1.  Scripture test is NIV (Zondervan Publishing); in some cases adapted by S. Brown.

2.  “Shout to the Lord”, CCLI Song No. 1406918, © 1993 Hillsong Publishing (Admin. in U.S. & Canada by Integrity’s Hosanna! Music), Darlene Zschech

 

 

 

 

Acts 2: 1-21: a Dramatic Reading for Pentecost


Here’s a narrative interpritation of Acts 2:1-21 to be used at a Pentecost service.

NOTES FOR OUR READERS:

 

  1. Each reader should seek Pastor before hand for help with pronunciations if needed.
  2. Animation is absolutely necessary.  Remember this is an excited crowd.  This does not necessarily mean that the rate of speech is increased, but that the emotional overtones of this dynamic event are relayed.
  3. For those of you reading the different regions, do not end your reading with a “period” because this needs to come off as one continuous flow of thoughts.
  4. Pastor will be the only one standing in the front of the church.
  5. Readers who have “lines” should rise while speaking.  Everyone else who is reciting a region should do so while seated.

Pastor:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

 

Reader 1:

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked:

 

Reader 2:

Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?

 

Reader 3:

Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?

 

Reader 4:

Parthians,

 

Reader 5.:

Medes,

 

Reader 6:

Elamites;

 

Reader 7:

residents of Mesopotamia,

 

Reader 8:

Judea,

 

Reader 9:

and Cappadocia;

 

Reader 10:

Pontus

 

Reader 11:

and Asia,

 

Reader 12.:

Phrygia

 

Reader 13:

and Pamphylia,

 

Reader 14:

Egypt

 

Reader 15:

and the parts of Libya near Cyrene;

 

Reader 16:

visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism);

 

Reader 17:

Cretans

 

Reader 18:

and Arabs—

 

Reader 19:

we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!

 

Reader 1:

Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another,

 

All:

What does this mean?

 

Pastor:

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

 

Reader 1:

Then Peter stood up with the eleven, raised his voice, and addressed the crowd:

 

Peter (Reader 20):

Fellow Jews and all of you who are in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.  These men are not drunk, as you suppose.  It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by God through the prophet Joel:

 

Joel (Reader 21):

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.  Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.  I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.  The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.  And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

 

Notes:

1.  Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.  Used by permission of International Bible Society

2.  Arranged by “author unknown” – adapted by S. Brown

A Toolbox for Worship Leaders, Pastors and Musicians

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