Breaking Up the Monotony of Our Services

Involving church members in the life of the church.

D. E. Holland directs the youth and temperance activities in the Southern Union Conference.

"TO THE humble, believing soul, the house of God on earth is the gate of heaven. The song of praise, the prayer, the words spoken by Christ's representatives, are God's appointed agencies to prepare a people for the church above, for that loftier worship into which there can enter nothing that defileth." —Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 491.

"All the service should be con ducted with solemnity and awe, as if in the visible presence of the Master of assemblies."—Ibid., p.493.

"The prevailing monotony of the religious round of service in our churches needs to be disturbed. The leaven of activity needs to be introduced, that our church members may work along new lines, and devise new methods. "—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 204. (Italics supplied.)

Breaking up the monotony of our church services and involving laymen and youth takes much thought and preparation if we expect to follow the divine instruction given above. Especially is this true if we are to recognize the holiness and power of God as we worship. Some of the suggestions that follow will be disturbing to some, but they are designed to suggest in a practical way how we can introduce "the leaven of activity" among the laity as we try new lines and new methods of approach.

Most of what I present here is not original with me, but I have successfully used the suggestions that follow, both as a pastor and as a departmental secretary.

Educating our people to kneel for a moment of meditation and prayer in the pew immediately after entering the sanctuary creates reverence and puts the members in an attitude of worship. This gives a sense of being there for a specific reason and decreases the tendency to whisper and visit.

Involving the Congregation

A responsive reading is a good way to involve everyone at the very beginning of the worship service. Sometimes having a change of format creates interest. Have the men read a text, and then the women a text.

The congregation could then sing a song that follows the theme of the responsive reading. Following the song, time can be allotted for members to stand and give praise to God for His special care, healing, answered prayers, and so forth, thanking God publicly for His goodness during the past week. If this practice is fol lowed, there needs to be a set time limit of about five to seven minutes for this praise service. To assure that the entire congregation continues to participate in worship throughout the preaching service, it is a good plan to have all read in unison some of the texts being used, especially selecting texts for this purpose that really bring out the central theme of the pastor's presentation.

At times a song can be used to good advantage at the right time and place in the sermon. This can be sung either by the audience or someone especially selected to do so.

The more the people participate, see, hear, and read, the more they retain. Thus the worship service can become a very special part of their religious growth.

At the close of every service there should always be a response from the congregation to the mes sage just presented.

1. Opportunity should always be given for individuals to surrender heart and life to God.

2. If the pastor has enough courage, he can, and to a great ad vantage, give the congregation a chance to respond to his message by asking questions, making observations, or expressing what a blessing the message was to them.

I have done this many times, and the response is very gratifying.

It is a good idea to assign to the families in the church the responsibility for filling up certain pews each Sabbath by seeing that their entire family is present, and also by inviting friends and neighbors to come and worship with them.

Assign certain couples each Sabbath to stand at the door and greet fellow believers as they leave the sanctuary. This gives the members opportunity for involvement as well as fellowship.

The youth should be used every Sabbath in some capacity at the worship hour. They might per form such assignments as serving as junior ushers, reading the Scripture, having the morning prayer, providing special music, or participating in a youth choir or orchestra.

The youth class can also take its turn in furnishing the noon fellowship meal for visitors who are attending church that day. You might also invite the youth to take a worship service once a quarter.

Other Ways of Involving Laymen

Have the laymen take the service once a quarter. Make sure it is well planned. The pastor should care fully assist in the coordination of such a service.

At the beginning of each new year challenge all members to pledge to God enough of their time and energy to win one soul to Christ for that year. This commitment might involve an altar call, at which time the members would come forward and actually sign a soul-winning pledge. From time to time give opportunity for those to report who are having a real blessing in such endeavors. Doing so will inspire many to become involved in service for others.

Our worship services need to be deeply spiritual yet bring to all the joy of active response and participation.

Condensed from a paper presented to the Lay Research and Planning Committee.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

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D. E. Holland directs the youth and temperance activities in the Southern Union Conference.

January 1975

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