Text message (that is -- the “text” for the coming Sunday) -- sent out by email and on Facebook, with hard copies available. In addition to the scripture reading, some thought provoking questions are included and people are encouraged to respond with their thoughts to the pastor – who may even use them in the sermon!
Rationale: We had some interviewees who said that reading the lessons ahead helped in their preparation for the sermon. Survey results showed, 38% stated that preaching in our congregation helps them feel more interested in reading the Bible outside of church. This could further facilitate interaction with scripture before Sunday worship:
- We believe that prepared hearts are open to hear the message.
- Measuring fruitfulness- participants responding to the questions.
- Using the “text message” to prepare…read ahead.
Hoped for outcomes: Increased consistency in worship attendance having a greater desire to be in worship to hear the message.
Increase participation rather than simply being a spectator during the sermon. E.g., Ask a question, share with neighbor, raise of hands, write down a prayer, greet and meet, sermon notes, tie the message into a ritual -- writing down a prayer, confession or petition and placing it in a cross covered with chicken wire on Good Friday. Use of media -- asking people to respond to an image they see on screen during the message.
To engage the worshiper to connect to the Biblical story and to one another. Participation will increase recall. We hope for greater depth of learning the Biblical story and connection to daily life. Basic principle of adult learning: if you practice something and do it you are more likely to remember it. Measured by lively, engaged congregation…and conversation. Hoped for outcomes: Increase attendance, buzz about what’s happening at church, e.g., bringing friends. Was the biblical story remembered?
When beginning to include participation in the service/sermon, start with a simple question: Don’t go too deep to start -- e.g., what brand of toothpaste do you use?
Switch to using the Narrative lectionary for one year-Summer 2012
Survey results showed 41% desired explanation of biblical passage and story.
We find the current use of the common lectionary to limit the scope of the biblical story. Seek to give folks more of an overview of the Bible, reading the whole of the biblical story. Hoped for outcomes: increase biblical literacy and fluency- e.g. ability to speak about a bible story in everyday conversation. Pique interest in the Bible through Bible study and reading. Narrative lectionary can be found through Luther Seminary’s website.
Prayers specifically to empower preaching and the preacher/listener. Intentional prayer before worship and experiment with prayer for the preacher during the sermon. To bathe in prayer the process, the preacher and participants. (E.g., individuals, partners or small groups meeting to pray on Sunday or during the week. Having a place available for prayer to happen in the church and encourage prayer practices at home. Provide materials and guidance/partners for prayer growth.)
Encourage a common practice of prayer, a climate of being a prayerful church. Put emphasis on prayer for certain seasons, for instance, Lent. Occasional Prayer services for healing and for our community.
We value prayer as a connection to the power of the Holy Spirit. Hoped for outcomes: A Spirit-filled church that empowers preaching and the word to take hold. This will be evident-in terms of spiritual growth, use of spiritual gifts and fruit; gentleness, kindness, generosity.
We’re not talking about doing “prayers of the people,” we are talking about something more…that we will be consistent with over time.