Based on the Gospel lectionary reading for each week – receive a lock screen image with a key Scripture verse. Text the word “focus” to 614-328-5636. Sign up for this free tool today! (Please note that individual carrier/standard picture mms rates may apply depending on your cellular carrier or plan.)
It’s pretty easy to loose focus. It’s very easy. Long ago in the far away land of southern California, there were some teenagers who volunteered to help with Vacation Bible School. They came from a rough area and were new to the “church” world. But they loved music and were so happy to help with anything they were asked to do. So a bunch of tough guys started practicing every week to help lead kids’ songs. The image of them singing “I just want to be a sheep, bah, bah, bah, bah…” is almost too fantastic for words. (Of course, they eventually changed the lyrics to: “I just want to fall asleep. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.”) But long hours prepping for the week and tensions began to run high. One night a fist fight in the sanctuary was about to break out over which way to play guitar chords. We had long been practicing that leading worship, playing music, and being in a rock band wasn’t what this was all about, but rather pointing to Jesus. So the next day, I showed back up at the church with a ton of little rubber duckies. Each person received one as a gift and was required to bring it to rehearsal to remind them to “duck, and point to Jesus.”
During this Lenten journey from “Ashes to Easter” – seek to cultivate relationships! Leverage technology for the sake of the Gospel or just good old fashioned letter writing. Download the following PDF – and write a text message, email, Facebook message or Instagram the person described each day! (This resource was developed in conjunction with Pastor David Wendel’s Lenten Devotional – available at: www.thenalc.org.)
Download for Free: From Ashes to Easter Response
As an Easter Vigil, gather together in the form of an open house so people can come and go or stay for the entire event. The main focus was to read Scripture out loud beginning around dinner time. There were a variety of hands on, creative projects while Scripture is being read, such as: dying Easter eggs; helping prepare the sanctuary; making a paper chain using questions, thoughts, or kairos moments throughout the evening, etc. Just before midnight – we would exit the church building to sing a hymn, read one of the accounts of the resurrection with the light of the pascal candle and then enter the sanctuary at midnight to celebrate. Alternatively this idea of reading Scripture out loud as a community at a vigil can continue throughout the year.
“Tell Me Your Story” -a great and different evangelism tool. This was spray painted on a couch that was wheeled from our church to different places – a park at Ohio State University, the cross roads at a student union, a street corner, etc. Instead of “evangelizing” and talking about our stories, we would simply ask people to tell us their stories. We did have a few business cards or brochures in our bags, but the primary purpose was to hear people’s stories, because how can we love our neighbor if we don’t know them?
Name tags were often worn in our community. For confession one evening (in the beginning of worship), we gave everyone a second name tag. We asked them to confess their sin and wear it outwardly for most of worship until eucharist. As they came forward for eucharist, there was an extra person standing next to the distribution of elements, their “sin” was removed and put on the cross for them.
Both Advent and Lent serve as a great time to try out new and different practices that blend Biblical theology and community to help people as they follow Jesus, and move from head knowledge to heart knowledge. As Advent is a time of waiting and hope, one such practice is to redesign your worship space/sanctuary. If it’s possible, rearrange the seating so that you can be seated “in the round.” Also a great idea for eucharist is to start with a group of 8 people (instead of the normal “line” or communing at the “rail.”). The pastor begins by communing the person on his/her right. The individual then communes the person on his/her right. After receiving the elements, the person leaves and a new person comes to take his/her place as they are able/desire. It does take additional time to celebrate the Eucharist this way; however, as we are focusing on a theme of “waiting” – it allows for meditation and a deeper sense of community as the body & blood, bread and wine are shared with each other.
As the Advent season begins, there are lots of ways to use traditional hymns with an untraditional twist. For example: Pour Out Your Spirit Lord combined with O Come O Come Emmanuel. Normally Pour Out Your Spirit Lord serves as a “chorus” between the verses of this Advent hymn. Many people will intersperse different verses of Pour Out Your Spirit Lord (i.e.: pour out your joy, peace, etc) as they correspond with different verses of O Come O Come Emmanuel. For a chord chart and example, please click here: Advent Medley
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