Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
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Ok... so our church has been through a big season of change this past year, with so much of our church leaders leaving, and we are trying to rebuild our worship services.
Previously, our services (especially our contemporary one) was incredibly choppy. We sang a song, stoppped, clapped, sang another song, stopped, clapped, etc. Since leadership has changed, we have inserted prayer into the worship sets, along with scripture readings. We are trying to have smooth transitions between all of the elements of worship.
Having said that, it seems as if our corporate prayer is in an odd place. We have our praise and worship, then we stop, have our mission moment, offertory, THEN prayer... and it seems too segmented. I feel that praise and worship music should be helping our congregation enter that season of prayer, and instead, we put the brakes on, stop whatever ground we've gained, ask our congregation to go a different direction, and then come back.
We are getting ready to have a new pastor, and it's an exciting time. A season of change is coming, and I am looking for structural ideas from everybody out there!
We like to mix it up and put prayer in different parts of the service depending upon what form the prayer segment is taking. Sometimes, we do a call to worship that is also a prayer, so that the congregation begins the service by calling on the Lord. Sometimes, one of the worship team prays between songs while music continues in the background. It is particularly effective when the person has prepared and know the two songs ahead of time - this way, the prayer can incorporate the themes of the two songs and serve as a great transition as well. Other times, we put congregational prayer at the end of the worship set. This allows the congregation to have time to focus their thoughts and hearts and be ready to turn to God together.
Regarding the offering - you're right - that's a hard one to place oftentimes. At my church, we typically take the offering during a song, either at the end of the worship set before the sermon, or in response to the sermon. Either way, we make a conscious effort to speak of it and treat it as an equal part of worship, not a separate act.
Oh, good question. It varies, but is not typically a unison prayer. When we do that, it tends to be incorporated into the music set. Sometimes it is a pastor-led prayer, either focused on known needs in the congregation or on a topic external to the church, such as a natural disaster or prayer for national leaders, etc. Other times, we solicit prayer requests and/or praises from the congregation and pray for them as they are presented. Another thing that we do on occasion is a period of guided prayer - a prompt from the leader followed by times of silent prayer, then another prompt & another time of silence. We are in the midst of trying to expand the understanding of what prayer is, so we're trying to mix it up some.