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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!

 

~Angela

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Heather,
When you refer to 'congregational' prayer at the end of a worship set; what do you mean by congregational prayer? Are the people reading a prayer together, praying out loud, or something else?

Lowell


Heather Perkins said:
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.
Thanks Heather,

I'm curious what denomination your church is. In my denomination, true congregational prayer is almost non-existent.

You might be interested in this. I went to the Brooklyn Tabernacle several years ago to see how they did prayer in worship. They're not just famous for their choir but for being a praying church. I attended all five of their weekly services. One of the things I noted was that congregational singing almost always climaxed with congregational prayer.

In Christ,
Lowell Snow
www.leadingprayer.com

Heather Perkins said:
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.
All of you have had some great ideas for me. I really appreciate all of your help!
Some of you had some questions..
The size of our congregation is the tricky one... We have two services. A traditional service is at 9 a.m. and the contemporary one begins at 11, with Sunday School sandwiched in between. Before our pastor left a year ago, our second service was fuller than the first.. with about 130-200 in attendance weekly, and the first was always around 120. When our pastor left, a lot of people left then too. So now our contemporary service ranges anywhere from 30-70!! It's a vastly different ''feel'' to the service now. With that said, we JUST hired our new pastor this past Sunday!! Woo hoo!! So in June, we will have a full time leader again, and hopefully those numbers will change quickly!

The other question I saw was in regards to my responsibility within the church. Right now I am the worship team leader for our contemporary service. Currently, I choose the music (based mostly on the sermon notes I receive from the interim), lead the practices, and mostly lead during service, although I am working on changing that. I have a strong feeling that everyone on the team is the worship leader... and everyone should be involved in prayer, scripture readings, leading songs, etc.

Anyway, we are a work in progress, and God has a plan for us. Can't wait to see what it is!
My church is a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church, based in Chicago. www.covchurch.org. You might be interested in the prayer retreats offered by the denomination. (http://www.covchurch.org/prayer/prayer-retreats.) Our church just offered the one called Streams and Pathways in March. It was pretty cool. Explored lots of different means for connecting with God: parable walks, praying with art, etc.
Interested in the format for Streams and Pathways ...
The issue of congregational prayer is important and if wrongly place looses it value. As others had siad, the best place for prayer is is what I call worshippray. Praise should flow into praying; for praise would have lifted the spirit of the people to be able to pray properly. Secondly, it should not be regimented but we are to depent on the Spirit of God to direct how each worship service should be. I have seen as a leader, after careful planning, the lord directing worship services in a way I list expected.
why not have offering mission moments, or anything that fits in with those two right away everyone knows they are part of the service than the singing and prayer can go as you outined above and that way also the hearts that received the message and what the Holy Spirit spoke to them won't be diverted back to offerings and other things that are sometimes at the end and totally divert theimpact the message had Norm
Maybe you could have the prayer segment move around so that the sometimes it is a continuation of worship and other times it is intercession for missions ...

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