A New Approach to Worship Planning from Discipleship Ministries
This week’s notes mark a new beginning. It is a new beginning not just of the Christian Year, but a new beginning for how we go about our work of resourcing worship at Discipleship Ministries.
Over the summer, those of you who read Dawn Chesser’s preaching notes regularly have been aware that since the Sunday after Easter, she has been writing on a single lectionary track over multiple weeks to create coherent sermon series. You may also have noted that Taylor Burton-Edwards’s worship planning notes have become much more attentive to the role of each Sunday in the context of a larger series as well.
This increased attention on creating resources for worship planning, preaching, and music for worship series has been part of our journey of learning to work as a worship team. With this new version of our resources, we now bring a new dimension to our work. Dawn, Taylor, and Jackson, with our coordinator, Amy Sigmon, are now working collaboratively to create resources that are series-based, team-created, and comprehensive in approach. By moving to this format, we hope to model the benefits of collaborative planning and, through our efforts, encourage you to help your congregation adopt a team approach in your worship and ministry as we all seek to fulfill the mission of our church: To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
These resources for a coherent worship series from Advent through Christmas Season (Year A) mark the first fruits of this new approach to resourcing the church in worship.
Learning to work together as a team has been a challenge for each of us. We’re still growing into it. It’s meant much more communication with one another at a deeper level and changes not only in our schedules, but in how we do our work and even what kind of work we do as we have created these resources.
And we find ourselves grateful for the challenge. It has put us in much more direct touch with the challenge we know it is for worship planning teams in your congregations as well, especially when they’re just beginning their work, or when the team leadership or composition changes and everyone has to learn how to adjust to one another again.
There’s another transition both Dawn and Taylor, particularly, are working into. They’ve been accustomed to producing new resources typically within about six weeks of the time they may be used. This has enabled both of them to connect the Scriptures for each week with fairly current events in the world.
In this new model, our goal is to publish new series three to six months ahead of the time they’ll be used. This makes it harder to put the Scriptures into as direct conversation with current events as in the past. We’ll find other ways to provide helpful commentary along these lines closer to the time. We ask your patience as we live into this.
Each of our new packages of resources will include an introduction to the whole series, complete suggested service orders we’ve developed collaboratively to support the series week by week, and notes on the suggested music, the sermon, and worship planning for each service as it fits into the larger series. By the end of 2017, we expect to expand these resources with helpful insights from other colleagues in Christian formation, evangelism, and Wesleyan leadership so they become not just worship planning helps, but discipleship planning helps centered on corporate worship.
We hope our efforts will bear good fruit not just for you, who plan and lead worship or preach the good news each week in your local settings, but for your congregations and the denomination as a whole, as we try to do our own work of being united, even in our great diversity.
Your comments on ways you use these new resources and ways we can improve them are greatly appreciated. Please send them to our coordinator, Amy Sigmon (firstname.lastname@example.org). She’ll make sure they get where they need to go.
Advent Through Christmas Season 2016-2017
Advent and Christmas are two distinct seasons in the Christian Year, each with its own purpose.
By observing Advent, the church begins the Christian Year by focusing on the promises for the culmination of all things in Jesus Christ. We anticipate the Christ’s second coming to fulfill all things as a means to prepare ourselves for the celebration of his first coming during Christmas season. During Christmas season (through the Feast of Epiphany), we join the shepherds in their adoration of the newborn Messiah and Mary and the magi in their contemplation and visceral experience of the implications of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
Advent and Christmas seasons, while distinct in both purpose and tone, function well as one coherent series with a turning point at Christmas Eve.
Each Sunday in our Advent-Christmas season series pursues a key theme identified in the gospel reading for each week. The themes, in order, are Watch, Turn, See, Dream, Peace, Word and Reveal.
November 27, 2016 — The series begins where Advent begins, with the call of Jesus to his disciples to stay on watch for the fulfillment of all things.
December 4, 2016 — Becoming aware of the end of the universe as we know it that Christ will bring about, we are invited to repent, to turn from our attachments to the powers of death and destruction in this age, and live out of the Spirit-led mission of the coming reign of God.
December 11, 2016 — Once we have turned toward the fulfillment God intends, we begin to be able to see the world and treat others in it in a new way.
December 18, 2016 — Even as we begin to see God’s way of compassion and mercy, we also– like Joseph – come to acknowledge our reliance on God communicating with us and transforming us, not just in our waking, conscious lives, but in our sleeping, unconscious lives as well.
December 24, 2016 — Whether in dreams or visions of angels, we see and hear and join the chorus of the heavenly host announcing the birth of Jesus as a sign of peace to all people of good will.
December 25, 2016 — In a Service of the Word today, we contemplate the mystery of the Word made flesh and dwelling among us.
January 1, 2017 — The constellations reveal the birth of Messiah, and the powers of this world are revealed for their self-preservation and violent resistance to the saving work of God.
The promise of this series is to reorient the church to our hope in Jesus Christ for the culmination of all things in the age to come, and now in this age to celebrate, contemplate, and join the heavens themselves in declaring Jesus Christ as the hope of the world.