Ron Powell

An Acceptable Offering

Old Testament religion seemed to revolve around offerings and temple worship. Everything was given in accordance to the levitical laws. Offerings date back even further though — right to the time of Cain and Abel. One offering was acceptable the other was not. In the New Testament Jesus speaks of two men who went to the temple to pray. One prayed “about himself”. The other beat his chest and begged for mercy! (Lk 18:10-14) One’s prayer was accepted, one was not. The living sacrifice in Rom. 12:1,2 is the acceptable offering in the N.T. The real acceptable offering to God in the O.T. was not so much the blood of bulls and goats but obedience and a contrite heart.(see I Sam 15:22, Isa 66:1+2 et al). HERE IS THE CHALLENGE: COMMUNICATE THIS IN LESS THAN FORTY-FIVE MINUTES!
Here is my suggestion, but you can probably come up with one that will suit your group much better.

a) Choose four people the week before to compose two short skits. One will portray Cain and Abel, the other skit will portray the self-righteous man and the publican [Lk 18-10-14]. (They only need be three minutes each!)
b) Play the song “To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice” [by Keith Green- No Compromise] or have it done as a solo while the people are in silent meditation.
c) Sing the song “Lord You Are More Precious Than Silver”. Have the group suggest modern substitutes for the words. Sing the song using the words that they suggest (e.g. Lord you are more precious than my friends…).
d) You can take up a few different types of offerings that day.
i.) A pledge to God given on a slip of paper.
ii.) A vow of obedience in a certain area of their life.
iii.) Human Offering Plate! One by one the people can step into a rope circle on the floor at the front. When everyone is in the circle they could sing a song of surrender or dedication to Jesus. If there are too many people they can go up one row at a time or something while an offertory hymn or song is playing. The leader could pray over each group that goes to the front.
e.)If there is still some time remaining, songs of dedication, obedience and service should be sung at that time.

Body Worship

We are the body of Christ. When we are gathered together we are more than just the sum of the collected parts. We need to affirm this reality in our worship. People need to sense that it was better worshipping with the whole body than being by themselves in their own room at home. Unfortunately this is not always the case, because they do have a bad experience specifically because of an the people around them. Meaningful involvement and warm experiences should help believers to appreciate worship within the context of the body of Christ. People who continually talk through the worship time, or having annoying behaviour that distracts or irritates those around him/her, should be approached lovingly to discover the reason behind their behaviour and confronted about how this is annoying others. Praying daily for those individuals who exhibit this behaviour has had a profound effect on them.

Here are some ideas that can be used to promote this sense of community in worship:

1.) Hold hands: for prayer, for praise and for songs. (Ease the group into this and remember to indicate when they can let go.
2.) Have them gather, standing together at the altar or the front of the room (especially if they are confined to pews most of the time).
3.) Let them sing in rounds, or in parts. Emphasize that harmony adds beauty but requires more than one person.
4.) Encourage improvisation. This allows individuals to create harmony and special touches to the songs. You can even distribute maracas, and tambourines at times.
5.) Do things in unison. Try reading the Bible (in the same version) or songs (on overheads or from the hymnbook) all together. Or have them repeat after you in unison. Some action songs that are not too childish can also create a sense of functioning as a body. Clapping together, or in special beats can have a similar effect.
6.) Provide interaction time in worship. Allow people a time in the service to greet those around them, shake their hands or hug, or to get acquainted. They can pray together in little groups, break bread together at communion, or choose songs together as a group.
7.) Allow them to pray for one another. Ask those requesting prayer to raise a hand, while those around them lay hands on them and pray.
8.) Promote giving as an act of worship, praise, thanksgiving and obedience. Take up offerings for special needs and allow them to see that as a body they can do so much more than as an individual.
9.) Share praise reports, and prayer requests of individuals who cannot be there or for missionaries connected with the church, sponsored children, world needs etc.
A sample body worship experience may include:
a) A body shaped graffiti sheet that each person must sign as they arrive.
b) Songs that affirm unity five or six) to begin the worship time.
c) God bless you testimonies (i.e.: testimonies that tell how God has used someone in the group to bless you. It must be someone who is present. That person must then give a testimony of how God has used someone else in the room to bless them, and so on).
d) This can be followed by a prayer time either in little groups, or needs could be suggested from the group. The group then agrees together in prayer as two or three people lead out.
e) Corporate praise can be offered — hands joined and raised while singing “We Are One in the Bond of Love” or any praise songs that affirm that WE worship Him.

Christ The Conqueror

It is not too late to give praise for victories won thousands of years ago! In fact, it is when the people of God lose sight of His wonderful works on their behalf that we lapse into idolatry, spiritual adultery, apostasy, lethargy and apathy. We need to rejoice in Christ’s victory over sin and death! “Oh grave where is thy victory? O death where is thy sting. Death is swallowed up in victory! Hallelujah!” Is this the statement of your heart today? It will need to be if you hope to convey this truth to your people.

a) Room Set Up: The room should be in total darkness. (Windows could be covered with large garbage bags if you do not have blinds or curtains that will block out the light. Have an overhead of the crucifixion (Excellent graphics of the life of Christ are available from Dawson McAllisters series on The Life of Christ) up at the front of your room as they enter. (If you don’t have access to an overhead, you may be able to put up a cross, a poster or some way to represent the crucifixion.)
b) After everyone is seated you can announce that you are gathered in honour of the greatest event in all history… “I want to take you back to Calvary. Let us focus today on the victory won for us!” (Then play “The Champion” by Carman).

God Of All Creation

This whole activity could be done outdoors and you can allow creation to speak for itself. But of you are to be indoors take advantage of that situation to provide an even wider experience of creation.

a) Have people sit on the floor. If they are uncomfortable with that have them sit on chairs with an aisle in the middle.
b.) Have animal sounds recorded (either from a sounds effect tape, or bird sounds from the Ontario Science Centre, or your own back yard).
c.) You can decorate the walls with clippings from National Geographic, maps, animal pictures, models or whatever would help people focus on the splendor of creation.
d.) Instruct the people to sit in silence for the first three minutes.
e.) Have one of the members read a creation psalm to end the silence.
f.) Lead a number of songs that exalt God as the creator: “I Can’t wait to Get to Heaven”, “Fairest Lord Jesus”, “I Sing the Mighty Power of God” and others from the first sections of many hymn books. (You may also choose to read out one of the hymns in unison.)
g.) Arrange a slide presentation of breathtaking scenes of natural beauty. You cam have an instrumental solo or play an instrumental praise tape (It might be useful to get the whole set of “Praise 1-8″?). If you can’t get slides you may be able to get a film from the public library free of charge. You can turn the sound off to help the people concentrate on the Lord. (You may also want to take up the offering at this point)
h.) Expression of Praise. Lead a few choruses then lead the people into vocally expressing their wonder and awe in God’s creation. Coach the people in how to offer up original praises that come from the heart, and not just standard praise words” — hallelujah etc.
i.) Ask for two or three people to lead out in prayer for the needs of the church, individuals and the world.

God Of The Miraculous

The focus of this worship experience is the marvelous works of God. The possibilities of this kind of service are numerous! Pick four or five miracles that you wish to highlight. Post headlines in the room that resemble newspaper clippings. E.g. “GOD WIPES OUT ISRAEL’S ENEMIES…AGAIN!” “Jericho collapses at God’s command!” Choose songs that relate to God’s triumphs, miracles, power etc. A few days in advance approach someone who will be there to give a testimony of how God has accomplished the miraculous in their life. E.g. transformation, deliverance, protection, providence, etc. Allow a time for people to praise God in the congregation as King David said that he loved to do. Have each person stand and announce one thing that amazes them about God. It can be something from the Word, something from their experience or something God has done for someone else. Limit the people to one or two sentences of praise. Give them examples like: I praise God because of the way He parted the Red Sea.” or “I praise God because He has never given up on me.” or “I praise God because He still speaks to people today like when he told Hudson Taylor to go to China!” End the worship time with corporate loud and lively praise. Songs that could be sung are: “Our God Reigns”, “We Clap Our Hands with All Our Might”, “Ye Shall Go Out with Joy”, “I Will Sing Unto the Lord for He Has Triumphed Marvelously…” etc. (El Shaddai may be a good solo if you wish to have a solo.)

Majesty, Worship His Majesty!

Why don’t you allow other people to lead this one! Guide the group in a Bible study on the majesty of God. Assign the group Bible passages to read, such as Ps. 8, Eccl 5:1- 13 or a number of others that show that our God is a “consuming fire.” Give each of the members of the team a copy of these suggestions, but allow them to also modify them after they have read all the assigned Bible passages.
Here is the outline for the worship experience that they will lead:

a) Instruct people that they should be silent as they enter the worship area.
b) When everyone has arrived and is seated, have one member of the worship team read sections from Ecc. 5:1-7. “Stand in Awe of God” could be a banner that could be in the front of the area, or on an overhead as they enter the room.
c) Another member of the group can say something like, “We have been given an awesome opportunity because of the blood of Jesus. We are allowed to enter into the throne room of God. In ancient times if you entered the throne room and the king did not want to see you it was punishable by Death!” Hebrews chapter ten says “Let us come boldly before the throne of grace.” Let us go into the throne room of God. In ancient times if you entered the throne room and the king did not want to see you it was punishable by death!” Hebrews chapter ten says “Let us come boldly before the throne of grace.” Let us do that today, in humility, and in the knowledge that this is only possible because of the blood of Jesus. Let us enter his presence by the blood of Jesus, by allowing him to cleanse us by his blood – Let’s sing (Lord I’m Sorry, Create in Me a Clean Heart, My Eyes are Dry or any other songs of confession and commitment.)
d) Another member of the group can go on from there saying, “Now that we have been purified in Christ’s blood, as it says in I John 1:9 we can “Enter his gates with thanksgiving in our hearts and enter his courts with praise! Lets stand and do just that! (Sing I Will Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving in My Heart … and about six or seven lively worship choruses.)
e) Another member of the team can then read the account of Isaiah’s vision of God in the temple. Is. 6. Then they can say “I want you to close our eyes and envision the presence of the Lord in this place. He inhabits the praises of his people. It is not so much that we enter his presence for the Lord is everywhere. When our hearts are in the right state then are we able to finally experience Him in His fullness. Let’s continue to prepare our hearts for an encounter with God. As you close your eyes I want you to consider, meditate upon his holiness and majesty in this place right now. (Sing: He Is Lord, God, Here, Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord, Come Let Us Worship and Bow Down, Jesus We Enthrone You … etc.)
f) One of the members can then say, “The Lord is here. He is here in his majesty, for wherever two or more are gathered in His name he is there in the midst of them, open up to Him and experience His presence in this place.” — Then lead right in to “Lift Up Your Heads to the Coming King, Majesty, I Exalt Thee, Hallelujah etc.. “.) Following this there should be a time of praise, spontaneous and exuberant from the heart. If the worship team can be very free in worship it will definitely encourage others to voice their praises to God.
g) As the praises die down, initiate a period of silence to wait upon God. Pray in your hearts that there will be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. After that prayer requests can be offered up for the lost, loved ones, needs of the congregation, missionaries and any special requests. This should be followed by further praise and thanks. The offering could be taken up as a final act of worship in the service.

Talkin’ About Jesus

Have you ever noticed people talk about some product they really believe in, or some movie they enjoyed, food they love, car they want or person they admire? They really talk it up sometimes, and you can hardly shut them up. But when it comes to talking about Jesus, the same people have very little to say. It is a sad situation that people can so easily praise the things of this world and have nothing enthusiastic to say about their savior! This experience is designed to help God’s children to be more able to “brag” about Jesus.

a) During the week, interview teens about their favourite rock group. Ask questions like: What makes this group so good? How do you feel about this group? What would you do to get tickets to see them in concert? What does their music do for you? etc. If possible record the interviews on tape or video. At the worship time play, or read their “praises” to the group. Explain that to praise is both telling God how good He is and letting others know how good He is.
b) Choose a short psalm of praise, or a portion of a longer one (8-10 verses). Distribute it to the group (photocopied) and do a reading in unison. Then sing a few songs of praise.
c) Now allow them to “boast in Christ” as Paul said our only boasting should be. Choose volunteers to stand and brag about how great Jesus is! (If people are reluctant, give them time to gain the courage or to think as you go into another song of praise. Try to create a spontaneous natural atmosphere. The same kind that exists when two boys are trying to claim that their favourite car is better than the others.
d) Close the worship with a challenge to praise Jesus, or to brag about him to their worldly friends.
e) A solo of praise, either written by someone in the group or chosen by someone in the group would be very fitting.

The Seven Sayings

The gospels record seven last statements that Jesus made on the cross. Each one has significance for believers today. Each one gives greater insight into the mind and the suffering of Christ. Begin the worship time with seven lit candles. Turn out the lights in the room and introduce the meaning of the worship time. Invite the worshippers to participate in the scene of the crucifixion. Have seven members of the group read the sayings at the appropriate times. The order could be:
1. Read the saying.
2. Lead a song that relates to that saying.
3. Have one person pray a short prayer.
4. Then blow out one of the candles. Have a time of praise in the dark when ALL the candles have been blown out.

The Upper Room

Some of these ideas may have seemed so structured that they leave very little room for the Holy Spirit to interject. It is my hope that you would not use any idea that you have not already prayed over in His presence. Seek Him for ideas, that will lead the people into a greater awareness of who He is. There are many symbols of the Holy Spirit, dove, water, oil, wind, fire. There are as many facets to His personality; counsellor, advocate, baptizer, guide comforter, source of power. To base a worship time on the Holy Spirit you can highlight any of these symbols or any of these aspects of His personality or function. There are also nine fruit of the Spirit in Galatians and at least nine gifts of the Spirit in I Corinthians. Once again the possibilities are numerous:

a) Place a sign on the door of the room where you meet. “Welcome to the Upper Room. Please come in. Find a spot and begin praying ” (Chairs could be placed around the edges of the room. The lights could be dimmed, or curtains closed. You can have a praise tape playing. I found that some people are apprehensive about entering a room when people are praying, especially if they have arrived late. To avoid this problem, you can have one volunteer to act as an usher to make sure that no one remains outside the door until they think it is alright for them to enter the room.) You should be in the room praying. It helps sometimes if you are praying and praising out loud so that the others will not feel inhibited to do likewise. No one wants to draw attention to their prayers, so the more fervently you pray the more comfortable they will feel to seek the Lord.
b) When I did this I purposely had no set plan and chose to pray that the Lord would guide me. What ended up happening was that about seven members felt comfortable to enter the room. We all sought the Lord together, praying that the Holy Spirit would give us direction about how to reach out to the rest of the members of our group.
c)After praying separately for about fifteen minutes I called the group together and we united in a prayer huddle. Each person prayed about the burden on their heart in turn.
d) We joined hands and worshipped by singing praise songs without any music. The Spirit was leading each person to just sing out a new song and the others joined in.
e) The Holy Spirit came upon the group and everyone was praising God in an unknown tongue except those who were never baptized in the Holy Spirit. Some of the teens who had not spoken in tongues in months or years, began to do so.
f) I then counselled the group to find their own spot to pray again on their own. The room was almost quiet. Some teens were in tears. Some prayed in tongues. Everyone was praying with an unusual intensity.
g) I felt led to pray for those who had not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. One of them did and began speaking in tongues. I also went to pray for the rest of the people in the room. I was helping bear the burden on their hearts.
h) After I had prayed for each person they each were feeling a sense of victory in prayer. We all began praising God. We gathered together in praise, and sang loudly with great joy. We composed ourselves somewhat and opened the door to invite all those waiting at the door to come in for the message. I allowed time for the ones who had been praying to testify to what God had done in their lives, sang a few songs and went into the message.