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.
This was a devotion that proved to be great success.
Set up food and drinks (you can also add music to make the time even more festive). We had soda in plastic wine glasses (with lemon wedges) and finger foods.
Start your program about ten minutes after it is supposed to start. When it does start, block the door so that no one else can come in. Then welcome the youths who are there. Invite them to mingle, have fun, eat some food for the next 1000 seconds. During that time set up two groups of chairs – the groups must be facing each other.
Whenever someone comes late, they are told that they must stay outside. Even if they had been there before and had left to come back, they weren’t allowed in,(we had people trying to sneak in the backdoor). At the end of 1000 seconds (approx. 16 minutes), let those who are early sit on one group of chairs. Then lead those who were late to the other side.
Ask one of the early youths to read Matthew 25: 1 – 13.
Then ask one or two (or three) of the latecomers why they were late.
Ask one of the latecomers to read Luke 12: 35 to 40.
Then ask the early youth why they were early.
Afterward read Luke 14: 16 – 24.
We then asked a few of the youths to explain the purpose of the exercise.
We need to be ready for when Jesus comes. Which side do you want to be on when Jesus actually comes? In the Kingdom rejoicing? Or outside trying to get in? Don’t let any excuse keep you out of heaven.
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.
I saw the “Straight Acoustic Worship” (in EGAD!’s Worship section) article on this site and adapted it to suit my youth group. The group (about 10 persons) sat in a circle surrounding lit candles. The lights were turned off so there was a worship mood. There was a white candle for each person and in the middle a single red candle. During the prayer session we sang worship songs and prayed for each person. What made it special was that each time we prayed for a person they would get up and blow out their candle which meant that they were giving their concerns to God. When all the white candles were blown out we listened to a song on friendship then discussed our own friendship with Jesus. I was surprised by the contributions made by even the shy ones. When the discussion was through we all got up and blew out the red candle together signifying our recommitment to our friendship with God. the whole night was filled with meditation and true worship that is after the giggles were through. When they settled down the young people showed that youth can worship too.
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.
The Abrahamic Covenant described in Genesis 15 is a graphic tale of God’s commitment to us. Symbolically animals are torn apart and only God passes through the pieces indicating that he alone bears the penalty if the blood convenant is broken. In this worship activity students will carry a cross through items of value to the students that are laid out on the floor of the room. The cross is the place where God paid for the broken covenant. A detailed reading of the passage must precede the activity and students should only pass through the items laid out on a voluntary basis. Following this solemn activity songs of praise should be offered up in thanks for what God has done for us through Christ, honouring his commitment in the covenant
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.
Have everyone hold one nail in their right hand, one nail in their left hand, and keep one nail between their feet. Then have them lean against a wall in the crucifixion position with two arms stretched out. Play worship songs about the love, pain, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. Have the lyrics on the screen so that the youths can sing along. This way they will have a better understanding of the physical pain of Jesus while he was crucified. Have them put their arms up as long as they can, and put them down when they’re tired, but put them up again as soon as possible. Their arms should be getting sore and throbbing. They will probably put their arms down to rest more and more often. Emphasize how much more Jesus was hurting with the skin on his back ripped open, the thorns on his head piercing his skull, injuries and bruises all over his body, and the nails actually nailed through the bones and veins of his wrists and ankles.
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.
At the intimate soft song part of a worship set, have one of your artsy youth paint during a song like, The Wonderful Cross. The youth should paint different sins that you face like: lust, lying, stealing, etc. in the shape of a cross. This should be done in the color black. After the cross is finished, the kid should paint a thick red line over the words in the shape of the cross. Then pour water over all of it and smeer it with his or her hand.
This is very powerful and gives a visual so that it involves more than just one of the bodies senses.