Resources for LAs - compiled by Carol Chaplin.

RESOURCES - Books:
The Bible - choose different translations, try:
The Liberator - Rob Lacey
The Dramatised Bible.
The Message
The Blokes Bible - Dave Hopwood
Who - ISBN976-0-564-09424 0
The lion story tellers Bible has ideas at the back for involving the whole group.

Bible Stories.
A lineage of grace - Francis Rivers
The book of books - Trevor Dennis
God treads softly here - Trevor Dennis
Imagining God - Trevor Dennis
Telling The Bible - Bob Hartman

Pick a reading and invite several people to choose one of the characters and say how they felt as
the story unfolded. Discuss.

Plays and Dialogues.
Companion to the RCL volume 9 Dramatic Dialogues
Jesus and Peter - John L. Bell & Graham Maule
Judge for yourself - Alice Lawhead


Liturgy

feasting on the word worship companion ISBN-13 978-0-664-23918-3
liturgies for lindisfarne ISBN 978-1-84867-263-5
Iona Abbey worship book
Methodist Worship Book see pp. 5-52
The pattern of our days Kathy Galloway & the Iona Community
Creative Ideas for Evening Prayer - ISBN 1-85311-643-2

Prayers
Companion to the revised common lectionary praying with the scriptures
500 prayers for all occasions David Clowes
Seasons and celebrations - Donald Hilton
Prayers for all seasons books 1 & 2 Nick Fawcett
The intercessions handbook - John Pritchard
The SPCK book of Christian Prayer
The word in the world - Donald Hilton
Together in prayer - Susan Sayers
The book of a thousand prayers - Angela Ashwin
Assorted books by Eddie Askew


Hymnody
a brief outline to the hymns, what inspired them, the original words etc can be found in
Companion to Hymns and Psalms
all loves excelling
http://www.singingthefaithplus.org.uk/
Wikipedia

Sermons
A Preachers year. John Gilling
forty four sermons - John Wesley

Poems
Distilling life
Kellets Christmas
The Oxford Book of Christmas poems

Books
Acorns and Archangels - Ruth Burgess
A Telling Place - Joy Mead
Bare feet and buttercups - Ruth Burgess
Dirt Mess and Danger - Glendon Macaulay
flowing streams - Donald Hilton
Liturgy of Life - Donald Hilton
Multi-sensory seasons - ISBN 1 84427 175 7
No Ordinary Man 1 & 2 - Nick Fawcett
Present on Earth - wild goose worship group
Sacred spaces - Margaret Silf
The Celtic resource book - Martin Wallace
Touching the sacred - ISBN 978-1-84825-024-6
Talking to the bones - Kathy Galloway
The Weaver - The Word and Wisdom - Michaela Young

Journals
Magnet - a quarterly resource often has pictures, a service or thought provoking articles.
Methodist recorder - try the thought for the week…..
Creative ideas series:
for evening prayer; using scripture in worship; advent and Christmas; Lent and Easter;
80 creative prayer ideas; for ministry with the aged.

Study Courses
Called to be Saints CTBI

Children (All Age)
creative ideas for quiet corners - Lynn Chambers
creative mission - Rona orme
The Lion Story teller Bible - Bob Hartman & krisztina Kállai Nagy


Seasonal and Special
The wild goose worship group have a number of these, often with short liturgy that can be
filled out with hymns and readings, many are available to download for £1 - £2
ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS:
Candles and conifers - Ruth burgess
Discovering Christ
The Jesse Tree
On the way to Bethlehem
Cloth for the cradle
Reflective services - Nick Fawcett
Shine on star of Bethlehem
Hay and Stardust
Going home another way Neil Paynter

LENT & EASTER
Bread and Wine
Eggs and Ashes
Fire and Bread - Ruth burgess
Loosening the Roots of Compassion
Let Justice roll down
Stages on the way - wild goose
Show me the way - Henri Nouwen
The eight words of Jesus
The things he carried


The old deanery in Wells has a library of resource books.




RESOURCES - DVDs
(check the church has a copyright licence to show films and clips)
Most of the major NGO's and many smaller charities have DVD's to capture an aspect of their work - an opportunity to contribute could be offered during or after the service. e.g.
Action for children
All we can
Christian Aid
Short films or film clips
Nooma videos - contemporary sermons on dvd, each lasting between 10 and 15 minutes and designed to challenge people to apply the Bible to modern life.

Movie Moments are short features that encourage people to think about personal, everyday life issues raised by the film. They use clips from a film to spark discussion and reflection in a variety of different settings and groups - free to view and republish online. http://www.damaris.org.uk/media/moviemoments
Reel Issues Clip Bite-sized summaries of current films to help start a discussion with friends after watching a film together or to complement your message in a sermon.
http://www.biblesociety.org.uk/about-bible-society/our-work/reel-issues/

SPCK, Eden.... examples include

Come Follow Me dramatises the relationship between Jesus and the Apostle Peter. Follow all Jesus' words and actions from the day he called Peter by name, to the his post resurrection instruction to Peter: 'feed my sheep'.

This short film beautifully illustrates Peter's transformation from fearful denial as a disciple to bold leadership in the early church. Atmospherically filmed, the 30 minute DVD movie also offers you a convincing way to introduce friends to the gospel.

From the producers of The Road to Emmaus comes this exciting new biblical drama. Starring Bruce Marchiano (Visual Bible Series, The Encounter) as Jesus, and Emilio Doorasingh (Apostle Peter and the Last Supper, Kingdom of Heaven) as the Apostle Peter.

More than just a historical account of Jesus and Peter, Come Follow Me explores what it really means to be a disciple and follower of Jesus for us today.

Depicting scenes from the life of the Peter as he journeys with Jesus, the Apostle's story begins in misunderstanding, false pride, misplaced zeal, doubts, fears and even denial. Yet Jesus fashions this raw human material, through a transformation of faith and grace, into Peter the rock of the early church.

This short film traces Peter's rough road - as rough then as now for followers of Christ today. Emphasising the power and promise of Jesus' words to Peter, the film is also an effective evangelism tool especially for those without much biblical knowledge.

Everyone who sees this film will be given an excellent introduction to the gospel message and find themselves invited to Come and follow Him.

Running time 30 minutes



Holy Ghost DVD, highly influential Christian movie and documentary maker, Darren Wilson, criss-crosses the world to create a feature length movie completely led by the Holy Spirit.

Filmed with no plan and no agenda other than to follow and honour the will of God, Darren and his team of movie makers gave over the entire project to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You will see God turn up in the most unexpected places to show people who don't even know Him how much He loves them and wants relationship with them.

The result is a transformative, challenging and spiritually uplifting 113 minute experience in which the Holy Ghost takes entire control of the script, cast, locations and production of a documentary that is far bigger and more influential than any previous movie on the person and power of the Holy Spirit.

This is a fast moving, globe-spanning story of real people totally given over to the day by day guidance of God's spirit. Unique in its scope and concept, Darren Wilson (Finger of God, Furious Love and Father of Lights) together with of the greatest advocates of the faith (including Bill Johnson of Bethel Church), R.T. Kendall (When God Shows Up), Heidi Baker, Kim Walker-Smith, Phil Vischer, (Veggietales), Brian & Jenn Johnson (Bethel Music), Todd White, Banning Liebscher, Michael W. Smith and William P. Young (The Shack) go wherever the Spirit leads or sends.

With a film-set that reaches from the marinas of Monte Carlo, to the slums of the oldest city in the world, this is a movie about risk and triumph. The crew simply show up wherever the spirit takes them to do whatever the spirit directs. It shows what can be done when we do not try to contain God, but simply give ourselves up to his power and direction.

Eat, Pray, Share DVD 5 session course from Small Group Central is a DVD resource for individuals and small groups exploring the question:

Why do we celebrate Communion?

Jesus invites us to eat, pray and share together in His Holy Communion. But has it become a ritual of remembrance or or is it something more spiritual - the renewing of a covenant?

Based on an issue of Every Day with Jesus and presented by Mick Brooks, Eat, Pray, Share is a new Small Group DVD resource exploring five key aspects of Communion: Community, Commemoration, Covenant, Celebration and Commitment. Over five sessions, gain a deeper understanding of the Last Supper, its importance and impact on our lives today.

Pack contains single DVD and an introductory booklet to the 5 sessions of approximately 15 minutes each.
A copy of the participants guide (available separately) for each participant is recommended.

The foundational truths of this DVD can be explored any time of year, but are maybe most poignant during the period of Lent and Easter. Based on an issue of Every Day with Jesus and presented by Mick Brooks, the teaching focuses on Communion as:
* Community
* Commemoration
* Covenant
* Celebration
* Commitment

An accompanying booklet contains discussion starters, prayers and Bible reading notes.
DVD with English subtitles


Bill and Gloria Gaither's Homecoming Hymns DVD Collection gives you 4 full DVDs of timeless gospel truth sung with the heart and soul of the greats of southern gospel music. This collection of 70 hymns with the heart and soul of the gospel gives you more than 3 hours of the words and tunes that carried the Christian faith around the world and across the generations.

Here is the glory of the past, the joy of the present and the hope of future summed-up and sung-out in portable, memorable pieces of deep theology made simple - and singable. Watch and listen, and you'll just have to join in.

This CD boxed set gives you front row seats at 4 of the Gaither's sell out gospel tours: 'Amazing Grace', How Great Thou Art', 'Hymns' and the memorable 'Church in The Wildwood' concert.

A fabulous addition to your Gaither library and a great gift opportunity, you'll find practically ever hymn you ever loved on this 4 disc collection. Hear and see those long-lived, long-loved songs of faith sung again with warmth, love, passion and praise - and all with the total heart and soul commitment that makes Bill and Gloria Gaither the best loved gospel artists the world over.


Breathtaking in scope and scale, THE BIBLE is an epic 10-part mini-series featuring powerful performances, exotic locales and dazzling visual effects that breathe spectacular life into the dramatic tales of faith and courage from Genesis through Revelation. This historic television event is sure to entertain and inspire the whole family.

Narrated by Robert Powell (Jesus of Nazareth), THE BIBLE features powerful performances from a formidable UK cast including Nonzo Anozie (Game of Thrones), Kierston Wareing (Eastenders), Louise Delamere (Waking the Dead), Matthew Gravelle (Broadchurch), Jake Canuso (Benidorm), Paul Freeman (Hot Fuzz), Simon Kunz (The Parent Trap) and Peter Guinness (Centurion). Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado stunningly portrays Jesus Christ and Irish actress Roma Downey stars as Mother Mary.

The series is expertly crafted by British Directors Christopher Spencer and Crispin Reece alongside cinematographer Christopher Titus King. And for the first time since their award winning collaboration on Gladiator, Oscar and Grammy winning composer Hans Zimmer reunites with acclaimed vocalist Lisa Gerrard to create the majestic musical backdrop for this epic production.

This four-disc set dives deeper into the making of the series and features a behind-the-scenes look at how the ground-breaking docudrama came together. Interviews with producers, directors, and cast illustrate creative collaboration on-set and off and show how the remarkable Moroccan scenery was transformed into the world of the Bible.

Disc 1
In the Beginning - approximately 46 Minutes
Exodus - approximately 46 Minutes
Homeland - approximately 46 Minutes

Disc 2
Kingdom - approximately 46 Minutes
Survival - approximately 46 Minutes
Hope approximately 46 Minutes

Disc 3
Mission - approximately 46 Minutes
Betrayal - approximately 46 Minutes
Passion approximately 46 Minutes

Disc 4
Courage Courage - approximately 46 Minutes

Road to Emmaus.
It is a story that's captivated the imagination of many generations.

Mourning the death of Jesus, two first-century travellers were joined by a mysterious stranger. Over the next few hours, the stranger revealed many mysteries that lay hidden in the ancient Scriptures. Soon, the purpose of Jesus' life became clear...and the travellers' sadness turned to great joy.

Now you can learn what they learned. Discover the key to life...on the Road to Emmaus.

Starring Bruce Marchiano of The Visual Bible: Matthew and Acts.

in English and Spanish.
Run Time 30 minutes
This DVD is Region 0 and will play on a UK DVD player



Where to, Lord? is part of an exciting series of topical Bible studies. Using a mix of Bible investigation, group discussion and video input, Where to, Lord? will help your group interact with what God is saying about the thorny topic of guidance.

Guidance can be one of the most frustrating issues for Christians. We know that Jesus has died, and that heaven lies in the future, but still remain unsure about everything in between. We have many questions about guidance, such as:

o Am I missing out on God's personal guidance?
o How does God guide his people today?
o If God speaks, will I hear his voice?
o How do I know God's will for my life?

Perfect for a Bible study group looking for a refreshing change, the studies and DVD format are specifically designed to work together to enable any group to put together the pieces on this topic. This is an excellent new tool to help you tackle an age-old question.

Accompanying workbooks required for each group member.



Nikolai Rublenko was a high school student and son of devout Christian parents. He lived behind the Iron Curtain. His father was under KGB surveillance for Christian activities.

Nikolai was a sincere Christian, an outstanding student and a gifted athlete. He wanted to go to university, become a lawyer and perhaps be able to help struggling Christians. All he had to do was compromise along the way, not mention his faith, and join the Young Pioneers Youth organization. And, one more thing - he would need to cooperate with the authorities by turning in evidence on his father's ministry. If he did not go along, not only would Nikolai's academic and athletic aspirations be sidetracked, but his entire school class would be penalized. Only Nikolai could decide!

This gripping, dramatic film will cause every believer, but especially young people, to take a new and deeper look at the meaning of Christian commitment. Ideal for illustrating the price some have to pay to honour their faith. A useful discussion starter for 11-15 year olds as well as for wider audiences.
Running Time: 30 minutes


Feature length films could be used in conjunction with a meal,
http://www.damaris.org.uk/ - offers discussion notes on new releases - some free, others to pay for.
http://www.biblesociety.org.uk/about-bible-society/our-work/reel-issues/ - discussion notes for films on DVD


L.A. Resources - Websites and Other.

Websites
Methodist website has interesting articles often with questions and points to ponder. An excellent resource is the word for today:
http://www.methodist.org.uk/prayer-and-worship/a-word-in-time

Also resources for special Sundays:
http://www.methodist.org.uk/prayer-and-worship (there is also an 'emergency service' here - handy to keep in the vestry for those times when the appointed preacher doesn't turn up.)

Bible society e.g. www.biblestudytools.com

Arthur Rank for rural church resources
http://www.arthurrankcentre.org.uk/publications-and-resources/worship-resources

Fresh Expressions have loads of ideas for different and multi-sensory ways of worshipping:
https://www.freshexpressions.org.uk/guide/worship

Wild Goose - whole services for £2 or £3 - http://www.ionabooks.com


Music

Ask 6 or 7 people to chooses a hymn, Bible reading, prayer or devotional poem and either say something about what it means to them or for the leader to explain.

Use the opportunity to listen to music together: an excerpt from the messiah, St Matthews passion - or The Iron Man and read the bits in between

Use the opportunity of an LA to learn some new songs

Ask your musicians to choose the hymns


A study course in 5 or 6 parts could be dipped into or used as an LA series. e.g.
Philip Yancey covers various topics
If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat
Where to Lord?
Cover-to-Cover Bible Studies

Art
See the Methodist picture library
Touching the sacred worship resources inspired by different hands

Table Talk Initiates conversations about life, faith and God.

Ideas and Inspiration for L.A.s - Two sessions by Nick Lakin

LA training - 3 thoughts for using music

If you have no organist when you organise an LA, there are many things you could do. Here are three ideas…

1. Use backing tracks, like the Singing the Faith backing tracks. These are best used if either you are singing a hymn that is extremely well known, or you have someone who knows the hymn/song very well and can lead the singing. Ask this person to practice with the backing track before the service so they know when to come in and what happens between verses.
2. Use a worship CD with a congregation singing. This is especially useful if you have no one in your congregation who can lead the singing. You can invite people to either join in or just listen, if they prefer. This is useful if you are using a hymn/song that you don't think everyone will know.
3. Use a piece of music that is not well known or 'singable' and simply ask people to listen to it. This may be a familiar hymn that is sung by a soloist, or a different setting of a familiar hymn or maybe a piece of music without words.





Ideas and Inspiration for L.A.s - Two sessions by Nick Lakin


LA training - A Simple Alternative to a Sermon

Three Questions

Try simply choosing any bible story and asking the congregation to think about three simple questions. Parables are especially good for this activity. Make it clear that everyone can either sit quietly and think about these questions or they can discuss the questions with their neighbours. Read the bible story and then ask:

1. What would this story be like if it happened today?
2. What does this story mean to you?
3. How can the meaning of this story make a difference to your life?

Once people have had an opportunity to reflect upon each question, ask if anyone wants to share their thoughts. This will help the congregation to share their ideas and insights together. Finish by reading the bible story again.




Ideas and Inspiration for L.A.s - a seminar, hand-out and two templates by Bethany Shimmin

Celebrating Feasts and Occasions in our Churches
A Seminar from the Circuit Weekend, 2015.

INTRODUCTION
The Call to Celebrate: Celebration is a Christian Discipline.

Think about:

What are you grateful for today? What are you celebrating? - 1 minute - Write as many on a piece of paper as possible.

How does your Christianity influence and affect your celebration? - does it make you more or less inclined to celebrate?


CELEBRATING - THE THEOLOGY:

As Christian we are called to be like Jesus. Jesus grew up in a Jewish culture where celebration was so important that holidays, feast days, rest days, etc, were mandatory. The reason was that the Jews believed that their nation began in slavery in Egypt - there they had nothing to celebrate and no time to celebrate it in. But God liberated and saved them, and in order that they never forget and never go back to being slaves he gave them a set of laws and a culture that were filled with celebration. Jesus knows its importance.

In John 2 - John shows us Jesus at a wedding party where the wine is running out. The celebration is coming to an end and that end is going to be very embarrassing for the hosts and very upsetting for the family. This isn't just a story about a wedding, John is using it to tell us about the plight of the people of God at this time. They had been chosen by God as His bride, and they've made a covenant to Him and they're trying to be true to it but the wine has run dry, the celebration has come to an end. As a conquered people, occupied by Rome, impoverished and poorly governed, no matter what they've done or how hard they've tried to keep his law and rebuild his temple and fight their occupiers God has not come to save them. Just like at the wedding, the servants and the people at the bottom know it, while the people at the top haven't yet realised but the blessing is running out.

And then, in the story, Jesus turns water into wine. And for John this isn't just something Jesus did at this wedding, this was also something Jesus did for everyone everywhere. Jesus is the one who re-starts the celebration. Jesus announces the promised year of Jubilee when the poor receive good news, the blind see, and the captives go free. Jesus attends parties and sits down to meals with all the wrong people. Jesus heals the sick, touches the untouchables and loves the unlovely. Yes Jesus is the 'man of sorrows and acquainted with grief' but he is also the embodiment of celebration; and the Kingdom he announces and establishes is filled with joy and feasting and wholeness and dancing.

So, if the Jews were people of celebration and Jesus re-started the party then it stands to reason that we need to be characterised by this too.

In pairs/groups:
What's the best celebration you've been to? Why is celebrating important?
How do you think celebrating has changed in your life-time?


CELEBRATING: THE PSYCHOLOGY:

Harvey Cox - (The Feast of Fools) - said of Western culture that we've been pressed 'so hard towards useful work and rational calculation [we have] all but forgotten the joy of ecstatic celebration...'

Research shows that over the last 30 years our teenagers have become:
38% more likely to have trouble remembering,
74% more likely to have trouble sleeping
100% more likely to have seen a professional for mental health issues
50% more likely to say they felt overwhelmed.

These are all signs of our rising problem of depression. There are many theories about why this might be the case. They include: weaker relationships and community ties, consumerism, and consumer goal focus, lack of exercise and groundedness (and poor diet with lots of toxins and chemicals), and too high expectations.

It is important to recognise that if someone is ill we should encourage them to see their GP, seek professional help and not offer platitudes or make them feel guilty. However, it is interesting to note that psychologists recommend the following disciplines or ways of life to help guard against depression:

Gratitude,
Social Interaction,
Taking care of yourself (good food, good sleep, good exercise),
Pleasurable Hobbies,
Cognitive Restructuring (what you tell yourself about you).


HOW CAN THE CHURCH HELP?


Our churches should be places where we exemplify and offer these ways of life to the world outside of us. We need to create a culture of celebration through:
Re-building communities,
Being grateful and celebratory (worshipping with all our hearts),
Having low expectations for joy and celebration - it doesn't need to be a 'special' birthday, enjoy every birthday. It doesn't need to be an A grade, celebrate a pass, etc,
Being simple and grounded,
Rejecting materialism and consumerism.


In pairs/groups:
How is your church already a place of celebration and positivity?
What could you do to help you celebrate better?
What other occasions and things could you start celebrating?

Some ideas:

Day by Day:
Singing 'Happy Birthday.'
Eating together.
Using the notices well.
Applauding.
Having art work etc in the church - celebrating creation and creativity.
Plant a tree or a flower or give a gift of some kind.
Services to celebrate specific things.
Worshipping God.
Take photographs
This all sounds complicated but resist the temptation to go overboard and keep it easy and simple. - e.g. A freshly baked loaf of bread with butter and jam is delicious. You don't need three types of cake. A home-made happy birthday banner that comes out every time is better than newly bought plastic ones. The same simple gift for everyone or no gift at all is perfectly appropriate.

Church Occasions:
Following the church year.
Doing festivals well.
Decorating - inside and outside. (posters, banners, etc)

Other Occasions: Moments to invite people in:
Blessing the unchurched - weddings, christenings and other moments.
Reminding people that God is in their achievements…
Celebrating someone's life (both BEFORE and after they die!) e.g. birthday, etc.
Celebrating someone's faith - baptism, confirmation or anniversary.
The work of a club or organisation.
The work of an individual - achievement for charity, retirement, building of something meeting of a target etc.
Graduation, exam results, completion of a course / education, etc.
Celebrating someone's relationship (anniversaries, weddings, blessings etc)
Celebrating the birth of a child (Christenings, dedications, blessings, etc)
Celebrating and thanking leaders and ministers (before they leave).

BUILDING A CELEBRATION SERVICE:

What makes a good Feast-Day service?
Do you have a favourite in the year?
How is a celebration service like a wedding or a baptism different from an ordinary service?
How might we get someone on board?

Be aware of what needs celebrating well in advance, and then ask those involved if you at the church can help. Perhaps you could book an L.A. to fall on an appropriate day.
Talk to the person / family concerned.
Invite family members, neighbours, people in the area, etc. Ask them what they could/would like to do. - We would like to honour your father/friend/wife/etc - what would they like? What would you do?
Keep it short.
Let them choose the songs.
Ask someone to tell the story of the person/relationship/occasion/charity etc.
Simple, short readings (let them choose if they'd like).
Offer it up to Jesus - invite Jesus into the middle of the occasion.
What else might they like? - A piece of music, a poem, some pictures shown, etc.
Do you have someone who could take a few pictures?
Is there someone who could make a certificate? Or is there some sort of ritual or gift you could offer (planting a flower in the church garden, or tree nearby or something?)
Could you offer tea and coffee and/or let the family use the building to celebrate in afterwards if they wish?
If they are there to talk about a charity then could you give your collection to that cause?


In pairs or threes (or on your own) write an Order of Service for a Celebration Service you might give. (Maybe pick an occasion coming up in your life that you could celebrate or something else that's happening for a friend, relative, church member, or neighbour, etc). How might you split up the work load and delegate, etc?

Are there any questions?




A hand-out from this seminar follows, as well as a template for the sort of celebration service described above. There is also a template for a service of lament following a tragedy. Covering services of this kind was beyond the scope of the seminar above, however it is important to remember that the church is called to the pain as well as the joys of life and love. When tragedy strikes, the local community may seek out the church for comfort, and these times can come without warning and be very disconcerting for those leading worship. The template offers a simple service which could be kept in a corner of the church and referred to in an emergency.
Bethany Shimmin



Celebrating Feasts and Occasions in our Churches: - The Hand-Out


1. The Call to Celebrate.

How important is celebration for Christians?




2. The Benefits of Celebration.

What's the best celebration you've been to?

What difference does celebrating make?



3. Creating a Culture of Celebration.

How is your church already a place of celebration?
What occasions and things are you already celebrating?

What other things could you do to help you celebrate better?

What other occasions and things could you try celebrating?



4. Building a Celebration Service.

How is a celebration service like a wedding or baptism different from an ordinary service?

In what ways is it easier to organise? In what ways is it harder?

Write a simple order of service for a celebration service your church might hold (perhaps pick an occasion coming up or a person or group you might like to honour). Think about things like who picks the hymns and what parts of the service you could delegate and who you might invite to speak, etc.

How would you go about organising this?




Giving a Service of Celebration: A Template for Local Arrangements.

Celebrating an occasion is a great way to make an LA service truly 'Local'. Birthdays, anniversaries, achievements, local groups or charities, etc are all waiting to be celebrated and offer the opportunity to reach out into the local community and invite friends, neighbours and family who would not normally be present. The best way to approach these services is to use a Local Arrangement and make it as collaborative as possible, invite family members or old friends to do readings, share memories, and even say prayers. Ask those involved to choose the songs, or a poem / piece of music to hear, you could even have an open-mic slot. The ideas below are offered as a starting point, they do not need to be followed exactly. The service can easily be lengthened with more songs, prayers, and other activities as appropriate. Where families have been invited it may also be appropriate to give some thought to children (some ideas include: card making and presentation, child's talk, colouring in, cake decorating, interactive presentations, etc.)

Welcome: We meet together in the presence of God to celebrate ________________ and to ask God's blessing upon him / her / them / it. We especially welcome _________ on this occasion.

Hymn / Song (Ideally something well known or chosen by the person / group / family involved.)

Prayer: (written to suit or found elsewhere e.g. Methodist Worship Book p27:)
Loving God we have come here to worship you
Help us to remember that you are here with us.
May we pray to you in faith, sing your praise with gratitude,
And listen to your word with eagerness; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Testimony: An explanation of what exactly is being celebrated. This could be a short talk by one person or could involve input from several people. It could even include an open-mic time when anyone present is invited to share a memory about the person/people/event being celebrated.

Hymn / Song (As above.)

Reading(s): To be chosen by those responsible to suit the occasion, for a birthday a favourite passage could be chosen, for an anniversary something familiar like 1 Cor 13 or Romans 12, etc.

Reflection: There are many different options for this. If a favourite reading was chosen then the person involved may be willing to share a little of their own testimony and the importance of the reading. Alternatively a favourite poem could be read or an appropriate piece of music played. Or a short talk could be given by another person about the way that God is at work in the life (lives) or activity that is being celebrated, and challenging others to do likewise. It would also be possible to include a presentation of some kind at this point, or the giving of gifts.

Prayers of thanksgiving and intercession: A time of open prayer might be appropriate here, alternatively previously prepared prayers could be offered. They should include specific prayer for the occasion that is being celebrated as well as more general prayers for those present and the wider world.

The Lord's Prayer.

Hymn / Song (As above.)

Blessing: May the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord look on you with kindness and give you peace. Amen.

It would also be nice for the church community to offer refreshments after the service, and perhaps to invite family members or friends to bring a cake etc to mark the occasion where appropriate.
 
Giving a Service Following a Tragedy: A Template for Local Arrangements.

This is offered as a resource for stewards and others who may find themselves 'caught out' by an unexpected death or other tragedy that requires a response from the local church. It is based on and inspired by some of the services available in the Methodist Worship Book (1999). There is no obligation to follow it exactly (or even to use it at all), and other resources are available online and elsewhere. It is a short service and additional songs, readings, poetry, sermon, times of silence, etc can be added as desired.

Welcome:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.
AND / OR
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.

Hymn / Song (e.g. Amazing Grace, Be still for the Presence of the Lord, or other.)

Prayer: (written to suit or found elsewhere - e.g. from Methodist Worship Book p 448-9:)
God our comforter, you are our refuge and strength,
A helper close at hand in times of trouble.
Help us so to hear your word
That our fear may be dispelled, our loneliness eased,
And our hope reawakened
May your Holy Spirit lift us above our sorrow,
To the peace and light of your constant love;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ministry of the Word:
We meet in this solemn moment to worship God; to remember ____________ and to pray for all who mourn / suffer (delete as appropriate). Let us hear then the words of Holy Scripture that from them we may draw comfort and strength.

Readings: (to be chosen by those responsible to suit the occasion, where a death has occurred some possible suggestions include Psalm 130, John 6 v 35-40, John 14 v 1-6 and 27, 1 Cor 15 v 3-5 and 20-24, 1 Peter 1 v 3-9, etc).

Hymn / Song (e.g. The Lord's My Shepherd, or alternative)

Reflection (This should be suited to the occasion and to the time and resources available. An informed person may wish to reflect on some memories regarding the event or a person's life; an open-mic time where members of the congregation are invited to share a memory or thought is another option; as indeed is a short talk or reflection on the readings. However, there is no necessity to offer any words at all and, particularly when the events are very recent, the most appropriate response is often simply a protracted time of silence, perhaps with music playing and even the opportunity to light a candle.)

Prayers of intercession (and thanksgiving for their life if appropriate) and the Lord's Prayer.
(A time of open prayer may suit some congregations, alternatively worship leaders or other church members could be asked to bring a prepared prayer with them, or written prayers can be read from the Methodist Worship Book, 1999 (p458-9) or F17-19 in the older version (p225-7) or elsewhere.)

Hymn / Song (e.g. The Day Thou Gavest, Abide With Me, Blessed Be Your Name, or alternative)

Blessing: May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, remain with you always. Amen.
 
 
 
 
 
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