Every week, when we plan for worship, we have to take into account what we want to share in our service. You might follow the Christian year, the pastor’s preaching plan, or search each week for exactly the plan that will help your congregation respond to God this Sunday.
This year, there is a Sunday with new significance; September 11th is the tenth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself as you make your plans.
How much do we let it influence our service?
Probably the biggest driver to the answer to that question is rooted in the people who are in your congregation. How were they touched by the attacks? Do you have military connections, or even church members whose families were affected by the lives lost?
Look at how your church responded to September 11th ten years ago. If you can locate the plan or a recording for September 16th, 2001, you can see what was said and sung immediately after the incident. If you’re new, or don’t have records back that far, talk to long-time church members and see what they remember.
Once you’ve got that picture, decide what is important for you to recognize based on the people in your church today. You may want to use some of the same songs or scripture, or go a totally different direction.
What kind of theme should the service take?
Again, the members of your congregation will largely influence this. Here are some options to consider:
- Thanksgiving and Celebration – focus on God’s provision and protection. Celebrate how He has blessed our families, churches and nation in these past ten years. (Isaiah 43:2)
- Remembrance and Hope – make the message of the service one that lifts up God’s creation of human life, challenging the congregation to share in the redemption story by sharing the hope that we have in salvation through Jesus Christ (Isaiah 55:6-11)
- Declarative Praise – exalt the name of the Lord, proclaiming that He rules over all things and all people, that even in the face of tragedy, we will rejoice. (I Thessalonians 5:18)
Should we do something patriotic?
There’s no problem with including patriotic material in your plan for Sunday if it’s something that will connect with the members of your congregation. Remember that the primary purpose of our worship is to respond to God’s revelation, so be sure that the core of your worship plan is rooted in scripture.
Resist the urge to do something out-of-character for your church this Sunday just to impress people. If you normally have a praise band and worship team, have a praise band and worship team. However, you may want to engage people differently, using different media or combinations of people to create a special worship moment. If you do pre-recorded videos, consider interviewing some of your members about their experiences since 2001, and how God is working through their lives. Think about how members of your church are gifted, how they were personally affected by the events, and what the intersection of those two could create to help point people to God.
What should we sing?
This Sunday is probably a good day to focus on songs that your congregation already knows – songs that they can sing and not be distracted. You may find that this Sunday draws in irregular attenders and visitors, and you want your congregation to be engaged in worship so that they can see it modeled well.
Depending on the theme of your service, you can search for topics at LifeWayWorship.com. Here are some songs of thankfulness, songs of deliverance and songs of exaltation. If you click on the “I” button for any of these songs, you can see the themes we’ve attached to them in the “tags” section.
As we get closer to September 11, we’ll be posting some service orders for the Sunday here at LifeWayWorship.com. If you’d like to submit one, paste it in on the feedback form on the homepage, message it to @lifewayworship, comment on our post at facebook.com/lifewayworshipdotcom or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.