Featured image for “The Outside-In Planning Strategy for Music”
Nov. 22, 2021

The Outside-In Planning Strategy for Music

Dear Ones:

This week I have a challenge. Don’t worry. It’s not more paperwork. And it actually reveals the kingdom of God already among you.

It starts with this peculiar problem. Small congregations often believe that they don’t have enough for lavish worship. There are lots of categories for this not-enoughness, but a big one is often music. Maybe there’s no longer a choir. Or it’s down to three faithful singers. Maybe there’s no longer a pianist who knows more than 5 hymns. Or an organist who doesn’t have to slow down through chord changes. Maybe the congregation sounds like a bawling calf—or a gathering of mumblers—when singing. And maybe recorded music feels like surrender to decline. And artificial somehow. 

That’s a lot of maybes. But here are four sure-things. Your greater community has musicians. God loves music not included in the hymnal—and people who aren’t in your pews. And God knows how to turn loaves and fishes into a feast. It’s really kind of the divine trademark. Taking the best of whatever happens to be available and revealing abundance. Surprise!!!

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Nov. 15, 2021

Anticipating Advent, Part 2: Gentle Reminders

As pastors and worship leaders, you have to live between two sets of demands. The now demands and the season-about-to-come-so-you-really-need-to-get-ready-at-the-same-time demands. Sound familiar?

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Featured image for “Advent Ready, Part 1: Free Downloads for Small-Setting Worship”
Nov. 05, 2021

Advent Ready, Part 1: Free Downloads for Small-Setting Worship

Here’s a list of downloadable, free Advent resources designed specifically for small-congregation worship. 

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Featured image for “Q & A: Call to Worship with Small-Setting Strengths”
Nov. 01, 2021

Q & A: Call to Worship with Small-Setting Strengths

Dear Teresa: On Sunday mornings, my congregation is chatty. There’s a natural enthusiasm as each person arrives. After a greeting, I lead them in a call to worship—usually one of the readings suggested by my denomination. The enthusiasm in their voices plummets. The readings often feel awkward, stilted, and artificial somehow. Is there a better way to call each other into God’s presence? 

—Looking for a Better Way

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Featured image for “Great Idea: Thanksgiving Worship that Lets the People Preach”
Oct. 25, 2021

Great Idea: Thanksgiving Worship that Lets the People Preach

Pastors should avoid the urge to curate the event with lots of their own words. Start the sharing. Then let the people work. Add your own object along the way. As one of the working people.

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