Breathing New Life into Lenten Worship

For many of us, this is a tough season for worship planning. Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany are still close in our rearview mirror. And where I live it’s also cold—really cold! Our worship planning can feel flat, and the dulled skies of mid-winter seem to dull our creativity. Well, here’s a menu of 10 ideas that can breathe new life into your Lenten worship and help you move through the final weeks of winter…

  1. Incorporate worship music from different cultures and styles, such as jazz, folk, or gospel.
  2. Utilize multimedia elements such as visuals to enhance the worship experience. For example, for Ash Wednesday we recorded a family gathered around a fire pit—they burned the palms from the previous year and then carried the ashes into the sanctuary as part of our worship experience.
  3. Incorporate interactive prayer into worship services, such as joint readings, times of reflective meditation, or responsive prayers.
  4. Use creative ways to worship—spoken-word poetry, modern stories, fables, or go all out and try a little hip-hop music. I have found people in my congregation who are either poets or write short stories. Ask them to write something for worship.
  5. Invite a guest speaker or worship leader who specializes in progressive worship. This is a great way to bring some freshness to worship, and you might even get a Sunday off!
  6. Incorporate the use of sacred objects or symbols during worship to engage worshippers and create meaningful conversations. You could also rearrange your symbols in your space or do something to highlight a particular symbol for a particular worship service.
  7. Make worship more interactive through activities such as worship art, hand movements, or worship stations where people move from place to place during points in the service.
  8. Incorporate meaningful dialogue and discussions within the worship service to engage people in the worship experience. This is always met with some resistance, but when you get folks to form groups where they are seated, some beautiful discussions can happen.
  9. Encourage members of the congregation to create their own worship elements, such as songs or prayers. So many times, we’ve incorporated elements from our members and used them in worship. This is a great way to enhance your liturgy and empower your congregation.
  10. Use technology to enhance your worship services, from using apps to facilitate worship to live streaming services. A couple of weeks ago we talked about gratitude and at the end of the service we had everyone pull out their phones and send a text to someone they were grateful for.

In 1 Chronicles 16:29 we are reminded: “Give to the Lord the glory the Lord deserves! Bring your offering and come into the Lord’s presence. Worship the Lord in holy splendor.” Worship is central to the life of the church—we’re called to invite the congregation to worship as an offering of beauty to God. It is a high calling even during the cold days of winter. With a little creativity, worship can be made into an engaging and inspiring experience for all involved! If you would like to talk further about how to enhance your worship, or need a coach to help you take some next steps in your worship planning, please reach out to me or contact us through our Coaching Portal!

Rev. Dr. Mark Slaughter serves as the Minister of Worship Arts at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN. In addition to his 35+ years of ministry, he received a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary, Master of Divinity and Church Music from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Bachelor of Music from Belmont University.


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