Four Tools for Worshipping Together Without Singing

With the United Kingdom’s COVID-19 guidelines recommending the avoidance of singing together in person, many UK churches may be wondering what to do instead.

Here are 3 questions to help us grow through this time rather than just getting through it and 4 tools for worshipping God together that work great online as well as in person.

Engagement, Participation and Leadership

Singing together is great, but having our gatherings so heavily dependent on it presents a few challenges:

  1. Engagement. Our musical worship can act as an engagement filter. Not neglecting individual responsibility to call our own souls to praise, we do still need to be honest that lyrics, style of a song, and the quality with which it’s played all play a big part in helping or hindering us in our focus on God – whether we like it or not.
    Are there ways of beginning our time together which connect with more people and more accessibly?
  2. Participation. Our format of musician + crowd can easily slip into an experience that is more performative than participatory.
    Are there ways of worshipping which require and affirm the gifts that each of us have to bring in worship?
  3. Leadership. We say leadership is about character and quality of relationship, but our ways of leading worship make it easy for us to compromise on character for the sake of a good musician. Meanwhile, many in our churches with the character and quality of relationship to lead well do not have upfront roles because they didn’t have piano lessons.
    Are there ways of leader-ing which don’t require musical talent?

There’s a way of beginning worship time together which increases engagement, participation and leadership and leads toward a healthier together-culture in a church.

There’s a way of beginning worship time together which increases engagement, participation and leadership and leads toward a healthier together-culture in a church. ~ Benedict Atkins Click To Tweet

Worship Activities

Short activities, liturgies, and experiences which go at the start of a gathering before any songs can help people connect with God for themselves, where they’re at, in a communal way.

Here are some worship activities which can be used at the very start of a gathering to involve everyone from the outset, before moving into singing (if and when allowed).

These non-sung worship activities are based on biblical theology of worship and are crucial to having a healthy experience of worship as a church. These are important because they:

  • Engage people where they are at
  • Remind us that church worship is a ‘together’ thing
  • Are accessible to everyone
  • Enable us to bring ourselves to God in worship
  • Enable everyone to have a contribution worth making

We do them at the beginning because it’s more effective and also helps us get the most out of the worship activities that follow. Give them a go, write your own, enjoy the goodness it makes space for.

Notes:

  1. Follow the steps, don’t shortcut – they enable people to process.
  2. For activities which have a few steps to them, run through all the steps with people before starting the activity.
  3. This is part of worship, and we are needing to reinforce that worship is not just with music, so steer clear of saying, “Before we worship, we’re going to do 3 minutes of thankfulness,” etc. Instead, “To start our worship, we’re going to do…”

Sad and Glad

Point: Offering joy and sadness to God
Needs: Paper (2 pieces each), pens, two bowls

Content & Instructions:
God sees us today as we are and loves us as we are. Our tears are as important to him as our laughter, our sadness as much as our happiness. Rather than putting on a mask, God wants us to come to him honestly. He says that true worship is when we are not fake with him.

  1. Send round pens and 2 pieces of paper each
  2. Read out two lines from the Psalms, one glad and one sad
  3. Write on each piece of paper one thing you’re sad about and one thing you’re glad about. Nobody else will see these. (optional: play background music)
  4. Set 2 bowls at front. One for sad and one for glad. (optional: light a candle between them)
  5. Tell people to come forward with their sad and glad papers and put them in the bowls like we’re offering them to God, remembering that real worship is being real with God.

3 Minutes of Thankfulness

Point: Starting our worship with thankfulness realigns us to his goodness. It raises faith.
Needs: Humans to have courage to share

Content & Instructions:

  • 1 minute to think of something to be thankful for
  • 1 minute to share with people around you
  • 1 minute to call them out to encourage each other

Hallelujah Anyway

Point: We can bring everything to God in worship whatever’s going on in our lives
Needs: Courage from the leader

Content & Instructions:

There’s a great ancient word that is used by Christians all over the world which means ‘praise God.’ The word is hallelujah. In the Bible, we see many examples of people worshipping God in the good times and bad times.

So we say ‘hallelujah’ when we praise God in the good times, but even when we don’t feel like it, when it’s really hard, we know God is good so we can say ‘hallelujah’ anyway.

Leader reads three pairs of phrases.

  1. Each time, at the end of the first one we can all say a big: “hallelujah!” (try it!)
  2. At the end of the second one we can say an even bigger “hallelujah anyway!” (try it!)
When we love you as we want to, we say:
hallelujah!
When we find it hard to love you, you show us grace and bring good from our mistakes, so we say: hallelujah anyway!
When everything seems right and it’s easy to trust you, we say: hallelujah!When things don’t make sense and seem hopeless, we know that you’re good and you’re at work, so we say: hallelujah anyway!
When the days are easy and the sun is shining we say: hallelujah!When the nights are long and things hurt, you are our strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, so we say: hallelujah anyway!

Weekly Cheer

Point: Noticing how God is at work in one another’s lives
Needs: People to share

Content & Instructions:

Declaring and hearing where God has been at work encourages, builds confidence and increases perspective beyond the individual to the community and cosmos around them.

  1. Thinking Time
  2. Someone shares about how they’ve seen God at work in the life of another person in the community that week
  3. Everyone then says to the person, “We see God in you, and we see God at work around you.”

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About the Author
Benedict Atkins

Benedict Atkins

Ben lives in the old docks of East London, UK with his family and friends where he has been planting a neighbourhood church for the last four years. If you want to say hi or start a conversation you can find him on instagram @benedict.atkins.

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