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Monday, August 29, 2011

Twenty Top Tips For Corporate Prayer in Worship: Part 1

Twenty Top Tips For Corporate Prayer in Worship: Part 1

"Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness."  - Martin Luther.

"There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God." - Brother Lawrence

"Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I'll be there." – Matthew 18: 18-20 MSG

Prayer in worship is a wonderful opportunity to listen and to respond. It’s the spiritual breath of a congregation; the inhalation and exhalation of God’s blessings and our praise and requests. It is life. It is sustenance. It is power.

Even though there are similarities between personal prayer time and corporate prayer time, there are also differences. Here are a few quick pointers for leading corporate prayer in worship services:

1.    This may seem obvious but it truly is the starting point. Have a personal prayer life. This will not only help prayer to emanate from your heart, it will give you a greater flow in leading.
2.    Pray out loud sometimes in your personal prayer time. This is a wonderful way to aid with concentration, to get used to your voice and to make prayer sound more natural and conversational.
3.    Study prayers. There are wonderful prayer resources that date back through history that are rich with content and can serve as a catalyst for developing your own rich public prayer content.
4.    When you are reading corporate prayer, look for a natural and yet well projected and engaging voice.
5.    Consider the placement in the service. Is this an opening prayer, a prayer before communion, a closing prayer or other corporate experience? Your content should change to reflect that.
6.    Be aware of what is going on in the world, the community and the church. You don’t have to read every newsfeed; this is not a sermon, it’s a prayer. You can ask people you serve to let you know if there are any major events going on that should be prayed about corporately. Sometimes in the flurry to get ready we may miss a major catastrophe in the news, the community or the congregation that morning.
7.    Don’t be obsessed with yourself. The rest of the world isn’t. They’re not evaluating every word, every turn of phrase, every grammatical error. You are blessed just to have their attention. Relax.
8.    You don’t need to pray for everything in every prayer every Sunday. Be led by the Spirit of God in your prayer times and then ensure that over the course of time there is diversity in your prayers.
9.    Tie the prayer into the sermon, the sung worship time and other themes that are dominant in the service.
10.Consider purging some church phrases that have lost their meaning or impact.

This is part one of Twenty Top Tips For Corporate Prayer in Worship. I’ll be posting part two over the next few days.

In the meantime, if you are interested in joining my wife Elsa, myself and powerful teacher Hans Weichbrodt of Sweden on the pilgrimage of a lifetime to the Holy Land we would love to invite you along. This is more than just a ‘tourist trip’ – it’s a conference, a time of worship, and a gathering of joy-filled believers in the most sacred places on earth. We will also unpack the Hebraic practices within worship in order to enrich our worship today. We’re almost sold out so please visit our site today at  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Break Forth Canada 2012 Schedule

OK . .  I couldn't help myself. I'm so thrilled about the conference schedule that I wanted to post an overview for you. Remember that there are 170 classes and workshops as well with more than 2,500 people just in the worship and creative arts tracks! Plus a total of 15,000 over the weekend.

I'll come through with my promise with a post on corporate prayer in worship. Coming soon.


NOTE: Click on the image below to see a larger version.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Break Forth Canada 2012

I know, I know. 

I promised that my next post would be on public prayer in the worship service but we're going to press on the Break Forth Canada 2012 brochure and I wanted my readers around the world to get the first glimpse. At 3:00 AM, hundreds of thousands of brochures will be rolling on the presses. 

Here is the cover of the brochure. We would love to see you here:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Offering

The Offering:

“Take a look at your own heart, and you will soon find out what has stuck to it and where your treasure is. It is easy to determine whether hearing the Word of God, living according to it, and achieving such a life gives you as much enjoyment and calls forth as much diligence from you as does accumulating and saving money and property.” - Martin Luther

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” – Matthew 16:21 NLT

The Offering Game: Yes, I know . . . try to look like you wrote a really, really, really big cheque . . . do a massive circuitous hand wave as you drop it in the plate . . . and then gleam at the person beside you with a visual dare, “Match that, buddy, if you really have faith as great as mine!”

Somehow, the offering must be more than that.

It is.

The offering truly is an act of worship as we offer our complete selves in response to what Christ has done for us.

Perhaps, let’s start with what the offering is not:
1.      It is not just a convenient time to present the announcements
2.      It is not just a convenient way to pay the bills
3.      It is not a way to gain favour with God
4.      It is not a way to feel good about how sacrificial or superior we are
5.      It is not a way to increase our health or personal wealth 

Just as offering our songs and prayers to God in our public worship services is to be a communal experience, the offering in worship truly is an experience for the entire gathering of believers.   We hear the great truths of God and then respond through gifts of gratitude. It’s like breathing in and out. Both are necessary (If you don’t believe me, just try to leave out either one). Unfortunately in many churches, the only opportunity for expression is in the singing of select worship songs and perhaps standing up and sitting down on cue. Sally Morgenthaler writes, “In some contemporary churches, the worship all comes at you from the stage, TV-style. The opening 20 minutes of singing is the only interaction that worshipers get. But liturgy by its very nature is interactive."

The traditional placement of the offering in the worship service also indicates this breathing in, breathing out and its communal experience. We prepare our hearts together (served through preludes, quiet reflection and call to worship), we confess together and hear the assuring words of forgiveness in common, we respond with songs of praise, we hear the Words of scripture (often the Old Testament reading, the Epistle, and the Gospel), we hear the great news of the Gospel through the sermon, and we respond in a resounding expression of thanksgiving for all God’s gifts in our offerings.

We acknowledge that we are simply giving back to God what is His in the first place as a small gift of value to He who is infinitely invaluable.

The offering is one more way that we can involve the entire body in a common expression of worship within our services. It reduces the spectacle of ‘presentation’ from the platform and allows everyone to share of themselves.

It also allows us to drive a stake in the ground, proclaiming that that which so easily becomes our greatest snare (our wealth) will not be our greatest treasure. As we give to the work of Christ in gratitude, we proclaim that God Himself and the work of His Kingdom are our greatest treasure. (Remember: “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” – Matthew 16:21 NLT)

Try to remember to reinforce the truth that the offering is truly an act of worship. Unless we are reminded, we soon forget the higher purpose. When we forget the higher purpose we lose the act of worship. When we lose the act of worship, we lose worship itself. When we lose worship, we forget the Creator, for we begin to focus on the creature and not the Creator; we become but shallow breaths rather than God-breathed life . . . . and that is a hollow existence far beneath God’s purpose for us all.

Some points from Arlen on the offering:

·      There are many creative ways to receive offerings and not all of them involve the passing of the offering plate. More and more churches are setting up auto-withdrawal systems (EFT – Electronic Funds Transfer), a plate at the back, credit and debit card machines in the foyer as well as other electronic forms.
·      I believe that more and more churches will employ the digital wallet capabilities of cell phone giving.  
·      Micro-giving by cell phone texts is widely used when natural catastrophes happen but are generally very small amounts and the administration of setting up micro-giving can be onerous for most churches.
·      Large bins can be set up for large item collections such as non-perishable food items for those in need
·      Small offerings taken in Sunday school are a wonderful way to teach children about the principles of giving to God as an act of worship.
·      Online donations are growing in popularity. Our own ministry uses CanadaHelps to receive donations online and to issue instant tax receipts. You can see how it works here.
·      I won’t share my opinion on tithing here as it’s too contentious of an issue. If you want my opinion we can go for a venti decaf skinny sugar free vanilla latte and we can chat at length.

Next entry – we’ll chat about public prayer.

If you'd like to learn more, why don't you join 15,000 of us at Break Forth Canada 2012, January 27 - 29 in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. Many of the top Christian speakers, authors, teachers, artists and worship leaders come together for the largest event of its kind in North America. You can learn more here