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Worship Ideas From Around the World

So how do you move worshipers to prayerful oneness of purpose? Here are some suggestions from around the world.

When our worldview opens up, and our perspective of the church universal becomes closer to that of Christ's—moving from an intellectual theological concept to a life shared with other believers regardless of backgrounds or locations—then we can't help but be moved to pray,” says Anne Zaki, global and multicultural resource development specialist for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.

So how do you move worshipers to this prayerful oneness of purpose? Here are some suggestions from around the world.

Use more languages

  • Ask people to volunteer to lead part of a prayer or read Scripture in another language. When someone reads in another language, have them repeat the passage in English. Providing the passage in written English (or projecting the English on a screen) will help worshipers sense the relationship between English and other languages.
  • Ask people to recite the Lord's Prayer or Apostles' Creed in another language. You can have them do this from a lectern, or, if enough people in the congregation have a second language, have everyone recite together, each using the language that makes them feel closest to God.
  • Festoon your sanctuary with banners or signs that give the same Bible verse in different languages.

Say more with your visuals

  • Drape the sanctuary with fabrics from many countries.
  • Use containers from other countries on your communion table or to collect offerings.
  • Fill a display case with instruments from many countries, along with the instrument name and country of origin.
  • Give a separate purpose to corners or alcoves in your sanctuary. The Paaskerk in Baarn, the Netherlands, has set up two front corner chapels as the Labora Hoek (work corner), where offerings are stored during the service, and the Ora Hoek (prayer corner), which has small wooden benches for kneeling or praying.
  • Deepen rituals by adding art and movement. The Paaskerk in Baarn, the Netherlands, has two abstract paintings in the back of the sanctuary. Names of people are listed under each painting, with one side for names of all those baptized and the other for names of all those who have died. An artist paints in names during the baptismal or funeral services.
  • The Scots International Church in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, has four moveable pews near a front corner of the sanctuary. They can be turned to form a square around a table stocked with art supplies. With a few adults sitting nearby, the children stay quiet but busy without needing to leave the service.
  • The Pnielkerk in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, has a central light fixture made from army vehicle antennaes—bringing to mind prophecies from Isaiah, Joel, and Micah about turning swords into plowshares or pruning hooks. Lights at the end of each antenna remind members that they are called to bring God's peace and light to the world.

Expand your repertoire

  • Use songs from more cultures and countries. Share the stories behind these songs.
  • Print or project some verses in other languages, so people have the option in singing in a different language.
  • Vary the musical instruments you use to accompany songs. Try to match the instruments you use to the way the song is sung in its home country. Avoid using the organ for every song.

Reach out to learn from others

  • Invite international students, attenders, or members to tell you how they'd like to participate in worship. Ask what barriers they experience toward feeling accepted or sharing their lives.
  • Invite a choir or dance group to participate in your service or give a seminar. Ask them back more than once so your members become more comfortable with new ways of doing things.
  • Organize an ecclesiastical tithe program. Assign or ask people to visit churches as different as possible from yours (whether nearby or while traveling), and then share insights from those worship services.
  • Encourage church members to make more effort to get to know students, attenders, or members who might experience language or cultural barriers. Set an example as a church staff or committee. Be as willing to accept as to offer hospitality.
  • If your church is associated with a Christian school, then partner with a Christian school in another country, as Grandville (MI) Christian School has with Joseph Murupus Academy in Kenya.