A weekly blog of Ideas for Leading Creative Worship
Following your heart… Let it be
Heather and I watched Peter Jackson’s three-part Get Back documentary about The Beatles in the Christmas / New Year break. I found the documentary very moving and was surprised to find myself crying at the end. I shared with the congregation why I think I reacted that way and explored metaphors relating to our faith that are suggested by the documentary.
Three sections of the service on 29 January 2023 focussed on The Beatles and the documentary:
- Time with children / Introducing theme: I displayed some of my Beatles LPs and intended to play the official video trailer to the documentary
- Sermon: Let It Be
- Song after the sermon: Let It Be (Lennon/McCartney) Heather and I sang
One of the key techniques for me of leading creative worship services is to be on the lookout for experiences, events, objects & resources that can be used as inspiration for a service. I had a particularly strong emotional response after watching the last of the three documentaries. I knew immediately that I wanted to use the documentary content in a service. It took a couple of weeks to figure out how I was going to approach this.
There are links to the recordings of the service and the PDF Order of Service (leader’s version which includes my sermon) at the end of this post.
What I did
To provide a visual element for the congregation I took with me the 13 key Beatles LPs from my collection and set them out on the sanctuary steps, during the Introduction to the Theme slot.
At the end of that slot, I intended to play through the church projectors and sound system, the official trailer for the documentary so that the congregation could get a feel for the band, their music and the 1969 setting. I tested the projection and sound 30 minutes before the service started and all was well. But, although I plugged the laptop into the power socket, I forgot to turn the power socket switch on, and the laptop battery died just before I was going to start the service. So we lost the PowerPoint slides for the hymns and, more importantly, I couldn’t play the video on my laptop as planned.
- To get good sound quality easily, I plugged powered speakers into my laptop on the front pew and sat one of the church radio mics next to the speakers. The sound from the mic then played through the church sound system which is controlled at the back of the church.
- Bring to your service a backup on a USB stick of the PowerPoint slides and any videos of sound recordings you want to play during the service. That morning I had the church’s laptop also with me at the front pew. I took a few minutes to plug in the church laptop to the power and the projectors, and copy the PowerPoint front the USB stick, so we had the slides for the hymn texts.
- Don’t try to do everything yourself. For our services, I also set up a Facebook livestream, and either run the sound system for other worship leaders, or test the levels and that mics are working correctly before starting my services. I also needed to ask someone to light the candles. Because of attending to these other things I forgot to switch on the power for the laptop that would run the video. If you can, get someone else to help with audio visuals when you are leading a service, or at the least get someone to look over your shoulder to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.
I played the video in the hall when we were having morning tea after the service. People enjoyed watching the trailer. It brought back memories for some of them. It would have been better if the video could have been played as intended in the service – oh, well.
At the end of the sermon I was inspired to try something I had not done before. Amen means Let it be or Let it be so. To a series of 9 affirmations, I asked the congregation to respond: “And we say Amen, Let It Be.”
Heather is a better guitarist than me, and usually plays guitar when we want to sing a song for the congregation. This time played and led the singing with Heather in a supporting role. The song Let It Be works well in root position on guitar with fingerpicking runs between chords. I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone and play. The song went OK.
For you to ponder…
Is there something you have had a strong emotional response to? Especially something that unexpectedly makes you joyful or sad or angry or hopeful.
Does your emotional response suggest a theme or idea to explore in your next service? Don’t worry about whether your idea fits with the lectionary bible readings for the day.
Write down your ideas, then look at the lectionary readings. You will be surprised how easily a phrase or sentence in the bible reading pops out at you and meshes with your new theme.
I have never led a perfect service.
I always prepare well and try to foresee how the service will run. But there’s often a small technical hitch, or I stumble over some words in the sermon, or…
The congregation will understand and not be worried. We are all just people gathering to worship God.
Here is the link to the video trailer for the Get Back documentary about The Beatles that is referred to in the service: https://youtu.be/Auta2lagtw4
Here are links to the recordings and PDF Order of Service.
Readings and Sermon – Audio:
Whole Service – Audio:
Facebook Livestream – Video. Crank up your sound for this:
Order of Service (Leader’s version) – PDF:
21 March 2023