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4 Best Practices For Leading Worship For Lent

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Lent started last week on Ash Wednesday, and takes us all the way up to Maundy Thursday of Holy Week – preceding Easter Sunday. Lent is a season of personal evaluation, a time to mourn our brokenness and to seek to know ourselves as God knows us. We open ourselves to vulnerable prayer, confession, and action, welcoming God to right our hearts just as He is righting the world toward the culmination of New Creation to come. Worship for Lent calls for careful planning.

4 Best Practices For Leading Worship For Lent

1. Plan ahead.

Lent is a time for focusing on a few themes that we don’t focus on with the same intensity at other times of the year.

Planning ahead for Lent is a great, rich opportunity to turn the attention of the congregation to worshipping the God who suffered, gave his life, and died for all of us.

This is your opportunity to begin to dig deep into the rich Scripture passages, hymns, songs, and readings that surround the experience of Lent.

2. Consider the cross.

The cross, and the Old Testament passages that point to a suffering Messiah, are all relevant to the Lenten experience.

This is a great opportunity for you as a worship leader to begin to understand what the cross is all about.

Many incredible books have been written on just the topic of the cross. Ask your pastor for a favorite of theirs, or do some searching online for a great Lent devotional.

The more in touch you are with the cross, the more your prayers, words, and between-song-sharing will reflect insights into the suffering of Christ.

3. Integrate readings.

Worship is about more than songs. This is the perfect time to begin to use responsive readings and select Scriptures that can guide your church into a fresh experience of the cross.

Lent is a season of personal repentance, and awareness of our relationship with God, others, creation – and even ourselves. Reflecting on areas of our lives in which we’ve gone astray, or lost our awareness of “losing our lives in order to find them,” is a vital yearly process for the Christian.

4. Resist celebrating Easter … yet.

Just like a child loves to anticipate the full re-reading of a favorite book, and not just the wonderful ending of the story, so too an extended celebration of Lent can build anticipation that makes Easter even more meaningful to your congregation.

Resist the temptation to talk about the resurrection, use explicitly Easter songs, or read Scriptures that allude to that part of the great Story.

Allow your congregation to linger in Christ’s “way of suffering” (via dolorosa) – it will make the celebration of Easter all the more meaningful. Turn hearts toward repentance, and surrender, to Christ.

Try at least one idea as worship for Lent.

  • Plan your Lenten services and song selections far before Lent begins (on Ash Wednesday). Consider the cross personally, and choose to grow in your understanding of its meaning for the Christian.
  • Integrate readings and Scriptures into your worship set that point your congregation to themes of personal reflection and repentance.
  • Finally, resist celebrating Easter…yet. The time for focus on the resurrection is just around the corner.

 

This article about worship for Lent originally appeared here, and is used by permission.