When it came time to teach the Sacraments (baptism and communion), we really wanted to make them come alive and create an experience that would stick with the kids.
In this picture, you see what we came up with. (Confession: the other pastor did the bulk of the work setting this up!)
The table is low to the ground and surrounded by pillows to mimic the way the disciples reclined at the table with Jesus. On the table were simple foods--vegetables and dip, cheese and crackers, hummus and tortilla pieces--and drinks to share.
As we discussed the importance of the head and the foot of the table (the host and the servant), we munched on our food. Then we celebrated communion by intinction, passing the bread and cup from person to person, ripping off a piece of bread and dipping it in the cup.
True, this isn't a worship service exactly, but it's a reminder that re-imagining the way you celebrate communion (while being sensitive to your church's traditions) can highlight elements of a sacrament people may not have noticed before.
- If you don't normally say anything as the communion is passed among the pews, create a simple phrase for folks to say as they pass communion to their neighbor.
- If you normally celebrate with music playing, try it in silence.
- If you normally sit down during communion, try standing up or coming forward to receive communion.
- If you normally use one kind of bread, offer many varieties. If it's World Communion Sunday, try breads from another country!
- Pass the responsibility of baking the communion bread around from family to family. There are millions (so it seems!) of recipes that can be tried. And, with a little preparation on the part of the pastor, it can become a great teaching moment for families.
- Set up a table in a T shape with the communion table. Add chairs around the tables. Invite folks forward in groups of 12 to sit at the Lord's Table and receive communion by passing it around.
- On a communion Sunday, make the bulletin look like a menu with courses. List the sermon and communion (Word and Sacrament) as the "Main Course" to highlight that this is the most important part of the service.
The list of options is endless!
The point is to take something which has become so familiar and routine and to tweak it in a way that makes it new again. Or at least makes some part of it new again so that folks come to a deeper understanding of something that maybe they thought they had all figured out.
Creating an experience that makes something stick is crucial in creating an engaging worship service.