This Sunday the youth at my church will start working on the worship service they will lead in about two weeks. They prepare every element of the service, start-to-finish. This year I’m using a slightly modified approach with them.
It’s an awful lot to expect a group of, say, middle schoolers, to thoughtfully compose parts of a liturgy, like a prayer of confession, in under an hour. I don’t actually know any worship leaders who prepare liturgy in teams. And not all preparation is composition; we have a rich heritage of prayers to draw upon.
So this year I’m providing groups of youth with small packets for each element of the service that includes a brief description of that element drawn directly from the “Commentary” section of the Book of Common Worship and several examples. The Prayer of Confession packet contains five examples, including this one:
Merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart and mind and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. In your mercy, forgive what we have been, help us amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your holy name.
Students might choose an element in its entirely, and that will be fine. I will be grateful for their careful attention to it. Or they might combine pieces from different examples. Or they may choose entirely to compose their own. The difference is that I’m exposing them really solid examples first.
The mistake I’m trying to correct is implying that worship leadership is always a feat of creative composition.