Regulars here will know how enamoured I am with Sydney Anglican liturgy. Thanks to Rev. Joshua Bovis for his recent comment for drawing attention to the wonderful new resource by Sydney Anglican Bishop Robert Forsyth. The good bishop writes:
Here’s a Contemporary Sunday liturgy that has not been included in Common Prayer: Resources for gospel-shaped gatherings.
It is only in draft form and I am sure can be improved. I would welcome suggestions.
A Contemporary Sunday Service outline (aka An Agenda for Sunday Meetings)
1. Begin late with chatty longwinded opening. It’s best to mention current affairs, the latest cricket results or football, anything to take people’s minds away from any focus on God and particularly if anyone had been praying beforehand.
2. Various songs can now be sung here or anywhere else for that matter. Make sure that each song is introduced with a lengthy introduction explaining why it’s appropriate to sing. Songs should be chosen with tunes that are not easy to recognise and where the words preferably range over unrelated ideas and images. If theology is to be included, it must only be about the penal substitutionary atonement.
3. At the conclusion of any song: the congregation should be thanked, or comment made about how well or poorly they have sung.
4. Comments during the meeting: opportunity should be taken whenever possible to explain what’s going on or give edifying talks. It’s important that there be no sense in which people have any time to reflect themselves. Ambiguity should always be avoided at all costs. Assume that the members of your congregation know absolutely nothing and you will be safe.
5. Prayers are now prayed, if at all. The best way to do this would be to take the contents of weekly bulletin and pray everything in them. It’s best not to pray for things outside of church concerns.
6. Bible reading can be had, though it is advisable to keep it limited just to the text for the sermon, which then follows.
7. Post sermon comments. The service leader ought to make some comments about the sermon, particularly if there is anything which the service leader thinks needs further development or even correction.
8. Announcements: These should be long and detailed. If other elements of the meeting (like sermon) have gone on too long then prayers etc should be shortened to leave plenty of time. To maintain the tone of chatty friendliness for the outsider, announcements should only ever include first names of people as in, for example, “to register, please see Jim after the service.”This is the one point in the meeting where visitors will appreciate being treated as if they actually know something.
9. If what were once called sacraments are to be at all, they are to be brief and should be apologised for. Baptism is begun with the exhortation that “this is just ordinary tap water. “ It’s very important that the congregation not think that anything is happening at either sacrament.
10. The people are dismissed by telling them not to leave, but that now the formal part is over they are to stay for coffee.
End of service/ meeting
Supplemental 1:If there is going to be prayer of confession,use the Prayer of the Just (i.e “We just prayer that…” “We just wanna pray…” Avoid rote prayers at all times especially from the BCP/AAPB/APBA. After all we don’t want people to fall into the trap of mindless praying. Actually it is better to not confess sin together at all.
Supplemental 2: Don’t have the greeting of peace. Don’t give people the opportunity to reconcile with others (after all, Christians never hurt each other). Have ‘Say G’day’ instead, which gives people the opportunity for people to chat about trivial things with people they already know well, make outsiders just feel that wee bit more on the outer and those grudges & hurts within the congregation can stay buried.
Supplemental 3: Don’t have a time of reflection/silence/self-examination (esp before Holy Communion).
Supplemental 4:Speaking of Holy Commmunion/Lord’s Supper/Eucharist. Don’t use these terms. Use some hokey term (eg.’Meal-share’; ‘Table Fellowship’). And provide the four options: a. Wine from chalice b. Wine from separate cups c. Juice from chalice d. Juiice from separate cups Turn HC into a complete circus!
Supplemental 5: Before you begin make sure that there is as much noise as possible, especially from the music team (make sure they are playing secular songs too) (see Supp 3)
Supplemental 6: Use this valuable ministry training video
Many of you will have seen this – I myself have contributed in this manner – I hope this continues to be useful for many of you in preparing the Liturgy of the Notices (cf section 8, above).