We’re hearing from our fellow participants in the Calvin Institute of Worship Small Group Worship Tool Kit project.  Here are some practices that are working in Small Groups. . .

Play music for listening or singing. The music enhances the season or lesson topic.  Download music from YouTube or personal collections and play back on a smartphone at the meeting.  Sometimes the phone benefits from being plugged into an auxiliary amplifier — inexpensive and available widely.

If your group is studying a topical series, repeat a prayer  at each series meeting that addresses the topic. Print it on beautiful cardstock for everyone to keep.

Light candles to start a group, or initiate prayer time.

Create, bless and give prayer shawls to members facing acute challenges or grieving.

Pray with small crosses that may be taken home.

Place a bowl of water on a center table during seasons of penance, inviting inner cleansing

Ring a bell to signal gathering, to end casual conversation and be “in group.”

Sing or recite a benediction or scripture — that everyone knows– at the end of group time.

Why worship in small groups? 

We discussed several reasons , but what especially got our attention were these:

  • Many of our Small Group members may be missing Sunday Worship. It is estimated that only 17.7% of Americans are in Sunday worship each week.  This may be a member’s only chance to experience that deeper connection with God that comes from beautiful ritual, heartfelt song and authentic prayer.
  • If we can learn to worship God in our Small Groups, we can transfer that learning to our homes, making moments of worship with our family and friends.

But, will worship scare off the unchurched, the undecided, the religiously ambivalent – the very people we want to welcome into Small Groups?  

The consensus was that if we are sensitive, introducing worship elements that are organic to the topic, the occasion, and the group’s aesthetic, worship is welcomed.  People are hungry for transcendence.  They seek the sacred in daily life.  Don’t fail them!