Yesterday, we looked at Why Including Confession in Worship Doesn’t Have to Be Scary. You might want to read that before continuing.
If you’re haven’t included confession as part of your worship service, if can be a scary thing. People may not understand. They may not know what to do or why you’re doing this.
It will take some time to teach and build this aspect, as with any aspect of corporate worship.
Here are five ideas to get you started:
1) Personal Prayers and Reflection
Offer a time of quiet prayers or reflection. Provide some guidance, and then just offer a few quiet moments (with or without music). You could show a confession or forgiveness related Scripture on your screen during this time. This could happen at any point in the service, including between some songs. It doesn’t always have to be placed after the message.
2) Lead the congregation in corporate prayers.
This could be prayers that are based on Scripture. They could be written by someone in your congregation. They could be focused on a specific theme, or more general. They could be prayed by a spiritual leader on behalf of the congregation, or it could be recited together in one voice by everyone. A great resource for these types of prayers is The Open Sourcebook, The Book of Common Prayer, or the lectionary resource of your denomination.
3) Have people write confessions on paper.
These could be one or two words or sentences/paragraphs. They could keep them, or you could have them do something symbolic with them like nail them to a cross, put them in a fire, or throw them in a trashcan. The symbolism is a visual reminder of what God does with our sins as we confess them.
4) Sing a song of confession.
Sing a confession themed song as a congregation one week. There are many songs that both focus on the need of confession and our sin and the resulting forgiveness that comes in Christ. Some suggestions are: Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone), Before the Throne of God Above, God of All Mercy, Grace Flows Down, Jesus Paid It All, My Savior’s Love (I Stand Amazed), Nothing But the Blood, Once Again, Purify My Heart, or You are My King.
5) Teach your congregation about confession.
Simply teach people about confession from the Scriptures, what it means, and why it is important. Having your pastor focus on this topic, in addition to some of these planning elements, could pay big dividends in drawing people to understand this important discipline of our Christian life.
I encourage you to work with your pastor and planning team to incorporate this element. Instead of being scared of it, lead your people to embrace this freeing moment.
As we close this discussion on confession, I want to leave you with these words from the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of Worship Leader magazine. In an article titled Art of Life, Glenn Packiam writes:
Confession requires that we admit the destructiveness of our choices, the utter wickedness of our repeated sin. It asks us to wrestle with things that we have taken for granted as “harmless.” It trains us to spot the taint of selfish ambition and the ego within our motives. But just as confession is only one part of repentance, renewing our minds is only partly about exposing our incorrect way of thinking. It we are to grow, we must also work at learning to think as Christ would, to let this mind be in us.
Are there other ways you have seen confession incorporated into a worship service? Share them below in the comments.