Over the years, I’ve done a few different kinds of things in planning for Good Friday Services. Good Friday is a great time to experiment and offer a different type of worship experience for people because of the content/subject matter and the fact that it is a “special” service. To be able to draw people into the experience of Good Friday so they can identify with and place themselves in the event is a great thing for many on their spiritual journey. It also helps to create a stronger distinction between the loss of Good Friday and the celebration of the Easter Sunday Resurrection.
I’m always on the look-out for great and creative ideas for doing a Good Friday event. One source that I’ve bookmarked (but haven’t used yet) is some resources from a guy named Jordan Fowler at www.worshiptrench.com. He’s no longer updating this sight, but it’s got some great content still available. If you go to the site and type “Good Friday” in the search box, you’ll end up with this page listing a bunch of Good Friday related posts (many with downloads).
I also want to post a couple of ideas I’ve done. My first year in Cody, we did a Good Friday service built around the idea of a memorial service for Jesus. We had different people representing different biblical characters stand up and talk about what they remembered from their time with Jesus and what it might be like for them realizing He was dead. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my notes, so there is no download.
The next year, we did a more interactive/drama type of service. In the first part of the service, we modeled a simplified Seder Supper, and had various parts where everyone could participate. We also used this as an expression of communion during the Easter season. The second part of the service was some dramatic reenactments of a couple of the events leading up to Jesus’ death. We used lighting, environment, and sound to try and set the context and draw people in.
You can download the script/service flow here.
In 2009, we did an all-out experience called “Experience the Passion.” We greatly adapted the Stations of the Cross idea into an interactive journey through the final events that lead Jesus to the cross. The event took up our entire building, and was a lot of work to put together. I had done this once before at another church, so we had a basis to start with. We adapted a little bit to our setting, and then invited people to come and experience the events of Good Friday in a fresh and dynamic way.
We had way more people than we expected to come. We actually had about double what previous Good Friday attendances had been. It was designed to be a 45-minute self-guided experience. We gave each family a booklet to guide them through the stations. The booklet explained a lot and gave instructions on what they were to do. Many reported that it was a moving and eye-opening experience for them.
I’ve embedded a video walkthrough (that’s not me talking), as well as the booklet and some other documents. If you would like to try this, feel free to use anything. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.
In 2010, we did a solemn assembly type of service that was part of the series we were doing at that time. The series, called “Do You Believe,” was focused on the latter chapters of John and examined whether or not we believed that Jesus was who He was revealed to be in those chapters. For Good Friday, the question was whether or not we believed that Jesus died for us.
As people came in, it was a dark and solemn environment. The service was built off the ideas of a number of Good Friday service resources that I had collected. The music done was very simple and cross-focused. The intent was to focus people on the death and loss of Jesus on our behalf and for our sins. The middle component was done in a reverse-Advent style with readings and the extinguishing of candles. The latter part focused people on the crucifixion and the part our sins played. A significant part was the use of a responsive reading where the congregations only response was “Crucify Him!”. Very challenging.
You can download the service flow here:
You can download the readings here:
You can obtain the responsive reading here.
The final reading at the end is called “The Cost” and is available here.
The focus of the Good Friday service in 2012 was the themes of “Stained.” The focus was to remember the sin stains we all carry (and why), and that Jesus was stained for our sin. We intentionally sought to make Jesus’ death personal for each person who participated. There were speaking segments, songs, videos, reflection/prayer times, and a significant response element. To find out all the details about this service, see some pictures, and obtain service resources, click the link below.
If you have ideas or other experience you would like to share, leave a comment. Feel free to use any of these resources to benefit your church setting. Thanks!