Good Friday Service Ideas

Chris  —  March 9, 2011 — 41 Comments
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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.

You can read more about Good Friday here and here. Click through to check out some planning resources and ideas.


I’m always on the look-out for great and creative ideas for doing a Good Friday event. If you know of any, be sure to let me know via a comment below. Thanks!


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.

Adult Guide:

Family Guide:


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.

Stained: Good Friday Service 2012


I did the Experience the Passion walk-through from 2009 (see above) in a different church setting.


This year’s service focused on the profound reality of the cross where an innocent man paid for the guilt of many. Before the hope of resurrection was the defeat of death. Death that was necessary because of the betrayal, denial, rejection, and sin that are part of the human condition. This was a very simple service – simple in design, simple in environment, and simple in execution – but that didn’t make it any less meaningful. Click the link below for the full details and resources.

Innocent: Good Friday Service 2014


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!


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41 responses to Good Friday Service Ideas

  1. Chris .. thank you for this! I love the creative, experiential way of thinking. God has created us with more pathways than just through words. Blessings to you.

  2. A few years ago we started with the room completely dark. Then read John 1. When we got to “The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and his life brought light to everyone.” (1:4NLT) I lit the advent candles. We then read through large portions of the gospel of John (with some added narration) having one person read as narrator and other people reading the dialogue. As Jesus interacted with people (calling disciples, Samaritan woman, healings, etc.) we lit more candles. We divided this part up into different scenes singing between each scene. The room becomes quite bright by the time Jesus’ light spreads to all of them. Then as the crowd turns on Jesus we begin blowing out candles. Until we eventually blow out all the disciple candles when Peter denies Jesus. Finally there is only the one advent candle left at the cross, we then blow that out as Jesus dies. Then sing a song completely in the dark. Then read the story of the disciples finding the empty tomb in the complete dark, relighting the Jesus candle and inviting everyone to come light their candle from it and take his light to the world.

    Hope that made sense. If anyone would like the script, I’d be happy to share it.

  3. Chris, Thanks for the great work over these years. Like you, I seek to jar people away from the expected so that they are confronted with the realities of the cross that are not part of a regular service. When I saw the Memorial Service, I thought back to 2010 when I did the same, setting the worship center up with casket and flowers. The current-day images of death drove home the reality of the grief and fear of the disciples, and the reality of the death of Jesus. (Plus, I loved the conversation I had with the funeral director, from whom I borrowed the casket.)
    I really appreciate the biblical grounding and use of word pictures. I’ve done much of what you listed in the experience the passion, but not as a self-guided service. Very humbling to read through it…thanks for sharing it.
    This year I am emphasizing the “buried with him” and “raised with him” from Colossians 2. (not sure how to handle “in him you were circumcised”…probably not interactive). Wondered if you have played with that idea of “buried with him” and had ideas in that direction?

    • Thanks for sharing. That’s pretty cool with the casket thing – both the idea and the opportunity for follow-up. Colossians 2 is a great passage, but I’ve not used it as part of Good Friday. I haven’t focused on the “buried with him” concept (and certainly not the circumcised aspect), so I don’t have anything specific in mind. One idea might be to incorporate something with water, maybe even having baptism? Would love to hear what you end up doing. Thanks again for sharing.

  4. Last year we used a white cross and covered it with water balloons slightly filled with red tempera paint. We put a small amount of paint in each balloon and then blew it up slightly with air. As people came up with clear push pins with their name and “sins” that they were confessing on a small piece of paper, they would push the pin into a balloon that caused the paint to drip down the cross. It was very effective and a moving service.

    • That’s a very cool idea, Don. I can imagine it really helped to visually reinforce the themes of Good Friday and the cross. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Joleen McGuire March 30, 2013 at 9:24 am

    We used your ideas from 2010 last night- Do You Believe?- we also added the element of communion. After people nailed their “sins” to the cross they went and took communion individually. It was really powerful. We had a foot washing service on Wednesday night and we took communion as a congregation so we wanted to make it more personal for Good Friday. Thanks for the ideas. – Freedom Evangelical Church, Schererville, IN

  6. Sorry and also the reading done by Arleigh??

    • Jamie, I updated the post with a link to the final reading.

      • Thank you Chris! So is the cost the final reading? And I did find the stoning.

      • I am switching out I stand amazed for a vid of worthy is the lamb hillsong with scenes from the Passion. I am a little sheepish to show it because it is so graphic but I also want to be reminded of the reality of what Jesus went through. Any thoughts Chris??

        • That would be a great idea. Remember that a Good Friday service isn’t necessarily about building warm-fuzzies about Jesus, but about creating an opportunity for people to remember why Jesus had to die (our sin) and what He went through for our sin. What’s “good” about Good Friday is the result of what happened, not what actually happened. As to the graphic nature, if you haven’t done something like that before, it would be a decision to perhaps make in conjunction with some others. It could be uncomfortable for some, but often God speaks in the midst of being uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope, so to speak, but don’t necessarily push for the sake of pushing it – if you know what I mean.

          • Thank you for the great reply Chris! I totally know what you mean! That is exactly what I said to my husband, that i’m not trying to get some shock effect, that is not at all my motive but at the same time do I avoid the graphic nature of what Jesus did for us by not using a visual that I think would fit so well with this particular service. Our pastor has given the ok for it and actually did mention last Sunday that it was going to be somber and reflective service. I feel that people can close their eyes and just listen to the song if they so choose as well. Thank you so much for all the work you did in posting and replying, I truly appreciate it. May His Spirit move in the hearts of people as we are reminded of His great love!

  7. Hi Chris, can you tell me where is mp3 selection The Stoning?

  8. I loved the idea of the stained white cloth but I can’t figure out how you put paint on the cloth. Did you climb a ladder to get to the cross-beam? Did you have tarp lying under the cross so paint wouldn’t drip all over the rug? I know; dumb concerns, but I was wondering if there was an easy answer. thank you! Sylvia

    • Hey, Sylvia.
      Thanks for visiting For the cross, we had one sitting on the floor that was about 8 feet tall. The cloth was draped over the crossbeam and hung down so must of it was accessible to the average heighted person. We had small tables with red paint and small paintbrushes that people could pick up and paint on the cloth with. We also had draped a beige colored cloth around the base of the cross to cover the carpet and catch the drips. But there was very little drips since people weren’t applying huge amounts of paint. Hope that this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  9. Hi Chris,

    We are looking at your “Experience the Passion” that you did, and the links for the guides are not working for us. Is there any way you could email them to me?


    • Lacy, thanks for stopping by and for the head’s up. I’ve fixed the links, and you should be able to download them now. Please let me know if you have any other problems.

  10. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for these ideas, which are so creative and things I’d never thought of or come across before. I’ve just blogged something we did last year, which was an ‘all-age’ Good Friday service – short and interactive. You can find it here:

    • Lucy, thanks for stopping by. Hope the ideas are helpful and something you guys can use. Thanks for sharing your service with me. What a great idea and way to incorporate “all ages”. I’ve added it to my file of “Good Friday” ideas.

  11. Hi Chris, I’m trying to download your “Family Guide” from the 2009 Good Friday service and I can’t seem to get past an error page when I click “download.” Is there another link or could you email it to me? I would love to try this at our church in 2012!

    • Thanks for the heads up. Looks like i had a plug-in conflict. Everything seems to be fixed now, and you should be able to download. If it still doesn’t work, let me know. I’ll email you a copy directly.

  12. Chaplain Greg Woodard April 20, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Can you tell me about the Pierced for Our Transgressions video?
    Is it available online?

  13. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing! I was wondering if I could get the “Crucify Him” reading script from the 2010 service. I’m very interested in reading. Thanks

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