One of my most favorite services to do each year is a Good Friday service. I don’t know whether it’s because of the content, the different focus, the fact that it’s a special service without a lot of “expectations”, or something else. I love being able to help people experience a significant part of our faith story.
This year, I partnered with our sister campus in the next town over. In the planning stages, the word that kept floating through my mind was the word “stained.” And so we decided to explore the connection between the sin that stains us and how Jesus Christ took our stains upon Himself.
He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world. 1 John 2:2
The evening was a mix of speaking, videos, reflection, music, activity, and visual imagery. This was also the first time many people where I currently serve have experienced this type of thing. Our intent was to create a somber and moving experience that focused on the death of Jesus without fully resolving it. We wanted to strongly contrast the sadness, loss, and death that happened on Good Friday with the celebration that would happen on Easter morn. We drew people to a place of facing their own stains and wrestling with how much the death of Jesus was for each of us.
Click through for pictures, more details, and downloads!
The environment was dark with a lot of red lighting. There were a lot of candles, a rough cross prominently placed in the forward center portion of the room, various stations for later in the service, and a Passover table set on the stage. People were asked to enter (and leave) silently in reflection and prayer.
There was very little music/congregational singing as part of this service. We did three songs with a very minimal worship team: keys, acoustic, and two singers. The songs were:
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
Your Love, Oh Lord
The Wonderful Cross without the chorus.
The speaking parts were small snippets that moved through a progression of setting the context, who Jesus was, who man is (from creation to fall) and our stains, the reality of stains and how we’ve tried to deal with them, and how God finally dealt with them. You can download a pdf with talking points below for more details.
There were a number of reflection/selah moments built in. These were typically directed and included a time of personal worship in response to who Jesus is, a time of consideration of the personal stains/sins in our life, and a time of silence following an intense responsive reading where the congregation was asked to place themselves in the crowd calling for Jesus’ death by yelling out “Crucify Him!”
The service built to a significant response time. In the forward center of the room was a cross dropped with a white cloth and lit with red lights. Those attending where asked to come to the cross and to stain the cloth with red paint to represent their stains. They then moved to a table filled with lit tea light candles and asked to blow one out to represent how the light of the world was extinguished for our sin. They then moved to a wash basin filled with water to symbolically wash their hands to remember what we couldn’t do, God can.
The final stop was a communion station where they would pick up a piece of bread and an actual grape. This was to tangibly reinforce the body of Christ broken for us and how Jesus was crushed for our iniquities.
These are some of the highlights of the evening. There’s a lot more details and elements that you can view in the downloads below.
All in all, it was a moving evening. Many were challenged and touched by the experience, even though it was different and new.
In addition to the pictures you’ve seen, there are a number of resources you can download for more information, or if you want to do this experience in your context.
Service Order with Talking Points
Final Service Order
We also handed out a card at the end with some scriptures and reflection question for the congregation to consider on Saturday. I’ve included the pdf below.
Stained Reflection/Scripture Card
The various videos used are listed by name in the Final Service Order and should all be available from worshiphousemedia.com.
Note: The Fall video seems to be a hard one to find via the search function. Here’s a direct link.