Sunday, May 25, 2014

Worship Planning Pondering

For the last 25+ years my experience in worship has been centered on the Revised Common Lectionary.  First as a Sunday School teacher using the Whole People of God curriculum, then as a pew-sitter, through my seminary training and internships, and now 12 years in ordained ministry.

There are great reasons for using a lectionary.  It forces us to look at a variety of passages in Scripture -- including some we would rather not explore.  It gives a structure to worship planning, enabling more advanced planning by teams.  It gives a starting point each week.

But using the RCL has drawbacks.  More and more over the years I find myself ignoring it for blocks of time (espcially Lent and Advent when I have often created a thematic series) as well as for individual Sundays/special occassions.  ANd while the principle is that following the RCL has us hear all the "important" stories of Scripture that raises the key question "important according to whom????".  And even in that attempt I find it does not do a great job of actually allowing the stories, particularly the longer, multi-chapter stories of Scripture to fully be told and explored.  Then there is the whole matter of trying to make all the readings for a Sunday link to each other -- a task I gave up on long ago, and seldom do I have all the RCL passages read on a Sunday.

Lately I have been pondering a change.  More and more I read posts about the Narrative Lectionary.  THis is a four year cycle (so each Gospel gets its own year) that is intended to allow a better sense of the narrative flow of Scripture to develop.  I think it would be a good way to help develop more Biblical literacy/familiarity in people.  I think it would be a new challenge for preaching (having now been through the RCL cycle 4 times).

But I wonder.  Would I find the NL to be more of a straightjacket, not allowing easy variation for special occasions (after all to do justice to the concept one sort of needs to stick with the narrative).   Currently much of the worship resources available are for the RCL and that makes life easier for Licensed Lay Worship Leaders who are often providing coverage when I am away.  If we are following the NL do we ask those folk to do so as well?  (not likely, but does that then break the flow?)

The NL year starts in September.  And this September starts Year 1.  So this fall would be the logical time to start.  Which means i should likely make up my mind (and discuss it with the worship committee) soon...


  1. Wondering what you decided. The RGBPs who are doing it sure seem happy about it. I seem to recall a post from Kristin, a lay leader in a Lutheran church who blogs at Liberation Theology Lutheran who, when her pastor decided to use the Narrative lectionary was--especially as a literature Ph.D.--very excited, and then she did not love it. I'm not sure how to find the post, but I made a mental note of it because I have been intrigued, too.

  2. I have to check with my Worship Committee and get their opinion yet.