The 6 weeks before easter can be some of the most meaningful services of the year for your church, but the “celebratory” worship culture of many modern churches can make of somber tone of Lent unattractive to some members. Though understandable, ignoring Lent completely and the contemplative traditions it entails is missing a great opportunity to explore the depth of our faith. If you’ve wanted to obverse the season of lent but don’t know where to start, here are 5 lent worship service ideas for your small church.
1. Prayer Stations
Instead of an full-blown Ash Wednesday or Maundy Thursday service, consider self guided prayer stations. You can set them up in the church the night before and leave them open all day. People who can't make it to evening services may have an opportunity to come and spend 15 minutes going through the prayer stations. It also gives your staff and volunteers and way to celebrate Ash Wednesday or Maundy Thursday outside of producing a service.
2. Create Liturgy
Whether you use a formal liturgy or not, creating special pieces for Lent is a great way to set the season apart from the rest of the year. It is also a great way to get your congregation involved by having members sign up to create special lent liturgies such as prayers of confession, call to worships, and benedictions.
Modern churches and fasting usually don’t go together, but there is no reason they can’t. You can guide your church in a traditional fast or try something more modern such as fasting from the ultimate distraction, Facebook (or any other social media or tech that takes our attention away from God). Fasting is a common practice in many churches during Lent, and if you have been looking for a way to introduce fasting to your church, Lent is that perfect time.
4. Minor Keys
Lent is a season of somber contemplation and many of it’s songs reflect that. I’m not suggesting that you need to LITERALLY use minor keys, but rather add some of the great contemplative hymns and modern worship songs written for the season of Lent. Some of my favorites include:
Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted
O Sacred Head Now Wounded
Man of Sorrows
5. Look To Other Traditions
I would guess most of you reading this come from a protestant church, but of the three major branches of christianity common in America (protestantism, roman catholicism, and eastern orthodoxy), protestants have been celebrating Lent for far shorter than the other two. Look to your more historical brothers and sisters for some amazing lent traditions created over hundreds of years. You may add to your scope of worship AND your understanding of other christians around the world.