The Gift of Unity

The articles made available here come from “On The Move,” a publication of “new learning possibilities for churches”, at one time published by The Joint Board of Christian Education of Australia and New Zealand.
Although some ideas and liturgies may appear somewhat “dated” in style, concept, imagery or language, they may nevertheless offer a spring-board for new ideas among people who find themselves leading worship, perhaps in a new context, and with some trepidation.
Reproduced with permission. May be reprinted for use in local congregations only.


A service of worship that includes all ages together, by David Dent 

Theme outline
The Holy Spirit has given us many different “gifts” and when we come together in unity we are acting in the way the people of God should — for the common good.Bible readings
1 Corinthians 12:1-11; Ephesians 4:7-13; Romans 12:6-8

All Christians have some gift, but not always the same gift. Paul refers in these passages principally to spiritual gifts. For the purpose of this worship we can move to the 20th century and look at “gifts” in a broad sense, i.e. abilities that have been given us by the Holy Spirit to serve the living God in the church.

Using our “gifts” for the common good

Call to worship
“The Holy Spirit has brought us together today so that we can celebrate God’s presence with us in our day to day living. Let’s show our thankfulness by singing songs of praise.”

Praise with song
All too often, in my experience, not enough emphasis is given to joy, celebration and praise in our worship. Why not really develop this aspect at the start of this service? Spend, say, ten to fifteen minutes singing hymns, songs and choruses. Some will be more appropriate for the older generation, some for the younger. (Do have an enthusiastic, committed leader though!) Two or three people could also read a Psalm of praise during this time in responsive or choral verse-speaking manner.

Prayers of thanksgiving
Members of the congregation can he asked to mention any matters for praise and thanks that have happened during the week — and the leader can then summarise in a prayer of thanks. Alternatively, one or two people can be asked to come prepared to lead prayers of thanks. Don’t forget one of the younger generation can read an appropriate prayer too! It may be advisable to mention that an opportunity for prayers of intercession will occur later in the worship.

Bible reading(s)
These can be followed by a short exposition in which the leader outlines the main theme for the day and introduces “gifts” in a broader sense (see the preamble).

Before breaking into smaller groups it would be a good idea to have general dialogue among those present when the leader calls for suggestions as to how individuals contribute to God’s church:

What sorts of gifts have we got here today? (Leaders, singers. welcomers, listeners, those who work behind the scenes etc.)

Everyone has something to offer — God can use each one of us regardless of age or experience. (Remember the young lad’s lunch in the feeding of the multitude, Mark 6:8.) On a large sheet of newsprint, or on an OHP transparency, make a brainstorming list of gifts which have been suggested.

In smaller groups
Bits of the puzzle (see below) are distributed and each person writes or draws something on one of the pieces that he or she can do to contribute to God’s work in the church. If some are reluctant, others may suggest to them a useful contribution that they are making and write it down for them. Make sure it is understood that they write on the blank side of the puzzle piece( not on the side that already has some black lines), leaving a 2cm margin along the edge.

For the puzzle you will need a large, bold outline of a church building. (If someone can draw a picture of your church, so much the better!) Cut this into as many pieces as you expect to have small groups. Each of these pieces should be further cut so that there will be one piece for each person in the group. The pieces can be any shape as long as each has room for someone to write their “gift” on it.

If the service will involve more than about 25 people you may want to keep each group’s pieces separate from the others. (Mark them in some distinctive way, e.g. with a small coloured blob on each piece — a different colour for each group.) These can then be assembled in the groups before they come ~iogether again, and these composite pieces finally joined to make the complete picture.
With a smaller number of people you can mix the pieces thoroughly right from the start.

Together again
Assemble the puzzle pieces, writing side up. Join them along the edges with sticky tape.
The completed puzzle should look something like Figure 2.Turn it over to reveal the outline of the church as in Figure 1. If possible, hang it somewhere so that both sides can be seen.
The message should be obvious. We all contribute to the church with gifts given us by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works in us to bring unity of purpose for the good of all.

To “wrap it up” the leader could point out that the church is the people of God — and what has been demonstrated today should happen in every church, whatever the denomination, the Holy Spirit being the one who brings unity when we use our gifts in God’s service.

Prayers of confession
Ask God’s forgiveness for the times when we have not contributed as we ought as members of God’s church, or when we have been insensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Prayers of intercession
Before domestic or personal matters, offer prayers for all God’s people, including other congregations in the neighbourhood of your church. Pray that the Holy Spirit will bind us as one, working for the good of the whole church.

A hymn or song of encouragement, followed by an exhortation to go out and be God’s people, led by the Holy Spirit.

David Dent is an experienced lay leader, a member of the West Lakes Uniting Church in South Australia.

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