There is a wealth of resources for worship leaders – some more helpful than others! A word of warning about the Internet – there are some excellent resources, however there are some very dubious sites and as ever with the www, great caution should be exercised.
Synod is also able to offer financial support in building up resources in each Church and with subscription costs for some resources too.
The following are a starting point for people as they engage on this calling of leading God’s people in worship:-
Basic starting points:-
- Worship: from the United Reformed Church – available from www.urcshop.co.uk, covers all services we might use in the denomination and a reasonable starting point. It comes with a useful CD which has extra resources on it. This also contains the 3-year Revised Common Lectionary, which is usually the pattern for Bible readings used each week in most of our Churches Sunday by Sunday.
- Roots – A subscription publication, with extra resources at www.rootsontheweb.com
- Scripture Union – A subscription publication www.scriptureunion.org.uk, mainly aimed at children
There are thousands of books containing prayers. These are a selected few which many people in the URC use:-
- The Prayer Handbook – from the URC, www.urcshop.co.uk, produced every year, Lectionary-based and topical
- Iona Publications – www.ionabooks.com, many and varied. A good source of poems, stories, and responsive and other prayers. Some books are geared to particular seasons of the Christian year: Christmas, Lent, Easter to Pentecost.
When using prayers from books it is always good to look at them and ask – can I personally read that – if not, take the idea and adapt it. Also be careful that you do not change style too much in the service – a ’thee, thou’ prayer followed by a very modern one later in the service can jar.
Seek to become familiar with your own Church’s hymnbook. It can pay to spend time looking through it. It contains hymns that can be used as prayers and as a reflection on passages. If possible have a full music copy as it will have all sorts of resources at the back – guide to Bible passages, alternative metres of tunes, list of writers and composers. Services focusing on one hymn writer can be inspiring. Also become familiar with at least one other hymn book – there are some gems in other publications.
- HymnQuest – Subscription service www.hymnquest.com
Other websites have hymn words – but again a warning – they may contain variants on the words, extra verses, and other peculiarities.
Sometimes you just can’t put your finger on the exact passage you are thinking of, or you need to print a reading for someone…
- www.biblegateway.com is a very useful site. You can look up the passage in various ways, in various translations etc. One real word of warning – they have some very dubious advertising so avoid clicking those links.
These are useful for the background to the passage. The one volume commentary we would recommend is:-
- The Oxford Bible Commentary – Oxford University Press. It has recent scholarship and from a theological spectrum, choosing the best in scholarship from across the world. It has other background material, charts and timelines which again help you work with the context of a passage.
Other Sources of Material:-
On particular issues, there are also worship resources from:
and others like The Leprosy Mission and other Christian charities. Search their websites.
This list is not exhaustive, but if you would like further help and perhaps some further insights TLS Lite has a course you can take locally on ‘Leading Worship’. Further details are available from the Synod Office.