1. The Heart of the Matter

As you prepare that service remember what is it is all for.

You are creating an occasion for the gathered people of God to have 'the word of Christ dwell in them richly', as Paul would put it (Colossians 3:16).

As it is an occasion in an Anglican church, it should try and express the heart of Anglican theology gleaned from the Book of Common Prayer, which remains our foundation. Take some time to reflect on how Ashley Null, the international expert on Thomas Cranmer's theology, explains what our services should try to be. 'So at last we have arrived at the heart of Anglican Theology. Divine gracious love, constantly communicated by the Holy Spirit in the regular repetition of Scripture's promises though Word and Sacrament, is to inspire human love, drawing believers towards God and their fellow human beings in the pursuit of lifelong godliness'

2. Go with the Flow

What elements you put in the service and how the occasion will flow are both important. Ask yourself 'what is this for?' about  every item you put in as you plan. And then think about how you expect the people participating in the service to be going at each point of the service. (We need to avoid whatever it was that visiting church leader Mark Discoll was describing when he said in 2008 that services in Sydney were 'clunky' and 'starting and stopping like Sydney traffic'!)

Be careful about where and how you place disruptive elements like announcements and the children leaving for Sunday school.

3. Basic Shapes

Every service should have an appropriate beginning, middle and end. The simplest structure is to begin with focusing on God by praise and prayer, then go on to hearing him speak to us by the reading of the Scriptures and their exposition, followed by our appropriate response in prayer and song.

If you have another shape, that is alright as long as it helps us to really do business with our God in the presence of our fellow believers. When we come together, we need to focus on God and put our distractions aside. The point of the gathering is of course more than just to enjoy the company of fellow Christians! 

Ashley Null, 'The Classical Anglican Understanding of Salvation and its Decay'. Unpublished paper from GAFCON Jerusalem 2008 p.11s


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