Last April, we had a congregational survey during one of the worship services to ask the congregation and the choir to give us some suggestions as to sermon topics and hymns to sing. There were 41 sermon topics and 123 hymns suggested, compiled unedited by one of our office volunteers.
At our twice-yearly retreat where we plan out worship for six months in advance, your pastors took the responses and made them the pool from which we would craft worship for all of July. We first chose the sermons and then we chose the hymns.
Sermons: We first looked at the sermons and grouped several together that seemed to be asking a similar question. Since those were very preachable topics, they became two of the four weeks. Then we looked at the remainder and both of us chose one that we felt like was a great question and that we had something to reflect upon.
After prayer and study, we chose these four topics that came from YOU:
- July 6 – In our diverse church, what unites us? (Jeremy)
- July 13 – Who goes to Heaven? Do all faiths or just…one? (Jeremy)
- July 20 – How Do you Love Someone You Don?t Even Like? And Why? (Donna)
- July 27 – Why Do We Put Up Barriers for Ourselves? (Donna)
Hymns: From the pool of 123 hymns, we first eliminated the hymns that we do sing with some regularity as this month would be more appropriate for hymns that we don’t sing often. From that edited list of 98 hymns, we had only 12 we could choose. It was really a funny process, and I’m personally thankful for Donna’s piano-playing abilities as several suggestions I had never sung in my life!
In the end, we chose hymns that fit the message for the day…or close enough to justify the high number of requests (the most requested hymn was “How Great Thou Art,” look for it on July 20). Like in every worship service at First United Methodist Church, the message heavily influences the music, scripture, liturgy, and hymnody. We also added in one requested hymn as the Offering Response.
NOTE: For those of you that want to sing more of those congregational requests, you are invited to a Hymnsing at our Thursday night worship series on July 24.
You asked for it! The result is something that YOU should be proud of. While every worship service is crafted with deep listening to the congregations’ needs and struggles, it was a joy to include more of you in the process. And remember, if you don’t like a hymn or a sermon…you asked for it!
See you Sunday and know I’m in prayer for you until we meet again. ~Jeremy