Written orders of worship / bulletins are pretty much considered passe’ today as technology has moved away from prayer and hymn books in favor of projected images. Some of this move toward projected hymn lyrics arise out of Yohann Anderson’s work which suggests that most persons are intimidated by written music and the folks are more likely to sing when they only have lyrics. There is also a belief that getting folks heads out of a book or bulletin and looking at one another helps create a corporate worship setting. I don’t disagree with these tendencies, believing much of this thought to be valid.
At the same time, losing these print resources limits the ability of the pastor / worship leader to use them as teaching resources so that participants might better access the worship service. Of course, the leader can verbally teach on certain parts of worship, but this sometimes leads to a wordiness in worship that takes away from the moment. Good use of written materials provides the worship leader another non-verbal means of teaching that can be helpful in making liturgy come alive.
One example that we have been offering for some time is a sentence or two of explanation or guidance about our responsive readings. Very often we will recite a Psalm responsively as a means of offering praise to God. Rather than simply including the name of the psalm and the page number, I also include a sentence or two that interprets what the psalm is saying and encourages folks to use the words of the psalm to offer praise in specific ways. This way participants have been able to connect how saying these words relates to their daily lives.
Using these written materials with some savvy can open up the beauty of liturgy to the masses as they begin to see the meanings behind these words.