Liturgy 30, n. 2 has as its theme “Liturgy in the Digital Age.” An abundance of artistic help may be found in planning worship from what is made available online. Here is McFee’s description of how that might be handled.
Over the course of the next month, the team has the luxury of time for individually gathering possible resources. In this digital age when the Internet offers a virtual library of resources, no individuals or teams need to feel they are starting from scratch or have no place to turn for inspiration. Here are the ways in which the decisions come together:
• The pastor or worship team leader places the brief synopsis of the series on the church’s social media page (Facebook, Twitter) with an invitation for people to submit ideas, thoughts, reflections––a process called “crowdsourcing.” This also goes out in the e-mail newsletter (; www.mailchimp.com) and in a hard-copy handout at church to make idea submissions easily accessible for anyone.
• Visual folks create a virtual bulletin board online () and begin to collect photos of ideas, materials, resources. They let other Pinterest geeks in the congregation know about the board so they can get lots of unofficial team help.
• The church photography group begins to snap photos and upload to a common collection site so the worship team can see and use them ().
• Preachers begin to research exegetical material (liturgicalconference.blogspot.com; ) online commentaries () and search for sermon fodder, including quotes and poetry (; ), film ( ; Screenvue) and narratives (http://www.sunnyskyz.com; www.inspire21.com).
• Media folks begin to look for images (in collaboration with the photography group and visual arts Pinterest board) and for “visual liturgy” (prayers, quotes or scripture that are set to moving images and music for projection) that could work well with the scripture and theme ().
• Music folks begin to comb tangible hymnals and songbooks as well as online (; , Select 20 Anthem reviews; ) in search of music that fits the thematic direction and liturgical season, making lists of possibilities.
• Folks who love words comb through tangible book resources but also go to some of their favorite liturgical resource sites for written prayers, litanies, and poetry (major denominational sites offer materials and there are many churches and individuals who post their work online such as www.seekerschurch.org; www.liturgyoutside.net).
Instead of spending Tuesdays doing all the planning for Sunday––thinking about a direction, searching for resources, and plugging them into a bulletin (the weekly one-hit-wonder method), spend it working on the next season (because this Sunday’s service has been planned already for a month). The greatest benefit of this is that you get to steep in the message coming up over time and look for resources with more ease and delight because you are not under so much pressure.
And don’t forget that an ad hoc team can include one person who already spends time on, for instance, Pinterest. Commission that person to look for specific images and ideas for you. Ask a few choir members to volunteer to have a “hymn sing” before choir practice one night, looking through a hymnal for possibilities for the season.
McFee’s concern for planning ahead and planning for worship that is artful in the best sense is worthy no matter what resources your congregation has on hand or online.
Marcia McFee, “Ritual Artistry in a Digital Age: Planning Design with the World at Our Fingertips,” Liturgy 30, no. 2 (2015): 3-9.