Resources - General ideas
I have also started to document our ideas and thinking, and you may like to see that as well. The menu item 'Think' will take you there, or go here to the Thinking page!
On this page I will offer ideas about:
- Some general ideas
- Use of Language
- Process / using things e.g material, instruments, voice, noise etc.
- Hardware / software
- Bibles and Books
- External links
We have had to learn the hard way, and here are some things that we have learned!
- Try to make things as concrete as possible. We are so used to using complex language and/or strange rituals in our services. This is of little or no use in this context.
- We needed to discard many of our previous ideas of what church is, and what a church service should be. We needed to be very flexible indeed, courageous in what we did, and get to the point that we fully realised that what we were doing was for God and for the people, and if that meant that it would look chaotic, then so be it.
- Have fun!
- Be tolerant - very tolerant of as wide a range of behaviours as you possibly can. We start from the premis that we will cope with all behaviours. So far this has worked. In the early days it was hard work when we were in competition with a noisy person. We quickly came to the position of realising that they were at worse trying to communicate with us, and at best were worshipping God in the only way they could.
- Involve them all. We make sure that everyone who wants to is able to pray, get involved with drama, hand things out, help pack up, use instruments and or flags. This often results in apparent confusion and mayhem! But I have now come to see that it is the only way that many of them can in fact be involved.
- Try not to get discouraged! This is hard work but incredibly rewarding. They will misunderstand you, forget what you are teaching, get confused, fall asleep, stop coming, say they are bored and so on, but keep going - who else is going to?!
- Do all you can to avoid embarrassing people by asking them to do what they cannot. In our group virtually no-one can read or write, so we avoid those activities where at all possible, or are very selective as to who we ask to help.
- I am using responsive prayers of all sorts a lot more now, and they seem to be effective. They range from the serious to the noisy and fun! Some Celtic material - heavily altered of course - can be a good source of material.
Language can be a barrier to communication. We are so used to complex jargon-ridden language that we hardly understand what we are saying anymore! It is essential to leave all that behind, and do all we can to speak in an appropriate manner. Things we try to do are:
- Use short sentences, using a limited set of words.
- Use straight forward English, simple but not simplistic or childish. For example.
"Jesus and His disciples went into the town. They were tired, so Jesus asked them to go and find some food. Off they went do do as He had asked"
We can follow who is who in this sentence, but many of our listeners will not! Try this,
"Jesus and His disciples went into the town. Jesus and His disciples were tired. Jesus asked His disciples to go and find some food. The disciples walked off to find some food."
Another example is a song with the phrase, ".. the lamb upon the throne ..". In the middle of this song someone asked me why there was a sheep on the throne? I explained that this was one way of talking about Jesus. The retort was, "Then why don't you say so!" I think that sums it all up!
- Consider having at set of phrases / words that you use consistently. Some examples
- Disciples - Jesus' special friends
- Pray - talk to Jesus
- Worship - sing to Jesus, tell Him that you love Him
- Use concrete terms, and use examples from their lives - living in homes, going to day centres or education. Think of simple things that they can do such as
- helping each other with zips and buttons,
- picking things up for folk in wheel-chairs,
- allowing others to have the last cake / biscuit etc,
- being kind to each other,
- saying 'Thank you' to carers, and so on.
- Tell stories. We use stories from the Old Testament and the New Testament.
- Take a look at the Easy English Website - see the link below - for some excellent ideas
As far as possible use things to back up what you are talking about. So if you are talking about the cross, have a small wooden one that you can pass around, especially allowing those who cannot see very well to touch and feel it.
Use examples that can be backed up with tangeable items. We have used things like
- Sand trays
- Potted plants
- All sorts of household items ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous
We also us an overhead projector - see below. Our reason for this is:
- To add a visual element to what we are saying
- The visual element enhances the words and helps understanding
- To add some comic element where appropriate
As for language, we try to use the same photo/clipart for the same concept. In a sense we are developing a limited vocabulary of pictures
Our experience is that we have never managed anything that is anything like anything! Our worship times are noisy, tuneless, instruments are out of time, people wander around, flags are waved all over the place and so on. But God is there!
Many of our folk can only mange a feeble shake of an instrument, some can only shout, some sit and watch. We now enjoy this wide range of activity, and visitors comment that this is the only church they go to where everyone is involved!
We have available flags, banners, various percussion instruments, and some folk now bring their own. Unless it is very disruptive, we simply allow all-comers! This is their way of worshipping God, so let it rip!
We also sometimes use Makaton signing. We are not too skilled in this but it is sometimes very popular.
As for the songs themselves, we use a lot of the PROSPECTS songs. We try to select songs that are simple and straightforward, but this can be hard. Some children's songs are appropriate, some are not. We need to remember that our folk may have a learning difficulty but they are not children.
Interestingly we have found that many so-called children's songs are popular with our folk. Equally some of the main stream songs, even though they are wordy and jargon-ridden, are equally popular! You will have to try a range and see what is liked.
We use a computer and projector, but this is NOT essential! If you have read this far you will be aware of how important it is to keep language simple and use things to enhance what you are saying.
Paper, pictures, etc are just as valid as modern technology.
If you do want to use modern technology, here are some ideas;
You will need a computer and projector. Many churches now have this facility, so try to borrow theirs!
You do NOT need to spend hundreds of pounds on software. The de-facto standard for presentation software is Microsoft PowerPoint, but this is expensive.
Instead use LibreOffice which can be downloaded from here.
LibreOffice is totally free and will provide you with:
- A fully fledged Word Processor (like Word)
- Presentation (Like PowerPoint) and a
- Spreadsheet (like Excel).
It is easy to install, but takes a while! Accept all the default settings, and when it gets to the bit that asks you if you want to open all Microsoft documents in LibreOffice, you will PROBABLY want to say 'no' depending on what is already on your machine. This can always be changed later.
You can open Microsoft Documents - unless they are VERY complex, and can save in Microsoft format to send to your friends. We always use LibreOffice and I have never come unstuck.
If the PC you are going to use to connect to the Projector only has PowerPoint on it, and you are not able to install LibreOffice, simply save your LibreOffice presentation as a PowerPoint and away you go!
In order to project a straightforward presentation, you do not need complex presentation software. LibreOffice and Powerpoint will go full screen. But you cannot do the fancy display of choruses, unless you fiddle about a bit. But .......
....... I have just discovered OpenLP which is open source projection software, and free to use. So far I have found it to be excellent, and exactly what I need. You can set up playlists, link them to mp3's, have them auto play, and you can play with the order while the words display on the screen.
Do take a bit of time to explore the various settings, as you will be well rewarded by being able to make the software do what you want.
We do not use one version routinely. For our group we are of the opinion that all versions are far too complex. We do tend to write our own versions as we go along. However you might like to look at the following:
- "Easy to read version" published by World Bible Translation Center. ISBN 1-885427-38-7. I still think that on occasions it is not concrete enough, and there are too many difficult words and constructs.
- "The Message" by Eugene H Peterson, published by NAV Press. This has a heavy American bias, but is an excellent starting point nevertheless. It is too complex as it stands
- "The Street Bible" by Rob Lacey published by Zondervan. ISBN 0 00 7107900. Bits of this are excellent to get you thinking, but do be selective!
- The Lion Story Teller Bible - Written by Bob Holman. ISBN 0 7459 36075 - Lion Publishing 1995 Hardback; 2001 Paperback
Other books we use to help us. None are perfect but they all give us some ideas sometimes:
- Telling More Tales, by Dave and Lynn Hopwood, published by CPAS ISBN 1 8976 6097 9 (1998)
- Telling even more tales, by Dave and Lynn Hopwood, published by CPAS. ISBN 1 902041 11 9 (2000)
- Multi-sensory Prayer by Sue Wallace, published by Scripture Union. ISBN 1 85999 462 (2000)
- Multi-Sensory Church, by Sue Wallace, Published by Scripture Union. ISBN 1 85999 667 1 (2002)
- Multi-Sensory Scripture, by Sue Wallace, Published by Scripture Union. ISBN 1 84427 166 8
- Play on Words by Kevin Mayhew. ISBN 1 84003 623 0
- Easter cracked published by Scripture Union, ISBN 1 84427 189 7 (2005)
- A Church for all ages - A practical approach to all-age worship. by Peter Graystone and Eileen Turner. Published by Scripture Union. ISBN 0 86201 859 5 (1993)
- 100 ideas for all-age worship by Sue Relf. Published by Kingsway Publications, ISBN 0 85476 763 0 ( 1998)
- New Parish prayers edited by Frank Colquhoun. Published by Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN 978-0-340-90841-9 (1982)
- The wee worship book, published by the Wild Goose Worship Group, The Iona Community, Pearce Institute, Govan, Glasgow, G51 3UT(1989)
- Multi-Sensory Ideas for Worship, by Irene Smale, Published by David C Cook, ISBN 978 1 84291392 5 (2009)
I also search on the internet and occasionally find some gems!