In fall 2015, those of us on the General Conference Worship Planning Team began soliciting prayers and others resources from across the global church to include as part of worship at GC2016 in Portland.
As part of that process, I posted a brief set of guidelines on the UMC Worship Facebook Group for writing your own worship resources. I then asked for folks to add their own suggestions.
The first six are mine. The next are from others. I’ve cited their names in parentheses as the end of each suggestion.
Feel free to add your own in the comments, below.
- Use simple, active verbs.
- Eliminate every adverb you can.
- Don’t say “We confess that so often we are tempted to X.” Say, “We X.”
- Eliminate all use of “so often.” Either you do it or your don’t. If you do it, say you do it. Don’t equivocate.
- Avoid florid language. (Also see #9, below).
- If you use a metaphor to address God, it needs to meet two conditions:
a) It is grounded in the scripture you are using that day or in that part of the service
b) It is developed within and appropriate to the prayer you compose.
- When writing a longer-form prayer, strive to be Trinitarian – don’t just pray to one member of the trinity and exclude the others. (Ben Gosden)
- Short phrases & following sense/meaning when lining out litanies or responsive readings is key. I try to put introductory concepts in the leader’s voice & strong words of faith in the congregation’s. (Joshua Hale)
- More writing like Hemingway & Jesus, less like Cranmer & Paul. (Wes Stanton)
- Format prayers in sense lines so they are easier to read. Ask yourself where the break or breath would naturally fall and hit return! (Michelle Jones Whitlock)
- a) Never say “We are mindful of” when you mean “We remember”. Only preachers are “mindful of.” Regular people just remember stuff.
b) Never quote Scripture to the Almighty, who hardly needs the reminder.
c) Never use the passive voice.
d) Say “We need” rather than “We are in need of.” (Cynthia Cox Garrard)
- Say “We thank you” or simply, “Thank you,” rather than “We give you thanks.” (Scott Spencer with Wes Stanton)