The Sending in Christian Worship

“Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.” (1 Chronicles 16:23-24)

Dropping our children off at college was a very bittersweet experience, combining the potential we saw in what they could accomplish with the sorrow we felt in knowing we would be apart. Hoping to impact those in whom we had invested our lives, we carefully weighed the final words in our conversation, hoping to impact their engagement in their work and community life.

When worship is viewed as a conversation between God and God’s people, planning how the conversation ends should have as much intentionality as how it began. The final thoughts and parting words offer an opportunity to empower those leaving the place of worship to incorporate the conversation that took place into their daily lives.

Constance Cherry elaborates on this point,

The way in which we part answers the questions of how we will be in relationship while apart and what we will do until we meet again . . . Just as it is God who calls us to worship, it is God who sends us from the gathered community. God begins the conversation and God ends the conversation. This is a crucial perspective to grasp; it is the difference between the sending as either an item of business in the church bulletin or a powerful moment of relationship between God and people. The sending is a time when God blesses us to bless the world in Christ’s name, and commissions us to live in a particular way as a result of having heard the Word as a community.” [1]

How can the dismissal from worship most greatly impact a congregation?

Here are some examples:

  • Closing Prayer/Benediction – Praying over the congregation or offering words from Scripture to close a service dedicates those gathered and sends them off with a blessing.

  • Postlude – An intentional song choice can place a tune and/or lyrics into the minds of people as they exit, helping them to reminisce on their experience and the message conveyed.

  • Take-away Questions – Several questions on a page distributed as people leave offers the potential to continue the conversation that just took place over lunch, in a small group, or during personal study.

  • Hand-out – Distributing something tangible to encourage people to mentally return to the conversation they’ve just experienced can help continue the engagement in worship. This doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor. A salt packet encouraging people to “flavor” their world, a stone reminding them that Christ is their Rock, or a simple bookmark with relevant Scripture and quotes are simple but impactful examples.

“The sending is a time when God blesses us to bless the world in Christ’s name, and commissions us to live in a particular way as a result of having heard the word as a community.”[2]

As with everything else in the conversation of worship, care and thoughtfulness should be given to closing the worship experience. What are some ways you have sent your congregation off to make a difference in their world?

As you think and plan, I leave you with these inspired words of blessing:

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20–21)

[1]Constance Cherry, The Worship Architect: A Blueprint For Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services,(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), 112.