Suzybower's Blog

Creative ideas for church and youth ministry.

Archive for alternative service

Be still (service plan)

Here are some elements from an alternative service I led on the subject of stillness/silence/solitude/sabbath. It was just before the summer holidays, so I was encouraging people to think about how they might truly rest over their time off.

The background image I used for the powerpoint

I used the first of these videos as an introduction to the service, and the second for people to reflect on after the talk.

Lectio Divina Reading

(Click here for more info about Lectio Divina)


we hear and say so many words,

yet yours is the word we need.

Speak now,

and help us listen;

and, if what we hear is silence,

let it quiet us,

let it disturb us,

let it touch our need,

let it break our pride,

let it shrink our certainties

let it enlarge our wonder.


Read Passage – Matthew 11:28-30

Are there any phrases or words that particularly jump out to you?

Read again

Chew over the word or phrase that got your attention. Why did it stand out to you? What might God be trying to say to you through it? How does it apply to your life today?

Some questions from one of the discussion times

-What are the benefits of resting on a Sabbath day?

-In the current economic crisis is it fair to ask people to take a Sabbath?

– What advice would you give to people such as nurses, ministers and youth workers who tend to work on Sundays?

A pregnant pause: Christmas service in a stable

Things needed: Stable (or local B&B), candles, torches.

During advent last year we held one of our evening services in a stable. I was so unbelievably excited about this service from the time the idea popped into my head, until…well I’m still pretty excitable about it, and already looking forward to next year’s one. But despite this fact, I managed to tame my extrovert tendencies and not tell the whole world about it before the event. So it was all a bit of a surprise for everyone.

This is how the service ran:

– Everyone arrived at the church knowing only that we might be going outside for a bit, so they should wear warm clothing. I asked them all to write down on a piece of paper their answer to the question ‘What signifies Christmas for you?’ (If I had had the resources I would have got them to write this on a stone).

– We then walked to a local B&B (owned by a member of our church) which had a stable out the back. I had put some fairy lights up beforehand and made a couple of benches with hay bails and wooden planks. I had also placed a candle in the center on a table.

– As people arrived they all received a candle and a service sheet. The service was then fairly reflective and contained liturgy, carols, a poem, and some readings (if you would like a copy of the service sheet let me know).

– At the end of the service people were invited to respond to the message by making sure Jesus was the significant thing for them this Christmas (said in a less cheesy way than that!). If they wanted to, they could place the piece of paper (from the beginning of the service) around the central candle.

– We then enjoyed some hot spiced apple (Mulled wine spice with Capella apple juice) and mince pies.

If you don’t happen to have a stable near your church, you could always ask around at local B&B’s to see if you could go there and have a service out the back somewhere because there’s no room for you to have it in the inn…