Difficult orders of service?

To round out the Order of Service Trilogy: for religious leaders and administrators (paid or volunteer) — what parts of the producing a printed order of worship cause you the most trouble? What, if anything, could make it easier?

Coming from a small church background, I know that the print pieces were always more trouble and work than I thought they ought to have been.

8 Replies to “Difficult orders of service?”

  1. When I worked for a rural congregation in Ohio, the worst part was getting the bulletins to print. We had an ancient copier that broke 2 weeks out of 3, and a low budget for outside printing. There were weeks when I yearned for something like the Book of Common Prayer, so I could go without printing a bulletin (I’ve seen many spoken, 8AM, Rite 1 services done with only a prayerbook and no bulletin). I was also tempted to produce laminated sheets with a generic order of service, which we ccould re-use over and over again.

  2. Amen. There’s something to be said for a hymn board . . . .

    I collect old hymnals and one thing I note is how, before the 1920s or so, free-worship Protestant churches — especially Universalists and Unitarians, especially the more cosmopolitan ones — might have a standard order of service printed and then pasted inside the front cover of the hymnal.

    I’ve been in churches that use a laminated service sheet, including a midweek Eucharist I attended at Westminster Abbey years ago. In front of the tomb of Isaac Newton, no less. (Indeed, reading the service sheets at a UK military liturgy site — http://oremus.org/labarum/ — led me to use the predecessor of the OpenOffice.org office suite, and thence to experimenting with Linux.)

    If I were to use them in a small church, I would print and laminate them with a generous margin, to shave off the ragged edge as needed.

  3. When I served a small, rural New England UU Christian congregation, I decided to forego orders of service all together during the summer services. Instead we opened the red hymnal, “Hymns of the Spirit” to one of the prefab orders of service at the beginning. All the readings and hymns, except for the gospel reading, came directly from the hymnal. It was an all-in-one resource and I did not have to do anything but select the “a capella” hymns and the responsive and unison readings ahead of time. Because the services in that hymnal were of a goodly number, they provided enough variety to keep the structure from becoming too predictable. I wish that our newer hymnals had a few “sample” services for just such occasions.

  4. Years ago I printed our order of service printed on some paper fans so that in the summer we could keep cool and keep our place in the service.

  5. We are experimenting with no printed Order of Service. It originally came out of wanting to save paper. It gets us to pay attention and focus on the service, rather than checking off elements as they go by. There’s less shuffling of paper during the service. We do pass out a one-pager with announcements, list of hymns for the day, and special readings or litanies. Seems to be working okay. Who says we need a “program”? Just be present; don’t think about what’s coming up next. FWIW

  6. Like Karen, I’ve wanted to be rid of the printed order of service for some time. I have on occasion not used an order of service. Why not, I say?

  7. First Church in Lancaster, Mass., used to use a generic order during the summer as well, and at one time the UU church in Walpole, N.H., instead of using weekly bulletins with a printed order of worship, featured 5 x 8 cards that outlined the
    service. They were professionally printed on oaktag or some other such white cardboard, and were hung on hooks that were in each pew. A monthly mimeographed calendar provided congregants with news of current goings-on in the parish.

    I don’t know whether Lancaster and Walpole have continued these customs.

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