Resources for the Small Church

For the pastor of the large church, I suppose Lutheran Service Builder is a convenient way to put it all together. I suppose it also works if you are the pastor of a small church that loves sending a small forest through your poor overworked photocopier.

But I am not the pastor of a large congregation.  Nor do I enjoy sending a small forest through my congregation’s photocopier each week.  After all, we bought the hymnals for a reason.  If we didn’t want to use them (open them up and look inside) why spend the money?

So, how does this small church pastor plan services?  Early in my ministry I discovered “Planning the Service” by Ralph Gerke.  I adapted the forms for my own use, putting three on a page.  They look like this :

Day / Date                The Fifth Sunday After Trinity – July 4


Order of service :        Divine Service p. 184


Old Testament      1 Kings 19:11-21

Epistle                   1 Peter 3:8-15

Gospel                   Luke 5:1-11

Hymns :

Opening                743      Jesus Priceless Treasure

Hymn of the Day 682      God of the Prophets, Bless the Prophets Sons

Closing                  718      Jesus Lead Thou On

Special Information : No Organist

(Sort of.  I can’t get the formatting exactly the same. But you get the idea.)

Summer is when I try and prepare for the next liturgical year.  (Advent 10-Thanksgiving 11)

The first thing I do is plot out all the services for the year.  This sheet is used by the altar guild to identify the correct color for each service in the year.  (1 year series – the Thrivent calendar doesn’t list it.) This I have finished.  If you wish to see or download it, click HERE.  Use or adapt as needed.

Then I plan out the worship sheets.  Click HERE for those.  Use or adapt as needed.

So when do I use Service Builder?  To assist when I pick hymns, print out the Propers so people can speak the Introit and Gradual, and for funerals.  That’s about it.  I suppose builder has all sorts of neat resources to help with planning and organizing hymns, but for my money, I like to write them out in pen first, surrounded by a hymnal and bible.  There is something about having the books themselves open in front of me that makes the task more pleasant.

Or, as Giles once said on Buffy the Vampire Slayer in answer to the question, “Why don’t you like computers?”

“It’s The smell.”

“But computers don’t have a smell, Rupert.”


Anyway, if the files are useful, use them as you see fit, if not, ignore this post, and go back to your smell-free soul-less computer.


One Response to “Resources for the Small Church”

  1. Dennis Voss Says:

    I am pastor of two small parishes. We don’t use Lutheran Service Builder much either. The secretary uses it to dump the introit, Collect, and readings into the bulletin. I use it to dump the same onto a large print selection for use with the shut-ins.
    I’m like you, I generally try to use the Bible and Hymnal along with the Hymnal Selection Guide to plan out the themes and hymns. I don’t do a year at a time, probably should, but don’t.
    I like your Liturgical Calendar and Schedule. I had done something like that for the altar guild this year.

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