nBNTytASummer is coming and preachers are planning! This week’s question solicits advice for summer worship ideas.

Dear Matriarchs:
This summer, I would like to diverge from the lectionary for the summer. Last year a colleague and I came up with a fun, travel-themed trip through the book of Exodus. Have any of you tried anything off-lectionary that was particularly successful for summer worship? I am not seeking complete plans but rather some big-picture ideas that we can develop, like “How about a fun, travel-themed trip through the book of Exodus? — or something like that.

Our Matriarchs are all over this one!

Chrysanne Timm
I led an off-lectionary study we called “Summer in the Psalms”. We explored the different types of psalms as responses to the many life experiences people faced then and now. It gave us an opportunity to explore doubt, anger, despair, joy, gratitude. It was very well-received and people continued to refer to it many years after we did it.

Anne Andert
My hubby and I often did summer series off lectionary. I think our favorite, i.e. the most appreciated, was the year we asked congregants to write out their faith questions for several weeks before the summer began. We grouped these into categories and then created an outline that made sense. We encouraged people to ask tough faith and life questions. It was wonderful!

Heidi Rodrick-Schnaath
Post Easter my colleague and I preached on Revelation one year. Not too exotic but it makes me think it would be fun to do a series on Apocalyptic literature and look at the various Biblical journeys through space and time. I’d also love to play with the Apocrypha stories that would be new to my Lutheran congregation. There’s some great storytelling in Judith, Bel & the Dragon,etc. Or what about a series on Daniel – lots of great “speaking to power” to be had. Last random idea, our Sunday group picked a short list of Biblical women for Bible Study. A similar list could be created for a summer preaching series. Anyone who attended the last BE should have lots of resources for that!

Julia Seymour
I have heard of a colleague who did a series on preaching on the favorite hymns of the congregation on summer- sharing hymn stories lives of hymn writers, and information about tune names, etc. I have worked through “short” books like Ruth or Jonah, giving a chapter a week an in-depth look. This summer, I am planning to do some of the Bible stories that are not in the Revised Common Lectionary, so that we can hear from some less familiar corners of the Bible.

Martha Spong
I did a series of favorite Bible passages, inviting suggestions from the congregation, although I had a full list prepared in case I needed it. It worked well for summer because although it was a series, the theme was broad enough that no one who missed a week or two would have trouble jumping in again. I enjoyed preaching about some stories that either are not in the RCL or are late in the week’s post-Epiphany and not often read.

Karen Sapio
I once did a summer of Sunday School Stories for Grown-ups–revisiting stories like Noah’s Ark, David and Goliath, Samson, Jonah, etc. that either don’t show up in the lectionary or rarely get chosen. Most folks haven’t considered those tales beyond the simplistic retelling plus barely connected craft they had in third grade Sunday school.

Camille LeBron Powell
My favorite by far (though not sure if the whole congregation agrees) was 2 summers ago. I did a summer reading list theme based on children’s books. I shared about it on my blog.

Last summer I did a series on favorite hymns. In April the congregation was invited the turn in requests. It was great. They really got into it. I even took on heavy atonement stuff with “In Christ Alone”, which caused a little drama when it was not included in the newest PCUSA hymnal. At the end of the summer we had a hymn sing to get the last few (and really old ones not in any of the last 3 hymnals) we didn’t get to. I called the series “This is Our Story, This is Our Song!” We sang that altered chorus as the benediction in song every week.

I’ve got notes on a series based on the epistles with the theme “postcards from the road” but it hasn’t come together yet (in 3 years). So I’d love to hear others’ ideas.

This summer I think I’m just doing lectionary.

Thank you, Matriarchs. What an abundance of creative suggestions to inspire our summer worship plans!

RevGal preachers, join in the conversation.
What ideas can you add?
What has worked well for you and your congregation?

Are you looking for ministry ideas? Ask our matriarchs! Send your question to askthematriarch (at) gmail (dot) com

Rev. Sharon M. Temple is a United Church of Christ pastor living in Austin, TX. She is a contributor to the RevGals book There’s a Woman in the Pulpit and blogs erratically at Tidings of Comfort and Joy.

RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

4 thoughts on “Ask the Matriarch: Summer Worship Ideas

  1. This year I have guest preachers speaking on their favourite Bible story. The Guest preachers are mainly from the wider church leadership.


  2. One summer, several Lutheran pastors put together a round-robin series of Old Testament stories that are not in the lectionary. Mine was Gideon and how God helped him “recruit” his army. The congregations enjoyed hearing a variety of preachers, and the preachers enjoyed having some simplified sermon prep during the summer.


  3. One summer I did a short series on books. The only three books I remember including are: “How Starbucks Saved my Life” (I found it in a cheap-books bin someplace, and thought it sounded interesting), “The Shack” (this was soon after it was published; I didn’t really want to read it, and the series forced me to), and “Three Simple Rules.” In hindsight, I don’t know if the series was well-received (I was serving a lovely congregation who wouldn’t have given me negative feedback, even if they were thinking it).


We hope you'll join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.