Liturgy by TLW



Ideas for Worship during the Pentecost Season

by The Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


THE LONG GREEN Pentecost season is often a challenge for keeping worship lively and interesting over so many months, especially in years when there are practically no lesser festivals which fall on Sundays to break up the season.

For this reason, I have generally divided the season into two parts which fall naturally with the calendar. The three summer months constitute "Part A" of the season while the remaining months of the fall are "Part B," with liturgy forms that differ somewhat.

Given that people like to have extra time outdoors for recreation and travel during the summer season, I have always thought a shorter liturgy was ideal. At the same time, I have often thought it a good exercise to speak the liturgy at times, thus allowing the words to stand by themselves now and then, for all their meaning and strength.

Putting these two ideas together, for the summer months of the Pentecost season, I suggest the following Sunday order:




Brief Order for Confession

Entrance Hymn

Kyrie (spoken) or use the old form spoken responsively:
        Lord, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.

Glory to God (sung)

Prayer of the Day



1st & 2nd Lesson

Alleluia (sung)

Gospel Lesson (sung or spoken acclamations)


Hymn of the Day

Apostles' Creed (opt.)

Prayer of the Church & Peace




Offertory Hymn "We Give Thee But Thine Own," stanza 1 (print out in bulletin)

Offertory Prayer

Great Thanksgiving (spoken)

Sanctus (spoken)

Eucharistic Prayer V in ELW or III in LBW (or A in the Book of Common Prayer)

Our Father


    Lamb of God (sung)

    No hymns during communion


Post Communion Prayer




Closing Hymn:   Doxology (every Sunday)


A variation on the above would eliminate the proper preface and Sanctus and go straight from the preface dialog to the Eucharist Prayer.

You will also note the use of a "golden oldie" for the offertory hymn. We don't make enough use of hymns from the Stewardship section of the LBW, if you ask me. I like using the first stanza of this old hymn during the summer. I have also previously recommended the first stanza of hymn #408 for Lent ("God, Whose Giving Knows No Ending").

I think you can see from the foregoing that the service would be shorter than usual, depending on sermon length and communion time. I can usually do this service in about 45 min., which I find that people appreciate during the summer months.

Having a shorter service also eliminates some of the constant debate about changing service times and keeping everyone up with it. I have personally never liked such changes, because they immediately make the church an "in-group" organization where only those "in the know" are aware of service times. For outreach-minded churches, switching service times simply shoots yourself in the foot as far as mission goes. Service times should be set and kept so you don't lose either members with short memories or newcomers wishing to visit.


OUTDOOR WORSHIP is a nice summer activity for a congregation, especially when followed by a picnic. For that occasion, singing only hymns or songs accompanied by portable instruments might make it a lot easier. Don't try to sing any liturgy parts.

The above service format could be used, by simply speaking everything. Print the entire service in the bulletin (with an acknowledgment of copyright, of course).

If you are clever, you might chose hymns that are entirely in the public domain (i.e., no copyright) which can also be printed in the bulletin, thus eliminating the need to haul hymnals around. Look at the bottom of the hymn where the Tune and Text information is found. If there is no copyright marking there (c), then the hymn is in the public domain and can be reprinted without seeking permission.

Don't ever try to copy a hymn that has a copyright marking without seeking permission. You're flirting with a lawsuit if you do, and music companies will sue, since music is a big business these days.

For communion at an outdoor service, plan on intinction, thus making it easy for preparation and portability.

If you have a large group, some kind of portable PA system might be needed. I have found that Karaoke systems work great for this and are quite inexpensive.

I also like to shape the space for outdoor worship by bringing along a large banner or two. Given the casual dress of the day for worshipers, I generally don't vest for such occasions. Actually a clergy shirt and black shorts don't look bad together!


ONCE FALL COMES, I tend to vary the above order only by putting the singing back in and making a switch to a longer Eucharistic Prayer (ELW VI, LBW I, BCP B). That means there is general continuity in the Pentecost Season liturgies with the variation tending to be between singing or speaking.

You could go to a longer Closing Hymn as well, along with the return of singing hymns during Communion.

If there are Lesser Festivals that occur during the fall, the only variation from this form tends to be in the dialogs that I recommend to replace the Kyrie and perhaps in the change of Hymn of Praise to "This Is the Feast." Otherwise the day is carried by the change in color, the hymns and the propers, and otherwise has its own continuity with the regular Pentecost pattern.