Are you a Worship Leader looking for Creative Worship Ideas for Lent in your Christian Church? Find responsive worship ideas, special music for lent, creative prayer, and other worship elements for your small church.
Lent is a special season.
A time set-apart to remember Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness. To remember the events leading up to the biggest celebration of the church year – Resurrection Sunday.
It is impossible to fully appreciate Easter Sunday without understanding its context.
The suffering. The sacrifice.
But Worship Leaders in Small Churches get busy. Pulled in lots of directions. Family. Second Job. Friends in Need.
And as Easter gets closer, sometimes our best intentions slip away with the days on the calendar. And we forgot to plan for Lent.
Here’s a list of low-prep, low-cost Lent Ideas for Worship.
Even if you are feeling behind, choose an idea below and implement. One day of prep and maybe a few dollars, and Voila! A responsive worship element that people will go home talking about.
Creating a little bit of ‘pause’ in this season of Lent.
A word of explanation before sharing my 6 Last-Minute Lent Ideas. Denominations, as well as worship leaders, differ in their beliefs about Lent.
At our church, Lent is a Want-To. Not a Have-To. We look at Lent as an opportunity (not a command) for reflection and focus.
We refer to the 3 Pillars of Lent: GIVING, FASTING, and PRAYER.
Use the 40 days leading up to Easter as a time of reflection, confession, and remembrance.
1. SIMPLIFY YOUR WORSHIP SERVICE WITH MINIMAL INSTRUMENTS
We did this last week and WOW. So Beautiful. So Different. So Other.
We have a fairly full band, including electric guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, several acoustic guitars and vocalists. So our scaling back was rather dramatic.
You may end up with one person and a keyboard. We ended up with 4 Women Vocalists and a Guitar.
I covered all the onstage instruments and music stands with black fabric. Draping everything loosely. It created a shrouded effect.
I considered stripping the stage bare, but that seemed like way too much work! In the end, black fabric was quicker and easier. The look was striking.
Set a Hushed Tone to Ready People for Prayer & Reflection
Walking into the worship center was quieter than usual. We chose a soft, mellow playlist as entry music and played a simple video on the screen slowly scrolling the following words:
The video was homemade and recycled from an Ash Wednesday service. It set a great tone for this Sunday morning.
Black fabric draped the keyboard to the left. And the percussion on the right. And some random stands and amps on stage as well. One guitar and 4 mic stands were visible.
Worship began with A Capella vocals, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene…” leading the congregation in modernized hymn, I Stand Amazed (How Marvelous). Four female singers and one acoustic guitar led the entire worship service.
It flowed beautifully into an invitation for personal prayer.
PRAYER is one of the Three Pillars of Lent.
It was Quiet. Reflective. And cost-free.
Our congregation does not do “quiet” very much or very well. We are excellent at community. And laughter. And relationships. And eating! So for us, this felt very set-apart.
A perfect and easy way to lead people to the quiet reflection of prayer.
2. DISTRIBUTE PURPLE FABRIC TO EACH WORSHIPER
Color is a powerful element.
Color reminds us. It triggers memory. It even evokes emotion.
For example, Pink may remind you of Breast Cancer. And possibly personal experiences with this terrible disease.
So, Why Purple for Lent?
The short answer includes two aspects.
- Purple is the color of Royalty and reminds us of Jesus’ Sovereignty.
- Purple symbolizes Mourning & Suffering as well as Sin & Confession.
That is the context of Lent.
What I did last-minute this year:
I cut 100 strips of fabric.
I used a very inexpensive Purple Gabardine fabric that we had laying around the church. I gave myself a blister cutting with pinking shears, those zig-zag fabric scissors.
The Pinking Sheers gave it a sweet look and prevents severe fraying.
(Not sure if it was worth the blister though!)
In years past I simply ripped strips, leaving organic-looking frayed edges.
Cutting the fabric gave it a cleaner bookmark appearance. I made them about 7 inches long and 1-2 inches wide.
They were long enough to tie on a purse strap or a rear view mirror. Or to lay flat and use as a bookmark.
As people entered the worship center, a purple strip of fabric draped over each chair.
Midway through worship, I talked about the meaning of purple during Lent. I invited everyone to pick up a piece of purple fabric and take it home with them.
A simple reminder to pray. To remember Christ’s sacrifice. The great cost of our salvation.
There are 3 simple steps to this impactful element.
- Prepare a piece of purple fabric for each worshiper
- Present a short teaching on “Why Purple for Lent?”
- Make sure every worshiper leaves with purple in hand
I love seeing that purple strip of fabric hanging out of an occasional Bible. I smiled last week watching one of our youth walk by. Purple fabric tied to her Hydroflask water bottle.
3. ADD A CREATIVE MOVING BACKGROUND TO YOUR SPECIAL MUSIC
Pair a Live Solo with a Video.
Many Christian worship leaders live in the tension of performance vs. worship, especially as we add special music solos.
The following idea is a great example of using an artistic video to help keep the focus on the message and not the musician.
For this Lent Idea, pair a solo of How Deep the Father’s Love For Us with video Son of Man.
Many are familiar with the modern hymn, How Deep the Father’s Love for Us. Written by worship leader and songwriter Stuart Townend in 1995.
How Deep the Father’s Love For Us is a simple 3-verse modern hymn. It has a singable range, easy to learn and full of depth for the season.
For this special music piece, I paired it with the video Son of Man, by Dan Stevers. This video depicts Christ’s journey to the cross, intermixed with flashbacks of Jesus’ ministry. The feeding of the 5000. The healing of the blind man.
Dan Stevers is one of my favorite producers featured on WorshipHouseMedia. While I find many worship videos trite or common, his creations compel me to new places of thought as well as emotion.
The worship team left the stage. Leaving one acoustic guitarist with his microphone.
The length of the video was a perfect fit for the solo. The animation brought increased depth into the verses of the hymn.
The video helped take the focus off our soloist and onto the story of Christ.
I don’t think the moment could have been more perfect.
As a worship leader, I loved so many things about it.
- It was no-cost. (We recycled the video from a few years back when we purchased it for Good Friday. The video is well-worth the price.)
- The graphic art was compelling. It created a focus on the crucifixion without the gruesomeness of dramatic re-creations. This made it age-appropriate for family worship.
- It was a new twist for a solo piece. Human beings need new and different. It rips us out of habit and into new thought. “Same old, same old” is not how we are called to live.
4. INCLUDE PRAYERS FOR THE WORLD
Set up a responsive worship station with a simple prayer box.
Draw your congregation deeper in prayer.
There are 5 Easy Steps for this Low-Prep, High-Impact Prayer Response Element:
- Set a small table in the front of your worship center. Cover with a purple cloth. On the table place a box or basket, or even an offering plate. Anything to collect prayer requests will work.
- Make paper and pens available to worshipers.
- We used strips of light purple paper. Laid in small piles at the end of every row.
- We placed a pen at every seat.
- Between worship songs, talk about Why Prayer? and Why Pray for those around the world?
- world leaders
- those affected by floods in Nebraska
- immigrants separated from families
- those persecuted around the globe
- Ask worshipers to write a prayer request on the paper for someone in another part of the world.
- Invite worshipers to come forward and drop their prayer requests into the box, as you begin the next worship song.
After we did this at our church, we explained that those requests would go into the prayer room (it could go to a prayer ministry or staff) to be prayed over for the following month.
As the song ended, a member of our prayer team offered a prayer over the box of requests and for the hearts of all who worshiped with us that day.
That we would develop God’s heart and compassion for the world He created. And that He would draw us deeper into the Discipline of Prayer.
5. INVITE PEOPLE TO A SIMPLE SOUP SUPPER
Some churches host Weekly Soup Suppers for the entire season of Lent. If you have time and a team to host this, I highly recommend it.
It builds community and focus. And it really sets the season apart.
For many of us, the thought of Weekly Soup Suppers is overwhelming. We don’t have time. Or energy.
Since this post is about Last-Minute Ideas, I would like to suggest a simpler set up:
Host ONE Soup Supper with a week’s notice and see meaningful results.
- Choose a mid-week day to host a soup supper. Ask a few of your go-to hosts to prepare a few crock pots of homemade soup. Plan to pick up a pack of rolls from the grocery store.
- During worship the week before, talk about the concept of fasting during Lent. At our church, I share that fasting isn’t about giving up something to check it off the Lent List. Fasting reminds me of how little I truly need. Fasting draws me to prayer and focus on Jesus.
- Ask the congregation to give fasting a try. This is something most people have never experienced. It can be quite amazing to experience this as a church family.
- Invite your worshipers to your simple soup supper on Wednesday (or Friday, or whatever day you chose). Encourage them to fast (skip) breakfast and lunch on that day. As you come to church for the soup supper, you will be breaking the fast together.
- Hand out a small card with a mediation and a scripture. It will remind them of WHY they are fasting. Have them keep the card with them.
FASTING is one of the 3 Pillars of Lent.
At the Soup Supper, offer a simple prayer of thanks. And enjoy soup together.
Have your pastor or another leader share a 5-minute Lenten devotion.
If your congregation is the sharing sort, ask a few people to share their experience fasting. What they learned. What they noticed. What God is teaching them.
End with a simple prayer song, like Lord I Need You, by Daniel Carson, Kristian Stanfill, Christy Nockels, Matt Maher and and Jesse Reeves.
6. PROMOTE COMMUNITY MINISTRIES AS PLACES TO SERVE
You don’t have time to start a new outreach ministry to the homeless. And the good thing is, you don’t have to. There are plenty of solid ministries out there reaching people for the gospel.
GIVING is one of the 3 Pillars of Lent.
And Giving doesn’t just have to be about Money. The church often talks about being generous with Time and Talent as well as Money.
Here’s where community ministries come in. Instead of weeks planning an outside ministry event, encourage your worshipers to support existing ministries in your community.
Raise the awareness. And call people to action.
- Make a half sheet card listing a few ministries in your community. Write up a brief description of each. Or simply copy and paste from their website. Include contact information and how to get involved.
- During worship, take a moment to talk about Giving. Make sure to include Time, Talent, and Money.
- Pass out the Community Ministries Card and give people a few moments to scan it. Ask people to consider their own lives. Could God be calling them to give more tangibly to those in need?
- Next, pray for the ministries on the card. And for the hearts of those in your worship service that morning. Encourage their involvement.
This is a great way to develop a broader mindset for your church. To support other Christians at work in the world around us.
Don’t let the Lenten Season Slip By This Year!
Create some intention during the season. Inspire and motivate your worshipers in new ways.