Since mid-June, I've been preaching and planning worship around themes pulled from Broadway musicals.
I tried God on Broadway as a short preaching series last summer as way to get myself out of a preaching rut. As it turned out, it's also good for worship attendance. The church vitality folks will tell you that visiting musicians bring along a fan club of friends and family. I can't claim to have been that strategic. I just wanted to have a little bit of fun.
Having stumbled into a winning strategy, though, when it came time to plan this summer's worship arc, I knew what I had to do. In my innocence, I committed myself to rounding up twelve consecutive weeks of singers who were willing to offer their talents for free. I thought I could have this accomplished by Easter, so as to promote the series. In the end, it was a bit like playing 3D chess to match up singers' availability with weeks we still had to fill, and ensure that it wasn't for a show we'd already scheduled at another point that summer. After a few rounds of shuffling, the season looked like this:
Week 1: Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Week 2: The Sound of Music
Week 3: The Secret Garden
Week 4: Man of La Mancha
Week 5: Rent
Week 6: Shrek, the Musical
Week 7: Into the Woods
Week 8: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Week 9: The Music Man
Week 10: Pippin
Week 11: Ragtime
Week 12: Phantom of the Opera
(Helpful hint to those who want to try this: If you wish to remain in your accompanist's good graces, I would suggest providing the list to her/him sooner rather than later. Add bountiful praise and an end-of-season gift card for the extra work involved. Having a weekly soloist, combined with using songs from the show as preludes, postludes and offertories means you can't rely on standard worship accompanist repertoire, but they add a lot to the worship series!)