Preparing Sunday Dinner: A Collaborative Approach to Worship and Preaching
June Alliman Yoder, Marlene Kropf, and Rebecca Slough. Scottdale, PA: Herald, 2005. 498 pages.
June Alliman Yoder has been Professor of Communication and Preaching at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) since 1981. Marlene Kropf is an Associate Professor in Spiritual formation and Worship at AMBS. She served as director of the Office of Congregational Life and minister of worship for Mennonite Church USA. She was a member of the worship committee for the group that produced Hymnal: A Worship Book. Rebecca Slough also teaches at AMBS and served as managing editor for Hymnal: A Worship Book from 1989 to 1992.
Preparing and serving a Sunday meal is the metaphor for preparing and leading a Sunday worship service. This organizational ploy is consistently used throughout the text. Because it is about worship, it is directed to all those who are involved in the planning of and the leading of the worship service. Planning for worship in the free church tradition includes lay leaders as well as clergy, and with the increased interest in this subject, many readers who do not lead worship would find the information in this book instructive as well.
Except for chapter 15, Epilogue, each chapter heading is a reminder of elements of a Sunday dinner. Each begins with a personal anecdote recalling family feasts with a prompt description of the similarity of this element of a family meal to its counterpart in the worship service. Twelve appendixes giving more information in specific areas are included.
The three collaborators of this book work together in an institution in the free church tradition. A premise with which they begin is that in that church tradition, preparing the worship service is not the responsibility of only one person (usually the pastor) but rather is a shared responsibility by members of the congregation whose gifts and skills in this area have been discerned and recognized. This collaborative work should be shared by at least three people who have skills in the areas demanded by corporate worship. The question of authority in worship is addressed.
Source materials quoted or noted (except for Scripture) are mostly from the last twenty-five years. Most recent trends in worship styles are considered, but there is a distinct position taken which embraces the traditions of the free church.
Detail on all aspects of corporate worship is a strength of this book. It is also very accessible. A glossary is not necessary to understand what is stated. Since it is directed to those in the free church tradition, others may find this approach to be a weakness. On the other hand, the detail with which corporate worship is treated would suggest it as a valuable reference for other traditions as well.