Many of the following ideas were sent forward to me by the Rev. Won Un, who compiled them from a number of suggestions at the 2004 Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church. I have made some changes in the style and content of a number of the ideas. There is additional materials from those noted in the text. For Pentecost Sermons and Liturgies see our pages for the relevant year of the Lectionary. Also see the Pentecost section of our Seasonal Resources page. We pray that you may have a joyous Pentecost Celebration.
Ways to Enliven Your Pentecost Celebration
- Have everyone wear red! (No choir robes for the choir unless the robes are red – have the choir wear red, too.)
- Heavy use of flags, pennants, banners, streamers, fabric or paper strips – anything that will “wave” easily. All in Red of course (or orange and yellows to – to simulate fire). In doorways, hanging from ceilings, in people’s hands, tucked in bulletins, etc. when the scripture is read from Acts and when the reader comes to the part about the Holy Spirit, have all the flags, pennants, streamers, etc. waving like crazy, so hard that you hear the sound of rushing wind.
- Have a banner contest that somehow portrays the the passage in Acts and the significance of Pentecost.
- Red (and white) Balloons! Without helium, falling out of the ceiling or down from a sheet attached to the ceiling. Or – use weights to hold them down during the service, then release outside later. With helium – insert or attach slips of paper with church contact information – release outside after the service.
- Attach Red and white (helium) balloons on strings to the pews.
- Make a rainbow the width of the sanctuary made up of balloons or tissue paper (like a float). That would create such a festive visual. If you use balloons, you could then give the children a bouquet as you take apart the rainbow, as a symbol of passing on the word or the message of Pentecost.
- Lots of visuals: tongues of fire, doves, use a fan to make streamers move.
- A birthday cake! Make sure you use a candle(s) that will not blow out – talk about the fact that the church will also not be extinguished.
- The Sunday worship service becomes a birthday party, send out invitations (birth announcements), have people wear red, bring out the cake during the children’s time. Even party hats, passed out with bulletins.
- Bring some Birthday gifts for the Church - in wrapping paper of course. Perhaps things like candles for Worship, pew bibles, etc. Then preach on the gift of new life.
- Have children decorate red t-shirts at an earlier date so that they can wear their Red t-shirts for Pentecost.
- Sing “Happy Birthday” to the church.
- Celebrate the anniversary of your church. Do so with some of the idea in this list.
- Use a red/orange parachute – perhaps have it hanging form the ceiling.
- As part of the message, read "Happy Birthday, Church!" by Ann Weems, from her book Reaching For Rainbows.
- Have several people (a few prepared beforehand) to testify about the gifts God has given them and how they have used them for ministry and spreading the gospel.
- Have several different people scattered throughout the congregation read the passage from Acts – make sure they have their part ahead of time, to practice!
- Encouarge the witness of most recent professions of faith. Let people give testimony about how the Holy Spirit has moved in their life. In fact - plan on Pentecost Sunday as a time for Baptism and Profession of Faith.
- Do an "Eye witness" report on Pentecost. (first person sermon or "news report")
- Do a Sermon on the "Comforter". How exciting is this? Well, maybe you could bring along some props - like pictures of doves, a real 'comforter', a staff, etc.
- Have a cook out and light sparklers.
- Research the history of what is called "Holy Spirit holes" in the ceilings/roofs of churches in the Middle Ages and then consider use of some visual (balloons maybe) to symbolize the falling of the Holy Spirit on the congregation. Children could lead this...maybe release Pentecost balloons from the ceiling and then each person could take one home as a reminder.
- Kites are great at Pentecost. Try get everyone (or just the kids) to make kites (instructions can easily be found on the Net) or purchase a number at a "dollar store" and then have a flying time after morning worship. One can speak beforehand about how the Spirit blows where it will - and how our connection to the Word combined with The Spirit lifts us up....
- Involve EVERYBODY! Especially, involve children!
- We made plans yesterday. There will be flamed shaped pieces of red netting coming down from the ceiling all over the worship space. Fans will blow on the net so it moves over the congregation's heads. The font, draped in red, will have an artificial flame coming out of it and a ceramic "flame font" will burn a mixture of rubbing alcohol and epson salt (to produce a red flame) near the table. And of course, the cross will be draped in red (Frank Fisher, Obl OSB)
- Early in my ministry, I had an all-age "growing together" service in which children had cut out "doves" (outlined) from coloured sheets of paper (yellow, gold, orange). During the passing of the peace the children passed the"doves" to the congregation to share with each other. Then they collected the doves. During the offertory hymn, they pinned the doves to large banner strips that flanked each side of the worship centre (communion table). What we realised on doing this was that the doves turned into "flames". The effect was stunning: "doves" reaching down from heaven and "flames" rising up to the skies! (John Maynard)
- Another idea for Pentecost that we've used effectively at Bensalem UMC in Pennsylvania is to have people thorughout the congregation read the Scripture from Acts, simultaneously in different languages. (Steve Gruenbaum)
Concepts from VA Conference 2004 and as named in the text.
Page design and editing by Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2004
please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing this material.