If I visited worship at your church how would it end?
My personal worship pet peeve is boring endings. You can spend hours with your worship team planning the entire service only to have it fall flat as you "excuse everyone to leave."
In traditional churches the last thing said is a blessing or exhortation as people leave (usually called a benediciton) followed by an organ postlude. I like to visit a church here in town because they have their benediction followed by a postlude played on a pipe organ, and I usually leave with goose bumps. At my contemporary church we have a blessing and then the band plays one of the songs again as people leave or as some of us stick around to sing along at the top of our lungs. Both churches end worship with a blessing and music, and I leave feeling like the whole service was planned from the moment I arrived to the moment I left.
Let me encourage you to rethink the benedition, blessing, or last prayer during your worship service. Whether traditional, contemporary, or something in between, challenge your worship team or liturgist to offer the closing words with enthusiasm, to smile, and look at people's faces. And begin to encourage everyone to listen to the postlude or sing their hearts out.
I found these Advent benedictions in The Abingdon Preaching Annual written by David Mosser several years ago. I've reprinted them here just to give you and your team some ideas for an inspiring farewell, but by all means be creative!
Season of Advent
Go forth under the protection of the Almighty, Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Go forth and be the people of God. Amen.
“The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).
“Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint” (Isa. 40:31).
In this blessed season of Advent wait with patience for the salvation of our God! Amen.
In the bleak midwinter and in any scorching heat, the Lord is our light and our salvation. God’s Spirit of strength and patient endurance be yours as you go out into the world proclaiming God's goodness and God’s greatness to humankind trapped in despair. Remember the Lord is your guide and your shield. Amen.
May the Lord, made in a likeness of our flesh, remind each of us of God’s tender mercies given as a gift of grace to a people whom the Lord created. Take the Christmas joy of Christ and give it to the world, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.
As candles burn bright and the carols ring out harmoniously, share the wonder of Christ’s incarnation with all you meet. Let the truth of the gospel shine forth in your life, knowing that you are under the protection of the Almighty from now and henceforth. Amen.