Over recent years, there has been a new awakening in Protestant evangelical churches to the merit of the church calendar. I continually encounter worship leaders who have an increased interest in understanding and implementing the church calendar in their ministry settings. As these worship leaders discover the formative value of the church calendar in cultivating a deeper experience of Christ in both personal spirituality and corporate worship, they desire to find ways of appropriately implementing practices structured by the Christian year.
Since the church calendar is a growing topic of interest, and because I firmly believe that worship education leads to worship renewal, it is important for church leaders to be equipped with proper knowledge and resources. The church calendar – shaped by the life of Christ – is one of my favorite areas of liturgical studies, so below I have provided a list of some suggested resources for pastors, worship leaders, and laity. The list has been broken into four categories: general introduction (for those who want a good, meaningful introduction to the church calendar); historical development (for those interested in learning background information about the church calendar); Christian living (for those interested in how the church calendar can be used devotionally and for the purposes of spiritual formation); and worship planning (for those seeking practical resources on the church calendar).
Admittedly, there are a myriad of resources available online and in hardcopy form, many of which are wonderful and should be included on the below list. I chose the below listed resources for two reasons: 1) the resource is one that helped develop my own personal appreciation for the church calendar in a significant way; 2) the resource is one that has encouraged my worship community to lean deeper into the church calendar. I offer each of the below resources in hopes that you too will find them of benefit and that they may bring renewal in worship and life.
- Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church by Laurence Hull Stookey
- Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year by Robert E. Webber
- Between Memory and Hope: Readings on the Liturgical Year by Maxwell E. Johnson
- Origins of the Liturgical Year by Thomas J. Talley
- Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God by Bobby Gross
- The Circle of the Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year by Kimberlee Conway Ireton
- The Worship Sourcebook by The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
- The New Handbook of the Christian Year by Hoyt L. Hickman, Don E. Saliers, Laurence Hull Stookey, and James F. White
Image attribution: Ryan McVay / Thinkstock