WORSHIP PLANS AND IDEAS ~ Mary Scifres Ministries ~ www.maryscifres.com

© 2015 Mary Scifres for Mary Scifres Ministries.

September 20, 2015 ~ Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 20)


Proverbs 31:10-31; Psalm 1; James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a; Mark 9:30-37



Each of these specific themes relates to one of the suggested fall series ideas. Go to Fall Theme Ideas page to see list of series topics. 

Sermon theme graphics provided by Leslie Kazarian; reprint permission granted to subscribers.

Hard Teachings Series

  • The Call to Be Least and Last (Mark 9:30-37)

  • The Wisdom of Humility (Mark 9)

Faith and Works Series (Wisdom of Works OR Living Faith)

  • Conflicts in the Community (Mk. 9:33-37, James 4:1-3, 7-8a)

  • Sowing Seeds of Justice (James 3:13-4:3, Proverbs 31:20)

  • Resolve Conflicts with Love (James 3:13-4:3)

  • The Wisdom of Peace (James 3:13-4:3, Proverbs 31:26)

Wisdom Series (Poetic Wisdom OR Wisdom is Weird)

  • Wisdom Revealed as a Woman (Proverbs 31)

  • Speaking Words of Wisdom (Proverbs 31)

Fall Education/Children’s Ministry Series

  • Welcoming the Children (Mark 9:33-37)



  • What the World Needs Now – Glee Cast or soloist (Mark 9, James 3-4)

Video of Glee Cast scenes and performance is very sweet:


  • Kings and Queens – Audio Adrenaline (Mark 9, James 3-4)

Official image video provides great inspiration:


  • Sowing the Seeds of Love – Tears for Fears or church band (James 3-4)

  • Man In the Mirror – Michael Jackson or soloist (Mark 9, James 3)

Michael’s powerful justice and mission video available at:


  • The Proof of Your Love – For King and Country (Mark 9, James 3)

Powerful image video with lyrics available at:


  • With Every Act of Love – Jason Gray (Mark 9, James 3)

Powerful image and lyrics video available at:


  • Live Like That – Sidewalk Prophets or church band (Mark 9, James 3)

Challenging dramatic video available at:


Powerful image video at:


Scenic lyric video at:


  • It’s In Every One of Us – Dennis DeYoung or soloist (Proverbs)

  • Love Peace and Wisdom – Bliss or soloist (Proverbs)

  • Speak Life – Toby Mac or church band (Proverbs)

  • Let It Be – The Beatles or soloist (Proverbs)



  • Child being welcomed, child sitting on a parent’s lap, smiling children, child in need, humble people being honored (Mark 9)

  • Simplicity, simple living, wisdom from above = peace, compassion, love, conflict and resolution (James 3-4)

  • Wisdom, busy woman, women leading and serving various (Proverbs)



  • Giving to People Who GiveInspiring video of a young video blogger begging for money and giving $20 to each person who gives to him (Mark 9, Called to Be Least and Last)


  • A Humble Call A visual and spoken litany of confession reflecting the ways we make ourselves great and first instead of least and last (Mark 9)


  • Neil DeGrasse Tyson on teaching children to grow by honoring their natural inquisity provides a different view on welcoming children as young scientists in their explorations (Mark 9:36-37)


  • United Methodist Children on Prayer (Mark 9:36-37)


  • How to Resolve Conflict: 4 Ways to Resolve Conflict – This solid “basics” of relationship conflict resolution could be used for small group discussion starter (James 3-4, Resolve Conflicts with Love)


  • Love.. Peace.. and Wisdom ~ Bliss –Beautiful nature images, set to this gentle song-poem; can be used for a meditation or prayer and reflection time, concluding your wisdom series or reflecting on the mystery of wisdom (Proverbs, James 3)


  • Cruz Reynoso: Sowing Seeds of Justice–Trailer – Use this or another story of a hard-working justice-seeker to illustrate the wisdom personified in Proverbs 31 and called for in James 3


  • `Proverbs 31’ Skit


  • Power has won everything – If you want to emphasize women’s diverse roles today, consider using this Thai video with a powerfully surprise ending.  (Proverbs 31)




  • 3 Things You Might Not Know about Proverbs 31 – Rachel Held Evans provides a succinct and helpful article providing solid biblical and theological background alongside inspiring sermon fodder in this blog (Proverbs 31)




  • Invite and encourage worshippers to trade seats from front to back and from back to front during the message to illustrate first becoming last.  Provide a gracious option to remain seated for those who don’t want to participate.  Alternately, move worship leadership to the back of the sanctuary after people have arrived and lead worship so that people seated in the back are now on the front row (Mark 9).

  • In place of greeting time, passing the peace or joys and concerns, invite people to share brief stories of ways someone in your church has sown a seed of justice or offered an action of mercy or peace (James 3)

  • Provide yarn for finger-knitting and prepared strips and paper for paper-weaving and encourage people to craft during or after worship as they reflect on the ways we all live and work God’s wisdom in the world (Proverbs 31)

Paper weaving instructions at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOKN4L2Axg4

Finger knitting instructions at:




Click here for Word (.doc) file (best for cut & paste)

Click here for Adobe (.pdf) file (best to preserve formatting)


LITURGICAL COLORGreen, the color of growth and life

Feel free to integrate other colors to reflect a theme or scripture in your worship design



For congregational song ideas, along with solo and choral suggestions, consult The United Methodist Music and Worship Planner or its ecumenical counterpart Prepare!  To supplement Words for Worship  with more formal written prayers, responsive readings, and benedictions, consult The Abingdon Worship Annual 2015


Creative commons is a great resource for copyright-free images, songs and videos.  Attribution is always required, but usage is usually free for non-profit purposes.  


Almost all of the song suggestions can be adapted and performed by church soloists, praise bands, pop bands, or small ensembles.  Most songs available for purchase on ITunes or Amazon.  Sheet music usually available at MusicNotes or SheetMusicPlus.  Each video suggestion of a song is one of many possibilities.  Search by title on Vimeo, YouTube, Movie Clips, or your favorite video browser.  Better yet, create your own film, slide show, dance, mime or chancel display to correspond to a song!  If using an on-line video, you may prefer to upload the video to your hard drive.  Use a free program like keepvid.com to upload a file into the best format for your use.  


Movie video clips require copyright permission or licensing for use.  Contact your Conference Office or a licensing company (for instance, cvli.com, commoncraft.com, creativecommons.org, or mplc.com).  Vimeo and YouTube videos are sometimes in violation of copyright laws, and often not licensed for public use.  Check copyright requirements carefully, and utilize streaming licenses for streamed or recorded services.


© 2015 Mary Scifres for Mary Scifres Ministries.  Permission for reprint and idea use granted to all subscribers and their local churches for use in worship, small groups, or study groups.  For reprint permission for fee events or non-subscribers, or just to ask for more ideas related to today’s suggestions, please contact maryscifresministries@gmail.com