The other day I led a (special) service and received a compliment afterwards for my introduction which (apparently) helpfully set the scene. In effect I reminded people why we were gathered, welcomed special guests to the service, and announced that after the service there would be a further gathering (i.e. supper).
A special service will normally constrain the leader towards setting the scene - welcoming chief mourners to a funeral, welcoming the couple to their wedding service etc. But a lot can be achieved in setting the scene at a general Sunday service. With a few sentences acknowledgements can be made which welcome outsiders, affirm insiders, connect the congregation to other congregations within and without the parish, and engage minds with the learning content of the service. Here are a couple of examples.
'Welcome this morning to St. Swithins. A special welcome to visitors, we hope you can remain with us for a cup of tea afterwards. Today is a special day for Bob and Mary Jones who celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this weekend. This is also the day when seven children at our later service will receive their certificates for completion of our 'Understanding Communion' course. Our theme today is 'World mission'. Let's stand to sing our first hymn ...'
'In a few moments we are going to sing our opening hymn, 'Let all the world in every corner sing ...'. We have a number of people here from different parts of the world: a special welcome to you. Please stay with us for refreshments after the service. Today our theme is 'World Mission' and we welcome Jemma Smith, a mission partner from Burundi as our preacher. We will also be praying for our youth group which heads off to Winter Camp next weekend. Let's stand to sing our hymn ...'