Posts Tagged 'Christianity'

What makes Worship Remarkable? 1 of 4

Thank you to everyone who left comments on this post! They were very helpful. I’ve started to move past the question

Should worship be remarkable?

and started to ask

What makes a worship service remarkable?

(Although you are still welcome to add your comments here.)

As I’ve thought, conversed and prayed over this I’ve realized that in the last year there have been 2 Sunday morning experiences that I tend to talk about all the time. I asked myself, “What was different about these experiences that caused me to tell the story over and over again?”

When the answer came to me I realized that both of these services were remarkable for 2 very different reasons. I’ll tell you why in my upcoming posts.

For now,

What do you think makes worship remarkable?

Worship: Rock the Choir

Today worship was awesome!

Set List for Chase Valley Church March 9th, 2008

  • No One Like You – David Crowder
  • King of Majesty – Marty Sampson
  • Made to Worship – Chris Tomlin
  • Wholly Yours – David Crowder
  • Hear I am to Worship – Tim Hughes
  • Psalm 103 – Billy and Sarah Chia
  • The Heart of Worship – Matt Redman

We had a lot of music today.

Highlights & Lowlights

  • The hour time difference threw lots of people off. Half the team showed up late. Really late.
  • The Choir sounded phenomenal! (More on that below)
  • The band was super tight. Everyone worked hard on the music this week and it really showed.
  • I put so much into it I was pretty drippy with sweat when I got off stage.
  • No One Like You rocked. This is a brand new song for the congregation. It’s also a tricky one to learn in typical Crowder fashion. We did it pretty close to the CD version so there was a lot of nuances the people had to pick up on. Everyone worked hard and we nailed it.
  • King of Majesty – Not my favorite song, although a lot of people around here like it so we may be doing it again. I’m not a fan of lyrics like “These words are from my heart, these words are not made up.” They’re just a little trite for me, but I know some of the songs I like lyrically are too convoluted for some people. Being a worship pastor is not all about picking only the songs you like.
  • Made to Worship – tough song to sing. I even brought it down to A and it was still hard. I liked being able to play a lead line on this one.
  • Wholly Yours – I totally messed this one up. This song has a progression. The lyrics take you through a story of being broken and then finally giving your all to God. Well I showed up today ready to worship. I didn’t want to wait through the whole song. When we should’ve gone into the bridge with says, “But the harder I try the more clearly can I feel the depth of our fall and the weight of it all.” I shouted out “So here I am” and tried to go into “here I am finally all of me everything!” Apparently I was too excited and didn’t want to have to wade through “depth of the fall” to get to “all of me wholly yours.” Fortunately the choir was rock steady and went the bridge when they were supposed to. I fumbled a few chords and got back on track thanks to the choir.
  • Here I am to Worship – went well the first time.
  • Psalm 103 – I didn’t plan on doing this song. We front loaded a lot of music today and then band sat down and we went into offering. Normally the congregation sings a full song during offering, I haven’t really done “special music.” I came back up and started finger picking to give some back ground music while the offering was being collected. When I looked at my pastor to give him the cue that offering was done and he could come back up, he simply had his head bowed in prayer just vibing a spirit of worship so I started singing. It felt well received.
  • Hear I am to Worship (take 2) – I finished Psalm 103 and Fred gave me the cue to do another song. So we sang another verse and a few choruses of Hear I am to Worship. (The theme for today’s sermon was “Worship.”) I stopped playing guitar, and while the crowd sang acapella I put down my guitar and left the stage then joined the crowd to sing. So we sang with no one on stage but God. I didn’t plan this but I was hoping to underscore the notion that worship is not about the music or the band but it’s all about God.
  • The Heart of Worship. Didn’t quite have the punch I thought it would. Fred told Redman’s story of how worship had gotten stale and routine and that his church stopped using a band for a season to focus on what worship was really supposed to be. During this season Redman wrote Heart of Worship. I thought after the message this would really hit home, but perhaps the fact that this song is so oversung it may have felt like the stale, routine worship that Redman was trying to avoid the first place. (I’m just speculating at this point, really the whole day was amazing and I heard tons of great comments about both the music and the message today. Really every other song went spectacular and this one was not bad, but simply average.)

How to Rock the Choir

We don’t do choir the same old way at Chase Valley. Instead of a feature act, the choir sings once a month as the “back up” singers. They learn all the worship songs that we do for the day and sing on each one. They sing mostly melody but throw in a good mix of harmony as well. It has several benefits:

  • Having 10 – 15 extra people on stage leading really helps to draw people into worship.
  • The sound is really full because we use condenser mics and run them through the mains
  • They stay on track when I don’t!
  • There are tons more that maybe I’ll do a post on in the future.

I love doing Choir this way. It has it’s challenges and perhaps in the future we’ll do some special music but today I was really excited to being doing choir this way.

So there’s a lot there to comment on. Let’s keep a conversation going on this post (or other past ones) next week while I lighten the blogging and celebrate the best 2 years of my life.

Worship Confessional 03.02.08

Set list for Chase Valley Church:

  • O Praise Him – David Crowder
  • Everyday – Joel Houston
  • Famous One – Chris Tomlin
  • Beautiful One – Tim Hughes
  • Be Unto Your Name – Lyn DeShazo and Gary Sadler
  • We Humble Ourselves – Paul Baloche

Worship Text-fessional | 02.24.08

Worship pretty much rocked today.

Worship set list for Chase Valley Church February 24th, 2008:

  • We Humble Ourselves – Paul Baloche
  • Awesome God (Majesty and Mystery) – Vicky Beeching
  • Adonai – Raymond Badham, Mia Fieldes
  • Wholly Yours – David Crowder
  • Mighty to Save – Reuben Morgan, Ben Fielding
  • Open the Eyes of My Heart – Paul Baloche

Highlights/Lowlights

  • This was a great set – the songs worked well in the slot they were in
  • The band sounded great – we had keyboards/synth for the first time since I’ve been on staff and it made a huge difference.
  • Our sound/media tech was on point
  • We Humble Ourselves – This is a new song for the church and people picked up on it really well. The harmonies were stellar on this one.
  • Awesome God (Majesty and Mystery) – One of our female vocalist led this one and nailed it. This is a pretty rocked out tune and we did it pretty low key – without any lead guitar using simply acoustic, bass and synth. It gave a more tender feel to the song – which I felt was more appropriate given the lyrics: “Your arms are, the arms that surround me in a warm embrace.”
  • Adonai – this is a great song. This was our 2nd time doing this one and the congregation has really responded to it. I started jumping during one of the music interludes and my in-ear monitor receiver unclipped from my pocket and fell on the stage. I had to stop playing guitar to get my monitor going again. The same thing actually happened at the same point in the song during sound check. I must need some duct tape or something – this song’s got some great energy.
  • Mighty to Save – everyone started cheering spontaneously after singing “Jesus conquered the grave” in the first chorus. The Spirit was moving today.

Worship Confessional 01.20.08

My first Worship Confessional for Chase Valley Church

Set list for CVC January 20, 2008

  • The Happy Song – Martin Smith
  • Everlasting God – Brenton Brown
  • Hear Us From Heaven – Jared Anderson
  • Brother’s Keeper – Rich Mullins
  • He Reigns – Peter Furler

Check out Cosima’s Blog.
Confessed.

Moving Day

Today I’m driving the down to Huntsville to move in a studio apartment I’ll be renting until the house sells. The minivan is stuffed full like a fat guy at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Despite the massive size of the precarious load I’m hauling down I actually feel pretty good the amount of stuff we’ve gotten rid of as a family. Over the last few weeks each garbage day has seen a sizable increase in quantity. Our two meager trash cans, unable to contain the volume, stand as lone towers among a sprawling trashbag city that populates the curb each Monday.

All the good stuff went to Goodwill. In the time it took me to unload 7 other cars had pulled up, dropped thier donations, and departed.

So as pudgy as my van may be, it still feels slim to me.

The Chia family goal is to continue to live on less, hoard less, and live simply. Selling the house has just been a nice catalyst to propel us forward.

I’m going to miss my girls like crazy.

Torn emotions doesn’t begin to describe it.

In regards to starting at Chase Valley I’m crazy excited. Tomorrow, my first day in the office (by my choice) is also my birthday. For a guy who’s been tent-making for too long I couldn’t think of a better present than to be officially back in a church office.

As for missing my girls I can’t even blog about it and I’m thankful that 5 hours is a drivable distance.

My Daughter Schooled Me

Eve-Marie doesn’t quite understand hyperbole yet…

Me: Being your dad is the best thing in the world.

Eve: No, it’s not.

Me: Yes, it is. You girls are awesome.

Eve: No, it’s not.

Sarah: What is then?

Eve: That we have the opportunity to trust in Jesus Christ as our savior before we die.

Worship Confessional | 12.23.07

Worship Set List for Christian Fellowship Church – December 23rd 2007

  • The First Noel – Arrangement by Jeff Lippencott
  • Joy to the World -Issac Watts
  • Child of Bethlehem – Wayne Watson
  • It Came Upon a Midnight Clear – Arrangement by David S. Hampton
  • Glory in the Highest – Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Matt Redman, Jesse Reeves and Daniel Carson
  • 2000 Decembers Ago – Joy Williams (Written by Joel Lindsey and Regie Hamm)
  • In Christ Alone – Arrangement by Mark Cole
  • Jesus, Name Above All Names – From My Savior Lives DVD (Ross Parsley, New Life Church)

A Christmas Light Tangent

Tonight Evansville was wet. As we drove home from worship rain gushed from the sky and streamed down our windows like a never ending car wash. While driving past the neighborhood where Sarah grew up, the wavy distorted flicker of a house lit up for Christmas caught her eye through the windshield and water.

“Let’s drive through and look at Christmas lights,” Sarah says. The worst possible night for such a venture.

Our windshield wipers groaned under the strain of the relentless shower. Then, for just a moment, the rain let up and we saw the dazzle of beautiful shrubbery strung with artful lighting as well as the haphazard kitsch of inflatable snowmen and loosely strung chords shaking violently in the storm.

Each one in the family pointed out their favorites.

Mine wasn’t a decoration at all. It was the inconvenience of the moment and the beauty of sacrifice creating togetherness.

Book Review: The Golden Compass

So here’s my take on The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. It’s a little rambly. (If you want to read a great article about this book check out Christianity Today’s take on The Golden Compass.)

Honestly Guys, I really liked the book. It was tremendously well written. The characters were engaging and unique. The plot like was intriguing and packed with action. His use of simile and metaphor throughout the book is beautiful.

I probably think the book only had one problem with it: the slams on religion.

I‘m not just saying that because I’m a Christian. When I went to college I actually earned a BA in English and I’m speaking as a guy with a literary background.

Hear me out.

Essentially you have this excellent book, it’s multilayered in it’s meaning and subtle in it’s approach – at least throughout most of the book. I found this so refreshing for a fantasy novel. A lot of fantasy will straight up take a break from the story to go on and on about the history of the characters or to spell out very blatantly and in a boring manner the unique rules of that fantasy world. (*cough* Fellowship of the Rings *cough*) Pullman doesn’t bore you with this drivel. Instead he uses the characters and plot to reveal fantasy elements.

For example, he doesn’t take you on some ridiculous tangent to explain the fantasy rule: a Daemon must maintain a close physical proximity to their human. Rather he reveals this quite cleverly through the story. At one point Pan (Lyra’s Daemon) starts to “pull”(move outside of the normal physical closeness) and Lyra describes how retched she feels. It’s more engaging because you are told about an experience rather than a simple sharing of facts.

Enter the theology bashing. Honestly, a lot of it is clever and subtle like the rest of the book. For example, Pullman doesn’t come right out and say, “The Church is Bad,” at least not early in the book. Instead he does things like introducing a character who is a clergyman and that character has some really negative traits. It’s like an underhanded and slight way of bashing on the Church.

Then, in the closing chapters of the book, that all of a sudden changes and out of nowhere you get a face full of dissertation.

Lyra asks her father a few questions and he launches into a several page monologue on theology and original sin. It was completely out of place in this story. Most of the book is fast-paced, emotional and very real. This was the boring junk you expect out of fantasy. It’s not even that huge of a bash on the Church because he gets so specific about what original sin is and what it isn’t he’s really only bashing a subsection of the church who holds to that theology. (Keep in mind this is just a review of The Golden Compass. I haven’t read The Subtle Knife or the Amber Spyglass, which I heard are more deliberate in the selling of atheism.) I almost laughed out loud when in the monologue this character quotes the Bible and Pullman’s re-written it to include daemons. This was so dorky and cheesy. It didn’t fit with the rest of the book which is pretty hip for a fantasy novel.

The Golden Compass, from a literary point of view, would have simply been better with the final monologue omitted.

Unfortunately you couldn’t do that without sacrificing the entire story. Throughout the book Pullman is a genius about setting up very subtle foreshadowing that pays off big time later one. He does it over and over again very masterfully – except for the main point of the book!

It’s like he set up all the clues a hints and they’re all pointing at something and when it came time to write the final chapters he just ran out creativity and was like, “Oh well, I’ll just be lazy and have this one character tie up all my loose ends in one chapter through the use of a long boring monologue.”

I call this the Star Trek syndrome. Ya know – they’d invent some type of complicated situation and you never thought they’d get out of it and your totally intrigued with what’s going to happen. In the end all the problems get solved simply and easily because some science guy invents a weird device and launches in a monologue to explain some made-up science fiction reason why it works. It’s unimaginative at best.

So for all my ranting I really enjoyed the book.

Go check out the Christianity Today Golden Compass Article.

Leave a comment. I’ll talk more about this with you.

I’m Reading The Golden Compass

Given the amount of discussion that was generated by my last Golden Compass post I decided to read Philip Pullman’s book. I picked it up from the library earlier this week and I’m about 75% of way through it.

My first impressions:

This is not even close to being a Children’s book.

  • At 350 pages of small print it’s way longer than any of the Chronicles of Narnia.
  • The main character in the book is 11, but I’d say the target audience is far closer to 13 -17.
  • In fact, the library sticker on the side says, “Young adult.”

I’ll write a full review when I’m done.

I doubt I’ll see the movie as everyone seems to agree how artistically terrible it is.

Ask Ahead of Time

Dwayne Moore muses in a post entitled How Much Music Is Enough In a Worship Service?

How many songs are “just right” in one worship gathering? Exactly how long should the music portion of the service go?

These are great questions. Rather than prescribing a set number of songs Moore lists a 10 question diagnostic that he personally goes through when deciding how long to play.

When looking at his list I admired that fact that seeking God first is so prevalent. I’m also huge on deferring to the leadership of your Senior Pastor.

Where I disagree is that he seems to be mostly asking, “How long should I go?” in the middle of his set. There’s an emphasis on current moment.

I tend to ask myself these questions during my planing time rather than waiting until I’m on stage to figure it out. For me the number of songs and the length and order of the set should be determined way ahead of time. This doesn’t mean your not open to last minute changes like dropping a song when another aspect of the service goes too long. And it doesn’t mean you close yourself to the leading of the Holy Spirit – it simply means you ask for the Holy Spirit’s leading when you plan the service.

My advice: Don’t wait until your already on stage to ask for the Holy Spirit’s help.

Ask Ahead of Time.

Worship Confessional | 12.09.07

Set List for Christian Fellowship Church December 9, 2007

  • You Shine – Brian Doerksen
  • Child of Bethlehem – Wayne Watson
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Traditional
  • Angles from the Realms of Glory – Henry T. Smart
  • Let My Words be Few – Matt and Beth Redman
  • Glory in the Highest – Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Matt Redman, Jesse Reeves and Daniel Carson

Chris Tomlin on Glory in the Highest:

Worship Philosophy: Relationship Evangelism

Evangelism through Relationships with Unbelievers

An effective creative arts/worship ministry goes beyond the Sunday morning band to engage all kinds of people in creative expression.

Rick Warren, says in this podcast, “Saddleback doesn’t have any kind of official evangelism program. We simply ask people, ‘What do you love to most? Go do that with unbelievers.’ ” One example he uses is “If you like to shoot guns get 5 guys who are lost who don’t know the Lord and take them down to the shooting range and shoot guns.” I would add,”If you love to play music go do it with unbelievers in your community.”

A great worship pastor is not only leading worship in church on Sunday morning he is also supporting the local music scene in the club on Friday night. He doesn’t only facilitate music for worship on Sunday morning, but is also encouraging Christian musicians and artists to be using their gifts and talents to add to the culture of their city. A great worship pastor has rapport not only with the other worship pastors in town but also with non-Christian artists, actors and musicians who perform in the community. Because he is a leader who multiplies himself he actively encourages everyone on the worship and tech team to have not only fellowship with other Christians, but also to be involved in the lives of unbelievers as well.

People come to Christ when we love them as Jesus does: without an agenda. We can’t get to know people simply “so that they’ll come to church,” but we have to truly love them for who they are. They will come to Jesus by getting to know us. Jesus is a pretty compelling guy.

The added bonus of doing evangelism this way is that when people make a decision for Christ they have a clear picture of what living life as a Christian looks like. Too often people make a “commitment” to Christ after simply hearing a sermon or a 5 minute tract-accompanied presentation without truly counting the cost.

Evangelism through Relationships with Unbelievers is part 4 of a 5 part Philosophy of Worship Ministry series entitled 5 Purposes That are Vital to a Thriving Worship Ministry.

New Churches in Evansville

Matt Brunton put together this compelling fundraising video. He really hits home on the need for new churches along side of the old.

A note of trivia: The bench in the first scene is the same one I’m sitting on in the picture on my about page. Downtown Newburgh is also where we took some fun wedding photos.

I am always inspired to see other local people fighting the good fight.

Some Evansville church plants that I’ve been praying for:

Why I Love Church Work

Yesterday I was reminded of why I love Church work.

As part of everything that was happening on Sunday morning some conflict arose and some people I care about were hurt. I left church with a heavy heart. Often these types of situations can be frustrating and cause us to question the call to ministry.

For  me it was actually an affirmation that I belong working in the church.

Our choir did a song that calls, “Let the Church rise from the ashes.” The implication is that once we were on fire and now that fire has gone out. I love seeing the Church shine. I love when people get saved, grow in their faith and turn back around to serve in their communities. But it’s not always like this. Church work is full of a lot of heartache and criticism. After all the church is a broken place full of broken people just like everywhere else.

I had to ask myself the question, “Do I only want to work in the church when it is burning brightly or do I want to get down into the ashes and love people through their struggles, doubts and frustrations?”

The answer for me is that I want to get dirty in the messiness of the Gospel.

My Southern Fried Neighbors

When I was talking to Conner today, it hit me that I regularly connect with worship leaders all over the country and yet there were several worship leaders I didn’t know in my own neighborhood. I made it a point to go out today an meet some of the worship pastors in the churches surrounding my house. I’d previously met Jon, BJ and Kevin – but today I dropped in to say,”hi” to some other guys. It was pretty fun to meet the staff of churches I drive by all the time.

Jerry, the lead pastor at Christian Development Center was even cool enough to give me a CD of his band Jeryco. If you are into classic rock you will seriously love these guys. They do Apologetix style parodies of tunes like Prince’s Purple Rain and Free Byrd by Lynard Skynard. I was listening to it in my car and when the Ghost on the Water (a parody of Smoke on the Water) kicked in I was absolutely forced to start rockin’ the air guitar. Thank God I didn’t crash into someone. I’m telling you this CD is dangerous.

Do you know your neighbors?

Worship Philosophy: Encouraged Believers

Encouragement through Relationships with Believers

A great worship leader should not only be training up other leaders and teaching them, but he needs to be learning as well. It is vital for a leader to be effective that he have strong relationships with other Christians who can speak into his life, hold him accountable and encourage him.

Being a part of a creative arts/worship ministry shouldn’t only be work but it should also be fun too! We should enjoy spending time with the people whom we do ministry with and there should be a healthy fellowship that exists.

Jesus modeled this type of ministry. He had a core group of 12 guys that he lived, ate and traveled with. He practiced “life on life” ministry and poured into their lives. Jesus also took the time separately and held a deeper relationship with 3 of the 12.

If we follow this model we don’t go crazy trying to create relationships with everyone, spreading ourselves thin. Instead, we love all, but invest deeply in a few. We become encouraged because we have a few meaningful relationships in our lives as opposed to many shallow ones.

Encouragement through Relationships with Believers is part 3 of a 5 part Philosophy of Worship Ministry series entitled 5 Purposes That are Vital to a Thriving Worship Ministry.

Question Your Faith

I was inspired by these gut-level questions.

Deborah writes in a post entitled, “Your opinion matters…” that these 3 questions were recently asked of her:

  1. Why was little or no faith needed to believe in God during Old Testament times (God appeared to humans regularly) yet today Christians have to rely on 100% faith for their belief?
  2. What is the difference between a dream, or hallucination, and a vision from God?
  3. Why is your God the only valid God?

Often times I find myself asking questions like, “Should I be playing my electric or acoustic guitar in worship?” It’s a good question that seems to cause much controversy among church people, but are we also asking the questions that non-church people ask?

And do we have succinct answers for them?

Worship Confessional | 11.07.2007

Thoughts on leading worship for a special contemplative communion service:

Set List for Christian Fellowship Church High School Ministry Small Group Communion Service for November 7, 2007:

  • Here is Our King – David Crowder Band
  • Majesty – Martin Smith
  • Here I Am to Worship – Tim Hughes
  • Communion Song – Third Day
  • Nothing But the Blood of Jesus – Ro­bert Low­ry
  • Jesus Paid it All – Kristian Stanfill

Contemplate.

The Golden Compass: Humility and Killing God

A startling amount of buzz and controversy has surrounded the upcoming release of New Line Cinema’s The Golden Compass starring Nicole Kidman. Blog posts galore and email chain letters have succeeded in spreading the word along with a very slick flash website and movie blog.

The Golden Compass is the first is book in a trilogy written by author Phillip Pullman. These books were inspired by The Chronicles of Narina, which Pullman hates because their Christian allegory. In his Children’s fantasy trilogy Pullman is seeking to promote atheism and attack organized religion.

Naturally many Christians are upset by this.

I am too, but I’m also asking:

How can we as followers of Jesus have a humble attitude about this? (Phil 2:5 -8)

How can we exploit this movie and use it for good? (Rom 12:21)

The Controlling, Domineering, Murdering Church

Pullman very overtly rejects religion because it has “involved persecution, massacre, slaughter on an industrial scale.” New Line Cinema has sought to water down the overtly anti-Christian themes in the novels. They don’t want to make a movie that offends but instead are seeking to spread a general “critique of all dogmatic organizations.”

Can’t we be humble and learn from this? Can’t we just admit, “Yes, it’s true, the Church has a record of being domineering, controlling and overly dogmatic. Many have murdered in Jesus’ name. We as Christians are sorry for our own actions, that actions of of Christian brothers and the lack of action we have taken to correct it.”

Admitting that we as people are broken doesn’t say that God is broken. On the contrary it affirms our need for God. God is perfect. We are not.

Boycott Religious Dialogue

The Catholic League has called for an official boycott of the movie.

Let me see if I understand this: There is a heavily promoted, high-budget major motion picture being released in December. It contains many references to religion and will most likely spark conversation and national debate on the topics of God, religion and the Church. People who seldom think about God and talk about him even less will now be engaged in a full fledged conversation.

And this is a bad thing?

Anyone who knows me knows I talk about Jesus all the time. I’ve experienced many people actually leave the room simply because I mention his name. These people hate to talk about religion and it has been very difficult to engage them in spiritual conversation. But when I have talked to them about The DaVinci Code we’ve been able to have a very engaging conversation about God and faith. This doesn’t make The DaVinci Code good. It means its a horribly researched, flagrant lie that I exploited to get to know some of my friends better.

Can’t we do the same thing with The Golden Compass?

Killing God

In the novels the characters finally find God and then they kill him.

The problem is they were just a bit late with this one.

Others have already killed God.

He rose from the dead.

Worship Philosophy: Empower New Leaders

One of the primary tasks of the Worship Pastor should be to train up other worship leaders. All great leaders multiply themselves. This is done not only through teaching and instruction but also through “life on life” relationships. Many of the most valuable lessons are “caught not taught.” A great worship leader doesn’t only spend time with his worship team in rehearsal, but he pours into their lives.

Leaders are made when they are delegated authority and not simply responsibility. A great leader lets go of control and allows others to have true ownership of the ministry. When a worship leader does everything on his own the ministry is severely limited to what he alone can accomplish. But when he delegates authority to others the potential for growth is limitless.

Jesus practiced this type of ministry, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt 28:19-20)

Empower New Leaders is part 2 of a 5 part Philosophy of Worship Ministry series entitled 5 Purposes That are Vital to a Thriving Worship Ministry

Worship Confessional | 11.04.07

Find out just what happens when you memorize your worship songs…

Set List for Christian Fellowship Church for November 4, 2007:

  • Praise to the Lord, The Almighty – Arr. Nathan and Christy Nockels
  • My Redeemer Lives – Reuben Morgan
  • How Great is Our God – Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, Ed Cash
  • Everlasting God – Brenton Brown
  • Shine – Matt Redman

How was your Sunday?

Around the ‘sphere

Jeff did a cool worship leader interview with Chris. Next week is Brent, king of the mullet men.
Bobby‘s adorable giraffe and Los‘s um…princess are gonna give Conner a run for his cute-kid money.  Of course I’m pretty biased towards the cuteness of my girls.

Jeremy shot me an email about his worship song podcast. It’s inspired me to go on a songwriting rampage seriously cutting into my memorization time.  Thanx 🙂 (BTW – My baby girl loves Matt Redman’s Shine – she starts dancing every time it plays – like right now.)

Creating an Engaging Corporate Worship Environment

Love the Lord with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength.

The Schema

When Jesus speaks these words in the Gospels (Mt 22:37, Mk 12:30, LK 10:27) he is making a statement about worship. He is actually quoting the “Schema” a series of words written in Deuteronomy chapter 6:

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

(In Hebrew the word “Schema” means “hear” as in “Hear, O Israel.” The first word is used to represent a larger statement in the same way some today might refer to the Lord’s prayer as the “Our Father.” )

The Jews of Jesus’ time took these words seriously. When they woke up in the morning they would repeat the Schema because it said to. When they went to bed at night they would repeat these words again because it said to. They would tie tefillin to their hands and foreheads and nail Mezuzot to their doorframes because it said to. This was part of the spiritual rhythm of each day. The Schema was also recited during services held in the synagogue and the temple. This passage of scripture was an important part of personal and corporate worship life in first century Palestine.

When Jesus quotes the Schema from Deuteronomy 6 the people who heard Jesus speak those words would have understood that he was making a statement about worship.

Worship is multifaceted. It involves heart, soul, mind and strength. Corporate worship that is engaging contains elements that emphasize each of these expressions.

Heart

To the Jews of Jesus’ time heart represented conviction. To worship with all your heart meant that you chose to worship with your volitional will. We see this concept in Psalm 119:30 when it says, ” I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws.” To worship with our hearts means to choose to worship even when we don’t feel like.

Engaging corporate worship provides opportunities to worship willingly through choice and action. People who worship with their heart don’t put God in a box by waiting to worship until “the spirit moves” but rather enter with a worshipful heart expecting God’s presence and worshiping from the start.

Soul

To the Jews of Jesus’ time soul represented emotion. To worship with all your soul meant to give God your all of your emotions and to be emotionally open to the flow of worship. We see this concept in Psalm 31:7 “I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.” This includes both high and lows – worshiping God with your happiness and joy as well as your sadness and frustration.

Engaging corporate worship moves us to laughter and tears. It invokes anger toward injustice and inspires a feeling of triumph over what it right. People who worship with their soul offer their emotional response to God rather than stifling it.

Mind

To the Jews of Jesus’ time mind represented intellect. To worship with all your mind meant that you were intellectually engaged. We see this concept in Isiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” God doesn’t want you to leave your brain at the door, but rather he wants you to analytically think about the Christian faith.

Engaging corporate worship should challenge our false notions, teach us proper doctrine, and give us “something to chew on.” People who worship with their mind seek to deepen their understanding of God’s truth.

Strength

To the Jews of Jesus’ time strength represented the physical body. To worship with all your strength meant that you used your body to physically worship. We see this concept all over the Bible. In the New Testament a Greek word for worship is “proskuneo.” In the Old Testament a Hebrew word for worship is “barak.” Proskuneo and barak both literally mean “To bow down on the floor as before a king.” So even the word “worship” implies physical action.

Engaging corporate worship offers opportunities to respond physically to God’s grace and truth. People who worship God with their strength may use such physical actions as singing, raising hands, folding hands, clapping hands, shaking hands, kneeling, standing, sitting, dancing, shouting, playing instruments, or remaining still and quiet. Even the act of simply walking through the door can be an expression of worship that loves God with “strength.”

In Summary

The phrase “heart, soul, mind and strength” should be understood to mean, “everything that we are.” These four elements aren’t hard and fast rules, but rather they provide a framework to start a proper understanding of worship. Engaging corporate worship seeks to be multifaceted and employs a broad spectrum of response rather than a one-dimensional approach.

Notes

Experiential Worship by Bob Rognlien is an excellent book on the art of creating engaging corporate worship experiences. Many of the concepts here are paraphrases from this book. For some practical ways to implement this philosophy into your worship ministry visit Rognlien’s website: www.experientialworship.com

Creating an Engaging Corporate Worship Environment is part 1 of a 5 part Philosophy of Worship Ministry series entitled 5 Purposes That are Vital to a Thriving Worship Ministry

5 Purposes That are Vital to a Thriving Worship Ministry

(Links will become active as each post goes live.)

5 Purposes That are Vital to a Thriving Worship Ministry is part of my Philosophy for Worship Ministry.

Top Posts for October 2007

Most popular posts on billychia.com for October 2007

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  2. The Beginings of a Rockstar
  3. How to Shower 
  4. Find New Popular Worship Songs 
  5. Hillsong United Lyrics: True or False? 
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  8. Pre – Worship Confessional | 10.29.07
  9. Get Nooma “Name” on Myspace – 48 hours Only
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Philosophy of Worship Ministry

Taking the time to flesh out a written statement of philosophy for your worship ministry can go a long way toward communicating expectations to your worship team and congregation. Certainly, worship pastors should be continually talking about vision and direction. At the same time having a written philosophy statement sends the message to your team and congregation that you serious about offering God the best.

Before joining the worship team at Christian Fellowship Church I was given several documents that outlined the values, expectations and philosophy of the CFC worship ministry. Immediately I knew what I was signing up for.

Over the coming days I’ll be posting a series of articles outlining my personal philosophy of worship ministry. While any philosophy of worship ministry should be adapted to emphasize the specific theology and culture of each local church, I’ll be posting some general thoughts here that will include:

Corporate and Personal Worship Defined

5 Purposes That are Vital to a Thriving Worship Ministry

(Links will become active as each post goes live.)

Pre – Worship Confessional | 10.29.07

Set List for Christian Fellowship Church this weekend:

  • Praise to the Lord, The Almighty – Arr. Nathan and Christy Nockels
  • My Redeemer Lives – Reuben Morgan
  • How Great is Our God – Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, Ed Cash
  • Everlasting God – Brenton Brown
  • Shine – Matt Redman

Get Nooma “Name” on Myspace – 48 hours Only

The next Nooma, entitled “Name,” will premier on the Nooma Myspace Page this Wednesday, October 31st. The full length video will be available to watch free for 48 hours.

Noomas are a series of short videos that feature Rob Bell, the pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan and they rock. Name is the 18th video in the series and it speaks to our struggle with identity.

Here is a preview clip:

You can find more exciting Nooma news, such as updates on the Everything is Spiritual DVD on the Nooma Blog.

ht: Elle Pyke

Update: My wife Sarah wrote an insightful review:
Review: Nooma “Name” by Rob Bell a Disappointing Release

4 Quick Worship Resources

Recently Terry emailed me some great worship ministry resources.

Here are 4 of my favorite websites to help resource your worship ministry:

1. Better Than Blank Resource CenterAlex has complied a list of websites and open source software that he uses in his minstry. I personally use many of the same tools. His resource page is worth booking marking as he continually updates it.

2. Hot Worship – Every conceivable worship website linked in one location.

3. Worship Trench – Brent and Jordan keep a blog where they share a great deal of hard hitting practical worship resources and advice. Subscribe to their feed, but also take a trip through the “trench” archives as you will find some gems.

The Trenches:

4. Ragamuffin Soulcast – Will Los ever podcast again? The world may never know, but I’d recommend subscribing to the Soulcast in iTunes or getting the RSS Feed and then listening to all of the previous episodes. It’s funny, relevant worship banter from a leader in the worshiping community.

Willow Creek Reveal Frenzy

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This past week has seen a blogging frenzy* erupt over Reveal, a spiritual growth conversation headed by Bill Hybels and Greg Hawkins of Willow Creek Community Church. These two leaders have each posted videos on the Reveal website admitting that their previous model of doing local church ministry has flaws. Through the Reveal conversation they are seeking to create a new, more effective ministry model. While some have taken a critical attitude, many have pointed out Hybel’s humility.

The blogosphere began to see posts regarding the Willow Creek’s new direction in August when Hawkins’ book Reveal: Where Are You? was announced during The Leadership Summit. A recent influx of posts has been prompted by Christianity Today’s Out of Ur article. To help sort the mass of information Greg Hawkins has offered some clarifying points on the Reveal Blog.

Personally, I’m very excited to see what will come from this conversation. Willow Creek has always been committed to helping other local churches. They are on the right track with Reveal and I believe the results of their research will produce helpful insights that the whole Church can benefit from.

The Videos

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Hawkins video is candid and earnest. When he speaks of the distraction a church leader feels on Sunday morning I felt as though he was pulling thoughts from my own mind. Skip the short version and watch the 13 minute one. It’s worth it.

hybels-video.jpg

Hybels brought a welcome humor to a serious situation. I laughed out loud several times throughout his presentation.

The Frenzy

*Some of the more content driven posts from this last week include:

Hillsong United Lyrics: True or False?

I’ll only ever give my all.

I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around this lyric and it just doesn’t work. I’ve been listening to Hillsong United’s Take It All non-stop for the last week. Musically I love this song, but I’ve been having trouble trying to reconcile the lyrics with what I know to be true about God. Until today, I was reading some blogs and I think I’m a little closer.

Warning: Thinking out loud post ahead. I may be wrong and I reserve the right to change my mind.

Sarah, first pointed it out to me by asking,

Are we really never ashamed of Jesus?

The Hillsong United lyrics “We’ll never be ashamed of You” and “I’ll only ever give my all” don’t seem congruent with non-perfect people. If we were prefect it seems we could sing these lines, but I’ve yet to met a Christian who never made mistake and only ever gave Jesus his all. It seems like at some point even the most authentic Christians give Jesus less than their all.

Bob from In the Clearing writes in Whitmanesque Worship

The reason I need a savior is that I have not loved God with my whole heart. If I say that now I do love him with my whole heart, I needn’t any longer speak of Jesus or long for Him, because in fact I no longer need him.

(ht: Shannon Lewis)

Bob’s argument is that we can’t with a good conscience sing, “I love you Jesus with all my heart” (or possibly even “I’ll only ever give my all.”) because it is a lie.

I disagree with this argument. I think we can sing it truthfully. (Just like the 10 verses of scripture that use “all my heart.”)

God calls us to love him with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. Essentially to love God will all that we are, not simply our minds, but also our emotions and our actions as well. Worship works the same way. It’s multidimensional. So I worship God not only with my mind, but at times I worship God emotionally, even if it doesn’t make sense to my brain.

For example:

I love my wife. I mean I really love my wife more that I ever imagined I could ever love any other person. She is 15,000 times cooler than I even ever imagined a woman could ever be and I’m desperately, passionately, head-over-heals, crazy in love with her. This emotion is so powerful I don’t have words to describe it but I would definitely tell Sarah,

I love you with all my heart.

Do I mean it? 110% If we’re speaking emotionally. Now, in my actions do I love her with all my heart? Not even, close. I’m a pretty second-rate husband sometimes and I am way fortunate that my wife is so gracious. The the statement is true or false based on your perspective. Emotionally, it’s more than true, in action it is not.

How much more do I love God?

So can I logically worship God with my mind and sing “I’ll only ever give my all” ?

No, I don’t think so. That would be a flat out lie.

But emotionally would that line be a decent attempt to describe the indescribable way I feel about God?

Yeah.

Would it start to express what I want to say to God from the inner depths of my soul?

Yeah.

I believe in a huge God that wants to be worshiped with all of me. He’s big enough to be worshiped by my mind and my emotions. He’s even big enough to accept that worship even if I’m not using my mind and my emotions at the same time. If you’re like me when it comes to matters of emotion you start to use hyperbole. You exaggerate more and more trying to express what you feel. It’s not a lie. You fully mean every word of it and God knows that.

I’ll only ever give my all.

Jesus we’re living for your name and we’ll never be ashamed of you.

In our praise. In all we are today.

Take it all.

I mean those words. At least as much as David meant Psalm 26.

Don’t you?

Brick and Mortar Myth

I love shopping online. Who doesn’t these days? You can compare prices and products with ease all while wearing your PJ’s.

Many companies tote the notion that their online store is seamlessly integrated with their brick and mortar locales. You can order online and pick-up in store. Sounds like a convenient, consumer-friendly business idea to me. The only problem is it’s not true.

Freezing cold water.

Our water heater broke a few days ago and it has not been fun. (Yes, I know there are starving children in 3rd world countries with no water at all. Just let me dwell in my American consumerism for a few moments.) You all thought I was taking navy showers for the environment. Now the truth comes out.

So like any web-savvy gent in our generation I hopped online to find a good price on a new water heater. I ended up at Sears.com where I found a good product at a good price. I called the 800 number on the website. Within minutes I was connected with Denise, a polite and well-mannered sales representative. She placed my order quickly and easily. Their adept computer system was even able to show the inventory of my local brick and mortar Sears store. Denise assured me my product was in stock and that I would have hot water again very soon.

10am – I receive a phone call from Terry, a local Sears sales rep informing me that my product was in fact not in stock. “Yeah, those website people just read our inventory off of a computer and we don’t keep it up to date.”

After some banter I asked, “What can you do right now to remedy the situation?”

His best effort would be to sell me a more expensive model, and since he values my business so much, he’ll even refuse to take my debit card number over the phone and will require me to drive down to the Sears store to present my card in person. This is despite the fact that I ordered on the phone in the first place. Apparently I placed my order with sears.com witch is not connected in anyway with Sears, the brick and mortar store.

2 sales reps, a manager and one hour later the issue was still not resolved.

I called Sears.com back (not to be confused with Sears) and they were able to switch my order in 5 minutes. The plumbers are scheduled to install the heater tomorrow.

I kinda feel bad for Terry. He feeds his family on commission and he lost a commission today to the website. Perhaps if Sears Corporate implemented some policies to better care for their employees Terry would have simply had me call the website back instead of trying to sell me on coming into the store and wasting an hour of my time.

I’m pretty disgruntled with the whole process. At least installing a new water heater will make the house easier to sell when I get a new job.


 

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