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Archive for the ‘worship’ Category

@SarcasticLuther (Nadia Bolz-Weber) tweeted:

every week I look at the texts for Sunday and think “sh*t. i have absolutely nothing to say about this. i’ve had a good run but it’s over”

I love it. Refreshingly truthful. While it might seem like having nothing to say about a Scripture text is a bad thing, it actually is very good. At the end of human understanding and wisdom, the knowledge of the Lord and the movement of the Spirit step in. Having nothing to say can allow the space for God to say what needs to be said.

I think this is something worship musicians struggle with a lot also. Every week we are faced with the equal task of ordering and supporting an environment that best supports the Word of God and the work of the Spirit. Even selecting songs can feel uninspiring and impossibly cliche. How do you consistently find ways to gather people together in a spirit of confession, adoration, praise, and humility – every 7 days. Once again, this is a good place to let go and let the Spirit do the leading.

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The bands I work with probably get tired of hearing me say it – but I’m not sure it can be said enough: “Less is more.” Having the musicians/singers be picky about when they play/sing does a lot for the dynamics of a song. But it also does something on a spiritual level. It allows other members’ gifts to shine through. It allows everyone the opportunity to practice the “prefer others more than yourself” attitude (an essential attitude for any collection of worshipers).

From Greg Atkinson:

If you’re  a worship pastor that leads a band and you let your musicians play 100% all the time, you’re dropping the ball (you know I like to shoot straight). I mentioned that when I visit churches I often look for a laptop on stage. But one of the first things I look for is who is not playing. The difference between an amateur musician and a professional is knowing when not to play. It’s the whole “less is more” thing that I always preach.

Maybe this is something that your church band struggles with. Maybe you have a pianist that used to be “the band” and is used to playing the full 100% of the music. Now that a guitar, bass and drums are added in, she doesn’t know that her role must decrease and she must adjust the amount of action or busyness that she plays with in order to allow the other instruments to equal to 100%. This is what I call the 100% rule. You only have 100% to divide up – any one player can’t play like the 100% is up to him/her.

Let’s get practical: Often to make a point, I will go to the extreme. I used to do this with my camera operators and video directors all the time. When working with church bands, I will often ask players to “sit out” or restrain from playing for a LONG period of time – in order to get the point across.

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An interesting take on “The Stations of the Cross” by Paul from St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. These would make a great reflection piece on Good Friday.

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From Bob Kauflin

By nature, “cool” describes something that the world esteems as hip, desirable, elitist, and perhaps elusive. Biblical worship is very un-hip, hated by the world’s value system, and a gracious gift from God to those he has redeemed. It involves magnifying the glory of Christ and minimizing our own glory. It means acknowledging our sinfulness before a holy God, expressing gratefulness for the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ for our sins, and responding in humble obedience to his commands. All very uncool activities.

This is good. Jesus put it this way – “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) True discipleship is not “cool.” It’s a probable cause of hardship, pain, suffering, and sacrifice. Biblical worship lifts up these qualities as reality for those being sent into the world as disciples.

Biblical worship is the worship of the Tabernacle and Temple. Something costly was sacrificed. Something had to die. Something was offered up in it’s entirety – consumed for God’s glory. Biblical worship calls us to live our lives in this same way (Romans 12:1-2).

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Who is really leading worship during a service or gathering? I would say the Holy Spirit, the pastor, and the worship musicians (in order of priority).

The Holy Spirit is always the first and most important leader of worship. The Spirit’s preparation and work began long before the service was a twinkling in our eye. Before the first text or song is chosen, the Spirit is aligning the elements and people that will be included in the service. We need the Holy Spirit to point all the elements in a service to Jesus. The Spirit’s presence in the midst of a service is always the default leader. When the Spirit moves, we follow.

The pastor is always the second most important lead worshiper in a service or gathering. That’s right – the Holy Spirit does come before (and sometimes through!) the pastor. The pastor is the spiritual leader for the entire congregation, and this includes the congregation in worship. Just because you’ve got the guitar or mic doesn’t mean everyone is watching/following you. The pastor will always set the tone for worship in any setting. If the pastor’s heart and mind are engaged in the songs, prayers, and texts, then the people will be as well. If the pastor is shuffling through sermon notes, making small talk with the ushers, or not singing, then the people will be equally disengaged in worship.

The worship musicians are the next most important leaders in worship. Notice that “musicians” is plural. All who play instruments or sing are on equal ground. If you are on the platform in front of the people, you are just as important as anyone else in front. The lead vocalists aren’t elevated higher than the bass player. Being a worship musician requires a good dose of humility. 1 Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” Although the spotlights may shine on the musicians, it’s important to remember that everyone is following the pastors cues, and nothing is possible without the Spirit’s work.

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I hate all your show and pretense
The hypocrisy of your praise
The hypocrisy of your festivals
I hate all your show
Away with your noisy worship
Away with your noisy hymns
I stop up my ears when you’re singing ’em
I hate all your show

Instead let there be a flood of justice
An endless procession of righteous living, living
Instead let there be a flood of justice
Instead of a show

Your eyes are closed when you’re praying
You sing right along with the band
You shine up your shoes for services
There’s blood on your hands
You turned your back on the homeless
And the ones that don’t fit in your plan
Quit playing religion games
There’s blood on your hands

Instead let there be a flood of justice
An endless procession of righteous living, living
Instead let there be a flood of justice
Instead of a show
I hate all your show

Let’s argue this out
If your sins are blood red
Let’s argue this out
You’ll be one of the clouds
Let’s argue this out
Quit fooling around
Give love to the ones who can’t love at all
Give hope to the ones who got no hope at all
Stand up for the ones who can’t stand at all, all
I hate all your show
I hate all your show
I hate all your show
I hate all your show

Instead let there be a flood of justice
An endless procession of righteous living, living
Instead let there be a flood of justice
Instead of a show
I hate all your show

Isaiah 1:11-17 (The Message):

“Why this frenzy of sacrifices?”
Gods asking.
“Don’t you think I’ve had my fill of burnt sacrifices,
rams and plump grain-fed calves?
Don’t you think I’ve had my fill
of blood from bulls, lambs, and goats?
When you come before me,
whoever gave you the idea of acting like this,
Running here and there, doing this and that—
all this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship?

“Quit your worship charades.
I can’t stand your trivial religious games:
Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings—
meetings, meetings, meetings—I can’t stand one more!
Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them!
You’ve worn me out!
I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion,
while you go right on sinning.
When you put on your next prayer-performance,
I’ll be looking the other way.
No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
I’ll not be listening.
And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing
people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.
Go home and wash up.
Clean up your act.
Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
so I don’t have to look at them any longer.
Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
Go to bat for the defenseless.

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  • Does your church take design seriously (architecture, worship, long range planning, etc.)?
  • Does your church offer guest-friendly “try before you buy” environments?
  • Is your church’s view of the world present in how you design worship?
  • Does your church welcome the question “Why is it like that?” around the subject of worship?
  • How much attention is paid to how people physically connect to your church?
  • Can your church fulfill it’s mission in 1 step instead of 6?
  • How much does your church talk about process (instead of product)?
  • Is the hierarchy of importance easily discernable in your church?

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