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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.

Psalm 146:7 – “He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free,”

Isaiah 58:6-8 – “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.”

The Food Pantry of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church

from The Work of the People.

God’s narrative is the one true story of the world. The church’s mission is to be a witness to God’s narrative of the world (missio Dei). Theology is the church’s corporate reflection on God’s narrative. Worship sings, proclaims and enacts God’s narrative to the glory of God. Individual spirituality is the personal embodiment of God’s narrative in all of life. Collective spirituality is the church’s embodied life in the world.

Robert E. Webber, Who Gets to Narrate the World? Contending for
the Christian Story in an Age of Rivals
(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 124.

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).