Worship Songs: It is all about the words

For those
who know me you will probably find it hard to believe that at one time in my
ministry I was the president of a local chapter of the Hymn Society of America.

 

In the
worship tradition in which I was raised a limited number of songs were used.  In that tradition we did not sing Praise to the Lord the Almighty or A
Mighty Fortress, or I Heard the Voice of
Jesus Say
. Those songs are filled with great theology and poetry. These are
songs that have survived, and I believe will continue to survive, in churches
for generations.  On the other hand,
there are other songs from that era and from other past generations that have
not survived.

 

Today more
worship songs are being written than ever before and these songs, because of
technology, are getting to the local congregations faster than ever before.
There are some that will come and go and then there are others that will be
around for a long time.

 

What makes
songs stick? It is all about the text. What is the song saying? How is it being
said?  Is it theologically correct?

 

When we
choose worship songs, we first read the text. 
There could be a moving melody and great arrangement, however, if the
text is not worth singing then none of that matters.

 

In the end,
song text must line up with God’s Word, which is the ultimate guideline for
anything we sing in church. It is God’s Word that should be the guide for any
element of the service.

Leaders: Influence – Influencers

One of my friends, Randy Elrod, often states: “a leader’s job, privilege and responsibility is to influence influencers.  As you lead you influence people who then in turn become influencers of others.”

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes:

The people who influence us the most are not those who detain us with their continual talk, but those who live their lives like the stars in the sky and “the lilies of the field”–simply and unaffectedly. Those are the lives that mold and shape us.

As a leader I have many opportunities to be up in front of a group and talk, whether it is the staff I lead or the volunteer teams I get to minister with. In those settings I can state what I think and what I think should be. But the place I make the biggest impact is in how I live, how I lead and how I model being a Christ follower.

Oswald Chambers’s statement above continues this way:
If you want to be of use to God, maintain the proper relationship with Jesus Christ by staying focused on him, and he will make use of you every minute you live – yet you will be unaware, on the conscious level of you life, that you are being used of him.

God has placed me in a position with the potential to influence influencers and he has done the same for you.

Worship, the Sunday After Easter.

We are just one day away from worship the Sunday after Easter. It is one of the days where it seems worship attendance hits a low for the year.  The reality is, it is not one of the lowest attended days of the year; however it seems that way compared to the full houses of worship on Easter. Last week our houses of worship were filled with regular attendees, members and the CEM crowd (Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day Crowd.)

This Sunday as services begin we might be asking ourselves, where are the crowds that sang so beautifully? Where are the visitors that swelled the attendance leaving no empty seats? Were we not friendly enough and they stayed away? Should we have constructed the service differently: different sermon, different songs so that more would have been inspired to return this week?

I am glad that we all came together on that  one day and I pray that what we as worship leaders presented was something that challenged the CEMs to come back and members/attendees to be more faithful.  But for me every Sunday has excitement as Easter, because what we celebrated last Sunday is a reality everyday.  Why do we put so much work into the Easter services when the power of the resurrected Christ is real every day?  What about the other 51 weeks of the year? 

The challenge for me as a worship leader and one who leads the worship planning team at my place of ministry is to reflect the glory of the power of Christ each Sunday. The challenge is to never allow Sunday after Sunday to become routine. My relationship with God is new every morning. The power of the cross is available everyday. God’s desire to be in communication with me is a daily promise.

Sunday is just a day away and honestly I am ready now. I am looking forward to being back in the place we have set aside for corporate worship. I am looking forward to talking to God and listening to Him in worship.

Wherever you are I hope tomorrow will be a day you set aside to spend time in a house of worship. The resurrected Christ is alive and sitting on the throne near God Almighty and they deserve our worship.

For the ClearView teams:

The opening songs tomorrow at ClearView will a remind us of the awesome greatest of a big God, and then move to a reminder of what God did for us through His Son. Then as we move toward the sermon time the songs will encourage us to lean on a God who never lets go.  The sermon this week continues in our study of 1 John. Mark, sent out this update about the sermon earlier in the week: “I could not be more FIRED UP about what God just taught me in 1 John 2:7-14. I can't wait for Sunday.”

I am looking forward to tomorrow and I am praying that we come ready to worship in spirit and in truth. Will you pray with me?

Worship Choirs, Past and Future

 

This week while attending a worship leaders conference in California I had an interesting discussion with Stan Endicott about the future of choirs in worship services. Stan directs the choirs at Saddleback Church and Mariners Church in Orange County, California.  The essence of the discussion was choirs are not dead and any church can have one if the leadership understands and supports this ministry.

Stan related the story of events that just took place at Willow Creek Church.  Through some self-searching Willow Creek has decided that it is time for their church to become a singing church so they asked Stan to come up and do a rehearsal for the congregation teaching them to sing with enthusiasm.  While he was there he also led them through starting a choir that will help lead worship.

Worship leading choirs are a part of my tradition. I am this tradition embraced and continues to embrace the ministry of the choir.  Every ministry must evolved some over the generations however; there is something great about a group of dedicated people standing on stage in the worship center encouraging others to encounter God.

Followers of Christ for as long as we can

For the last nine years I have been on this health-kick thing.  Really it has become a lifestyle, which includes a fitness routine. I really believe that God has given us an amazing vessel in which to live and it is our responsibility to take care of it. 

In the Old Testament you can find many scriptures dealing with food.  God laid out specific guidelines…what to eat, what not to eat.
I don’t think that living by those guidelines is mandatory today; Christ redeemed us from the law. I don’t think I could follow those guidelines; how would I include peanut butter and chocolate into my diet.

As a nation we have so many food choices and quite frankly many of them are bad, no nutritional value and many things we decide taste good harm this amazing thing…our body…that God created.  What we eat is a personal decision, however, we are smart people and therefore we should make smart decisions that don’t harm us.

What if we were to all think about this every time we eat?

At this meal I am eating for three:

            Me…so that I can have the right nutrients to power my body.

            My Family…so that I can be around for them, support them and that the decisions I make will not shorten my time with them.

            God…so that I can be what He has called me to be for as long as He wants, and that decisions that I make will not
shorten that time.

God has given us many amazing gifts, the most important a relationship with Him through the sacrifice of His Son.  Now we have the great privilege of living our lives for Him, being followers of Christ, and I believe it is our responsibility to live as long as we can; making wise decisions that support that goal.