Archive | January, 2006

What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 3

Today I want to begin unpacking this proposed definition of a corporate worship leader’s role: An effective corporate worship leader, aided and led by the Holy Spirit, skillfully combines biblical truth with music to magnify the worth of God and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, thereby motivating the gathered church to join him in proclaiming and cherishing the truth about God and seeking to live all of life for the glory of God. An effective corporate worship leader… If I’m in front of a group, I’m leading. Whether it’s through verbal contributions, facial expressions, or bodily posture, people are following me. That raises …

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Monday Devotions – Approaching God

"O Father of Jesus, Help me to approach you with deepest reverence, not with presumption, Not with servile fear, but with holy boldness. You are beyond the grasp of my understanding, But not beyond that of my love." My view of God tends to one of two extremes. Either I think of Him as familiar, approachable, and very much like me; or I imagine that He’s distant, fearsome, and completely alien to me. These opening lines, from the prayer "The Love of Jesus" in The Valley of Vision, succinctly capture the tension of worshipping the God who is both transcendent and immanent. "O Father of Jesus." I’m reminded …

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Is There a Place for Announcements?

(I promised yesterday that I would start unpacking the definition of a worship leader today. But I forgot that this is Q&A Friday. I really will get to it next Tuesday.) Forrest is at a church currently without a pastor, and sent in this question: “We have typically used the worship service time as a means of giving out information about upcoming events. However, we are also trying to be more conscious about planning worship services that focus on God’s revelation of Himself and His works and our response to that revelation. We are having a lot of tension between worship planners and ministry leaders who want to give announcements. …

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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 2

I’ve gone back and forth over whether I should use “worship leader” in the title of this series. Among other things, using the term can communicate that: 1) the only time we worship God in a meeting is when we’re following the “worship leader” up front 2) congregational worship must be led by a musician 3) worship leaders have some special access into God’s presence that the congregation doesn’t have 4) this is a role that God has commended in His Word. I don’t believe any of the above statements are true. Anyone who seeks to encourage others to give praise and honor to God can be referred to broadly as a “worship …

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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 1

Before I start this series, I wanted to give you some background. Eight years ago, after I had served as a pastor for twelve years, C.J. Mahaney invited me to assume the new role of “Director of Worship Development” for Sovereign Grace Ministries. One of my assignments was to study and train others in the practicals of biblical worship, particularly as it relates to music. As I studied Scripture and read books like Engaging with God by David Peterson and Adoration and Action, ed. by D.A. Carson, I quickly realized that the Bible, especially the New Testament, didn’t give much space to my role as a worship leader. None, to be exact. The …

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More Thoughts on Blogging

In recent years God has allowed C.J. Mahaney, my dear friend and former senior pastor, to develop some unexpected but meaningful friendships with Mark Dever, Al Mohler, and Ligon Duncan. Unexpected because CJ barely graduated from high school and these guys have lots of letters after their names. They also come from Baptist and Presbyterian roots, while CJ heads up the reformed charismatic family of churches known as Sovereign Grace Ministries. Unexpected as they are, the friendship he shares with these men is meaningful because they share a common passion for (among other things) the Gospel, Reformed soteriology, the local church, and a complementarian …

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Monday Devotions – God’s Heart for the Unborn

This is a little different from my typical Monday devotion, but I thought it might be helpful to share. Yesterday, along with many American churches, we participated in “Pro-Life Sunday.” After singing two songs, we sang O God of Love by Nathan and Louise Fellingham. I then asked everyone to sit down and shared the following comments as part of our corporate worship: We just sang the lines, “You know my frame, you know how I am made, You planned all my days.” These words are taken from Psalm 139, where David writes: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully …

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Teaching New Songs

Lindele wrote in to ask, “How do you go about teaching a new song to a congregation?” To set the context, we’re a church that uses a central screen for lyric projection. The thoughts I’m going to share may not apply directly to your situation, but I trust you’ll find something helpful here. We’ve taught new songs in a variety of ways over the years. We sometimes look for a place in the meeting, such as communion, to present the song as a meditation that the congregation first listens to, then joins in on. Some churches use the offering or time before the meeting as an opportunity to present a new song they sing congregationally …

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Taking God’s Word Seriously, Pt. 3

After spending two days sharing about the benefits of reading through the Bible, I don’t want to give the impression that any particular Bible reading plan is better than another. There are many ways to mine the riches of God’s Word. You can study a passage, a book, a group of books, a word, a topic, or a doctrine. I’ve used many of these methods at one time or another in my life. All of them can help us to see the glory of Jesus Christ more clearly. Pursued rightly, they should cause us to be more humble, not more arrogant. But in the past few years, as I’ve sought to take in and meditate on larger quantities of Scripture, it’s …

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Taking God’s Word Seriously, Pt. 2

I shared yesterday how my relationship to God’s Word over the past few years has been changing. After reading through the Bible a third time, I immediately wanted to do it again. So last Fall, using the Reformation Study Bible, I began in Genesis, Job, and Matthew. I’m currently in 1 Samuel, Isaiah, and 1 Corinthians and having a great time getting to know my Creator and Redeemer better. My schedule this time is a little more flexible, but I try to read 6-12 pages at a time. I continue to marvel at how little I actually know of God’s Word, how His character is consistent throughout, and how God is eager to meet me in His Word if I just …

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Taking God’s Word Seriously

Up until a few years ago, I had never read through the entire Bible, after almost 30 years of being a Christian. Of course, I was positive that at some point I had read every word in Scripture. I just didn’t do it in order. After all, I reasoned, the order of the books didn’t seem to be as critical as the fact that they were included. So I’ve spent most of my life following the “whatever happens to be the most appealing book or passage at the moment” method of Bible study. At times, it’s been very fruitful. At other times, it’s been non-existent. A few years ago the pastors on the teaching team at our church decided to switch …

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Monday Devotions – Unrestrained Worship

I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. (Ps. 40:9-10 ESV) In these two verses, David models praise that is enthusiastic, specific, and corporate. “I have told…I have not restrained…I have not hidden…I have spoken…I have not concealed.” God has delivered David from the pit of destruction and put a new song in his mouth (Ps. …

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How Much Do You Say?

This question came from Patrick, in response to the devotional post this past Monday. “Do you incorporate such “devotionals” into your worship leading? I’ve known leaders who don’t say anything, and others who share an essay every week from the front.” The question of what to say when you’re leading worship has been a subject of discussion for years. I’ve seen (and demonstrated) every kind of extreme you can think of. I wish I could say I “had this down,” but I’m still learning what serves people. In my early years of leading public worship, I thought it was important to give a mini-teaching or heartfelt prayer between every …

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On Musicians and Reading Books, Pt. 3

Today I’m sharing two more reasons why Christian musicians aren’t known for dropping hundreds of dollars on theology books. 3. Studying God takes time. This is similar to the point I made yesterday about the study of theology being hard. We live in the age of instant everything. I still remember when there was no internet (much less wireless connections), e-mail didn’t exist, you had to wait a week to get your camera film developed, and microwave ovens were a novelty. My, how things have changed. We want to know God NOW. We want to have life-changing 15 minute devotional times, are drawn to the “One-Minute Bible,” and get anxious …

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On Musicians and Reading Books, Pt. 2

Yesterday I began a series on the importance of Christian musicians taking the time to study theology. Today I want to share some reasons so many of us don’t. 1. We don’t understand the purpose of theology. Theology informs our minds to win our hearts, so that we might love God more accurately and passionately. Some of us are suspicious of words like theology, doctrine, and study. We’d rather relate to God through stories, experiences, and feelings. We believe that all we need to get along is Jesus. I remember a speaker inviting a crowd to shout out their denomination on cue. The result was cacophony. Then he invited us to say the …

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