Archive | October, 2008

Some Thoughts About Christmas Productions

A friend sent me this question, which she received from her father: I just found out that our church is charging for tickets to our Christmas event…music, drama etc. They want members to buy tickets to hand out for the event. I notice that lots of churches are doing this now. There’s a church in Florida that spends over a million dollars on their Christmas presentation, and charges up to $35 for their big Broadway production. What’s your take on this?…I have a dilemma…Do I continue to work on the music (a lot of it being secular Christmas songs) for the upcoming Christmas extravaganza and feel uncomfortable, or bail out and let the ministers …

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Ten Reasons Why I Appreciate the ESV Study Bible

I received my ESV Study Bible a few weeks ago in the mail. I have to confess that the press releases raised my expectations pretty high. I mean how good can a study Bible be?

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Preparing the Next Generation of Musicians

Where do the next generation of musicians in the church come from? What can we can do to influence, inspire, and train the young people in our church to develop and use their gifts to serve the church for the glory of God? It doesn’t matter whether we’re in a church of 50, 500, or 5000, we can begin to think about how we can pass on what we’ve learned.

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Top Ten Ways to Write Bad Worship Songs

In my eleven years as director of worship development for Sovereign Grace Ministries, I’ve reviewed hundreds of worship songs and written a few of my own. Not all of them have been stellar. Actually, very few of them have been. I’ve noticed recurring tendencies that keep weak songs from becoming good or great songs. I’m intimately acquainted with those tendencies in my own songs and I’ve listed my top ten below. While these thoughts are meant for songwriters, most of them apply to leading worship as well. So if you want to write bad worship songs, follow these simple tips: 1. Aim to write the next worldwide worship hit. It’s already been …

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Spontaneous Song for Parents Who Have Lost a Child

Jon Payne is a worship pastor at the Sovereign Grace church in Gilbert, AZ. On the last morning of the WorshipGod08 conference he did a great job leading us in corporate worship. One of the songs he led was Glorious and Mighty, which I posted on here. While preparing, Jon sensed that God wanted to minister through prophetic song specifically to parents who had lost a child. This was his introduction and the song he sang that morning: Over the years I’ve noticed that these songs often come at just the right time. After the conference I learned that there was a young mom in attendance who had lost her first child two years earlier. She …

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WorshipGod Conference Rescheduled for Next Year

Since 2000 Sovereign Grace has been hosting a worship conference every other year. We had planned to hold another one in 2010 but plans have changed. Due to the fact that we hold two other conferences every other year, we decided to go ahead and have the next WorshipGod conference August 5-8, 2009. The tentative theme is “From Generation to Generation.” I’m thinking we’ll focus on the way forms, methods, practices, and most importantly, the substance of corporate worship is passed on from one generation to the next. What should we hold on to? What should we leave behind? What should we reconsider? Who makes the decisions? Are separate meetings …

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What’s the Best Worship Song You’ve Learned Recently?

Just when I start thinking all the best worship songs have already been written (which I don’t really believe), I hear a new song that affects me profoundly. A friend recently sent me an email letting me know that he just taught his church My Soul Finds Rest (Ps 62) by Aaron Keyes and Stuart Townend. I have four categories for congregational worship songs. Must Use, Could Use, Personally Use, and Don’t Use. This is one that I’d put in my Must Use file. There are a number of reasons. It’s based on the Word of God (always a plus) The melody is memorable. The melody is creative. The harmonic progression is fresh. The meter is unique. …

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More Quotes from John Flavel on the Excellency of Christ

Yesterday I posted some quotes I found in John Flavel’s book The Fountain of Life, written in 1671.  I regularly try to read old books because it introduces me to the perspective of godly saints who aren’t distracted or influenced by the technology, glitter, and philosophies of our current age.  Of course, they had their own issues to deal with and their own blind spots. But reading them in a different era helps me see more clearly what their blind spots were, as well as expose a few of my own. In any case, here are some more quotes that I found enlightening and helpful. I’ve added some personal thoughts at the end of each one. Security …

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The Excellency of Christ: Quotes from John Flavel

Got back yesterday from the Straight Up conference at Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, IL. I was there with CJ Mahaney, who spoke on “A Divine Perspective” from 1 Cor. 1:1-9. I’ve probably heard that message 5-6 times and never tire of being challenged to notice more of what God is doing in those around me, as Paul did with the Corinthian church. I had the privilege of leading worship and teaching a seminar on The Task of the Worship Leader. It was great meeting some folks who read this blog, and I had the opportunity to reconnect with my friends Andi Rozier, Matt Stowell, and Matthew Westerholm, who came to WorshipGod06 and WorshipGod08. Very …

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Learn more about the ESV Study Bible

ESV Study Bible One Week Away

I’ve been using the English Standard Version as my primary Bible for about six years and have benefited from its clarity, faithfulness to the original languages, and its beauty. Here’s Crossway’s explanation of why they published the ESV in the first place: The goal and vision of the ESV Study Bible is, first and foremost, to honor the Lord—in terms of the excellence, beauty, and accuracy of its content and design; and in terms of helping people come to a deeper understanding of the Bible, of the Gospel, and of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Crossway is a not-for-profit publishing ministry and all receipts from the ESV Study Bible go …

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Worship Matters Video Vignettes

A while back I recorded four brief videos (3-4 minutes each) that serve as an introduction to the four sections of my book, Worship Matters, but can also be used as stand-alones. They deal with four areas: The Leader (what do I love the most?) The Task (what exactly is a worship leader trying to do?) Healthy Tensions (what false dichotomies do we create in corporate worship?) Right Relationships (how can I worship God in my relationships with my team, church, and pastor?) I recently was surprised to find out that the October issue of Worship Leader magazine mentioned them as a resource for worship leaders, pastors, and ministry teams. …

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Ryan Ferguson Recites Psalm 145

On the first night of WorshipGod08, after we sang the hymn Jesus Shall Reign, Ryan Ferguson stepped up on stage and enthusiastically recited Psalm 145. I wanted to use that Psalm there because it’s filled not only with exhortations to praise and extol God, but also with clear reasons why God should be praised. Every time I lead worship I want to be sure people have plenty of doctrinal fuel for their emotional fire. I asked Ryan to participate because he had recited two chapters from Hebrews at our WorshipGod06 conference, and did an amazing job. It’s obvious he’s thought carefully about the passage he’s memorized and is seeking to communicate …

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Glorious and Mighty Choral Arrangment

One of the highlights of WorshipGod08, and there were many, was the conference choir singing Glorious and Mighty on the last morning. Based on Psalm 96, it’s a song written by Todd Twining and Joel Sczebel, with some lyric tweaking by me. Unfortunately, the audio/video didn’t turn out that well, so I wont’ be posting them. But a number of people have requested the arrangement and it’s finally available. The version I arranged for the conference didn’t have any piano part, just the voices. So I added a basic piano accompaniment if you’re just using piano. I think it sounds best with a full band backing it, though. UPDATED CHOIR PARTS (10/03/08): …

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