Archive | —Expressiveness

From the Archives: Should Worship be Fun?

More than once I’ve heard Christians insist that worship should be fun, or act like they had a responsibility to prove that Christians knew how to “party” in church. I’ve always been uncomfortable with that connection, so I started thinking about the place of “fun” in worship, if one even exists. I’m going to address this question by answering it as I posed it, and then considering two other ways it might be phrased. Should worship be fun? If we take the exhaustive testimony of Scripture, the answer would have to be a resounding NO. “Fun” wouldn’t characterize any of the scenes in the Bible where people encounter God together, at least …

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Worshiping God Mind, Soul, and Body

When I was in Australia recently, I was asked to give a message three times called “Let the People be Glad: Worshiping God Mind, Soul, and Body.” It’s a topic that’s not only relevant to Australians but to Christians anywhere. I made it clear that while “worship” is a word that refers to our relationship to God in all of life, I was going to speak primarily about singing songs of praise when we gather. Throughout Israel’s history, God intended there to be a connection between the faithfulness, authenticity, and passion of their gatherings and the way they lived their daily lives. What the Israelites did when they met at the tabernacle or temple …

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Reflections on My Trip to Australia

The first ten days of October found me in Australia. It was my first time there. Hopefully not my last. I was hosted by Dave and Emma Taylor and their three charming kids, Josh, Amy, and Lydia. Dave pastors Sovereign Grace Church Sydney, now about one year old. It’s a church that evidences love for the Savior, for God’s Word, for each other, and for reaching their community with the gospel. Pure joy to hang out with them. I shared my itinerary in a previous post. Briefly, I spent time at Dave’s church, TWIST (The Word in Song Together) conferences in Brisbane and Sydney, a TWIST pastor’s conference, Moore college, an EMU Music songwriters …

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Lessons Learned From Three Decades of Leading

On Friday night at WorshipGod09, Jeff Purswell interviewed CJ Mahaney and me about some things we had learned over thirty years of leading, much of that together. From the early 90′s I was involved in leading the music at various Sovereign Grace conferences, and then in 1997 I became the worship pastor at Covenant Life Church, where CJ was senior pastor. CJ has been the most significant influence in my life when it comes to the focus and practicals of leading congregational worship. During the interview, Jeff asked us about different topics including the role of the senior pastor in planning/leading corporate worship, encouraging your …

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The Passionate Preaching of John Piper

At the recent WorshipGod09 conference, I taught a seminar called, “Let the People be Glad: Corporate Worship and Expressiveness.” I attempted to present some biblical principles for what we’re supposed to do with our bodies when we gather to praise God together. I know for some of you that’s a no-brainer, but for others it’s still a front-burner issue. John Piper is a great example of what happens when the heart’s passion for God is naturally expressed externally. He practices what he’s written in his books and proclaims in his preaching—worship (whether it’s singing or preaching) consists of strong affections rooted in biblical truth. Here’s …

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WorshipGod08 Seminars Now Available

Over at the Sovereign Grace website, we’ve finally posted 29 WorshipGod08 seminars for you to listen to or download for free. . . . Here’s the list: Band on the Run (Bob Kauflin) Building Bridges: Pastors and Worship Leaders (Bob Kauflin) Caring for Your Sound System (Darryl Wenger) Copyright Law and Church Music: The Eight Keys (Paul Herman) Drumming for Worshipers (Jordan Kauflin) Electric Guitar Workshop (Dave Campbell) Foundations for Bass Players (Don Nalle) Foundations for Keyboardists (Jon Payne) Growing Your Team for the Glory of God (Jon Payne) In-Ear Monitors (Doug Gould) Leading and Caring for …

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Friday Night at WorshipGod08 – Praising God with the Psalmist

We’ve finally posted portions of what took place Friday night at the WorshipGod08 conference. The purpose of this session was largely practical. I asked the question, “How do we become churches, congregations, that more accurately, naturally, and consistently, model the kind of relationship the Psalmists had with God?” I set it up by saying we were going to look at four concerns the Psalmists had that we should have as well. We looked at: what we do with our bodies what we do with our minds what we do with our trials God’s glory on the earth We ended up dividing the night into two “messages.” The first message includes the first …

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Encouraging Expressiveness in Worship When It’s Not “Cool”

This is the second clip from an hour plus interview that Tim Smith did with me when I was in Seattle last November. He’s asking me about an issue they’ve faced at Mars Hill Church, but one that I’m sure is common to many churches. How do you motivate people to physically express affection for God when they’re singing his praise, when their default attitude on hearing music is passivity and reservation? How do you keep from manipulating or commanding certain responses that are appropriate to biblical corporate worship? If you want to read more, I did a series on physical expressiveness a while back. You can find Part 1 here. …

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How Do We Grow in Using Musical Interludes?

This question came in from Dennis: How would pastors and worship leaders best transition a church from merely stopping all our songs when the lyrics end, into the occasional practice of those “musical interlude” worship times that I have seen and heard done at your church and others?…In our present church, if the instruments kept playing after all the lyrics had been sung, the congregation would just stare at us and wonder what we were doing…I see some value in those times and would like to move towards doing so on occasion. Musical interludes are like many aspects of congregational worship – not absolutely necessary to worshipping God in …

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Physical Expressiveness in Worship, Pt. 5

In response to the series I did on physical expressiveness in corporate worship, I received a follow-up question from the gentleman who originally asked the question. It was pretty extensive, but this was his closing query: Bottom, Bottom, Lowest of Bottom Lines: Am I exegetically, theologically, homiletically accurate when I say, “God COMMANDS us to CLAP our hands!”? Or should it be softened to “God ENCOURAGES us to express our love and worship to Him using our bodies?” And then let people do what they’re comfortable with. Great question. And I want to commend him for seeking to pinpoint as clearly as possible what God tells us in His Word …

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How Do We Grow in Physical Expressiveness in Worship? Pt. 4

This is my last post (for now) on the topic of bodily expression in corporate worship. Let me say again that in issues regarding our faith, physical expressiveness in corporate worship is an important but secondary issue. I have no problem worshiping God with a church that may be more enthusiastic or reserved than I’m used to, as long as they are proclaiming the same Gospel and glorying in the same Savior. However, our culture tends to separate head and heart, doctrine and devotion. Some congregations sing profoundly biblical lyrics with no visible effect (which doesn’t always mean they aren’t affected). Other churches are enthusiastically …

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How Do We Grow in Physical Expressiveness in Worship? Pt. 3

I’ve been talking about how to help a church grow in physical expression that draws attention to the greatness of God’s glory in Christ. After teaching on the appropriateness of that expression in worshipping God and the importance of the heart, I’d move on to: 3. Address the different reasons people might be reserved in their expression and teach on preferring others. Some Christians are simply unaware of what the Bible teaches about physical responses to God. They don’t know that Scripture is filled with examples of exuberant, passionate worship (Psalm 150; Neh. 8:6; Rev. 5:11-14). Perhaps they’ve grown up in a church environment …

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How Do We Grow in Physical Expressiveness in Worship? Pt. 2

Last Friday I started to answer this question from a pastor: “Exactly how, and how much should we encourage our people to follow the numerous commands throughout Scripture of bodily expression (as a natural outpouring of the heart)?” I began by saying we must teach our people that physical expression is appropriate in biblical worship. We aren’t disembodied spirits. God intends that we use our whole beings to bring him praise (Ps. 16:9). But how and how much? We don’t simply tell people to “sing like they mean it,” or “jump higher for Jesus,” although in my early zeal to see God honored I crossed that line a few times. Commanding …

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How Do We Grow in Physical Expressiveness in Worship? Pt. 1

After the Together for the Gospel conference, I received a lengthy e-mail from a worship pastor in attendance who shared a current dilemma his pastoral team is facing. They have been “wrestling with how to best be obedient to Scripture in our corporate worship through song.” His church contains people who are “naturally NOT very expressive AT ALL” during that time. So he asks: “Exactly how, and how much should we encourage our people to follow the numerous commands throughout Scripture of bodily expression (as a natural outpouring of the heart)? First, I want to thank this pastor and his team for their humility in seeking to wrestle …

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To Clap or Not to Clap?

In response to my mention of clapping at the Together for the Gospel conference, Steve commented: “I grew up in the type of church where clapping was extremely frowned upon.  Later, as an adult, I got involved in more contemporary settings…where clapping, along with and after songs, was the norm…I recently watched a live DVD recording of a particular band doing an incredibly delicate and moving rendition of “I Love You, Lord.”  As the last soft chord decayed, the audience began to cheer and clap.  It suddenly seemed inappropriate to me.” In a more general sense, Jon asked: “How we are to treat the commands of the psalms….clap, …

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