Archive | —Worship and Music

Will the Sunday After Easter be a Letdown?

Many pastors, music leaders, and production personnel are breathing a deep sigh of relief after this past weekend. After all the planning, strategizing, prayer, preparation, and practice, the Easter weekend service(s) finally happened. Everything (for the most part) came together and people were well served. The music was moving, the preaching powerful, and the effect exhilarating. And throughout the world, thousands of people were baptized and saved for the glory of God. But you may be starting to wonder what you’re going to do next Sunday. Maybe you’re even asking yourself, “How do I keep this coming Sunday from being a major letdown?” …

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I Worship God by Singing. You Should, Too.

Last week Donald Miller, probably best known as the author of Blue Like Jazz, wrote a blog post called, “I Don’t Worship God by Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere.” It came as I was  working on a chapter for my book, True Worshipers. A chapter called “True Worshipers Sing.” I was surprised by the categorical nature of Don’s title and even more concerned after reading the post. Don seemed more committed to being honest (brutally honest at one point) and telling us about his learning style than helping us see more clearly what God might think about our singing. I’ve read some thoughtful responses to Don’s post from Mike Cosper, Denny Burk …

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On God, Glory, Grace, and Grammys

As a professional musician for almost 40 years, I’m at least mildly interested in the Grammys each year. Who are the young artists that will be tomorrow’s legends? Where is music headed, if anywhere? What old artists are continuing to produce great music or making a comeback? Since this past Sunday, there’s been a disproportionate amount of online buzz about the show. I watched a part of it and was freshly grateful for a DVR with fast forward capabilities. In case you missed it, this year’s event included an overtly sensual duet between Beyoncé and Jay Z, a satanically influenced segment by Katy Perry, and a mass wedding for 30+ heterosexual …

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From the Archives: Why Theology Matters to Musicians

This post is based on a message I gave at the Christian Musician Summit in 2008. When Christian musicians get together, we tend to assume we all have our theology down and we can focus on honing our chops, discovering new gear, and improving our techniques and methodologies. Or maybe we think that theology isn’t that important. Whatever the reason, I wanted to make clear that even at the Christian Musician Summit, theology matters. Theology is literally the “study of God,” particularly as he has revealed himself in Scripture. It includes not only studying the Bible, but understanding how the different parts of the Bible fit together. Christian …

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From the Archives: Ten Reasons to Share Musical Opinions Humbly

I’ve been musing recently about how we express our musical opinions. Why do we feel so strongly about songs, bands, and styles? And why do we draw conclusions so quickly? Nope. Don’t like it. That stinks. I can’t stand that kind of music. You like that stuff? Is there anything wrong with raving about the music/artists we love and being swift to trash those we despise? If we’re Christians, yes. Let me suggest ten reasons why musical forbearance might be good for our souls. 1. Being a self-appointed music critic is often just a sign of pride. Using outrageous or exaggerated words to put down certain songs, styles, or artists can be a symptom …

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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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stock image hands palying a full sized piano keyboard

Should We Play Music Behind People Praying?

Someone in my church recently sent me an email asking why we play music behind different portions of the Sunday meeting (prayers, baptisms, readings, etc.). It’s a good question. We can be influenced by our musically addicted culture, as well as our traditions and practices, to believe it’s impossible for God’s Spirit to move in people’s hearts apart from music. That kind of thinking makes music a mediator rather than a means. God can use music to do his work. But he doesn’t need music to do his work. So the direct answer to the question, “Should we play music behind people praying?” is “not necessarily.” It can easily be mistaken for …

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Music – Gift or God?

Back in November I had the privilege of speaking at the Christian Musician Summit in Seattle, WA. In one of the main sessions, I spoke on the topic of Music:  Gift or God? and mentioned that I’d post my notes on my blog. I had forgotten until someone emailed me the other day asking for them. So here’s what I shared… Music is a very good gift. The 13,000 songs on my iTunes are testimony to that. My eyes have often welled up in tears as I’ve been affected by a lyric, a chord progression, or a musical texture. I’ve thanked God for the gift of music more times than I can remember. Whenever I think about my love for music, I’m reminded of …

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The Functional Limits of Creativity: How Innovative Can We Be with the Gospel?

This past weekend I had the privilege of presenting a workshop at Crowder’s Fantastical Church Music Conference in Waco, TX. Through a series of email discussions, David and I came up with the title, “The Functional Limits of Creativity: How Innovative Can We Be with the Gospel?” When Crowder first contacted me about participating in the conference I wanted to make sure he knew where I was coming from in the area of creativity. I love creativity, but think God has placed limits on its use in congregational meetings. He told me that’s why he wanted me to come to the conference. Well, that made my day. I divided my workshop message into …

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Spurgeon on the Inexhaustibility of Jesus

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) has few peers when it comes to stirring up biblically informed passion for Jesus Christ. My wife made me aware of one of his quotes today from The Daily Spurgeon. It’s from a sermon called “The Fulness Of Jesus, The Treasury Of Saints,” that Spurgeon delivered February 28, 1869. Spurgeon describes how both preaching and music grow dull if they don’t magnify the greatness of the Savior in people’s minds and hearts. His words are just as relevant today as they were 140 years ago. “Brethren, there is an abiding fullness of truth in Christ; after you have heard it for fifty years, you see more of its fullness …

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50 Messages on Worship

Over at his blog, Between Two Worlds, my friend Justin Taylor has posted links to a number of messages on worship that were given at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Speakers include David Peterson, John Frame, Kevin Twit, Harold Best, Keith and Kristyn Getty, Michael Card, Jason Harms, and yours truly. Over 50 messages, all with links. I was was able to attend David Peterson’s lectures and thought they were outstanding. Topics cover worship as it relates to the music, the arts, hymns, lament, the cross, the Word, postmodernism,  jazz, and more. Check out the lectures here. …

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Ten Reasons to Share Musical Opinions Humbly

I’ve been musing recently about how we express our musical opinions. Why do we feel so strongly about songs, bands, and styles? And why do we draw conclusions so quickly? Nope. Don’t like it. That stinks. I can’t stand that kind of music. You like that stuff? Is there anything wrong with raving about the music/artists we love and being swift to trash those we despise? If we’re Christians, yes. Let me suggest ten reasons why musical forbearance might be good for our souls. 1. Being a self-appointed music critic is often just a sign of pride. Using outrageous or exaggerated words to put down certain songs, styles, or artists can be a symptom …

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Why Theology Matters to Christian Musicians

This past weekend I spoke at the Christian Musician Summit on Why Theology Matters to Christian musicians. When Christian musicians get together, our tendency is to assume we all have our theology down and we can focus on honing our chops, discovering new gear, and improving our techniques and methodologies. Or maybe we think that theology isn’t that important. Whatever the reason, I wanted to make clear that even at the Christian Musicians Summit, theology matters. I started by saying that theology is literally the “study of God,” particularly as he has revealed himself in Scripture. It includes not only studying the Bible, but understanding …

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What is a Successful Christian Musician?

This past weekend I had the joy of speaking on various topics at the Christian Musician Summit in Overlake, WA, near Seattle. It was a very encouraging time, and I met quite a few people who were currently using Worship Matters with their worship team. Great hooking up with old friends and making some new ones. I mentioned to a few folks that I’d be posting my message and workshop notes on my blog. So that’s what I’ll be doing over the next few days. In the opening session I spoke on “What is a Successful Christian Musician?” I chose that topic because I know that when we attend large conferences led by highly skilled musicians, we can be …

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