Archive | —Worship and the Church

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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Matt Mason on God’s Love for His Church

Matt Mason has been a good friend for over a decade now. He faithfully served in the Sovereign Grace church in New Orleans until last year when he took a position at The Church at Brook Hills with David Platt. I’m grateful God is now using Matt to provide gospel-centered, theologically informed, pastorally wise musical leadership for the folks at Brook Hills. At WorshipGod East (June 27-29) I’ve asked Matt to lead us in song for one session, and to teach a seminar called “The Great God and His Beloved Church.” Matt graciously took time to answer a few questions about himself and his seminar. 1. Briefly share your testimony of conversion …

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Matt Searles – Now and Not Yet

The worship song outpouring in the last two decades has resulted in thousands of new songs for the church to sing. Many have been expressions of praise, thanksgiving, love, and commitment to God. Others intentionally seek to help us engage directly with God’s Word to us. That’s one of the purposes of music Paul refers to in Colossians 3:16 when he says that we’re to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly as we sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. I was encouraged a while back to come across an album by Matt Searles, a 32 year old assistant pastor at Dundonald Church in Wimbledon, London. The album is called Now and Not Yet – Acoustic …

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Pastoring Through Song – Notes from Sydney

Here’s another message I shared in Australia at the one day TWIST Pastor’s Conference. I first gave this message in 2004 and called it “Corporate Worship as Pastoral Care.” The talk developed out of a realization that we can often be unaware of how God wants to use the lyrics of songs and how they’re led to care for people’s souls. We’re doing more than simply singing songs together when we gather, hoping for some “worshipful” or “anointed” moment to happen. The Holy Spirit is at work to encourage, impart faith, convict, and comfort as we “teach and admonish one another” through song. Here’s a brief outline of my message. You can download …

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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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Behind Closed Doors – Connecting Your Public and Private Worship

WorshipGod11: The Gathering, (Aug. 10-13), is a little under three months away. I’m excited that Bryan Chapell, Ray Ortlund, Jr., Thabiti Anyabwile, Craig Cabaniss, Enfield, Sojourn, Shai Linne, Don Whitney, and a few others will be joining us as we reflect on what kind of story our meetings are telling. One of the 40 seminars we’ll offer will be taught by Joseph Stigora, who serves on the pastoral team at Covenant Fellowship in Glen Mills, PA. His seminar is called “Behind Closed Doors.” It addresses the relationship between our public and private worship. I asked him a few questions about his topic. 1. What do you hope will be filling …

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Training the Next Generation to Hope in God, Not Us

At last year’s WorshipGod conference, I gave a message on The Future of Worship, based on the opening verses to Psalm 78. I’m increasingly aware of is how important it is to pass on the right things from generation to the next, and this message was an attempt to address that topic. Here’s a 3:45 video clip from that message where I’m focusing on Ps. 78:7: “so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” I talk about how important it is to make sure those who are following us are putting their hope in God and the gospel – not us, our musical preferences, our technology, or our efforts. What …

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The Contemporvant Service – What Can We Learn?

If you read my blog, you’ve probably already seen this video put out by North Point Media. It’s racked up thousands of views in the past couple weeks for obvious reasons and sparked some lively debate over at Vimeo.com. Like most viral videos seeking to make a point, this one has its supporters and detractors. Some call it a brilliant parody while others are deeply offended by its supposed slap in the face at churches targeting unbelievers. I tend to side with the first group, and I think there are a few things we can learn from it. 1. It’s a good practice, and even humble, to poke fun at ourselves. If we think that everything we do in …

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When Snow Keeps the Church from Meeting

The blizzard of 2009 prevented our church from meeting this morning. We ended up having a few families from our neighborhood over for a time of singing and prayer, thanking God for all his gifts, especially sending his Son to redeem us. After that we chowed down on eggs and french toast. I appreciated what Josh Harris, our senior pastor, sent out to the church via email, and also posted on the church blog. It’s an example of grace-filled leadership that builds the church together, roots us in the gospel, and encourages grateful serving, even when we can’t meet. Which, come to think of it, is the way we should always be thinking. Well, I’m …

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Christ-Centered Worship by Bryan Chappell – Book Review

Just finished Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice, by Bryan Chappell. Bottom line — if you’re responsible for leading, overseeing, or planning corporate worship in your church, you should read this book. Chappell divides the book into two sections, Gospel Worship and Gospel Worship Resources. A casual look at the Table of Contents could lead you to think the book is all about formal liturgies, and irrelevant for churches that come from a more “free” tradition. Not the case. In the first section he defines liturgy as “the public way a church honors God in its times of gathered praise, prayer, instruction, and commitment” …

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The Legacy of Asaph – Learning to Sing in the Same Room

Yesterday I referred to the message I gave on The Future of Worship at WorshipGod09:From Generation to Generation, I spoke from Ps. 78:1-8 and shared the story of Asaph. My first point was that God commands us to tell the coming generations what he has done. Psalm 78 is a maskil of Asaph, and one of 12 Psalms ascribed to Asaph. Whether Asaph actually wrote them or not, we can’t be sure. But one thing we can be sure of is that his influence lasted for centuries. Asaph ministered at the tabernacle as a Levite. When David recaptured the ark of the covenant and returned it to Jerusalem, Asaph was appointed by the other Levites “to raise sounds …

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The Future of Worship: Passing the Baton

At WorshipGod09:From Generation to Generation, I gave the last message on The Future of Worship, based on Ps. 78:1-8. The previous messages had dealt mostly with the biblical values of worship we want to pass on to future generations – the nature of God, the importance of the heart, the role of leadership, the significance of the local church, and more. The question I asked in my message was: What do we need to keep in mind as we seek to transfer these and other biblical values of worship to the next generation? In preparing for the message I came across some comments from Nigel Hetherington, the Scottish National Sprints and Hurdles coach. …

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How I Got Here

Ben, a 28 year old worship leader, is in the midst of some career decisions. He emailed me the following to me: You seem to be actively employing several different gifts and passions. You’re sort of a hybrid preacher/producer/worshiper/blogger guy.  You are living outside the box – and that’s exciting to me. As I dream of what my life and career could look like, my most
satisfying career would look a lot like yours does now. However, I don’t
really know how to get from where I am now to where I’d like to be.  I
wonder how it is that you’ve come to the place where you are now: leading
worship, producing albums of your church’s …

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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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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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