Archive | —Worship and the Pastor

Leading Worship in Song When You’re Not a Musician

I’m often asked if it’s possible to lead worship in song if you’re not a musician. In my response I usually make the point that leading corporate worship is pastoral function before it’s a musical one. So the answer is, “yes.” Through the years I’ve had the privilege of training the men in the Pastors College of Sovereign Grace Ministries  in the area of music and worship. Most of the guys have at least one opportunity to lead the rest of the class in song, whether they’re musical or not. It helps them see what really goes in to leading, and also enables them to evaluate others in a more informed way. They learn that you …

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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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Who’s in Charge Here?

In a church context it’s sometimes difficult to know the difference between leading the singing and leading the meeting. It’s an important distinction. I recently talked to a worship leader who asked about how I’d handle a situation he just went through. His pastor asked him to lead a specific song to close the meeting. In fact, he insisted on it, although the worship leader expressed doubts about its effectiveness. When the end of the meeting came, another leader accidentally dismissed the congregation prematurely. The worship leader was ready to start the final song but people were already streaming out the doors. The pastor caught his eye …

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When Should a Worship Song Be Retired?

I was talking with a pastor the other day about one of his worship leaders who has a hard time leaving old songs behind (as in “Shine, Jesus, Shine”). Apparently there are a few songs from the 80s that the worship leader still finds quite moving. Unfortunately, the pastor and many young members of the congregation don’t share his enthusiasm. Our conversation led me to think of a few questions that might be asked in this situation: Is it wrong to retire old songs? If so, how do you know the right time? Do we even need to be singing new songs? What makes a song “old?” Once a song is retired, should we ever bring it back? Here are a …

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Learning to Live with Limitations at Together for the Gospel

The Rolling Stones, not generally known for wise words of instruction, reminded us of the truth that, “You can’t always get what you want.” Next week I have the joy and privilege of leading 7000+ Together for the Gospel conference attendees in singing the praises of our great Savior. Typically I lead with a full band, and enjoy the variety that can be achieved by adding various acoustic instruments, synths, percussion, and vocalists to the mix. But you can’t always get what you want. So at Together for the Gospel this year, it will just be me and a piano. Just like 2006 and 2008. Will I be limited? Yes. Will I praise God any less passionately? …

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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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Memorizing Great Hymns

Last month my church started memorizing great hymns of the faith. We’ll be memorizing a hymn a month for ten months. Ken Boer, who oversees music at Covenant Life, explains on the church website why we’re doing this: Memorizing hymns is one of the ways we can obey Scripture’s command to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16). We’re doing this project because we want to benefit not only from the songs written in our lifetime, but also from hymns that have served the people of God …

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Encouraging Spontaneity in Your Church

While at the Christian Musician Summit this past weekend I taught a workshop on Encouraging Spontaneity in Your Church. We had about 200 folks crammed into a room that held about 150, so it was, shall we say, a cozy setting. At one point, I led the group in singing spontaneous responses to different sections of Psalm 100, similar to what we did at the WorshipGod conference.  It’s a form of meditating on God’s Word through song. It was moving to hear how God spoke to different individuals through that exercise. Here’s a general outline of what I shared in the seminar. You can download my complete notes here. Cautions About Spontaneity 1. …

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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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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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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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Worship Leaders – How Do I Support My Pastor When We Disagree?

A reader wrote in to ask: How do I serve and support the role of my Senior Pastor when his approach to corporate worship may sound a little different than what I get from your conferences? Great question, and not the first time I’ve been asked. This question reveals what happens when the worship leader and musicians are getting biblical training and the pastor isn’t. It highlights the need for pastors to think about worship theologically, rather than basing their thoughts on past experiences or the culture. But what do you do if you’re in a church where the pastor is asking you to do things that you don’t think are going to serve the church …

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Worship Leaders & Pastors – I-MAGnify Who?

Every leader of congregational worship dreads those meetings when everything seems to be going wrong. Vocals are out of tune, strings break, everyone but the drummer finishes the song, you forget the words, sing the wrong verse, or play the wrong chords…the list is endless. Last August at the WorshipGod06 conference, we presented the skit I-MAGnify to encourage everyone who has encountered or someday soon will encounter that situation. We watch a struggling worship leader receive instruction from his “alter-ego” about how he can get people more involved. Ironically, the song he’s attempting to lead is “Receive the Glory,” based on Psalm 115: Not …

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Can I Learn to Love Evaluation?

Aaron left this question on a recent post: I’ve found it difficult at times to be in a mindset that is ready to accept encouragement and critique after a “big event.” I realize that a large part of this is my own pride and desire for everyone to like what happened and move on. However, I am often so drained and spent after an endeavor like a conference or a Christmas musical that I don’t even want to think about it anymore. Is this a symptom of focusing on the event more than Christ? Is there a way to get through the “big events” in church life without losing your focus on Christ and still be excited about your job after the event is over? I …

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Preparing for and Evaluating the Worship Service

I received this question a while back: Do you happen to have anything that you have given out to worship leaders as far as a check-list of items to review as they are preparing for a Sunday morning? The simple answer to this would be “no.” However, a few years ago C.J. Mahaney and I put together ten questions for evaluating corporate worship, which might serve as a memory jogger. 1. Is our Savior’s substitutionary sacrifice on the Cross clearly and repeatedly presented through song lyrics and exhortations as central to our worship and the means by which we approach God? 2. Is it evident to the church and guests that all we do is rooted …

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