Tag Archives | For Pastors

Thoughts on Worship Hits

If you’re a worship leader or music minister there’s a good chance you’ve heard another leader talking about the new song they just introduced. They describe it as the most “incredible, life-changing, awesome, heaven-releasing, God-calling-down, what-you-haven’t-heard-it-yet” song they’ve ever done. You heart sinks as you realize that not only have you not heard the song, you didn’t even know the CD was out. When you think of the 80 CD’s on your desk you still haven’t listened to, you really feel like a loser. “How can anyone in my church even worship?” If you’ve ever had those thoughts, you’re not alone. The problem lies mainly in our sinful …

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The Everlasting God and the Gospel

Ken Boer, who serves as music director at my church, encouraged me to share some of the thoughts I have as I plan songs for a Sunday meeting. This past Sunday morning as Josh Harris and I were talking about songs for Sunday, he asked if we could introduce the song, Everlasting God, by Brenton and Ken Riley. It’s taken from the CD of the same name. Here are the lyrics: Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, We will wait upon the Lord We will wait upon the Lord (repeat) Our God You reign forever Our hope our strong deliv’rer You are the everlasting God The everlasting God You do not faint You won’t grow weary You’re the defender …

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Quality or Quantity on the Worship Team?

I recently received this question from John: We currently have four worship teams, giving 15-20 people a month a chance to lead in music, either by singing or playing an instrument. I’d guess that a quarter of these people are very skilled musically, and have been split among the four teams. We’ve discussed cutting the number of teams down to one or two that would be much more musically adept; the downside of this is that many “moderate” musicians would no longer have a chance to share their musical gifts as a part of worship. We want to be sensitive to everyone, yet provide the highest quality music possible for all of the obvious reasons. What …

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Should Worship Be Fun?

More than once I’ve heard Christians claim 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’d like 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” doesn’t seem to characterize many of the scenes where people encounter God in the Bible. We’re told to worship …

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Worship Team or Songleader?

I received this question from Dennis: What would you say are the benefits of a “worship team” (several singers leading at the front) as opposed to one “songleader”? From what I can see, at least one major benefit is, to have many voices projecting the volume of a song *AT* the congregation, to help them catch on to it. This has been especially helpful when learning new songs. Are there other benefits of a worship team, in your opinion? No church ever needs to feel as though their corporate worship is less biblical, authentic, effective, or genuine because they don’t have a “worship team.” God doesn’t give us specific direction in Scripture …

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Worshipping God as a Worship Leader & Pastor at 52

The number 52 took on new meaning for me a few days ago. I was aware there are 52 cards in a deck and 52 weeks in a year. As of this past Sunday, there are 52 years in my life. I’m getting old. Growing older has its drawbacks. We’ve seen them first hand as our parents have confronted things like Alzheimer’s, injuries, and debilitating diseases. But I’m certain that God intends us to think of getting older in a positive way. Or else why would he say things like this: “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life” (Prov. 16:31). “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray …

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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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Should We Change Musical Settings?

This question was sent in by Juanita: As a classically trained musician and someone who has sung parts for most of my life, I am confused when I see arrangements for hymns that are completely different from what is traditionally written…Do congregations actually sing songs often enough to get tired of the musical arrangements, especially when there are other options available for freshening up a piece? It seems to me that it can actually be unsettling to a congregation, especially for the musical people in its midst, to have the music, i.e., the basic structure of the music, changing. I actually find it distracting to the words myself. As …

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Evaluating Worship Song Lyrics

This question came from Jeff: One of the members of my worship team is struggling with the line from one of your songs, Glory Be to God. The line is “Being’s source begins to be.” She feels that it communicates that God is not eternal, that there was a time when the second Person of the Trinity did not exist and then began to be. I have tried teach her that language always has to be interpreted in context and that the line is basically highlighting the mystery of the incarnation – that Jesus was both infinite God and somehow a finite man (or baby)…Is it acceptable to change the line of the song when we sing it to “Being’s source becomes a …

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Worship Leaders – The Christian Musician Summit Reflections

This past weekend I had the privilege of joining 3000 or so folks at the Christian Musician Summit – Improving Skill, Inspiring Talent, held at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, Washington, near Seattle. My good friend Pat Sczebel, joined me from Vancouver, BC, where he serves as a pastor in Crossway Community Church. I marveled again at how diverse the body of Christ is. Ages ranged from 15 to 75, and I talked to people from every kind of denomination, meeting format, church size, and musical preference. Over two days people could attend 9 of 170 seminars that were offered, three main sessions, and two evening concerts. It was a massive …

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Worship Leaders & Pastors – The Trap of Comparison

Throughout my life, one of my greatest temptations has been to compare myself to others. I hardly have to work at it. It just comes naturally. I see someone else leading a congregation in worship and one of two things happens. Either I start to criticize his singing, playing, leading, song selection, content, or looks (if I’m really desperate); or I feel sorry for myself because he’s doing something better than I would or could. The only worship that’s taking place in my heart at those moments is directed towards me. Today and tomorrow I have the privilege of speaking at the Seminars4Worship event in Pittsburgh, PA. Paul Baloche, whose …

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Worship Leaders & Pastors – Song Recommendations for Youth Groups

Jay, who is serving as a youth intern, wrote in to ask: I have been searching and searching for songs which have theological depth and substance but it has been quite the challenge in looking through the modern worship scene. I have found Sovereign Grace Music and the songs of Townend and Getty to be a huge help. But what I am asking is, what would you suggest for the next 10 or so songs that we could add to our youth group worship service? I’ll start by making a few general recommendations, then suggest specific songs. It’s worth picking up any CD by Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Indelible Grace, and the new Matthew Smith CD. Paul Baloche’s latest, …

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