Tag Archives | For Worship Leaders

Reflections on Leading Worship at Together for the Gospel

If you just read the comments on my last Together for the Gospel post, you might be tempted to think that things went flawlessly. Not the case. Practically every time I lead I learn something new about what I’m doing, even though I’ve been leading worship for over 30 years now. I pray that I’m always learning something. Here are some of the things I learned, put into practice, or remembered this year. You can experience and express strong emotions for God while singing hymns. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say that hymns are dry, academic, lyrically dense, and inappropriate for “passionate worship.” That may be true in some …

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For Music

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine, Greg Gilbert, posted a blog on the 9Marks site called Against Music. The title was more an attention grabber than a statement of Greg’s attitude toward music in general. He was cautioning Christians against becoming spiritually dependent on music in their relationship with God. He wrote: The bottom line, I suppose, is that it would do every Christian well to do some honest heart-searching about what makes them feel “close to God.” Can you feel close to God just by reading or saying the words, “In Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”? Would you be able …

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Another Reason to Sing About the Cross

I just finished reading Where Wrath and Mercy Meet, edited by David Peterson. It’s taken from a series of messages given at Oak Hill College in the summer of 2000. They were a response to current challenges to the view that Jesus receiving the punishment we deserved at the cross. Otherwise known as the doctrine of penal substitution. Parts of the book were a little too technical for me, but I especially appreciated the last chapter by Paul Weston, and the appendix by Alan Stibbs. Dr. Stibbs’ contribution came from a message he gave 50 years ago on the need to recover the doctrine of justification by faith in preaching. I think his words can …

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Before the Throne of God Above (music by Vikki Cook)

A few Sundays ago, I led worship at my home church. One of the songs we sang was Before the Throne of God Above. I’m posting an audio of what we did because I wanted to make a number of points with it. Feel free to listen as you read. [Audio:http://sgm.edgeboss.net/download/sgm/worshipmatters/freesong/before_the_throne_of_god_above.mp3] 1. Introducing You to the Song: Even though “Before the Throne of God Above” has been recorded by Sonic Flood, Selah, Promise Keepers, Lou Fellingham (from Phatfish), Sojourn Church, GLAD, Shane and Shane, Matt Papa, and possibly others, you might not have heard it yet. So I wanted you to hear it. The lyrics, …

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Worship Songs for the Persecuted Church

I received this question from a Worship Matters reader: We’re having a missions conference in our church in Northern Ireland towards the end of November. The theme is the persecuted church. Have you any songs or sources you could recommend on this theme? I am keen to find songs that allow us to pray for and stand with our brothers and sisters and allow us to fulfill the command of Hebrews 13:3 ‘Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.’ Here are a few that came to mind: A Mighty Fortress is Our God – “let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also, the body …

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Sin and Sunday Morning

Joel Osteen was interviewed by Byron Pitts on 60 Minutes this past Sunday. I didn’t see the program but was able to watch it at CBS News Online. I recognize that the media can distort what someone actually says. But taken at face value, the interview was concerning. Here’s one portion from the transcript: “You said ‘I like to see myself as a life coach, a motivator to help them experience the life of God that God has for them. People don’t like to be beat down and told ‘You’ve done wrong.’ What do you mean?” Pitts asks. “Well, I think that most people already know what they’re doing wrong. And for me to get in here and just beat ‘em …

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Worshiping the Triune God

Recently a Roman Catholic bishop suggested that Christians could pray to Allah. Al Mohler posted a response on his blog. He wrote: From its very starting point Islam denies what Christianity takes as its central truth claim — the fact that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of the Father. If Allah has no Son by definition, Allah is not the God who revealed himself in the Son. How then can the use of Allah by Christians lead to anything but confusion . . .and worse? While I doubt that anyone who normally reads Worship Matters is thinking about worshiping Allah, it did remind me how important it is to identify the God we worship when we meet …

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Should We Use Secular Songs on Sundays?

Matt sent in this question: I recently came across a message board where folks were discussing secular songs that could be done to make “seekers” feel more comfortable at church. Some folks mentioned that they had been to church’s where song such as: “She Will be Loved” by Maroon 5, “Your Body is a Wonderland” by John Mayer (that Sunday’s service was about sexuality), lots of U2, etc. I’m really interested to hear your thoughts about doing songs like these. Should we seek to evangelize during our times of worshiping God through singing corporately? There are three ways I want to respond to Matt’s question. First, the idea that we should make …

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How Do You Approach Planning for Easter?

Kendall sent me this question: I think most of us feel the pressure to “pull out all the stops” for Easter, whether that means a drama, special choir number, special communion service, hired orchestra, etc. What are some ways you have sought to make the celebration of the Resurrection special at Covenant Life? Does your congregation and/or pastoral team do anything different to make that Sunday a more focused evangelistic outreach? Many non-Christians are more likely to attend a Sunday meeting on “special” days like Christmas and Easter. Reasons vary. It may be persistent family members or neighbors. It might be the big production the …

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Reflections on Easter (With Some Song Recommendations)

Churches throughout the world will celebrate Easter next month, following a church calendar that Christians have used for centuries. Many may also do something unique for Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday and/or Good Friday. It should go without saying that Jesus’ substitutionary death for our sins and his victorious triumph over the grave should be our focus not only every Easter, but every week and every day. This is the Gospel of Christ, who is our life – the Gospel that we must continue in and never shift from, the Gospel in which we stand, the Gospel that strengthens us, the Gospel that has been entrusted to us, the Gospel for which we are called …

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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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Worship Leaders – How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways

This morning the Washington Post business section ran a column called, “To Me, With Love: Retailers Embrace Valentine’s Day as an Excuse for Singles to Celebrate Themselves.” Among other interesting facts, the article reports that Piperlime, an online shoe store owned by Gap, has a “Be your own Valentine” category. Sales are strong for Valentine’s Day gifts you can give to the person you love the most – yourself. You may not have the nerve to give a Valentine’s gift to yourself, but you’re probably no stranger to self-love. There is an appropriate way to humbly acknowledge that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). However that …

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Worship Leaders – Should Sound Teams Recycle Batteries?

Jonathan sent this question in: Several members of my church’s A/V team proposed that we begin using NiCd 9 Volt batteries for all of our wireless equipment, following the thought that our church should be good stewards of God’s gifts and not use alkaline batteries, which can be seen as expensive, wasteful, and harmful to the environment. Unfortunately, because of the energy-leaking nature of NiCd batteries, we are quickly becoming frustrated with their lack of dependability, compared to their alkaline brethren. My question is this: as stewards of not only the audio/visual quality of each service, but also finance and the environment, what are …

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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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