Tag Archives | leading on Sundays

When Things Don’t Go As Planned

What do you do when in the middle of leading worship you have a train wreck? We had the opportunity to find out at the WorshipGod conference last August. Joseph Stigora, from Covenant Fellowship in Philadelphia, was doing a great job leading with his team. But as he started into a musical rendition of Psalm 96, things took a turn for the worse. The band was suddenly playing in two keys. At the same time. You can watch it for yourself here. While God commends the development of skill (Prov. 22:29), and laziness is no excuse for lack of preparation, there are times that even deliberate practice doesn’t keep us from messing up. But …

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Choirs in Worship

In an earlier post I mentioned a question left in one of the comments. Collin wrote: With my limited experience I am able to lead a full band on Sunday mornings but it stops there. Our church has many capable individuals that would be involved in a choir but my limitations keep me from taking the plunge and just going for it with some simple choir pieces. Do have any suggestions, for someone with my limited experience, how to go about leading a choir? Should I hold off and wait until I have proper training in leading a choir? I know a choir would serve our worship time so it is something I would like to see on occasion on Sunday mornings. In …

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How Does Music “Work” in Worship?

This is the third clip from a longer video in which Tim Smith, worship pastor from Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA, asked me various questions related to worship. In this portion, Tim asked me about the relationship between music and worship. In it I talk about some of the factors that have made music such a volatile issue in the church today, and different ways that Christians view music. Just scratching the surface here…If you want to dig deeper, I’d highly recommend you read Harold Best’s Music Through the Eyes of Faith. I read it in the mid-90′s and haven’t found anything as insightful, helpful, and biblically faithful. …

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Encouraging Expressiveness in Worship When It’s Not “Cool”

This is the second clip from an hour plus interview that Tim Smith did with me when I was in Seattle last November. He’s asking me about an issue they’ve faced at Mars Hill Church, but one that I’m sure is common to many churches. How do you motivate people to physically express affection for God when they’re singing his praise, when their default attitude on hearing music is passivity and reservation? How do you keep from manipulating or commanding certain responses that are appropriate to biblical corporate worship? If you want to read more, I did a series on physical expressiveness a while back. You can find Part 1 here. …

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Worship Experiences and the Presence of God

Last November I was in Seattle at the Acts 29 Resurgence conference and had the opportunity to spend some time with the Mars Hill Worship Pastor, Tim Smith. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Tim and talking to him about topics including the Psalms, Jonathan Edwards, physical expressiveness in worship, and how to organize music teams in the church. I found Tim to be thoughtful, humble, and committed to searching the Scriptures to better understand what it means to worship God. While I was there, Tim took the opportunity to interview me on video for about two hours. Acts 29 posted a video on their site, but it’s over an hour long. I plan to …

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Spontaneous and Prophetic Songs

A week and a half ago I posted on some of the spontaneous songs I sang at the New Attitude conference. Aaron left this comment on another post about New Attitude: Regarding the spontaneous song(s) – could you comment or perhaps designate a separate post explaining the “prophetic song”. I thought the song was a sweet ministry to those under affliction & I thought you set it up well & carefully. However, those of us coming from a cessationist view would be interested in hearing you talk about this in more detail. I wrote about this in my book, Worship Matters, because it’s a gift I’ve been studying or exercising for about twenty years. …

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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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Sunday Morning Video #3

The past two days I’ve posted videos from a recent Sunday morning at Covenant Life. The first one is here, the second one is here. These aren’t examples of someone doing everything right. Hardly. They just contain examples of a lot of the things I’ve written about at Worship Matters. Today I’m posting an example of spontaneity. Being “reformed charismatics,” we value the sufficiency, authority, and inerrancy of Scripture as well as the active presence of the Holy Spirit through the spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Cor. 14 and elsewhere. During the fourth song that Sunday, Lost in Wonder, two pastors came up and shared prophetic impressions from …

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Sunday Morning Video #2

Yesterday I posted a video of something I shared on a recent Sunday morning as I was leading. It was the introduction to the song “Come Christians Join to Sing.” It’s a traditional hymn that we’ve updated musically and lyrically. Kevin Hartnett, a member of my church, wrote a third verse that highlights the main reason we can sing — Jesus has died for our sins in our place and risen from the dead. Here’s the verse he added: Come praise the risen Lamb, Alleluia! Amen! He died to ransom man Alleluia! Amen! On that triumphant day He took our sins away! Death could not bid him stay Alleluia! Amen! You can download a copy of the guitar chart …

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Sunday Morning Video #1

For today and the next two days I’m going to be posting some videos from a recent Sunday morning at my home church. I know that sharing principles is different from actually seeing what takes place, and a number of people told me how helpful it was the last time I posted the audio from one of our Sunday meetings. The order of songs that morning was: How Great is Our God (Chris Tomlin) Haven’t You Been Good (Steve Earl) Come Christians Join to Sing (Trad. hymn, vs. 3 by Kevin Hartnett) Lost in Wonder (Martyn Layzell) Speak O Lord (Keith Getty & Stuart Townend) We sang the first two songs as a medley. We had to do the first …

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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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Encouraging Spontaneous Singing on Your Team

I received this question from Steve: In the past year or so I’ve been encouraging the vocalists on our Sunday morning worship teams to feel more freedom to sing spontaneously between verses or musical lines. They hear me speaking or singing during a song and a few of them are beginning to grow in freedom. I think it’s generally been a positive contribution to our corporate worship. However, on a few occasions it’s misfired: we’ve spoken/sung over the top of each other, what they contribute wasn’t clear, or it wasn’t musically fitting. And on at least one occasion a vocalist’s contribution had the effect of momentarily blurring …

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Addressing One Another in Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

This past Sunday I had the privilege of speaking at Solid Rock Church, the Sovereign Grace church in Riverdale, Maryland, not far from where I live. I spoke on Eph. 5:15-21 and called the message, “Spirit-filled Singing.” I shared six characteristics of singing that are a result of being filled with the Spirit. My first point was “Spirit-filled singing is to each other,” and based on Eph. 5:19 where Paul says we’re “addressing one another.” You’d think in a passage about singing praise to God that Paul would begin with God. He doesn’t. The first focus of our singing Paul mentions is not God, but one another. Col. 3:16 fills this idea out …

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What About Vocal Solos on Sunday Mornings?

I appreciate those of you who have taken the time to send me a specific question related to what you’re going through. Scott wrote in to ask: Is there a place for soloist/duets during the worship time?… If someone is gifted vocally, should I allow them to minister to the body (presuming that there are guidelines from the church leadership as to biblical content and appearance)? Does it cross the line leading to human-exaltation if there are those repeatedly clamoring for a certain person(s)? Eph. 5:19 says we’re to be “addressing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” It’s normal to understand that as congregational singing. After …

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Is Repetition a Help or a Hindrance?

Will sent me this question: Is there an objective standard by which to gauge the effectiveness of repetition in contemporary worship hymnody?…What are some helpful ideas to bear in mind for incorporating effectively repetitive worship songs while not neglecting great hymns and songs that are not so characterized, and when do we as…worship leaders cross the line in leading the congregation in ineffective or mindless praise (apart from their own distractions and heart idols brought into worship) via repetition? When someone has a problem with repeating lyrics, I’m reminded of my daughter’s response when I suggested she read a certain book …

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