Archive | —Worship and Music

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Ten Reasons to Share Musical Opinions Humbly

I’ve been musing recently about how we express our musical opinions. Why do we feel so strongly about songs, bands, and styles? And why do we draw conclusions so quickly? Nope. Don’t like it. That stinks. I can’t stand that kind of music. You like that stuff? Is there anything wrong with raving about the music/artists we love and being swift to trash those we despise? If we’re Christians, yes. Let me suggest ten reasons why musical forbearance might be good for our souls. 1. Being a self-appointed music critic is often just a sign of pride. Using outrageous or exaggerated words to put down certain songs, styles, or artists can be a symptom …

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Why Theology Matters to Christian Musicians

This past weekend I spoke at the Christian Musician Summit on Why Theology Matters to Christian musicians. When Christian musicians get together, our tendency is to assume we all have our theology down and we can focus on honing our chops, discovering new gear, and improving our techniques and methodologies. Or maybe we think that theology isn’t that important. Whatever the reason, I wanted to make clear that even at the Christian Musicians Summit, theology matters. I started by saying that theology is literally the “study of God,” particularly as he has revealed himself in Scripture. It includes not only studying the Bible, but understanding …

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What is a Successful Christian Musician?

This past weekend I had the joy of speaking on various topics at the Christian Musician Summit in Overlake, WA, near Seattle. It was a very encouraging time, and I met quite a few people who were currently using Worship Matters with their worship team. Great hooking up with old friends and making some new ones. I mentioned to a few folks that I’d be posting my message and workshop notes on my blog. So that’s what I’ll be doing over the next few days. In the opening session I spoke on “What is a Successful Christian Musician?” I chose that topic because I know that when we attend large conferences led by highly skilled musicians, we can be …

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Listening to Music for God’s Glory

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking to the parents and youth of my home church on the topic of listening to music for the glory of God. The parent/youth ministry is currently discussing the book, Wordliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World. My message was something of an adaptation of a chapter I wrote for the book, called “God, My Heart, and Music.” I started out by saying God gave us music as a gift to direct our attention to him. In the Bible, music is connected with worship, weddings, funerals, work, play, and war. The basic elements of rhythm, melody, and harmony aren’t inherently evil or sinful. Non-Christians can …

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Preparing the Next Generation of Musicians

Where do the next generation of musicians in the church come from? What can we can do to influence, inspire, and train the young people in our church to develop and use their gifts to serve the church for the glory of God? It doesn’t matter whether we’re in a church of 50, 500, or 5000, we can begin to think about how we can pass on what we’ve learned. …

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Top Ten Ways to Write Bad Worship Songs

In my eleven years as director of worship development for Sovereign Grace Ministries, I’ve reviewed hundreds of worship songs and written a few of my own. Not all of them have been stellar. Actually, very few of them have been. I’ve noticed recurring tendencies that keep weak songs from becoming good or great songs. I’m intimately acquainted with those tendencies in my own songs and I’ve listed my top ten below. While these thoughts are meant for songwriters, most of them apply to leading worship as well. So if you want to write bad worship songs, follow these simple tips: 1. Aim to write the next worldwide worship hit. It’s already been …

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Thoughts on the Desiring God National Conference

I had the privilege of speaking at the Desiring God National Conference last Saturday morning. It was a whirlwind trip that I made with my daughter (and assistant) Chelsea. We got there for dinner on Friday and caught a 7 PM flight out on Saturday. It came at the end of our two week beach vacation, and I decided not to try that again. Too distracting. Chuck Steddom, a good friend from John Piper’s church, led the singing along with a team from his church. It was encouraging to hear them introduce “Praise the Lord,” a song from our recent Psalms CD. Sinclair Ferguson gave a message the first night called “The Tongue, the Bridle, and the …

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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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Reflections on the Christian Songwriter’s Retreat

Last week I spent four days in beautiful Mt. Hermon, CA, near San Jose. I had the joy of participating in a Christian Songwriter’s Retreat sponsored by the Mt. Hermon Retreat Center. About 300 folks came to learn how to develop their heart and craft as Christian song writers. The speakers/musicians included Paul Baloche, Joy Williams, Mia Fieldes, Charlie Peacok, Don Moen, Derek Webb, Sara Groves, Phil Wickham, and yours truly. I really enjoyed the format. There were morning and evening sessions with seminars during the day. The main sessions started with about 25 minutes of singing, followed by a 30 minute teaching. I was the speaker in the …

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Can Christian Musicians Play Secular Music for God’s Glory?

Steve left a comment on a previous post, asking about the validity of a secular music “ministry,” referencing a comment Phil Keaggy made years ago about the lack of spiritual Christians involved in the secular music field. I received an e-mail recently asking a similar question about the legitimacy of Christian musicians pursuing a career in secular pop music. How should we think about it? Is it always wrong? It is something we should encourage?Here are some thoughts I’ve shared over the years with individuals who were trying to determine God’s will for their lives in this area. The most important question to ask (and sometimes the most …

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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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Are We Responsible for Musical Literacy in the Church?

I’m getting questions every week now on topics related to worship and music. I wish I had time to answer each one, but I can’t get to them. But thanks so much for writing and assuming I might have an answer to your question. I received this question from Stephen: What effect do you see the “PowerPoint driven church” and American pop culture having on the musical literacy of your instrumentalists, and potentially on the future of the church? Being a worship pastor in a somewhat “emerging” church (AKA rock band and candles with historic Christianity), I am beginning to see the great need for “reproducing” musicians who are musically literate. …

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Bruce Springsteen on Meaning and Purpose

Bruce Springsteen is on tour again. I’ve never been a Springsteen fan, but his music has affected millions. Recently, Scott Pelley interviewed Springsteen for the TV show 60 Minutes. His concert was described as “part circus, dance party, political rally, and big tent revival.” Here’s a portion of the interview, street language unedited. “You have got to be, wild guess, worth somewhere north of 100 million dollars. Why are you still touring? You don’t have to do this,” Pelley remarks. “What else would I do? You got any clues?” Springsteen asks. “Got any suggestions? I mean, am I going to garden? Why would you stop? I mean, you play the music …

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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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How Do I Lead My Church Through Change?

Chris sent me this question: My church, since its inception, has had a mostly traditional service. We sing hymns primarily with a spiritual song or two mixed in, and almost exclusively use a piano (we do sometimes have an acoustic guitar or violin play along with it). My pastor would like to integrate a number of instruments, including an electric guitar and percussion as people learn how to play them. But a number of families have strong convictions against anything that resembles rock n roll. I believe these families would leave which, in my mind, is a travesty since it is over instruments and style. Personally, I don’t mind worshiping …

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