Tag Archives | Q&A Fridays

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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Are We Forgetting the Cross?

I’ve been getting some great questions by e-mail recently, and am looking forward to sharing my thoughts on them in the coming weeks. This one came from Phil: I recently looked at the lyrics to songs on a 2006 worship song compilation CD. There were 33 songs on the CD.  Of these, only nine mentioned the cross at all, and only five mentioned what the cross actually did (i.e., achieved forgiveness of sins)…Is the trend among contemporary songs to omit the cross, or to mention it briefly, in passing (maybe only one line, a sort of a “tip-of-the-hat” to the cross) healthy? No, that trend is not healthy. I’m actually pleasantly surprised …

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How To Benefit From a Conference

Dan left this question in the comments section of a previous post: I have been to quite a few conferences over the years and I always feel encouraged, rejuvenated, alive, etc. while AT those conferences… but then we go back to our churches – and over time, that zeal tends to be overshadowed, once again, by the mundane, the rut, the blahs, of real life/ministry. Any comments or suggestions on what we can all do to deal with that? Are conferences beneficial? They can be. And if we’re going to invest time and money into them, they should be. God can use conferences to alter a person’s life and ministry. They can also be a colossal waste of …

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What Do We Wear to Worship God?

A leader sent this question to me: Recently there have been some people offended by some of the appearance of the worship team. We are seeking to glorify God in our response. We do not want to go beyond what the Scripture says. What are some of the standards that you would hold for your worship team? I’m assuming that “appearance” refers to what someone is wearing. I appreciate this person’s desire to follow God’s Word when it comes to the attire of those who lead congregational worship. Unfortunately, God isn’t as clear as we might want Him to be, which is a good thing. Can you imagine if God told us exactly what a godly person should …

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Should My Kids Listen to Christian Rap?

Ken, a dad with three kids ages approaching their teen years, sent this question to me: [My kids] show some interest in hip-hop/rap music, so I have started to look into Christian versions of it.  I have listened to Curtis Allen (have to list him first, right?), Lacrae, and Eternal MOG (Man of God).  From what I have seen and read, the words seem to be gospel-centered, God exalting.  My hesitation is that the broader hip-hop culture is so foul and perverse that I am not sure I want to encourage my kids towards it. I was thinking that maybe I could cut them off at the pass with solid gospel-centered hip-hop music, but I am not sure if that …

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Who Trains the Children?

This question is a follow-up to an earlier post concerning the place of parents in training children. I’m in complete agreement with your quote from the blog (March 31, 2006): “Training children to worship God is primarily the parent’s responsibility, not the church’s.”  But does that mean that you shut down the nurseries and cancel children’s church? The priority Scripture gives to parents training their children to know and worship God (Eph. 6:1-2; Deut. 6:7; 2 Tim. 3:14-15) doesn’t negate the role of the church in working towards the same end. However, the church is often seen as a replacement for the parents, rather than a support to …

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Physical Expressiveness in Worship, Pt. 5

In response to the series I did on physical expressiveness in corporate worship, I received a follow-up question from the gentleman who originally asked the question. It was pretty extensive, but this was his closing query: Bottom, Bottom, Lowest of Bottom Lines: Am I exegetically, theologically, homiletically accurate when I say, “God COMMANDS us to CLAP our hands!”? Or should it be softened to “God ENCOURAGES us to express our love and worship to Him using our bodies?” And then let people do what they’re comfortable with. Great question. And I want to commend him for seeking to pinpoint as clearly as possible what God tells us in His Word …

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Managing Multiple Musicians

Not too long ago I received an e-mail from someone whose music team has grown, resulting in less-gifted musicians still on the team. He asks: Do you set thresholds for talent/ability that must be met in order for people to participate in the leading worship?  What about ‘good people’ who don’t meet your thresholds? As a corollary, how do you manage multiple musicians who ‘pass muster’ wanting to play the same part?  In other words, do you have 4 guitarists every Sunday, or do you rotate your players? Every growing church will eventually face the issue of too many instrumentalists and/or vocalists. Here are a few suggestions and ways we’ve …

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How Should We Celebrate Civil Holidays?

This question came from Greg: I would love to get your thoughts on how you address (or don’t address) civil holidays as you prepare worship services. I’m really thinking of July 4th more than anything else. That tends to be the one that stirs the pot most easily. In brief, since God’s kingdom is not of this world (Jn. 18:36), we don’t feel any obligation to draw attention to, highlight, or celebrate civil holidays as part of our Sunday gatherings. There are a number of reasons. Our country doesn’t set the agenda and priorities for the meetings of the church – God’s Word does. Also, one country’s celebration may confront another country’s …

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How Do We Grow in Physical Expressiveness in Worship? Pt. 1

After the Together for the Gospel conference, I received a lengthy e-mail from a worship pastor in attendance who shared a current dilemma his pastoral team is facing. They have been “wrestling with how to best be obedient to Scripture in our corporate worship through song.” His church contains people who are “naturally NOT very expressive AT ALL” during that time. So he asks: “Exactly how, and how much should we encourage our people to follow the numerous commands throughout Scripture of bodily expression (as a natural outpouring of the heart)? First, I want to thank this pastor and his team for their humility in seeking to wrestle …

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To Clap or Not to Clap?

In response to my mention of clapping at the Together for the Gospel conference, Steve commented: “I grew up in the type of church where clapping was extremely frowned upon.  Later, as an adult, I got involved in more contemporary settings…where clapping, along with and after songs, was the norm…I recently watched a live DVD recording of a particular band doing an incredibly delicate and moving rendition of “I Love You, Lord.”  As the last soft chord decayed, the audience began to cheer and clap.  It suddenly seemed inappropriate to me.” In a more general sense, Jon asked: “How we are to treat the commands of the psalms….clap, …

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How Familiar Should Songs Be?

I recently received these questions from Lisa, a music coordinator whose church has had an influx of new guests. People are starting to comment more frequently that they don’t know the songs being sung. That situation has raised these questions: 1. How important do you think familiarity is in facilitating worship? 2. Do you limit your pick list somehow, even “retiring” good songs?  If so, how? 3. How can we help our congregation familiarize themselves with the songs we sing, outside of church? I’ve often heard it said that singing familiar songs contributes to people engaging in true worship of God. While a well known song can often …

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The Humble Critic

This question came in from Amy, after reading my post on “Entering the Draw Me Close Conversation.” “How do you balance discernment without being critical? I find myself struggling with this constantly. Where is the balance between noticing and being concerned that the theology presented in songs/sermons is man-centered, or that the gospel is missing, vs. being critical of the music and preaching and thus being unable to actually worship?” Great question. How do we exercise doctrinal discernment and personal humility at the same time? First, we need to recognize the importance of being faithful to Scripture. We aren’t simply …

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Entering the “Draw Me Close” Conversation

In the latest issue of Christianity Today, Chuck Colson has an article entitled “Soothing Ourselves to Death.” He begins with this paragraph: When church music directors lead congregations in singing contemporary Christian music, I often listen stoically with teeth clenched. But one Sunday morning, I cracked. We’d been led through endless repetitions of a meaningless ditty called “Draw Me Close to You,” which has zero theological content and could just as easily be sung in any nightclub. When I thought it was finally and mercifully over, the music leader beamed. “Let’s sing that again, shall we?” he asked. “No!” I shouted, loudly enough …

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One More Thought on Training Children to Worship God

After posting this earlier today, I had another thought about training our children to worship God. "Worshipping God" means different things at different ages. Younger children, who may not know God yet, may still participate enthusiastically in various external forms of worshipping God. However, we want their worship to be from the heart, and not simply a matter of conforming. They need a clear knowledge of who God is and what He has done. That includes His nature, His attributes, and His works, especially our redemption through Christ. As the Holy Spirit enables them, they will become increasingly aware of their sinfulness before …

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