Looking for Stories…

Many of you know I’m writing a book for Crossway, to be assigned the catchy name of Worship Matters.

I’m in the middle of a chapter tentatively called "The Word in Worship." I’d be interested in hearing from any of you who have stories to tell about how the Word of God has been used fruitfully or not at all in times of corporate worship. What are the benefits you’ve seen of honoring Scripture? How have you seen God’s Word creatively presented? What elements and practices have you seen that vie for its authority? I’m not so much interested in opinions or reflections as I am real life situations that you’ve seen, led, or experienced.

I’ll probably be asking for more help in the coming weeks. Thanks for helping me write my book!

9 Responses to Looking for Stories…

  1. AWHall October 4, 2006 at 4:33 PM #

    One of our church’s favorite practices is to have several people read the narratives (eg.: the Gospels, OT narratives…) with each person assigned a character in the narrative and one person as the narrator. I have been quite moved by these times of corporate reading of the Scriptures. The characters within the passage are reflected by the people reading – children, men, women – all can be involved depending on the passage. It gives ample opportunity for many people to be involved in the public reading of God’s Word and has helped remove some of the pressure for those who struggle with reading and yet want to be involved.

  2. Chris October 4, 2006 at 6:22 PM #

    As both a member of my worship team and the leader of youth group worship, I have both seen the effective use of and personally used the Word in worship services. There is a power to reminding the congregation of why we worship, and of exactly what lies behind the words of the songs we sing. The best uses I’ve seen have been those where the person leading simply has taken sufficient time to pray about the Word as it relates to the songs chosen – and then before, during, or after a particular song, shares the particular passage related to the song, that the song is based on or referring to, etc. More than once while playing the piano I’ve been moved to tears by the passage I knew was going to be shared, simply because of the anointing the Holy Spirit gave in the moment for that passage. There have been times when, unaware of the specifics of the message the pastor was about to preach, my worship leader brought forth the very passage that the pastor’s message turned on. At times, that’s been me – and it’s one of the most humbling moments as a worship leader, as well as an encouragement to me and the rest of the worship team.

    I think the single most moving combination of “worship” and “Scripture” (the distinction is too artificial, but we have made it nevertheless) was about four months ago, when my pastor sang specific Scripture over each member of our church as the Holy Spirit led – and speaking directly to the issues each of our hearts faced. It was a simple melody, repeated with little variation, but that was one of the best examples I have ever seen of someone letting the Word minister through music and a time of worship.

  3. Susan Hart October 4, 2006 at 9:34 PM #

    In our church, not only do our pastors preach through various passages of scripture, we read sequentially though the NT in the a.m. services and the OT in the p.m. services, and we also have a responsive reading in the a.m. service. It has happened on more than one occasion that our “speaking God” has “coincidentally” brought the very same passage to our times of corporate reading that He has given to me earlier in the week during my times with Him. Or, perhaps that passage has come up right after I have used the same one with one of my children earlier. I love those “God sightings”!

  4. B. Catton October 5, 2006 at 8:15 AM #

    Two stories:

    At Na my whole perspective of worship exploded (besides my eardrums!). We gathered together to boldly assert our identities hidden in Christ and it was all for His glory, not so much as to lifting our hands or how loud we sang. Though God has given us that ability, the amazing part is that He is glorified through OUR worshipping of Him… go figure! During one of the worship sessions, a prophetic song was sung for those who are adopted (in a biological sense); the whole idea of realizing God as my Heavenly Father and I as His ransomed son has drastically expanded since and my love and thankfulness to Him, by God’s grace, has had the same effect. What is great about prophetic songs is that they are spontaneous, Spirit-lead songs that assert objective truth and edifies the body for the glory of the head of the body – Christ Himself.

    This past Sunday was such great worship; not necesarily because of the gifting that those who serve on worship, but because all of the songs were acknowledging truths of the cross: God is holy, we are sinful, apart from God and left to ourselves we’re destined for wrath, yet God in His mercy sent His Son to be crushed for the wrath we deserve and has made THE only way out! It’s still a mystery, but what mercy! In worship, it seems to me that it’s more important to sing about what God has done through His Son because that IS the best and only solution to all aspects of life, whether it’s our sin, circumstances, sickness.

  5. Phil Auxier October 5, 2006 at 2:18 PM #

    Bob, one thing we have seen, especially during the Passion season is that reading the narrative of the Gospels as part of our corporate worship deepens our sense of guilt as we see the gravity of what is happening on the cross. As God unfolds the drama through His divine revelation, we are struck by the darkness. This year, we would read and then have a song of response to that reading. Reading Christ say “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” and singing “O Sacred Head” are stamped in my mind as exposing God’s self-made revelation of these events from His Word.

    Hope this helps. May God’s providence bless you as you work on this project.

  6. susan K October 6, 2006 at 9:48 AM #

    I sent this note to Matt our worship Pastor after last sunday.This is how God used scripture read last sunday to encourage me.

    “This note is from a “Worry Wort”. This is an area I have struggled but felt more recently I had victory in, but yesterday felt like I had to learn the basics all over again.
    I wanted to thank you for ministering from the Word and through our time of worship yesterday. It was wonderful.

    My dear Mom who is 78 in India, had a fall on thursday night and fractured her shoulder and another bone on her arm. She had to go in for surgery last evening and we were not sure how she would do, having many other health related issues (heart,BP etc).

    All her kids live in the U.S and she was alone at home and God in His providence allowed me to call her just a minute after she fell and found out about it.

    I came into the service a little concerned,and when Matt in between songs read from Ps112 it blessed my heart
    6For the righteous will never be moved;
    he will be remembered forever.
    7He is not afraid of bad news;
    his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.

    But I soon standing in the service found myself gripped with worry and fear about what bad news, I would hear from the outcome of the surgery. God used the songs we continued to sing to remind me of God’s truth and Faithfulness. So instead of feeding my anxiety, I was at peace as Mom went in for surgery late last night. God allowed everything to go well.

    The timing of the section in Matthew 6 as we dealt with about anxiety yesterday , reminded me just how Faithful God was to me.
    susan k

  7. Peter Schott October 7, 2006 at 1:11 AM #

    Well, I can think of two experiences that worked really well. We had a time of worship where we went through a Psalm 136 to remind us that God’s love/mercy does indeed endure forever. We then led into a choir-led song touching on how God’s love does endure forever – I think it was actually “His Love Endures Forever” IIRC. :-)

    The second experience that really sticks in my mind was a night when we focused on the Names of Jesus. Our entire worship experience focused on many (doubtful all) of the names of Jesus revealed throughout the Bible. We had lots of different readings from God’s word and songs that reinforced that as well. It really helped us to see how Jesus has shown Himself to us. I hope I still have those notes somewhere. That was definitely a great time of worship.

    In Him,

  8. Catherine October 10, 2006 at 11:49 AM #

    Every Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter) our old church did a reenactment of Palm Sunday through Jesus’ death on the cross. It was laced with Scripture, although sometimes summarized. It also included singing, children’s dance, and an actor who played the part of Jesus. This was always a very powerful way to remember our fickleness (the congregation played the part of the crowd, first worshipping on Palm Sunday and then crying “Crucify Him” later in the service) and His sacrifice for us. If you’re interested, the name of the play is “The Cry of the Congregation”.

    Another very powerful example of Scripture reading during a church service is during an Anglican funeral. At the beginning there is a procession of the priest, the casket, and anyone else involved in leading the service. During the procession there is no music. The priest, as he walks up the aisle, reads loudly many of the different passages about resurrection, like, “I am the resurrection and the life.” What a powerful way to proclaim Jesus’ victory over death in a believer’s life!

  9. melissa Huber October 25, 2006 at 7:30 PM #

    Our worship team attended seminars4worship in Pittsburgh, Pa in October. After attending, we wanted to introduce a new song to our congregation that we had learned at the conference – Your Name. To introduce it, we gathered scriptures from the OT and NT about the Name of Jesus and the Name of the Lord and used them to introduce the song. It was so powerful that there was a hush after we finished singing corporately. I believe that prefacing a powerful song with powerful scripture leads to a total worship experience.
    Hope this helps,

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