Archive | —Defining Terms

What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 7

If someone wants to lead God’s people effectively in corporate worship, they have to know why God wants us to use music, especially singing. Here’s the first reason I suggested yesterday: We sing to remember God’s Word. It would be natural to assume that we sing because music affects our emotions. But in congregational worship, music is a servant to words. From the time Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit, God’s Word has always been central to the worship of God. God’s Ten Words were placed in the center of Israel’s worship. (1 Kings 8:9) The longest book in the Bible is a collection of words set to music. Revivals …

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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 6

If a skillful worship leader skillfully combines biblical truth and music, what part does music play? Why is God so concerned that we use music to worship Him? One response comes from Martin Luther. This is a portion of his Forward to Georg Rhau’s Symphoniae iucundae, a collection of chorale motets published in 1538: “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits…This precious gift has been given to man alone that he might thereby remind himself that God has created man for the express purpose of praising and extolling God. However, when man’s …

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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 5

We’ve almost reached the place where I talk about what a corporate worship leader is actually supposed to be doing. But not quite. There’s one more thing I want to say about the tools we use to lead congregational worship. An effective worship leader “skillfully combines biblical truth with music.” Skillfully. Skill has been defined as the “the ability to do something well.” With all the benefits of the mass outpouring of worship songs in the past decade, there have been some down sides. One is the belief that a sincere heart, a guitar, and a knowledge of three chords qualifies someone to lead worship in a church. Fortunately, …

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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 4

Here’s the next part of my proposed definition of a worship leader. An effective corporate worship leader is aided and led by the Holy Spirit. Every leader of congregational worship will acknowledge that biblical worship is impossible apart from the activity of the Holy Spirit. This is at least part of what Jesus meant when he told the Samaritan woman in John 4 that the Father seeks worshipers who worship Him in spirit and truth. Paul also tells us in Philippians 3:3, “For we are the real circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” (See also Eph. 2:18, Eph. 5:18-21, and 1 …

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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 3

Today I want to begin unpacking this proposed definition of a corporate worship leader’s role: An effective corporate worship leader, aided and led by the Holy Spirit, skillfully combines biblical truth with music to magnify the worth of God and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, thereby motivating the gathered church to join him in proclaiming and cherishing the truth about God and seeking to live all of life for the glory of God. An effective corporate worship leader… If I’m in front of a group, I’m leading. Whether it’s through verbal contributions, facial expressions, or bodily posture, people are following me. That raises …

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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 2

I’ve gone back and forth over whether I should use “worship leader” in the title of this series. Among other things, using the term can communicate that: 1) the only time we worship God in a meeting is when we’re following the “worship leader” up front 2) congregational worship must be led by a musician 3) worship leaders have some special access into God’s presence that the congregation doesn’t have 4) this is a role that God has commended in His Word. I don’t believe any of the above statements are true. Anyone who seeks to encourage others to give praise and honor to God can be referred to broadly as a “worship …

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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 1

Before I start this series, I wanted to give you some background. Eight years ago, after I had served as a pastor for twelve years, C.J. Mahaney invited me to assume the new role of “Director of Worship Development” for Sovereign Grace Ministries. One of my assignments was to study and train others in the practicals of biblical worship, particularly as it relates to music. As I studied Scripture and read books like Engaging with God by David Peterson and Adoration and Action, ed. by D.A. Carson, I quickly realized that the Bible, especially the New Testament, didn’t give much space to my role as a worship leader. None, to be exact. The …

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What Kind of Emotion?

I attempted to post this yesterday, which was Friday, but we passed the day playing games, cutting down and decorating our Christmas tree, and enjoying Thanksgiving leftovers. Definitely time well spent. Travis Seitler asked a great question on a previous post. I’d sum up his question like this: “Should the fact that God describes his relationship with His people as husband and wife (Is. 54:5; 62:5; Rev. 21:2) ever be reflected in the words we sing to Him?” This is a challenging question to answer briefly, much less definitively, but here are a few thoughts. God is infinite, so we shouldn’t be surprised that the boundaries of language …

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Expanding Our Worship Vocabulary

Having looked at a few definitions of worship (although I realize I’m barely scratching the surface), I wanted to offer some practical ideas for changing the way we talk about worship. Some of these are so ingrained in our vocabulary, I feel radical even suggesting them. 1. When using “worship” as a verb, include the direct object. (My apologies to those of you who thought you’d never have to think about grammar again.) We aren’t simply gathering to worship – we’re worshipping the Father, our merciful God, our great Redeemer, etc. So, “I love to worship!” becomes, “I love to worship the Savior!” “Let’s worship!” …

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Why Define Worship?

Why spend time defining worship? Is it really that big a deal? Isn’t it more important that we simply do it? It’s hard for us to know whether or not we’re doing something if we’re not sure what that “something” is. If I define “eating” as simply looking at food, you wouldn’t enjoy coming over to my house to “eat.” If “breathing” is something I only do when I get with a group of people on Sunday mornings, then how do I describe what I do the rest of the time? I heard theologian David Peterson say that defining words is important because not only do we use words, but words use us. That’s true, even if we’re unaware …

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Defining Worship, Pt. 4

I’d like to unpack one more definition of worship today, keeping in mind that we’ll never exhaust the meaning and wonder of worshipping our Creator and Redeemer, even in eternity. Biblical worship is God’s covenant people recognizing, reveling in, and responding rightly to the glory of God in Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Biblical worship…to separate what we do as Christians from all other types of worship. This also implies that God is the One who determines how we should worship Him. (Jn. 4:23-24) Is God’s covenant people…God’s plan from the beginning of creation has been to redeem a people for his own possession …

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Defining Worship, Pt. 3

Yesterday I suggested two definitions for worship. Today, I’ll unpack the first. “Christian worship is the response of God’s redeemed people to His self-revelation that exalts God’s glory in Christ in our minds, affections, and wills, in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Christian worship…is different from every kind of worship because it has been made possible through Jesus Christ. (Rev. 5:9-10) Is the response…God has already done something outside of us and inside of us that enables us to worship Him. We are not the initiators of worship; God is. (Acts 17:24-31) Of God’s redeemed people…Just as God delivered the nation …

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Defining Worship, Pt. 2

One of the pieces of advice my friends gave me before I started a blog was “Whatever you do, don’t make it too long. People don’t like scrolling down.” I’m sure that some of my entries will be VERY short, but this probably won’t be one of them. Yesterday I shared some definitions of worship that I’ve found helpful, starting with the general and moving to the more specific. Here are some more that I think do a great job of incorporating what’s important in biblical worship. First, from Ralph Martin: Christian worship, then, is the happy blend of offering to God our Creator and Redeemer through Jesus Christ both what we owe to Him and what we …

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Defining Worship, Pt. 1

Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) once said “Every definition is dangerous.” That may explain why when we try to define a word simply and precisely we often end up missing significant aspects of the word we’re defining. Attempts at explaining worship as “love,” or “intimacy,” or “relationship” say something true, but end up leaving out more than they contribute to our understanding of worship. In spite of Erasmus’ warning, over the years I’ve come across numerous definitions of “worship” that have caused me think about worship more biblically. Harold Best, in his book Music Through the Eyes of Faith, defines worship in the broadest …

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