Archive | —Worship and Music

Should Worship Be Fun?

More than once I’ve heard Christians claim that worship should be fun, or act like they had a responsibility to prove that Christians knew how to “party” in church. I’ve always been uncomfortable with that connection, so I started thinking about the place of “fun” in worship, if one even exists. I’d like to address this question by answering it as I posed it, and then considering two other ways it might be phrased. Should worship be fun? If we take the exhaustive testimony of Scripture, the answer would have to be a resounding NO. “Fun” doesn’t seem to characterize many of the scenes where people encounter God in the Bible. We’re told to worship …

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How Do We Grow in Using Musical Interludes?

This question came in from Dennis: How would pastors and worship leaders best transition a church from merely stopping all our songs when the lyrics end, into the occasional practice of those “musical interlude” worship times that I have seen and heard done at your church and others?…In our present church, if the instruments kept playing after all the lyrics had been sung, the congregation would just stare at us and wonder what we were doing…I see some value in those times and would like to move towards doing so on occasion. Musical interludes are like many aspects of congregational worship – not absolutely necessary to worshipping God in …

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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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Worship and Truth

I’m in the middle of a writing retreat, working on a book for Crossway tentatively entitled Worship Matters. Catchy title, I know. Lord willing, it will be published some time in early 2007. I’m working on a chapter related to worship and the Word. One of the quotes I ran across is from a book entitled Worship At The Next Level: Insight From The Contemporary Voices, edited by Tim A. Dearborn and Scott Coil. Chapter 10 is called “New Approaches to Worship” by Mike Riddell, Mark Pierson, Cathy Kirkpatrick. Here’s the quote: Worship preparation is primarily about providing a context rather than a content. The context being an environment …

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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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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 16

One more time, this is the definition for a congregational worship leader I’ve proposed: 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. Today, I’m going to share a few thoughts on that last line. Worship doesn’t begin when the singing starts, nor end when the music stops. We don’t “do worship” in a meeting, nor compartmentalize …

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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 15

If you’re just joining us, I’m currently describing what I think is the biblical role of someone who leads the church in congregational worship. We’ve covered this in the first 14 posts: 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… Today, I’m going to unpack the next phrase: To join him in proclaiming and cherishing the truth about God. As I mentioned last week, an effective corporate worship leader invites others to join him in what he is already …

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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 14

Yesterday I talked about the issue of motivating the church to worship God. Judging from the comments yesterday, I’d guess that this is an issue for more than a few leaders. Kevin asked, “If you’re leading worship and the people don’t seem motivated to respond in worship, is that your fault?” The simple answer is no. It is every individual’s privilege and responsibility to give glory to God regardless of what they’re going through or who is leading them. But leaders can do things to hinder people praising God or refrain from doing things that could encourage them. But first, we want to be careful how we define a “successful” …

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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 13

A few weeks back, I proposed this definition for a corporate worship leader: 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. Today I’d like to talk about “motivating the gathered church.” Ideally, as I stand in front of the church to lead them in singing God’s praise, every person is ready to sing with all their might – minds focused, hearts …

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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 12

I’m at the part of my proposed definition for worship leaders which says their task is to magnify the worth of God and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Certainly there are many aspects of God’s worth and works that we can and should dwell on as we sing His praise. He’s our Creator, our Deliverer, our Father, our Guide, our Shepherd, and Shield. But this side of the cross, we find the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6) and his substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. This is what Paul considered of first importance (1 Cor. 15:1-4), what Peter encouraged us to remember (2 Pet. 1:9), and what is to richly fill our singing …

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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 11

Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created. (Rev. 4:11) One of the problems we have in worshipping God is forgetting why He is so WORTHY to be worshipped. When we do, our minds tend to shift into neutral and we end up mouthing words that we’re barely thinking about. Part of magnifying God’s worth is recounting the reasons it’s appropriate to worship Him. One way is to recount what Wayne Grudem calls God’s “summary attributes.” Those include God’s perfection, blessedness, beauty, and glory. We can also speak to each other about …

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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 10

When someone stands (or sits) in front of a congregation to lead them in worshipping God, what’s their goal? I believe it is this: To magnify the worth of God and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. David invites us in Psalm 34:3: “Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” When people walk into church service, they might be magnifying all sorts of things, from the superficial to the serious – deadlines, unpaid bills, an unkind comment from a friend, a lab test for cancer that came back positive, a “thump-thump” sound the car is making, the championship game this afternoon, a rebellious child, some besetting …

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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 9

I want to finish up thoughts today on why God wants us to use music at times to praise Him. I’ve mentioned that music, especially singing, helps us to remember and meditate on God’s word, and also enables us to proclaim truth with heartfelt passion. Finally, We sing to reflect God’s glory. How does singing reflect God’s glory? I can think of at least three ways. First, singing glorifies God by expressing the unity Christ died to bring us. Of course, gathering in the same room at one time expresses unity, as does reciting a creed together. Music both intensifies and demonstrates our appreciation of that unity. I’ve been told on …

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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 8

I’m in the middle of series on the role of a congregational worship leader, and I’ve been camping out on how music works in worshipping God. Yesterday I addressed how one of the primary functions of music is to help us remember God’s Word. Today, I’d like to share another way music serves us in worshipping God. We sing to respond to God’s grace. Colossians 3:16 tells us that we’re to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in our hearts to God. God is not interested in mere lip service. It dishonors him. But he’s not looking for raw emotionalism either, that is, seeking emotion for its own sake. We sing to express …

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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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