Archive | —Physical Expressiveness

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To Use or Lose the Music Stands: Is That the Question?

In the past few years, a number of voices have emerged encouraging church musicians to lose their music stands.  I don’t think anyone is saying it’s a matter “of first importance” to put the music stands away. But people have said if you really want to serve your church, you won’t use them. Reasons to Strike the Stands Here are some of the most common reasons people give for losing the stands. In many churches, a separation already exists due to a stage. Removing the stands removes the visible barrier. Musicians and vocalists tend to stare at their stands. When you remove them, musicians look up, look out, and are more engaged. …

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Why Was It Such a Holy Night?

In 2014, Sovereign Grace Music released our second Christmas album, Prepare Him Room. It included a revised version of O Holy Night, with new lyrics written by my friend, Kevin Hartnett. I wrote a post that explained the background of the song and why Kevin rewrote two of the verses. The fundamental reason Kevin gave was that Timothy Dwight’s translation from the French didn’t capture the good news of the gospel in the way that the original lyrics did. Here’s a literal translation of how the song began: Midnight, Christians, it is the solemn hour, When God as man descended unto us To erase the stain of original sin And to end the …

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Who Turned the Lights Out?

A while back Brad sent me this question: We seem to be developing a debate at our church in regards to turning down the house lights to “set the mood” for better worship. What is your take on that? Later I received this from Jeremy: I was wondering if you could offer any commentary regarding the use of lights at any of the WorshipGod conferences. I have memories going back to the “Psalms” conference [in 2008]. In each of the conference settings, it has struck me that the lights in the house are left active during the music-worship time of gatherings. Is that intentional? Is that unintentional? Is it because no one is available to run a lights …

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Come Praise and Glorify – Video from WorshipGod11

Yesterday, I posted the video of Shine into Our Night from WorshipGod11. The second song we’ve finished editing is Come Praise and Glorify. I wrote this with Tim Chester, a pastor in Sheffield, UK, who has written over 20 books (including Total Church, You Can Change, and A Meal with Jesus). The fact that I wrote a song with Tim is purely providential. I was leading the music at the New Word Alive conference this past April and happened to stay in a flat with Tim and his wife, Helen. I thoroughly enjoyed a couple late night chats with Tim and after I got home he sent me some of the songs he had written that they sang at his church. One of …

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Encouraging Expressiveness in Worship When It’s Not “Cool”

This is the second clip from an hour plus interview that Tim Smith did with me when I was in Seattle last November. He’s asking me about an issue they’ve faced at Mars Hill Church, but one that I’m sure is common to many churches. How do you motivate people to physically express affection for God when they’re singing his praise, when their default attitude on hearing music is passivity and reservation? How do you keep from manipulating or commanding certain responses that are appropriate to biblical corporate worship? If you want to read more, I did a series on physical expressiveness a while back. You can find Part 1 here. …

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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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How Do We Grow in Physical Expressiveness in Worship? Pt. 4

This is my last post (for now) on the topic of bodily expression in corporate worship. Let me say again that in issues regarding our faith, physical expressiveness in corporate worship is an important but secondary issue. I have no problem worshiping God with a church that may be more enthusiastic or reserved than I’m used to, as long as they are proclaiming the same Gospel and glorying in the same Savior. However, our culture tends to separate head and heart, doctrine and devotion. Some congregations sing profoundly biblical lyrics with no visible effect (which doesn’t always mean they aren’t affected). Other churches are enthusiastically …

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How Do We Grow in Physical Expressiveness in Worship? Pt. 3

I’ve been talking about how to help a church grow in physical expression that draws attention to the greatness of God’s glory in Christ. After teaching on the appropriateness of that expression in worshipping God and the importance of the heart, I’d move on to: 3. Address the different reasons people might be reserved in their expression and teach on preferring others. Some Christians are simply unaware of what the Bible teaches about physical responses to God. They don’t know that Scripture is filled with examples of exuberant, passionate worship (Psalm 150; Neh. 8:6; Rev. 5:11-14). Perhaps they’ve grown up in a church environment …

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How Do We Grow in Physical Expressiveness in Worship? Pt. 2

Last Friday I started to answer this question from a pastor: “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)?” I began by saying we must teach our people that physical expression is appropriate in biblical worship. We aren’t disembodied spirits. God intends that we use our whole beings to bring him praise (Ps. 16:9). But how and how much? We don’t simply tell people to “sing like they mean it,” or “jump higher for Jesus,” although in my early zeal to see God honored I crossed that line a few times. Commanding …

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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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