Archive | —Worship and the Pastor

Worship Leaders – How Do I Support My Pastor When We Disagree?

A reader wrote in to ask: How do I serve and support the role of my Senior Pastor when his approach to corporate worship may sound a little different than what I get from your conferences? Great question, and not the first time I’ve been asked. This question reveals what happens when the worship leader and musicians are getting biblical training and the pastor isn’t. It highlights the need for pastors to think about worship theologically, rather than basing their thoughts on past experiences or the culture. But what do you do if you’re in a church where the pastor is asking you to do things that you don’t think are going to serve the church …

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Worship Leaders & Pastors – I-MAGnify Who?

Every leader of congregational worship dreads those meetings when everything seems to be going wrong. Vocals are out of tune, strings break, everyone but the drummer finishes the song, you forget the words, sing the wrong verse, or play the wrong chords…the list is endless. Last August at the WorshipGod06 conference, we presented the skit I-MAGnify to encourage everyone who has encountered or someday soon will encounter that situation. We watch a struggling worship leader receive instruction from his “alter-ego” about how he can get people more involved. Ironically, the song he’s attempting to lead is “Receive the Glory,” based on Psalm 115: Not …

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Can I Learn to Love Evaluation?

Aaron left this question on a recent post: I’ve found it difficult at times to be in a mindset that is ready to accept encouragement and critique after a “big event.” I realize that a large part of this is my own pride and desire for everyone to like what happened and move on. However, I am often so drained and spent after an endeavor like a conference or a Christmas musical that I don’t even want to think about it anymore. Is this a symptom of focusing on the event more than Christ? Is there a way to get through the “big events” in church life without losing your focus on Christ and still be excited about your job after the event is over? I …

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Preparing for and Evaluating the Worship Service

I received this question a while back: Do you happen to have anything that you have given out to worship leaders as far as a check-list of items to review as they are preparing for a Sunday morning? The simple answer to this would be “no.” However, a few years ago C.J. Mahaney and I put together ten questions for evaluating corporate worship, which might serve as a memory jogger. 1. Is our Savior’s substitutionary sacrifice on the Cross clearly and repeatedly presented through song lyrics and exhortations as central to our worship and the means by which we approach God? 2. Is it evident to the church and guests that all we do is rooted …

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Should We Change Musical Settings?

This question was sent in by Juanita: As a classically trained musician and someone who has sung parts for most of my life, I am confused when I see arrangements for hymns that are completely different from what is traditionally written…Do congregations actually sing songs often enough to get tired of the musical arrangements, especially when there are other options available for freshening up a piece? It seems to me that it can actually be unsettling to a congregation, especially for the musical people in its midst, to have the music, i.e., the basic structure of the music, changing. I actually find it distracting to the words myself. As …

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Evaluating Worship Song Lyrics

This question came from Jeff: One of the members of my worship team is struggling with the line from one of your songs, Glory Be to God. The line is “Being’s source begins to be.” She feels that it communicates that God is not eternal, that there was a time when the second Person of the Trinity did not exist and then began to be. I have tried teach her that language always has to be interpreted in context and that the line is basically highlighting the mystery of the incarnation – that Jesus was both infinite God and somehow a finite man (or baby)…Is it acceptable to change the line of the song when we sing it to “Being’s source becomes a …

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Why We Write Worship Songs

The feedback from the Valley of Vision CD we produced earlier this year has been very encouraging. But nothing is more meaningful than someone who takes the time to write and let us know how God has used the truth in the songs we write to make Him bigger in their eyes. I wanted to share a portion of a recent e-mail from Jessica that helped me remember why we continue to write songs for the church. This summer was a very difficult season for me, yet spectacular at the same time because God was deeply at work in me. Isn’t He always?!! I started to go through an intense time of panic attacks this summer, where I would literally feel fear and panic …

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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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The Down Side of Controversy

Some people live for controversy. I’m not one of them. However, I’ve come to realize that controversy has many positive aspects. Foundational doctrines of orthodox Christianity have been fashioned through the fires of opposition and disagreement. We can see the truth more clearly when someone says something that flies in the face of the biblical evidence. The nuances, perimeters, and shape of our faith become more obvious to us when placed against the backdrop of falsehood. Most of all, God’s truth has had opposition from the Garden of Eden. Controversy often arises simply from a desire to make clear what God has actually said. However, not …

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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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What We All Need

I’ve been a little lax on my posting lately, as I’m in the thick of preparing for the WorshipGod06 conference. I’ll have the privilege of teaching three seminars and one main session there, and appreciate the opportunity to meet and serve those who are coming. In the midst of my preparation, I came across this quote from a book I read a while ago, called The Future of Protestant Worship, by Ronald Byars. “Here is where we put a finger on the weakness of the marketing approach when it comes to matters of faith and worship. It presumes that people can tell you what they’re looking for. Most people can’t.” (p. 23) Later on he writes: “Even …

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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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What Does a Worship Leader Do? In Closing…

I was going to entitle this post “Final Thoughts,” but that’s probably not going to happen. One of the reasons I started this blog was to explore this role in an ongoing way. But this does mark the end of the series on the role of the corporate worship leader. Really. If you’re a musician who is responsible to lead others in praising God, I pray you’ve been served by this series. I’m grateful for those of you who have taken the time to post an encouraging comment, expand upon my thoughts, or ask questions. We need to continually ask ourselves if what we’re doing is lining up with Scripture. On most Wednesday mornings I have the joy …

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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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