Tag Archives | congregational worship

The Everlasting God and the Gospel

Ken Boer, who serves as music director at my church, encouraged me to share some of the thoughts I have as I plan songs for a Sunday meeting. This past Sunday morning as Josh Harris and I were talking about songs for Sunday, he asked if we could introduce the song, Everlasting God, by Brenton and Ken Riley. It’s taken from the CD of the same name. Here are the lyrics: Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, We will wait upon the Lord We will wait upon the Lord (repeat) Our God You reign forever Our hope our strong deliv’rer You are the everlasting God The everlasting God You do not faint You won’t grow weary You’re the defender …

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Worship Leaders – Should Sound Teams Recycle Batteries?

Jonathan sent this question in: Several members of my church’s A/V team proposed that we begin using NiCd 9 Volt batteries for all of our wireless equipment, following the thought that our church should be good stewards of God’s gifts and not use alkaline batteries, which can be seen as expensive, wasteful, and harmful to the environment. Unfortunately, because of the energy-leaking nature of NiCd batteries, we are quickly becoming frustrated with their lack of dependability, compared to their alkaline brethren. My question is this: as stewards of not only the audio/visual quality of each service, but also finance and the environment, what are …

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Book Review – The Art of Worship

Last week I had the privilege of speaking and leading worship at the Calvin Worship Symposium in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Why I chose to go to Michigan in January is a question I still haven’t answered. On Thursday, I taught an all-day seminar called Musical Arranging for God’s Glory. I shared thoughts not only on ways we can arrange music, but suggested three biblical reasons behind the choices we make: to serve the word of Christ, to serve the context, and to serve the congregation. Hosting me that day was a gentleman named Greg Scheer, whose book, The Art of Worship: A Musician’s Guide to Leading Modern Worship has recently been published …

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Worshipping God as a Worship Leader & Pastor at 52

The number 52 took on new meaning for me a few days ago. I was aware there are 52 cards in a deck and 52 weeks in a year. As of this past Sunday, there are 52 years in my life. I’m getting old. Growing older has its drawbacks. We’ve seen them first hand as our parents have confronted things like Alzheimer’s, injuries, and debilitating diseases. But I’m certain that God intends us to think of getting older in a positive way. Or else why would he say things like this: “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life” (Prov. 16:31). “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray …

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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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Choosing a Hymnal for a Worship Service

One person recently wrote in to ask: 1. What criteria would you use in selecting a new hymnal? 2. What particular hymnals would you recommend checking into? Although we don’t use a hymnal in our Sunday meetings, if I were to choose one, I’d look for one that contains the best of Christian hymnody prior to the early 20th century. These are the songs for congregational worship that have been established, tried, tested, and proven to be beneficial to the Church. Since a hymnal should serve primarily as a tool to teach and reinforce the doctrines of the Christian faith, I’d look for many songs by Watts, Wesley, Newton, Toplady, Cowper, Hart, …

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New CD – The Apostles Creed

Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. If you don’t know those names, you should. They are the co-writers of In Christ Alone, and as far as I can tell, are among the most gifted songwriters for congregational worship alive today. Stuart has been a friend for a number of years and I met Keith and his wife Kristyn this past year. My church had the joy of hosting all three of them for an event last September. I was challenged and inspired by Keith’s passion to equip the church through theologically rich songs. What makes his focus so impressive is that he doesn’t write the lyrics for the songs he composes with Stuart – he writes the melodies. …

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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. 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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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. 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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Idolatry on Sunday Mornings, Pt. 2

I tried to come up with a shocking title for these posts to alert us to the difference between a “professed” God and “functional” god. That is, the God we say we believe in, and the god that actually governs our desires and actions. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, idolatry can be active in my heart even as I’m outwardly worshipping God. That’s a sobering thought. Whenever I think I can’t worship God unless “X” is present, I’m making a profound statement. If “X” is anything other than Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, I’ve moved into idolatrous territory. Idolatry is always evil, but the idols we pursue aren’t …

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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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