Tag Archives | Q&A Fridays

Are We Responsible for Musical Literacy in the Church?

I’m getting questions every week now on topics related to worship and music. I wish I had time to answer each one, but I can’t get to them. But thanks so much for writing and assuming I might have an answer to your question. I received this question from Stephen: What effect do you see the “PowerPoint driven church” and American pop culture having on the musical literacy of your instrumentalists, and potentially on the future of the church? Being a worship pastor in a somewhat “emerging” church (AKA rock band and candles with historic Christianity), I am beginning to see the great need for “reproducing” musicians who are musically literate. …

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How Do We Make Room for the Gift of Prophecy?

I received this question from Mark: “While we are Southern Baptist, we are definitely reformed in our theology. We also do not believe that the gifts of the Spirit have ceased. When we were attending the Worship God conference , we were moved by those who shared from the prophecy mic. It was an incredible part of our worship to hear scripture, illustrations and such. Can you share with me how you introduced that to your church? Any guidance and input you could give would be great as we pray and seek God’s leadership in introducing this to our people. There’s no question that this is scriptural. But, we want to make sure we present this correctly …

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Who Pays for Music Equipment?

Justin wrote me and asked: How do you handle the purchase of instruments, equipment, and supplies for your musicians? Does the church purchase all instruments, some instruments, or no instruments? What about supplies (e.g. guitar strings, picks, drumsticks, batteries, reeds, etc.)? Or effects pedals, percussion pieces, etc.? We’ve done this different ways over the years. In general, we’ve learned that people tend to take better care of instruments and supplies when they own or purchase them. For that reason, we typically expect musicians to use their own instruments and purchase their own accessories. We’ve tried to avoid a mentality of …

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Is Repetition a Help or a Hindrance?

Will sent me this question: Is there an objective standard by which to gauge the effectiveness of repetition in contemporary worship hymnody?…What are some helpful ideas to bear in mind for incorporating effectively repetitive worship songs while not neglecting great hymns and songs that are not so characterized, and when do we as…worship leaders cross the line in leading the congregation in ineffective or mindless praise (apart from their own distractions and heart idols brought into worship) via repetition? When someone has a problem with repeating lyrics, I’m reminded of my daughter’s response when I suggested she read a certain book …

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Should We Worship Jesus as the Beautiful One?

Joshua is interested in teaching his church the song, “Beautiful One,” by Tim Hughes. He wrote: As I began to think about it, I couldn’t come up with a scripture verse that refers to Jesus as ‘beautiful.’ I did a word search in the NIV and the NASB for beautiful, but it seems to always refer to other things than God. Can beautiful be a substitute word for splendor or glorious or majestic? Is it better to use only Biblical words to describe Jesus? In another part of his e-mail Joshua pointed out that other songs contain the word “beautiful,” like “O Lord You’re Beautiful” by Keith Green, “I Stand in Awe” by Mark Altrogge (You are beautiful beyond …

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Entering the Presence of God

My friend, West, left a question on another post. He was asking about comments I’ve made to the effect that it isn’t a worship leader’s responsibility to lead people into God’s presence. Only Jesus can do that. West wrote: Heb. 9 through Heb. 10:1-22 call us to enter the Most Holy Place confidently. John Frame says “The Most Holy Place was opened to us at the death of Christ, when the veil of the temple was torn in two” (In Spirit and Truth, 27). If God is enthroned on and abides in the praises of his people, and if he is wherever 2 or 3 are gathered in his name, then it seems that there is an actual, spiritual experience of “entering into” the …

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What About “Me” Songs?

Matt wrote in to ask: What do you think about singing songs that have a lot of me/we/I content. Is it wrong to sing a lot of songs that talk about us? A couple come to mind right now: “We stand and lift up our hands…” “I love you Lord…” etc…I think there’s value in having some songs with personal language as we sing/speak to God, but is there a balance that we should seek in using songs that speak of we, me, or us? Great question. Lyrics in worship songs can be generally categorized as objective, subjective, or reflective. Objective lyrics tell us something true about God that helps us know him better. Most, but not all, hymns …

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Where Can I Find Scripture Songs?

Shirley sent me this request today: Please ask your readers to let me know where I may find songs taken directly from Scripture. One of my favorite collections is the six CD’s recorded by my good friend, Mark Altrogge. They go under the title “Hide the Word.” They’re a contemporary pop-rock style and use both the NIV and ESV translations. SEEDS Family Worship is another collection of four CD’s that are well produced and geared towards families. They use the NIV translation. If you’d like to recommend any Scripture songs, let us know. But please only suggest ones you’ve actually heard. Include the name of the project(s), translation of the …

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Quality or Quantity on the Worship Team?

I recently received this question from John: We currently have four worship teams, giving 15-20 people a month a chance to lead in music, either by singing or playing an instrument. I’d guess that a quarter of these people are very skilled musically, and have been split among the four teams. We’ve discussed cutting the number of teams down to one or two that would be much more musically adept; the downside of this is that many “moderate” musicians would no longer have a chance to share their musical gifts as a part of worship. We want to be sensitive to everyone, yet provide the highest quality music possible for all of the obvious reasons. What …

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Should I Take Piano Lessons?

I’m currently at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA, with 1600 men for “The Quest: A Journey Through Biblical Masculinity.” It’s a conference being hosted by Sovereign Grace Ministries, but we have a significant number of guests. I have the privilege of leading corporate worship three times along with my good friend Joseph Stigora. I’ve also been asked to teach a seminar on “The Pursuit: A Fresh Look at Courtship for Fathers and Sons.” I’m happy to encourage young men to give more thought to pursuing a woman in a way that pleases God, and challenging dads to serve their sons in the process. One of the highlights for me yesterday was meeting Shai …

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What About Candles in Worship?

Someone wrote me to ask a question about the use of candles in congregational worship. As we are approaching a time of year when many congregations use candles, this is a timely question. Often, however, the way we ask a question can significantly affect the answer we arrive at. I am starting to see candles used more and more in the services. Now, I know that the Bible never says not to use them, however, my concern comes in with how the world views the use of candles today…The only use of candles in the world today is for mystical and new age experiences. What is the church communicating when we turn off the lights and light candles sitting …

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Where are the Songs of Lament?

West asked this question in the comments section of a previous post: I was wondering what your thoughts were on how to, if at all, include lamenting in our present context. Should we grow in this area of worship? Does it mean that there is an “over-realized eschatology” in our worship if we don’t? A tendency to lean too heavily on the “not yet” instead of the “now” of our faith and Christian experience?…How do we (if we should at all) join the saints of old, and sit in the ashes as a congregation to weep before God? His question included a reference to an interview with Michael Card, where he refers to lament as the “lost language of worship.” Scripture …

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What Books to Read?

At the WorshipGod06 conference, and a number of times since then, I’ve been asked to recommend a basic reading list for worship pastors and musicians. While no book can replace the study of God’s Word itself, other books can help us grasp biblical truths more clearly so that we return to Scripture with renewed vigor and faith. Here are a few books that I think are helpful, although I know many more could be added. This is just to get you started. I’ve listed them by category, starting with books that are smaller and more introductory in nature, and ending with books that are a more challenging (but very fruitful!) read. By the way, I wouldn’t …

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How do I Run Auditions

Josh wrote in to ask: As far as an audition goes I was wondering if you had any specific suggestions on the best way to hold an audition. Should it be with the band? A one on one audition? A song that they would like to sing or something you would like them to sing (or play if it’s an instrumentalist)? Just some questions I had about the practical way to do this. The most important thing to remember about auditions is this: Adding a member to the team is always easier than taking them off. God hasn’t required us to use a specific instrument or vocal part in praising him, so we shouldn’t feel any pressure to add a drummer/guitarist/pianist/alto …

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When the Soloist is Out of Tune

I received this question from a leader who recently had a young girl sing a very off-key solo in his church. He had worked with her to improve her pitch, but it was to no avail. Her parents didn’t recognize how poorly she sang, so he wrote: How do you deal with a scenario like this? Singing is evidently not a gift that this girl possesses, yet her parents encourage her. I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone in this family, but should I continue to allow her to sing in services? If not, how would you recommend dealing with this issue should it arise again? I have no problem being “confrontational,” but I certainly don’t want to dash hopes or discourage …

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