Tag Archives: Worship Leadership

Monday Picks ~ 7-17-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

This will be the best thing you’ve read all week, even if you know absolutely nothing about Eugene Peterson. I read this yesterday afternoon after hearing a challenging message on Sunday morning about reaching across the racial and ethnic divisions we all recognize. I’m learning that empathy is the thing that we seem to be missing in so many of our conversations, and that empathy never begins with the other person. It always begins with me…

That Time I Said “Yes” When I Really Meant “No”: One Last Thought on Eugene Peterson’s InterviewRebecca Reynolds
As I look across the landscape of evangelicalism, I see the sorts of leaders who bloviate and blast, and I used to be intimidated by them. But over the years, I’ve seen enough sex scandals emerge from this camp, I’m no longer awed by their proud self-righteousness.

I’m now drawn to gentle teachers who speak about sin with a tender understanding of how human pain works. While these tender men still hold to orthodox truth, they engage with humility and deep concern because they’ve taken time to weep with those who weep.


Some very helpful “dos” and “don’ts” for worship leaders when it seems your congregation isn’t singing. His first “do” is one I believe is often overlooked…

To Sing Again – a constructive approachAaron Hoskins

Why aren’t they singing?

…We could get lost in conversations that could quickly turn into a criticism of the modern worship movement about singing and participation. Instead of criticizing the church. I choose to build her up. This is not an exhaustive list but I hope it helps you to think differently how to lead your people.


I have often wondered this same thing…

Dear Feminists, Where Are You?Melissa Edgington
Our girls need to see you unfurl your fury on an industry that tells them they exist only to please men. That their pleasure is secondary to their willingness to do anything that is asked of them in the bedroom. That their worth is measured in naked photographs. That their minds and their souls are of little importance because they have vaginas and breasts, and those are the only things that really matter. Where are you, my kindred?

You and I disagree on some issues. We march in opposite directions in our various battles. But, here, on this hallowed earth, this war for the hearts and souls of our children, this is our common ground. We are all mamas, sisters, aunts, grandmas. We are all casualties of this war, whether we know it or not, and we are now watching our own sons and daughters fall into its devastating grip. Where are you, courageous ones? Our boys and girls need you to turn and fight and rail and rage and squall.


Literally awesome…

The Closest-Ever Shot of the Great Red SpotMarina Koren
Two days ago, Juno, a pinwheel-shaped spacecraft, zoomed over Jupiter, coming within just 5,600 miles of its best-known feature, the Great Red Spot. The spacecraft’s camera stared at the oval-shaped storm as it soared above, capturing a few images of its orangey-red coils. The photo shoot lasted nine minutes. Juno travels at tens of thousands of miles per hour, and it doesn’t slow down. The spacecraft’s orbit flung it beyond Jupiter, toward Callisto, one of its moons, and away from the worst of the planet’s radiation.

Nine minutes, and humanity managed to capture the closest-ever photograph of a storm on another world, one that’s bigger than the entire Earth and has been churning for decades.


Serious Humor…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/at-the-oxymoron-museum.jpg
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Thursday Picks ~ 7-13-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

A Future of Snark, Not IdeasSamuel James
http://blogs.mereorthodoxy.com/samuel/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2017/07/Screen-Shot-2017-07-11-at-5.13.03-PM-375x250.pngWell, apparently Brooks’s mid-column anecdote about taking a less educated, less urbane friend to a hip sandwich shop was just, ya know, lolz. Mind you: Actually finding folks among the Snarktariat who could explain why this was such a groan-inducing paragraph is pretty difficult. No one seems to want to say the punchline out loud. Instead, Brooks’s paragraph got parodied, jeered, and turned into a kind of self-referential inside joke…

Why did I find this annoying? Well, as I’ve written before, I think the ascendancy of snark to become the reigning lingua franca of the internet is a bad thing, a trend that our already fraying public square can ill afford. But there’s another reason. While the Twitterers were obsessing over a single paragraph and turning it into a monument of sophisticated political signaling, Brooks’s observations about the increasingly fanatical caste system among educated urban progressives came alive…

The only people who could read this and dismiss it with snark are people who perceive–correctly–that Brooks is talking about them. It doesn’t take long at all to realize that the most important political divide in this country is not between Republicans and Democrats, Christians and secularists, or even whites and minorities. The most important divide is between those who care that places like Owensboro, Kentucky exist and those who don’t.


A challenge for worship leaders, and worshipers…

The Paradox of the Worship SelfieBob Kauflin
Social media can blur the lines between magnifying the Lord and magnifying us, between speaking of God’s awesome deeds and our awesome deeds. And if we don’t aim at exalting Christ, it’s easy to take a lot of worship selfies with Jesus. And feel good about it.

If you serve as part of a church’s leadership, even if you don’t have an official position, you’re directing people’s attention to something. But it’s not only when you stand (or sit) in front of them. It’s when you tweet, post a picture on Instagram, write a blog, or put something on Facebook. Where are we pointing people’s attention, affections, and adoration?

The best we can be is signposts. Signposts are directions, not destinations. No one stops the car on a journey to gaze longingly at the signpost. They take note of where it says to go and continue on their way. So the people we lead should only only be aware of us long enough to know which way their thoughts, emotions, and affections should go: to God’s glory in Jesus Christ.


I know I sound old, but I worry so much about how my grandkids will deal with coming of age in this generation…

There is a Better Way to Experience Sexuality, and Christian Parents Need to Be Talking About ItMelissa Edgington
You may have read that Teen Vogue published an article this week for its audience of girls, ages 12-18, which is a how-to guide for anal sex. In fact, the creators of this magazine are writing instructive articles for all kinds of sexual acts. They want young girls to believe that sexual activity (including BDSM) is a natural part of being an older child in this country… Our twelve year olds open teen magazines and take quizzes about what kind of sexual partner they are and read articles about how to masturbate and how “valid and valuable” porn is.

It’s hard to even believe that on a continent where an estimated 1.5 million children are currently being sold to satisfy detestable, porn-fueled desires that a teen magazine can so flippantly sell sex to kids like it’s candy. But, it’s happening.

…the line in the article that bothered me the most has broader implications, and it’s the real message I want to counteract in my daughter’s heart and mind: “There is no wrong way to experience sexuality, and no one way is better than any other.” The writer says this with all authority and legitimacy…

So, here is what our kids need to know. There are plenty of wrong ways to experience sexuality...

…decision by decision, the kids of America learn again and again: there are plenty of wrong ways to experience sexuality. Ways that hurt them deeply. That cripple them emotionally and spiritually. Ways that will cause problems in their future marriages. Ways that wound the heart of God.


FYI…

It’s Official: Fewer Persecuted Christians Find Refuge in America Under TrumpSarah Eekhoff Zylstra
It’s Official: Fewer Persecuted Christians Find Refuge in America Under TrumpApproximately 14,000 fewer Christian refugees will arrive in the United States this fiscal year, as President Donald Trump’s policies lead to the fewest resettlements in a decade.

Today, resettlement agencies hit Trump’s new ceiling of 50,000 refugees, three months before the end of the federal government’s fiscal year on September 30. And as CT predicted, Christians fell far short of last year’s intake.


What a crazy idea…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9CaXphcnJvLzIwMTcvMDcvQml6YXJyb19wLjIwMTcwNzEyXzYxNi5naWY=
Bizarro

Tuesday Picks ~ 7-11-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Nothing new here, but sometimes a fresh reminder is needed…

Why Is It Important to Be Part of a Local Church?
Dan Reiland
Church has changed a lot since I was 18, but the essence is the same. The methods are radically different, but the message is the same. The current culture is dramatically different, but the human condition remains the same.

We need Christ, and we need each other, that truth won’t change. The Church is the greatest force on earth to that end.


Ten Thousand Reasons For a Thousand Tongues Forever and EverJamie Brown
The best kind of worship leading – all across the musical, denominational, and liturgical spectrum – is the kind of worship leading that saturates the congregation at every service with fresh reminders of the reasons why God deserves praise.


Five “Fake News” Stories That People Believe about Early ChristianityMichael J . Kruger
There is quite a bit of “fake news” out there regarding the person of Jesus, the origins of the church, or the development of the Bible . Even though such “news” as no factual basis, it is believed by an uncomfortably large number of people.

So, here is a sampling of some of the leading stories…


Important for any leader, and really any human relationship…

One of My Biggest Ministry MistakesDarryl Dash
ConflictNobody likes conflict, and if you do you have other issues we need to discuss. But when we avoid conflict, we hurt relationships and damage the church.

Don’t like conflict? The best way to get more conflict is to try to avoid it.

Pastors don’t have the option of avoiding conflict. Run into the issues you most want to avoid. Don’t make the mistake that I did. Call a meeting, close the doors, and refuse to leave until you make progress.


Hemingway Spoilers…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/hemingway-spoilers.jpg
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Thursday Picks ~ 6-15-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

So, so true…

Worship Leading in Real LifeJamie Brown
The piano’s out of tune again. The sound board is possessed. The drummer’s belt pack just died, and over in his plexiglass space pod, he can’t hear a thing. The alto section decided to take the day off. The second verse of the opening song vanished from ProPresenter. The bulletin accidentally printed last Sunday’s hymn numbers.

And it’s only 8:45 am.

This is worship leading in real life…

The airbrushed images of worship leading that we see presented to us can warp our expectations of what we will experience in our own local-church contexts, and lead us to think that we’d have it easier somewhere else. Just like airbrushed images of a man or woman in a magazine or on the internet can warp our expectations of what a real relationship with a real person will actually look and feel like, and lead us to think we’d have it better with someone else.


One more for worship leaders…

It’s not about you: leading worship and loving others
Matt Damico
http://equip.sbts.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Guitar.jpgThis is dangerous thinking for worship leaders and worship pastors. If you serve in that sort of role, you’re familiar with the temptation to evaluate and interpret a Sunday morning gathering in light of how it reflects on you. You must crucify that temptation. You don’t want to be the sort of person who, as Jim Hamilton said in a recent sermon, makes yourself the central reference point in every situation, considering “how this reflects on us, and how this makes us look, and how this makes us feel, and what this means about us. … We want to be people who, in every situation we find ourselves in, our central reference point is Jesus and other people.”


A Muslim chimes on on Bernie Sanders “religious test”…

Bernie’s Relativism Test Is Bad for Muslims and All Religious BelieversIsmail Royer
https://thewayofimprovement.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/bernie.jpg?w=685&h=385I am a Muslim and thus obviously disagree with Vought that my theology is deficient. Rather, I believe his theology is deficient. I believe that Jesus is not God himself but a prophet of God, and I believe that worshipping Jesus alongside God amounts to polytheism. I worship, as Joseph did, the one and unitary God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not the triune God of the Nicene Creed. I do not apologize for this belief.

Nor should Vought apologize for his. His statements were not crude bigotry, but a passionate defense of his creed entirely within the realm of discourse of reasonable, civilized men and women.


Life at my house right now…
For Better Or Worse – Click image for a larger view.

Thursday Picks ~ 5-25-2015

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

Judgment is a Lazy Substitute for IntimacyMichael Kelley
Judgment is lazy. …when judgment rears up; that’s when I’m tempted to make a snap evaluation of a person based on a given snapshot I see before me.

What I don’t know is the truth of the situation… I don’t know, and I’m content not to know. That’s because judgment is, frankly, easy.

It takes no time. It takes no real effort. And it certainly takes no sacrifice. It is based purely on assumption. This is why you could say that judgment, among other things, is a lazy substitute for intimacy. And this is not the way of Jesus.


Most of these are way too common…

5 Ways Ministry Leaders Start the Journey to Failure
Ron Edmondson
One of the hardest things I do in ministry is interact with those who are no longer in ministry, but wish they were. They’ve been derailed. They messed up and either they got caught or the guilt got the best of them and they confessed.

In recent years, I’ve had numerous ministry friends who lost their ministry due to moral failure, poor leadership, or simply burnout…

Watching this process over the years there appear to be some common reasons failure occurs. It doesn’t start at the failure. It starts months – and, perhaps years – prior. My hope is if we expose some of them we can catch a few people before it is too late.

So, let me ask, do any of these apply to you? …


Is Performance A Dirty Word? (And What it Means for Worship Musicians)David Santistevan
IS PERFORMANCE A DIRTY WORD-In more conversations than I can count, I’ve heard performance thrown around as a dirty word.

“This is not a performance. This is worship.”

I get where these comments come from. Matter of fact, I’ve said them myself. What I want to guard against is demonizing performance. If you play music in your local church, there’s no need to avoid the word performance or think of it as something less than true worship.

Performance and worship don’t need to be mutually exclusive…


Not quite as intimidating as the original…

(But I gotta admit, these guys are pretty good.)


Just like at the movies…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9CaXphcnJvLzIwMTcvMDUvQml6YXJyb19wLjIwMTcwNTIyXzYxNi5naWY=
Bizarro

Thursday Picks ~ 5-18-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

These are important reminders for worship leaders…

Eight Of The Most Common Worship Leading Mistakes
Jamie Brown
No worship leader ever stops making mistakes…

So our goal is not to become flawless worship leaders… Our goal is simply to keep being humbled by our awareness of our imperfection, and to keep growing, so we can more effectively point our congregations to Jesus in the power of the Spirit, not the power of our own professionalism.

To that end, here are eight of the most common worship leading mistakes…

But never forget this, worship leader: you have no idea what’s happening in people’s hearts, you can’t possibly know all that God is up to, and you most likely won’t ever know the short-term and/or long-term impact of your faithful leadership in people’s lives over the course of years’ worth of Sundays that help them remember and proclaim the good news of the gospel.


I found this strangely fascinating…

On This Day in 1926: The Scandalous Disappearance of Preacher Aimee Semple McPhersonhttp://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/files/2016/05/reviving-sister-aimee.jpgWhat if I told you that one of the most famous fundamentalist preachers of the 1920s and 30s was not a man but a woman, and not just any woman, but one who went through two divorces and who became something of a sex symbol. So how did something like that happen in that day and age?


Yes! So very yes!

Don’t Pity Parents, Pray for UsAaron Earlsparent pray pity
Once people know I’m a parent, it’s inevitable. I know the words I’ll hear shortly.

Without fail, they are going to say something like, “I don’t envy you. With all the issues out there, I don’t know how you can be a parent these days.”…

…Yes, there are specific challenges to being a parent in 2017. But there were challenges for my parents during the Cold War and the emergence of home computers.

How did my grandparents manage their kids during the turbulent 1960s? How did my great-grandparents shepherd their children through the Great Depression and world wars?

Parenting is challenging no matter the era because parenting is challenging period. But in His wisdom, God has made me a parent today…

Christian parents don’t need your pity. They do, however, desperately need your prayers.


First gig…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9aaXRzLzIwMTcvMDUvWml0cy4yMDE3MDUxOF85MDAuZ2lm
Zits – Click image for a larger view.

Thursday Picks ~ 5-11-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

The Revenge of Analog DiscipleshipTrevin Wax
Lightstock
Is digital on the way out? Is analog on the way in?

…the revenge of analog does not mean that ebooks will now go away. It means that print is not dead, nor will it die, and what is printed may matter more.

There is no such thing as digital-only discipleship. It’s all analog, because we are embodied people who long for real life community that goes beyond virtual hangouts…

Disciple-making is accomplished by modelers, not just messengers. We develop not merely through cognitive transfer, but also through witnessing the lives and choices of other disciples we encounter on our way. Perhaps this is the reason why the Old Testament emphasizes the meditation and memorization of Scripture alongside conversations about the Law that take place in the daily rhythms of life.

The teachers who make the biggest difference on our lives are those who not only give us knowledge but who know us well enough to speak truth into the specifics of our lives, to give counsel from their vast experience and biblical storehouse.


For your consideration…

The Case for Free-Range KidsLenore Skenazy
Basically, to be a good parent in America today you are expected to imagine the anguish and regret you’d feel if your child died and it was all your fault because you let him do something unsupervised.

My crime was that I hadn’t indulged in what I call “worst-first thinking”—imagining the worst-case scenario first and proceeding as if it were likely to happen. My old-fashioned belief in my son and my city earned me the title “America’s Worst Mom.” (Google it!)…

…So how can we give our kids back the freedom that gave us not only incredible childhood memories but a country bursting with innovation and entrepreneurship? After all, we can’t expect to raise the next generation of risk-takers if they are not allowed to take any risks!


Lots for worship leaders to think about here…

Let Worship Be Local Too: On the Influence of Industry on Sunday MorningRyan Mayo
What are we asking Sunday worship to do for us? This is the root question behind the “worship wars” of recent decades, although that argument typically takes place a few inches above this root. Many American churches have asked at least two inappropriate questions to evaluate our worship ethos. The first is “what music makes us feel like we’ve worshiped?” The second is “what songs and sounds will grow our church?”

These questions have forced out better ones and reveal our real agendas for Sunday liturgies. We have asked our worship practices to bear loads they are not meant to bear, and they have succeeded… These new functions also allowed industry practices and industry pressures to crowd out the old functions, and we are worse for it.

Corporate singing can accomplish many tasks, and church leaders should take great caution when they assign a telos to Sunday music. Singing binds together generations of Christians through common song. Singing catechizes. Singing is also, as Marva Dawn has reminded us, a necessary-and-extravagant “waste of time[1].” Singing can also be conscripted to attract certain groups and/or repel others, or it can produce heightened feelings in our congregations. Singing can dwarf the preached Word of God and relegate it to the status of a lecture, or singing can prepare the ears to hear it. Whether through invitation or through neglect, there is an ever-expanding worship music industry that will exert pressure on our liturgies and, by extension, the theology and practice of our congregations.


Prom Prep…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9aaXRzLzIwMTcvMDUvWml0cy4yMDE3MDUxMV85MDAuZ2lm
Zits – Click image for a larger view.

The One Thing That You Can Do To Encourage More Congregational Singing

https://tgc-cache.s3.amazonaws.com/images/made/images/remote/http_s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-ee2/articles/congregational-singing-2_350_233_90.jpgWorship leader, is congregational singing a priority to you? Do you actively encourage it?

I ask because I understand that it may not be, and that’s ok.

I have attended churches where it was obvious that the leader did not expect me to sing. The service was moving, powerful, and well-planned. The sermon was engaging and challenging. The music touched me deeply. I worshiped.

But I didn’t sing.

Congregational singing was not a priority, and that’s ok.

It’s not my preference, but worship isn’t about my preferences.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_48wEL1X8iP4/TLy3nIejg-I/AAAAAAAABHo/nBLiuQRp7U8/s400/05+-+Part+of+the+Congregation+singing.jpgBut that’s why I asked the question. Because if congregational singing isn’t important to you, you needn’t read any further. This post isn’t for you.

However, if congregational singing is a priority for you and your church, as it was for me in my ministry, then I have a suggestion.

It’s more of a plea, actually.

Please put the songs in a more singable key.

That’s it.

Now, I want you to know that I don’t agree with most of what I read about why congregational singing is waning. I don’t think projecting the music along with the words will help. I don’t think the answer is to stop doing new songs. (I responded to one article which touches on many of these complaints. You can read it here.)

But I do believe this one thing with all my heart…

People won’t sing with you if you deliberately exclude them.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but the recordings of most popular music (including popular worship music) is pitched in a low range for female singers and a high range for male singers. The result is that the vocals end up in approximately the same range. It’s a range we like to listen to. Now we may let loose and do our best to sing along in the car when no one else is around, but we know we sound awful. Because the songs are in a range most non-musicians and inexperienced singers are uncomfortable with.

The thing is, most of our worship leaders are experienced musicians who are comfortable singing in the pop music range. In fact, they prefer it because it allows them to be more expressive.

But it doesn’t encourage congregational singing at all. In fact, it does the opposite. It discourages participation. People may even want to sing, but they won’t be able to.

I know this because I really, really want to sing. I want to belt out my praise at the top of my lungs. I’ve been around the musical block a few times. I know what I’m doing. So sometimes I can find a harmony that feels right, or an octave that works. But there are many times when I simply can’t participate. I’m motivated. I try. I know what I’m doing. But many times I still can’t find anything that I can sing.

I guarantee that most of the people in the congregation who aren’t motivated, who have to be encouraged to try, and who don’t know what they’re doing, won’t participate.

Now, because I’m a man, what I’m about to say isn’t known through experience, but it seems to me that the women in our congregations are somewhat more flexible in their vocal range than men. What I mean is, if a male worship leader is singing in a very high range a female congregation member can generally sing with him in her lower octave, in a prime unison with the leader, and it can sound awesome! The men of the congregation, on the other hand, must either choose to sing in a high falsetto to stay with the leader (which will feel silly to him), or resort to a lower octave which, for a man, just isn’t going to be as expressive because it won’t have enough power for him to really even hear himself.

The third alternative is that he simply won’t try to sing at all. When you factor in the cultural bias that singing isn’t a very manly thing to do anyway, you can see why so many will choose option 3.

So, how do you determine what key to use?

I’m glad you asked.

A congregation will feel most comfortable if you keep the melody of the song in a range from about Bb below middle C to the D in the staff. You can go a little lower in quiet times and a little higher at big musical moments. Locate the highest and lowest notes in the song and find a key that puts the melody closest to this range. (This would be easier if worship leaders would use lead sheets instead of just lyrics and chords, but maybe that’s another blog post.)

I realize that many younger worship leaders will likely pooh-pooh this advice, but before you do I challenge you to try it. Consciously pitch your songs this way for a couple of months. You might not feel good about it because it may not be in your own sweet spot, but yours isn’t the sweet spot you’re aiming for.

Is it?

Please remember that our congregations are not filled with trained musicians or singers. We do them an extreme disservice when we expect them to sing along with a song that is completely out of their range.

They won’t do it, and I don’t blame them.

I plead with you to let us sing!

Lloyd

 

Tuesday Picks ~ 4-4-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

For worship leaders and worshipers…

Stop Hating And Start Loving Your Church
David Santistevan
Stop HatingHere’s what I’ve noticed in my own life: when I’m closest with Jesus, the less I criticize and find fault in every environment and leader around me…

Of course, I don’t agree with everything. Of course, imperfect people lead me, pray for me, preach to me, and lead worship. But… Rather than defaulting to criticism, I pray for them, understand the struggle of ministry, and stay focused on the right things.

But when I wander, when I try to live in my own strength, I start to get offended and hurt by every little thing… I’m only concerned with how I’m served and treated.

Should I press in to the church or withdraw? I’d rather have a bias of pressing in. Of being who God has called me to be. Of loving what Jesus has chosen to love.


Five Ways to Grow a Culture of TrustJ.D. Greear
https://jdgreear.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/spiritual-inconsistency-2-1.jpgOur natural tendency is to fill the gap with suspicion: He was late because he’s lazy; she didn’t consult me because she doesn’t value my opinion; he said that because he’s a racist. But cultivating a culture of trust means choosing to fill those gaps with trust instead.

We might think this is difficult, but there’s one person in our lives that we tend to treat this way already—ourselves… We “fill the gap with trust” all the time with ourselves. What we need to do is to extend the same kindness to others.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” right? Shouldn’t the Golden Rule extend to the way we interpret others’ actions?


I appreciate so much the hearts of the missionaries I know. I don’t know Stacey Hare, but it’s the same heart…

African Traditional Religion Keeps Them PoorStacey Hare
Missionaries are generally disliked by the secular linguistics/anthropology community. Why? Because missionaries do not come to the field as neutral observers, but with a desire to see change. Missionary linguists do not come to merely preserve and describe languages, but to see the Bible translated and then confront the culture.

Do not get me wrong, there are aspects of Bakoum/Cameroonian culture that I love and miss…

But then there are some aspects of their culture that I cannot accept because they are harming the neighbors I have come to love. So much so, that they are actually ensuring that an already impoverished people remain in poverty. What I see around me in Cameroon is not a tribal religion that supports a rich culture among its people. Instead, I see a commitment to a system that enslaves its followers…


https://www.challies.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Challies_April2-8-01.png
Graphic by Tim Challies

“We measure worship by how we feel as we worship. True worship is measured by what God thinks about our worship.” -Kevin DeYoung


http://podcast.farnoosh.tv/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/seth-godin-pic.jpg“All we have to do is be the person we say we are. No need to shop for a better you, or to work overtime to make bigger promises. Keeping the promises we’ve already made is sufficient.”
Seth Godin


Abstraction…
http://bizarro.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/bizarro-04-01-17.jpg
Bizarro

Singing In Church

Image may contain: 6 people, crowd and wedding
This is a picture of people singing in church. The church is in Sidlaghatta, India. The band was playing, the people were singing, the song was repetitious (even though I couldn’t understand the words) and the volume level was easily 120db. It was awesome!

Last summer there was one of those snarky “bash-modern-worship” posts making the rounds. I share the author’s concern about congregational singing and have some of my own thoughts about why it seems to be declining (I may share those in a future post), so, I read it. It made me mad. It just rubbed me the wrong way, so I just let it be.

Then one of my friends sent it to me and was interested in hearing my response to the article. I don’t like the article, but I like my friend, so I decided to read it again and jot down a few quick responses and send it to him.

I came across that document today.

It seems many of these same complaints (along with the same condescending attitude) still persist, so I decided my response to my friend might make a worthwhile blog post.

What follows is a slightly edited version of what I wrote for my friend…


Some thoughts and responses to Jonathan Aigner’s article, “Why WOULD Anyone Sing in Church These Days?”

“We began by changing our understanding of corporate worship. It’s not for the church, it’s for those who aren’t part of the church.”

https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/kevindeyoung/files/2016/09/singing-in-church.jpgI admit that this has been a struggle throughout my career. Who do we plan Sunday morning for? Where I’ve always landed is that we plan the service as a time of worship for believers, but with the knowledge that unbelievers will always be there. Consequently, we do everything we can to help them understand what we’re doing and saying. We use new music, and modern art forms and references, not to appeal to unbelievers, but simply because we’re planning services for believers in the 21st century, not the 17th.

“…we’ve decided that the singing alone is the “worship,” followed by preaching or teaching time (NOT worship)…”

https://redeeminggod.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Singing-in-Church.jpgAgain, I admit that I’ve heard the music set referred to as “the worship time” (I’ve even caught myself doing that) and that’s a mistake. But it’s simply not true to say that we teach that “singing alone is worship.” Every week we participate in the Lord’s Supper, give material gifts in the offering, listen to scripture preached and taught, sing together, listen as others sing, watch a video, celebrate baptism and more. We teach that everything in the service is worship and try to explain how that’s true.

“So, while music was once simply a way to add dimension to our sacred storytelling, we began to exploit its emotional appeal, suggesting the feelings it could evoke to be authentic spiritual connection.”

Seriously? I would suggest that music has always been used for its “emotional appeal.” And, why not? Certainly, worship is far more than an emotional experience. But how can worship ever not involve your emotions?

“Our cultural ability to make music has decreased steadily since the dawn of commercial recorded music…Now, most churches have given in to the cultural decline of music appreciation. Instead of training many of our own, we hire a few to stand up and perform from the stage.”

I think I know what he means by “make music.” It’s the music he likes and approves of. Anything else doesn’t even deserve the term, in his opinion.

https://themondayheretic.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/worship.jpg?w=620Here’s the thing: We have a whole generation of young people who do know how to “make music.” Their notation style is not that of the classically trained musician. They may not be able to read notes on a musical staff, but they’ve learned to improvise from a lyric sheet and chord chart, and play by ear. Most classically trained musicians struggle with all these things. How is this not “making music”? The accusation he makes above about not training our own strikes me as absurd. Training our own is exactly what we do. And, in order to “make music” the way he describes, it would necessitate exactly what he decries: “hiring a few to stand up and perform from the stage.”

I suggest that the training of our own should also involve retraining some of our musicians to be able to hold their own with these young musicians who are improvising from a chord chart. Sadly, most of these folks are either unable, or unwilling to do this. In fact, many would consider it beneath them to do such a thing.

Most churches have trouble putting both types of musicians together in one team. I believe (in all modesty) that this has been one of my strengths. I have worked over the years to combine these people and train them to work together. It hasn’t always been easy, but I believe it has been worthwhile.

Also, as an aside: since when was the church’s mission to foster “music appreciation”?

Oh, and one more thing: he uses the word “perform” intentionally as a negative term. This really gets under my skin because it’s all performance. What we have to teach (and maybe don’t do well enough) is that the congregation is expected to “perform” as well. If the leaders (musicians, singers, preachers, tech crew, ushers, greeters, etc.) don’t “perform,” they’re not doing their job. We’re all there to perform worship.

“We have a rich history of hymns and songs dating back centuries, set to beautiful, singable melodies with a rich harmonic framework, a group to which each generation added their best. Then we decided we didn’t need these anymore.”

What about this generation? He can’t have it both ways. Either each generation gets to add their best or they don’t.

“So, we stopped empowering those among us who do read music to use those gifts. And we stopped expecting anyone else to learn.”

See my thoughts on reading music notation above.

“We used to have these majestic and beautiful instruments, with infinite musical palettes…”

“Majestic and beautiful instruments” that could only be played by a single, classically trained musician hired to perform.

“What’s more, few of these leaders it seems are capable of just plainly, accurately singing the melody. Some of them croon with a whiny, closed-mouthed tone, turning every vowel into an ee-ended diphthong.”

Ok, crooning? Really? For that I just offer you 3 words: George Beverly Shea. Also, I think his musical arrogance and bias really comes through in this paragraph and I would just stop reading here…

Lloyd