by Bob Burroughs
March 7, 2011
“Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die.” Paul Simon
“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise” 2 Chronicles 5:12-14
O Great Composer of all things beautiful, Masterful Musician who created the Symphony of Nature and put a Holy Song in our hearts, I bless You today for those who have the remarkable and daunting task of preparing worship experiences for Your people. We are in a time of change--an upheaval of thought and tradition--a deep gulf fixed between several camps, each believing their way is the best way. Only YOU have all the answers. Lead us to discover new truths about worship and how we can bring our people into Your presence through music that is Holy and Acceptable to You. Change is coming. Help us to be ready and willing to minister to our people in creative and inventive ways that will bring glory to You. Amen, and Amen.
What Think Ye?
I am into my second reading of a marvelous Brennan Manning book, The Furious Longing of God
(David C. Cook, Publisher) It is remarkable book--full of truth and passion, writing as if he were knee-deep in Abba's love. He presents a 'no holds barred' thesis on today's church. This book should cause all who are involved in ministry and worship planning to take a hard look at themselves, their programs and what is going on in their churches today. Are today's churches reaching today's generations--or are they ignoring them for the sake of tradition? We must answer this question.
This is from page 74 of the book:
"Young Christians are sick of pablum. It doesn't work anymore. They are tired of rabbinical hair-splitting, empty liturgical apparatus, Sunday school minutiae, the ghostly voices of the old regime; they reject minds and methods and by their indifference to structures and traditional authorities have declared them bankrupt, cancelled."
Is that 'in-your-face' enough for you? Wait! There is more!
From page 124:
"How is it that we've come to imagine that Christianity consists primarily in what we do for God? How has this come to be the good news of Jesus? Is the kingdom that He proclaimed to be nothing more than a community of men/women who go to church on Sunday, take an annual spiritual retreat, read their Bibles every now and then, vigorously oppose abortion, don't watch x-rated movies, never use vulgar language, smile a lot, hold doors open for people, root for the favorite team, and get along with everybody? Is that why Jesus went through the bleak and bloody horror of Calvary? Is that why He emerged in shattering glory from the tomb? Is that why He poured out His Holy Spirit upon the church? To make nicer men and women with better morals? The Gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creations!"
I have just finished The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why
, by Phyllis Tickle (Baker Books). Today's church and Christianity as we know it is in the midst of the great emergence--which happens every 500 years! Her book is hard to read, very 'heavy' with details, but provides for the reader real insights into why and how this great emergence is happening NOW--in front of our very eyes, whether we are aware of it or not. There is a movement happening outside the church. More and more house churches and study groups are springing up and distancing themselves from today's church and all the trappings they hold. We had best become aware of this emergence and begin to do long term studies as to how our churches can and must adapt!
More on this next month.
What think ye
Worship Leaders Must Worship
From Worship Leader's Handbook
by Tom Kraeuter. (c) 1997 by Training Resources, Inc., Hillsboro, Mo.Used by permission of Emerald Books, Lynnwood, Washington
Do you sometimes feel that you are so concerned about getting everything to flow properly and leading others in worship that you sometimes feel like you missed worshiping God in the process? This seems to be a common thread among for worship leaders.
Below are some reasons it is difficult to worship while leading:
Lack of familiarity with the music. It is difficult at best to concentrate on the Lord when you are concentrating on your music. To help this, you must work at the music on a consistent basis. This means practicing the songs (in the various keys you will be using, including modulations), practicing chord progressions, performing technical work with your instrument and voice, etc. There is no way around this technical aspect.
Lack of preparation. As a worship leader you need to have a plan in conjunction with the pastor as to the direction of the service. In this way your leading will be more focused. Remember: it's perfectly alright to plan ahead. God can guide and direct you just as easily if not more so before the service as He can during it. Nowhere does Scripture suggest that spontaneity is a guarantee that the Holy Spirit is leading.
Lack of personal worship in private. You cannot give to your people on Sunday mornings what is missing from your private life. If you worship God on your own Monday through Saturday, your worship will flow more easily on Sunday. Seeing praise and worship as a lifestyle is a real key to effectively leading praise and worship. This includes consistent Bible study, prayer and seeking the Lord and His guidance for your life, business, family, and ministry decisions.
Lack of connectedness to the moment. Seek God's guidance as you perform your part of the worship service with a humble heart. Keep in mind that it is worship-- not a performance.
It is a good idea for those involved in the worship ministry to spend time together praying before the service, including praying for each others needs and concerns, lifting up the service to the Father, that the team will be able to flow together as a unit and that God will be glorified, and interceding for the congregation to be prepared to meet with God and open to what He wants to do in the service.
It is vital that the worship leaders actually worship while leading, but if they become so completely lost in God that they forget about the people, then they have missed part of their responsibility. On the other hand, if they are so focused on the people that they miss worshiping the Lord, then they have also missed a major part of their responsibility.
This Idea Will Work
Priority On Worship
GEORGE BARNA offers five ideas for what is required for a church to place a priority on worship:
- 1. Leaders in the church must demand that we engage in true worship
- 2. People in the church must refuse to accept empty worship events. They have to hold their leaders to higher standards
- 3. Establish “worship experience” as a benchmark of Christian development rather than worship service attendance
- 4. Be open to being a bit uncomfortable in worship--allowing spontaneity, allowing the senses to be flooded, allowing God to interact with us. We’re communicating with an amazing God.
- 5. Recognize true worship is a key to church growth and church health. Two things allow a church to grow: (1) relationships between people on the outside and people on the inside. (2) a relationship with God through a regular connection with God5. Recognize true worship is a key to church growth and church health. Two things allow a church to grow: (1) relationships between people on the outside and people on the inside. (2) a relationship with God through a regular connection with God
Humor (maybe more 'truth' than humor)
Richard Halverson, former chaplain to the U.S. Senate, once described all of church history in a nutshell:
• Christianity began in Palestine as a movement of people who had a relationship with Jesus Christ.
• It moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy.
• Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution.
• Then it moved to Europe, where it became a culture.
• Finally, it moved to the United States, where Christianity has become a business.
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