Managing and coaching are not the same thing... which one does your praise team need?
April 6, 2014 0 3 comments
Resource, Job Opening

Maranatha CRC Bowmanville is a 200 member, intergenerational, music loving church seeking an energetic, organized part time Worship Coordinator for August 2014. Please visit website link below for more information including a full job description.

March 22, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording
This webinar was recorded on: Wed, 02/26/2014 This webinar will provide important information for worship leaders, committees, pastors, and musicians regarding copyrights, specifically related to worship.
February 26, 2014 0 0 comments
What do we do with songs that mention the Rapture?  Should we avoid them?  Find alternate lyrics?  Maybe it depends on the song.
February 25, 2014 0 13 comments
If you want to remember something, put it in a song.  Songs that use Bible quotes are an awesome tool for learning God's Word.
February 19, 2014 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

We have several people who participate in selecting songs for worship at our church, and a question has come up regarding copyright and whether it is permissible to change the words of a song that is copyrighted.

One person says they had read one time that it was permissible to change...

February 11, 2014 0 11 comments
Why do we sing praises to God? Until recently it had never occurred to me to ask this question. God is worthy of more than just your regular, everyday voice.  Honoring God demands more than that.
February 11, 2014 0 4 comments
Greetings! I’m happy to introduce myself as the new Network Guide for the Worship blog. I’m excited to share thoughts and insights, hear your input and, I hope, ignite some discussion on lots of different topics.
February 4, 2014 0 2 comments
It's been a while since I've posted anything as a Network Guide.  So I give you a final post as my part of being the Worship Guide for the Network.  The Network in general has been a place for me to go, to be inspired, and to question thoughts and attitudes regarding worship and other ministries of God's Kingdom.  It also is an encouragement for me to keep going and to see the things that others write that hold a similar thought I have been wrestling with for some time.    
January 28, 2014 0 0 comments

Has anyone used the song "Great I Am" (Jared Anderson) in worship?  If so, I was looking for any suggestions about how to make the song more easily singable for the congregation.  It seems that no matter what key I put it in, either the verse is too low or high or the bridge is too low or high...

January 27, 2014 0 1 comments
We gathered together as a group of sincere and dedicated volunteers to prepare for the weekly gathering. We set up and tuned up, checked this and checked that, worked on a couple bridges and a few tags. Then, God called us to worship and we worshiped the Lord. But much of that which we prepared and practiced didn’t make it into the service...
January 20, 2014 0 0 comments
We've witnessed an overabundance of resources for worship renewal during the last three or more decades. These resources have addressed a variety issues, including the role of music in worship, the formation of spiritually transformative liturgies, etc. In contrast, little attention has been given to the role of the sermon. According to a recent survey, the sermon...
January 7, 2014 0 9 comments

It seems to me rather backwards, in most church services I've attended, that we are standing to recite the Apostle's Creed, the Nicene Creed, and other of the church's documents, but not standing for the reading of God's Word? I know it doesn't make sense to stand every time a verse of Scripture...

December 31, 2013 0 9 comments
One question is, why does it feel like a good thing to be reminded how big God is and how small I am? Well, I’ll tell you why it feels like a blessing to me, and I’d love to hear why it does -- or doesn’t -- to you. I find comfort in knowing that what I do and say is infinitesimally small in the grand scheme of things...
December 26, 2013 0 4 comments

Has anyone found a great solution for outdoor luminaries (ideally foolproof and weatherproof)? We like to have them up our driveway for Christmas Eve worship service and face unpredictable weather (Michigan in December). Last year I tried battery operated tea lights, but I think it was too cold...

December 11, 2013 0 0 comments
When we promote multicultural or multiethnic worship, the listener often assumes that we are promoting the use of multiple musical styles of worship. In some instances, that may be the case. But, I suggest a different approach, one which affirms the default musical (even liturgical) style of a congregation, while exploring the boundaries of that style...
December 3, 2013 0 5 comments
The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship is excited to present to Network readers the Vital Worship Grants Program —a grants program for worshiping communities.  The annual grants of $5,000 to $12,000 are to foster vital worship in congregations, parishes, and other worshiping communities in North America.
November 26, 2013 0 0 comments
There have been times when there are just a handful of musicians and vocalists on stage with minimal capabilities or it’s just me with my guitar and one or two others. The songs (especially the contemporary ones) scream for a full band with keys, drums and a bass, but we don’t have it available. What to do?...
November 19, 2013 0 4 comments
With the great diversity of worship practices in American Protestantism, it’s more and more difficult to share meaningful conversations about worship without an agreed upon taxonomy. By that word, I refer to ways of grouping things together, to an orderly classification of Sunday services according to their presumed connections with one another...
November 12, 2013 0 8 comments
I have to admit; sometimes I look around at our small congregation and see only the gaps in the pews instead of the blessed people sitting between those gaps. Have you ever thought of the hours you spent preparing for worship and wondered, “Why did I bother?”...
November 5, 2013 0 0 comments



Hey, I just learned that, in fact, MLB does use video review, in a limited capacity.  I wonder whether they'll keep (and inevitably expand) it, or score it as an error and get rid of review.  We'll see.

posted in: Manager or Coach?

I agree, the leader needs to have a pastoral heart.  I guess I would associate that more with a coach than a manager, since a coach is concerned with the development, in many areas, of the person being coached.  Coaching seems to have a personal, caring aspect to it that I don't managing doesn't have quite as much.

posted in: Manager or Coach?

I like sports, and I see where you're going with this illustration. I think that both coaching and managing are important, along with leadership, teaching, and mentoring. But maybe the most important skill, or gift that is needed for worship leading is a pastoral heart - both for the worship team members and congregation. Giving of oneself in ministry is demanding and draining, whether playing an instrument, singing, or planning worship. So having a pastoral heart to care for the team is essential in my opinion. And the worship leader also needs to be in tune with the congregation and their needs, since you can't lead if you aren't closely connected.

posted in: Manager or Coach?

For a recent service at Trinity here in Edmonton, we did not have a pianist available, which I don't think has ever happened before. Fortunately, the other instrumentalists booked for that service are all very talented. Our praise teams always work with the pastor to choose the songs for the service.  Between choosing songs that worked for both the instrumentalists (sans pianist) and the theme of the service, everything went off without a hitch thanks to the skills of the guitarists and drummer and God's grace.  It might be an interesting exercise to try it out for once to give the musicians the self-confidence that it can be done if needed.

Ooo, Christy, thanks for your post! As a Praise & Worship Band instructor at our local Christian high school, these questions just ring out as wonderful ones to get my students thinking critically about instrumentation. The development of a pyramid, or other helpful tool to assist leaders in making these tough choices would be a great Independent Study Project. 

For myself, while I have not stopped to formally articulate a set of prioritizing questions/principals, I think that practically I do function with a few. As I poke around a bit to explore what those guiding ideas may be, I am becoming aware that I take a pretty 'big picture' view and then narrow the focus as the bigger questions get answered- kind of like that marble that spins around and around getting closer to the hole each time and then disappears. 

What are we being called to do? Who are we being called to serve? How can our musical offerings be an act of love?...What musicians are available? How do the individual musicians feel called to serve at this time?...(spinning, spinning) What is the theme of the service? Given the theme and the people we are serving, which songs are available?...How familiar is this song to the congregation? What impact will losing the drum have on our ability to lead well? ...(down the hole it goes) Have I/we chosen songs and instrumentation that will allow both leading musicians and congregation members to feel invited and included as they seek to offer a 'pleasing aroma' to their Heavenly Father? 

As one moves through that kind of thinking process, I think we can avoid trying to pop the marble through the hole at the bottom, hoping it will spin its way up the vessel. What do I mean? Well, the practical realities of short timelines and long lists of responsibilities mean that we too often deal with the immediate need first: a list of songs for Sunday morning. And then we work at making those songs happen with whomever we've got. We end up having to choose in the midst of rehearsal whether to go guitar or drums, keyboard or harmony vocal, etc. Rarely fun and often leads to dissatisfaction, or 'settling'. So, when it is possible, after answering the bigger questions, I try to pick my song list based on the instrumental support I know I will have vs. fitting the musicians into the song list. I have found it a much less frustrating process that leaves both musicians and congregation members feeling more supported and freer to engage in meaningful worship.

The issue of copyright is an interesting one especially as the laws may be different in other countries.  What may be legal in the United States may not be legal in Canada or vice a versa.  On the other hand, my personal opinion is that it is not up to the individual user or group of users to police You-Tube's contents.  It is also up to the artists and their companies to cut the content if they think their copyrights are being violated.  I just did a You-Tube seach for "Lady Gaga", (ugh) and found her videos without any problem other than the ads.  This would suggest that even the "biggies" are not serious about taking their stuff off You Tube.

Given the immense commercial value of You-Tube, it seems to me if any one is to control the content, it is the company who should be doing it.  However, as this would detract from You Tube's commercial value, I very much doubt that they would do this. 

Good question. I'm not a legal expert by any means, but my thought is that the poster of the video is responsible for the permissions. By creating a playlist, it does not create a duplicate copy of the video or claim ownership of it; it's more a collection of links to the various content that others have posted. I did try to use "official" content as much as possible, although as you noticed, most of it is not. If I'm wrong about this, then I guess I would retract my suggestion, and revise my use of YouTube. I'm interested as well in hearing what others might have to say.

I have to ask about the copyright and legal issues behind this.  Most of the YouTube links you have on your playlist are not from the artists' YT page, they are from fans who create lyric videos, and who do not own the copyright.  While I agree that your suggestion is a great way to get new music to your musicians, the fact that "it's on the internet so it must be ok to use" is a bit of a grey area for me, especially if you are posting on your public church page.  

Is there someone out there who can help shed some light on this?

Thanks, Jolanda.  I'm glad this was meaningful to you.  I was not very happy with how I played in worship on Sunday, but, of course, no one said anything to me.  It got me thinking about this topic, so I decided to focus on it this week.

Thank you for this helpful post! A wise pastor once told me that the best time to provide guidance and correction is often not right after the meeting/worship service/event, but right before the next one. That way you provide helpful guidance right at the moment when the person has the opportunity to do it again, but make it more success this time.

Thanks for looking that up, Kevin.

I was referring to this refrain:

"Dwell in me, O blessed Spirit, gracious Teacher, Friend divine!  For the home of bliss that waits me, O prepare this heart of mine."

It also had three verses, the original second verse being thus:

"Round the cross where Thou has led me, let my purest feelings twine. With the blood from sin that cleansed me, seal anew this heart of mine."

I never saw anything wrong wih those lyrics, and never thought the altered version quite measured up.

The new hymnal kept the refrain that was in the 1987 Psalter Hymnal.  "Dwell in me, O blessed Spirit, gracious Teacher, Friend divine!  For the kingdom work that calls me, O prepare this heart of mine."

Are you refering to this refrain: "Dwell in me, oh, dwell in me; Hear and grant my prayer to Thee; Spirit, now from Heav'n descending, Come, oh, come and dwell in me."

The "problem" or "licence" that is with this particular song is that it is Public Domain, so any church/organization, can rephrase, etc. any part of the song as they see theologicaly fit.  So, I'm sure there is a theological reason as to choosing/keeping the lyrics.

Any Public Domain (P.D.) song is under liberty to be altered or changed as one sees fit.  So the idea that the lyrics have changed is that there was a theological issue vs. an artistic liberty.  That's my educated guess from being on the advisory committee.

Kevein, do you know whether "Dwell in Me, O Blessed Spirit" has had its original refrain restored in the new hymnal?

I may be wrong but I believe in a rapture and that it will be public and final as opposed to one that is secret, which we hear taught more often.

Kevin, welcome back!  I did not know any details of the new Psalter, but that sounds like great news.  I hope "Jesus, With Thy Church Abide" has been restored to its original state.

The "Lift Up Your Hearts" hymnal has gone back to the original text and has included "rapture" in the second verse of "Blessed Assurance". It is also has an * with an explanation at the bottom as a "sense of glory, ecstatic joy. So the CRCNA has re-introduced the word "rapture" in its lyrical repertoire, we just need to realize that. They have also have included "ebenezer" in the "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" with another explanation at the bottom as well. Many of the songs have gone back to the "original text" that we know from the evangelical community.

Oh, memories! When I was a teen, Larry Norman was the only thing resembling rock and roll that was permitted in the house. But beforehand I got an explanation from my Dad and an Elder about how the Rapture was wrong. Sort of like a Theological antidote pre potential poisoning.
Since then, I've come to subscribe to the possibility presented I think by Walsh and Middleton in "The Transforming Vision" that maybe, if there is to be disappearing going on, the ones left on earth will be there to build the Kingdom. But then, I like turning existing assumptions on their heads.
So, when Larry Norman came to Ontario Canada in the early 2000s (I think) I took one of my teen sons (who was too much into rap for my liking - a lingering Grand Rapids influence) to see his concert. I got to talk with him (he was like 63 years old), and asked him specifically about the song Ron mentions. Larry said that if you read the words carefully he wrote it with no clear indication of who was going where, only that a 'leaving' had occurred.

Henry, I'm glad this post was helpful to you.  When our pastor gave his sermon on why we worship, it was enlightening for me.

I agree, Jesus was a fully-human baby and crying is not a sin.  We know he cried later in life, so why not as a baby?

I think a lot of people share your sentiments, John.  I'm dissappointed that "Blessed Assurance" was left out of our hymnal for so long; it's a great song.  And the song you referenced is "Fill Thou My Life".

Larry Norman's 1972 album "Only Visiting this Planet" was an album that was highly rated by secular and Christian music stations & magazines. He was eventually inducted to Gospel Music Hall of Fame and honoured posthumously at the Grammy Awards in 2009. As a young teenager, I listened to the album frequently (still have a copy somewhere) and the lyrics of the one track definitely provoked thought... at that time. Now, I just think it's a great song.

Excerpts from Larry Norman's "I Wish We'd All Been Ready":
A man and wife asleep in bed, she hears a noise and turns her head he's gone
I wish we'd all been ready
Two men walking up a hill, one disappears and one's left standing still
I wish we'd all been ready

There's no time to change your mind, how could you have been so blind
the father spoke, the demons dined, the Son has come and you've been left behind

I find it hard to get serious about questions such as these. Sometimes a song is just nice to sing and while there may be a line or two which are "theologically incorrect", is God really going to be upset at us? Give me a break. I suppose we could add "rapture" to the lines in one of the older hymns, I forget the exact song: : "In intercourse at hearth or board with my beloved ones." I remember as adolescents a half century ago, we always snickered when this song was sung with heart and soul by the adults in church. The mental image was just too humourous.

Your article helps me understand why discussions regarding and planning of music for a worship service so often come with tension and difficulty. If our attempts at God-glorifying music are so full of tension and failings, why do we plan and stumble? Why not just always let music happen? What you have written has helped me sort out that it is so important to put effort and intention in our music, because it is this effort and intention inherent in music that is at the very foundation of our desire and attempt to see the perfect glory of our great God! With this in mind, it is easier for me to see why God wants and even commands us to worship Him in song.

I've always interpreted the use of the word in hymns in the sense that Bill lays out, the idea of "rapturous delight" and not speaking about an end times event.  But it dovetails with the whole question of theology in song.  I for one cringe a little when I sing at Christmas "the little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes."  Why shouldn't he cry?

rapture (n.) 
c.1600, "act of carrying off," from Middle French rapture, from Medieval
Latin raptura "seizure, rape, kidnapping," from Latin raptus "a carrying off, abduction, snatching away; rape" (see rapt). Earliest attested use in English is of women and in 17c. it sometimes meant rape (v.), which word is a cognate of this. Sense of "spiritual ecstasy, state of mental transport" first recorded c.1600 (raptures).
The word is about 350 years older than John nelson Darby's invention of dispensational eschatology. 

In response to your question, Bert, if a song is in the public domain, as Stand Up Stand Up for Jesus is, you may write new stanzas, print them, sing them for worship or whatever use is appropriate. It's only when the hymn or song is still under copyright that you need to be careful. 

I have been listening to a lot of messianic music lately (look up chavah messianic radio if interested), and a lot of it is straight scripture, especially Paul Wilbur's songs...    here's just a taste  =)


in this song, the Shema by Paul Wilbur (Deut 6:4), you can even learn the Shema in Hebrew =)  but most of the song is in English... ;


Medley: Let God Arise (Psalm 68:1-3)/ It is Good (Psalm 92:1-5,12-13; / Roni Roni (Zeph 3:14);  again performed by Paul Wilbur


We have a prayer group, coming together once a month in prayer support fore our sidewalk counselors at the abortion clinic.Typical we write a responsive reading and sing a song. As an example we may sing "Stand up, stand up for Jesus"

Often we add an extra song just created to fit the occasion. Normally the extra is just used at that time among our group. But whould it be permissable to use it during a church service?


I hear you on all of these points, Rebecca. It does take time, and correct licensing is a big deal - to the point of being a burden on many church staffs. We will be doing a webinar on Copyrights and Worship on Feb. 26 at noon - the goal is to give  practical information and helps for those in the church and allow for questions. (sign ups currently taken through the Network or the hymnal website - )

RE: Copyright for new hymnals (Diane)

I am loving planning worship using the new Lift Up Your Hearts hymnal, but ensuring correct licensing is BIG. DEAL. As in, taking a lot of time to make sure we are doing it right. But I LOVE this hymnal, it's terrific.

RE: Why change lyrics?

Sometimes contemporary and popular worship songs do not reflect reformed theology. All our songs go through a review before we add them to our song list. In some cases, we have chosen just to simply not sing a particular verse of a song if it's questionable. (I know of one song we do this for, and if I can just remember the name of it, I'll post it as an example.)

An example from the news recently was when a church (PCUSA, I *think*) opted not to include the popular hymn, "In Christ Alone" in their new hymnal because they wanted to change the words "Till on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied" to "Till on that cross as Jesus died, the love of God was magnified" and the copyright holder declined to approve the change.

Just one more note about changing the words, calling it a derivative work, and claiming the copyright for yourself. They will not let you do that today- I realize that it was done in the past. But in today's world of copyrights and permissions - publishers and most individuals won't allow another person to hold the copyright for a change or addition to their original work. For example, if you wrote another verse to a hymn that fit really well - and you sent it to the copyright holder  for their permission to use it, they might say that they like it and 'thank you very much, we will let it be a part of our hymn, but we will now own the copyright for the new verse, too".   Sometimes for older (still copyrighted) hymn texts publishers or authors will allow you to do that. Probably more often they will not. But for any contemporary music, absolutely no changes are allowed - no word changes, no additional verses or choruses, no new words to contemporary tunes, etc.

I only know these things because I just obtained all of the copyrights and permissions for the most recent two hymnals that the CRC (Faith Alive) published - Psalms for All Seasons, and Lift Up Your Hearts. Trust me, we tried to do several things that were definitely turned down. And we added some great new verses to hymns but the original copyright holder now owns the copyright to them.

The only way to take freedom with lyrics or tunes is to work with public domain material - then you have real creative freedom and if you write something new you do retain the copyright.

I hope this makes sense. I'd hate for someone to work on something and think they would be able to claim the copyright ownership and then be disappointed.



Thank you for adding your clarifications.  You're absolutely right that performance and reproduction rights are distinct.  I should have read the statute more carefully.  So, as you said, we are free to sing/play songs without permission, but to display or copy the music/lyrics we are obligated to secure a license (I do have some reservations about the practice of liscensing, but I'll save those for a possible future blog post).

I still don't think changing the lyrics is a big deal.  If you were trying to get other churches to sing your alternate lyrics, and then ultimately you wanted to get credit/royalties for the changes, that would be a clear derivative-work situation.  But what Rebecca is talking about isn't quite so serious (again, just my opinion).

Perhaps the bigger question is why you would want to change the lyrics at all.  If you like the song, is there a compelling reason not to sing it as published?  For my part, I often find updated lyrics in the Psalter to be unneeded and less appealling.  So I prefer to use the older forms (I like to think of them as the "original" lyrics, but that's not always true).  However, in such cases, we would still be using a published version of the lyrics, not something we came up with ourselves.  If there are a few lines/words you just really don't want to sing, I guess you probably shouldn't use that song.

Thanks to all for taking the time to contribute to these forums.

Thank you for adding your comments about copyright and music as well as about copyright related to visual arts. I appreciate you taking time to add to the discussion.

Interesting discussion. I'm not a copyright lawyer, but I've worked with copyrights and church music quite extensively. The 106 Clause states that the copyright owner has exclusive rights to do and authorize any derivative works. In other words, no changes can be made without the copyright owner's permission. If a song is copyrighted, the words should not be changed without permission even for singing in the local church. Some of the copyright licenses (CCLI) allow for you to arrange, translate, or write instrument parts for a copyrighted song for use in your local church's worship service if a published version is not available. (check CCLI's website for more information).

The 110 exemption referring to performing a copyrighted song in church refers to singing or playing a song - whether by choir, soloist, or congregation. These things don't need licensing or permission. But that is different than reproducing music - either by projecting, photocopying, printing in bulletins, sending to musicians to rehearse, etc.  Doing those things for church use without permission or license, will make you liable for infringing on the copyright holder's rights. 

The reference to displaying a work would seem to refer to the displaying of a work of religious nature - probably some kind of artwork. Displaying it in its original form for people to enjoy and worship would not need permission or license. But copying it, or pasting a copyrighted image into a presentation or bulletin without permission would again be an infringement of the copyright holder's rights.

Thanks again for asking the question. Many people in the church today are busy and overwhelmed, and while they want to do the right thing, they just don't even dare ask the copyright questions. I give you a lot of credit for caring.


Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

As for the performance in worship aspect as referred to in § 110, I have read elsewhere that there is a difference between performance and congregational singing. That is, if the praise team or a soloist presents the song, it would be a performance and there is no issue, but that is distinct from congregational singing, when we reproduce the words and/or music under a license to guide corporate singing. In that case, when the words are changed, it's stickier because we note that we've licensed the work, but have actually changed it withouth noting that we have done so.

I don't know that this applies to musical changes in the same way in our setting; we don't generally reproduce music, so the mucisians have the liberty to do many of these things as in a way, they are "performing" music - original or adapted works - but it's the words that are the issue because we do reproduce those.

I'm also not a lawyer, so this is all my opinion too... but it would seem that if we could fairly claim a derivative work even if we didn't seek copyright of such, and then simply add notations to indicate that words have been changed, that might be OK. Although as you said since we aren't seeking copyright that doesn't seem to apply. I just haven't been able to find any resource that indicates that this is actually OK (nor clear information that says "you may" or "you may not.") 

I do appreciate your taking time to write. I didn't have any familiarity with the derivative works aspect, and I appreciate your thoughts on the topic.


There are two sections in the US copyright law that pertain (somewhat) to what you are asking.

The first one concerns creating a derivative work, which is when you take a song and make substantive changes.

[quote] § 106 . Exclusive rights in copyrighted works

Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:

     (2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;[/quote]

Here is the official definition of a "derivative work":

[quote] A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.[/quote]

Usually this section applies when trying to claim a new copyright for changes made to a published work, such as what Weird Al Yankovic does.  So while changing the lyrics of a song is technically creating a derivative work, you are not trying to claim a new copyright, so my view is this section doesn't apply.

The section that truly applies is this:

[quote] § 110 . Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the following are not infringements of copyright:

     (3) performance of a nondramatic literary or musical work or of a dramatico-musical work of a religious nature, or display of a work, in the course of services at a place of worship or other religious assembly;[/quote]

This section brings into question the very need to secure a license to use copyrighted songs in worship.

The bottom line is we make changes to songs all the time.  We play them in different keys, use different chords, add descants, harmonies, and counter-melodies, etc.  If anything, displaying alternate lyrics could be classified simply as a typo.  And section 110 allows us to use religious songs in religious services without permission.  So I don't think you are violating copyright law, neither its letter nor spirit, by changing some lyrics.

Now, I need to say, and this is very important, that I am not a copyright lawyer, nor even what could be called an expert.  I've done a lot of reading on the topic over the years, but my sentiments above are nonetheless just my opinion.

Do with them what you will.

Thanks David.  I tend to think God loves music. It just seems to fit with how he made us.

Good stuff, Christy. I'm always haunted by the Augustine statement "He who sings prays twice" and I definitely think of our hymn-singing as prayers with notes attached. I wonder to what extent our God is musical at the core and hears us kind of speaking His language when we sing...?

I love it that you used a harmonica in worship. I was given a harmonica at age 5, and that started a lifelong love of music for me,especially church music. (I am now a senior)

Welcome aboard, Christy!  Blessings in the coming year.

I don't folks. If the word is truly as powerful and convicting as we say it is, maybe we should be sitting down to hear that? I'm being facetious of course, but the point is that standing or sitting can be symbolic and/or practical either way. Perhaps standing for the reading was always symbolic of respect, or perhaps it was just a practical way to get people closer to the speaker because sitting takes more room. Obviously in Nehemiah the symbol of respect came primarily from the length of time that the people stood. If our churches are being intentionally symbolic with sitting or standing, I think very few people would argue in favor of giving the Creed a place of highest honor. But if we are using this as a standard to try and judge other congregations, this is a silly display of insecurity, and besides, we should be careful not to assume that a symbol understood one way in one congregation will carry the same meaning in another congregation.

In the key of D, the bridge is not too high.  It only goes up to a high D, which is decent for most congregations, if the song doesn't linger there.   The second chorus hits a high G (except for a possible grace note up to A).  While this makes for powerful music, it makes the song less congregation friendly.  Just like "God Of This City," the chorus is repeated an octave higher, which makes for a wide vocal range.  

The lowest note is the tonic, D.  That could be pushed a bit lower, and still congregation-friendly.  

 Try for the key of B (key G capo 4 if you play guitar).  That gives you a B on the low end, and high E.  Still a wide range, but probably better.  (I'm not in front of my piano, nor do I have my guitar in hand.  I may be slightly off).

Thanks, Ken, for the reference to Piper.  Good stuff.


Having read (and appreciated) this article, I just ran accross this today...
This supports what you have found about the centrality of preaching God's Word.

You are right on.  Thanks for the qualifier.

Thank you Sam for reminding us once again of the importance of the preaching of the Word and why it is and always will be considered one of the 3 marks of the true church.

I would suggest that the survey only gives an indication of what the worship leaders, pastors or other leaders, consider to be important, not what the person in the pew thinks is important or relevant with the result that there may be a great disconnect between what the pastor/leader thinks is important and what he/she preaches on and what the congregation thinks is important.   I suspect this gulf is often greater than the ordained leadership especially suspect.  Please note though I also suspect that in many instances the preacher is correct and and praching what the congregation needs to hear to live the Christian Life.

Ed, thanks for weighing in on the connection between the sermon and church growth. Seems to me that, through casual observation, we see a connection between the quality of preaching and church growth - in some but not all contexts. Yet, I don't think my survey, as constructed, makes that a necessary connection (as in A + B = C). We simply asked the leader of the worship ministry of each church about the focal point of the service, a question which probes the design of the Sunday service. Still, I agree with the connection you make to sermon preparation. Surely, if the sermon is the focal point, preachers best bring their best. And, if God so allows, the fruit of such efforts may be the spiritual and perhaps numeric growth of the congregation.

If 86% consider the sermon as the central part of Sunday worship, it would seem that the decision on joining a church, or even attending on a given Sunday is a function of the characteristics of the sermon, and by inference, of the efforts of pastor in preparing and delivering that sermon. If true, that would lay the responsibility for church growth largely on the shoulders of the pastor. Is that another one of the take aways of this study?