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Welcome! From projection screens to professions of faith, from sacraments to song selections this is where worship teams and planners can connect with others about all aspects of worship.
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Sam, you never cease to be provocative in all the right ways. If we take your definition of worship as "worship as declaring the glory and majesty and greatness of our God" then I imagine it is possible to be in a worship service and not be worshiping because you are going over in your head the plans you have for Sunday dinner even as your voice sings "How great is our God". It may also be possible to "declare the glory and majesty and greatness of our God" in our work whenever we see God's activity and acknowledge it. I think that's helpful. But then I wonder...is lament not worship then? confession? or are those expressions of our relationship with God but not worship per se? Is this a matter of how narrow or expansive our definition of worship is?
wor·ship[ wúrship ]
1. treat somebody or something as deity: to treat somebody or something as divine and show respect by engaging in acts of prayer and devotion2. take part in religious service: to take part in a religious service3. love somebody deeply: to love, admire, or respect somebody or something greatly and perhaps excessively or unquestioningly
It would seem that you could take part in a worship service without actually worshipping God (due to inattention, lack of devotion, lack of faith, etc.). Or you could you could worship God while driving your car, cutting your grass or washing your dishes.
Some people call the team that leads the singing in church the worship team. So they consider only active adoration to be worship, I suppose. Even listening to sermons might not be worship if it is done only to learn or to evaluate... rather than to honor God.
What is the difference between worship and religion? All of life is religious?
yes, thank you!
Surely. Thanks for the opportunity clarify. If all of life is worship, then everything we do is worship. Hence, worship becomes indistinguishable from every other action; worship gets lost in our actions. It is no longer an identifiable action. Does that help?
Could you expand a bit on point #6? Are you saying that life is ubiquitous and meaningless? I don't remember learning that in my catechism classes ;-)
We sometimes sing a doxology at the end of the service but not very often. I really miss closing the service with praise to God. Last week we sang "The New Doxology" which is based on the traditional one "Praise God from whom all Blessings Flow," What a way to end the service. Yes, I wish we sang a doxology every week or at least more often.
As the prayer ministry leader, I lead our Prayer Services and we always end with the Doxology. After brining our praise and petitions to God, it is only fitting that we praise the One who hears and answers us.
What I like about "Praise God from Whom all blessings flow" and other such simple, one stanza, often trinitarian doxologies is that they seem to be a fitting response - both to a just pronounced blessing on the people (benediction) and to the whole of the worship we just participated in. Our services generally end, after the sermon, with a song of response (maybe some words of sending or response), God's blessing/benediction, and a doxology. Sometimes churches want to put a "marching orders" song as the very last song, telling God and each other what we will do. I prefer God's blessing and our praise (doxology) as an ending to help us remember it's all in God's hands, ultimately. Song of response after the sermon is a great place for us to declare our commitments, to sing our "marching orders," and so forth. Of course, with so many different doxologies to choose from, we don't have to be limited to "Praise God from whom all blessings flow."
Great ideas, Christy! When I was young, our family used to sing songs from the hymn book for a half hour or so after the supper meal on Sunday night. Everyone got to pick one or two favorites, and we started to learn harmony in acapella. Now with our own family we usually follow the practice of singing a couple songs or more after every supper meal, some acapella, and some with piano accompaniment. Guests get to pick a favorite and they usually enjoy it as well. We do this after reading a piece of scripture. The songs include hymns, praise songs, spirituals, or whatever we like that honors God.
When I was working as a youth director at Hope Reformed Church (RCA) in Clifton, NJ we always sang the doxology after the offering as the plates were brought forward after the money was collected. I always thought it was a nice reminder that it was God from whom all blessings flow--including financial blessings. It's been 7 years since I've attended there, but last I knew the doxology still held that place in the worship service.
Some churches start each service with the doxology. and why not? Give God the praise at the beginning and at the end, and in between! Let the angels rejoice with the one sinner who repents! Let Jesus smile on his holy children! Let the words of our mouth praise his Name!
That's true, Chad; doxology doesn't have to be a concluding song. But for the purposes of this post, I was using that way to discuss the tradition of ending with the same hymn/song every week. That tradition used to be ubiquitous in Protestant churches, but I think it's not as prevalent anymore.
For whatever reason - perhaps because of its most common placement in the service - I operated under the misconception that "doxology" meant "the last song in the service." As a child, I remember singing the doxologies mentioned in this post, always at the end of the service, too.
Truth is, "doxology" means "song of praise" and can be used at any point in the service. It is often Trinitarian in form and the last stanza of many hymns are doxologies (Come Thou Almighty King, Holy God We Praise Your Name, and Now Thank We All Our God are a few of my favorite examples of this). We have regularly concluded our offering - which took place in the middle of the service - with a doxology, and varied which doxology was sung depending on the Sunday within the Church Year.
Our church is accustomed to singing something after the benediction (if not just before as well), so it bodes well for us to use a doxology at the end of the service. If the hymn before the benediction includes a final doxological (if that's even a word) stanza, we'll sing the 2 or 3 opening stanzas prior to the benediction and the doxological stanza following. Then we'd "go in peace to love and serve the Lord."
In any case, I wouldn't include a doxology (or THE doxology) just to do it. It must be placed with purpose and intentionality - which is another reason why I like it as a conclusion to the offering.
Diane, that sounds awesome. I think we might have a copy of that book somewhere at church; I'll have to take a look at it.
Thanks for the post - I like the last two and am encouraged by it to go to those first - prayer, and delegating. Both represent a healthy ministry response, knowing our need for the Lord and our need for others. In addition, delegating is a great way to empower others and multiply ministry.
I prefer Dutch Reformed theology but not our "wing it" liturgy. With the old Lutheran, Episcopal, even Catholic liturgies the very words have been vetted for 100 or more years. I know what the words and the thoughts behind them mean. Having a new prayer or responsive whatever each Sunday I don't say the words because the meanings are theologically fuzzy. This past Sunday AM the congregation was to say a prayer which, to me, was semi-Pelagian. I was to ask God for assistance in my life so that I may have quid pro quo "pie in the sky, by and by."
Great ideas, Christy. Have you seen Psalms for All Seasons? All of the Psalms are printed there along with songs, hymns or choruses that go with each Psalm. We love to use it in our home with family worship, in the home of someone who is too ill to go to church, or devotionally with my grandchildren. (They love to take turns being the 'leader' and reading the regularly printed text while the rest of us read the bold print.) There is also a simple prayer at the end of each Psalm that can be read by young or old. It's a great way to read the Psalms together.
I am going ahead and changing my chord sheets for this song to "love of God was magnified" as we speak
I always change the lyrics when I come across bad theology in praise music (constantly) and hymns (occasionally). The rapture is bad theology and the act of a band leader letting it be articulated misses the chance to educate the congregation.
We open with a non-church song that relates to that week's theme so that any and everyone coming into the hall can feel welcomed and relate (part of the Double Ramp Model that we utilize)
Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies is reformed/Calvinistic in its approach. http://iws.edu/ Also, several Christian Colleges and universities have worship/music "schools".
Thanks for the report on Bethel and for the question. I would need to research the schools at a deeper level to get a handle on both their doctrinal statements and their worldviews. My hunch is that the church based ones lean towards the Pentecostal-Charismatic wing of American Evangelicalism. The 10,000 Fathers Worship School,however, resonates with both my Reformed soteriology and my worldview. One example is its founder's song "Sovereign Over Us" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPkMbhydU9
But if you know of other schools, please let me know.
Thank you for making us aware of these schools that are devoted to worship training. I'm curious: are any of the schools of worship you mentioned "Reformed" in their doctrine and worldview? For what it's worth, two of my wife's nephews have studied at the Bethel School of Worship in CA, and really enjoyed it.
Peace to you!
Thank you for this reflection Mike. I wish there was more intentionality about teaching a congregation to treat repetition as an opportunity for reflection and for broadening the words in our hearts into prayer, or to make the connections between what we are singing and our day to day life. This is more possible as you repeat a song because you already know the words and so your heart can soar from them. However, if this isn't introduced as a possibility or an aim of repetition, I'm not sure people know what to do with that time. Then repetition can feel tedious. It's a discipline to focus in that way.
Sometimes the song doesn't lend itself to repetition. For example: Lord I Lift Your Name on High. The song tells the story of salvation...He has left the cross, the grave and gone to heaven. When this song is repeated, it seems like a let down to me to start over back to the grave.
Some songs just don't have enough musicality or message to bear repeating, especially if the repetition goes on and on.....
There are a number of possible reasons a person will complain about repetition. Here's some thoughts, FWIW:
1) If they complained about repetition, they were already unengaged in worship before the repetition occurred.
2) If they complained about repetition, they likely also think the service is too long.
3) If repetition bothered them, they are likely looking for theological content instead of/at the expense of meditating and experiencing what the words mean for them today. This is ok to a point. The question is whether the worship leaders can lead the community into meditating when the repetition will occur. The thinkers will likely come along then.
4) If people are complaining about repetition, are the worship leaders making the repetition eventful. No musician/composer repeats just for the sake of repeating. The repetition must have a purpose, an effect. What effect is a given repetition meant to create in a worship service? Obviously this depends on the song, but if the musicians don't know what effect the repetitions are meant to have and only do the repeats because the music says so, there's a worship leadership problem that needs attending to.
Make repeats eventful!
CCLI/song select has a place where you can change each song into any key, up or down, plus and minus an octave or more... I use it ALL the time... I also just found out how to print out the music from CCLI in a smaller format, so that the vocal printout version of songs is only 1-4 pages instead of 3-6 (normal print)... I love this because otherwise I'm turning pages all the time...
This is true, but the end result often creates a stronger, richer church community. We've found people are surprised at how simple steps toward inclusion can make a significant difference. I hope you find those resources helpful!
Thank you for your response and suggestions. I will check out the resources you mentioned. New situations like this require people to step out of their comfort zone. This includes existing members as well as the new people attending.
You have asked some excellent questions. I checked in with some of my colleagues in the Church Services division here at CLC Network on their advice for you; below are some of their suggestions for you and your church as you strive to be an example of God’s Body.
For worship—If someone is nonverbal, or likes to move around, a great way for them to worship is to have wrist ribbons. These ribbons can be put around the wrist and moved around during singing. Flags can also be available for people who are able to use their hands and grip objects. Instruments can be another option, such as a maraca or finger symbols. Instruments can even be as easy as putting rice inside of a container to shake! Lastly, when thinking about song selections, you may want to incorporate songs that have been previously sung in Friendship class.
In terms of learning more about Jesus and the Bible, specifically during sermons, the pastor could use a few pictures or symbols to portray the main points. It could be projected or put at the front of the sanctuary for everyone to see. It could also be printed in the bulletin. Since you have Friendship class before church, the mentors and mentees could work through the meaning of the symbols together, preparing them for the sermon.
My colleague Barbara Newman wrote a blog about “Sharing Jesus with a Child with Down Syndrome”, which you may find helpful. Also, Barbara has published several materials about including those with disabilities in churches, and there are two in particular that might be useful. The first is the G.L.U.E. Training DVD and Manual, which helps churches implement a planning process to better include individuals with disabilities in the church (you can even apply to get it for free for your church!). The second, Inclusion Tool Box: 52 Practical Ideas to Include Individuals with Disabilities is a DVD that gives churches practical strategies to better include those with disabilities in the church. These resources can be found here.
Please let me know if you have any other questions. Blessings to you as you continue to model God’s body in your church!
For clarification, when I refer to Songselect, that is Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI)'s website for finding music that is licensed by them (which is the vast majority of newer music, although I find that it is not the best for hymns unless they are classics)
Have the children do some crafts for their father and mother, one that's appropriate for the age group, and have the children hand them out at the end of service or during the announcement time.
If there are concerns about celebrating Mother's Day "not belonging in worship", then do it outside of service, before or after. Have a breakfast for mothers, mothers-to-be, or women hoping to be mothers. Have a reception after church for simple refreshments like cookies/biscuits and tea/coffee, fresh cut fruits followed by prayer and honoring mothers.
On Chad's note, his observations are valid, but I disagree on the notion of national holiday celebrations being a "delicate topic," perhaps out of fear that it would distract from God or hurt certain group's feelings as implied in his statement. That's merely an opinion of pastors and worship planners, which I respect yet I disagree. It can be handled with great finesse to glorify God and to not stigmatize groups of people. I would add that it's disappointing to see how churches disconnect culture from church. Culture does not distract from God, unless cultural idolatry becomes the distraction.
We have members who although suffered abuse from their fathers and mothers, they have overcome those suffering. They serve as a wonderful reminder about how the Kingdom of God is manifested here on earth--that the blind can see, that the lame can walk--of which broken hearts are healed and relationships are restored equally glorify God. "Do not really belong in worship" is in my humble opinion an excuse that missed out on the greater glory of God. They can give their testimonies in church about forgiveness and how the healing process has brought them closer to God and restored their relationship with their parents. They are the greatest source of encouragement to others who suffered the same abuses. Those who suffered abuse as children also become mothers and fathers and they could definitely use the encouragement and testimonies.
Hymnary.org is developing FlexScores and has many available. Go to this page to check it out: http://www.hymnary.org/flexscores
They also have printable scores for many public domain tunes available in Sibelius, which allows you to change the key. See this example for When I Survey. http://www.hymnary.org/text/when_i_survey_the_wondrous_cross
This one's more guitar-related. I use Songsheet Generator - http://tenbyten.com/software/songsgen/ - to quickly and easily transpose guitar chord charts. It's great for those times when you have a second guitarist and want a different "voice" by capoing up, rather than have both guitars sounding the same. I've used it also for group guitar lessons - it's easy to throw up on the projector, with or without chords.
If you have access to the Songselect website, you can do it within the in browser pdf viewer.
This is also a good way to get songs in a given "Capo Key" for your guitarists!
My question is, "Why is there a view that it is so essential to have a piano that it is a concern to have a service without a piano? Why is piano apparently a 'de facto' instrument that must be present otherwise the music might not go well?"
Your instrument pyramid depends partly on the style of music you are looking to implement. However, on a basic level, you need to focus on filling out the rhythm section first.
(Also, their enthusiasm is fantastic, but I feel like we have a habit of using too many vocalists.)
This is the most vexing question isn't it? What key is going to work for "regular" singers? It's true that in the Key of D, the bridge gets too high, and it stays there, fatiguing the voice. In the Key of B, the lowest note is actually going to be an F-sharp below middle C which is low, but manageable (maybe let your altos carry the verse?). The bridge is better in this key, but I still think the chorus repeat up the octave is too high for the congregation to maintain. And in B the first choruses then don't have that "lift" or energy b/c of the lowness. What about trying it in C, but not doing the octave jump for the final chorus? Could that work? Or do we lose the effect and drive after the bridge if we settle into the "regular" chorus range? Paul Ryan and his team from the LOFT just did this song at a worship conference in Ontario and as someone worshiping in the congregation, I think it worked. What key was that, Paul?
Thanks for sharing this! It is a good challenge to many of us.
Thanks for the positive feedback, gentlemen. Allen Ross book is a gem. It is a good resource for a sermon or teaching series on worship as he looks at the worship of God's people at various times in their biblical history.
Thanks for the article. I agree that it is important that we help our people get into a rhythm of celebration throughout the church year for the very reasons Allen Ross suggests. We live in a world that loves to celebrate all kinds of things; holidays (even from other countries), political markers, national achievements, etc... The church can easily falter and miss opportunities to celebrate together the wonderful gifts of God or make them somehow less important.
Excellent article; thank you for your thoughtful reflections. We just talked about this in our PM teaching service last Sunday. I'll have to check out that book by Allen Ross; it sounds like it might have some good sermon fodder in there.
There is one small typo in the list, #1: "subordinated" should be "subordinate."
Thanks Len, for your enthusiastic support of the weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper.
Of course, in our survey we did not take a particular position on frequency but we did ask the question. Of the Protestant congregations surveyed 20% celebrate the Lord's Supper each week, 67% once a month, 10% less than once per month, and 3% two to three times a month.
I don't know if those stats confirm your assertion of a movement of including the Lord's Supper every week.Perhaps there are other surveys to which we may compare this data?
Yes, we definitely long for so much more than what is here.
I don't think one could say it simpler/better than Jon Foreman did in "Meant to Live":
"We were meant to live for so much moreHave we lost ourselves?Somewhere we live inside
We want more than this world's got to offerWe want more than the wars of our fathersAnd everything inside screams for second life."
I think that's pretty much it.
It seems to me that since God is the center of worship, and we can't worship God without the help of God the Holy Spirit, we should begin with a prayer, often called the Invocation.
A good example comes from the Book of Common Prayer:
Almighty God,to whom all hearts are open,all desires known,and from whom no secrets are hidden; cleanse the thoughts of our heartsby the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, so that we may truly love youand worthily praise your holy name; through our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
My reaction to the survey is a resounding "duh." Since reformation churches have been experiencing the "centrality of the sermon" for centuries, it's no wonder that the people on the pew think it's the main event.
The real issue is what we left behind in this historical evolution. What we left behind is the dual foci of word and sacrament that goes all the way back to the New Testament and early church (and was advocated by Calvin himself).
Today there is a remarkable movement across the board, from Reformed to Pentecostal, of balancing the Word with the Eucharist every Lord's Day. For example, check out the number of CRC and RCA church plants that have instituted weekly Eucharist from the start. If you attend a church that has rediscovered this ancient practice, you will realize that the sermon is enriched, embodied, and affirmed when the congregation gathers at the table to receive Christ in the bread and wine.
As Dutch theologian Von Alman put it: ending the service without the Supper is like ending a sentence with a colon rather than a period. Something important and climactic is missing.
Both are biblical, I do find it amusing/interesting that in our tradition of being averse to spiritual experiences to some debatable extent, someone FELT it necessary to change the phrase about how we feel... curious how that came up... that would be interesting to know...
This reminds me of a similar hymn that has also been altered in the 1987 crc psalter... Spirit of God Descend UPON My Heart to Spirit of God Dwell Thou WITHIN My Heart... both versions are biblically correct but speak to 2 different ways the Holy Spirit works... He dwells WITHIN us as believers and also comes UPON people
for times of special anointing for specific seasons, times of ministry, ie revival.
Another phrase in that song was also changed, from the "baptism of the Heaven descended Dove" to the "fullness of the Heaven descended Dove". This would be an interesting discussion as well, as it seems there are several understandings of "the baptism of the Spirit" and that is a concept Jesus mentions in Acts 1:5... for some reason this phrase was changed... again both are biblical, but I find it interesting as our theology of the Holy Spirit has been somewhat limited historically due to our traditional belief of cessationism.
and verse 2 of the Spirit of God song... i have rewritten that verse to a positive based on Paul's charge to us in I Cor 14:1... I ask FOR dreams and prophet ecstasies... etc.... AND take the dimness of my soul away. So if we sing v2 in church or anywhere I sing the positive version.
Maybe you can connect with the folks at Worship Leader - they may have a blog or an opportunity to post the question on their website - www.worshipleader.com. Otherwise I'm not sure how to connect with a large number of churches. I suppose you could find churches' in various cities that you are interested in, and contact them through their website with 1 or 2 easy questions.
As for my current church - it is more on the traditional side, and there is usually an instrumental prelude before the service starts, then the pastor gives a greeting and we sing the first song or hymn.
In my former church, we had a more blended or convergent style of worship service - and the Praise Team would open the service by leading the congregation in 1-3 songs that would help us center our minds and hearts in an attitude of worship (such as Come, Now Is the Time To Worship, O Worship the King, Here I Am to Worship, etc). Then the pastor would do a greeting from God, the people would greet each other, and more songs of praise and adoration would be sung.
Thanks, that sounds like a great book!
I'm working on designing a survey to learn about what a large number of churches are doing. Any ideas for how to set up such a survey?
Thanks for the posting. I have sung this song with both lyrics. I think the overall sentiment of the lyrics are the same. Preparing us for heaven, but going about it differently. the "CRC version" of kingdom work. Is preparing us for heaven by living gratefully in this kingdom. Crosby's version of "bliss" is more of a dream that prepares us that puts in the "wonder" of what heaven will be like. Fanny Crosby was good at that - dreaming of heaven. Which is a very good thing - that's what we long for. Isn't it?
The Worship Sourcebook is an excellent guide with a variety of worship elements for any genre of worship. We typically mix it up according to the mood/tone of the service, as to what/how we start worship. Sometimes we sing a "gathering song" or we begin with a prayer, or we begin with scripture, call to worship, etc. But the overall idea is that we set the tone/mood/theme of the service based on what we use to begin the service. I'm not in favor of the "johnny Carson" monolog of announcements, etc. An invitation, yes, but not a monolog of unnecessary announcements of game scores, etc.