Blog

Jesus is no “rose, trampled on the ground.” This is no victim, “taking the fall” for other criminals. This is sovereign God, laying his life down on our behalf.

April 13, 2017 1 0 comments
Discussion Topic

As we go through Holy Week and celebrate Easter Sunday, I'd love to know: What traditions and/or parts of the week are most meaningful to you? 

April 12, 2017 1 8 comments
Resource

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship has compiled a list of songs to shape Holy Week. 

April 11, 2017 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

It's too late to share ideas for Advent but as my Christmas gift to anyone who will take it (and in hopes of getting some fresh ideas back in the process) here are a few Lenten series I've done in the past. 

December 8, 2016 1 3 comments
Blog

Growing up in a Christian Reformed Church, I can’t say that I was very aware of the season of Lent. 

February 8, 2016 1 0 comments
Resource, Article

As we reflect on being but dust and ash and follow Christ’s journey to the cross, we’re reminded of how much we need the resurrection. 

March 1, 2009 0 0 comments
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Update: I just read an article on an app that CRCNA is putting  out, and I'm trying it now on my phone. I am going to ask our secretary about using that app rather than Planning Center for our directory. I need to find out more about how it might work with tracking our offerings. Link:  https://www.crcna.org/news-and-views/crcna-offers-social-media-tool-brid...

We switched from Easy Worship to Proclaim.   We liked how we could all build the service throughout the week from our home computers.   We felt that Proclaim helped out small church feel like a big church.  I believe we pay in theneighborhood of $200 a year. 

For our replacement of Power Point, our church tried Easy Worship and Pro Presenter by having our "Power Point team" try using them for a couple weeks. We ended up not going with either but instead are using Proclaim. That has turned out to be the easiest to train people on (our team is several people who take turns doing the slides at a service, so no one on that team becomes a "master user"), and the people who create the slides like it, too. 

For planning our services, we use Church Planning Center (https://planning.center/). It's working great for the worship leader and pastor and secretary who update it throughout the week. Our volunteers are doing well on it, too. We started small with just the true worship planning team on it, but now we have accounts for all volunteers - sound, power point, praise band members, accompanists, nursery, hospitality elder, deacon who intros and prays about the offering, everything. The secretary offers personal assistance for those who need it. There are a couple people who don't have email, but not too many.

I'm encouraging our secretary to move toward using Church Planning Center for our membership and offering tracking, too. I think it'll be good to have all that in one system.

We use EasyWorship (EW). It is simple to use, especially if you stay within the program. We often use powerpoint slides with it, because we find it easier to put litanies or responses in powerpoint, and we have had problems in the past with EW and Powerpoint working well together. But we have kept EW updated, and now everything seems to be working well.  It is very simple to add songs and scripture readings in EW.

Our church had used easy worship, but is now using pro presenter. I think there was some talk of going back to easy worship, but I think that had more to do with some of the litanies already being in easy worship. I think Pro Presenter may also play better with a Macintosh computer (not sure though). 

Beer and Hymns is brilliant! I can't believe I did not catch on to this event sooner. As for my favorite part....well, it is a combination. I guess my first favorite part is simply the opportunity to sing hymns! We just don't sing enough hymns anymore these days. And I do love a variety of music styles. But singing hymns at a casual gathering like this just brings joy to my heart and a big smile to my face. I see the very same in others around me as well. As far as a favorite hymn...that is hard, too. I have dozens of favorites. Just to name a few: Blessed Assurance, Great is Thy Faithfulness, How Great Thou Art, By the Sea of Crystal. I also enjoy ending the night with the good old "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms".  The Spirit of God is so powerful in this monthly gathering. I love seeing folks of all ages, singing their hearts out together and enjoying food, drinks, and community. Just for the record, I am not even a beer drinker. But "Coke and Hymns" or "Tacos and Hymns" doesn't have quite the same ring to it. ;-) Lucky for me, drinking beer is not a requirement. This is just a great community gathering in praise to God. I love to invite friends and family to come and check out Beer and Hymns. And whenever I do, they too fall in love and want to keep coming back, month after month.  Many thanks to the inventors of this wonderful event! I hope it continues for years to come.

I always love requesting and singing Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. My younger self probably would request The Trees of the Field.

Email me: kevin@beckwithhillscrc.org and we can "talk".  My wife has fibromyalgia so I understand the "fibro-fog" thing.

 

Thank you for responding. I have taken piano lessons sporadically since I was a child. As an adult I took lessons from our church piano/organist with the focus being the organ. She also taught me about chording to add more interest on the piano. She passed away quite some time ago. I have played the organ for our church in the past regularly. I have been taken away from that role for different reasons. I do well with hymns and "churchy" stuff.

My issue now is that we sing mostly praise and worship music. I know my role should be easy as we have a wonderful praise band. I may be making things more difficult than I should. However, I wonder if I can add to this type of worship with different techniques; I certainly need to understand the sounds and combinations the organ can create.

I am completely overwhelmed! It doesn't help that I have fibromyalgia which causes difficulty with concentration.

I would appreciate any and all suggestions. And lots of prayer!

Diane

Steve - yes! We will be recording the webinar and will post it on our Worship Ministries website several days after the webinar takes place. That way many more can take advantage of the learning.

Hi Steve, I know Worship Ministries is planning to post this webinar recording on The Network. Stay tuned later this week! 

Will this webinar be available for listening to at a later time?

Thank you for your response. It is more helpful than you know. I have a feeling I am making this harder than I should. I will definitely do as you suggested.

Thanks again

Diane

When you play with a group, you could consider starting by playing only the melody line, and then gradually work from there. The organ is able to provide a sustained note better than any other instrument and can also be used to solo out the melody this way. For the rest, one would need to know what kind of playing you do. Did you take piano lessons? Do you mostly chord, or can you play in a more traditional way? In many communities you could probably find people who will help you get started. What kind of organ does you church have? I am a retired pastor, and very much an amateur musician. I would say that above all you should keep it simple. Simple music can be very beautiful!

Message me or skype me.  kevin@beckwithhillcrc.org  I use the organ all the time with a worship band.  It's more than a paragraph to post.

Hi Diane, 

I'm not an organ player so I don't know for sure, but I would think you might be able to glean some information from some of the instructional videos on YouTube for playing keyboard in worship (it will seem overly simplistic, but when you're playing with a number of other musicians your role in the music decreases, not necessarily in importance, but in the amount of "notes played" as instead of filling the whole spectrum of sound you'll have a particular role). 

If you have specific questions you could ask and I could try to answer out of my limited knowledge. 

Thank you! This was very helpful!

A Note Regarding Copyright/Permissions References on the Songs and Liturgies chart: 

P.D. =public domain (no permission necessary to use these songs)

CCLI#: you can insert your CCLI # to the end of this copyright line and place is on the music/slide to use this song legally. If you don't have a CCLI license you will need to contact the copyright holder directly. 

OneLicense: If you have a OneLicense number you can add it and use this song legally.  If you don't have this license you will need to contact the copyright holder directly. 

Great post, Syd.  As to your question, "how to encourage" such a perspective/attitude, a think a key is to persuade that having a contrary perspective or appreciation is absolutely, unqualifiedly OK, even good.  That's only a key of course, but without it, folks tend to see themselves as compelled to act as if they think/feel the same (that they like rap when they don't, or that they believe food stamps shouldn't be increased when they don't think that), or choose the route of being divisive.  

If we lie about our honest differences to keep community, we ultimately will not keep community.  Nor will we learn, as Mr. Wellstone has, how to "deal with" those differences and how to discern priorities of importance.

I love the special care you've given to the details, like carnations for every woman and fair trade chocolate. Thanks for sharing, Lynnsey!

Our church has given out carnations (to every woman, not just mothers).  We have the children hand them out at the door as people leave.  For the past couple of years we have handed out Fair Trade mini chocolates to everyone as they leave.  We acknowledge mothers in the congregational prayer being mindful of all kinds of mothers.  For Father's Day we have done chocolate, baking, etc.

Thanks for sharing your experience Ruth Ann.  With the number of churches searching for part time worship leadership this may be something for them to consider working with another local congregation on.  Some churches have shared pastors, some share youth leaders, it would take some imagination and coordination but your experience suggests it might also be possible to have shared worship leaders. 

Thanks Jan!  That is lovely that you shared music together with the choirs, great idea!   And good to know that others have done the two-church thing with success.  Blessings!

Love this, Michele! 

In our congregation ALL the ladies get a flower on Mother's Day, usually a carnation, whether they actually had kids or not.  The leadership figures that women who didn't marry and have kids shouldn't be penalized.  I don't remember what we decided to do for Fathers's Day.

Ruth Ann, it's a comfort to read your article. I did the two-church thing as choir director/worship designer for ten years and resonate with all the challenges and delights you listed. Since one of my charges was CRC and the other RCA, there were interesting differences there, but the most helpful thing we did was combining the two choirs semi-regularly and singing in each other's worship services. Many were the times choir members expressed the wish to put aside all the denominational challenges that separated the two groups years ago and "do church" together all the time. I was personally blessed by having two pastors and two worshipping communities. I look back on those years with pleasure. 

Thanks, Reg. I think there is potential for churches to find meaningful ways to honor these relationships, but perhaps it is not necessary on these days. It's been shown that church attendance is up on mother's day and father's day, so there is an opportunity to show hospitality. 

We also celebrate all women on Mother's Day and pray intentionally about difficulties women may struggle with. We always include prayers for those who have never been mothers, those who are unable to conceive, and those who are mother figures.  We don't do flowers--too many of our people have allergies to fresh flowers. We have given a token gift to all women such as a pen or bookmark--something anyone might be able to use.

Neither of these holidays have anything to do with Christianity. They were created by secular society to increase material consumption. The church is supposed to change society, not the other way around. So why celebrate it?

 

Thanks for sharing, Mark. I remember my church doing this years ago as well and I always thought it was a neat tradition. 

I offer a copy of our music and liturgy committee mandate, which may help, as follows:

5.5. Music and Liturgy Committee
November 1, 2006
A. Mandate
To implement the goals and decisions pertaining to music and liturgy as
established by Council for worship by the congregation, and to make
recommendations to Council with respect to such worship.
B. Membership
i. The committee shall normally consist of ten members, the Ministry Elder, the
Senior Pastor, the Music Director, the Contemporary Music Coordinator, all
ex officio, and six members at large.
ii. A term of office of the six members at large will normally be three years;
members may be appointed for a second term. At least one member of the
committee will retire annually.
iii. The Chair shall be appointed by Council Executive.
iv. The committee will select a Secretary.
C. Responsibilities
i. With the ministry staff, co-ordinate and enhance the liturgical practices of the
congregation through, among others, study and reflection on the function of
liturgy, evaluation of liturgical practices and worship services, and the
selection or creation of appropriate liturgy.
ii. To enhance the meaningful integration of music into our liturgy, the Music
Director and Contemporary Music Coordinator will attend all meetings in
order to:
a. Evaluate with the committee how well music and liturgy are integrated in
each worship service, whether the needs of the congregation are being
met, and whether the members of the congregation are satisfied that the
music and liturgy enhance their worship of God.
b. Bring forward proposals for special events or services.
c. Prepare a schedule for musical involvement and participation in the
worship services on a tri-annual basis for the Committee, which shall be
forwarded to Council Executive.
The Contemporary Music Coordinator will assist the Music Director in
developing and preparing the schedule of musical involvement and
participation.
iii. To ensure that worship is enhanced through the effective use of sound and
visual aids, the Chair of the Audio-Visual (Sub) Committee will report to the
Committee as requested to:
a. Review procedures and develop policies as needed.
b. Ensure that enough qualified volunteers are available to operate the
equipment.
c. Forward recommendations for technical upgrading or repair as needed.
d. Present budget requests for operating supplies, equipment acquisitions or
upgrading, and team training needs for inclusion in the annual budget.
2
e. Report on Audio-Visual Committee and other volunteer meetings held for
mutual encouragement and training.
iv. To co-ordinate the involvement of participants in the liturgy by seeking
people in various age groups, encouraging participation, and assisting ministry
staff in identifying and equipping members to use their gifts.
v. To keep current with musical and liturgical developments and trends and to
evaluate new forms and practices on a continuing basis.
vi. To ensure that the congregation is informed and, where appropriate, educated
with respect to the music and liturgy of West End Christian Reformed Church.
D. Meetings
Meetings shall be held on a monthly basis or at the call of the Chair, or whenever
at least three members request that a meeting be called.
E. Communication
Copies of the minutes of committee meetings shall be distributed to all members
of Council Executive after each meeting, and to the Church’s Administrator for
filing. Any further distribution of minutes will be done at Council Executive’s
request, via the Church’s Administrator.

Every year, on Mother's Day, we do a Men's/Boy's Walk-up Choir to honor the women in our lives.  Every year, on Father's Day, we do a Woman's/Girls Walk-up Choir to honor the men in our lives.

One of my favourite interview questions was: What is your philosophy of worship? It's a huge question but can also give huge insight into what will drive a person in their ministry and the choices they make for your church. 

Another one that stood out was "describe a 'mountaintop' experience you have had in leading worship?" (referring to Moses meeting God on the mountain). 

I'm thinking above and beyond the standard - "how do you deal with conflict?" types of questions. 

 

For what not to ask - avoid making someone worship plan on the spot. I've had someone ask before, "what song would you choose for a sermon about holiness?" All you're going to get is the low-hanging fruit because you have a person in a stressful situation and feeling a time crunch of not wanting to make the interviewers wait, plus I think it discounts the creative process and assumes that solid worship planning can happen on the spot. Now, a way to phrase that question that could get a more thoughtful response would be, "what is a song you love that talks about the holiness of God, and what about it speaks to you?"

This is a great question.  Check out the free (for CRCs) digital library here, The Church Staff handbook has great content.  See page 97 for some sample questions and ideas on how to get to know the candidates.  

Beautiful prayer. Thanks for sharing. 

Here is a prayer I will use this week for our Friendship Sunday

Thank you so much for sharing, John. The book sounds interesting and insightful. 

Each year during Holy Week - usually on Good Friday - I read through the book "We Call This Friday Good" - by the late Dr. Howard Hageman.  Hageman, who served as a pastor in the Reformed Church of America and served as president of New Brunswick seminary - writes about each of the 7 words Jesus speaks from the cross.  His writing helps connect me anew with the humanity of Jesus.  Each year, as Holy Week draws near, I find myself eager to again listen and experience anew the deep love of Jesus.

 

Powerful. Thank you for sharing Patiliai. 

Love this! "While Easter is deeply personal, it is also universal" is a statement that really resonates with me. Thanks for sharing. 

Everyone enjoy their "Feast of First Fruits"  (Some call Easter) Service!

Feast of First Fruits = Third Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread = 16th of Nisan, 5777 
This day ends at sunset on 13Apr 2017 (sunset = 7:32 PM ET)

Why is that important?

Jn 19:31

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.

The day before the Sabbath was commonly called the "preparation day" because chores were done on that day to avoid working on God' day of rest. Clearly, we see from Jn 19:31 that Christ was crucified and His body placed in the tomb immediately preceding the Sabbath.

The question to consider is "which Sabbath"?

Most people assume John was speaking of the regular weekly Sabbath day observed from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. From John' clear statement here, most people assume Jesus died and was buried on Friday-- thus the traditional belief that Jesus was crucified and died on "Good Friday."

But is that true?

Most people have no idea that the Bible speaks of TWO KINDS of Sabbath days-- the normal weekly Sabbath on the seventh day of the week. (Friday Sunset to Saturday Sunset. Not Sunday. Sunday is the first day of the week), and seven ANNUAL Sabbath days, listed in Lev 23 and mentioned in various other passages. These annual Sabbath days could fall on ANY day of the week. Once we understand this we see that "Good Friday -- Easter Sunday" never happened that way!

Notice again in Jn 19:31 that the Sabbath Day is referred to as a "high day". That term was used to differentiate a weekly Sabbath from an annual Sabbath.

So what was this "high day" that immediately followed Jesus' hurried entombment?

Mt 26:19 - 20, Mk 14:16 - 17, Lk 22:13 - 15 tells us the evening before Jesus was condemned and crucified, He kept the Passover. This means that He was crucified on the Passover day. Lev 23, which lists God' festivals, tells us that on the day after the Passover, another festival, known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins. ( Lev 23:5 - 6). This day is the first of God' annual Sabbaths. 

This is the "high day" of which John wrote on Jn 19:31.

Passover began at sundown and ended the following day at sundown when this annual Sabbath began. 

So this is the correct order of events:

Nisan 13 (Tuesday ends at 6 pm sunset. Nisan 14, Wednesday begins at 6 pm sunset and ends just before sunset the next day.)

1. Jesus kept the Passover with His disciples and then arrested later that night.

2. After daybreak, the next day, He was questioned before Pontius Pilate, crucified, then hurriedly entombed just before the next sunset when the "high day", the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread began.

Jesus gives up His spirit approximately the 9th hour which is 3 pm. So Nisan 14 begins at sunset right after Jesus is placed in the sepulcher. 

Computer programs have demonstrated that Nisan 14, 31 A.D. was a Wednesday, not a Friday.

Nisan 14 ends at 6 pm sunset on Thursday. Nisan 15, the "high day", of the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins at 6 pm sunset on Thursday and ends just before sunset on the next day.)

Jesus has now been "in the Earth" for 24 hours. (One day and one night.)

Nisan 15, the "high day" ends at sunset and the weekly Sabbath, Nisan 16 begin at 6 pm Friday and ends just before sunset the next day.

Jesus has now been "in the Earth" for 48 hours. (Two days and Two nights).

Nisan 16 ends at 6 pm Saturday and Nisan 17, "First Fruits", which is the third day of the 7-day feast of Unleavened Bread that begins at 6 pm Sat and ends at sunset the next day.

At sunset, in the last few minutes of Nisan 16, God, the Father resurrects God, the Son from death! Because it was not possible that death could hold him. He has been "in the Earth" for three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17, Acts 2:24) 

1 Wed evening - Thu evening (24 hours)
2 Thu evening - Fri evening (24 hours)
3. Fri evening - Sat evening (24 hours)

So, in conclusion when we understand the difference between God' weekly Sabbaths and His annual Sabbaths any confusion about the days of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection go away.

1 Cor 15:20 -23 

20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam, all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

So our Lord and Saviour is alive! Risen from the dead and given all honor and all power that can be given. Literally on the day that celebrates the reality that Jesus is the firstfruits of God' Elect!

We crowned him King but the crown was of thorns, he mounted a throne, but it was an unadorned cross, yes it was for my sins that he endured all...

Thanks for sharing.  Growing up my parents were big Johnny Cash fans.  I think I'll use this as our devotional at Easter this year.  

I love the historic hymns that we sing during Holy Week.  One of my favourites is, "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" written in 1707. That means that Christians have been singing it at Easter for 310 years!  While Easter is deeply personal (Christ died for me) it is also universal.  I love feeling connected to the church of all times and places during this week.

One of my favorite songs is How Deep the Father's Love for Us by Stuart Townsend. Every time I listen to this song (and especially during Holy Week) I am struck by the line "It was my sin that held Him there..."

During Holy Week I take some time to reflect on the weight of my sin. Looking at my sin really brings me face to face with the magnitude of Jesus' sacrifice. A grace I could never earn. Following this I am filled with a deep gratitude and hope. Praise God for making ALL things new! 

This is a very balanced approach. Our church heritage is also God-led, and ought to be acknowledged.

My only concern would be the lengthy explanations and intros. I worry that churches are so wordy that we crowd out the Spirit. But perhaps you addressed that with your 'slowness' comments. Faith grows in silences too.

This is a great resource - a couple bugs, but overall - thanks to everyone that is working on this. I look forward to using it. 

I am curious how this works itself out in the sacraments and especially regarding children? Are children baptized as infants? What about those who have different beliefs in adult baptism? And are children allowed to take communion? Do they need to be baptized? etc. Thanks!

And therein we have the crux of the problem... is it the preacher or the sermon that receives the critique?   What about the poor preacher who delivers a good sermon?  The unbelieving preacher who is still true to the text?  The drunkard who preaches true?   Or, the loving pastor who can barely put two words together coherently?   The juxtapositions and contradictions of life.   "He who is not against us is for us."  To give God the glory, rather than the preacher.....

Here's the Worship Team mandate from Trinity CRC in Rock Valley IA.

 

Objectives

 

      To achieve the stated purpose, the following objectives have been adopted:

  1. The Team will administer the worship at Trinity.
  2. The Team will promote the use of relevant worship at Trinity.
  3. The Team will provide opportunities for members of Trinity to learn more about worship.

 

Membership

 

      The membership of the Team will consist of seven (7) members of Trinity. A Church Council member will also be appointed to serve as a member of the team and as a liaison with the Council. The Pastor(s) will serve in an advisory role on the Team.
      Gifts that will be valuable for this team are creative communication, administration, leadership, helps, and discernment.

 

Terms of Service

 

      The terms of service will initially be for three (3) years and will be staggered. The Council may ask a team member to serve for more than one (1) term.

 

Areas of Responsibility

 

      The areas of responsibility include:

  1. Maximizing meaningful participation and use of member’s gifts in worship.
  2. Develop leadership in worship.
  3. Supervise and coordinate the worship planning team.
  4. Receive yearly report from a Children in Worship representative which includes a synopsis of the past year, positive, negatives and requests for assistance.

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