Discussion Topic

Training for worship musicians is so important. Has anyone tried online training?

March 8, 2017 0 4 comments
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Did you know there are "Reading Sermons" available on the CRCNA website?  You'll find the link to them below, as well as some other ideas for those times you may find yourself without a preacher.

Reading Sermons

A searchable collection of complete sermons provided by the “Reading...

March 7, 2017 0 0 comments
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Two days after this January’s presidential inauguration, our liturgy included singing this sentence: “I see a generation rising up to take its place with selfless faith.” I suddenly heard my voice go silent. 

March 2, 2017 4 1 comments
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The Professing Our Faith toolkit offers practical, creative resources for encouraging a culture of commitment in your church, preparing people to profess their faith, planning a welcoming council conversation and more. 

March 1, 2017 0 0 comments
Q&A

We are rethinking our church committee job descriptions. Does anyone have a worship task force job description that works well? 

February 27, 2017 0 4 comments
Blog

If you are looking for a new church, don’t make up your mind before you even begin. Be open to being surprised about where God will use you—even if the building or worship style looks way different than you imagined.

February 27, 2017 4 0 comments
Resource

Children learn through observation, but they learn best through participation! Check out this new tool that offers 10 meaningful ways to involve kids in worship.

February 23, 2017 1 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Christianity Today recently published an article identifying the top 5 church design trends to look for in the year ahead. I'd love to know, have you seen these trends at your church?

February 13, 2017 1 0 comments
Blog

My church has approximately 40 different denominational backgrounds represented. In such a diverse group, the tendency is to go "wide," stripping worship to singing and a message. But what if we opted to go "deep" instead?

February 9, 2017 8 2 comments
Blog

Planning Center Online ("PCO") is a subscription based scheduling service designed to assist churches with putting together worship services. Let me know if you have any questions and I'll try to help! 

February 2, 2017 3 3 comments
Discussion Topic

I'm exploring the possibility of putting on a workshop to guide people through some of the differences between playing/singing in a band versus playing/singing solo. Got any ideas?

January 23, 2017 1 2 comments
Blog

One question I hear from church leaders is: How can we organize our practices, groups, and curriculum for lifelong faith formation? One simple way to organize faith formation is around the liturgical calendar.

January 16, 2017 2 4 comments
Blog

Martin Luther King, Jr. day is not a “Black” holiday. It is a day to affirm the dignity of all people. It is a day to remember the example of King – a drum major for justice.

January 9, 2017 1 0 comments
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“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.” (MSG)

January 6, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Workshop or Training

I highly recommend this course to any of you who perhaps, like me, love worship, love to plan worship, and love to learn, but do not have a theology or worship degree.

December 29, 2016 1 1 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

Classis Arizona has approximately 50 Blue Psalters in like-new condition. Please contact us if you can use some of these books!

December 22, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

For the last several years, groups of young people from several of the local schools have blessed the CRC staff at "1700" with music of the Advent and Christmas season! 

December 15, 2016 2 0 comments
Blog

My adoption and life story isn’t “I once was lost, but now am found.” It’s more of a story of being eternally found from the beginning of time, with a very visible, tangible example of God’s providence. 

December 8, 2016 1 1 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

Hope is much more than just a blind wish. It's having a clear expectation and the confidence that what you hope for will come to pass. Like the wise men we too have hope—hope for today and for the future.  

December 7, 2016 1 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Our worship committee is looking at reading a book together to (re)orient our work. Any suggestions? One idea we got was to look at "For the Beauty of the Church"...has anyone read that? 

December 5, 2016 0 7 comments
Q&A

I am looking for a Christmas liturgy to use this December. Got any good suggestions? 

December 5, 2016 0 2 comments
Q&A

I am searching for a collection of benedictions for worship. Got any ideas? 

December 1, 2016 1 4 comments
Resource

Advent is a time of intense longing, waiting for peace. Our fellow Christians in Syria, Lebanon and Germany share this Advent Liturgy and urge us to join them in worship and prayer for peace for Syria.

December 1, 2016 1 0 comments
Resource

We asked worship leaders and pastors for songs used in worship for Profession of Faith and their responses are found in the attached list. 

November 28, 2016 1 0 comments

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Diane,

thanks for the creative example!  I love it!  

Liturgical season "theme" song!  - Smart!

Along with some of the things you've described, we also had a theme song for Advent that was sung each week during Advent in different places in the worship service. The church could choose a theme song for each season - perhaps that goes with the scripture passage that is memorized, or a theme for the season. As we participated in the season of waiting (advent), we used the refrain, "Take O Take Me As I Am" (#741 in Lift Up Your Hearts), and also did motions. The children enjoyed learning the motions with the adults in worship.  Since the church was also going through a renewal process, we also added a 2nd 'verse' and sang, "Take O take us as we are..." 

Simple and succinct! A good way to live into a rhythm of formation.  And, I think it's a positive when we connect what we do as a local congregation with the global church in observing and practicing the liturgical church year.  

Thanks everyone,

   This is very helpful.  I'm looking into the books you mentioned.  I think delving into the resources of the Calvin Institute of Worship is a great reminder as well.  

   Feel free to keep adding to the discussion as I'm sure others will be interested in such a topic.

Thanks much, Katie. Adoption is a blessed thing and God's Providence is a puzzling, yet wondrous thing. You have capture a Light-filled bit of the Wonder allowing the mysterious puzzlement to continue. That is necessary and good, I think, because if we think we can "get" God, well, that's blasphemy. But if we can thank God without trying to get God, we have the best of both worlds and God is Lord of all worlds.

As I began research on a book on preaching Christ from Psalms, my proofreaders suggested I follow the Psalms selected for the Christian Year by the Common Lectionary, Year A.  Although the Lectionary selected these Psalms in response to the Old Testament lessons, the selected Psalms themselves make for wonderful, enlightening series of sermons for Advent, Lent, and the whole Christian year.  I learned a lot from the research and writing.  If you wish to do something different from other years, I suggest you consider a series on Psalms.

This year I am going through the "I am" statements in John.

https://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/february-2008/the-i-ams-of-jesus/

I have read and recommend "True Worshipers: Seeking What Matters to God" by Bob Kauflin. You can also buy a study guide to go with the book.  We haven't used this with our Worship Committee, but it is on my radar to study it together in the future. 

Thank you for this wonderful gift, Jeff! I've done a series before on the words from the cross. I really like the Jericho road idea!

I think my favorite Lent-Easter series I've preached was when I connected the life of Joseph in Genesis with Jesus' passion, death, and resurrection. I was surprised at the parallels and echoes between the two stories. You're welcome to see what I did on my blog: 4thpoint.wordpress.com/messages.

Gratefully,
Stanley

Our Worship Planning Team worked through Nancy Beach's book An Hour on Sunday. We discussed one chapter per month and even brought ideas to our devotional/discussion time at worship team rehearsals. http://www.nancylbeach.com/books/ 

Have you tried the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship online resources?  This isn't a book, but if you would like to study a particular topic that your worship committee would like to explore further, they may have some articles, etc.

Also, Greg Scheer has some books on worship "how-to" etc.  

Wilma, 

Have you taken a look at Reformed Worship's website? (www.ReformedWorship.org)  There are about 30 years of worship resources available for free! If you put "Christmas" in the search box you will come up with quite the list. 

If you are looking for something particular email worship@crcna.org and we will see what we can do to help. 

I would recommend Marlea Gilbert "The Work of The People: What We Do in Worship and Why".  It explains the structure of worship in a clear way. I found it really broadened my understanding of the components of a worship service and renewed my vision for worship. It is easy to read with discussion questions at the end of each chapter as well as ideas for use by a worship committee or team.

Andrew, 

I haven't read "For the Beauty"  have heard good things. I think it would be a great choice especially if you want to focus on the role of the arts in worship. 

Is there a particular theme/topic you are hoping to cover? 

Some other possibilities to consider (a beginning list):  

Diversity/Multiethnic worship: The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World, Sandra Maria Van Opstal

Pastoral Role of Worship Leaders: The Worship Pastor: A Call to Ministry for Worship Leaders and Teams, Zac M. Hicks 

Basics on Worship Theology and Practice: Essential Worship: A Handbook for Leaders, Greg Scheer

Worship that is inclusive of all abilities: Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship, Betty Grit and Barb Newman

Worship as Formation/Transformative: You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit  or Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation both by James Smith and What's Love Got to Do With It?: How the Heart of God Shapes Worship, Sam Hamstra

General worship theology and practice (includes study questions): Wise Church: Exploring Faith and Worship with Christians Around the World, Emily Brink and Paul Detterman

Worship and Difficult Times: Stilling the Storm: Worship and Congregational Leadership During Difficult Times, Kathleen Smith

I commend your worship committee for taking time to deepen their understanding and practice through a book study.  There are so many great books on worship that have been written in the last decade that there is something out there for any context.  I am sure others can add to this beginning list. 

Hi Andrew,

Kudos for wanting to learn more about worship with your team. I'm not familiar with that book, but a few I can think of are: The Worship Architect, by Constance Cherry - I've just studied this book recently for a class and found it very helpful in thinking about planning worship. We've (Worship Ministries) been hosting Peer Learning Groups for worship leaders (planners, worship committees, etc.) the last few years. The books that groups are currently using are: The Next Worship, by Sandra Van Opstal - a great book to help you think about multicultural worship in your context. Also, The Accessible Gospel - a book that looks at making the worship accessible to all people, including those with abilities and disabilities. Last year worship groups studied the book, Stilling the Storm, by Kathy Smith - this book is great for a church that is going through transition and/or difficult times. 

If you'd like more information on the peer learning groups that we are supporting, email me at worship@crcna.org.

Hi Tim! Just wanted to give you a heads up that part 4 was just posted here

A few blessings and benedictions:

May God go before you to lead you;
May God go behind you to guard you;
May God go beneath you to support you;
May God go beside you to befriend you.
Do not be afraid. Let the blessing of God come upon you today.
Do note be afraid.

(this first one from Lift Up Your Hearts #946, more found #937, #936, #934, #935, #950, #954, )

The new one below from a service of prayer for the church in Syria (Dec. 2016, This Liturgy has been written by Adeeb Awad, Sabine Dressler, Hadi Ghantous, Najla Kassab, Hartmut Smoor

Sending and Blessings

Liturgist: See, how very good and pleasant it is when kindred stay together in unity.

Congregation: It is like the precious oil on the head that nurtures us and grands us high regard.         

Liturgist: How very good it is to care for each other now and in the time to come.

Congregation: By this we become a blessing to each other by this we become a blessing to the world.

Liturgist: Now leave, protected by God, and go where God will use as instruments of peace. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May God make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Congregation: Amen

Thanks, Kevin! Looks like The Worship Sourcebook can be picked up here and that there's also a lengthy sample available to preview the book. 

Do you have the worship sourcebook?  There are some in there.

I've looked for benedictions before too, and found them pretty scattered. Here are a few links:

    New Testament benedictions

    A few nice ones from Faith and Worship 

    A few Irish ones (especially the last two)

Hope this helps a bit, but also hope you'll post a consolidated list as others respond :-) 

 

I would love to see the remainder of this series. I've reposted the first 3 parts on our church's FB page and received some positive feedback. But I have not seen any more parts. If they're available please post!

Thank you

Thanks for sharing the story of Eloise. Beautiful little girl!  

posted in: Eloise's Story

Thank you, Angie, for sharing Eloise's life and story. She truly was created and dearly loved by God. While I can't pretend to know your grief and pain, your courage is clear. God will use her life and your story to save others.

posted in: Eloise's Story

Recently I've made a web applications that might answer your question:

http://paullam.ddns.net/bibleppt/

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the application: twennsgame@gmail.com 

Beautiful, Angela! I would really love to see that video and include it in Faith Formation Ministries' Faith Storytelling toolkit so other churches can see it too. If you're willing, send it to me at sswartzentruber@crcna.org!

I love this, Angela! What awesome stories probably came out of the question you asked. Thanks for sharing. 

We are new to intnetional faith story telling. Because of what I read on the Network, this summer we video taped 10 responses to the question "Tell me about a meaningful Bible passage and why it is meaningful?" We included youth to seniors and different nationalities. We showed the first one last Sunday and I think it went well. It was very powerful to hear this story from this particular person. I hope it is the beginning of us being much more vulnerable with each other as we share our faith.

Hi Francine, thanks for planning to use one or more of the slides. Also for your Sunday School program, you may want to check out the one to three minute videos we produced. For downloading the slides, clicking (Preview) will only allow you to preview but not download the slides. To download, you need to click on the filename (like Disability_Week_Community.jpg) and that should prompt your computer to open it up in the picture viewer software you have. Once you have it open in that program, use the "save" function to save it to your computer. 

We would like to use these slides for our church disability Sunday program. Having trouble downloading them. Any suggestions? You can email me at fhbell78@gmail.com

A question to prompt some thought on the matter. When did classical/melodic music start? What was the complexity of the music sung in the time of the old testament? Do we have reason to believe that they sang four part harmony? How complex were there arrangements with the lyre and the ram's horn?

Can we really say that today's music (keeping lyrics out of this) is any better or worse than from the romantic or baroque periods? Or is it just different?

Then you agree that this century's "music" is more jungle chant than melodic? Elementary school level children's song without proper written music? More appropriate for prime time TV than worship? Tuneless ditties?  

Hi Julie, this is a wonderful offer. I'll let the Children and Worship trainers know so that they can refer a church to you if needed. You may also want to post this on The Network's Exchange - just start a new post here on the Network, put the details of your offer in the post, and when it asks you what category to place it in, choose Church Exchange. 

Our church has Children and Worship story figures that we would love to find a new home for them as we have changed our curriculum and no longer use them.  Anyone starting the Children and Worship curriculum and need story figures?  Please contact Julie at juliedekruyter@gmail.com.

Thanks for reminding me of the musician's perspective Diane! Yes, I too think there is potential for greater ownership and involvement and love the song request box idea. There could also be a digital option, i.e. on the church FB page. 

Thanks, Michele! Balance is so important. It would be interesting to see if the survey found that people were generally pretty happy with the songs or if there was room to grow or change. 

Glad to hear someone else enjoyed this too! Great song as well :) 

I remember this practice, too, Staci, and as a musician I remember the anticipation of whether someone would pick a really hard song to play! But I, too, really enjoyed this. Maybe now churches could have a "Song Request Box" in the back of church, and members could drop in a paper with a song they'd like to sing. The worship leader/planner could try to incorporate these requests as much as possible. It would give people new ownership and involvement in the worship, wouldn't it?

 

  We no longer have an evening service in Montreal because the people who complained about the format never showed up when there was a formal service in the sanctuary when I moved to Sherbrooke, QC, to attend university there. Now we try to keep a balance between hymns and songs so as to keep the highest number of worshippers happy, and it seems to work.  Of course, I'm not in church every Sunday, but I haven't heard other committee members bring up complaints about the choice of hymns or songs at WoCo meetings.  Maybe we would need to conduct a survey.  

I would always request The Trees of the Field when my church growing up would have the congregation choose. It was my favorite part of attending night church.

I love this idea, Esther. I've always had a soft spot for this style of worship as well as the occasional acoustic (or vocals only) sing along. For me, it sometimes quiets my heart and mind so I can focus.  

I've been visiting other churches recently, many with modern worship styles and spaces, quite different from the traditional setting I'm accustomed to. I appreciated the church I was at recently that announced at the beginning of the service that they had "stripped down" their Praise Band to a single soloist and guitar for a couple of weeks so that the focus was not the musicians or their talent. They said they do this periodically to be sure that the music allows for participation of everyone there rather than people watching and being "entertained". No matter what the worship style this self examination seems like a very good thing.

Hello Jerry - Calvin Seminary's Center for Excellence in Preaching also has some sermons available in audio format. You can find them here.

Thanks for your feedback, Mark.  I hear what  you are saying and I will have to give this some thought.  Words matter.   I do resonate with the idea of opportunity for the whole congregation to grow in its understanding of what it means to be community.

We routinely create DVDs of sermons at Faith Christian Fellowship, a CRC church in Walnut Creek, CA. We use them to give to people who weren't able to make it to church. They are also on our web site at http://faithfellowship.com/media so that you could see in advance what might fit best. My guess is that many other churches do the same - in fact the CRC could maintain an amazing library of sermons this way!

Thanks Leslie! Great thoughts. Here's one for you: I'm beginning to wonder if "accommodations" is even the right word. (And it's one that I use often, so this is something I'm wondering about and I invite you to wonder with me.) "Accommodations" implies that you, whoever the "you" is, are special, and so we'll do something special for you to be a part of us. We don't call stairs an "accommodation", even though there are some people in church who could move from one floor to another using nothing but a rope. Nor do we consider electric lights or toilets or microphones and speakers to be "accommodations". Here's another book to consider, Turning Barriers into Bridges: The Inclusive Use of Information and Communication Technology for Churches in America, Britain, and Canada by John Jay Frank.  In that book he argues that what some of us think of as "accommodations" are actually just ways for people to participate. So in the case of the man you describe, the unplugged mic is not an accommodation for the man who would use it sometimes, it's an opportunity for the whole congregation to be more the community that God calls your congregation to be. So I wonder, if we don't use the word "accommodation", what would be a better word? 

Thanks Adom for starting this discussion, and to everyone who has added to it.
There have been lots of great points made already.

When considering a new song, (in addition to all the things others have already brought up) I think it's important to understand how the song will sound when your team does it. I think a lot of people get tripped up by this. Here's what I mean (sorry if this seems like a blog post I never wrote; it is).

You hear a great song for the first time and you immediately think of using it at your church. It's catchy, emotionally engaging, theologically sound, singable... it seems perfect. You ask others if they've heard it; they have and they like it. Excellent! So you listen to it constantly for a week straight, get a copy of the sheet music, and watch some very well-done instructional videos on YouTube. This is going to be great!

Your enthusiasm is markedly diminished, though, when you start practicing the new song with the praise team. Even though the whole team likes the song and feels they can play their part well, it just doesn't sound right. Sure, you knew it wouldn't sound exactly like the professional recording, but something's off. It could be one or more of a few things.

First, you might not have all the essential instruments. Our church, for instance, has no bass guitar player and usually no lead guitarist. We often have the keyboard player add the low notes and, for some songs, play the melodic hook. While this usually works well enough, sometimes it sounds pretty wretched. Some riffs sound great on the electric guitar, but dull and lifeless when played with a keyboard or violin. So if that riff doesn't sound good on the instruments you have available (or, honestly, if no one on your team can play it really well), you should leave it out.

Second, the team might not be grooving together. What? We're talking about church here. Yes, I know, but most songs sound best when each instrument complements the others effectively. Even though everyone knows the song, they might not be playing something that works really well with what everyone else is playing. You're probably the only one who watched a video on how to play the song. There are countless videos on the web for guitarists, but hardly any for bass or keyboard. And the other instruments are no doubt making it up as they go along. You may need to go through the parts one at a time, making sure each one works, before bringing the whole ensemble in. This requires tremendous patience, so don't get discouraged.

Finally, you might simply have to do the song your own way. Maybe the song works well in completely different style. Shane & Shane's version of "Because He Lives" (Worship Initiative, Vol. 6) is a fantastic example of how to re-imagine a good song in a style that suits the artist or audience. You could do something similar, according to the skills/resources of your team and the needs of your congregation. Maybe by slowing the song down, speeding it up, leaving out the riffs (or writing new ones), or changing the rhythm, the song will suit your church wonderfully.

Obviously, many songs are not so complicated as to present the concerns I mentioned. Still, I think it's good to intentionally go through the process of thinking through a song with your own church in mind.

I got to experience worship with Jeremy and his band, Body + Soul Collective at the Canadian Gathering recently. They lead with humility and reverence, and the original songs that they do fit all of the criteria that Joyce outlined. To me, that's a must for any music we introduce, whether it comes from ourselves, members of our congregation, local churches, our denomination or the great beyone (i.e., CCLI). 

I can't imagine trying to plan a worship service without the Scripture and sermon theme. To me those are essential to choosing songs that lead the congregation through a rich worship experience. The spirit moves as we plan worship while reflecting on the message and events that are happening in the church.

 

Here are some ideas for getting your music out there:

  • share music via the Network and your own facebook page especially if they use a creative commons copyright allowing free use (unless someone is using it for their own monetary gain in which case they need to seek permission from you.)
  • Start with your own congregation, if they like it they will spread the word. 

I'd also encourage new text/tune writers to look for opportunities to work on their craft.  Few people can sit down and come up with a great song the first time around.

  • Go to a writing workshop to hone your skills.
  • Create a group of trusted individuals (to whom you are not related) to give you constructive feedback
  • Reach out to another singer/songwriter and ask if they would be willing to offer a critique.
  • Keep writing, even if it is only for yourself or your own community.  

 

Again these are real quick off the top of my head so others please add your input... 

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