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We Are What We Sing: Searching for a Balanced Diet

“We are what we eat.” Anyone who’s suffering the cumulative effect of too many ice cream sundaes knows that’s true. But when it comes to matters of spirituality and faith, I’d like to suggest, we are what we sing.

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How Many is Too Much?

How many is too much?  How many new songs can you have in a worship service? I know of churches where including a new song in worship is something that is done with some fear and trepidation on the part of the worship planners who also know that a new song can ...

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Digging Deeper With Worship Committees/Teams

Whatever your committee’s or team’s name or function it is easy to get in a rut, to do things a particular way because that’s the way it has always been done (even if it’s only the second year you have been doing it).  So how do you get out of a liturgical rut? How do you discern when a once helpful practice has become unhelpful or when a 100 year old practice needs to be retained?  How do you lead your congregation to grow in the area of worship? 

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Q&A
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What's the best way to share original worship music?

I'm wondering if anyone knows the best way to share original worship music. I've written some songs and I've shared them on my personal website and Facebook, but how do you go about sharing a new worship song to the broader community?
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You Want Me to Pray for Whom?

Prayers for our enemies are prayers for the wellbeing and ultimately for the salvation of those who oppose and hurt us. They don’t excuse sin nor reduce the need to call attention to injustices of all kinds. However praying for our enemies does align us with God’s kingdom building work.  

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What are the pros and cons of using Planning Center Online?

I just heard about this website from a friend of mine at a Presbyterian/community church. I was wondering if anyone has considered this or is actively using it? I'm interested in pros and cons, and value for the cost as well as any general feedback. Because their subscriptions are based on size/number of users, it would be helpful if you could include some information about the size of your church and worship ministry. Planning Center Online Thanks in advance!
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Celebrating a New Season of Nurture

This kid-friendly litany is intended for use at the beginning of a new church school year.

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Marking Time

This is a time of new beginnings and a time to pause, reflect, and take note of the many fears and concerns in the lives of those we worship with and also the ways we are blessed as God’s church and then name those within the context of worship. 

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Facebook Worship

On the one hand it isn't the way church has ever been done before... On the other hand 2,000 people are hearing the gospel that may not otherwise attend church.

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What are the best and quickest ways to enter scripture passages into PowerPoint?

Does anyone know if there is a faster way to input scripture passages into PowerPoint than just copying and pasting? I know Easy Worship and Media Shout have Bible software where you pick the passage and it automatically fills it in. I was hoping there was something for PowerPoint, but I haven't found anything...
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Remembering Baptisms: Living Wet

This is an excerpt from an article written by Joan Huyser-Honig about baptism—which happens once yet takes a lifetime to complete.

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The Holy Kiss

Sometimes we need to enact a spiritual reality to really get it.

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Psalm-Singing Comeback?

If you subscribe to Reformed Worship, you've probably already seen this issue. But, if not, here's an article by Chris Meehan just posted to the CRC Newsroom . I thought it'd be of interest to followers of this discussion forum: Psalm-Singing on the Rise
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Worship Vacation?

Ever feel that when everyone is gone on vacation worship goes too?

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Do We Need More Songs?

Maybe we should declare a moratorium on all new congregational songs… at least for a few years so we can catch our breath.

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Creating a Vision for Worship at Your Church

Bellevue CRC Worship Vision statement: Worship at BCRC, through the power of the Spirit, is biblical, participatory and missional. Biblical This vision has theological and practical implications. Hearing the good news about Jesus proclaimed is the highlight of Sunday worship. In worship we recollect the gospel. In this covenant renewal ceremony, we are shaped by biblical practices. We worship the Lord and glorify him! Our worship centers on the sermon, building to a climax with the Word of God. We also “preach” the gospel in song, prayers, readings and visuals. Every element of worship points...
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Worship Related Announcements

Psalm Contest: In an effort to encourage Psalm-singing, Church of the Servant invites congregational songwriters to submit a Psalm-based song to its 2010 New Psalm Contest. The winner will receive a $250 award. There is no entry fee and the contest is open to all. Submissions must be emailed or postmarked by October 1, 2010. The song will be premiered in worship on January 30, 2011. Church of the Servant is a Christian Reformed Church with a rich history of encouraging the arts in worship. Its worship is Reformed, liturgical, participatory, eclectic, and open to creative new worship...
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They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love

If we can worship together, we can work together, we can witness together, and they will know we are Christians by our love.

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Sample services: Embrace AIDS, Your Name Is Written on My Hand, Deed ministry,

Thought I'd post the worship order/song set with comments for the service we did for Embrace AIDS week (we did it on June 6) at Immanuel CRC in Fort Collins, CO. We take a thematic approach and use a mix of contemporary and traditional styles. This particular week we had piano, drums, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and mandolin. There was one lead vocalist and the pianist and acoustic guitarist had vocal mikes. As they came into the worship space, worshipers were given a red ribbon with the name of a Faith Alive Clinic AIDS patient written on it. THE GATHERING "Fade with Our Voices" by...
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multi cultural pentecost service

I am an interim pastor at Hillcrest CRC in Denver. This Sunday our church is hosting a service of ccongregations with people of Cambodian, Chinese, Native American, and English speaking backgrounds. can you share one or two creative thoughts for such a service. The theme is one of each person hearing the good news in their own language. The potluck afterwards ought to be great. tom draayer
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How an Image Can Minister

Including thoughtfully-chosen images in worship may minister to certain people in ways that the rest of the service does not.

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Building a Worship Vocabulary of Lament

Calvin Seerveld, whenever he can, urges worshipers to build a scriptural vocabulary of lament. When offered in genuine humility and trust, lament in worship need not be the last word.

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Our church now uses the screen for a variety of announcements before the service or during the offertory. At times we have a video played during the offertory, sometimes with sound other times without. If the screen is free I usually play the organ during the offertory, if I have useful information about the music I write a short piece about it, explaining what it is, where it originated, for what purpose it was written etc., that info is projected on the screen during the offertory. The congregation is much more involved with it, having gained some understanding of what and why this music is being played, the chatter is much less, sometimes even completely absent, a much more worshipful atmosphere than the talking, rising and falling with the loudness of the music.

Of course, there's something to be said about aesthetics. Frankly, I think the bright yellow text on the blue background in the projector sample looks very unpleasant. To avoid glare/car headlights effect, perhaps a black or dark blue background with light grey (as opposed to bright white) sans serif text would work? Something like this perhaps... https://docs.google.com/present/edit?id=0ATmyBsyV0TpjZGNzZHJ0MnBfMDduMmN2c2dr&hl=en&authkey=CPaTorIM.  (Feel free to edit it.)

Respectfully,
Stanley

Our congregation has a long history of celebrating Reformation Day. A member of our church is a conductor of a community brass ensemble, so Reformation Sunday has become one of two Sundays of the year where we are blessed to sing with organ, brass, and timpani together. (Here is a link to our closing hymn from that morning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhvwCUc1uOk ) In the past, these services erred more on the side of history lessons, but this year our Reformation Sunday worship served as a reminder that God is the same both yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We took a standard worship format and used the five "solas" of the reformation (solo christo, sola gratia, sola fide, sola scriptura, soli deo gloria) as the structure for the service. There was very little explicitly mentioned of the reformation itself, but connections were made to these principles through scripture and song. I found Jerry Dykstra's article in The Banner last month inspiring in many ways, but his words on the Reformed faith and its impact on the future, I thought, were very compelling. He said, "One of the beautiful things about the Reformed faith is that it is not simply about reforming the past—it is about preparing the future. Today, all across the world, including in North America, there is a new interest in Reformed theology. People are discovering and rediscovering both the power and the comfort that flows from understanding that our God reigns over all creation." This is true even in my 75-year-old congregation where people are coming now from many different walks and religious backgrounds (Pentecostal, Mormon, nonchurched, etc.) and they have the strongest desire to soak in everything that makes the Reformed faith so concrete. They're not seeking fluff because they realize that fluff cannot provide balm for the difficulties and complexities of life. They are seeking God's sovereignty and the truth found in his Word, the riches of his grace through his Son, and desire to give him all the glory. We will continue to mark Reformation Sunday in our congregation, perhaps not so much as a history lesson, but just as a reminder of the principles of faith on which the church was built, how God has preserved his Church to carry out the work in ushering his kingdom, and that we as part of this Church are called to doing that work in our community and beyond.      

Hi guys,  If you ever need more songs, my 17 yr old daughter has written about 15 praise songs. She worked with  Paul Baloche at  some writers conferences. He liked her work. She has lead praise groups for three years. I think she is and will be In the future a great witness for the Lord. She's a good singer also, her chior just sang last year at Carnagie Hall. Sorry I 'm just a gratefull father bragging. I thank God for Her.

Thanks, Joyce.  Just fyi and by way of response, I'll mention that now for three years an ad hoc committee in Holland Michigan has been sponsoring celebrations.  This year our committee included CRC, RCA, PCUSA, and ELCA pastors.  We held a vesper type service with an attendance of nearly 200 (not nearly enough for a town with 50 CRCs RCAs!, but we were pleased after several years with no such services at all).

We share your sentiments about not wanting to be exclusive and triumphalistic. We want to build on the best of our heritage and seek to find themes that will speak out of the past to the present challenges we face.  For example, two years ago our panel discussion just four days prior to the general elections was on "Reformational Principles for Politics." 

Carry on with your celebratory efforts!

One key ingregient with all Saints was humility to the point they lost  themselves and became vessels for truth and wisdom from the Holy Spirit. The weren't perfect by any since of the word. They most likely would be the first say they don't deserve it. Glory be to God

I've always like the concept of a moment to reflect on how profound God is by explaining in detail a object of nature that goes beyond deductive reasoning. or a personal story that the realness of the Lord's presence is revealed in every day life. Then let people ponder his greatness with silence. I have felt yhe Holy Spirit many times during such events because people need a hope reminder and to know that Jesus is not abstract but real as earth itself. Glory be to God

Hello Joyce,  I think we should entertain the idea that the reformation is not over. Churches need to understand that constant evaluation is part of God's plan

Thanks Simon,   I hear you but everyday can be puctuated with moments of joint worship also. I treasure church worship also but i'm mostly a shutin. I had to find worship primairly  with who every will engage me. Forgive me for errors I have problems with ms. When your sick like I am, things get pretty difficult and sometimes really wierd stuff happens. Anyway I have lesions and atrophy in my brain. It's like you walk around in house and Jesus is with you in conversation. It's filled with what I call God Momments wear you physicaly feel him and everthing is clear with this huge rush of spiritual wisdom that makes you want nothing but love for this world and yourself. I'ts a wild ride! You guys are very intelliegent and I know you have good hearts but I think you have be aware how you use your knowledge. God's Wisdom is difficult to find unless your completely broken and need him and his love at every momment. Sorry for the rant. God bless you

 

P.S. How does spellcheck work on this site. Thanks

posted in: Worship Vacation?

Hi Keith, Its good see you here.

Yes, thank you for sharing this. I hope many people read it. Stanley

Even though most congregations are used to silence when movement is necessary within the worship service, it seems less abrupt when there has been some prep for it just before or soft accompaniment happens as it ocurrs.

However, the older I get, the more I find myself feeling like I've been programed to death during the worhsip service. There is a time for silence and meditation if the congregation has been prepared to take that time for reflection.  There needs to be more of that built in. 

Purposefully and well placed meditation time is more useful if folks are asked to reflect on the words they just sang as worship instead of singing yet another verse of a worship song.  Temper the repetition with more meditation opps.

Silence can be more much more worshipful when well placed and the congregation is ready for it even if it includes necessary movement.

My 2 cents.

Sometimes silence, in my circumstances, was unavoidable due to logistics. What I found important was how this silence was handled. For example, our organist had to come down from the loft where the organ is to the piano on the main floor of the sanctuary. We discussed this transition as one where we focused on maintaining a silent and structured process and not a hurried rush to fill the silence of this transition.

I love it. This is officially bookmarked and saved. Between this and the worship grids from Calvin that can be found in the "Resources" section, it gives me pretty much everything I need.

We try to include new songs on a somewhat regular basis, one per month, two maximum. Finding new worship songs can be difficult. I usually find new things from going to pandora.com and typing in a worship artist that I enjoy, my favorite is "Caedmon's Call", the music it spits out that is similar to CC really fits our congregation well. I also listen to the Song DISCovery CD from worship leader magazine, that something will give us something new. We'll usually try to fit the new song topically based on the sermon, then play it at least once after that within the next 3 weeks. On occassion we'll play a new song once for an offertory, the congregation isn't expected to sing along to the offertory so it gives us room to try new songs and expand the definition of acceptable music in our congregation... for instance, we did Caedmon's Call's "Sing His Love", a play on the hymn "Father Long Before Creation" as an offertory with banjo and in a bluegrass styling, "One" by U2 (which fit thematically to the service around the topic of brokenness), and "Aint No Grave" in the style of Johnny Cash. Generally our offertory leads right into the sermon.

Tears are coming.... the beauty of the promises touches my own memories of losing a daughter a year ago to leukemia.  The promises are so good, and the earthly reality is sometimes so very painful.   This is an  incredibly deep and many layered Psalm, and it speaks to situations that are indeed too painful for words.   Is there any situation or experience that is so awful that God is absent?   Only that  one time on Calvary, and never again.   Thanks be to God.  Thanks, Jim, for preaching it, and for sharing it.  

No problem having people come forward during prayer.  One's eyes need not be closed and hands folded in order to pray.  Though I've found people at first need repeated assurance that it is OK to walk forward during a prayer, it doesn't take long before it's natural and is done in a worshipful way.  Worship team participants normally sit next to an isle anyhow, so very few, if any people are even aware of their movement during prayer. 

Hi Allen, I appreciate your heart for mission. I would like to suggest that having 'a ton of music available' is one of the best reasons to put together a collection of hymns and songs that is theologically rich and meets the needs of the worshiping church. Too many choices can be as frustrating as too few. I'm beginning to see that a hymnal can provide a community with a core set of music to draw from. In this case, this also includes resources from a reformed perspective for the church as it celebrates the sacraments and Christian holidays together. Of course, an ongoing goal is to make the music accessible to the average musician and accompanist, the singer in the pew, and provide a well-rounded and thoughtful repertoire to the local worship leader.  And who knows? Maybe having a larger collection of songs representing the old and new, heartsongs that cross denominational lines, and music that shows diversity and appreciation for music from other cultures will actually be missional.

I appreciate this discussion. I'd love to hear others' opinions of whether or not a hymnal can be missional. 

I'm not sure about this new hymnal.  I understand that there are many established churches out there who will dole out the cash for them because that's what you do.  But I'm not sure our church will go for it -- I'd be surprised if they did.  We have a ton of music available through the old hymnal, supplements and lots of CCLI stuff.  I can hear people saying they'd rather put their $$ toward local mission.

Personally I don't have a problem with the team going up during my application prayer.  They know to go up quietly.  They can listen to the prayer as they go up but I don't think that by going up at that time they're missing something.  It's their ministry to lead in worship, so they need to be up there so when people open their eyes, we're good to go.

Thank you for sharing this

There are times when the praise team will lead a song right after the sermon. To go up to the stage area they have 2 choices. They can wait until after the pastor has his prayer of application after the sermon or they can walk up during the prayer. The first choice involves the awkward silence you mention above. The second choice can be disruptive for the congregation and also does not allow the praise team to focus on the prayer. How do other churches handle this situation?

I have some follow up questions for anyone out there...

How do you decide when to include a new song?  From where do you select them?  Is there a method/process you use for introducing new songs?  Do you make sure a new song is repeated over a series of Sundays so that people really learn it or do you sometimes use a new song just for a particular service? 

Stanley, thanks for the suggestion.  I hope the addition of BOLD titles and spacing helps. 

My hope for the new Psalter would be that one setting for each Psalm would be as close as possible to the text -- that is, an actual (easily singable) musical setting of the Psalm (or of several of its verses), not just a song based on the ideas in the Psalm. I would find that very useful for worship. Adaptations and interpretations of Psalms are fine, but for those who believe that Psalmody is an important part of Biblical worship, being able to sing the text of the Psalms is key.

The same would go for the Psalm settings in LUYH, but I understand that there are many other competing priorities for those editing a comprehensive hymnal.

After reading these comments,i think we should treat the hymnal with importance simplly because its important to some fellow Cristians. Produce it the way you want. I would not want to hinder my brother in Christ .

Our music selections also depend on the theme for the service.  My personal rule is to have no more than one new song in a service.  We want to have people internalize songs, memorize them, sing them in their car on the way home, and all week.  Repetition is the best way children and all of us make songs our "heart songs."   What do you want sung at your funeral?  What do you want to sing at a dear departed relative's funeral? --  a song that comes from deep within.  With so many choices out there, we have to be intentional about what we feed our congregations.  It's a big responsibility for sure!  

I think "Confession" is meant to be a title for a section that includes "Call to Confession" through "Response of Thanksgiving." I think "Gathering/Praise," "Proclamation," "Response to the Word," "Lord's Supper," and "Sending" are also supposed to be section titles. It would have been helpful if they had appeared in bold or italics or something to distinguish them from the elements within the sections. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong! Stanley

You're very welcome.

I'm glad you shared.  I've learned something from you that will help me be a better minister.  Please feel no obligation, but should you have the time and interest, I would greatly value reading some more of how you introduced and used the tables, including the theology behind what you did.  Your comments about serving communion at the tables particulary excites me.  I am not familiar with "Temple reclining,"  care to share about that?

I will be on vacation for a couple weeks, so I won't be checking this every day.  If you do post some more and don't hear from me for a couple weeks, please be assured it is not because I am not interested.

God bless you.

posted in: Worship Vacation?

Thank you for your thoughtful response and clarification. I agree and we did spend quite a bit of time interpreting what the introduction of tables meant and also used Biblical tie ins with table fellowship, communion, and even Temple reclining. We introduced them precisely to be able to share in closer worship communion around the tables, discuss what we had just heard in the message and on Communion Sundays, enjoy the close fellowship around an actual table an not just a figurative one. So thank you so much for your clarifications and words of encouragement.

posted in: Worship Vacation?

Hey, I'm glad you did "jump back into the conversation."  I much appreciate your comments; very clear and, I believe, faithful to the Biblical idea and history of worship.

I think I might have been mis-understood.  For I would fully agree with your comments regarding what worship is and what the settings for it were in NT times.  But here is the concern.  You say, "Worship happens when the people of God gather to come into the presence of God, no matter where that is or what it looks like."  I became "somewhat" convinced that we did not introduce the tables well, so they made the sanctuary look like a common Starbuck's cafe.  Consequently, the teens and 20 year olds, began to act like they were in a Starbucks--coming for personal socialization, meeting friends, drinking coffee, making plans for the week with their friends, etc.  All that is fine, but not during "worship time."  These church members began to loose their own sense or awareness that they were, as you say, gathering "to come into the presence of God."  I know this because we talked about it and with their input we all made some changes.

I am a very flexible kind of guy when it comes to things like packaging and style.  My initial post had more to do with offering a caution from someone who, sorry about the cliché, has "been there done it." I would do it again if I had the chance.  But I would do it with more wisdom about how our "post-modern" culture interprets the layout and tables.  I was not prepared for how the tables and couches had inadvertently served to lesson a sense of sacredness in the worship service for some, particularly the teens and 20 year olds.  They liked it, but my concern as a pastor was that they disengaged somewhat from worship and engaged more in socializing during the service.  I found myself growing less enthusiastic about the tables as I saw more and more socializing going on all through the sevice, almost to the point of rudeness for those around them.  I'm not saying it was the tables per se.  I am only saying, when you change the layout to "contemporize" the decor, it has consequences on how people feel and behave; pyschological consequences that are often not even congnitive.

Next time I do the tables etc., I will spend time before hand teaching about worship and how the sanctuary decor must support and enhance worship, not distract from it.  Perhaps in your own experience you did a better job than we did at clarifying what worship is all about and introducing the new decor as a support to the worship.  If so, I have absolutely NO hesitation or critique of your efforts, only praise.

May we all continue to grow in worship that is spiritual and truthful (Jn 4:24), using any and all means and tools God makes available to us.

Blessings.

posted in: Worship Vacation?

I've got several songs that are free to use at your church. Each has a (relatively poorly made) video and a lead sheet.

Redeem My Mind: http://vimeo.com/15461954 (My church responded really well to this one)

Walking Home: http://vimeo.com/15461455 (Haven't done this one yet)

Lashes Part: http://vimeo.com/15430425 (Did this one at a past church and the response was great)

Also, I've got an arrangement of "Take My Life and Let It Be" Psalter Hymnal #288 for two guitars and worship team. No video for that one, but we did it at church last Sunday and it went over very well.

All of the Lead Sheets are here: http://nickinglis.com/church-resources/worship-lead-sheets

Thank you for taking the time to listen and share. Would love to know if you use any of the above and the congregation's response.

I love this model. This is another incredible resource. I do have one question on logical progression... shouldn't a "Call To Confession" preceed "Confession"?

We try to keep a balance but there is no rule. We think long and hard about the sermon topic and we select music that matches the theme of the service, whether it is new, old or original.

I hesitate to jump back into the conversation, but must say that if you ever come to Hope Church you may be surprised by the tables as you enter, but you will certainly leave having worshiped. Tables or not, it is not the setting that brings people into worship but the spirit of God at work in the setting. If we really wanted to worship in the way those in the NT times did with Jesus before them then we would all be sitting on the hillside, or seashore or segregated in the temple on the floor. Let us not confuse cultural norms for Christian standards. Worship happens when the people of God gather to come into the presence of God, no matter where that is or what it looks like. The methods may change but the Gospel remains constant.

posted in: Worship Vacation?

Kelib,

The question is not about whether Jesus is present.  It's about whether those who are also present are worshipping him.

It is surely true as you say, "Wear (sic, Where) two or more are gathered in His name He will be there."  According to the Gospels, Jesus was in a lot of places among people.  But that fact alone does insure those people were worshipping him.  A worship gathering is different than a dinner gathering, or a prayer gathering, or a recreational/fellowship gathering, etc.  Worship might be a part of these types of gather, but not necessarily so.  However, at a "worship" gathering, worship is NOT optional.

In Christ

posted in: Worship Vacation?

Wear two or more are gathered in His name He will be there.

posted in: Worship Vacation?

Good stuff. These statements should allow a wide diversity of worship forms. Thank You

I think this Network site is the perfect way for CRC musicians to share their music with other CRC folk.  You can't attach the actual file but you can always point us to where we can find it.  Personally, I would love it if people like Nick would post a simple note like: "Hey, I just wrote a new song X about XX  and you can find it at XXX."  If you include information on how we can use your song legally (i.e. this is free for your church to use, or this song is listed under CCLI, or contact me for permission to use this song, or...) that would be helpful.  Some additional background information on the song,some interesting points about its musical structure or textual references for example, would be a great aid for worship leaders.  So Nick, what is the link to your music?   

Nick--my niece was in the same boat, and after much trial and error, she found that it worked best to make herself available for special music for worship services and for youth rallies, at least until she got her name out there and some of the music was heard. It's very hard to stand in front of a congregation and teach music that is totally unknown unless you have a good praise team to back you up, or the music is very "singable."

After she had been the special music on a Sunday morning, that congregation asked her to come back and do a few more songs a few weeks later. About two months after that, they asked her to come and teach some of the music.

She has also had good success making herself available to youth retreats, SERVE projects, youth worship services, etc.

Blessings on your music!

 I looked over Planning Center but decided it wasn't a great match, I have used SongSelect and that's pretty brilliant. I've just used a simple Wiki in the past, having the ability to go freeform was much better for me than being confined within a particular space.

We also use Planning Center. Have been for a little over a year. I would also highly recommend it. We currently subscribe to the 'lite' version ($15 a month). I'd love to upgrade to a higher lever but just don't have the budget for it right now.

Joyce, one other very similar type of application is available at www.worshipplanning.com. I don't know much about it other than I've seen their ads in Worship Leader magazine. Another is www.fqworship.com.

We also subscribe to CCLI Song Select and get at least 75% of our sheet music/lead sheets from them. We then project using SongShowPlus. I love Song Select...  their transposing tools are a life saver. SongShowPlus is alright. It's functional but if I had the budget I'd probably start looking at some of the alternatives.

9nineteen & Joyce, thanks for commenting!

Although we aren't using Planning Center, and I don't think we are using CCLI Song Select, we do project words (no music) using MediaShout. I am not on that team so can't speak to details (version, effectiveness) but if you want more info, I can ask someone else from my church to comment on this discussion.

Do you use other programs in addition to the Planning Center?  (i.e. Song Select from CCLI)  Do you project and if so, is it just words or words and music and what program do you use for projection?

I spent a fair amount of time looking at it and was blown away by what it can do and how user friendly it was.  I am curious if other similar programs exist that people are using.

 We've been using it for over a year now  and it is great.  It really makes it easy to plan services and to remind everyone when they are on the schedule.  We currently use the $29/month plan but will be moving up to the $49 plan very soon because we keep finding new uses for the software.  I would highly recommend it.  

Thanks for this Terry! 

 Thank you so much for posting this! We are always looking for resources on this topic to share with churches who want to participate in our World Hunger or World AIDS Day campaigns.

Out of My Hands?I love music! I love to play and sing and worship! Everyone who knows me would smile and agree with those statements. I have memories of sitting in church as a child cheerfully flipping through the pages of the hymnal. One particular Sunday stands out in my memory. I must have been flipping hymnal pages very noisily during the pastors’ sermon.  The irritated worshiper next to me snatched the book out of my hands and put it firmly back in the rack. I got the message! If you’re going to get lost in the words and music in the hymnal during the sermon, do it quietly!Seriously, that quick stab of embarrassment and surprise impacted me as an 8 year old. I still remember the hymnal that I loved being ripped out of my hands. I smile now as I remember, because I’m sure I was being rude and distracting. But lately I’ve wondered about this very thing – taking the books out of people’s hands.Don’t get me wrong, I love contemporary music and worship. The trend in modern worship is to project lyrics and Bible passages, making it easy for the worshiper to flow with the service. There is no need to announce page numbers or take time to find them. There is no heavy hymnal to balance between you and your neighbor who you may or may not know and feel comfortable singing with, let alone share the task of holding it in front of you. Have you ever started shaking while doing that? How embarrassing! Without the book, your hands are released to clap or to raise in praise and adoration. So I will agree, there are plenty of good reasons to free them up.Many churches also project the scripture passage. This also makes it clear and easy for all to see, and takes away the embarrassment for worshipers and seekers alike who struggle to find obscure passages in Philemon or Haggai.But what happens when we take the printed books out of our hands? The cutting edge technology of the 15th century produced the printing press, placing the printed page in the hands of the people. Has the cutting edge technology of the 20th century taken it out of their hands? Before you write me off, think through this with me.The implications of not holding the Bible in your hands during worship abound, but I won’t pursue those here. Let’s talk about hymnals. The Christian Reformed Church and Reformed Church in America are joining together to produce a new hymnal. It’s a huge project! I know because I’m involved in it. “Why a hymnal?” people ask. “Our church doesn’t use a book.” We are well aware of this. It’s okay. No one will be forced to buy the book.

Think of the act of holding and having. The hymnal my church has in the pew says a lot about what the church believes. It has been chosen carefully. We take seriously the implications of the theology expressed in the words of the songs. God’s word is often hidden in our hearts along with a melody. The collection of words and music gathered together in a hymnal give expression to the heartsong of a community. I hold in my hands my favorite songs along with your favorites. I hold the songs of children and old people, the songs of those from other nations and cultures, the songs of those who have lived through war and atrocities and those who haven’t. I hold the songs of pastors and plumbers, of scholars and students. The beauty of the book is that I hold your song as well as mine. The beauty is that I hold many songs in my hands. To place the hymnal in the people’s hands gives them a snapshot of Christian community. It’s theologically rich and musically diverse. It’s a symbol of who we are and what we believe.Here is what has struck me as important lately: if we worship only with words on the screen, we are at the mercy of the one choosing those words. This puts a lot of power into the hands of one person, the worship leader. As worshiper, I watch and participate as I decide while the worship proceeds from slide to slide. And then it’s done. I have nothing left but the memory of the experience, and my impression will depend on whether I liked the speed, key, accompaniment, etc. My worship becomes something that passes quickly in front of me, by someone else’s design. I can’t take it home. I can’t play it for my enjoyment or my children without significant effort to find it in print, perhaps online.Let’s ask what we lose by not having a good hymnal in our pews, in our homes. If we never see the complete text on the page, we may not recognize the beauty of the whole. Will we realize the breadth if we see it one line at a time, one day a week? Will we recognize the importance of all the songs in one place if we don’t feel the weight of it in our hands? And if my church sings only the choices of one leader, will we know what we’re missing?I’m not saying that we should only use hymnals. Certainly there is too much good in both mediums, electronic and print, to use only one. We have so many great opportunities at our fingertips today. We need to carefully consider the implications of each, and choose with prayer and wisdom the best and widest resources for corporate worship and spiritual growth. And honestly, let’s ask ourselves, is there value to what we can hold in our hands? 

With its regularity, the Lord's Supper may sometimes seem the more significant of the two sacraments. Thank you for this helpful theology and these practical suggestions that keep baptism at the forefront, too! Stanley

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