Thank you for all you did that we never saw...

December 23, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Here are four songs for the Christmas season composed by Keith Getty in collaboration with others. Like good worship planning, perhaps a team approach is the ideal for songwriters too!

December 3, 2010 0 0 comments

It is with great courage that a worship leader deviates from the traditional Christmas carols at Christmas but there may be situations which call for a new song. 

December 3, 2010 0 4 comments
Resource, Article

Excellent progress is being made on the development of the new Faith Alive hymnal Lift Up Your Hearts: Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, and we’re very excited about its prospects. As we work on fine-tuning some elements of this new hymnal, we could really use your input. Your responses to...

November 24, 2010 0 0 comments

Take a deep breath, a good look at your family and friends, and dive right in to emerge some time during the first week of January. 

November 24, 2010 0 0 comments

Whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving Day this week I ask you, for what are you thankful spiritually?

November 22, 2010 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

Many of us are looking to increase the use of multi-media tools and technology to enhance and make our worship more inspirational.  One of the tools that most of us use is Microsoft's PowerPoint, or something like it.  To be effective, this tool needs to be used in the right way, and for that,...

November 16, 2010 0 7 comments
Discussion Topic

I have been organist at our church for 40 years, add eight more in Holland, about 35 of these years it was organ only, things started to change when the Praise team came into the picture. For about ten years we were "legally" separated, they had their once monthly service, the organists did the...

November 16, 2010 0 12 comments
Resource, Article

An acquaintance who has two sons in the Marines marveled at their loyalty and commitment to the unit and the Corps. One of his boys recalls the whole barrack yelling in one voice at bedtime, “I want to be a Marine like Chesty Puller.” General Puller, a veteran of WW II and Korea, is one of the...

November 5, 2010 0 1 comments

Is Reformation Day a thing of the past that doesn’t relate to those who haven’t grown up in the “Dutch church”?   Is it something that we should re-energize or let fade away?  If we stop celebrating this defining moment of the Reformation do we risk losing our historical roots which help ground us theologically?  What do you think?

November 5, 2010 0 3 comments
Resource, Article

I. Using projectors during worship services
A.  Background and color contrast

It is easiest to read projected text when the contrast is a solid, medium-blue background with plain, yellow letters. A darker background, (black, brown, or darker blue) with white or yellow letters creates...
November 4, 2010 0 2 comments

I am not a fan of awkward silences. Sometimes silence is good and appropriate – during prayer or following a particularly moving anthem. However, the silence between a pastor’s words of “And now the choir is going to sing for us”  and the choir members standing in their seats and walking to the front is unnecessary and it disrupts the worship flow.  

October 16, 2010 0 6 comments
Resource, Article

The following is a sermon given at a funeral for a 19-year-old who took his own life (see blog post). 

October 16, 2010 0 3 comments
Resource, Article

“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.

Music has the uncanny ability to burrow its way into our spiritual bones....

October 11, 2010 0 2 comments

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 ...

October 11, 2010 0 4 comments

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? 

October 1, 2010 0 0 comments

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? 

September 27, 2010 0 4 comments

The practice of worship says much about who we are as a community, what we believe, and what we value.

September 21, 2010 0 0 comments

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.  

September 13, 2010 0 0 comments

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...

September 10, 2010 0 6 comments
Resource, Article
This kid-friendly litany is intended for use at the beginning of a new church school year. The two sections may stand alone or be used together as a prayer of illumination for learners and a commissioning for teachers and other leaders. The language is broad enough to include Sunday school, midweek...
September 7, 2010 0 0 comments

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. 

September 7, 2010 0 0 comments

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.

August 20, 2010 0 1 comments

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...

August 5, 2010 0 2 comments
Resource, Article
It’s a simple story. But if you’ve heard theologian and teacher Marva J. Dawn retell it, you’ve probably seen people wipe away sudden tears. She recalls worship that began with four people entering the sanctuary from the back. One carried in a large pitcher, emptied it “with a great gurgling” into...
July 30, 2010 0 1 comments



Hi John, incidentally that's my middle name after grandfather, John VanderPol, Thanks for the honest note. You are spot on in describing some of the issue's. One observation I have discovered from my kids is that they due want relationship with Christ And at least for my children, they do have a relationship but it is different from the traditional approach. John I think the issue isn't that they don't believe Scripture's but it speaks differently to them because they see our world differently. Their form of worship is also different because they want their own method that is a more emotional driven. Our own lack of consistent passion looks hippocratic to them because of our nuanced approach to worship. We need more passion in how our churches interact with the community to show them we are not sunday christians, Or rule followers but excited about our faith like you are doing with your daughter. Your searching for common ground speaks volumes to her and validates her. Complicated ABSOLUTLY rewarding ABSOLUTLY humbling ABSOLUTLY required ABSOLUTLY. Thanks John you are good man. God bless you and your familly.

Yes Ken, and still, I have a seesaw going on with my daughter, she used to not sing a word in church, now she listens to a Christian radio on the way to her work and she is blessed by the songs, the words of them and sings along. She does like the beauty of some of the hymns, Amazing Grace at the top of them, but yes, she says that the younger generation just does not get any satisfaction from them, words are old fashioned, the beat of the music is not there, and yes she does agree that this generation wants it now and the way they want it, if not they'll go somewhere else. My concern in that is where, an other church or......... End of story is that I so hope that they can learn to appreciate some of the wisdom of these old songs, if it must be with new music? even the Bible is translated to appeal more to unchurched and church people alike. A pardigm in society is indeed taking place with the electronic side of things, life styles etc., it can not be stopped, and is it all bad? you and I and many others can join in conversation about it, it seems that the church must move, as it has done in the past. COMPLICATED! Wow, you are right, God, help us please, to understand, to guide, to love and to work, talk  and listen to each other.

Yea Allen, I felt pretty cheap posting that about my daughter. I am just happy for her and thanful to God that He is claiming her.

John. You are not alone in this observation. I can't figure out why we as church are so disengaged about genuine conversation on many subjects. I hate to draw conclusions about what is causing this. I do know that whatever the reason it is not rooted in scripture. Public discourse is even worse with Christians joining in the hate fest thinking the end justifies the their behavior. John,  you are asking questions, that need to be asked. I have tried to start conversations or give a opposing points of views, But people now seem to look at alternate views as assualt on them personally. God help us please


Ken, no worries.  I know the Carnegie hall thing.  My son sings opera and has been invited back a number of times.  What an experience.

I love Paul Baloche's stuff and have sat in on some sessions with him.  I'm trying to get some of his stuff in our church too.

We use Easy Worship which is more affordable than Song Show Plus.  EW allows you to also import video, DVD, and Power Point if you put sermon notes on like I do.  It is versatile and is specifically designed to use for worship.  Media Shout works well too.

You are looking for something data base driven so once you import a song either from CCLI Song Select or type one in yourself, it is forever there and you just have to drag and drop it into your order of service.

posted in: Media Workshop

John, thanks for your response. I'll check out the Intergenerational worship posts and also reach out to Chad. I think there are a couple of things that have led us to think more about reintroduction of hymns in particular, and also (for me) the organ. Firstly, we have always missed the richness of the words of the best hymns. Secondly, the contemporary worship movement has increasingly embraced hymns (writers like Christ Tomlin have gone further, by adding some very effective additional choruses or bridges - The Wonderful Cross for example, or more recently Joy To The World), With regard to the organ, it is simply a powerful, versatile and impactful instrument when used in the right way at the right time. This isn't a matter of hymns vs contemporary songs - it is a matter as with any instrument of determining where it adds value and where it doesn't. The addition of the organ at this point is my thought and needs to be discussed with others before we go anywhere with it. But the gradual reintroduction of hymns in a way that doesn't interfere with our musical abilities, flow, general service style, etc is something I think we've made some good progress with.

Hi Graham, nobody seems interested in "going back" it seems, we are going the other way from yours, so I can't really help you, however, Chad Meeuwse wrote a letter above, he has some interesting ideas there, he is from Modesto Ca. I don't know if that is close to you or not, I am sure he can give you some good advice. We are working to go to Intergenerational from blended, which is great, all ages involved in the planning and participation in the services. The idea behind it is that we do not use hymns or organ because some people like it, or to try to keep them happy, but because they fit with the theme of the Worship that day. What I am a bit unsure of is if this also goes for the contemporary side. Also, go to the Worship Forum, there is a post about Intergenerational services, it may be of help to you. One question, where did the desire to reintroduce the hymns, and the use of the organ come from, is there some support for it? Blessings on your effort, John.

Question, I just noticed that this article was posted in May, 2010, or is it January? and nobody has commented, is our church so far behind that we are the only one looking at this, the rest of you reached the goal already? Generally I find, since my writings are still rooted in the old, (perhaps somewhat archaic, or threatening maybe?) searching for reconciliation with the new, if it is about defending the organ (tradition), there usually is ,not always, no reply, am I standing in your way? just wondering.

Well, the further I get into this, the more I have to read and learn, just glancing over this article makes me more comfortable, seeing how we can and must work together older/younger, the greatest obstacle to getting into this is I suspect, fear. Fear of loosing what you have known to be good for so long, and this going so fast sometimes, I am sure I am right when I say that communication is the key. This is not only communication between the different age groups, but with God as well, I have over heard in my church, and read in forums on this web that we must not stop to consider others who go slow or are standing still.  My Bible study group is studying the booklet "Listening to God", we just looked at "listening to God through advice from other Christians", don't talk to just one person, discern if these persons have something personal to gain from you if you follow their advise. The second point, and in My view the most important one, If this advice is going to hurt someone else, this advice is not coming from God, ever. Thanks for putting this up, I hope to learn lots!

Thanks so much for your encouraging words! Everytime I get nervous as I prepare, I'll go back and read this for a morale boost.

I look forward to meeting you in January and to sharing with you and others.

posted in: Media Workshop

Now that you mention it, my wife and I were just looking over the sessions for Symposium this year.  I noticed at least three that looked like they might help with what we've been looking into.

Don't worry about the presentation part.  Remember, you'll be among friends, the room will be full of folks who are interested in the same subject you are, and we will be there to listen, share and learn.  You're going to enjoy this!  Trust me!

posted in: Media Workshop

A few thoughts - First of all I would encourage you to look at software other than PowerPoint, if that's indeed what you are using. PPT was created for businesses, not the church. There are a number of excellent worship based programs available. We use Media Shout at our church. I'm often asked to incorporate PPT into it, and for the most part find it an inferior product.
Second - any chance you can get to the Calvin Symposium on Worship in January? There will be 3 workshops offered there that all relate to the use of media in worship. I'm leading one of those, and will be touching on some details like you mentioned. If you can't get there, it may be that once it's over, I'll have something in written format to pass on. Perhaps the other presenters might as well. I have some serious misgivings and butterflies about the thought of presenting, but I agreed to do it, because like you, I'm convinced there hasn't been enough training about how to use such tools effectively for worship.

posted in: Media Workshop

Here is an interesting study: (click on instrumentation for a link) 

In Christ Alone

Keith/Kristyn Getty




Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow/Old Hundredth (originally set with Psalm 134)

A capella (with Psalm 134 its original pairing)


Ralph Vaughan Williams arr:

Praise Band:

Is one version more "authentic" than another? Certainly

Are the lesser "authentic" versions wrong or simply different?

Certainly not every song can cross over between genres but might there not be more fluidity than we think?  Should we not be grateful that a congregation that uses organ can be blessed by singing "In Christ Alone" and that a praise band can sing the doxology with a tune and words that are so well-known? 

We moved away from regular use of the organ about 15 years ago, adopting an entirely "contemporary" style. Now we have found ourselves reintroducing a number of hymns, though still presented with praise band instrumentation and style. I've found myself increasingly wondering how we might integrate at least occasional use of the organ in some of our songs. I'm not an organist, although we have one keyboard player who plays the organ (we still use it for weddings). I'd be interested to hear from any others who have gone the whole way to contemporary worship and then backed up and reintroduced the organ. How did you approach it? What has worked, and what hasn't?

I do some of what my wee bit older colleague does, or skip playing if it really is not organ friendly, but sometimes you just have to get in there, the song has to be shouted from the rooftops so to speak. Next question, we don't do this, but I would like to play a Praise song, without the team sometimes, one that is suitable, we can differ in our thoughts on suitability, as in Celtic based songs, I happen to think, using the right stop settings, it sounds great on the organ, but yes, even while being new on the keyboard, there is some great stuff on it which enhances the songs, I am getting there.

Some good thoughts and ideas for transitioning and the use of organ.  I have a wonderful organist in my church who is 83 and is commited to the transition.  She is innovative and willing to stay in the back by padding and playing bass notes with the organ then piping in with some accents during other verses.  Other times she sits at the keyboard.

The truth is that most contemporary music is not organ friendly, especially guitar led pieces.

Hi John,  That's a great idea. Music appreciation isn't just about passion for the song but also the story in it and the story about the song is needed for depth in understanding the music.

Thanks John for your efforts.

Hi Jeff,  I suggest you point out that the act of thanks requires humility to be genuine. Thanks  Ken

A month or so ago I was working on a sermon series but it just wasn't coming together.  As I was thinking about another topic to preach, I realized that it was almost exactly 40 days until Thanksgiving Day (USA).  So for the last few Sundays we have been focusing on the role of thanksgiving and the central discipline of gratitude in the Christian life, the thought being that the thanksgiving we offer should be thoughtful and reflective.  Its a national holiday so it's not quite a liturgical season, but I suppose there would be a good name for it...Thanksvent?  Gratitide?

Hi Paul,

My congregation is similar. They are more comfortable singing with some sort of musical notation than without, at least when learning new songs or hymns. My first suggestion is to take a look at Faith Alive's Contemporary Songs for Worship. You will find music to many of the songs our churches are singing today. They are condensed and reduced, but it works as a general guide. Since it is condensed to 2 or 3 small pages, it can be easily reproduced. Just make sure you have the license to do it.

In our church, I have taken on the role of creating PowerPoint slides with music and text. We comply with copyright in this case because it is done in house using our own notation software and is not distributed. Much of my time when first in this position was creating these music slides. It has its weaknesses, but it has helped us in so many ways.

I am also a big fan of using the choir indirectly as a tool to teach the congregation new music. Have the choir sing through the new songs together in rehearsal, then when the song is introduced on Sunday there will be dozens of voices spread throughout the sanctuary that can help carry the new tune along. 

We are one of the Greying churches and some problems with words only on screen, and also not being able to see the "writing" on the wall" (screen) is another. I am not well versed in this copyright issue, but what I have picked up from the visual/sound crew is that we are licensed to display the words, but not the music when we are singing Praise songs. We have been at it for about 15 years and even the older generation is learning the songs and getting used to the style. If we would put the music on the screen it would, at least with some of the songs, cause great difficulty because of how the Team decides to sing the song. Frequently we repeat, skip, return to the beginning or somewhere else in the song, I don't think that many, even the younger generations would be able to pick up where they are supposed to look. So, firstly, as far as the notes are concerned, they will (have to) learn the songs eventually, unless you are constantly putting in new songs this will happen. Secondly, a really old, but wise woman said just last Sunday, that she has a problem with being able to see the words on screen, so she and her husband have moved from "their" regular seats to Isle seats where they have a better line of sight, problem solved, at least for them. You know how important one's seats are, The last time when I was in my home church in Holland, I recognized people from where they were (still) sitting after having been gone for 30 years, an uncle of mine would walk out if someone was in his spot when he came to church, so, it might be hard, but so would having to use a walker be, but you want to walk?, there is the solution, you want to see the words? there is the solution. Hope this is helpful.

Our church has many older members who are capable of reading a little music and learning new songs with words only projected is difficult.  Any suggestions?

Alright already, the organ, in it's most primitive form was around for a few hundred years before Jesus walked on earth, Hydraulus, the guitar as it is today was not around when the organ developed into the equivalent of the industrial revolution a hundred or so years before Bach. This whole discussion is discounting the abilities of a good pipe organ played by a good organist. (and I am not such a good one) A celtic feel needs a flute, it's got it, granted even though it is real wind blowing in the pipe, besides including the vibrato it can not emulate a live flute player who can go louder or softer, but it has the swell pedals to do a bit of it. So our technical electronic marvels of to day can fake it pretty good, and I am actually enjoying it too. I get the distinct feeling that like some years ago, the idea that the organ is the fault of declining membership, never mind that no matter what music we play, in the hall after church with coffee in hand no one speaks to strangers that have entered, specially when they look or smell different. Lately our minister has preached the fact that the building is not the church, the members are, so give me a church that only sings the 150 Genevan Psalms, with that dreadful organ, (of course you have already figured out that i am an organ enthusiast)  and have people greet and accept me, compare it to the church with the greatest band and people of the opposite attitude, dudes, people love, not being relevant, is what it's at, so work together in church, there are plenty of organ loving congregants left who will accept the new, don't dump on the traditional, meet and live God's love together would you! Sorry, I do get exited about this sometimes, hope you have some calming words for me.

A belated thank you Chad, love the way you put things, although we belong to the CRC denomination, our fabric differs from place to place, this what you have written is, although I am with our director, I think becoming my ideal situation. Too bad we are so far apart, I would love to come and experience a service at your church.

Hey, 48 years later, mr. organist has played for two services, for a while three on a Sunday, no pay, an occasional pat on the back, appreciated, but you know what, I enjoy giving back from what God has given me, besides, even if the pay is lousy (it's a hobby for me, but still requires countless ours of practice, sometimes months on end, only to be told at the service you had it planned for, we are playing a video today, so you don't have to play for the offertory), the pension plan is out of this world!

Hi John,

As music & worship director for my church, I wear many hats including head organist and worship/praise team leader. I hope I can offer some helpful advice.

I see from your post that you have lamented the change in your church's worship style, but that you are seeking to make the best of the situation now even if it's not what you personally prefer. I think this is very important because as worship leaders, it is okay for us to be voices for the instrument of our choice, but we must also be ready to ascribe value to the worship styles that we may not always prefer. I visited your profile and there found your church's website which provides your orders of worship online. Based on what I read, it seems the organ could still be featured as a prominent "solo" accompanying instrument. In the service that is currently shown online, there are nine songs/hymns for the congregation to sing. Of these, five are straight out of the Psalter Hymnal. In my church, the hymns do not require assistance from the song leaders. However, if they are accustomed to singing every song, there is no reason the band can't take a break during the opening hymn, the hymns for confession/reconciliation, or the hymn following the sermon. The opposite though is also true. That is, if the band is willing to take a break for some hymns, the organist should also be willing to do the same for the songs that are not suitable for organ accompaniment. On the other hand, the organ is versatile and can be used much like a synthesizer playing chords while using foundation stops in the manuals and pedal and using the pedal to play the same notes as the bassist. 

One of the best combinations I have ever experienced in worship was when a praise team/band led us in the song "God of Wonders" and, after the first two verses and choruses, they transitioned seamlessly into "Holy, Holy, Holy". I believe they were playing the two songs in the same key, so as "God of Wonders" found it's way back to the tonic chord, the organist picked up there with a strong but short intro to the hymn using full plenum (mixtures and all). The band (instruments only) cut out for the singing of two stanzas of the hymn but picked up again at "blessed Trinity" and brought us back into the refrain of "God of Wonders". The organist at this point reduced the registration slightly and merely played the chords (no melody) to the song's end. Now it doesn't always require such creative energy and engineering to use both praise team and/or organ...though it is wonderful when it is done well. I'm curious what kind of service music is played during your worship (prelude, offertory, postlude). That is an opportunity to feature a wide variety of musical offerings each week (piano or organ solos, vocal solos accompanied by piano or organ, the band, other instruments and organ, etc.).

If your congregation just recently purchased your organ, they made an investment in and a value statement on their worshiping voice. I can't say too much more without knowing more about your church. I will say though, that if your church is seeking a balance in their "blend", or whatever that ratio might be (my church is about 60% traditional, 40% contemporary), then be very intentional about that blend, pick the best from a variety of styles, do them as authentically as your resources allow, and do them well. To God be the glory!

Amen John, that is a great way to put it!

Thanks Ken, yes it was difficult and it still is to see the glory of the organ sound fade away or at least get pushed to the back ground, many older folks miss it when it is not played much. But, is it my "role" or my "false god" if I get so upset about it? I play the keyboard a bit now, even try to play it at the same time I play the organ, perhaps, like the swinging pendulum, things will get better again and by working with the youth who knows what results will come of it years down the road. As you very well have discovered, the Lord leads where He wants us to go. (sometimes like to tell Him where that should be in my opinion, I presume that I am not alone in that).

Hello John, It must have difficult to watch your role change at church. Yet, I sense a positiveness in you to truly make it work. God bless you my friend because that requires faith and humilty. I think the organ should remain where it's always been. It is such versitle instrument that it it is timeless.  Thanks John

Thanks for the comment Stanley.

I’m glad you raise the issue of aesthetics and/or colors. It is a valid question that I believe has not
been asked or answered in regard to computers and projectors, simply because they are so new in the church. Do we just go with the latest program, in this case Mediashout? Do we just put up pretty pictures of scenery with words in front of them? Is whatever the younger generation wants, the way to go? Do we ask for everyone’s opinion about their preferred colors?

Do we need to reinvent that wheel, or re-establish our moral rational for what we do in church, and what is the nature of Christian art? I think not, but I may be wrong.

In my outline I am conveying what has been researched on using projectors. These are not my opinions. The color scheme (yellow letters with a plain medium blue background) is the optimal contrast and optimal color scheme. If what you want to do is insure that the most people can read your message, that is what you will use. That is what the best and latest research has come up with.

Yes, there are personal preferences. Yes, variations can be included, I find it most amusing, and telling that on the website of the American Foundation for the Blind ( they allow you to change colors very easily and they use a variety of color combinations on their first page EXCEPT on the box that says DONATE NOW. Guess what colors are used for that important message - yep, medium blue background and yellow letters. That want you to read it, understand it and apply it and not simply enjoy the colors!

If you want people to get the message, do not use fancy effects or personal aesthetics, instead, imitate what God created when he gave us a blue sky and a yellow sun. He wanted us to get the message too! He also wanted it to be appropriate for our nervous systems which he also made and we scientists are slowly coming to realize. What a surprise. Yes we have grey days and black nights, but there is hope - joy comes in the morning!

I looked at the slide you made with 36 point Trebuchet font using grey letters and dark blue background using half the screen and wondered how best to explain this.

On the slide sample I gave I used Arial 80 point and Arial 54 point font and filled the entire screen. Those were two additional points in my outline, so, if you want to try other colors and fonts it would be better not to leave out using the largest font size possible with a meaningful chunk of words and filling the entire screen.

Are those two aesthetic points to be discussed as well? Maybe, I do not think this dialogue has been carried out in church with ALL the elements I offered in my outline included in the discussion, so maybe it needs to be.

I still wonder how much needs to be taught, tried, and re-invented. There are a lot of details in the outline I wrote and I guess it will take time to try them all out. At my church, I’m wondering when they will get to the part about large print bulletins!


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...  (Feel free to edit it.)


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: ) 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 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.