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New Songs for Christmas

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. 

Worship
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Reformation Day or Not?

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?

Worship
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Guest Blog: Worship Flow

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.  

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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 ...

Worship
Blog
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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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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.  

Worship
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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. 

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.

Worship
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Forms: Living or Dead?

It seems to me that the CRC has mixed feelings when it comes to liturgical forms. For some they are seen as embodiments of all that is wrong with traditionalism, for others they are seen as a way of maintaining good theology and right practice. For some, forms are dull boring artifacts, for others treasured vessels...

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Music-Dominated Worship

I love worship music. I love it so much that I have spent a lot of my life learning about it, listening to it, singing it, leading it. However, I often wonder if our discussions about worship are focused way too much on music...

Worship
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Living in a Time of Radical Change

In a recent seminary class, we were reviewing key moments in the history of the church. My colleague Scott Hoezee asked students to think about what church life would have been like in six different centuries. As students reflected on each of these different moments in history, it struck me that in each of them public worship would have been led almost entirely by a single pastor, with the help of a single musician...

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Worship Leaders as Guides

As worship leaders we serve as guides. We can take the safe, pleasant, straight and flat path or we can chose something more challenging. The flat path is known and even relaxing; you can enjoy your environment without exerting much energy. The challenging path requires all our senses; it makes us feel alive, and gets the adrenaline pumping. It offers great vistas, many rewards, but yet demands work; it isn’t easy. I think in general churches need a mix of the two sometimes in the same service. There are times for stability and there are times for challenges.

Worship
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Worship That's Out of this World

A few weeks ago I was at a choir concert where the Magnificat from Arvo Pärt was performed (listen here). An absolutely stunning piece with the music washing over you and bringing you into the presence of the holy.

Worship
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Jamie Smith on Repentance and Assurance

Jamie Smith recently gave a lecture in which he said that repentance and assurance in worship are remarkable formative practices that are indispensable to the Christian life. He noted that on Oprah, we can find a form of assurance ("you're o.k.," "just be yourself"), while our shopping mall elicits shame or anxiety in all of us ("none of us measure up to the standards of the good life projected there.")

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Mark Charles and Multicultural Learning in Siberia

I have learned a lot from Mark Charles. Mark is a veteran blogger and a long-time CRC member, who writes very thoughtful pieces on cross-cultural exchanges, especially for members of the church, from his home in Window Rock, Arizona. This piece is the fruit of Mark’s trip to Siberia for a gathering about culturally relevant worship practices. I especially like Mark’s honesty about the unsettling quality of encountering worship practices that are new to us.

Worship
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Intergenerational Involvement in Five Verses Per Sunday

What if you could find five people in your congregation, perhaps each representing a different decade (one child, one teen, one thirty-something, one fifty-something, one-eighty something)to tell you what single Psalm verse best expresses the praise and thanks that they personally long to offer God.   The results are likely to be inspiring. Someone might choose a verse from Psalm 150, another a verse from Psalm 30, another a verse from Psalm 63. 

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