John Witvliet

About Me: 
In many ways, this on-line conversation is a bit like the classes I teach at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, and the learning events which we sponsor at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship: it connects people from a wide variety of congregations, cultures, and nations eager to explore how corporate worship services can most faithfully bring glory to God, build up the body of Christ, and create space for hospitality for all kinds of people. My own journey has been shaped by the CRC congregations that I have been a member of in Holland, Minnesota; South Bend, Indiana; and East Martin, Holland, Jenison, and Grand Rapids, Michigan. I’m also grateful to have led music or preached in CRC worship services in probably 15 provinces and states. Presently, I am one of several people who take turns leading the intercessory prayers in my church. Along the way, I have studied the history, theology, and practice of worship at a number of educational institutions. Today, some of my learning about worship continues to emerge from studying the Bible, learning to understand theology and history, and discovering new music and art. A lot more of my learning happens from people involved with worship in local congregations: pastors, musicians, artists, and worship committee or team members—as well as in worshiping communities that gather on military bases, hospitals, nursing homes, colleges, campus ministries, Christian college chapels, and seminary chapels. Still further, there is a lot to learn from people who have never thought about preparing or leading worship, ranging from parents at soccer games to people sitting next to me on airplanes who are curious about some of the books or music I may be looking at. My prayer is that this on-line conversation will be a place that generates a contagious energy for nourishing, strengthening, and deepening worship in all kinds of places.
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Drills and Scales for Shaping Pastoral Imagination

Every good soccer or basketball team does drills to practice basic skills. What kinds of drills or scales would be most fitting for worship planners and leaders?

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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.

Worship
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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.

Worship
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Photography in Worship: Picturing God's Community

Now that so many church members have digital cameras and so many congregations can project images, the possibilities for using photography in worship have soared. Here are tips from congregations that use photography to build community and to picture the entire world as belonging to God.

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The Text this Week

A virtual study desk for students, teachers and preachers to a wide variety of contemporary and historical resources for study and liturgy for each lectionary week and pericope, or check out the scripture Index to locate links to study resources relating to specific passages.

Worship
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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...

Worship
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Sound Engineers: The Hidden Treasure of the Worship Team

The person behind the mixing board is the invisible member of the worship team, every bit as integral as singers or drummers or even leaders. So it’s important to get the right person for the job.

Worship
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A Historic Order of Worship

The following chart outlines a historic pattern of Christian worship. While most churches don’t use the exact wording found in this chart, there are thousands of churches on many continents that use a version of this pattern.

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.")

Worship