Archive for the ‘Enrich’ Category

Worship in Community

Posted by worship180 under Enrich

I have been working on a rather large project in my church lately. It has been awesome, challenging, humbling, and any other -ing words you would want to associate with a big task. There are so many facets and connection points to this thing, and I have been going over all of these things, obsessing over them, making sure that I haven’t missed anything. Now, while I’m sure that I have missed many things because of my own fallible tendencies, one thing is for certain. Community is more than just a trend.

You might read that last sentence and think, “whom ever said it WAS a trend?” I don’t know if anyone has said it outright, but I sense a shift in the church that has been happening for a little while and it is pointing toward truth and authenticity like never before. And this rings especially true for community and relationships. What’s funny about this to me as that if we look at the Bible, relationships have always been the key. The church in Acts became what it was because of the relationships. When they had the rift and appointed deacons to sort out the fair treatment of people (Acts 6), they picked 7 men who were “well respected and full of the Spirit and wisdom (verse 3). Respect (and disdain) comes from knowledge. These people lived in this community and people respected them for it.

Christian communities have struggled because we aren’t worshiping together. Sure, we are worshiping in the room at the same time. Sure people are coming to worship centers and auditoriums and sanctuaries (did I miss anyone?) around the country. But are we really worshiping in community, or are we single worshipers that happen to be in a room with other people? I believe there is a difference. If I come to work, I do my job, and it consists mostly of me emailing people and communicating with them as little as possible, knowing where people are just so I can avoid them when I go to the bathroom, we are working together because we are in the same place. But we aren’t working together. From a church standpoint, when you come into the room and you sing, but not too loud because you don’t want to be heard, or the only time you talk to someone is when they make you during the dreaded meet and greet time, and you leave right as the offering is being taken so you can get to your car before the parking lot gets too jammed because you want to beat the crowds for lunch, you might be in the room worshiping (and if you’re thinking THAT hard about other stuff, I’d challenge your idea of worship), but you’re not worshiping together.

True community and togetherness creates passion to do life with others. You share experiences. You share you worship times. You truly worship together. Again, I sense that we are going to see this be more pronounced in our churches in the next few years. I know that I’m pushing toward it in my own fellowship. There is a learning curve, and I believe it’s because we’ve been rocked to sleep. Rocked by performance driven worship. Rocked by systematic Sunday programming. Rocked by uninspiring messages. I sense that a shaking is coming and it’s coming with this next generation. I do in fact “see a generation, rising up to take their place, with selfless faith…” We really do need to be on our knees in preparation for what God wants to do next. We need to be on our knees together. Praying together. Worshiping together. Serving together. The community needs to be strong again. I know I’m starving for it. I don’t think I’m the only one.

Are you in a strong community? What is it like? Are you not in a strong community? What do you feel like you’re missing? What are you doing to find community? Let me hear from you.

Yes, it has been awhile since I’ve posted. Yes, the website does still work and I haven’t given up on it. No, this post is not about the first job I ever had leading worship. It is actually about the last 8 days of my life. I feel like I finally became a worship leader this week. For those of you that know me probably think this is a crazy statement. Some of you may read that and think, “It’s about time!!!” I’ll accept either ;-) Let me explain…

For those of you out there that don’t do what I do on a regular basis, there are two things that we have to do each week that we spend TONS of time making sure that we get right. First is picking music knowing the band that we have that week and getting them successfully through rehearsal in preparation for Sunday. Secondly, we have to manage a room on Sunday morning, which includes working with the set schedule of the morning as to not throw off pastors and tech guys and balancing what the Spirit is doing in a room which will generally blow any schedule out of the water. That’s kinda how He rolls…

Anyway, last Tuesday I had a conversation with my brother in law who is also worship pastor and we were talking about the struggles and difficulties and joys and everything about this call we are so passionate about. He said something to me that sort of changed my perspective and got me out of the rut that was starting to form. He told me that his group was struggling with staying true to the specific music they were playing. Everyone was coming in playing what was comfortable to them and most of the times those genres don’t match. This made perfect sense to me seeing that my teams are volunteers and they range greatly in age. I haven’t been giving my people the right direction and guidance to be successful, and then I was going home frustrated because they weren’t getting it.

Secondly, I’ve felt a little hamstrung at times being in a place where we are SO structured time wise that going off the set grid seems scary. There have been moments where I really felt moments needed to be taken or the something was happening that we probably needed to give more time to. Many times I sort of overlooked it or shook it off for the sake of the schedule. This past Sunday we shifted some things in the schedule and created some space in our service for people to respond to the message and worship together. When it happened it took all of us by surprise. It was something that we have been craving as a church and people responded in kind. I was totally amazed at that moment that it took me that long to figure it out.

I made a statement a few weeks back on Facebook where I said, “If someone ain’t mad then you’re probably not doing it right”, and I quoted it wantonly as the mantra of the worship leader. To a degree that is quite true. The other part that must be true is that if we aren’t constantly learning the we are definitely not doing it right. I’m not afraid to say that I’m still learning how to do this thing. I’m still learning how to listen to the Spirit and follow my heart. Most importantly for me, I’m learning to take some risks. I’ve always played it pretty safe for fear of either making someone mad or failing and people thinking I was a loser. But I’m realizing that these things are inevitable. You can play it safe and people will still get mad at you. You WILL in fact fall on your face sometimes. But what does it look like when you get back up? What does it look like when you continue to search for God through the good and bad? It’s realizations like these that made me realize that I wasn’t the worship leader I thought I was. That also lets me know that I still have somewhere to grow and I’m excited about it.

Now about me being more consistent with my writing…

A few months ago I wrote about something that I called Conditional Relationalism: the idea of people, especially in the church, relating to each other on their own terms when they feel like it. It’s the thing that allows us to keep people at arms length and only letting them see what we approve. We keep a comfortable distance so people can’t see us and we can’t see them. Everyone has seemed to be okay with this and no one has challenged it too much and it became a norm. But what happens when you are “forced” to relate to others? What happens when you can’t get away and have no other choice but to allow people into the inner sanctum, that personal bubble that we have created? What happens when it all leaves the hypothetical and becomes real?

So many times we look at the Ecclesiastes 4 passage through the eyes of the joy of being close and how we can help each other. Sometimes we don’t look as much at the NECESSITY of having people around. We have our own personal silos that we build just far enough away from others that they can’t see in, but what we don’t take into consideration is the fact that when our silos fall over they aren’t close enough to someone else for them to see it leaning. From a philosophical standpoint, I think it’s safe to say that when the silo falls someone does see it when it finally crashes at their feet. Generally at that point it’s too late to help.

I keep coming back to this because it seems that it might be more work to create these silos all by ourselves, fighting our natural urge to be community beings. I wonder what would happen if some of us were drawn together. Not like that horribly inappropriate, short lived cartoon show, but in a real life sense. I wonder how we would react if something brought us into a place where we had to face ourselves and how we interact with others? I’m thinking about this because I’m in a situation where I see this getting ready to happen soon and I’m going to have to manage it with a few people. I’m excited to see what God is going to do to promote growth, but I promise you that it won’t be easy.

Are we willing to be forced out of our comfort zones? Even as I type that question I realize that the answer is no, because if we were comfortable with it there would be no reason to force us to do anything. Can you see a way in your life right now where God is calling you to take a step out of the comfortable? Is there a coworker that seems to be connecting with you even when you don’t want connection? Are you kids friends with the kids of a church member that you have a disagreement with? What are you doing about it?

Cover Bands Have Fun Too

Posted by worship180 under Enrich, WL Thoughts

There are some great cover bands out there. Some of them are touring around the country doing shows. There are actually multiple cover bands doing shows based on the same band. People will actually go and pay money to go see a cover band if it is done well. So forgive me if I laugh a little when church worship teams contend that they aren’t just some cover band and want to do things their own way. I’m not sure why we have overlooked this, but in reality worship bands ARE in fact cover bands. And that is okay. It really is.

Now that I’ve said that, let me make sure you understand where I’m coming from. It should always be our desire to bring excellence in everything we do. Our music should not be excluded from that. However, there is something about musicians (maybe it’s the idea of how our music is so personal to us) that makes it hard for us to come together in a worship setting and play what we hear. We are always looking to “put our own spin on it” or “create our own groove” which can in turn be harder than just playing the song that’s in front of us. It takes a lot of time to play a song correctly as a BAND. I emphasize the word band because there’s a difference between a band and a group of people playing on a stage. The more we try to do our own thing the less we sound like a band. Rant over. So it is terribly important to the health of your group as well as the flow of a worship service to have a band that can play well together and work within a created system.

One of the best groups I was a part of was at Missouri Baptist University. That group of young kids understood what it meant to be a band and how to present a song. As a result there were some magical moments in that group that we all look back to a good 5 years later. I remember those rehearsal nights when it didn’t always come together and it was frustrating. But I also remember those nights when it clicked and we could’ve stayed there all night making music together. All of that happened under the umbrella of us knowing who we were and what we were trying to accomplish. I am convinced that the same needs to be true for our church bands. We need to understand who we are and what our goal is. Am I sitting here saying that we need to squelch creativity among out people and never branch out? Heck no! Do you not know me at ALL??? ;-) What I am saying is create a base and stand on it. The base is that we are cover bands. Once you can confidently play as a band then branch out and make it your own. I’m okay with you disagreeing with me. I don’t write anything so people only agree. That would be lame. I will say this though. I’ve found a website recently where praise teams post their worship sets and have heard some interesting things as people have tried to do their own things with some of today’s popular songs. I’ll leave it there.

What are you thoughts?

 

Blanket Statements

Posted by worship180 under Enrich

Maybe it’s because of the snow they are getting in St. Louis right now. Maybe it’s because I didn’t really want to get out of bed this morning. I don’t know what it is, but a blanket sounds DIVINE right now. That doesn’t really have anything to do with today’s topic, but it did influence the title. In true artist form, my inspiration comes from many different places so that means you have to deal with my brain. But back to the topic…

Something that has caused me to back track the MOST in my life has been making statements that I didn’t think out all the way before I said it. Many times I have said something and once it was out I realized that I should have kept that to myself. Or people’s response to me made me know that I hadn’t thought about all of the aspects of my statement. As a kid that can get you into a fight real quick. As an adult that can get you into a fight real quick as well actually. As a worship pastor, it is easy to get in trouble because we don’t generally have a lot of time to talk. We try to share deep, theological statements in small windows during a worship set and sometimes that doesn’t always work. We end up either messing a scripture up or saying something that needs to be explained and you don’t have the time to do it. Based on your church you either get emails during the week or response cards in your mailbox.

Is there a proper way to handle this? I believe that there is. As leaders we should definitely be sharing our hearts whenever we can, but we have to be very, and I mean VERY strategic with what we say and how we say it. In most cases, we are working within a 15-30 minute window where we have to fix a certain number of songs and maybe a prayer. There isn’t much time to throw out your deep thoughts on dispensationalism or when you believe Jesus is coming back. You do have a perfect opportunity to create a welcoming environment for people who may be in your congregation that have never set foot in a church. You don’t need to say much about that. It’s your goal to be open and real and draw people to the foot of the cross. As I’ve found, it doesn’t actually take many words to pull that off.

I just wanted to share that today. I don’t know if that’s what you needed, but it was on my heart. There it is.

What Did You Add For Lent?

Posted by worship180 under Engage, Enrich

We are officially in the season of Lent and I know that not everyone celebrates or observes Lent for whatever reasons. However I know that a lot of people do, and that’s why I ask the question. It’s a little bit different than the question that most people ask around this time, but I feel like it’s equally important. People always want to know what you gave up for Lent. In the past few years I’ve heard a lot about technology and chocolate. I don’t know if they are related, but those seem to be the perennial top 2. No one ever asks what you add for Lent. Why is that?

SPECULATION PARAGRAPH AHEAD:

I wonder if it’s because we aren’t totally sure what Lent is for. I wonder if it’s because we spend more time looking at what comes before Lent as opposed to what it is leading up to. I wonder if we do it because it seems like the right thing to do. I can’t help but wonder what form Lent would take if we looked at it from the idea of making an even trade in our lives during this time. I learned a long time ago if you take something away but don’t put something else in that place then you’re more likely to put that old thing right back in the place you took it out of. Many times in my own life I have found that to be true. When we take that approach, Lent becomes nothing more than a waiting game.

For Christians, this could very well be a perfect time to really create some laser focus on our walks with Christ. Maybe you wanted to read a new book. Maybe you wanted to learn about a new missionary. Maybe there’s something new that your church is doing that you wanted to get involved in. Maybe someone is really needing prayer or a friend. Maybe someone is going through a transition in life that they aren’t ready for or can’t fund. Well, if you’ve given up something for Lent it probably has to do with time or money in some way. I would step out and say that redistributing our time and resources for something else for us might not be a complete change.

Why am I saying all this? Well I believe that we should always be looking for opportunities to make God known and this is as good a time as any to do that. You’re purposely taking things away from your life for this period of time, so what are you adding that will bring God more glory than the thing you took away?

Senseless Sayings Part 2

Posted by worship180 under Encounter, Enrich

Man, I know I’m going to get in trouble writing this one, but sometimes it has to be said. Before I get into this one, I want to reiterate that the reason I’m attacking some of these sayings head on is because of the fact that they are not only contradictory to scripture, but they cause us to walk in the complete opposite direction of any type of worship of the Father. Worship180 is designed to help us turn away from the things that cause us to walk away from Christ. Now that I’ve reestablished that, let’s get into this next saying.

“You can’t love nobody until you learn to love yourself.”

Look at that statement. Just look at it. I’m not sure exactly how to say this. I look at this and it seems to make sense. As an internal processor, I tend to do this with a lot of things. I work things around in my head and go through scenarios and ideas and situations until I come up with a working thesis. Then I’m able to have solid, somewhat intelligent conversations (as much as I can). So the concept of this sentence makes sense to someone like me. In reality, this statement is one of the more backwards statements ever quoted. It puts us directly in line for Satan to blast us in the face with all he has.

So why is this statement bad? Well, in short, it puts us in solitary confinement. When we spend time “loving ourselves” that doesn’t include anyone else in the mix. When we go on vacation or retreat or we take a break from the norm, this is an opportunity for us to be alone. This statement is basically creating a lifestyle of retreat and selfishness. Once you are alone, Satan then has the ability to come in a plant things in our heads and we begin to doubt everything and everyone around us.

Secondly, the more time we spend loving ourselves the less time we have for anything else. I think about my first dorm experience in college. I remember calling my roommate before moving and asking him what he had and telling him what I had and we tried to find a medium to make sure we didn’t bring doubles of certain things and and miss out on stuff that we really needed. Had I not called him and just started filling my car with stuff that I liked and wanted I could have taken over the space and left him no room for clothes or his bed or anything really. I would have been loving myself and and making myself happy, but totally disregarding the person that I was living with. We do the same thing when we spend time loving ourselves first. If I fill up my heart with a love for myself I do 2 things. One, I don’t leave much room for anyone around me, making it hard for them to find space in my heart. The other thing it does is causes me to put up guards around my heart. The things that I love are in there and I don’t want anyone to come in and mess that up.

Thirdly, again, it’s pretty contradictory to the Word. Go take a look at John 15:12-14. Read the whole chapter when you have time, but those 3 verses speak directly against the idea of loving yourself first. Love is sacrificial. Love looks out for others and considers them even before itself. You can’t sacrifice yourself for…yourself. It doesn’t work.

In our culture, we tend to worship the things we love. So it’s no wonder that God doesn’t always get the worship He deserves. Do we go and sing and shout and do the churchy thing? Sure we do. Week in and week out. Are we truly loving sacrificially? Are we giving our whole hearts and lives and stuff to Christ? Does our worship reflect that? Sit back and make an assessment. See what you come up with. You might be surprised…

 

 

 

Senseless Sayings Part 1

Posted by worship180 under Engage, Enrich

I was having a conversation with someone not too long ago and it was one of those cliche conversations. You know, the one where every response the person gives is one of those sayings that we all say even if it doesn’t totally fit. This person was pouring them on and it was rather funny. Anyway, as we were talking, one of these phrases stuck out as horribly wrong. It’s one that I’ve heard ever since I was a kid, fortunately I never heard it in my own house. This person told me that they learned the phrase from their family, “Do as I say, not as I do”. They even went as far as to say that it is a phrase they use with their own kids. Ever before had this statement hit me like it did that time. I was amazed at how stupid that statement is. If you just read that last sentence and got mad, I’m only a little bit sorry. And by a little bit I mean mostly not at all. Here’s why.

We are called to teach and train those that look up to us and that we parent. We are supposed to be teaching the next generation and those that we may even have the privilege to lead. When we make the statement “do as I say, not as I do” we are selfishly giving ourselves a free pass to do whatever we want. The other thing that it does is causes our children to fend for themselves and search for some sort of guidance elsewhere. The irony always comes when people complain about the state of the youth in this world. We try to hold both cards and it NEVER works.

For Christians, there’s the added bonus of this being completely contradictory to scripture. In the Old Testament we have the passage in Proverbs that tells us to train our children in the correct ways so they will have a solid base when they leave the house. (Proverbs 22:6). In the New Testament we have Paul who also explicitly tells us to follow him, but only as he does his best to follow Christ that leads. (1 Corinthians 11:1) So, if any of us that claim Christ as Lord have uttered this phrase, we are actually in direct conflict with what the Word teaches us. It is our job to be imitators of Christ. We are called to be examples to the world. Besides, if we don’t set the example, who will?

Are there some phrases or statements that you have heard that just don’t seem to make sense when you stack them up against the Bible? What are they? Let me hear from you.

Where Do You Sit?

Posted by worship180 under Enrich

Every once in a while I like to mix it up and see if I can make you think. This is one of those times. I have been trying to find a way to write it, then I realized that this was my blog and could approach this however I wanted to. But I want to ask a simple question today. When you come to church on Sunday morning, you walk into the sanctuary and you’re getting ready for the worship service to start. Do you: 1, make sure no one is sitting in the seat you always sit in each week or 2, look around the room and search for people that you can connect with?

I ask this question because I always get some very interesting responses to this. I’ve always tried to have a “secret society” type group that looked for new people in the gathering to try and make them feel welcome. They were always good with doing that. I would even go so far as to ask them to consider sitting with that person to help acclimate them to the service. I almost ALWAYS got the “iz you CRAZY!!!” look. It was funny. I ask why they wouldn’t do that and generally the answer was, “I’ll do it if they sit where I sit.” I am never able to wrap my head around this concept. I wonder how we got to the point where we embraced conditional relationalism. Ooooh! I just created a new phrase! Anyway, I don’t know how we as Christians are able to justify meeting people but only when it makes sense for us. The last time I checked, that was nowhere to be found in the Bible.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is this. It is harder than ever for us to get people to step foot in the door of a church. There is no reason for us to then relate to them conditionally based on our comforts. That’s more of a 2 steps forward and 3 steps back kinda thing. As Christians and churchgoers we need to be doing what we can to bring people together and show to the best of our ability the love that Christ demonstrated for us (Romans 5:8). I want my church to be a church that loves people from countdown video to the last ‘Amen’ and everything in between. What say you?

Where Is Your Joy?

Posted by worship180 under Enrich, redefine

17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy.

This passage was such a refreshing read for me this past weekend. It really brought this whole process that I have gone through to a head. As we have answered questions and flown around and met people and prepared ourselves for this move, I have been thinking through what I wanted my focus to be taking this new role.

This was one of Paul’s first letters to the church at Thesssalonica. He had gone before, but had to leave because he was being opposed by the Jews. He wrote about his longing to be back with them so that he could be among them and teach them. He then shared his heart in a way that really speaks to an eternal, Kingdom focus.

So here’s the question. Do you lead your congregation with a Kingdom focus? Do you think about the fact that when you get to heaven and have to answer to for your role in your church body, will you be able to say that your church family was your glory and joy? As we get ready to start our new adventure I shared this scripture with Bridges Community Church on Sunday. It has to be my heart’s desire to lead this church with everything I have. My challenge to myself was to be able to lead this church in learning to worship wholeheartedly. If I’m going to teach them then I have to show them how. If they don’t learn how to worship the Father in spirit and truth, then I believe that is going to come back on me when my time is up on this earth. That’s okay with me though. Our leading should never be about us. We should be leading because we have a love for Christ and a love for His church. This is something that has reignited in me over the past couple weeks. And that is why I challenge my fellow leaders today. Let me hear you.

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