Tag Archives: worship

Worship=Life Podcast

I want to invite you to subscribe to my brand new Worship=Life podcast. Each episode, we’ll explore the nuts and bolts of worship ministry in today’s church – the technological, the visual, the musical, and the spiritual.

My goal is to help worship leaders develop their ministries, their leaders, their teams, their environments to provide the best possible opportunities for God-honoring worship in their churches. I’ll share what I’ve learned over the years, as well as what I’m in the process of learning. I’ll bring in experts to share their wisdom with you as well.

In the first episode, I begin a series on ministry structure, starting with the values our ministries embrace. Check the episode out at the link above. I’d love to get your feedback!

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Be Blessed

How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
– Psalm 84:5

The one who trusts God, who finds strength in God, whose heart is seeking God, moving toward His presence, is blessed.

God strengthens those who trust Him. He gives life and protection, grace and glory, joy and blessing. He makes our sorrow life-giving. He hears our prayers. He withholds nothing good from the person who trusts Him.

Do you find this kind of joy in God’s presence? Do you long for it this way? Do you long like this for worship? God strengthens us when we trust Him, but we don’t always trust Him. Why don’t we trust Him?

 

We often grow embittered, angry, sorrowful, allow our attitudes to be dictated by our circumstances because we don’t trust God. We lose the desire to be in His presence, the joy of worshipping Him, of being with Him because we don’t trust Him as we should.

We need His strength, His grace, His protection, His glory, all the good things He gives to those who trust Him, who seek Him, who truly spend time in His presence. Therefore, we need to seek Him first, to trust Him above all.

Lord God, please change our wills so that we want to trust You at all times and in all things, so that we seek Your presence above all.

It is only by Jesus’ grace and sacrifice that we’re even able to come into God’s presence, to receive His great blessings.

Magnify

Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
And let those who love Your salvation say continually,
“Let God be magnified.”
But I am afflicted and needy;
Hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay.
Psalms‬ ‭70‬:‭4-5‬ NASB

Let those who seek God, who love His salvation, rejoice in Him and magnify Him. When they are in need and call on Him, He will come.

Though His timing is not always the same as ours, God helps those who seek Him, love His salvation, and magnify Him.

But we shouldn’t necessarily expect His help if I’m living in rebellion against Him.

Seek God. Rejoice in Him. Magnify Him. Call for His help when we are in need. Expect His help when we call.

He will help us when we’re in need if we truly seek Him at all times. He is worthy to be sought, to be rejoiced in, to be magnified.

Do you really seek God? Do you really love His salvation? Do you rejoice in Him? Magnify Him?

We are under attack. We do have an enemy, and we need God’s help against him.

We need to truly seek God. We need His grace to transform us. Then, we will seek God as He desires to be sought.

Relevant Worship

But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (‭John‬ ‭4‬:‭23-24‬ NASB)

God is no longer concerned about the place where you worship because worship is about more than location and prescribed rituals. God seeks worshipers who will worship Him from the heart under the initiation and guidance of the Spirit as informed by Scripture. This is the only real worship.

God seeks worshipers who will genuinely worship Him in a way that is initiated, guided, and empowered by the spirit and informed by His truth, His Word. He is not concerned about worship happening in a particular location. He is not interested in worship that is simply a rote reenactment of prescribed rituals that is not done in spirit and truth. In fact, because God is spirit, there is no other way to worship Him but in spirit and truth.

God seeks worshipers. Therefore, He initiates worship. He has allowed us the honor of worshiping Him.

But many of the things that concern us in worship are not important, not even relevant. What is relevant? The Spirit, His guidance, and the Word of God as it informs our worship. We must focus on these things.

When we forget these things, we go through the motions in our worship. Those of us who are worship leaders are sometimes just trying to get through a Sunday. We get overly concerned about all the details.

But what each of us needs, regardless of our role in corporate worship – whether leader or participant – is to focus our hearts on God’s Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When we worship privately, we must begin with a focus on God’s Word and His Spirit. It doesn’t matter where we are or who we are.

It is not in our nature to be this kind of worshiper, but His grace can change our nature.

Father, let us be the kind of worshipers You seek.

Christmas | Worship Christ with Abandon

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭2:10-11‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The magi were filled to overflowing with joy when the star finally showed them their destination. They went into the house and, seeing Jesus with His mother, they fell down and worshiped and then gave Him treasures of great value.

Jesus is worthy of our worship. He is more valuable than our most valuable treasures. Coming into His presence is cause for great joy.

He reaches out and leads people to worship Him.

Do you rejoice this way at the opportunity to come into His presence? Do you worship Him this way, giving Him the things that you value? Have you ever really placed enough value on Him to worship this way consistently, allowing this type of worship to become more natural?

Worship Christ with abandon because nothing – not your time, your life, your possessions – are as significant or as valuable as He is.

Do you approach worship as though it were routine or mundane? If we truly worship, we’re stepping into the presence of the Creator of the universe, the Savior of the human race, the King of all. This is the opportunity we receive when we receive the opportunity to worship Him. It ought to produce great joy in us because Christ is infinitely valuable, infinitely significant. And this joy, this recognition of His worth ought to lead us to want Him more than the things we treasure, to give Him what we treasure as a demonstration of the fact that He is more valuable, as a way to intensify that desire in myself.

Pray this way: “God, I do not treasure You above all, but in this moment, I truly do want to. Please change my heart. Please show me what I must do to ascribe the worth to You that You are due, to worship You as You ought to be worshiped.”

It’s by His grace that we are even afforded the opportunity to worship Him. It’s only by His grace that our hearts can be changed to treasure Him as He should be treasured, to sacrifice for the sake of worshiping Him.

Visual Worship, Part 3 | Imagery

Lighting and visual media are incredibly useful tools in the hands of the worship leader, producer, and planner.  In part 1 of this blog series, I discussed whether or not these tools are necessary, and in part 2, I wrote about the use of lighting.  Today, I want to talk about the use of imagery in worship – both videos and stills.

For most of us (unless we’re pastoring or leading in larger facilities with a lot of projection capability), this really means presentation backgrounds – the imagery that you show behind song lyrics – with the occasional stand-alone video or still image.

Here are some best practices I’d suggest for backgrounds:

  1. Think about colors. Your service should have a color palette that is established with the use of your stage lighting and graphics. This makes for a visually cohesive whole. Here’s what I don’t mean: everything the same color. Talk about overwhelmingly monotonous! Two to three colors is best – ones that work together well.*  If it looks obnoxious to you, there’s a good chance it will look obnoxious to your congregation.  Learn about color theory if you don’t know it already.  Here’s a great article on the subject by Camron Ware of visualworshiper.com. For sermon series, I’d suggest an ongoing graphical and lighting theme to tie the whole thing together.
  2. Think simple. Stills or motion backgrounds with lots of colors can be garish and can backfire on you if you’re trying to create a cohesive theme.  Too much motion (too fast, too big) can be distracting to say the least.  Simple motion gives the feeling of energy without pulling the congregant away from the lyrics.
  3. Think abstract. With a few exceptions, I generally stay away from recognizable imagery – especially photos or live-action video.  There’s a certain cheese factor to a lot of these type of images, and something easily recognizable can be distracting. Abstract imagery gives a sense of something, a mood, without presenting an object or place to latch on to.  You really only want your congregation to latch onto the words. Close up shots of waving grass, a somewhat blurry sunset through the trees, rippling water – videos like these can be the exceptions because, though they are real things, they are presented in an abstract fashion that makes them better for background use.  A wide shot of a landscape distracts because it’s so easily recognizable.
  4. Think in stages. There are natural phases to your worship service. Use the imagery to help define those stages.** Let’s say the “gathering” (or opening or call to worship) portion of your service consists of an opening song, a welcome, and an opening prayer.  You might use the same background imagery for each of those elements, or at least stay with the same color, then shift to another color or imagery selection with the next stage of the service. Typically in our services, there will be an unbroken string of two to three songs that we will tie together visually in this way.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully it’s helpful to you. Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. I look forward to them!

*Regarding lighting, the folks I’m addressing here are those who have very basic lighting systems. The smaller to mid-size church with a simple setup and one person overseeing the musical and visual parts of the worship ministry. Hopefully, if you have a more elaborate lighting system, you have people who really know what to do with it and can move beyond these simple uses.

*Check out Constance Cherry’s book The Worship Architect for more info on this.

National Worship Leader Conference 2014

Last week, I traveled with four members of my worship team to the National Worship Leader Conference in Centreville, Virginia.  If you’re involved in worship ministry, and you have never been to NWLC, you need to go.  It’s an amazing time of learning, spiritual refreshment, and fellowship with others who are involved in what can be a lonely line of work – something we all need.

I shared last night with my team three takeaways that I think are going to have a huge impact on our ministry.  It was incredibly difficult to narrow it down to just three, but here they are, readers!

  1. In his workshop on inductive worship leading, Tim Timmons posed the question, “How would Jesus lead worship?”  (First off, Timmons is real, hilarious, and great fun to spend an hour listening to.) Jesus, he said, invited people into their own stories in such a way as to help them really own their response to Him.  Think about the woman at the well or the rich young ruler.  He asked them questions about their own stories that brought them to (very different) realizations about each of their places in the kingdom of God.  This is what Timmons called Inductive Worship Leading. So, as worship leaders, How are we helping people respond to Jesus? Are we just speaking to them and expecting agreement, or are we looking for ways to draw them into a genuine, personal response to Jesus?
  2. We are all in the mission field.  That’s what theologian and author Leonard Sweet told us.  And the first job of a missionary is to learn the language of the culture. This culture communicates in story. The church has tried to build an identity on words, but story is our original language. A strong identity is built on narrative, and if we can begin to rebuild our identity in our original language, we can reach this culture.
  3. Probably the most important thing I came away with is something that we all ought to know anyway, but it’s something that we forget to easily. Again from Tim Timmons: the only job I have is to seek first the kingdom of God. I can’t make people respond genuinely to Jesus.I’m just a branch. The Father is the gardener. He’s doing all the work.