Last week I had the blessing to be in Tulsa, Oklahoma to participate in the consecration (or ordination) service for the newest bishop for my denomination. The service was very beautiful and one I won’t forget. Even as I sit and write this a week later I can still sense the ripples of what I experienced that evening. I want to try to paint a picture of it for you…Read More »
It does not happen often, but occasionally I have lots to say and nothing to write. Everything continues to shift around in my head as I continue to grapple with Church life, especially her worship (leitourgia, or liturgy). I wrestle to understand her worship history, theology, and what it means to be people of rhythms. I struggle to understand the relationship between her worship and culture.
But I do this with purpose.Read More »
Yesterday my wife and I had the opportunity to listen to the Wichita Chamber Chorale perform Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Vespers at St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas. The cathedral filled out very well and one could sense the anticipation from the audience.
The performance easily ranks as one of the best concerts I have ever been to. Combined with the spectacular acoustics in the cathedral, the chorale soothed our ears and filled our souls.Read More »
My wife and I recently returned from our Spring Break trip. We traveled over 2,300 miles and crossed 9 states. The driving was excellent and each stop went well. Our car, however, did not enjoy the first 1,000 miles of our trip. Not long after we got out of our home state, she started making sounds. Every stop I would call my Dad to talk through what was going on and look under the hood and check the basics (what little I know, anyway). Nothing came up.Read More »
With Holy Week/Passion Week now firmly upon us, I wanted to offer some suggestions for intentional listening. The selections that I will put forth here will require, and in some cases demand, time to be absorbed. These selections are what are deemed “masterworks,” meaning they are considered “a great work of art.” (Merriam-Webster.com, “Masterwork”) As such they are larger works, both in scale (some are for choir, orchestra, or both) and time (some lasting as long as an hour or more).Read More »
A few weeks ago I was discussing a chapter from Jeremy Begbie’s book Resounding Truth with the students of one of the courses I teach. In the chapter (which addresses biblical contexts of music and worship) Begbie discusses the ministry of the Levites and their relationship to their “congregation,” the nation of Israel:
“It is important to note that the Levites did not see themselves as offering song instead of the congregation but on behalf of the congregation, even if the congregation were not actually singing. They acted representatively for king and people.” (Jeremy S. Begbie, Resounding Truth, p66)
Today, I am going to make the case that worship leading is a practice. This interdisciplinary skill can be learned. Certainly some in the Body may be gifted in worship leading, some maybe for just a season of life. However, since worshiping is humanity’s primary purpose and the Church’s primary act, the act of worship leading can be learned at a basic level.Read More »
For as much as I stress planning and intentionally when leading worship, sometimes last-minute adjustments need to be executed. Sometimes, they are made in the moment. I had taken the Doxology (Old Hundredth) and added some jazz chords and progressions. With the swing and a tempo that kept the melody moving, the arrangement brought out the exclamatory dynamic of the classic praise hymn. The worship service had gone according to plan, but took a drastic turn right before the closing song, the Doxology.
Since we were still a small church, we still invited those who had gathered together to share their prayer and praises publically. Person after person shared occasions for prayer and tragedy. The tone of worship shifted greatly. The jazz arrangement was no longer appropriate. Instead, I called an audible, into the microphone no less, announcing unbeknownst to the music team, that we were going to close by singing the Doxology acapella.Read More »
On Sunday I watched Super Bowl 50 like millions of others in our nation and across the world. A defensively charged game, many found the Championship Game a little more dull than normal. Our nation prefers long homers over pitching duels and hat tricks over sound saves. For some reason we ascribe exciting to offense and points, not to defense.
As always, the Super Bowl dominated social media the days before, the day of, and the days after the most-watched game in all of sports. And for another year, I witnessed at least one picture or meme, pictured above, seeking to set the same standards on the Super Bowl onto Christian Sunday worship. Today my goal is to set these two events side and by side and see whether we can place the Super Bowl and the Church’s Gathering together and compare them to one another.Read More »
Every church follows a rhythm in time. Major decisions often center on the pattern that we create. For many evangelical churches, our church follows the time of sermon series. Often 4-6 weeks in length, these series are often topical and strive to offer practical advice for living the Christian life.
The question for worship leaders who serve at these churches is this: how do I plan for these monthly series? A couple of weeks ago we looked at what planning each week may look like for an evangelical worship leader. This week we are going to look at a slightly larger picture, how to plan for the next sermon series.Read More »