Unpacking “Christian Worship”, Part I

Words are very important, and too often words can have many meanings. Worship is one of those words. There are many responses one could get if they were to take a survey of the word “worship”. From different worldviews to different traditions within the stream of Christianity, there are lots of thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Various Church cultures within these streams have various associations and implications when they speak of worship. This is why it is important to apply definitions towards words.Read More »

Advertisements

Worship and Mission: The Great Paradox

If you have lead worship anytime within the last ten years, you can probably relate to my experiences.

You are planning for the coming Sunday’s worship, and the pastor says, “We need to make this Sunday missional.”

Wait, what?
You are in a job interview for a worship leader position and the lead pastor says, “We are all about mission.”

So you are hiring a worship leader because…?

We have all been there. And quite frankly, these circumstances can be difficult to navigate. You beg
in to wonder, what am I doing? What is my purpose? I am a worship leader trying to serve in missional churches. Can I reconcile worship and mission?Read More »

Understanding Liturgy, Pt. II: An Evangelical Definition

Holy_Eucharist_Rite_2In my last article I offered an evangelical perspective on liturgy. While not a conversation that evangelicals have often participated in for some time, the work of numerous theologians, including Robert Webber and Simon Chan has stirred an interest in knowing our Christian history, and therefore an understanding of how those who have gone before us have worshiped. With this uncovering of the past, learning the language of liturgy has become a necessity.

Deterred by the word “liturgy”, many evangelicals are unable to take the time to grasp liturgy and all that it means and encompasses. This article seeks to present a working evangelical definition of liturgy as influenced by its historical definition. I am comfortable offering a working definition for two reasons: one, theology is concerned with uncovering the best human language possible for God and His work, and two, I am more than willing to concede my thoughts to another who appears to use “more right” language than myself (although probably not without a stubborn discussion).Read More »

Understanding Liturgy, Pt. I: An Evangelical Understanding

CommonWorshipBooksThanks to the work of evangelical scholars, particularly Robert E. Webber, there has been a renewed interest in evangelical circles on the history of our faith. The rise in interest in our Christian history has primarily peaked concerning the historic Church’s worship. In this pursuit, “liturgy” has made an appearance within North American evangelicalism

Plenty of scholarship outlines the origination of the word “liturgy”, or leitourgia, so I will not spend time describing its entrance into the Church. Often understood as “the work of the people”, some scholars offer an extended definition, that liturgy is primarily “the work of Christ”, as well as “the work of the people”. The latter definition offsets the tendency to see the liturgy as a good work performed by the Church.Read More »

Leadership in Worship Leading: Principles and Praxis

Knowing how difficult it is to find a worship mentor, this article may offer some of the most important information one could write on the art of worship leading. Although inherent to the position’s title, the search for a worship leader can prove to be arduous. Limiting the task of the worship leader toChess_queen_0994 being a competent and proficient musician and vocalist does not inherently mean that they will provide strong leadership for worship services.

Music, both in theology and (theoretically) practice, worship leaders must understand that their role is interdisciplinary. Although true of many leadership settings, pastors, including worship leaders, often found themselves needing a widespread set of skills across various fields. Leadership certainly finds its place among this list of skills.Read More »

“Saving Images”

Conversations on images in our evangelical churches have long been absent from our evangelical circles for years. That is, until the recent surge of technology in many churches striving to be “Theotokos_Iverskayacontemporary” and “relevant”. With the development of programs such as ProPresenter and the invention of LED walls, alongside the increasing use of lights during worship service “productions”, images have regained attention within evangelical churches.

Recently, in the July 2015 volume of Worship, “a peer reviewed, international ecumenical journal for the study of liturgy and liturgical renewal”, noted Lutheran liturgist Gordon Lathrop wrote an article titled “Saving Images” that could be very informative for the evangelical images conversation.

Beyond visual images, however, Lathrop encourages a return of verbal imagery in our liturgies. More specifically, he argues for a renewal of verbal biblical imagery in our liturgies.

Images Distract

Read More »

“Ancient-Future Worship”

I remember writing book reports growing up and I always thought that it was a peculiar practice. What value was there in regurgitating what the author said? Now a little bit wiser I can assure there is some value to this practice, as it ensures (or not) that you understand the author’s purpose for writing the book and the thesis therein. It also gives the one writing the review an opportunity to affirm or critique the author.

174px-Zoso_John_Paul_Jones_sigil_interlaced_triquetra_overlaying_circle.svgThis is my first book review here on TalkingWorship.com and it will come from arguably the most influential book on my worship ministry. Influential in that it was the first book I read that truly explored what worship is and how it is enacted and in that it has provided avenues to other authors and books to read in my pursuit of worship and liturgical studies.

Here is Baker Publishing Group’s summary of the book:

“God has a story. Worship does God’s story.Read More »

Stage Presence and the Worship Leader

All sorts of websites, blogs, and resource pages have “Stage Presence for Worship Leader” articles and quite frankly they are just not helpful. Well, not for me anyway. “Know where the Spirit is taking you”, “Pray beforehand”, and “Read your congregation” have no practical ramifications. This article is going to actually offer practical ways to improve your worship leading stage presence.

Now, to stay consistent with my attempt at reconciling theology and praxis, let us look at a couple of theological ideas that shed insight onto what it means to have good stage presence as a worship leader.

The idea that worship leaders usher the congregation into the presence of the Lord is an incredibly misleading theology that needs to be reconsidered. God calls His Church to the assembly and He is our host. Therefore, in our response to assemble we enter into the presence of God. For worship leaders this ought to be liberating! You are not responsible for bringing the congregation into the presence of the Lord. By the faithful’s decision to assemble they have already entered the presence of God.Read More »

What Is “Biblical” Worship?

The purpose of this website is primarily for myself. It is an outlet where I can translate the thoughts and ideas in my head to writing. This will be achieved in several ways: writing my own original articles, writing book reviews (coming soon), and writing article reviews. I read published academic material so the articles will frequently appear from peer-reviewed journals. It is important to interact with other authors of the same academic field so that is what I intend to do here today.

Crop_Book_of_Isaiah_2006-06-06Michael A. Farley is an adjunct professor of theological studies at St. Louis University. His article “What Is Biblical Worship? Biblical Hermeneutics and Evangelical Theologies of Worship” appeared in the September 2008 issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. This article brings up an important topic that evangelical worship leaders must study and be able to articulate their own theology and philosophy. How do we discern what is biblical worship and therefore our theology of worship?Read More »

Turns Out You Are A Theologian Too!

BREAKING NEWS: THIS JUST IN – It turns out you do not need a Doctor of Philosophy in Theology to be a theologian!

Yes, I said it. You do not need to have fancy advanced theologapple-256263_1280ical degrees to be a theologian.
Now before all my academic friends start blasting me out of the water for this statement, let me say this: I personally desire to obtain a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy in Theology. Academia is a passion for me and I desire to join the conversations of some of my favorite theologians. Education is a joy for me!Read More »