Christian Living, Ministry

The Spiritual Side of Singing in the Church

In a previous post I began writing a response to a popular article floating around the internet. In one of the weekly e-newsletters I received today, another article just posted as another chain in the dialogue this topic has created. Though many churches maintain a high caliber of musician and vocalist for the churches, there continues to be a percentage of our congregations that are not participating in this very biblical portion of our services.

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The first post talked about some practical ways to create an environment that invites as many as are willing to join in worship. That is just one side of the coin when it comes to this concern. Quite often, this is the only side that is addressed in these internet articles. Change the key; stop singing “girly” love songs; make church “manly” again. Some of those ideas are great ideas. But addressing the practical issues of singing in our churches is only half the battle.

Worship is a spiritual act, after all. While it involves physical rules like musical scales, keys and chords, it is a spiritual offering from a spiritual individual to the only true God. Therefore we have to examine whether there are any spiritual reasons for the lack of participation in worship.

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Christian Living, Ministry

The Practical Side of Singing in the Church

This week I was asked to comment on an article that has found its way around the internet again. The article itself is a few years old, but like all hot-button topics on the web, it comes and goes in cycles. Having seen it pop up again recently on Facebook, it was already on my radar. It is one of many that question some of the practices and mindsets regarding contemporary worship in our churches, and seeking to explain why many aren’t joining in congregational singing.

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Normally I stay away from discussions like this. I don’t jump in and make a lot of noise where others are already having too much fun doing it. But I don’t see anyone making the same observations I am. As a pastor and worship leader my perspective is different from the pew.

Not that the writer of the article is out to harm anyone. On the contrary, I have seen and listened to him teach in person. He genuinely wants to help Christians, specifically men, find and assume their Scriptural place as part of the Body of Christ. Still, there is always more to any situation than just one of us can see. So I’d like to offer some “real” reasons people are not joining in when the music starts at church.

To help us out I’d like to break these reasons into two categories. We will look at one in this post, and the other in a follow-up.

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Ministry

Tests of Leadership (1): Facing the Pressure

There are no easy days for leaders. While some are easier than others, a leader that truly seeks to understand and undertake his/her role will always find and face pressures. No matter how easy a leader makes his job appear, he knows that to let down his guard could end in disaster.

It could come at any time, from any source. Your right-hand man may be your most proven and trustworthy companion and colleague. The presence of God may be thick around you and His miracles fresh in your memory. A good leader stays on his toes, prepared mentally for what might happen, even if it doesn’t.

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Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating leadership paranoia or strong-arming control of everyone and everything around you. It is a realistic mindset that honestly reminds oneself, “I am not in control, but I will face what comes, as it comes, ready to do the right thing.”

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Ministry

Are You Afraid to be Known as a “Small Church Pastor”?

As pastors we joke about those awkward encounters at annual conventions and conferences where we are asked how our church is doing. If the question comes from someone we know, someone we relate with, it is an easy question. But if it comes from a pastor or leader we are meeting for the first time, it is a way to evaluate the future of your new friendship.

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We could talk with a lot of superlatives about how great our worship times have been, how powerful our prayer services are, and how anointed we have felt in the pulpit. But most of the time the real answer people want to know is better related to the question, “So, how many people are in your church?” If you are like me, you do not want to answer that question. It is a terrible question. The size of a congregation puts thoughts into a person’s head about ability, value and sanity.

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Ministry

My L.I.F.T. Experience

300x250_WebBannerGrowth. It is one of the seven indicators that something is alive. We grow physically and we grow spiritually. One of my commitments to myself and the people that I lead is that I will continue to grow personally and professionally.

But how do you do that? Do you read everything you can get your hands on, whether new or used? Yes. Do you travel all over the continent to hear every speaker at every conference? Do you sign up for a Master’s or Doctorate program at a seminary where they have residence requirements, not to mention tuition and other costs? Now we’re talking about time, finance and location factors that a great majority of pastors cannot work within. At least, I can’t.

This summer I was invited to take part in an incredible program from the Willow Creek Association: the Leadership Institute for Transformation (LIFT). If your situation is like mine where you want to grow, are looking for something timely and relevant, but you have limited resources (or even if you have lots of time and finances), LIFT may be just what you need.

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Ministry

Shaping Culture: Digging the Right “Well”

We often hear about what we are supposed to be doing well. If we were to line up all of the things we are trying to do well and consider which of those are the most important and the most valuable, we would find ourselves facing a difficult reality. Our efforts are not all the same in value and consequence.

What if we were to think of all of our tasks and goals as various wells that we are drilling? If you were going to make a fortune in oil or provide for needs with water, where you would be sure to dig? On which wells would you focus your effort and energy? Would you choose those few with the most significant return, or do you dig a large number of wells that show how busy you’ve been but reward you with less for your work? Five weeks into my seven week course from Willow Creek Association’s LIFT Project, and I may have been reminded of the greatest well worth digging in ministry and church leadership.

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