5 Big Things Missing from Modern Worship

~  Challies

I once paid a visit to one of the most mega of America’s megachurches. It’s a church whose pastor is well-known, a church known for its innovation, a church held up as a model for modern evangelicalism. I went in with as open a mind as I could muster. I left perplexed. I was perplexed not by what was said or done in the service as much as what was left unsaid and undone.

Since that visit I’ve had the opportunity to attend many more churches and, as often as not, they have been similar, missing a lot of the elements that used to be hallmarks of Christian worship.

Here are some of the missing elements of modern worship:

  1. Prayer
    That church I visited all those years ago was the first I had ever attended that was almost completely devoid of prayer. The only prayer in the entire service was a prayer of response following the sermon. “With every head bowed and every eye closed, pray these words with me…” There were no prayers of confession, of intercession, of thanksgiving. There was no pastoral prayer to bring the cares of the congregation before the Lord. This is a pattern I have seen again and again in modern worship services, with prayer becoming rare and minimal instead of common and prominent. Conspicuous by their absence are any prayers longer than 30 seconds or a minute in length.
  2. Scripture Reading
    Another element that has gone missing in modern worship is the scripture reading. There was a time when most services included a couple of lengthy readings, often one from the Old Testament and one from the New. But then it was trimmed to one and then the reading disappeared altogether in favor of mentioning individual verses as they came up in the sermon. But what of Paul’s command to Timothy that he devote himself to the public reading of Scripture (1 Timothy 4:13)? In too many churches this element has gone missing. In too many churches the Word of God is almost an afterthought. If a worship service includes no prayer and no Bible reading, can we even recognize it as Christian worship? Already we do well to pause and ask the question: If a worship service includes no prayer and no Bible reading, can we even recognize it as Christian worship?

More: https://churchleaders.com/worship/worship-articles/301057-whats-missing-modern-worship.html

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Aslan Is Not a Tame Lion: The Serious Mistake of Casual Worship

As a professional Christian, I don’t get many Sundays off. In fact, I tend to take fewer off than I am allowed, since I enjoy my work immensely and am not traveling much these days. But a couple weeks ago I was in Boston on a Sunday morning, and following the recommendation of a few friends, found my way to The Church of the Advent, an Episcopal parish serving Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood since 1844.

Google maps directed me from the T, but once I was within about eight blocks I put my phone away and followed the smell of incense wafting through the brisk New England autumn air.

Read the rest: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/ponderanew/2018/10/29/worship-is-not-a-casual-activity/

5 examples of what to say or pray in worship

Have you ever struggled with what to say in between songs as a worship leader?

I do not think worship leaders need to say much, but sharing brief thoughts in between songs can significantly help your congregation connect the dots in worship and encourage them to engage.

I usually have one or two places in the worship song setlist where I will share a thought or lead the congregation in prayer. Here are five types of things you can share with your congregation. I included some scripts of things I’ve said in the past to give you some concrete examples.

1 – Call to Worship

One of our responsibilities as worship leaders is to give our congregation a compelling reason for why they should engage. People are coming into worship distracted by life situations, the 24/7 stream of media they have in their pocket, or what they are going to eat for lunch, and we need to help them focus on God. I’ll say something like,

This morning I want to invite you to engage in our time of worship by singing and focusing all of your attention on God. The next hour is not a time to be a spectator, but a time to remind ourselves of the truth of the Gospel and give God the thanks he deserves. Allow God to work in your life this morning by being present and active in this time of worship.

Another thing you can share for a Call to Worship is a passage of scripture from the book of Psalms. One of my favorites is Psalm 100. “Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” There’s nothing quite as powerful as scripture itself to inspire your congregation to worship. Make sure you read with enthusiasm!

2 – Song explanation

Some of the best things to say in a worship service come from explaining songs. Remarkable songs are being written today, but for your congregation member who is hearing a song for the first time, it can be difficult to process the lyrics while learning how to sing it. In 10-20 seconds, you can shed light on song meaning for your congregation.

For example, a few weeks ago we played the song, “Touch the Sky” by Hillsong United. I think this is a well-written worship song. I also believe that this song needs a little bit of context for people to understand what it is about.

It is a song inspired by the Sermon on the Mount and the upside-down nature of God’s Kingdom. If you want to be first, be last. If you want to be great, be the least. If someone slaps you on the cheek, turn to the other. Love your enemies. If you want to find your life, lose it. The lyrics of Touch the Sky brilliantly express this theme from the Sermon on the Mount, but that is not immediately apparent if you are never given the context. Before singing this song, I would say,

We are going to sing a song that reminds us of the upside-down nature of God’s Kingdom. The world tells us that if we are to advance or make progress in life, we need to acquire more, become greater, and more independent. The way of God’s Kingdom is much different. If you want to ascend in status, you must descend. If you want to be great, humble yourself. If you want to find life, be willing to give it up. It’s a tough message, but it’s how God does incredible work in our life. Let’s sing this together.

3 – Personal Story

Sharing personal stories are a great way to allow your congregation to get to know you so that they trust you and want to follow you. I like sharing personal experiences that are super brief, and I can leverage them to make a teaching point about worship. For example, one time I shared something like this,

Friday evening my wife and I went to a Rockies game at Coors Field. Honestly, I’m not that into baseball, and I find it quite boring. But I love when it gets to the seventh inning stretch. Although it is so routine, there is something powerful about all thousands of strangers standing and singing “take me out to the ball came” together. I transformed from a passive spectator to being a passionate bandwagon fan for all of two minutes singing that song. Singing is powerful, and that’s why we do it together at church. But we have a much greater reason and purpose other than sports tradition. We get to unify our voices together to praise God.

4 – Prayer of invocation

Prayer of invocation is a fancy way of referring to a prayer that asks God to be present with us in worship and transform us. That’s the essence and goal of Sunday worship. We want God to transform us whether it’s through the preached Word, communion, or singing songs. All of it is worship, and all of it has tremendous power when God is present and working through it.

Sometimes in between songs, I pray,

God, we ask for your presence to move powerfully this morning. We need it badly. We are broken people. We need to be made new. Speak your truth to us through your Word. Remind us of your love for us through Jesus. Shape our hearts, so we love you more and love our neighbors more. We know that you are living, and active. You have the power to change anything.

5 – Prayer of confession and assurance

One thing the contemporary church in America lacks on Sunday morning is a good dose of honesty concerning the human condition. I have seen God do the most work in my life when I confess my sins.

As worship leaders, we want to help our congregation get in the habit of confessing their sins. To clarify, I think there are two forms of confession. First, you confess your sins in a personal setting to a trusted friend or mentor. Everyone must have this as a part of their private life. The second type of confession is corporate. Corporate confession is when we as a church body acknowledge together how we have wronged God and our neighbor. That’s the kind of confession which I am advocating we lead our congregation.

I think we need to help them learn the language of confession and help them practice admitting their sinfulness by doing it corporately as a body. Then that will translate into a greater willingness to do it in their personal lives. Sometimes this may be a prayer I lead them in.

God, as we worship you this morning, we are in awe of your greatness and holiness. But, we look at ourselves and realize how far we have fallen short. We have wronged you, and we have wrong our neighbors. We ask for your forgiveness, and we ask that by the power of your Holy Spirit we will walk in your ways and live life as you intended.

Sometimes I use a traditional prayer of confession reading like the one in the Book of Common Prayer. It’s always important to follow up a prayer of confession with an assurance of forgiveness. Maybe read a Bible verse about forgiveness through Jesus or sing a song after that emphasizes forgiveness. We never want the congregation to be stuck navel-gazing in their sinfulness but be inspired and moved by the hope of the Gospel!

Whatever you say in between songs, I encourage you to keep it brief and put some thought into preparing what you will say. It’s a crucial step in the worship planning process that I think is often overlooked.

Correspond with Jake at: hello@churchfront.com

Instantly improve your worship planning process [3 tips]

~ Jake Gosselin

I don’t know about you, but I’m still in recovery mode from Sunday morning. As worship leaders, we expend so much energy as we lead, so I hope you got a good night sleep and now feel refreshed. My wife and I have two eight-month-old babies (twin boy and girl) that wake up about six times a night right now. So if you’re exhausted, I’m right there with you. 🙂

Before you start planning for next Sunday’s service, I wanted to share with you three tips to improve your worship planning process.

I wish I had known about these tips a long time ago. Now I implement them every week, and they have significantly improved my team’s preparedness and level of excellence.

Here are the three tips.

Tip #1: Create 100% accurate chord charts and MP3 files for your band.

If you use chord charts from CCLI Song Select, or if you download free charts from Google, you need to STOP RIGHT NOW. There are so many other great resources to help you provide your team with accurate charts. My favorites are Praise Charts (paid option) or Worship Together (free option). Providing your band with accurate chord charts that outline the exact song arrangments will eliminate so many musical mistakes in worship.

Another resource you must provide for your band is accurate MP3 files so your band members can practice along with the songs at home. Don’t just send them a link to a song on Youtube or Spotify. Who knows if it’s even going to be in the right key. I use Planning Center to host all my charts and MP3 files, and it allows me to make sure everything is in the right key.

Tip #2: Prepare what you will say or pray in worship

I don’t think worship leaders need to say much, but we have a huge pastoral responsibility, and we need to help our congregation spiritually navigate worship. Once you have your setlist planned, identify one or two spots in the service where you say a prayer, explain a song or read a passage of scripture. Avoid making this stuff up on the spot

I know lately, there has been a lot of value placed on “spontaneous” worship moments. I am working on facilitating more moments like that at my church since they can be so powerful. But that doesn’t mean you cannot prepare a few things ahead of time that will help edify your congregation. Sometimes God takes what we have already prepared and makes it even better when the moment comes.

If you are new to leading worship, don’t be afraid to script out what you want to say or pray. Check out the Worship Sourcebook. It will give you a ton of inspiration.

Tip #3: Have a pre-service huddle

This tip will drastically reduce miscommunication between your band, tech team, and pastoral staff. Thirty minutes before service start time, try to wrap up soundcheck and gather your worship band, tech team, and pastoral staff for a pre-service huddle. During this time, have one person walk everyone through the service plan. It may seem unnecessary, but even at churches where the order of worship doesn’t change that much from week to week, you would still be surprised at the little things that get missed due to a lack of communication.

The huddle is also a great time to pray with your team. Ask God for his hand to be upon the service. Ask God to move powerfully in the hearts of your congregation. Ask God to speak through the songs and the sermon. I find this helps recenter our team members’ hearts on why we do what we do.

Finally, end your huddle with a fun cheer that get’s everyone pumped. At Red Rocks Church, the lead guitarists always come up with a random word to cheer on the count of three. It’s often humorous and sometimes mildly inappropriate. At my church, Mission Lakewood, we go, “1, 2, 3, MISSION.”

I hope these tips help you get some immediate results for improving your worship planning process.

If you haven’t already, you should check out my Worship Planning Checklist. In it, I walk through the seven steps I take to plan and lead worship every week.

You can download the PDF version of the checklist here.

 

Comment at: hello@churchfront.com

8 Indicators Worship Music Is Not Good

http://chucklawless.com/2018/08/8-indicators-worship-music-is-not-good/

When Worship Music Replaces Worship Of God

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2018/09/26/when-worship-music-replaces-worship-of-god/

8 Indicators Worship Music Is Not Good

Read the comments, too.

http://chucklawless.com/2018/08/8-indicators-worship-music-is-not-good/