Some great encouragement and wisdom from Paul Baloche for songwriters:
Some great encouragement and wisdom from Paul Baloche for songwriters:
This song has quickly become an anthem that many churches have started singing during their weekend services. Are you leading it at your church?
The long-awaited update to WorshipPlanning.com has launched in “beta” version for anyone with a WorshipPlanning.com account. So, what’s new in version 5.0? Aside from updating the look and feel of the entire site, we focused our efforts on making the worship flow page easier and more flexible. Here’s a brief list followed by a 2 minute video to show you many of the features in action.
Worship Flow Updates:
Thanksgiving has come and gone. And, the biggest shopping day of the year is also over…for 2013 at least. I heard there were some great deals out there! For me, personally, I like to stay home on Black Friday and just relax and enjoy some family time.
When we shop for things like Christmas, which is just around the corner, most of us try to find the best deals. That’s why Black Friday is so huge! We consider not only what the person likes, but also how much money we have to work with. Interestingly, in a way, we also look at how much that person is “worth”. Are they worth spending $20 on? $50 on? $100 on? Most of us don’t spend as much money on our friends or co-workers as we do our family members…because our family is “worth” more to us.
In the midst of this busy season, with all the shopping and festivities, I’d like to challenge you with a question that I recently came across: “What is God worth to you?”
In the book The Way of A Worshiper, Buddy Owens (Teaching Pastor at Saddleback Church) writes, “When we worship God, we declare His worth. But in order to declare God’s worth, we must first discover His worth.”
Then he presents the question: “What is God worth to you?”
What a powerful question! As we enter into this Advent and Christmas season, consider that question. It’s a question that all of us must ask ourselves.
Here’s a very helpful and practical video tutorial for worship keyboardists that we came across:
In spiritual circles, few people are seen as intimidating as often as theologians. Theologians are scholars. Studied. Educated. Cultured. And they wear old-school glasses, vests and wool sweaters as they sit in an aged leather wingback chair in front of a stately, oversized bookcase in a home library with loaded oak bookshelves lining all of the walls, all the way up to the ceiling. (Whew . . . that was a mouthful!) Okay, maybe not all of them, but we like to think they do. The point is, when we hear the word “theologian” often we get an image in our minds that, at least in some way, represents the description above.
So what if I told you that YOU are a theologian?
Well, if you’re a worship leader and/or worship songwriter, you are! Sure, perhaps you aren’t necessarily discovering any brand-spankin’ new theology. But, you are writing and/or choosing worship songs that speak a theological truth. You are communicating theology to your local church. This is why one of the most important things you do as a worship leader is pick out the songs for the weekend setlist.
Sure, key changes, arrangements, transitions, dynamics and flow are all important parts of what we do as worship leaders, but none of those things matter if we aren’t singing truths in our churches. It is widely known that ideas and messages are retained better in our brains when presented in song than by spoken word (a sermon). This is because our brains interact with music differently, thereby establishing a stronger retention of what we heard/sang. Why is this important?
It’s sad to say this, but most people don’t remember the sermon they heard last week or this morning, in some cases. Now sure, these days we have recorded sermons, sermon notes, etc. All of these allow us to go back and go through the messages again. However, overall there is a limited shelf life on the specific messages that are preached every week (hopefully the themes and lessons are learned and continue on!).
With music, however, things stick around a bit longer, including the lyrics of the songs themselves. These lyrics are a biblical message, just like your pastor’s sermon. The only difference is that yours is set to a music, may have some repetition, and may be more like 4 to 5 mini-sermons during a typical worship set. This is a big deal!
Why? Because what you sing in your worship times is going to stick in people’s hearts and minds longer than the sermon does. Therefore, it’s imperative that we sing songs that contain solid theology.
We basically have three options with the songs we sing at church:
1. Lyrics that present false, inaccurate theology.
2. Lyrics that aren’t false, but are theologically weak and don’t really say anything.
3. Lyrics that present a solid biblical truth with rich theology.
PLEASE stay away from songs in category one. As for category two, there is nothing wrong with this category necessarily, but there are too many songs that fit this mold.
I challenge you to shoot for the third category of songs. Pick songs that are not only correct, but really drive home messages that your congregation needs to hear. One helpful way that I’ve found to pick more songs in category three is not just listening to the song on the CD (with the fancy production), but taking the time to sit down and read the lyrics without the music.
This is no easy task, but it’s vital! You are a theologian. A musical theologian. Don’t take that responsibility lightly. Invest the time into being intentional about the words that your congregation sings each week.
These days, if you pay attention to forums or blogs, or anything similar, having to do with modern worship tech, you’ve heard a lot about advancements in lighting tech. This stuff is cool. Very cool, actually, when done correctly. Can lights. Spotlights. Laser lights. All kinds of lights. We, as the modern church, are quite lucky to have such cool rigging and lighting available to us, as well as awesome technology with which to control all these wonderful lights. It’d be a shame to not utilize this for our worship services. BUT . . . we have to be careful.
Many point out the trend in many churches that appear to indicate a movement towards “rock concert” more than “church service.” Now, this is NOT meant to turn into a debate or opinion piece on styles of worship, denominational practices, or even “seeker-friendly” churches. What I am more specifically looking at here is this: Where is the attention drawn? Are there distractions?
You see, we can overdo anything. We can overdo singing. We can overdo pushing for the offering. We can overdo being “dramatic” in our preaching. We can overdo instrumentation (seriously, who needs 7 different guitars on stage during a worship set?). And yes, we can overdo lighting.
At a rock concert, the lighting is meant to be part of the show. It’s meant to make you think the band is even more cool than you already think they are. And THAT is the distinction. In a worship service, what is your lighting scheme doing? Is it drawing attention to the band? Is it simply adding a “cool factor?” Or is it intentional, with the purpose of bringing these worship songs and lyrics even more to life? Do the lights help to draw people’s attention to Christ even more? Using our sense of sight is a powerful thing, and can absolutely impact the atmosphere of worship.
As an example, let’s look at “Nothing But the Blood.” This song is timeless, and powerful, and true. It stands perfectly well on its own. I can remember two specific times when we sang this hymn at conferences with very sophisticated lighting schemes.
One place had rapidly moving laser lights, big washes, and bright spots in random locations. It was very, very cool. And it was very, very distracting. Even with my eyes closed, I could see the lights darting to and fro through my eyelids. At a different conference, there were no dancing laser lights (at least not during this song). All there was, primarily, was a massive wash of red lights all over the stage. A sea of red. And during this song about the blood of Jesus shed for our sins, seeing this wash of red visually enhanced this time of worship. Not only was I singing about the blood, but I was visualizing the blood of Christ washing over everything. It was very simple, but it was extremely impactful.
This is what I am talking about. Laser lights are not a bad thing. And they can be used very effectively in worship. The key is this – what is your light “show” accomplishing? Is it just something cool to add into your church’s “What to Expect” section of your website? Or are you intentionally utilizing (and not utilizing, when appropriate) this technology to enhance the atmosphere of worship in your church? Are you using it to make the messages of our praise even more real to your congregation? In the end, are you using lights to point to The Light?
A powerful Holy Week and Easter song, from the perspective of Apostle John.
Written by Sean Carter and Tyler Ellison, performed by Sean Carter.
We have likely all seen many short quips on the web relating to how our attitude or view of God impacts the way we worship. We have also likely seen other sayings that suggest that how we worship actually builds up and impacts how we view God. These two viewpoints are both innocent enough in their desire to encourage believers in worship.
It is a good thing to encourage believers in worship. And, it’s good to come up with new ways of doing this, including witty quips via Twitter (or any other social media platform or communication method.). However, It’s worth noting that these two thoughts do, in fact, offer conflicting views as to the relationship of the nature of our worship and our view of God. So, which is it? Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Or, in this case, the worship, or the heart of worship?
Short answer: Both! Not the answer you were expecting? Well, it’s all I’ve got for ya. But allow me to explain why I have come to this conclusion . . .
To worship God is to recognize, honor and proclaim who He is. First of all, let’s acknowledge that “worship” means a whole bunch of things, not just singing corporate worship songs in church. However, for the purposes of this article, when I refer to “worship” I am referring to singing songs in a corporate worship setting. Cool? Cool.
Ok, so worship is about God. That is the first and most important key. It isn’t about us. It isn’t about the church. It isn’t about the worship band or the worship leader. Worship, at its core, is always about God. So, how do we worship if we don’t know God? My theory is that you can’t. Not abundantly and passionately, at least.
Another way to put this is this: Do you believe the words you are singing? If so, then does your worship show that? It’s hard for me to sing about how great our God is with any real meaning if I think my God is small and weak. But knowing how great He truly is – that changes everything. I can’t simply mumble the words to these songs. I have to proclaim them!
In this way, how I view God absolutely impacts how I worship. I fully believe that I was a lost sinner, doomed to destruction apart from Christ. I believe I was saved, not by any works that I had done or any merit I had earned, by purely by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. I know this in my core. I believe this with everything within me. And I am grateful. I am swimming in oceans of grace and mercy, and because of this, I can’t help but praise my God with all I have. Think of it this way: If your mom or dad gave you an awesome present as a kid, did you just mumble “thanks” and act as though nothing ever happened? No! You were likely excited! You were likely thrilled! And you were likely grateful, perhaps even running and throwing your arms around your mom or dad.
Well, was that gift any more potent or cool or awesome than what God has done for us? Isn’t His gift of salvation way, way, way more incredible than a bike, doll or video game? Then why do we so often approach worship with such indifference? It’s not about false flair and hyped up fake enthusiasm. It’s about believing the words we’re singing, and letting that impact how we worship.
On the flip side, the songs we sing absolutely can and do influence how we view our Lord. It has been said by many that worship leaders and worship songwriters are some of the primary theologians of today, and I cannot disagree. Nothing sticks in the heart and mind quite like music, and through that medium we are communicating truths about who God is.
This is why we, as worship leaders and songwriters, need to be so careful in the songs we write and the songs we choose to bring before our churches. We need to ensure that what we’re singing in our churches are communicating Biblical truth as to who God is. And when we do this prayerfully, led by the Spirit, we can see people’s views of Jesus change in dramatic ways. Is someone in your church going through a hard time and perhaps doubting who God is in their life? Singing a song about God’s faithfulness and goodness can boost their faith.
Sure, it may not hit the first time, but singing Biblical songs about and to God on a regular basis can and will encourage those who need it. It’s not about the guitar riff or the drum beat, and it’s not even about how good the lead vocalist is (or isn’t). It’s about the truth we’re proclaiming. If it is indeed Biblical truth, then the Spirit can and will use it to build up His church.
So, we’ve now seen the “circle of life,” so to speak, that is the relationship of worship and our heart of worship – our view of God. Let’s keep the short Twitter buzzwords and catchphrases coming, but let’s not exclusively limit how worship impacts us and our view of God, and how our view of God is reflected in our worship. Instead, recognize the relationship, be thankful for it, and proceed with prayerful consideration as we continue to lead God’s people to the throne.
Does your drummer ever show up late (or not show up at all) on Sunday morning because he says he didn’t know he was scheduled?
If your church has a worship team, most likely there is someone in charge of scheduling and managing that team. Whether you have 5 people on the team or 50, having the right tool to coordinate and keep track of everyone’s schedules is a big task. WorshipPlanning.com is here to help!
With WorshipPlanning.com you can easily schedule your volunteers, not only for your worship team, but for any ministry in your church. And, we’ve made it super easy, so you can spend less time scheduling and more time investing in people. You can schedule individuals one at a time, or an entire team with a single click-and-drag.
Once scheduled, people are notified via email or text message, and are asked to respond to the “assignment”. This system ensures that YOU KNOW everybody knows what is expected of them. We also have video tutorials, so you can easily train others if/when you need to delegate the scheduling responsibility.
We are here to answer any questions you have about WorshipPlanning.com, so don’t hesitate to contact us! As far as what to do if your drummer comes late to soundcheck again this week…well, let’s save that for another post!