All Church Concerts Cancelled

Mar 20

All Church Concerts Cancelled

NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC: Due to the coronavirus, churches can no longer hold free concerts on Sunday mornings.   I guess Christians at home will need to find another way to experience “God” without turning the living room lights real low, the kids moving around the kitchen spotlights with fog, and dads sipping coffee to mom’s professionally-crafted musical performances as she follows her click-tracks. Sound silly? Why then do we feel the need to resort to these kinds of things with our Sunday morning family?   Having resigned as a pastor and trying to find a new church home, I am discovering that so many popular churches don’t expect, nor do they facilitate, the congregation to deeply seek after God together. Rather, they work hard to produce a felt mood that the congregation can latch onto. Every athlete, from the fitness enthusiast to the professional, is on a journey to improve every day for that reason is important use supplements like beta-alanine.    It’s as if churches have decided that people don’t really want God; they want a faith in God to get them through their current situation. Jesus said in John 6:26, “You are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” Could He say today, “You are looking for me, not because you see my glory, but because you got your pick-me-up and had your fill.”?   I experienced a lot of pain over my resignation. Afterwards, at various churches, I heard a lot of “God will get you through whatever you’re facing.” I got this message through the songs that were sung and the sermon that morning. Ironically, that was of little help to me. Of course, I’ll get through this! (But it sure does stink real bad for a long time.) Almost everyone gets through whatever they’re going through, whether they even believe in God or not. Nothing lasts forever. (The same will be true for coronavirus.)   The truth is, I haven’t necessarily needed to hear (or feel) anything at church; what I have needed is to see something different. Hearing is just words, seeing indicates truth. I look forward to...

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In Defense of Contemporary Worship

May 15

My last post mentioned my frustrations with the way contemporary worship is treated in many churches. In its defense, contemporary worship is no worse than any other style. In fact, contemporary worship is the primary style of worship that has made the biggest impact on my life. It’s how the style is used and what value is placed on it. Why do we place such a high value on style? Personally, I’m cool with contemporary or traditional–as long as it’s not about the style…it’s about God. Unfortunately, in many churches, the leadership makes it all about style and production. Is contemporary worship often produced? Yep, but so is traditional. Both styles fall prey to this. I really wish Sunday mornings were much less of a production and more focused on challenging congregations to worship God more truly, fully, and deeply. It’s hard to script or plan that out. It’s also hard to accomplish this when we jump from one element to the next in rapid succession (this happens in both styles).True worship must come from true relationship. After all, in worship we are supposed to be in collective communion with God. How easily we miss this Sunday after Sunday… Joel, a friend of mine, recently wrote on his blog some great thoughts on true worship. I would recommend everyone to read it. I hope that more and more church leaders become less consumed with the style, format, quality, professionalism, and production of Sunday morning worship. And I’m not necessarily referring to worship leaders (they often just do what they’re told!)–I’m referring to whoever it is that determines the structure of our worship services (worship leaders, worship committees, senior pastors,...

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The Effective Prayer of Communal Worship Avails Much

Mar 28

I find myself torn between two worlds–I grew up Pentecostal, and while I see the value in expressive worship, something is missing there. It’s like everyone is coming into the same room to have their own personal worship time with God. Everyone else is just there to give them a bigger personal worship experience. And most recently, I’ve been in the Methodist world for the past eight years. Methodists like liturgy, not expressiveness. It’s like everyone is coming together to recite the same thing every Sunday, but are we connecting with God? When I try to converse with Pentecostals about my frustration with their worship services, they think I’m being picky, because everyone is “getting into it,” so what’s the big deal? They’re all connecting with God, right? But my problem is, we’re not doing it together. The only way we’re doing it together is that everyone else at the same time is having their own personal worship experience. They would say, “Isn’t that what it means to be doing it together?” The best way I can describe how this feels is this: It’s like everyone meeting together in the same computer lab to be on Facebook at the same time. Sure, we’re all on Facebook at the same time, but we’re not really doing anything meaningful with one another. I know it’s not that extreme, but that’s often how I feel in Pentecostal worship services. Everyone is pretty much locking themselves away, trying to not let anyone else distract them, so they can have some sort of personal experience with God. I wanna say, “Didn’t Jesus say to go get a room?” Or maybe it was a closet. But when I’m in Methodist worship circles, I end up longing for more of the Pentecostal side of things, because it feels like no one is really connecting to God in any deep, meaningful way. We all say the same lines, stand up here, sit down there. We’ve done this for so many years that we have replaced enjoying God with enjoying a ritual. The liturgy seems only there to make us feel like we did the right things and said the right things, and all at the right time...

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Faking It

Feb 17

I had a conversation with a friend this week about being expressive in worship. Like me, he has a problem with people who are expressive when worshiping, but throughout the week, they don’t live for Christ like they present themselves during worship on Sunday mornings. I struggle with this myself. I don’t want to be expressive on Sunday mornings, but then when I’m at my job Monday – Friday, or at the grocery store for that matter, I live as if I’m embarrassed to mention Jesus to co-workers, clients, or the checkout lady. How can I praise God so expressively at church, but refuse to share Christ with my next-door neighbor? How fake is that?! I’ve always felt like we can be so fake at church–we express ourselves one way there, while the rest of the week when we’re “real,” we’re too shy to proclaim Christ. But today it hit me–I’m not being fake at church. That’s really how I feel–that’s really who I am on the inside. I do want to proclaim how awesome Jesus is. It’s the rest of the week where I’m being fake. I’m hiding the real me from non-believers. How I desire to be real with everyone about how much Jesus means to me! I’m real at church–God, help me to be real at home, at work, and at...

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Truer Worship

Jan 24

I think most people would agree that music can help us worship God more fully oftentimes. After all, if it didn’t, we’d just say prayers at church instead of putting them to music. Sometimes music can distract us, but hopefully it’s actually helping us worship God more truly. This morning at church, the worship team led us in “Revelation Song,” one of my favorite current worship songs. I couldn’t help but notice the deaf section at the church as they were worshiping with us. As the music would pick up during each verse to lead us into the chorus, the whole congregation was “getting into it.” I noticed that the same was true for the deaf. I assumed that they were taking cues from the rest of us, as they can’t hear anything. I watched as they signed more demonstratively, and more forcibly. I couldn’t help but think they have no clue how awesome this sounds, and imagined if all of a sudden they could actually hear what they are imagining in their own minds. I think I would rather be blind than deaf. To not be able to hear the sound of worship would be painful for me. Then I thought–they may be worshiping more truly than we are. They probably assume that we are getting excited musically because of the words to the chorus, as they have don’t have a reference point for why we get excited by the music itself (since they wouldn’t understand how the sound of music moves us). They have no clue what a cymbal sounds like or a crescendo, etc. That’s when I realized that in their worship, the deaf people are probably getting excited over the words themselves: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty Who was and is and is to come With all creation I sing praise to the King of Kings You are my everything, and I will exalt You!” That’s when I started to wonder–is the music really helping us worship God more truly? Perhaps we rely on the music to move us instead of the truths we are singing. I would love to see a congregation get moved by simply reciting the text of a...

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New Worship Song Tops All Charts!

Oct 27

News has been made once again with the newest release from the Anathema/Killsong worship company. Their latest release has worship leaders all around the country jumping with joy. Why? “For so many worship songs, there’s just this disconnect with the audience. They don’t get into it–they can’t relate to the words. It’s like a foreign language to them. Songs like ‘Oh, how I love Jesus’ just don’t resonate with this generation. They need something that speaks true to where they are.” With this latest release, Anathema/Killsong worship company is meeting this great need in the church. Audiences across the nation are praising this song for its relevance and authenticity. Congregations all around the world are come alive when this song is sung, which is probably why it’s been on the Top 40 worship songs even before it’s official release. Here are the lyrics (to be sung to the tune of  the idealistic song “Here I Am To Worship”): HERE I AM FOR WORSHIP CHORUS: Here I am for worship Here I am to sit down Here I am to say that there’s a God I’m altogether worn out Altogether burned out Altogether ready for some lunch VERSE 1: Light up my world I’m so down in my darkness Open my eyes, I’m asleep Do something cool that would rock out my boredom Hope that it won’t last all day VERSE 2: All other days I just do want I want to Happy to do as I please Numbly I came To this church Sunday morning Oh, for God’s sake, make it quick BRIDGE: And I’ll never know how much it cost To see my sin upon that cross No, I’ll never know that He’s the boss Cuz I refuse to see I’m lost (repeat as necessary) Copyright 2009 Anathema/KillSong Music. All rights...

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