Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Picking the Best

A few posts back we wrote on why the process for picking good songs for worship is important.
The next question is, "well, how do you go about picking good songs, and what is a good song anyway?"

A good friend of mine took some time to put together a sound criteria for what makes a good song for worship. The first thing to think about when looking at a song is that songs for worship need to be functional art. when I pick out a couch or a chair, I want it to be completely useful and be able to fulfill the purpose of me sitting on it every day, but it also needs to have some aesthetic value. I want it to look nice. I could just use a log to sit on that I pulled out of a forest, and in a way that might have its own artistic value, but it does not serve the intended purpose. The same goes with songs for worship. They need to be functional/culturally relevant/situationally applicable as well as aesthetically valuable and relevant to the body that it is serving. They have a dual purpose - education and edification. And yes... we could talk long hours and go way more in depth with this...but maybe later. .

So, with all of that said.. here is the list - now this list isn't set in stone, nor are they rigid rules. Rather they are points to seriously take in to account when looking at using a new song or reviewing a song that you already use. None of these points are end-alls for a song, but if you find your self wondering "mmm...well..." all to often after reviewing a song be confident in following the axiom: "when in doubt, throw it out."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Celebration Banquet

My final paper for MWS 501 "Theology of Christian Worship" is due.

If you would like to read, enjoy!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Circle of Our Words & Our Hearts

Luke 6:45- "For out of the overflow of the heart his mouth speaks."

This seems to go both ways. What our heart says/feels/experiences is shown by our words. But, our words (even those not spoken out loud) can change or effect our hearts.

If someone tells themselves enough times that they are awesome at something, their heart eventually begins to believe it. We see this on American Idol all the time with those terrible singers who are positive that the judges are wrong and that they are the next Whitney. The person has told themselves they can sing and their hearts now believe it.

This is why song selection is so important as a Worship Leader. We are setting people up to sing songs that their heart will believe. This is an amazing and dangerous power that the Worship Leader holds. We help shape the hearts of people just by picking (insert overdone 90s worship song here).

I have always been caught up with the lyrics in worship songs. (Just ask my husband. I drove him crazy refusing to do certain "great" worship songs because the words didn't make sense, were stupid, or I just didn't think it was saying much.) I never completely understood why it got to me so much until I recently re-read that passage from Luke.

Personally- sometimes I don't say (or think) the greatest things and in turn my heart starts to feel bitter. Once I make myself aware of just how much my words effect my heart, I can begin to turn it around. I've started to make more of an effort with my words, which in turn makes my heart purer. Once my heart is purer, the words automatically become purer. This passage, to me, is really a big circle. A circle I want to strive to make complete in my everyday life of worship and in church services.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Reflection: Touching the Alter – The Old Testament for Christian Worship

Reading Touching the Alter, brought to mind that whole “Kid in a candy store,” image! My first thoughts on how to reflect on this book was to pick a few of the essays I like and expand upon them. However, I was so impressed with all of the writers; I didn’t know what to do! Everything was so excellently written and offered academic takes with such practical application. After reviewing my notes and trying to figure out where in the world to start in such a deep work, something hit me. It was a pattern that I began to see over and over and over again. I began to realize that everything that I had been doing pertaining to scripture, personal discipleship, my prayer life, and this reading, were all pointing in the same direction. I remember saying when this class started that I felt like Eric was putting my brain through a series of un-wirings, wirings and re-wirings; it was like my old lens was being slowly torn off. I now know for a fact that that is exactly what was happening. How do I know? I am starting to feel and literally see the delicate new lens that has begun to grow around my heart and mind. It was the collective work of Touching the Alter that helped me to finally realize this new beginning in my life, this realization of how we fit, and how we can show others the way, into God’s story.

The following is the result of the last few months of prayer, reading and discussion amongst family, friends and “ya’ll.” I know that there are going to be some very broad strokes taken here, but I do not apologize for them. After this reading, and the pile of prior readings, I feel this is the only way to reflect.

Worship is honoring and loving God and all people; in spirit and in truth; in word and in deed; no matter the circumstance. We are God’s divine dwelling place and that alone should compel us to worship. Justice is a direct result of worship and evangelism will be a by-product of social justice. How so? Well, how do you say “God loves you and has a good plan for you,” or even “I love God,” to someone? Words are nice, but who cares? A loving, just and sovereign God? God may be loving, just and sovereign, but how can we expect those who have not experience Triune communion, or even ourselves, to believe that? Yes, the Spirit can move in someone’s life before a word is spoken to them, but no evangelistic words should be spoken without a correlating lifestyle. Humanity experiences God through the actions of his people in the name of Christ through the power of his Spirit.

The Old Testament is God’s story of plan and preparation in bringing his communion to the world. And while God is bringing his communion to the world, in a way he already has. Those who believe in the Father are the places where the spiritual and the physical meet. That alone should compel us to worship. Worship alone should compel us to justice; and it is justice that directs the river of our life into the ocean of God’s story.