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Some are instructing churches to turn down the music volume during their Sunday morning gathering. We cannot dismiss these arguments as complaints from old curmudgeons within the church, such as the argument that a lower volume of music emphasizes corporate singing. However, I’m not sold that the best way to encourage corporate singing is turning down instruments’ volume.
The goal of leading corporate song is to facilitate the joyful singing of God's people. Anything you do should tend toward their participation and full engagement. This means that your leading of the singing should be simple and predictable enough so that the congregation can jump on board, and also compelling enough that they want to jump on board.
In A Home and a Hunger: Songs of Kingdom Hope, singer/songwriter Caroline Cobb invites listeners to sing the story of God’s kingdom. Cobb has emerged as a unique and needed voice as she attempts to make biblical theology accessible for old and young, new believers and longtime Christians, for those who know their need and for those who think they’re doing OK.
The joy of the good news of Jesus outshines all other joys, making it seem like we must be dreaming, filling our mouths with laughter and our tongues with shouts of joy. So our worship services should feel joyful, right? On the whole, yes, of course, they should. But that is far from the whole story.
Congregational songs must be singable enough that unmusical people can participate and theologically understandable enough for new believers to benefit from their truth. But the biggest struggle I see when songwriters show me new congregational worship songs isn’t musical or theological. The greatest struggle in writing good congregational worship songs is structural.
New church, new worship team, first rehearsal. Awkwardness and nerves. I start slowly with a familiar tune. We reach the end, notes still trailing off and fading. My mind computing through a rapid succession of silent assessments. The drummer only played three fills, the bass player stuck to the root and even though the guitar player had seventeen more pedals than I thought necessary, the playing was tasteful and appropriate. I look up to gage the teams reaction, and the...Read More ➔
Do all churches practice gospel-shaped worship? So what can churches do to ensure their services are centered around the gospel? At the 2015 Gospel Coalition Conference, I sat down with Jared Wilson (director of content strategy at Midwestern Seminary and managing editor of For the Church) and Shane Barnard (one half of the musical duo Shane & Shane) to have a discussion about how to deliberately make corporate worship gospel-shaped. For more on this sub...Read More ➔
Whether painting a canvas, “becoming” a character in a film or shaping a sculpture, every artist has a creative process that aids in achieving the best possible end result. I have been a musician and singer/songwriter for most of my life and have written, composed and arranged many songs. Setting the Psalms to music presented new challenges that I hadn’t encountered before and I thought it might be interesting to share a few elements of my process with ...Read More ➔
About Hymns of Grace Hymns of Grace is a project of Grace Community Church & The Master's Seminary.This collection of approximately 355 titles features current standard hymns (some rearranged musically), old hymns that have fallen out of use, many wonderful new hymns, and more than 90 responsive Scripture readings (ESV). 2015 Shepherds' Conference Summit from Grace Community Church on Vimeo. John MacArthur says, "Hymns are wonderful didactic tools, filled with S...Read More ➔
Note: This is the second of a two-part series, delivered by Harold Best at the 2014 Doxology & Theology Conference. A few more thoughts about labor. There is a difference between labor and what labor produces; it varies from person to person, talent to talent, parish to parish. Pastor Luke can saw a piece of worship wood to length just once and it always seems to fit just right; Pastor Jack saws his piece three times and it’s still too short. In both cases t...Read More ➔
Jesus is worthy of the worship of all the peoples of the world: every tribe, tongue, and nation; every man, woman, and child. Jesus is worthy of their worship. But there are three billion people on our planet today who do not worship Jesus. Three billion people have never been told the story of the rescuing God. As worship leaders, our lives and leadership must reflect the gravity of unreached peoples. John Piper says, “Missions exists because worship doesn&rsqu...Read More ➔
We must prepare for the music on Sunday morning. It must be excellent, but does our pursuit of musical perfection get in the way of our ability to really care for the souls of those that God has placed on our teams? Have you considered how you will pastor the people on your team? More often than I care to admit, I have been more concerned about the quality of music that has been produced by those I have lead. A few years ago I knew something needed t...Read More ➔