Worship Pastor / Composer Travis L. Boyd and his wife, Cynthia, provide inspiration and resources for the worship community and all believers through sharing the blessings of worship, faith, family, ministry, music, love, & life. We also share information about Worship Sounds Music, which can be found on our Worship Sounds website at worshipsounds.com ~ Downloadable Choral Anthems * Solos * Orchestrations * Worship Songs * Accompaniment Trax

Archive for the ‘* MELODIOUS MINISTRY’ Category

Worship Ministry Team Top 12 Tasks

An Essential “To Do” List

For All Worship Team Members

 

What is needed for effective ministry from each member of the Worship Ministry Team?

Whether you serve in a Worship Band or Rhythm Section, Praise Team, Choir, Orchestra, or as an Accompanist, the essentials are the same:

Those who seek the LordIn order to glorify the Lord, lead God’s people in worship, and allow the Lord to use your gifts to speak to the hearts of others through His Spirit, you need to apply prayer, passion, preparation, flexibility, clarity, commitment, faithfulness, and authenticity!

Here are 12 ways to become most effective

as a member of a worship ministry team.

1. Pray for your Worship Pastor and for all of your ministerial staff. Pray for their families. Pray for the congregation at your church (church family) to worship the Lord and serve Him with all of their hearts. Pray for your own testimony and spiritual walk. Pray for other worship ministry team members and for the worship ministry as a whole. Pray through the order of worship, and pray during the worship service.  Be real (authentic) with the other members of your worship ministry team.  If you are struggling in some area, ask for prayer.

God is Faithful sunrise photo2. Be faithful in attendance at rehearsals and in every congregational worship service. Unless your are too sick to go or out of town, be there. We all understand that seasons of life occur, such as when you are caring for a loved one who is ill. However, if there’s nothing keeping you from being there, please be faithful!

Your passion for the Lord and for serving Him through worship ministry is the thing that makes you a worship team member. Others sit in the congregation every week who could be an asset in worship ministry, and yet the lack of passion for serving in this way prevents them from making that commitment to the calling. If your passion has begun to wane, ask the Lord to revive it within you so that you may contribute week by week, worshipping with passion in spirit and in truth.

KEY TRUTH ABOUT  FAITHFULNESS:

Your presence,

more than anything other than your prayers,

allows your worship ministry to effectively reach up to glorify the Lord

and reach out to encourage and inspire others.

Especially for Chor and Orchestra members:
Be aware that many churches are eliminating choirs and orchestras.  If you want your church to still have these groups as a regular part of worship ministry leadership a year from now, 5 years from now… 10 years from now, make it your priority to be there!

If you say that you love singing in the choir or playing in the orchestra, love having these groups as a contributing part of worship ministry, and love the sound and the impact they can make, you need to be one who will be there faithfully. When the choir and/or orchestra suffers from low attendance week after week, the level of excellence suffers. The director has difficulty choosing what to sing or play, not knowing who may be there. The overall sound is less than it could be without you and others there. After weeks and weeks of low attendance and less than stellar sound due to the low numbers, how much support can we expect from church members and leaders for the continuation of choir and orchestra ? In other words, if you want to have a choir and orchestra , you MUST be committed to it.

give God the glory3. Be spiritually prepared. Do all that you can do to walk closely with the Lord. Abide in Him. Spend time in private worship. Learn all that you can about Him and about what true worship really is. Listen to worship music often. Love the Lord and find joy in His presence.

4. Be musically prepared. Attend every rehearsal that it is possible for you to attend, and be on time if at all possible.  It is great to have everyone in place with music ready and instruments and voices warmed up if possible (sing with the radio on the way there!).  If that is not possible due to your work schedule or some other factor, please do the very best you can to arrive ASAP.   

* Even if the choir or orchestra is going to be sharing music that you know well, your presence and participation can help others to learn the music. Having the full group present helps with things like balance, interpretation, and choral tone, as well as with division of parts, marking any changes in the music, and unifying vowel structure.

* If your director sends out an e-mail with links to the music you will be singing, spend 15 minutes listening to the demos a couple of times during the week.

Sing praises with understanding*  With new technology have come new tools for worship ministry. We can listen to demos on our computer and do so almost anywhere with wireless technology. We can look up sample pages to a choral anthem and even be able to see the music as we listen to a demo. We can hear several different versions of the same worship song at ccli.com or other sites. Many worship teams have their own website, facebook page, or blog to keep everyone informed. Sometimes e-mails are sent to worship team members with listening links. There are worship conferences, worship blogs, and “how to play” videos online. All of this means that we have more resources available than ever (and fewer excuses for being unprepared).

* For choir members:  If you know there’s a part that you’re not getting during rehearsal, speak up and ask the director for help. Often, as your section (Altos, Sopranos, Basses, or Tenors) sings through a passage a couple of times, the re-inforcement of hearing your part played will help everyone.

If you have a piano and can play a tricky part yourself, take your music home to spend some time working on those hard to hear parts.

* For orchestra, praise band, or praise team members:  If there is anything that you struggle with in rehearsal and are not confident about, spend some time working on your own before Sunday.

Speak up if something sounds “off” in rehearsal, even though it appears everyone is playing (or singing) what is written.  Sometimes you may help to find a mistake in the music.

*  For All Worship Ministry Team Members:Love is patient  with heart  cropped

Remember that what we are doing is very important and sometimes very difficult.  Patience is required in order to work up an entire “worship set” of music for congregational worship each week, often with very limited rehearsal time.   We must all be as diligent as possible and patient with each other and with ourselves.  We are confronted with our own humanity when preparing music; and there is no better time to thank God for His patience and grace with us, even as we choose to employ patience and grace with others (and with situations that are out of our control).  You may be doing all that you can do and wish that others took their opportunity to serve as seriously.  However, we always need to remember that we never know what others are facing and the challenges that may keep them from being as faithful or as prepared as they would like to be.  We just need to pray for one another and employ a lot of grace, continue to be faithful, and encourage others as much as possible.

5. Remember that every Sunday’s worship is important. The special programs can be a wonderful time of worship, but every Sunday   needs to be just as important.

The Lord is the same year-round,

and

He deserves our best every week!

Give Him your best (in terms of commitment, passion, faithfulness, and effort). Make it a priority to be there, be prepared, pray through the service as you worship, and do your best to bring glory to the Lord in every service of congregational worship that you are able to attend. Pay attention when your director goes through the order of worship for next Sunday’s service during rehearsal. You can help with leading in worship most effectively when you are able to share with clarity because you know what is going on.

Never forget that God is the one who created music,

gave you musical gifts, saved you,

and gave you some incredible and eternally glorious

reasons to make musical praise!

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart: I will tell of all Thy wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in Thee, I will sing praise to Thy name, O Most High.” ~ Psalm 9:1 & 2

Never take the opportunity

to use your voice or instrument

(and your faithfulness and availability) 

to glorify the Lord within the congregation

for granted!

“Oh, that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
Let them exalt Him also in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders.” ~ Psalm 107:31 & 32

Love the Lord calligraphy6. Support the worship ministry through your own giving. You can give financially as well as giving of your time for rehearsals, personal prayer time, and worship times. You can give and redeem your time in worship ministry when help is needed in preparation for a special program, ministry opportunity, or mission trip. You can give time to working with worship ministry groups for children and youth, investing in the lives of these future worshippers and worship leaders.

7. Be well groomed. Here, I am not talking about the cost or name brands of your clothing. Just make sure that your appearance is well-groomed and not distracting. (Well-fitting clothing and well-groomed hair are a must.)  Your own worship ministry may have additional requirements for appearance that are more specific.

8. Invite others to come to know the Lord, to come to church, and to attend services and special programs. Encourage the faithfulness of others through your own faithfulness (which is a silent witness) and through verbal encouragement, letting them know that you are glad to see them and that their presence is important.

9. Invite others to participate in approriate areas of worship ministry when you know that they have the special gifts to contribute both spiritually and musically. Take some time to talk with them about the blessings of serving in worship ministry and how much it means to you. When new members come, welcome them! Don’t be stuck in a rut as far as who you have to sit beside. Make sure the new member feels comfortable.

10. Don’t fossilize! Be flexible and open to change when it is needed.

* If a change in schedule (such as letting the choir leave the loft to sit with families after the musical worship portion or your service is over) allows more people to participate, be open to that change.  This would include changes in rehearsal schedule.  If you have an unavoidable conflict, let your Worship Leader, Director, or Music and Worship Minister / Pastor know as soon as possible.  When you know that you will be out of town, please let them know your schedule.  Advance notice of absences allows for better planning.

sing a new song to the Lord* When new music is introduced, be open to it. You will likely grow to love it! Even if a song is not your favorite, worship the Lord as you sing and/or play it!  Be open to new styles and new musical techniques as well.  It’s always a good thing to keep learning and growing as a musician and as a member of the worship leadership team.

* Be open to wearing robes or not wearing robes (depending upon what works best for all of the considerations at your church).  You may be asked to wear a certain color.  Please help your group to follow worship ministry leadership in this area by cooperating fully.

* Be willing to sit or stand anywhere that you are asked to be, in both the worship center and in the rehearsal room (unless you need to be seated for physical reasons).

* Be willing to let go of traditions and procedural routines that may no longer be effective.

11. Communicate visually as well as musically. Remember that only part of your worship team’s presentation of any song or participation in worship is the sound component of ministry. The other component that can be observed is visual.

Praise   Lets just praise the Lord* In order for the messages that you are proclaiming to be as effective as possible, choir members, praise team members, and others who sing need to communicate through their facial expression and posture as well. Even those who play instruments need to support the message of what is being shared through appropriate facial expression and/or posture.  People want to know that you are authentic in your beliefs and that you are passionate about your beliefs and your relationship with the Lord… passionate about Him! Your face should reflect the message that you are singing or playing (especially for non-wind players). Your posture should not look stiff and formal.

* If your Director or Worship Pastor wants you to memorize a song in order to communicate it most effectively, do it! (Hint: being there at every rehearsal and listening to demos or working on your own a little bit helps!)

* If you are holding a music folder or looking at music on a stand, hold it high enough (or adjust your stand) so that you can see your director just over the top of the music. Get your head and your eyes up as much as possible. No one wants to look at the tops of everyone’s heads or at a platform full of worship ministry personnel whose eyes appear to be closed because they are looking down all of the time.

NOTE: Our choir sings from memory as often as possible so that we can communicate visually and musically with more effectiveness, and we have recently begun utilizing an on-stage monitor with lyrics. Although we have used screens at the back of the worship center for the lyrics to congregational music and anthems for many years, we can include information on the on-stage monitor that it not meant for the entire congregation to see. We utilize a different color of print for cues to the choir that precede a section of lyrics. These on-screen cues are often very brief and include: “Men” when only the tenor and bass are singing (could also use “TB”); “Women”; “Unison”; “4-part”, “2-part”, “2X”, “3X” or “4x” to show the number of repeats; and even cues for dynamics. Notes that are held for a long time can be indicated by using a line after the word (Example: “love___”)

Lift up His name!

Lift up His name!

12. Participate and worship in the entirety of the congregational worship experience. Remember that you are not there just to “perform” a “special” piece of music. You are there to worship! You are a believer and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and and worshipper of Almighty God! Every song, scripture reading, testimony, and message is important! Seek to bring glory to God in all of it. Come to worship ready to give to the Lord the praise and thanksgiving of your heart, the honor and glory He deserves, the obedience and open-ness that are a sweet offering to Him, and the entirety of who you are. Seek His face and reflect His joy.

 

“Whatever you are doing, let your hearts be in your work, as a thing done for the Lord and not for men.”
~ Colossians 3:23 (Weymouth New Testament)

 

SUGGESTED  READING   FOR  WORSHIP  MINISTRY  TEAM  MEMBERS

1.  Our Worship Scripture page is a very comprehensive worship resource, with scriptures from both the Old and New Testaments in Biblical order.  Our bold key words before the beginning of each scripture make it easy to search and find particular passages.  This is an excellent resource for worship scriptures.  Also, try the key word or topical search features at Bible Hub or Bible Gateway.

Here’s the link to “Lift Your Voice”, our worship scripture page:  https://worshipsounds.wordpress.com/lift-your-voice/

1. “The missing piece…What Every Christian Should Know About Worship”
https://worshipsounds.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/the-missing-piece-what-every-christian-should-know-about-worship/

2. “31 Days of Praise (Scripture Devotions)
https://worshipsounds.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/31-days-of-praise/
This post has been recommended on Worship Links @ http://www.worshiplinks.us/2013/09/devotions-praise/

3. “Walking in Worship”
Note:
This article has also been published in the online magazine, “ChurchMag” with its original title
@ http://churchm.ag/walking-in-worship/
and on churchleaders.com , using the title, “What Worship REALLY Means” @

http://www.churchleaders.com/worship/worship-articles/163955-cynthia-boyd-worship-really-means.html

* found on this blog @ https://worshipsounds.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/walking-in-worship/

OUR OTHER POSTS ABOUT WORSHIP: (Our pages, like the one on Lifestyle Worship, have titles that are always visible on the blog header. Our posts are categorized, and all of the posts on worship can be found in our category called “Worship…with Wonder!” (and the sub-categories in that topic). Here are links to 7 of our most widely read posts about worship.

Music is a gift…Worship the Giver!
This article was also published by TheWorshipCommunity.com @ http://www.theworshipcommunity.com/music-is-a-gift-worship-the-giver/

Worship Planning and Preparation

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Do you know someone who is looking for answers?

Thank you for spending your valuable time reading the contents of this page. We hope that it has been helpful to you. If you or someone that you know is looking for answers about life, we hope that you will visit our page called “Do You Know Jesus?”. The links provided on this page will help to answer life’s deepest questions. Here is the link to “Do You Know Jesus?”: http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

Please feel free to share this URL with anyone who is looking for answers about life and eternity.

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Encouragement

For people of all ages, encouragement is a welcome and affirming blessing. Any time that someone makes an effort to say something positive, it can uplift the spirit. A compliment or an observation of a valued charactar trait can change the direction of someone’s life. Be an encourager to those around you! You will never regret speaking a kind word or letting someone know of your appreciation or admiration. Children need loving and specific words of encouragement to nourish their spirits and to guide them. Your words of encouragement will be remembered and cherished by your children.

Below, you will find some suggestions for encouragement, some scriptures about encouraging others, and a link to a post about finding personal encouragement in God’s Word.

Here are some compliment and encouragement categories and some suggested specifics to look for in encouraging others:

Character and Christlikeness

Kindness
Compassion
Gentleness
Discipline
Self-Control
Calmness
Serenity
Faithfulness
Trustworthiness
Loving actions and attitudes
Joyfulness
Unselfishness
Patience
Wisdom
Humor
Cheerfulnes
Dependability
Perseverance

Gifts and Abilities

Whether gifts and abilities are athletic, artistic, journalistic, mechanical, musical, intellectual, practical, useful or aethetic, there are some common positives to encourage as others develop and use what God has given.

* Time invested in practice, rehearsal, or otherwise developing and refining one’s gifts and abilities
* Perseverance during times when it is difficult to continue using one’s gifts and abilities
* An attitude of generosity and acknowledgement concerning the gifts and abilities of others
* Using gifts and abilities to benefit others and to bring glory to God

Personal Appearance and Grooming

There are many areas of appearance and grooming over which people have no control, so it is often good to consider the effort that someone puts into trying to look their best with what they have. This is the trickiest category for complimenting and encouraging, but an appropriate compliment is always welcome.

* Color: “That color looks great on you” or “… brings out the color of eyes/hair”, pleasing eye or hair color, color of clothing or accessories, even nail polish
* Cut / fit: “That outfit looks so good on you.” (probably one of the safest)
* Style: remarks about liking specifics such as a buckle or the cut of a collar or sleeve, the shape of a handbag, or the length and shaping of a haircut
* Hair: nice haircut or style, color, the healthy or shiny look of hair
* Complexion/Face: Complimenting a smile is always good! Also, healthy complexion, beautiful eyes, well-applied make-up
* Body/weight: a generic compliment saying that someone is looking healthy or looking trim and fit can be appropriate in some circumstances. Telling someone they “look great today” when they have obviously taken pains to look their best is a validation of their efforts. NOTE: This is one area of appearance that warrants caution regarding what to compliment. Always think through what you wish to say and make sure that it is appropriate.

Here is what the Bible has to say about encouragement:

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Hebrews 10:23-25

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

1 Peter 4:8-10

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

Hebrews 10:24

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

Hebrews 10:24-25

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:25

Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Galatians 6:2

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Ephesians 4:29

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

1 Thessalonians 5:14

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Acts 15:32

And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

Ephesians 4:12

To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you.

* Note: All of the above scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible. They were copied from the following web page: http://www.openbible.info/topics/encouraging_each_other (and then edited by the author of this post).

Are you looking for personal encouragement?

Here is a blog post with scriptures to encourage your own heart: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-for-encouragement-20-great-scripture-quotes/

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This post was written and compiled by C. Boyd

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When You Feel Like giving up….

Life can be very challenging.  We are constantly confronted with needs, attitudes, questions, problems, heartbreaks, ailments, issues, and an endless list of things that need to be done.  Sometimes, we feel as though we are pushing a giant boulder in circles and making no progress.  We feel like giving up the fight.  However, the simple fact that we are pushing is progress!  When the boulder of life’s burdens does not seem to budge or when you feel that any motion is either backwards or in circles, remember that the act of refusing to give up is always progress.  How many times have we given up too soon or been on the verge of a breakthrough when we decided to quit?  It’s impossible to know the impact of those past decisions.  It is not productive to focus on lost opportunities, but it is always good to consider the opportunities of this present moment and what we can do with them.  When God has placed a task in front of us or given us a vision for ministry or for utilizing the gifts that he has given in a way that maximizes our potential and brings glory to Him, we can visualize the victory that the completion of this task or the faithful performance of this task could bring, knowing that God’s vision is always greater than our own.  If we were to also visualize the barriers and challenges that will have to be overcome, the largest barrier by far would be the temptation to quit when we feel that our efforts have been in vain or that the task is too big or too hopeless to continue.

Quitting is the most effective form of breakthough and victory prevention.  When what we are doing or trying to do is a positive, healthy action that ultimately brings glory to God because it is wholesome and right, quitting and giving up the fight can rob us and the world of something that could be a blessing to many lives.  We may need to re-group and spend some time in prayer about how to proceed further.  We may need to share the vision that the Lord has given with others and ask for their help and prayer support.  We may need to re-focus priorities.  We may need to remind ourselves daily that quitting would prevent a breakthrough to victory which could be just around the corner.  Whatever it takes to keep going is what we need to do, unless God himself re-focuses our priorities in a different direction.

I must confess that the feeling of being overwhelmed in a task or with day to day living overtakes my mind frequently.  It is a battle that I must fight with more than my own resources in order to keep going.  I need the joy of the Lord that is my strength, and I must rely on Christ within me, the hope of glory.  If I am going to refuse to surrender to thoughts of futility, my encouragement is the joy that comes from knowing my Lord and knowing that His plans for my life are to give me a hope and a future.  If I am going to be able to push on past feelings of hopelessness and fears of failure, the sure knowledge that Christ has redeemed my life and will ultimately sanctify it fills me with the hope of fulfilling my purpose through God’s mercy, which will allow me to bring glory to God though His grace.   This battle of the will requires that we place our trust in the Lord.  We must trust that He will bring about good from our efforts and that He is at work in ways that we do not see.  Trust is the foundation for perseverance.   When we can trust the Lord with the results of our efforts and continue to strive onward because we know that God will use our obedience to strengthen His Kingdom in some way (even if that change occurs only in our own hearts). our determination to persevere is refined by hardship or a seeming lack of results rather than being extinguished like a wisp of fading hope.   Through this trust and faith, we seek goodness by obedience, growing in our knowledge of what God would have us to do as we continue to seek His ways.  Peter spoke of this sequence of spiritual growth in II Peter 1:2 – 9.

2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance   through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

3 His divine power  has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 4 Through these He has given us his very great and precious promises,   so that through them you may participate in the divine nature,   having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control;   and to self-control, perseverance;   and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive   in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind,   forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. *

In the above passage, perseverance is listed as a quality that is necessary for becoming an effective and productive Christian (and, as a result, being effective and productive in our other life roles…parent, spouse, employee, friend, leader, communicator, encourager, helper…).  God considers perseverance to be an extension of our desire to know Him and to grow in the faith and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Because the goal of Christlikeness is of primary and eternal importance, we refuse to give up.  Because our trust is in Almighty God rather than in our own human efforts, we hold on and persevere.

Sometimes, when we feel like giving up, we just need someone to talk to.  Of course, prayer is always important.  God can speak to our hearts when we pour out our struggles honestly in prayer.  He can also speak to our hearts through the encouragement of others.  If you have a trusted friend or family member to whom you feel you can honestly share your feelings of being overwhelmed, or fear of failure, or loss of hope, it can be a good thing to just get these feelings out in the open and see them for what they are.  Hopefully, your loved one will point out to you the progress that has already been made and remind you of the necessity of perseverance and the importance of your task.  It could be that some human encouragement to go on will result in a fresh determination, to which the Lord will add His strength.

Hold on!  FROG!  (Fully Rely On God !)

If can be so difficult to keep going when we don’t know what the future holds and the circumstances don’t look good.  We don’t know the future, but we do know the Creator of all life and of time and space and everything that is.  Here’s what the Bible says about his plans for us in Jeremiah 29:11.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” *

 

God has great plans for your life and for my life.  He is at work even when we can’t see His hand.  Part of what he wants us to learn as we travel through life is to trust Him when we feel that all is lost.  We walk by faith, not by sight.  It’s almost like stumbling across a dark room in search of a light switch that we know is just beyond our reach.  We have to take a step of faith in order to get there.  When we reach the wall, it could seem to be an obstacle; but if we keep reaching, we’ll find the switch.  Suddenly, it will become clear that our effort was not in vain!

When it comes to the tasks that God has placed into your life, remember that He is the God of possibility even in the darkest of circumstances.  We don’t have to stumble blindly through life.  We have His life and light and power within us as we walk through the plains of sameness and climb the mountains of challenge and trial.  He is also beside us through the dark valleys.  Just as the seeker found in the illustration of the dark room, the light and power was available all along.  He just had to take a step of faith (which means a step toward persevering) in order to find it.

Galatians 6:9   “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  *

 

Prescription for Living

* New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

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This post was written by C. Boyd

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Here are some additional posts that may be helpful to you:

You Have a Lot to Give!

Psalm 23 (scroll on to the Japanese version that begins, “The Lord is my Pace-setter…”)

Generational and Cultural Relevance in Worship Ministry

 The message of the gospel always matters. 

 It is always relevant to every life, every heart, every age, every culture, and every generation. 

 Sharing the truth of God’s love, as demonstrated through the sacrificial life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ matters more than anything else in the world. 

However, it’s not easy to find a way to communicate the life-changing and eternal message of saving grace in a world where there are is so much divisiveness.  It can be difficult to overcome generational and cultual attitudes to the extent that what really matters (the gospel message of salvation and new life in Christ) is clearly shared and understood.  In our homes, in our churches, and wherever we go, Christians need to demonstrate the love of God and apply His grace in responding to situations where a lack of generational or cultural understanding seems to be a barrier to communication.  In doing so, we need to remember that everyone wants to feel that they matter and that their opinions and beliefs are relevant.  The reality is that adults are sometimes dismissed by teenagers and children as irrelevant to contemporary culture and to the lives of the younger generation.  In the same way, adults can sometimes dismiss younger people as lacking enough maturity to be relevant to serious discussions and decision making.  If God’s people, the church, are going to make a difference through sharing the eternal truth of salvation in Christ, we have to be willing to take a fresh look at everything we do.  In light of the pre-conceived ideas and differing backgrounds on both sides of every generational and cultural issue, is it possible to find a way to unite the generations in powerful, life-changing worship?  Can the adults to whom church leadership has been entrusted become open enough to make any necessary changes on the path to reaching the hearts and minds of younger generations?

Webster defines the word relevant as:  “bearing upon or connected with the matter in hand; to the purpose; pertinent.”  In other words, when we are living and relating, worshiping and sharing in such a way that our ministry becomes relevant for reaching up to God and out to others, what we do matters!

People always matter!  We have intrinsic value because we are created by God in His image and redeemed by God through Jesus Christ, which means that our lives have eternal and infinite value.   The value of our lives or the message that we share is never the question.  However, true relevance that allows God to speak to the hearts of others through us without the barriers of cultural and relational obsolescence brings eternal value to our ministry.  In other words, God can use lives and ministries and talents and hearts that are surrendered to Him to bring about real spiritual fruit in our hearts and lives and in the lives of others.  When we are surrendered to God’s Kingdom purposes, He makes us more aware of changes that we can make to effectively minister to all of the people who make up our congregation.

The message of the gospel is always relevant.  God’s love and mercy always matters.  The problem of perceived irrelevance has never been about the message itself.  When it comes to our relevance in sharing spiritual truth, what we do relationally and the message that we project to those around us (through our lives, our words, our posture, our attitudes, our musical preparation and choices, and even the expressions on our faces) impacts their willingness to hear the message of the gospel.  When we learn to care more deeply about how God can use our lives and our willingness to seek His purpose than we do about what is comfortable and easy for us, God can indwell our hunger to bring Him glory in such a way that His Spirit brings not only relevance but Divine power to the ministry that we have been given.  This process will take some thought on our parts.  We never intend to get comfortable and begin to resist change, and we often don’t even recognize those tendencies in ourselves.  It will take awareness of where we are and a passion for becoming all that God made us to be to prompt the uncomfortable process of change (where change is necessary) and allow us to become more open to considering the types of changes that will make our ministry more effective with people of all ages.

As the chief worship leaders in our church, it is incumbent upon anyone who is a part of worship ministry to be as “relevant” to those we serve as we can be.  If we are going to really allow the Lord to use us to have an impact upon the lives of others, we must be open to new forms of expression and to refining the overall worship experience so that people are drawn to the message of the gospel rather than bored by the absence of passion and a seeming lack of commitment to excellence in what they observe and hear.   In my experiences working with teenagers through the years,  I have discovered that I have to “earn” the right to be heard by them.  The same is true of virtually any age group.  We want to know that whoever is leading us is relevant to the lives we live and is sharing a message with eternal relevance.  Most pertinent to this discussion of relevance, we want to know that these eternal truths mean so much to those who are sharing them that there is evidence of a heart of passion in the sharing process.

The kind of relevance we need as worship and ministry leaders involves bringing clarity, purpose, prerparation, and passion to all of our efforts in leading worship.  

1.  CLARITY
We need clarity because God is not the author of confusion.   Everyone on the worship team should have clarity in their thoughts and attitudes about worship and should understand that the purpose of worship is to bring glory to our God.  Every worshiper should be able to follow the music that you are sharing without confusion so that they can focus on the Lord and worship Him.

2.  PURPOSE
The purpose of everything that is done in the worship service (not just singing!) must also ultimately be to bring glory to God.  If a worship service is planned carefully, one message in song or in testimony or prayer can lead right into the next almost as a progression of thought as we worship the Lord.

3.  PREPARATION
This involves spiritual preparation for all ministry staff and worship minisry personnel.  A lot of prayer time should be invested before we ever reach pre-service rehearsals, ministerial pre-service prayer times, and, expecially, before the worship service itself begins.  As the planning takes place, all of the details should be a matter of prayer as well.  Worship ministry personnel should spend some time in prayer during rehearsals as well.

When it comes to the actual carrying out of the plan for worhip during the service, all of the leadership team should be well prepared so that the service can flow from one thing to the next and not interrupt the focus on our eternal God.  Every worship team member should know what has been planned to happen next.  What Travis calls an “expanded update” for the musicians and ministerial staff can be helpful.  Our church does publish an order of service in the bulletin.  However, the order given to those who are involved in ministry contains more information.  For example, for the staff, it might list who will be welcoming guests and who will lead a prayer.  For musicians, it might tell who is “in” on the first verse, where others come in, how many repeats of a certain song, etc.  However, this planning does not prevent sensitivity to God’s spirit.  Sometimes things change during a worship service; but if your original planning was clear, it is easier for everyone to go with the flow of God’s spirit.

4.  PASSION
Finally, we must have passion in order to be relevant as worship leaders.  Our passion for the Lord is expressed not just through musical excellence and preparation but in a transparent desire to bring glory to God.  We are all individuals, so this focus on bringing glory to God will be expressed in many different ways.  However, our passion should be far more than skin deep.  True passion is not for the sake of appearance.   True passion for the Lord must permeate our hearts and should impact our thinking, our prayer lives, our expressions of worship, and the way that we live and relate as people.  We are worshipers and seekers of God first and worship leaders second, in answer to His call on our lives.  The deep desire and passion of our hearts should be to bring glory to God, fulfilling our calling to lead worshipers and seekers of God in a relevant manner that God can use to draw others to Himself and to inspire believers to seek a closer walk with Him through a more profound understanding of worship.

When we are willing to do whatever it takes in order for the Lord to indwell our worship and use it to impact the lives of others, the spiritual foundation of understanding that the goal of worship is to bring glory to God is primary.  However, without consideration of some practical things that should also enter our awareness, we risk leaving our congregation behind and neglecting the simple relational things that could help to communicate with them more effectively.   We essentially have a dual role as worship leaders of relating to and worshiping the Lord while also relating to and leading God’s people.   This can be a difficult balance, but we can do all things through Christ.  The practical elements of relating to our congregation and thereby becoming relevant to them as worship leaders are not difficult but do require some initial thought and then continued awareness.

First of all, we must realize that there has always been and always will be a “gap” between musicians and non-musicians.  Regardless of whether we are formally trained or simply have learned by years of participation, we will always view our role as a worship ministry leader differently from the way it will be viewed by those who have never participated in music organizations or in worship ministry.  Procedures that we take for granted as normal can seem strange, irrelevant, and even boring and archaic to non-musicians.  We have our own unique language (musical terminology), as well as our own set of expectations when we evaluate what we are doing (our own musical standards).   We must not get so caught up in the use of musical skills and expressions that we leave God’s people behind.  Every song for congregational worship should be singable and in a practical key, for example.  We just need to put some thought into relating musically to people who are not formally trained musicians.

The Apostle Paul always tried to become relevant to those whom he was trying to reach and serve.  (I Cor. 9:19-23)  Paul observed the culture around him in order to reference things that the people knew and build upon their knowledge with spiritual truth in his preaching and in his conversations.   Jesus was effective in ministering to people of all walks of life because they felt he was relevant.  He used stories that related to daily life in order to explain spiritual truth, and he demonstrated continual compassion for the hardships and difficulties and losses of life.  He also saw the hearts of the people with whom he came in contact and was able to speak to their deepest needs.  When Jesus communicated with people, I believe that He gave them His full attention and was fully engaged in communicating spiritual truth.  He could draw a crowd due to more than just His healing power.  People wanted to hear what He had to say.  The truths that Jesus spoke and taught were eternal, and He must have used all that He was to communicate them clearly and with passion.  We, too, can use all that we are to communicate spiritual truth and to focus on genuine worship.  We can relate to the daily lives of people so that they know we care about the joys and sorrows in their lives.  We can relate to people by speaking to their needs and clearly demonstrating genuine compassion and agape love for them.   When led to do so, we can use appropriate cultural references and even current events to share God’s truth in a relevant manner.   We can follow the example of Jesus to become more aware of the manner in which we relate to God’s people so that no only our worship leadership but also our lives make a difference and are relevant in ministry.

When it comes to worship ministry, the need for relevance is evident even in the Psalms.  The musicians who wrote them referenced events central to the history of Israel when talking about how God had protected and preserved the nation in every circumstance they faced.  There was a continual focus on remembering all that God had been to them (Savior, Lord, Refuge..) and all that He had done.   Throughout the centuries since the Psalms were written and since Jesus walked the Earth, there have been all kinds of situations surrounding and impacting the ministry of the local church.  Churches have utilized all kinds of worship leadership and musical expression of various types; and cultural surroundings have been a key factor in influencing changes.  It would be unrealistic for us to fail to recognize the fact that worship ministry has always been in the process of change.  It is Biblical and valid to sing to the Lord a new song, inspired by the way that He is working in our lives.  Christians in our congregations as well as those who have been called to the task of worship ministry leadership have done just that throughout the centuries of church history, singing the new songs of their own generation.  In recognizing that change is a constant process, we must also recognize the resistance to change in our own lives.  It is a challenge for any of us to accept change.  Change can be painful.  Change can take us out of our comfort zone.  Change can be threatening.  However, if we are to be relevant in worship ministry leadership, we must continually ask ourselves what contemporary elements of worship and new songs could be useful and meaningful in worship ministry.   We must also be aware of traditional worship practices and songs which might serve as a barrier between the worship ministry and many people in the congregation, and thus might have a negative impact on our relevance in the church today.

For example, choral praise is an element of worship ministry that has always been dear to my heart.  The Lord continues to give new songs for church choir ministry through those he has gifted with the ability to compose, so I don’t believe that He is finished with the use of choirs in worship ministry for His glory.  In order to be relevant in contemporary worship however, choirs will have to relinquish the role of a performing group and exchange it for the dual role of personal worshipers and leaders in worship ministry.   (The word “contemporary” here is not being used to describe a musical style but rather in the context of an overall worship ministry that is relevant today, no matter the style of the song that is being sung.)  Though there are some excellent examples of choral praise as a part of a vital contemporary worship ministry (such as the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir), there are several reasons that many churches are no longer including traditional choral praise as part of their ongong worhsip ministry.   The following facts are true of many church choirs and represent the type of disconnect that prevents some elements of worship ministry from being relevant to the hearts and lives of people of all ages in our congregations.

  1. Choirs hold music folders when they sing, pulling heads down and limiting eye contact with the congregation.  This also creates a physical barrier between the choir and the congregation.  In viewing photos of choirs, one discovers that singers who are looking down at music appear to have their eyes closed.  When music must be used, choir member need to raise the music up so that their heads do not have to look down to see the music, and they can actually look over the folder as they are singing.
  2. Choirs often “file in” in single file into the choir loft like some formal processional.
  3. Choirs are usually physically placed as far away from the congregation as can be, due to the design of most church buildings.
  4. Traditional seated choral risers do not allow for effective miking of the choir.  As a result, sound is often covered by instruments (and it’s not always their fault!), which means that the message that is supposed to be conveyed is not coming through.
  5. Our emphasis is on the “performance” of an “anthem” instead of on leading our congregation in singing God’s praises.  (Would we be as committed if we weren’t singing an anthem every Sunday?)
  6. Our body language is often stiff and formal.  We are concentrating on a posture that produces the maximum choral sound.
  7. Our facial expressions are often lacking due to our desire to concentrate on singing the music correctly.  (This very disconnect with the congregation, by the way, means we are not singing correctly even if vocal and choral technique is exemplary!)  It is true that God looks upon our hearts, and genuine worship is always the most important thing.   However, we must remember that the congregation is not blessed with x-ray vision to see inside our hearts.  They must rely instead on their senses in order to receive a message that is being spoken, sung, dramatized, danced, or played during a worship service.  As worship leaders, we should in turn use all of our senses and all of our being to communicate so that the message goes forth with the emphasis of all that we are capable of doing in order to express it.

What a difference! This choir is aware that part of communicating the message effectively is eye contact and facial expression. They are visually engaged in worship when they sing.

While you may or may not agree with all of the statements above, I think we can all agree on the fact that in order for overall worship leadership to really effective in making an impact in our churches and in the Kingdom of God, all people who are involved in worship leadership must do everything possible to relate to our congregations.  In other words, we must be aware of the need to be relevant.

The same kinds of visual and audible disconnect that can limit the effectiveness of choral praise also exist in other areas of worship ministry.  The entire worship ministry team must have an attitude of humility and desire to continue to learn and grow in order for God give us the direction we need so desperately.  Everyone who is on the platform in a worship leadership role must be aware that there is a need to be as involved in the message of the music visually as one must be in focus and mental awareness on the technical aspects of music.  The message must speak to our own hearts first and then be communicated through our facial expression, eye contact, posture, and attitude.   It ‘s never just the music that speaks to the heart.  It is God’s spirit working through the music that makes an eternal difference in the lives of people.  If a seeming lack of interest distracts from the message, people may be so bored that they are not open to the truths that are being communicated, thus inhibiting the work of God’s Spirit.

In a time when opinions about what a true worship ministry should be vary widely, we must continually seek God’s wisdom.  A recognition that all music itself and all musical gifts come from God and that the highest expression of music is ultimately to give all glory to God must permeate our hearts and inform all that we do, including planning and preparation for worship.  We must all be aware of the visual picture we present when elevated on a platform in front of God’s people.  What kind of message is being given by our posture and our facial expressions?   How obviously involved are we in the elements of the worship service that do not require our musical gifts?  Are we listening?  Praying?  Hearing from God?  Are we seeking to give Him glory?  Are we doing all that we can do to prepare for worship leadership so that our eyes don’t have to be downcast onto the music when we are singing praises to God?  For musicians, when we are not playing as part of the worship team on a particular song, are we still involved in worshiping God?  When we sing or speak of joy or grace, does our face portray the beauty of these gifts?  When we tell of the sacrifice and agony of our Lord, is the passion we feel for Him evident on our faces?  In everything that we do, we must endeavor to avoid the distractions of complacency, seeming boredom, lack of passion, and poor preparation.  These things focus attention on the question of whether we really believe what we are singing rather than opening hearts to the truth.  Rather, we must first be genuine worshipers and then seek to convey the truth of God’s love through full awareness of our role as a part of a worship leadership team.  Only then can our vulnerability before God and before our fellow worshippers allow us to connect to His life and theirs in a manner than brings relevance to worship ministry as a true reflection of relationship rather than as an artificial performance.

God is real, and our message of His love and salvation is eternally relevant.   Lord God, help us to worship You as we seek to lead effectively and to encourage others to worship You as well.

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This post was written by Travis L. Boyd and adapted by Cynthia Boyd

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Here is a particularly well composed response by an experienced Worship Minister to a question about how a choir should function as worship leaders.  This discussion took place on the forum in the “Music in Worship”  Community on Choralnet.org , and you may view the discussion in it’s entirety by becoming a Choralnet user and a member of the “Music in Worship” community.

“There are some simple universal truths about the choir’s role as worship leaders that I believe apply in any situation.  The first is obvious but so often overlooked and disregarded that it has spawned thousands of conference presentations, books and articles over the last forty years; the choir’s primary role is to lead the people in worship.  Whether the “liturgy” (“work of the people”) is formal or informal, screens or no screens, Catholic or Reformed, Denominational on Non-Denom, hidden in a choir loft or visible front and center it is the same.  Just the fact that you recognize this and want to learn more about it says a lot about your heart, integrity, and training.

First you should have a well defined theology or Credo of the Ministry of Music because everything you do should flow out of that.  Mine is not unique and I share it here so that you might think about developing your own: Glorify, Proclaim, Minister; Glorify God, Proclaim God’s word through song, Minister to and through those who serve.  Think of Glorify as a straight line of praise from the singer upward to God; Proclaim could be seen as a line in the shape of an L—proclaiming the Word to God’s people (horizontal line outward) which brings glory to God as His word is revealed (vertical line upward); Minister to and through those who serve (an inverted T)—I think you get the idea.  We do all of these things throughout worship at different times and sometimes different styles of music.  But to do any of them since the Old Testament the choir has been set apart to perform these roles.  Therefore the choir is in a position of servant leadership.  Next:
Modeling-what the choir does and how they do it sets the example for the congregation in the “what” and “how” in a worship service.  And of course that modeling begins with the director.  Every group reflects their leader.  Our choir is in front of the congregation.  When I want the congregation to stand the choir stands first, when the offering plate is passed in the congregation it is passed in the choir (if we are not singing) even though many singers give their offering on-line or in the mail.  The choir leads the congregation in confession, responsive readings, and of course singing.  Because our liturgy is informal and varies week to week that means we take time in rehearsal to run those things, and “talk” through the order of worship, rather than leaving it to chance.  That models to the choir the importance of those things.  This of course includes the hymns (an essential and extended topic around the choir’s leadership responsibilities).
Authenticity-we often think of this in relation to our own feelings but the choir is charged with the role of leadership which may require one to set their own personal feelings aside.  What I mean is this: one must be authentic to their role, the mood and the message of the music they are making.  I always strive to motivate genuine, personal expression from the personal faith of the singer.  But let’s face it, sometimes we may not feel so joyful on Sunday morning, or mournful on Good Friday.  One principle that seems to represent the greatest level of leadership is a willingness to sacrifice and sometimes that means sacrificing your own personal mood or feelings in order to communicate.  This not acting or “faking it”.  This is about understanding one’s role, their job, and sacrificial leadership.
What flows out of authenticity is expression and that, I think, is a tougher nut to crack.  How do you “free” people up to be expressive?  (For me, this pertains to choirs “seen and unseen”.)  Try to motivate first from personal experience and faith and teach to the idea of their role of leadership, responsibility to authenticity, selfless singing, and embodiment of the music.  They really have to understand and believe in their role and the business of authenticity to their role (above). Address the business of what do you do when your feelings don’t align with the music (answer: sacrifice self for the role of being faithful to the text); share how you feel sometimes.  Maybe you need to “prime the pump”–one of my mentors, Howard Swan, was first a psychologist.  He used to say “act enthusiastic and pretty soon you’ll be enthusiastic”.  Whose spirit hasn’t been transformed by the expressive power of music?  It’s not magic, it’s a gift from God!
Practically speaking they have to lift their folders up so mouths point up and out in order to be heard and faces to be seen; you may need to look into devices or activities that drama instructors use to teach expression.
Our church has been streaming our services for some time now.  The choir has really responded to seeing (and hearing) themselves.  Even though I’ve been at this church 23 years they have a new appreciation for my musical and expressive corrections because they have seen and heard themselves. Video the choir in worship and show it to them in rehearsal.  Is their countenance aligned with the music?  Then take the same piece of music and practice embodying the character of the music.
I hope this epistle has been of some value to you.  And if you like, I’d be happy to continue this discussion with other ideas and experiences independently.  You can contact me through ChoralNet or simply go to www.Belpres.org then navigate through the drop downs: About Us/Church Staff/Worship and Music (on left hand side of page).”
Blessings on your ministry
Scott Dean
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Mud Pies and Ministry

Picture this scenario:
A small child has the exciting opportunity to play in the mud.  He has all the tools that he needs to accomplish this task.  He has his hands to shape and form the mud, his feet to make footprints and splash and squish, some pebbles, wildflowers, and sticks for decoration, and his imagination to pretend that the mud is a giant lake of chocolate pudding or that the mud monster is lurking in the depths below.  Most importantly, the child has something else.  He has a passion for mud play.  He enjoys it thoroughly.  He abandons any concerns about staying clean or messing up anything and just uses his ‘tools’ to have fun in the mud.  He becomes an expert at mud play.

Then, the child has an idea.  The joy of playing in the mud reminds him of all of the other joys in life.  He realizes that he has had a lot of joyful times and times of being loved and cared for because of someone very special.  He decides that he must do somethiing in his own childish way to say “thank you” to his parent (or parents) and to express the love that he feels.   He doesn’t have much to work with; but he has become a mud play expert.  The child uses the tools he has been given to fashion a message in mud.  He creates the most beautiful mud pie that his little hands can form and carefully places pebbles and flowers on top to decorate it.  Now, he is ready to present his mud pie to the recipient (s).

The mud pie is formed of the most elemental substance and is clearly not edible and not even something that can become a keepsake; and yet, it is special.  It is special not because of the recipe used to make it or the skill of the mud pie maker.  It is special because it expresses something that a small child may possess but may have a hard time articulating:  a thankful and loving heart.  Both the heart of the giver and the heart of the recipient of the gift are important, for both are equally involved in the importance of the moment.  It is the love of these two for each other that gives the mud pie its importance.

  For a moment in time, the child has taken what was available to him or her and has used it to create something that becomes an expression of love for a parent, thankfulness for the joys of life, and the recognition of the blessings of giving.  The parent or parents have in turn accepted the gift and found their hearts touched by this loving and pure gesture from the heart of their child.  At that moment, the mud pie is a symbol of their very real connection and loving bond, which is the true gift for both parties. 

What do mud pies have to do with ministry? 

Quite a lot, actually.   When it comes to our relationship with God, we are His children.  We are the ones who long to express what is in our hearts through taking what it available to us, doing our best to make it into something as beautiful and excellent as possible, and hoping that God will overlook the imperfections and accept our offering.  We have a passion for using the gifts and abilities we’ve been given to create something that pleases Him! 

At this point, we need to keep several things in mind about our “mud pies.”

First, God looks upon the heart.
It is the heart of the giver that is so much more important than the gift itself.  While it is important to do our best and strive for an excellent love offering of the bits and pieces that make up our lives, we must not get so wrapped up in the excellence of the gift that we begin to forget the source of everything used to create it.  If the gift of the moment is a song, remember that God not only invented music, but He also gave us the capability to produce and to hear a range of musical pitch that allows us to use this gift.  He gives us life and breath and musical abilities and this moment in time to share the song.  We cannot be wrapped up in what we have been able to accomplish when we remember that God has given every part of what makes it possible for us to take all those hours of practice and learning and share a song with some level of skill and artistry.  He gave the very hours that we used to practice and learn and refine our skills, and He gave the abilities that were developed in the process.  All of the elements used to create and refine whatever our gift and calling may be in order to bring glory to God come from Him to us and then through us back to Him.   These blessings of time and abilities and purpose in our lives all flow from God’s ultimate gift:  His desire for relationship with us and His willingness to sacrifice everything in order to make that happen.
The gift of the song (or whatever the gift may be) is a moment in time, a temporal expression of love and gratitude to our eternal God.  It is a small child holding up a mud pie to the One who made both the mud and the child.

Secondly. all that we give back to the Lord will pass away except that which bears fruit for His Kingdom. 
There will be a new heaven and new earth, a new body, and a new song.  The only things we can do that will last are expressions of love and gratitude that God can use to impact the lives of others and turn their hearts toward Him.   And even then, it is His Spirit that brings the eternal value to the gift.  Without His Spirit indwelling us and speaking God’s love and mercy through us and through our gifts, the most excellent expressions of love and gratitude of which we were capable would only be a moment in time.  Trophies and sculptures, paintings, buildings and inventions, books and blogs, a clean home, strong relationships, a job well done….these are all gifts that can be an expression of love and thankfulness to our God,  seeking to bring Him glory.   But the eternal fruit can only come by His Spirit, and everything else is a mud pie moment in time.

Finally, it is within the process of the doing and the striving and the seeking and the becoming that God can show Himself strong in our lives.
The presentation of the gift that is the fruit of your abilities and labors is secondary to God.  More important to Him is that we are pressing toward the mark of the high calling…becoming like Christ.  Likewise, to the earthly parent, the sweetness of the mud pie moment lies in what it says about who this child is becoming…someone capable of thankfulness and of love….someone who longs to express these and finds a way to do so.  To God, our mud pie gifts are meaningless without the heart attitude that He desires in all of His children.  His word makes it clear that he could cause the rocks to give Him praise.  We must not become too focused on the vehicle of our praise (the use of our abilities and skills in presenting to God any gifts that we prepare for Him through our lives).  Instead, our focus needs to be upon the Object of our praise…..our awesome and loving God and our victorious Savior. 

In ministry, we often focus on plans and programs, goals, and ideas.  Yet, we must remember that it is the ongoing process of becoming like Christ that is the ultimate gift to our God.  With lifelong preparation and refinement by God’s Holy Spirit at work within us, our lives become a Kingdom gift that has eternal significance.  We have taken God’s best gifts to us:  His love, mercy, and grace, His forgiveness, His Son, His Life within us, His presence, His Spirit, His Word….and allowed these to transform us into the image of our Lord, which is our ultimate gift back to Him.  All other gifts pale in comparison to a beautiful and eternally changed life..

So, when the process or the preparation in our service to the Lord becomes a priority above our relationship with Him, we must remember that without the work of God’s Spirit, this gift or service to Him is just a mud pie.   Our intentions can be honorable in that we genuinely want to make a difference for the Lord.  However, our very busy-ness can distract us from the primary priority of relationship with the Lord.  Only His work in our lives transforms us into the image of His Son and allows whatever we do to make a greater spiritual impact.  Without staying in fellowship with God and allowing His Spirit to work through us, our efforts become a mud pie moment in time and nothing more.

May God help us to focus on lasting expressions of His love in our lives that He can use through the work of His Holy Spirit to touch the world with the eternal Hope of His Salvation!

“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”    John 1:4

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This post was written by C. Boyd

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For additional posts about the giving of our lives and all of our abilities and efforts to the Lord, be sure to view our posts entitled:

Music is a gift…Worship the Giver!

And

Worship…it’s all about Giving!

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Do you know someone who is looking for answers?

Thank you for spending your valuable time reading the contents of this page.  We hope that it has been helpful to you.   If you or someone that you know is looking for answers about life, we hope that you will visit our page called “Do You Know Jesus?”.   The links provided on this page will help to answer life’s deepest questions.   Here is the link to “Do You Know Jesus?”:  http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

Please feel free to share this URL with anyone who is looking for answers about life and eternity.

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Worship Planning and Preparation

“And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son; listen to Him!'” Luke 9:35

It is such an awesome responsibility to plan a congregational service of worship so that the people of God can express their praise and thanksgiving to Him through various elements of worship.

I believe that every congregational worship service should be planned carefully and prayerfully to include the following:

1.  Worship through prayer, (a musical or verbal prayer) inviting the presence of the Lord to inhabit the praises of His people
2.  Worship through musical praise, choosing songs that glorify, exalt, bless, and praise the Lord
3.  Worship through musical testimony (and/or verbal testimony), choosing a message of hopefulness that magnifies the Lord through a song or verbal testimony of His faithfulness and His work in the lives of His people.
4.  Worship through musical exhortation, choosing a song that exhorts and encourages God’s people in their walk with the Lord and their service to Him
5.  Worship through the giving of tithes and offerings
6.  Worship through a time of prayer and meditation
7.  Worship through the reading or speaking of scriptures (congregationally, or as part of the worship transitions by the worship leader, or by the Pastor in sharing his sermon text)
8.  Worship through the proclamation of the word (preaching)
9.  Worship through the invitation to respond to the leading of the Spirit of God (for salvation, re-dedication, a calling to vocational ministry, or other commitment)
10.  A worship benediction, a sending out of God’s people with a word of exhortation, usually from the Pastor (verbally), but this could also be in a congregational song that emphasizes a key point of the message or is a reminder to continue the focus on glorifying the Lord in every part of life as we go back into the world

Finally, it is important for the worship leader or worship pastor to teach God’s people about what worship really is (in brief statements of exhortation).   Worship is not preparing for anything.  Worship is worship.  The entire congregational service (including the preaching of the word) is worship.   The whole “worship service” is (or should be) devoted to bringing God glory in everything that is said, done, and sung.  That is worship.  We like John Piper’s definition of worship as “intentionally expressing the infinite worth of God’s glory.”
(see link below for the devotion in which this definition appears)**

NOTE:  For more information on living out the intentional expression of His infinite worth in all of life, see our page entitled “Lifestyle Worship.”  Here is the link for that page:
http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/lifestyle-worship/

The concept of bringing God glory through worshipping Him in all that we do can be found in the following scripture verses:

*   I Corinthians 10:31  “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
*   Colossians 3:17   “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
*   Colossians 3:23   “Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance of your reward; you are serving the Lord Jesus Christ.”
*   Romans 12:1   “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
*   Romans 12:11   “Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.”

STEPS TO WORSHIP PLANNING AND PREPARATION

1.  Asking for God’s guidance and inspiration in all of your planning and preparation, wait on the Lord through meditation on His word for His guidance.

2.  Work with your Pastor and Ministerial Staff in order to support their ministry needs through worship planning by choosing music or Scripture that support the message or any special emphasis when asked to do so or led to do so in prayer.

3.  Consider the capabilities and amount of preparation time you will have and have had for any worship groups who will be sharing a song, skit, or other type of worship message.  In this area, it is vital to communicate with your worship leadership personnel about when they will be there for rehearsal as well as which Sundays they will be out of town.  If you really need certain personnel there in order to introduce a certain song or present a drama, make sure there is a commitment to the time frame that you have in mind.

4.  Consider the technical capabilities of your equipment, the expertise of your tech crew, and the amount of time needed to pull together any technical or media-related aspects of the worship service you are planning.  Not having the ideal set-up can be discouraging, but it is vital to work with what you have and seek to prepare with excellence and reverence.

5.  Work effectively with your worship ministry teams and groups in preparation for leading in worship.  How much time do you need for adequate preparation?  Remember to continually emphasize preparation through prayer.  Your ministry team should feel comfortable enough with their preparation for worship to have a freedom in personal worship and challenged enough to depend upon the Lord for the outcome.

6.  Keeping in mind the make-up of your congregation, strive to be wise in choosing music that is singable, appropriate, worshipful, and within the capabilities of your worship leadership and congregation.  Worship music should not be a challenging vocal exercise or frustratingly difficult to learn.  Make sure that the vocal range is appropriate for congregational singing…not too low nor too high.  If placing a song in the correct vocal range for your congregation will put it into a key that is difficult for your instrumentalists, make sure that you give players plenty of time to master the chords before introducing the song to your congregation.   Flexibility from your accompanists, worship band, and orchestra is a great blessing, but be realistic about where your players are.  Try not to put them ‘on the spot’ with too little rehearsal time for something that is challenging.  Keep tricky rhythms to a minimum in congregational singing.  Even if the melody is one that you love, make sure that the lyrics say something that should be meaningful to every Christian.  The meaning of the lyrics should never be vague and should be expressed clearly.  Remember to use a variety of styles of music as the Lord leads so that there is something familiar and especially meaningful for various age groups and for people who are most comfortable with certain musical styles within your congregation.  However, lead your worship teams and congregation to focus on worshipping God rather than focusing on preferences to the extent that worship is hampered by wrongful attitudes.  [See our pages on  ‘Lifestyle Worship’  and on  ‘Extending God’s Grace’   (specifically the “put aside preferences’ section of this page) for more perspective on this challenging aspect of worship planning.]

7.  If you have been asked to move toward a more contemporary worship style, feel led to do so, or have been leading a contemporary service for some time, think about the practical aspects of learning new worship songs for your congregation.  The people of your church will feel more comfortable participating in singing rather than simply watching the worship team if you will be certain to introduce no more than one new song per service.  Keep the arrangement simple when introducing a new song, chorus, or contemporary hymn arrangement so that the melody can be clearly heard.  You can add more to the arrangement after the congregation has learned the song.  A full new set of songs each week may be musically impressive and even be very meaningful spiritually.  However, it can become a weekly performance rather than corporate worship, and the congregation cannot keep up without the benefit of the rehearsal time that your musical groups have invested.  Be aware of where your congregation is in terms of musical taste and preferences and the ability to learn new music quickly.  Use wisdom in determining how quickly to make changes so that your people can move in this direction along with you.  Keep in mind that many contemporary worship leaders are also singing hymns in addition to their worship songs and choruses.  Read through the lyrics to some hymns in your own private worship time each week.  Remember that the Senior Adults in our churches are part of the gospel’s journey.  They represent decades of faithfulness that allowed the message of God’s grace to reach you!  They were the Sunday School teachers and servants in the church that have kept the flame burning.  Ask the Lord to open your own mind to what He wants to say through the messages of every song that is shared.  Your mix may be different each week, and that’s okay.  If you model a respect for what has come before and a worshipful blend of old and new, perhaps the worship leaders of tomorrow will remember your generation and be open to the validity of your worship music, teaching their congregations to embrace the heritage of faith.  All generations in this media saturated culture are exposed to a wide variety of musical styles and expressions.  A contemporary movie score may include some country or bluegrass, some classical, some jazz, songs by Sinatra and Celine Dion, as well as by Alicia Keys, Adele, or Daughtry, some classic rock, and even big band sounds.  Even the merchandizing music mix that serves as background music in nearly every store is increasingly eclectic.  While it is clearly important to be musically relevant as well as spiritually relevant in order to reach out effectively to young adults who are statistically most likely to make a decision for Christ, remember that “worship is not a church growth tool” (a very true statement from our dear friend, Dr. Jon Duncan).  Worship is the intentional expression of the infinite worth of our God.**  Nothing less, and nothing more.

8.  Be sure to match your arrangements of songs to the lyric content and the building or waning of intensity in a song.  Keith and Kristyn Getty’s song, “The Power of the Cross,” is a perfect example of a song that requires some musical moments of simplicity, quietness, and sensitivity, leading into the building of intensity and adding of voices and instruments that supports the victorious declarations about the power of the cross.  Everyone does not have to play or sing all the time.  There are times when a soloist or praise team only can be very effective in communicating a message through music in such a way that it brings additional focus to worshipping the Lord.  A transition from a more acoustic sound to an amplified sound is sometimes called for as well.  The addition of choir and orchestra can add an incredible power and emphasis to a message.
Important:  do be very aware that anytime your worship plan involves complicating your arrangements by either doing only portions of certain songs or by changing the instrumentation as a song progresses (in order to maximize the effectiveness of the interpretation of lyrics), everyone must be on the same page about what is happening.  A simple song list will not be enough.  The “expanded update” (as Travis has called it) for worship team members (praise team, rhythm section, orchestra, choir, and Ministerial staff) also lists
(A) measure numbers for any song that will begin at a place other than the beginning, with information about who is in (singing & playing) at that point
(B) information about how you will lead a particular song [Example:  verses 1 & 2 before chorus, skip verse 3, use 2nd ending after chorus, modulating in measure 40.  sing verse 4, then chorus at letter D, repeat chorus with tag ending].  Team members have the opportunity to arrange their music on stands accordingly, mark changes, etc., when this information is provided in written form.
(C) any transition information that team members will need to know.  If a the keyboard player or guitar player only does the intro to a certain worship song, when does everyone else drop out, and when do they re-enter?  Will the worship leader be sharing a scripture verse between verses 1 and 2 of a song, requiring a few measures of vamping?  Does the worship leader intend to begin the first verse of a new worship song as a solo done by himself or a praise team member, or is it to be sung by everyone on the platform?  For your orchestra, do you want woodwinds only in a certain section that leads into the next song, or do you want the orchestra to lay out until verse 2?
(D) any arrangement notes about which players or singers should be in or out during certain sections of each song.  Notes such as:  ‘Orchestra enters on verse 2’, or ‘Piano only until the chorus’, or ‘Guitar only on this intro’, or ‘Only praise team sings the bridge section’ will tell all of the musicians exactly what they are supposed to do.
Then, at the end of the service, if you are doing a reprise, using only a portion of a worship song, hymn, or choir special as a worship postlude or benediction, what’s the measure number for the spot where you’ll begin?  Do you take each repeat or play section(s) only once?  Is there any change to the ending for the reprise?
Giving your worship leadership team members as much information as possible will help them to be more effective in their ministry.

9.  Pray for the people, pray for the ministry teams, pray for your ministerial leadership, pray that God will remove barriers to fellowship with one another and with Him, pray that His spirit will be present in power and that there will be openness among the people of God to His Spirit.  Lead your ministry teams to pray over every aspect of the worship service.  Pray for your Pastor as he brings the message, and for any other Ministers or lay leaders who have a crucial role in the worship service.  Pray for anyone who has a part in greeting and interacting with others.  Pray that the focus will be on the worship of our merciful and loving God.  “Sirs, we would see Jesus!”

10.  Finally, don’t forget how important the flow of the service is to the overall atmosphere of worship.  Transitions are vital.  Make sure that there is musical flow in terms of key signatures and any tempo or meter changes.  The message of the lyrics of one song should flow into to the message of the next in a way that makes sense.  It should be like a continuation of thought and an expansion of thought to include some new content in our worship mindset.  In addition, if you can work with others in your ministerial leadership to avoid interruptions in the flow of congregational praise, that will be so beneficial.  Announcements and such should really come at the very beginning or very end of a service if they must be made verbally.  Having your announcements on slides or in a bulletin, by e-mail, on your church facebook page and/or website, or even having a downloadable cell phone app for your church’s announcements will prevent the distraction that occurs when the focus changes from the eternal (worship) to the daily (who, what, where, when) and back again.  Hopefully, your ministerial team will be sensitive enough not to follow a truly holy moment of reverence with a joke.  While it is true that humor can unite us in sharing a moment of lightness or levity, sensitivity to a moment of reverence is always welcome.  Perhaps a prayer would be a great way to acknowledge our awesome God and the intimacy of His presence during the worship time before moving on with whatever message opener is desired by the speaker.  Hopefully, it will be possible for your ministerial staff to partner together in prayer for every element of worship, and in an attitude of awareness about what contributes to a meaningful worship time during which God’s people meet together with Him in praise and

What process do you use

 

Feel free to comment on the methods and opinions that are expressed here.  If you have additional thoughts about the subject of worship or about worship planning and preparation, please add them as a comment.

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** John Piper’s definition of worship has been paraphrased.  His original wording can be found in the devotion titled  ”Bodies, Breakfast, and the Marriage Bed”  and subtitled  “A Meditation on Daily Worship”.
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Post written by C. Boyd, based upon decades of learning and growth in the area of worship ministry through the study of scripture and many books on the subject of worship, years of deep conversation with Travis and many other worship leaders and mentors, and observation of effective worship leadership by people who love the Lord and seek to praise Him.
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Do you know Jesus?
The decision to ask Jesus to come into your heart and life as your Lord and Savior is the best decision you could ever make!  The one true God is ready to give you forgiveness and eternal life as soon as you understand your need for Him and believe on the name of His only Son, Jesus, for your salvation.  Here’s a blog page link to help you find the answers to your questions about Jesus.  http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/
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Attention, Please! It’s a wake up call!

Every day is a new beginning!

What gets your attention?  Sometimes events or messages from others that take us by surprise can be heavenly wake-up calls.  After we recover from the shock of finding out that things were not as we thought them to be, such a wake up call can be a very good thing.  We are forced to re-evaluate and to move forward with a truer perspective, often requiring positive change or increased diligence on our part.

All of us have ‘blind spots’ in our lives.  Often, these are areas of endeavor that seem to be going well.  We’ve been working and striving, thinking that we are doing our best.  Then, along comes something that rocks our world.  It could be something that we observe, something that someone says or does, a scripture that speaks to our hearts, or just a stunning realization that there is much more to be done.  While we’ve always known that there is more, perhaps we may not have realized how much more.  Or, perhaps we’ve thought that we are making good progress.  A new level of awareness can be a shocking wake-up call.  Whether the area of concern is relationships, parenting and preparing our children for life beyond home, something related to work, an area where self-improvement is needed, or an area of spiritual discipleship or discipline that is not where it should be, we must suddenly re-evaluate and re-prioritize in order to address this need which has come to our attention.  It’s a ‘front and center’ moment of time when we realize that we must step up to a new level of effort, of competence, or of intentional focus.  While being confronted with addressing the need at a new tier of possibilities and priorities may at first seem dauntingly impossible, unfair, or even hurtful, it’s actually a very good thing to have an aha! moment.  It is these times of keen awareness that help us move forward from the place we thought we had reached to a higher mountaintop beyond our range of vision.  Sometimes we can’t see the end (or the top), and we don’t know how to get there.  The alternative is to stay where we are, put our blinders back on, and bumble forward in the hope that somehow everything will be alright.  We may be very close to the edge of a precipice of mediocrity without realizing the danger.  When it comes to fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives, the precipice of mediocrity is not somewhere that He is willing to let us stay.

What to do then?

It’s time for some fresh perspective.  It’s time for us to take a new look at every area of life, but this time we’ll need some help with our blind spots.   First, we must we willing to lay down our blinders.  We must let go of our ideas about where we are and where we need to be in our walk with the Lord and in every area of life.  The wake-up call that we received, in whatever form it came, was a blessing in disguise.  It allows us to have a new beginning.  In order to move forward with the Lord in any changes that we need to make, we first need to spend time in prayer and wait on the Lord to reveal His direction in every area.  He will guide us if we trust Him to take us from right where we are and move us to where we need to be.  Often, our way forward is one day at a time, one step at a time, one moment at a time.  We are not paralyzed as we move forward.  We are taking steps of faith with great hope because we trust that God will cause all things to work together for good.  (Romans 8:28)  We must move forward in doing what we know to do.  If there have been areas of complacency in our lives, our work, or our calling to serve the Lord, we know that we must move toward re-connecting with God’s heart of compassion, His purpose, and His urgent call to our hearts, “Redeem the time!”

In Music and Worship ministry, as in any area of life, our positions of leadership carry great responsibility.  We must stop making excuses and begin again to use all of the resources that we have been given to passionately declare the love and mercy of our God.  Most of our brothers and sisters in the congregation will only awake to their own passion for following the Lord when they see that passion in their leadership and recognize that the time is short, the laborers are few, and the need is great!   What kind of impact can we make in our world?  We have so much more to work with that the small band of disciples that watched Jesus ascend to Heaven after they had been given their “marching orders.”  (Matthew 28:18 – 20)  Perhaps we have some problems with our technical equipment, some personnel shortages, inadequacies with our buildings, tight budgets, scheduling issues, and attitudes to overcome.  We’ll never do the work of the Kingdom as long as we allow these issues to get the better of our enthusisam or to zap our zeal for the Lord and for serving Him.  (Just say ‘no’ to zeal zappers!)  So, we must get busy with the resources we’ve been given!   We’ve had our wake-up call.  God has gotten our attention, but He wants more.  He wants our hearts, our minds, our souls, and our strength!  We can’t just watch a downhill slide anymore!  It’s time to start pushing back the tide, pushing forward, and doing what we are called to do.  He will meet us where we are and be there each step of the way!

Dear Lord, in every area of my life, You have a plan.  I praise You, O Lord.  Your steadfast love endures forever!  Your wisdom is unsearchable.  Your goodness is absolute.  Your mercies are new every morning!  You are the God of restoration and redemption.  Lord, take my life, my feeble efforts, my pre-conceptions, and my responsibilities.  Take it all.  Make it Yours.  Help me to continue to lay it all down everyday, knowing that only You can carry Your purpose forward in my life.  Where I have messed up, help me make it right.  Where I have fallen short, show me how to make up the difference with Your help.  Where my vision has failed, give me Yours.  Where my hopes have died, restore them.  Where hurts have crippled or confused me, shine Your healing light.  Touch my heart with your compassion and mercy.  Help me to see every person through Your eyes.  Restore the joy of my salvation and the zeal of fresh commitment.  Give me a heart that thirsts for You.  Remove the sickness of complacency from my life.  Make me new, Lord.  I love you.  In the name of my precious Savior, Jesus,….Amen.

For more perspective and inspiration on living a life of intentionally seeking to bring God glory in every moment, see our post entitled “Lifestyle Worship.”   Blessings to you as you move forward in your walk with the Lord and seek His purpose in every area of life!

C. Boyd

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Do you know Jesus? 

The decision to ask Jesus to come into your heart and life as your Lord and Savior is the best decision you could ever make!  The one true God is ready to give you forgiveness and eternal life as soon as you understand your need for Him and believe on the name of His only Son, Jesus, for your salvation.  Here’s a blog page link to help you find the answers to your questions about Jesus.  http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

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