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

Posts tagged ‘worship leadership’

The Choir in Praise

 Sing praise to the Lord  sunrise“Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy name.”   Psalm 30:4

As Choir members (soloists, vocalists in ensembles or Praise Teams), we are in a position of leadership in Worship Ministry every time that we are in the loft or on the platform. 

Sing praises with understandingWe need to have a clear understanding of praise and worship in order to both personally worship the Lord and to lead others in worship.  First, we must understand the difference between praise and worship.

Consider this fact:  the Bible speaks about praise and worship in distinctive ways, sometimes using both words in the same passage of scripture.

*  “O Lord, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise.”   Psalm 51:15

*  “Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth; sing the glory of His name; give to Him glorious praise!”   Psalm 66:1

I will sing praise*  “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”   Psalm 69:30

*  “Praise ye the Lord; O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endures forever.  Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord?  Who can show forth all His praise?”   Psalm 106:1 & 2

In the verses above, certain facts about praise begin to emerge.

1.  Praise is outward.  It is sung or spoken; it is uttered; it is shown forth.

2.  Praise focuses on the attributes of God and what He has done.

3.  Praise is obviously important, for we are told repeatedly to do it.

Now, lets look at some verses that talk about worship.

*  “Honor and majesty are before Him, strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.  Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength.  Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts.  O worship the Lord in the beauty of Holiness; fear before Him, all the earth.”‘   Psalm 96:6 – 9

*  (Jesus speaking)  “The hour is coming, and now is, when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to worship Him.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  John 4:23 & 24

Worship the Lord with gladness*  “I appeal to you therfore, 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 12:1

*  “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”  Hebrews 12:28

From these scriptures, we see several truths about worship.

1.  Worship is our response to who God is and what He has done, as we lovingly and reverently choose to acknowledge God’s supremacy over all of Creation and his ultimate worth as Creator, Sustainer, Savior, Comforter, and the Author and Finisher of our faith.

2.  Worship must be done in honesty, knowing that God sees our hearts.  We worship Him truthfully as we come to Him in a spirit of humility and acknowledge our own faults and even our struggles with faith and doubt.  Truthful worship honors God because we are trusting our weaknesses to Him, knowing that He is good.

Worship by giving God all of you3.  Worship that is acceptable and holy to God involves a commitment of all our our lives, choosing to live in a way that honors God and give Him glory.  He has sacrificed His all for us; and we, in turn, become living sacrifices to Him as we commit ourselves to living reverently.  Notice that the physical (presenting of our bodies and our lives as an offering to the Lord) becomes spiritual (our spiritual worship) as we respond to God’s mercies by lovingly giving ourselves.

4.  No matter what has happened in our lives, true worship involves choosing gratitude to God as we recognize that what is temporary is only part of reality.   We look forward in faith, with the assurance that the eternal reality we will someday experience in full will replace all sorrow and pain with joy and the complete knowledge of how much we are loved.

With the fundamental understanding that praise is choosing to express our acknowledgement of who God is and what He has done and that worship is our loving and reverent response to God’s goodness and love in every area of our lives, let us continue to focus on the role of God’s singers in praise and worship.  Although we are always concerned with musical excellence, that concern is secondary to the intentional commitment of our voices in praise and our hearts and lives in worship.

“As a worship pastor and a choir leader, I am constantly desiring to walk the line where authenticity and excellence meet, ministering deeply to the hearts of people, and, more importantly to the heart of God.”

–  Travis Cottrell, Christian Artist, worship pastor, songwriter

Let’s look at a Psalm that puts our lives and God’s supremacy into perspective.

Psalm 103

English Standard Version (ESV)

Bless the Lord, O My Soul

A Psalm of David.

Bless the Lord O my soul103 Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me,  bless his holy name!  2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits;  3   who forgives all your iniquity,  who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit,  who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the people of Israel. 8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him. 14 For He knows our frame;  He remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;  he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,  and its place knows it no more. 17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, 18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. 19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! 21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! 22 Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!

So, WHY DO WE PRAISE THE LORD?

I sing praise to You1) Because the very greatness of God demands it.

2) Because we have been very blessed.

3) Because it helps us to focus on God and not on ourselves.

4) Because praise helps to prepare our hearts for God to do a work in them.

WHY DO WE SING PRAISES TO GOD AS A CHOIR?

1) Because it is Biblical.

2) Because it is a powerful way to express praise to God

3) Because it adds energy and life to the times of focused, congregational worship

4) Because a choir is able to prepare expressions of praise that a congregation can not.

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS WE MUST ALWAYS REMEMBER WHEN SINGING IN CHOIR?

1)  We are a singing group, not a group of singers.  We are joining our voices together in praise, with the ultimate goal of bringing glory to God.

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.

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.

2)  We must do all we can do to help further an atmosphere conducive to leading God’s people in worship each week.

a. We must have invested the time to be prepared (musically and spiritually).

b. We must be ready to serve the Lord through worship ministry, bringing a servant’s attitude.

c. Our countenance (facial expression and radiance) should be a reflection of worship and praise as well.

d. We must be authentic worshippers who seek to live a lifestyle of worship throughout the week.

3)  The reason that we have come together is not to sing.  It is to worship.  Singing is a part of our worship as we seek to bring glory to God and to express our praise to Him, but the heart of worship is our desire to intentionally express God’s ultimate worth through all that we are.

WORSHIP SCRIPTURES

“But I, through the abundance of Your steadfast love, will enter Your house, I will worship toward Your holy temple in reverence, and awe of You.”  Psalm 5:7

“Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His footstool; for He is Holy.”   Psalm 99:5

beauty of holiness“Honor and majesty are before Him, strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.  Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength.  Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts.  O worship the Lord in the beauty of Holiness; fear before Him, all the earth.”‘   Psalm 96:6 – 9

“And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.”‘  Luke 4:7

(Jesus speaking)  “The hour is coming, and now is, when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to worship Him.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  John 4:23 & 24

“I appeal to you therfore, 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 12:1

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”  Hebrews 12:28

“And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and wonderful are Thy deeds, O Lord God the Almighty!  Just and true are Thy ways, O King of the ages!  Who shall not fear and glorify Thy name, O Lord?  For Thou alone art Holy.  All nations shall come and worship Thee, for Thy judgements have been revealed.”  Revelation 15:3 & 4

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The above post includes teaching about worship and praise shared with our Adult Choir by Travis L. Boyd

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FOR FURTHER STUDY ON WORSHIP AND PRAISE

(Below, you will find information about praise and worship from a leadership course about what it means to praise God and what it means to worship God.  The information has been slightly and condensed and edited.)   The web address for the resource found below is http://leresources.com/praise_and_worship.html

Praise and worship are distinct, yet closely related activities. 

A.  Praise is an outward expression of your love for God.  It is a natural and very important part of worship, which is our loving response to the presence of God in our lives.

1.   Praise is a choice.  You can choose to express your love for God at any time, and in any situation.  You can praise Him for who He is, for what He has done, and for what He has promised to do.

2.   Your praise can be addressed directly to God, but it is often directed to others around us, proclaiming His greatness and encouraging others to praise Him.  Praise can even be directed to the spiritual forces in the heavenlies, proclaiming the greatness of the true God.

3.  Though God certainly knows when we are in an attitude of praise and hears the praises of our hearts, we must remember that, by definition, praise must be expressed.  If you have thought about something nice regarding someone you know but have not expressed those thoughts verbally, you have not praised him or her.  Within gatherings such as the congregation and within relationships, praise is expressed by voicing our love and admiration, often specifically mentioning the attributes or actions of the person being praised.  Praise can be written, spoken or sung; but it must be expressed.

4.  When you praise God, He will respond by manifesting His presence to you.  When you experience God’s presence, you are able to respond directly to Him, and tell Him how much you love Him.  That response is called worship.  In worship, you experience intimacy with God, and express your adoration to Him.

B.   Praise is the gateway through which we must pass to enter into the presence of God and worship Him. 

1.  Praise and worship are the activities of heaven and are also very important for the Body of Christ on Earth.

2.  If you do not learn to praise God as He wants to be praised, you will fail to experience His presence, and your worship will be lacking.

3.  You were created to praise and worship God.  (See Romans 12:1)  When you give yourself to the activity of praise and worship, you are fulfilling the purpose for which you are made.  Because of this, the praise and worship of God brings a fulfillment and satisfaction that nothing else in the universe can bring.             

C.  It pleases God when we praise Him.

1.   The Psalms tell us that God comes and manifests His presence in our midst when we praise Him. He inhabits the praises of His people!

2.   The importance that God places on praise is revealed by the frequency of scriptural exhortations about it.  The most frequent exhortation in all of the Bible is to PRAISE THE LORD!  (It is also interesting to note that the longest book in the Bible is the book of Psalms — a book of praise songs!)

D.  It is important to God how you praise and worship Him. 

1.  The example of the tabernacle of Moses in the Old Testament shows us that God has the right to be praised and worshipped as HE desires.  When the people chose to disregard His instructions and follow their own ideas and traditions, He was displeased!

2.   If we are to praise and worship God, we must look to His Word to understand how He desires to be praised and worshipped.  We must allow God to instruct us about how we are to offer up our praise and commit to doing so!

What is Praise?

A    Remember the definition of praise:  Biblical praise is the free expression of love and appreciation to God.

1.    It is important that you love God.  Jesus said that the greatest commandment is that you love the Lord your God.  It is also important, however, for that love to be expressed outwardly.

2 .   A husband and wife may love each other; but if that love is never expressed, if there are no loving words or actions exchanged, their relationship is not good.  A general principle is:  When love is not expressed, it shrivels up and dies.  When love is expressed, it grows.

3.    It is important for your love of God to be expressed outwardly.  That outward expression of your love for Him is PRAISE.

B.  How can we express our love for God in a way that pleases Him?

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” — Mk 12:30

1.  We must open our hearts to God and not attempt to withhold any part of our lives and hearts from Him.  He knows all about us, anyway.

2.  Because we are emotional beings, we must not suppress genuine emotion in expressing our praise.

3.  Praise must come from our innermost being (our soul), which involves choosing to surrender our will.  The decision to praise is a decision of the will.

4.  Even though we are emotional beings, our decision to praise the Lord must not be based upon feelings or circumstances.  In the Psalms, we can see that David spoke to his soul even in the midst of despair and commanded it, “Praise the Lord, O my soul!”   David made a decision, an act of the will, that he would praise the Lord even if he did not feel like it.  Psalm 146 says, “I will praise the Lord all my life, I will sing praise to Him as long as I live!”  That is a choice!  Very often, the times when we do not feel like praising are the very times we need to praise God most.  We need to decide to praise Him because He is worthy of praise, even when we do not feel like it!  When we make that choice, we are expressing love for God from our very souls.

5.   Our minds must be fixed upon God, and our praise must be more than simple repetition.  This involves our intellect.  This is important!  Some people express praise to God that has no meaning.  They just say, over and over, “Praise the Lord.  Praise the Lord.”  God wants your love to be expressed with your minds.  To praise God deeply, you need to express a real understanding of who God is.

4    Our strength is also to be employed in expressing our love for God through praise.  Praise involves physical activity.  The Bible talks of David “praising God with all of his might.” (2 Sam 6:14).  That is expressing love with your strength.

C.   Why is Praise Important?

Eph 1:6,12,14 and 1 Pet 2:9 state that one of God’s purposes for saving us is to be a people who would show forth His praises in the earth.

1.  Praise aligns our hearts to God. 

2.  Praise opens our hearts to receive from Him.

3.  Praise clears away distractions.  Only when we choose to focus on praising the Lord can we clear our minds of other concerns.

4.  Praise builds faith.  As we choose to focus on praising God rather than upon our problems, faith rises within us.

5.  Praise brings His presence.  When we truly praise God, His presence is manifested in your midst, often in a very tangible way.  We know that God is present everywhere, at all times and that there is nothing that is out of His control (His omipresence).  We also know that, for every person who is a true believer in Jesus Christ, God lives within that individual in a special way.  (When you trusted in Jesus as Savior, the Holy Spirit of God took up residence in your heart.  He is always with you to comfort, to enlighten, and to teach you as you read His Word.  You may not feel His presence, but by faith you can know that He is there.  This is God’s indwelling presence.)  What the Bible speaks of when scripture says that God inhabits the praise of His people (Psalm 22:3) is His manifest presence.

a)   God’s presence is manifest when He chooses to make His presence known.  It is when He makes Himself tangible to you.  You experience Him and enter into a spiritual intimacy with Him.  This is also when His power is revealed.  (Power is an outflow of communion with Him.)

b)   When we experience the manifest presence of God, He is there to heal, to comfort, to energize His gifts, or to manifest His power.  If you want to experience God’s presence, and see God work in power in your life, the solution is to learn to praise Him.

6.   Praise defeats the enemy.  See Psalm 149:   The first six verses give us a beautiful description of praise, but in verse 7 and following, it changes to a description of warfare.   There are times when you know you are under attack.  Everything seems to go wrong.  Many times, it is just after you have made a step forward in your spiritual life.  Sometimes it is when you are just getting ready to begin a new area of ministrWhat do you do when the enemy attacks?  One solution is to praise God.

How is Praise Expressed?

In the Old Testament, there are seven Hebrew words used for praise.  Each one of these describes a specific way of expressing your love to God.

A.   The Physical Expression of Praise.

1.  Yadah and Towdah (to praise with lifted hands).

a)   The first two words for praise are very similar in meaning.  They are Yadah and Towdah.  They both come from the Hebrew word that means “to extend the hand”.  These two describe an expression of praise by extending the hands upward to God in adoration.

b)  Yadah” is the most frequently used word for praise in the Bible.  Most of the exhortations to praise use this word.

c)   The lifting of hands is an outward expression of love, dependency, submission, and appreciation.

d)   When you raise your hands to God, it tells your mind that you are dealing with someone greater than you are.

2.   Barak (To bend the knee in praise, to bow down before).

a)   Barak” describes an expression of praise that uses not just the hands, but the whole body.  It is the expression of praise by kneeling or bowing down to God.

b)   When we bow down before God, we are acknowledging Him as our Lord, the King of the universe.  It is very appropriate to express our praise to Him in this way.

c)   Your bodies were designed by God to be instruments to express His praise.  It is valid to stand, kneel, lift your hands, or fall down on your face before Him.  God wants you to be free to express your praise to him with your bodies.

B.  The Musical Expression of Praise.

Music is spiritually significant for a number of reasons.  Music makes you sensitive to hear God (2 Kings 3:14-16), it communicates spiritual truth (Col 3:16), and (if played under the anointing of God) it can drive away spiritual enemies (1 Sam 16:14-23).

1.   Zamar (to praise God with a musical instrument).

a)   Zamar comes from a root word that means “to pluck strings of a musical instrument.”  This word is used in several passages, including Psalm 135:3 and Psalm 147:7.  (This is the Hebrew word we get the word “Psalms” from.  The Psalms were songs to be sung together with instruments.)

b)   The Bible indicates that the instrumental part of the music is important.  Psalm 150 exhorts us to praise God on string, wind, and percussion instruments.  The Israelites used all the instruments they had as instruments for praising God.

2.  Tehillah (to express praise in song).

a)  The word “tehillah comes from a root word that means “to sing.”

b)   It is used in such passages as Psalm 34:1-2.  “His praise (tehillah) shall continually be in my mouth” and Psalm 100:4, “Enter His courts with praise (tehillah).”

c)  Not all singing is praise, even if you are singing hymns or praise songs.  Singing songs of praise becomes praise when you are singing to the Lord as an expression of love to Him.

d)   In Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16, Paul describes three categories of songs to sing to the Lord.

       Psalms – The Psalms are Biblical songs.  Even though we do not know the original tunes to the Psalms, we can take the words of the Psalms and set them to music and sing these inspired songs to God.

       Hymns – Hymns are songs of praise to God that are not part of the Bible.  The modern expressions of praise we sing today, as well as the hymns written through the history of the church, would all be included in the category of hymns.

       Spiritual Songs – Spiritual songs are songs given by the Spirit, for a particular moment.  They are a spontaneous expression of love for God.  There are two categories of spiritual songs:

C.   The Free Expression of Joy

Sometimes God wants you to be deep and thoughtful in your expression of love, but at other times the love inside of you wants to burst forth in free expression.  There are times when you want to shout it from the rooftops!  There are two words that describe this kind of praise:

1.    Halal (to celebrate)

a)    halal” is a Hebrew word that means to celebrate. 

b)   Halal means to express your love for God by joyously and freely celebrating before Him.

c)   Biblical descriptions of Halal involve clapping hands, dancing, shouting, and rejoicing before the Lord.  This word is used in such passages as Psalm 47:1-6 and Psalm 150.

d)  It is from the word “halal” that we get the word “hallelujah”.  (Hallelujah is an exhortation to have a halal for Yahweh).

In 2nd Samuel 6, when the ark was brought into Jerusalem, David took off his robe and danced before the Lord.  (That was halal.)  His wife, Michal, watched David dance and despised him for it.  When he returned, she criticized him and accused him of making a fool of himself by dancing before the Lord.

David responded to Michal by saying that it was all right to look foolish for God.  He told her that he would continue to be foolish for God, because everything he had was given to him by God.

The passage concludes by mentioning God’s judgment on Michal for criticizing David’s dancing.  Because she despised David’s joyful praise, God made Michal barren for the rest of her life.  The lesson here is to be careful of criticizing other people’s praise.

2.  Shabach (to shout).

a)  Shabach” means to praise in a loud tone, to shout, or to shout in triumph.  It is used in such passages as Ps 117:1 and Ps 147:12.  This form of praise is common in the Bible.

b)  In Nehemiah, the people rejoiced before the Lord; and the noise of their celebration was so loud that it could be heard a long way off.  They were shouting before the Lord.

c)   Rev 19:1, 4-6:  In this description of heavenly praise, the roar of all the heavenly hosts shouting their praises is so loud that it sounds like thunder.

If your praise is weak, your worship will be shallow.  If you enter into the high praises of God and praise Him with all of your might, you will find that your high praise will be followed by a time of deep worship.

Note:  The worship resource above, copied and edited here, can be found in its entirety at http://leresources.com/praise_and_worship.html

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More about praise from http://www.allaboutprayer.org/how-to-praise-and-worship-god-faq.htm

When we worship, we are expressing our reverent love and devotion to God. Worship is the act of doing something like reading the Bible, praying, or singing. However, worship is not limited to only to these things. When we praise, we are expressing our admiration for God; we are lifting Him up in exaltation. Praise is the act of celebrating or boasting about the Lord. Praise can be done through song, poems, or confessing the goodness of God to others. We should be giving God our praise and worship through our daily lives. We can do this at home, in our work place, on the bus – wherever we are! Praise and worship is a way of life, the very heartbeat of our relationship with God.

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Praise To God – The Importance of Praise

Praise to God is what we offer in acknowledgement of God’s excellent being. You might think that praise is the same as saying “thank you,” but there is a difference. Thanksgiving describes our attitude toward what God has done, while praise is offered for who God is. Psalm 18:3 says “I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise…”

All believers are commanded to praise God! In fact, Isaiah 43:21 explains that praise is one reason we were created, “This people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise.” Hebrews 13:15 confirms this: “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name.”

Praise originates in a heart full of love toward God. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Are you a Christian today? If so, you know that you love God because He first loved you! Without God’s love, any praise you can offer is hollow. Love, born from a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, is an essential part of your praise.

Praise To God – How to Praise God

How can you bring praise to God? What can you do to make it an integral part of your life? Praise can be expressed in song, in verse, or in prayer and it is to be done continuously! Psalm 34:1 instructs, “I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” Psalm 71:6 says, “From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you.”

Praise to God is expressed outwardly through our everyday actions, as well as inwardly in our thoughts. Praise is an act of Christian worship.

“Where do I begin?” you may ask. “How do I start praising God?” If praising God is new to you, try praising God for who He is to you, personally. Proclaim that God’s goodness is without measure; it is abundant and overflowing! Here are some ways to get started:

• Praise God for His holiness, mercy, and justice (2 Chronicles 20:21, Psalm 99:3-4).

• Praise God for His grace (Ephesians 1:6).

• Praise Him for His goodness (Psalm 135:3).

• Praise God for His kindness (Psalm 117).

• Praise God for His salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Praise to God can be offered anywhere! In time, it will become as normal as taking a breath. Sometimes we praise God inwardly as in Psalm 9:2, “I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” Other times we have opportunity to give glory and praise to our God publicly. Psalm 22:22 says, “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.” Search out opportunities to bring praise to God!

Praise To God – Who Praises God?

Praise to God, while offered particularly by His children as the freewill expression of grateful hearts, will one day be offered by everyone! The Bible says that when He comes again, all mankind will praise Him and acknowledge Him as Lord. He is King over all the earth. When we know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, our hearts long to praise His name. Philippians 2:9-11 tells us His name represents His being, describing who He is, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The Bible also records:

• All nature praises God (Psalm 148:7-10).

• The sun, moon, and stars praise Him (Psalm 19:1 and 148:3).

• The angels praise Him (Psalm 148:2).

• Even the wrath of men is used by God to praise Himself (Psalm 76:10).

• Children are to be taught to praise God (Psalm 78:4).

Praise To God – Do You Proclaim His Praise?

Your praise to God is evidenced through your salvation. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

NOTE:  The above can be found at http://www.allaboutprayer.org/how-to-praise-and-worship-god-faq.htm

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Read more!

The book “God’s Singers”, by Dave Williamson, is a great resource for Worship Leaders and Choir Directors.  Singers would enjoy the special Singer’s edition of the book.  Here  is a review of the book, from Worship Leader online magazine.

God’s Singers

By | Categories: In Review
Author: Warren Anderson
Every so often a worship music book is published that becomes recognizable as the definitive, go-to reference for its particular genre in its particular generation.  In our time, if you wish to talk about the history of music in the Church, go to Paul Westermeyer’s Te Deum.  If building a case for congregational song is your desire, your first stop should be John Bell’s A Case for Congregational Song.  Want a grad-school-level analysis of how contemporary worship music is used these days?  The Message in the Music (Robert Woods and Brian Walrath) is your best bet.Dave Williamson’s God Singers joins these other must-haves where the specific subject of worship-leading choirs is concerned.  Every possible topic that should be covered in a book of this nature is here.  Biblical support for the use of choirs in worship?  Check.  Lots and lots of practical how-to’s for getting the best sound out of your singers?  Got it.  Sociological discussions of issues inherent in corporate ministry, even ones peculiar to choral singing?  Yep.  Stylistic techniques for transforming your choristers into a black-gospel choir, a rock choir, or a modern-worship choir—i.e., what to do with vibrato, vocal licks, and syncopation?  They’re here.  Helpful appendices from Williamson’s 40 years in the biz?  Nine of them.  Consider purchasing the (condensed) singer’s edition for your choir members and the (expanded) director’s edition, which includes a CD-ROM of ancillaries, for yourself.  Highly recommended. Title: God’s Singers Author: Dave Williamson Publisher: In:cite Media
Here’s a link to the Singer’s Edition of the book on ChristianBook.com:  http://www.christianbook.com/gods-singers-singers-edition-dave-willimason/9780615406312/pd/406312
NOTE:  The quotation by Travis Cottrell found in this blog post came from his online recommendation for this book.
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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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