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 ministry’

You Know You’re a Worship Pastor When…

How do you know for sure that you really are a Worship Pastor?  Here’s a sometimes humorous and sometimes serious look at twelve ways to be sure of your calling to lead God’s people in worship.

I am with you always12  When you were called to ministry, you had no idea of the multitude of hats you would wear as a Worship Pastor.  (Some of them may include:  Technical Problem Trouble Shooter, Peacemaker, Calendar Coordinator, Instrument Repair Technician, Set Designer and Builder, Script Writer, Liaison to the Decorating Committee, Video Editor, Music Arranger, and others too numerous to mention, depending upon what is needed at your place of service.)  The blessing that you recall while juggling your responsibilities is that you are never alone, no matter what hat you may be wearing on any given day.  The Lord, your refuge, is with you… in everything that you do in His name and for the sake of the Kingdom.

11  Because you are up front and leading God’s people, they really notice (and comment on) what you wear.  Whether you are a skinny jeans and plaid shirt wearing Worship Pastor in a contemporary church, or whether you wear a suit every Sunday leading worship in a more traditional congregation, people do notice.

10  When you get together with ministry colleagues who serve in the same vocational ministry calling in their own churches, you love the fellowship time; but the main thing that you want to do together is make music and worship the Lord.

9You are very familiar with the initials CCLI, and somewhere in your office is a stack of browser packs from music publishers.*

*  Note:  CCLI is the copyright and licensing service for Christian music, which enables churches to legally project song lyrics onto screens and print them in church bulletins.  Churches must report the songs used, and all of that information is compiled to pay royalties for the usage of songs to composers and publishers.  The information is also compiled into lists of most frequently used songs from different genres, with links to different versions.  These lists can be very helpful for worship pastors.

8  Your planning tools for worship include your Bible, prayer, hymn and song books, worship song charts, your anthem and orchestration library, your praise band or rhythm section calendar showing who is in town for a given Sunday, your vocal team list and calendar, your soloist list and current rotation, your worship log of recent services and the songs sung, your choir and orchestra worship personnel responses to calendar queries as to which Sundays they will be gone, responses to that week’s worship team e-mail, information about your Pastor’s sermon series and special ministry emphases, online music resources, your available tech team members list, and information about any special additions to the service such as baptisms or a baby dedication.

7  You can rattle off a list of every piece of equipment in your sound and tech booth and who runs each one.  You also know the quirks of each of your worship related computer programs.

6  You are called as a Pastor to those who lead in worship and often know the true testimony behind every message in song that is shared.  In this area of your ministry, you are often amazed by the strength and faith of God’s people, undergirded by the everlasting arms of the Faithful One, our Refuge, Helper, Redeemer and Lord..

5  Hallway encounters or greetings called out across the parking lot don’t always include a “hello”.  Sometimes they are statements or questions like these:  “Why can’t we sing “Oceans” every week?” or “More southern gospel!”  or “Why don’t you let _____ sing a solo more often?”

4  You can spend hours and hours seeking music that is congregationally friendly and will lift up the Lord while engaging the hearts of your people.  You can spend weeks preparing for a specific service through prayer, planning, calendar coordination, recording demos for your team, and rehearsing.  You can spend months working with your groups to move them a step closer to a point of excellence in leading worship that you feel is their calling (such as challenging them to sing from memory with only a confidence monitor and no music in hand).  You can spend years leading your congregation to understand worship and to go deeper in their relationship with and their worship of the Lord.  And yet, on any given Sunday, the “delivery” of the worship message through God’s people and the authentic connection with the Lord during worship are dependent primarily on the commitment level, worship mindset, preparation , and passion of the volunteers who make up your worship team, leading a congregation who may or may not be wholly focused on worship during that time.

3  Thou shalt not age (or appear to age), but thou must be wise beyond thy years in order to balance a multitude of preferences with real ministry to the body of Christ, having the goal of providing the opportunity for true worship that ministers to all and gives them an opportunity to give unto the Lord the praise, honor, thanksgiving, and glory due His name.

2  With all of the hours that you spend every week living and breathing worship, planning worship, reading articles and blog posts about worship (gotcha!), planning or leading rehearsals to prepare for worship, reading and studying worship scriptures and books about worship, praying about worship, personally spending time in private worship, and preparing detailed order of worship information for your worship team, tech team, and ministry staff… sometimes it’s hard to let go of all of the ministry mentor concerns about what everyone else is doing in their worship leading or tech responsibilities … and just worship.

1 Worship is a passionate pursuit of God's gloryYou can’t imagine doing anything else and are so thankful for the privilege of being entrusted with the task of leading God’s people in worship and working with all of the wonderful worship ministry team members, who have their own gifting and calling to serve.  It is a joy for you to encounter both the human and the divine in the process of preparation for worship.  During rehearsal, you embrace the human element of needing to practice in order to eliminate error and to interpret the music well, both musically and spiritually.  You also embrace the divine as you pray with your people, love them, work together as unto the Lord, and lead them in sharing messages of profound, eternal truth, knowing that the goal is effectiveness and whole-hearted devotion in communication with the Lord and with His people rather than perfection.  Even on tough days, you know that you have found God’s purpose for your life and are amazed by the blessing of walking with Him through it all.

So, keep on giving it your all, Worship Pastors and Ministers of Music and Worship.  

Your calling is all about worship, and worship is all about giving.

23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.  24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. ~ Colossians 3:23 – 24

(To inspire you as you worship, work, love others, serve, and continue to lead God’s people, we have added the “giving verses” of worship to the end of this post.  They can also be found as a portion of the text from our blog post entitled, “Worship… It’s all about Giving!”)

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The “Giving Verses” of Worship

When the very living of our lives has become an act of worship, recognizing God’s supremacy and worth in every decision and thought, worship is no longer an action but rather a lifestyle.  It’s a 24 / 7 / 365 … every moment of every day … goal of intentionally expressing God’s glory in all that we do, think, and say.**   In seeking to live out this lifestyle and this heart commitment to the One who has given us His all, we give the only gift that we can give to our Creator and Savior:  the gift of a transformed life that brings Him glory and joy!

1.  Giving God THANKSGIVING and PRAISE!

* Psalm 100:4   “Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.”

* Psalm 9:1 & 2   “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.”

2.  Giving God GLORY!

* Psalm 86:12   “With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God. I will give glory to your name forever.”

* Psalm 96:6 – 9   “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.”

3.  Giving God AWE and REVERENCE, acknowledging Him as the Lord and Creator of all.

(In some verses and some translations, “the fear of the Lord”)

* Psalm 111:10   “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!”

* Psalm 86:9 – 12   “All the nations You have made shall come and bow down before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.  For You are great, and You do wondrous things; You alone are God.  Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.  I give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with my whole heart; and I will glorify Your name forever.”

4.  Giving God BLESSING.

* Psalm 103:22   “Bless the LORD, all you works of His, In all places of His dominion; Bless the LORD, O my soul!”

* Psalm 28:6 & 7   “Blessed be the Lord!  for He has heard the voice of my supplications.  The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts; so I am helped and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.”

5.  Giving Him EXALTATION!*

From the www.thefreedictionary.com, here are the applicable definitions:

1. to raise or elevate in rank, position, dignity, etc.
2. to praise highly; glorify; extol
* Psalm 34:3   “Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!”

*NOTE:  The word ‘exaltation’ sometimes gets confused with ‘exultation’, for which the definition is “to rejoice greatly, be jubilant or triumphant (or, as in triumph.  We rejoice greatly or exult in His triumph.)  — same source

6.  Giving Him SERVICE
(giving of our hearts, our time, our gifts, and our lives in serving Him)

* Joshua 24:15   “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Lift up His name!

7.  Giving Him WORSHIP!

True worship rises up from the people of God, who are choosing to intentionally express His infinite worth! **

**(see note at end of post)

You have probably noticed by now that there is some overlap in the various types of giving to the Lord.  For example, in singing praise to God, we can bless His name.  In the worship category of giving, there is overlap with all other types of giving.  All of these ways of giving to the Lord are worship (lifestyle worship) when we are giving with the purpose of bringing glory to God and expressing His infinite worth through giving our best to God in every area of our lives.

* Psalm 29:2   “Honor the LORD for the glory of His name. Worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness.”

* John 4:24   “For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

8.  We are to SING UNTO HIM!

* Psalm 5:11   “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy.”

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

* Psalm 59:16 & 17   “I will sing of Thy power; yes, I will sing aloud of Thy mercy in the morning; for Thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.  Unto Thee, O my Strength, will I sing; for God is my defense, and the God of my mercy.”  

9.  Giving Him TITHES and OFFERINGS!

* Malachi 3:10   “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”

* Exodus 35:29   “The children of Israel brought a voluntary offering to Jehovah, every man and woman whose heart prompted them to bring for all manner of work, which Jehovah, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done.”

10.  Giving Him HONOR!

* Revelation 4:11   “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”

* Psalm 96:6 – 9   “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.”

* Proverbs 3:9   “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the first and best part of all your income.”

11.  Giving Him LOVE!

The words of Jesus Himself in Mark 12:30   “AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.”

* Psalm 31:23   “Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.”

* Joshua 22:5   “But be very careful to obey all the commands and the instructions that Moses gave to you. Love the LORD your God, walk in all his ways, obey his commands, hold firmly to him, and serve him with all your heart and all your soul.”

* Psalm 116:1   “I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.”

Give Him your heart

12.  Giving Him OUR WHOLE HEART AND LIFE!

* Psalm 86:9 – 12    “All the nations You have made shall come and bow down before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.  For You are great, and You do wondrous things; You alone are God.  Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.  I give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with my whole heart; and I will glorify Your name forever.”

* Colossians 1:10   “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”

* Psalm 56:13   “For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.”

* Mark 8:35   “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.”

* Romans 12:1 – 2  “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

For us, giving these to God (honor, blessing, exaltation, thanksgiving, praise, glory, awe and reverence, love, honor, service, tithes and offerings, songs, and all that we are in life and in our hearts) is our gift of worship and devotion to Him.
Giving is about worship, and worship is all about giving.

“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

GOD HAS GIVEN HIS ALL… and continues to give in every moment of time.

May we follow His example.

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**Here is a link to John Piper’s devotion where this definition of worship, paraphrased here, can be found:  http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/taste-see-articles/bodies-breakfast-and-the-marriage-bed

The wording of the original definition (directly quoted) in the first paragraph of this devotion is as follows:

“Worship” is the term we use to cover all the acts of the heart and mind and body that intentionally express the infinite worth of God. This is what we were created for, as God says in Isaiah 43:7, “Everyone who is called by my name, and whom I have created for my glory…” That means that we were all created for the purpose of expressing the infinite worth of God’s glory. We were created to worship.”

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This post was written by C. Boyd.

For other posts on worship, view our category called “Worship with Wonder” at https://worshipsounds.wordpress.com/category/worship-with-wonder/

We also have a page entitled “Lifestyle Worship”  at this link:  http://wwwworshipsounds.wordpress.com/lifestyle-worship

The titles of additional pages related to worship ministry (on topics such as creative worship ideas, worship planning and preparation, and avoiding burnout in ministry) can be found in the header on our home page at the bottom of the scenic photo.

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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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“What is Worship?” Reader’s Theater Script

Worship is God's invitation to transformation.

Worship is God’s invitation to transformation.

This Reader’s Theater script about worship can be utilized during a worship service for the purpose of sharing these truths about what worship is and is not with God’s people, helping them to more fully understand the depth of meaning, relationship, and surrender found in true worship.  The Readers can be students or adults.  They need to be well-prepared through rehearsal so that the sharing of these truths can be meaningful and thought-provoking.

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What is Worship?

A Reader’s Theater Script
designed for 3 readers

written by
Travis L. Boyd

Worship Pastor–We hear a lot about worship these days, but what is worship?

Speaker #1 – Worship is believing that God is.

Speaker #2—Worship is recognizing God’s greatness.

Speaker #3—Worship is seeking to know God on a deeper level.

Speaker #1 – Worship is surrendering to the will of God completely.

Speaker #2—Worship is living for God’s glory, not my own.

Speaker #3—Worship is experiencing God’s presence personally.

Speaker #1—Worship is not a great old hymn.

Speaker #2—Worship is not a wonderful new song.

Speaker #3—Worship is not a sermon.

Speaker #1—Worship is our response to God.

Speaker #2—We may worship with a great old hymn.

Speaker #3—We may worship with a wonderful new song.

Speaker #1—We may worship as God’s word is preached.

Speaker #2—The important thing is that we do worship.

Speaker #3—We must focus this hour on God and not ourselves.

Speaker #1—Not on what we want to sing.

Speaker #2—Not on what we want to hear.

Speaker #3—Not on what we want to feel.

All Speakers— Worship is our response to God.

 

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PERMISSION FOR USAGE

The above Reader’s Theater Script may be utilized free of charge
for verbal presentation during Worship Services, Small group meetings,
Sunday School classes, Youth Group meetings, and Bible Studies
with no further permission required.

However, this piece may not be published in any form
(magazine, newsletter, etc.) without permission.

Please comment to request permission for publication.
Your comment will not be seen by others
since comments must be approved in order to appear on our blog.
It will, however, enable us to communicate with you about securing permission.

Thank you for your consideration.

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NOTE:  For additional descriptions and definitions of worship, see our post, Worship: Definitions and Quotations .

Additional posts on the subject of worship:

Worship…it’s all about Giving!

Worship Planning and Preparation

Or, to see all of our posts on the subject of worship, visit our “Worship… with Wonder” category:  https://worshipsounds.wordpress.com/category/worship-with-wonder/

 

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Looking for answers for yourself or for a friend?

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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How to Help Keep Church Choirs from Becoming Extinct

An Effective Ministry

FBC Snellville Choir

FBC, Snellville Church Choir, Christmas 2009

Church Choirs can minister very effectively in any worship setting if they are properly prepared to contribute to the ministry of worship.  Although there are some people who consider a church choir to be an out of date relic, a group of Christian singers with a desire to bring glory to the Lord through the ministry of worship can be a blessing to the entire church family.  Here are seven ways that choirs can joyfully serve as worship leaders to strengthen and bring life to the ministry of worship.

* 1 * 
A Choir can help to support congregational singing
, allowing the congregation to sing more confidently and join their voices with those who are already singing, helping to lead God’s people in worship.

* 2 *
A Choir will help the congregation to know when they are supposed to sing.

When arrangements for the congregational singing are lead by a praise band, worship leader, and praise teams, sometimes people in the congregation become uncertain about when they are supposed to sing along.  A well prepared choir helps to prevent confusion as they assist in leading the service.  Since the choir will know when a verse or chorus is supposed to be sung as a solo and when everyone is supposed to sing, the congregation will begin to take their cue from the choir.

* 3 *
Choirs provide spiritual encouragement and inspiration to the church family.

When the life stories and faith journeys of the people who make up the choir are coupled with their faithful commitment to praising the Lord and leading in worship, the choir serves as a collective testimony of walking by faith.  The presence and praise of a choir member who is walking through a trial, remaining faithful as a choral worship leader, can be a powerful message in itself.  Since choir members are often some of the busiest church members, serving in many ways and being vitally involved in church life, their ministry and testimony has personal significance for a large percentage of the church body.

 “O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the people. Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him; talk of all His wondrous works. Glory in His holy name; let the heart of those who seek the Lord rejoice.”  ~ Psalm 105:1 – 3

The 280 voice Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Brooklyn, NY, under the direction of Carol Cymbala, recorded 2 CDs in 2013,

The 280 voice Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Brooklyn, NY, under the direction of Carol Cymbala, recorded 2 CDs in 2013, “Redeemed” and “Love Lead the Way”.

* 4 *
Church choirs can share messages of praise, reverent worship, testimony, exhortation, encouragement, comfort, thankfulness, and perseverance 
through the songs (both anthems and congregational worship songs) that they sing.  Since choral anthems often have lyrics that are full of scripture and of Biblical truth, the choir can share a message in song that is full of meaning with even more impact than the spoken word because of the marriage of music and lyrics that amplifies the truths being shared.  The choir’s ministry is one of proclamation, praise, and encouragement as they and the congregation “speak to one another in Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs”.

  “I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of Him shall be sweet; I will be glad in the Lord.”  ~ Psalm 104:33 & 34

* 5 *
As worship leaders, the choir can also help the church to learn new songs and worship choruses. 
 It is possible to find choral arrangements of new worship songs that are in congregationally friendly keys, which also have chord and rhythm charts and even full orchestrations available.  These can be prepared as an anthem and introduced by the full worship team (choir, praise band and / or orchestra, praise team).  Later, as the congregation becomes more familiar with the song, they can be invited to join in singing the worship song with the same arrangement.

* 6 *
A choir can help to break down generational barriers in worship.
The fact that choirs (and praise teams, rhythm sections, and orchestras) are often made up of young, median, and older adults (and sometimes students) communicates the message that the new song is a vehicle of praise and worship for the entire congregation, regardless of age.  As members of the worship leadership team, choir members have invested time in preparation for worship, both musically and spiritually as they have learned the new music.  Because they have rehearsed and lived with the lyrics of the songs being shared (both Anthems and congregational praise), choir members have the opportunity to internalize these messages of truth and to communicate them meaningfully, as a group that is visually representative of the church body (in age range and other factors) rather than just as professional musicians.

KEY GOAL:  Ideally, the worshipping choir will be both spiritually and musically prepared to praise the Lord and to encourage and inspire God’s people.  Because of this investment of time in preparation and their heart for the Lord, a choir can be a living, vibrant team of worship leaders,  messengers of hope and praise. 

The Mount Pleasant Christian Church Choir in Indianapolis, IN, directed by Brian Tabor, September, 2013.

The Mount Pleasant Christian Church Choir in Indianapolis, IN, directed by Brian Tabor, September, 2013.

* 7 *
There is nothing else like the sound of a well-prepared choir
,
and the secular music industry often employs a choir to maximize the impact of a powerful ballad or to visibly and audibly celebrate with an upbeat song.  Choirs are often seen in the music videos and television appearances of pop stars, on music specials, and at events where the entertainment is an extravagant production, such as an Olympic opening ceremony or even a Super Bowl halftime show.  If secular entertainment still values the impact that a choir can make, those of us who love and worship the Lord should realize that choral singing can be a an effective testimony of God’s goodness that can touch the hearts of a congregation (and of others who hear them when they sing in public places).

 “O come, let us sing unto the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the strength of the hills is His also. The sea is His, and He made it; and His hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.”  ~ Psalm 95:1 – 7a

* 8 *  There is Biblical support for choral worship ministry.

A.  Since there are many Biblical accounts of choirs, and since 55 Psalms are written to the Choir Director or Director of Music; there is certainly a Biblical precedent for choral worship.

The First Baptist Concord Choir, Knoxville, TN, directed by Jeff Lawrence.

The First Baptist Concord Choir, Knoxville, TN, directed by Jeff Lawrence.

B.  In addition, the Biblical exhortation to use our gifts to honor and bring glory to the Lord calls for opportunities for those who are a part of our congregations and who have musical gifts to serve and contribute to the ministry of worship.
What these service opportunities may be in an individual congregation depends upon the musical gifts that are present among members who are willing to faithfully serve in worship ministry.  A smaller congregation might have a choral ensemble rather than a full choir, in addition to their praise band or accompanists.  Larger churches may have a full choir and perhaps an instrumental ensemble or orchestra in addition to their rhythm section, praise band, and / or accompanists.  Some churches may use a choir to help serve as worship leaders, but the choir may sing a choral anthem only occasionally.  Some churches also use choirs only seasonally (for a special Christmas program, for example).

Every congregation is different, and no one can prescribe what your church should be doing in musical worship from the outside.  Your ministerial leadership is more in tune with the musical and spiritual gifts of your congregation and to the music that speaks to the hearts of your congregation as well as to the visitors and seekers that your church can reach.  This article is not being written in order to bash churches that don’t have a choir but rather to encourage the ministry of choral singing in those places where it can be shared effectively to praise, encourage, inspire, lift up, exhort, challenge, and worship.

“Above, the hosts of angels sing praise; below, men form choirs in the churches and imitate them by singing the same doxology.  Above, the seraphim cry out in the thrice-holy hymn; below, the human throng sends up the same cry.  The inhabitants of heaven and earth are brought together in a common assembly; there is one thanksgiving, one shout of delight, one joyful chorus.”  ~  St. John Chrysostom

First Baptist Church of Duluth Adult Choir, Duluth, GA, directed by Travis L. Boyd

First Baptist Church of Duluth Adult Choir, December, 2013, Duluth, GA, directed by Travis L. Boyd, singing the upbeat final song in the Travis Cottrell Christmas worship musical, “Joy of Every Longing Heart”.  Note:  Many of the choir, orchestra, and praise band members are out of the frame in this photo, taken by a member of the congregation.)

KEY:  Church choirs can stil minister and serve and bring glory to the Lord when they have the commitment, support, and prayers necessary to do so.

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 
~
I Corinthians 10:31  NASB

Although choirs have been eliminated in some congregations, existing choirs can strengthen their ministryNew choirs can focus on effective ministry from the beginning.  Below, you will find some suggestions for helping to keep church choirs alive and serving in the 21st century.

 “Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for His wonderful works to the sons of men! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His deeds in songs of joy!”  ~ Psalm 107:21 & 22

For Members of the Congregation

If you are a member of the congregation in a church that has a choir, here’s how you can support and encourage their ministry:

1.  Pray for your church choir.  Pray for individual members if you know them.  Pray for unity of spirit and faithfulness to the commitment of singing in choir.
* Pray for God to use them as they seek to minister and lead in worship, and pray that God will speak to their hearts as they prepare spiritually and musically.
* Pray for them as they stand to sing and for the congregation as the choir is singing.

2.  Worship and praise the Lord as you are listening and praying!  If your church’s worship ministry has a facebook page, “like” the page so that you will know better how to pray for your church’s overall worship ministry as well as for the choir.

praise and give thanks to the Lord3.  Listen expectantly when the choir shares a message, whether that is a Choral Anthem or a worship chorus that is being introduced by the choir.  Remember that everything your church does in ministry is constantly being evaluated for effectiveness.  Therefore, one of the best ways to support a choral ministry in your church is to allow the choir to minister to you and to praise the Lord in your heart right along with them.

Thank you music notes4.  Encourage!  If a message shared by the choir was particularly meaningful or worshipful to you, let that be known.  Speak an “amen!”, share a word of encouragement, or send a note or e-mail to the choir, Worship Minister, and / or Pastor expressing how the Lord has used that ministry in your own heart and life.   The people who sing in choirs are not seeking accolades.  (If that was their motivation, they probably would have given up long ago!)  Choir members would rather hear about the spiritual impact of their ministry than about the beauty of the music.  They love the beauty of the music as well, but they mainly want to know that what they are doing makes a difference for the Kingdom!

5.  Be faithful in your own attendance in congregational worship.  Not only are you being faithful to the Lord when you worship along with His people, your presence is also an encouragement to others.  In addition, your presence allows for everything that is done in worship to be done more effectively as you are praying throughout the service that the Lord would be glorified  and personally worshipping Him.

6.  Attend any special presentations that your Choir and Worship Ministry have prepared, and invite others to come as well.  At most churches, there are special musical worship opportunities such as Christmas and Easter programs and worship musicals only a few times a year (usually 2 – 4 times annually for the Adult Choir).  These events are wonderful opportunities to invite your neighbors, friends, family, and co-workers.  Invite the clerk who checks out your groceries.  Invite others at every opportunity.  Your worship ministry team members have been preparing to share messages of hope and faith and praise to the Lord for several weeks leading up to any special worship event.  Attend these events expecting a glorious time of worship, pray for those involved, and bring others with you.  Put these special events on your personal calendar as soon as they are announced, and make them a priority.  If you want your church to have worship events such as these and to continue to have a worship choir, your presence must testify that this is important and meaningful to you.

7.  Support the worship ministry at your church through your giving.  There are expenditures that are necessary for a vibrant and effective worship ministry.  Sound and lighting equipment, media equipment, sets and seasonal decorations, music for worship ministry participants, musical instruments, piano tuning, CCLI (the service that allows your church to legally put song lyrics on screens), and salaries for paid personnel such as your Worship Pastor and accompanists, are all a part of the financial cost of worship ministry support.  Your faithfulness allows all of the ministries of your church, including worship ministry, to function and to minister within the congregation and to reach out to your community and beyond.

8.  Let grace abound!  Don’t expect musical and technical perfection.  Give your worship ministry team the grace of realizing that they are human and that they are participating in this ministry as volunteers rather than as professional musicians and technicians.  Music and productions that you hear on the radio or see on TV and in the movies are very highly produced and involve much expertise, equipment, and time that is not available for local church ministry.  Many times, the sounds that you hear on radio or TV cannot be produced at the same level of perfection in live performance, even by the pros.  One recorded song may be a result of dozens of “takes” and hours of recording and re-recording.  In addition, remember that every worship song, hymn, or choral anthem may not be your personal taste; but it is still your joy to worship the Lord through all that is spoken and sung.  Pray for others.  Look around you.  What may not be your favorite worship expression may be ministering to the hearts of others.  Pray for those around you throughout the worship service.

* IMPORTANT  NOTE:  For greater understanding about the importance and meaning of worship and for help with preparation for teaching about worship, see our Addendum at the end of this blog article, where you will find links to articles on worship found on our blog and on TheWorshipCommunity.com , on the online magazine, ChurchMag , and on ChurchLeaders.com (or recommended on WorshipLinks) .

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
~
Colossians 3:17

The Adult Worship Choir anchors the worship ministries of Bell Shoals Baptist Church, Brandon, FL, directed by Dr. Doug Crawley.

The Adult Worship Choir anchors the worship ministries of Bell Shoals Baptist Church, Brandon, FL, directed by Dr. Doug Crawley.

For Pastors and Ministerial Staff

Here’s how you can help to support the ministry of the Worship Choir at your church.

1.  Pray for and encourage the worship team members and Worship Pastor at your church.  Pray for your congregation and for yourself as worshippers.

2.  Live a life of worship, seeking to intentionally give God glory in all that you do.

* NOTE For greater understanding about the importance and meaning of worship and for help with preparation for teaching about worship, see our Addendum at the end of this blog article, where you will find links to articles on worship found on our blog and on TheWorshipCommunity.com , on the online magazine, ChurchMag , and on ChurchLeaders.com (or recommended on WorshipLinks) .

3.  Whatever your responsibilities and concerns may be during a worship service, make an intentional effort to let them go (as much as is possible) and personally worship the Lord.

4.  Attend special worship ministry programs, and invite others to do so as well.  Speak with enthusiasm when sharing announcements about upcoming Worship Ministry events.

5.  When doing calendar planning, recognize that each ministry decision impacts every ministry.  Remember that above all, every Christian is (or should be) a worshipper, and do what you can to strenthen all of the ministries of your church, including worship ministry.

“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
~
 I Peter 4:11

For Choir Members & Worship Team Members

What is needed?  Prayer, passion, preparation, flexibility, clarity, commitment, faithfulness, and authenticity!

1.  Pray for your Worship Pastor and for all of your ministerial staff.  Pray for their families.  Pray for the congregation 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.

2.  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 choir 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.  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:  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.

If you want your church to still have a choir 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, love having a choir, and love the sound and the impact of choral music, you need to be one who will be there faithfully.  When the choir suffers from low attendance week after week, the level of excellence suffers.  The director has difficulty choosing what to sing, not knowing who may be there.  The choral 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?  In other words, if you want to have a choir, you have to be committed to it.

3.  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. 

*  Even if the choir is going to be singing music that you know well, your presence and participation can help others to learn the musicHaving the full choir 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.

*  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.

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 (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 choir 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 a voice, saved you, and gave you something incredible and eternally glorious to sing about!

“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 to glorify Him 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

6.  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.)

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 sing in the choir or to participate in some other area 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 (or 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.

*  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 it!

*  Be open to wearing robes or not wearing robes (depending upon what works best for all of the considerations at your church).

*  Be willing to sit or stand anywhere that you are asked to be, in both the loft 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 the choir’s presentation of any song or participation in worship is the sound component of choral ministry.  The other component that can be observed is visual.

*  In order for the messages that you are proclaiming to be as effective as possible, choir members need to communicate through their facial expression and posture as well.  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.  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, hold it high enough 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 choir 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, 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___”)

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.

* IMPORTANT  NOTE:  For greater understanding about the importance and meaning of worship and for help with preparation for teaching about worship, see our Addendum at the end of this blog article, where you will find links to articles on worship found on our blog and on TheWorshipCommunity.com , on the online magazine, ChurchMag , and on ChurchLeaders.com (or recommended on WorshipLinks) .   http://www.worshiplinks.us/2013/09/devotions-praise/

“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)

University Presbyterian Church Choir, Seattle, WA, directed by Dr. David Gardner

University Presbyterian Church Choir, Seattle, WA, directed by Dr. David Gardner

For Choir Directors, Ministers of Music & Worship, 

and Worship Pastors

What is needed for you?  The same priorities for worship as your worship team:  Prayer, passion, preparation, flexibility, clarity, and authenticity!

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! Awake, my soul! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn! I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples, I will sing praises to You among the nations. For Your steadfast love is great above the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let Your glory be over all the earth.”  ~ Psalm 108:1 – 5

1.  Pray for your fellow ministerial staff members, the congregation, and all of your worship ministry team members. 
Pray that people will understand the importance of worship as a way of life (Romans 12:1 – 2, I Corinthians 10:31 ).  Pray for personal passion for ministry and worship.  Pray for holiness and obedience, both personally and collectively.

2.  Make personal worship a top priority.
Seek to lead as a fellow worshipper.  Let your passion for the Lord and for worshipping Him be clearly evident.  Every word, every song, and every moment should be focused on the eternal:  worshipping God, praising and thanking Him, and testifying of His goodness, grace, mercy, love, and faithfulness.

Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord! Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forever more! From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised! The Lord is high above all nations, and His glory is above the heavens.”  ~ Psalm 113:1 – 4

3Function as a Pastor whose primary responsibility is worship ministry. 
People are more important than notes and rhythms.  Minister accordingly.

4.  Function as an equipper. 
Teach and equip your worship ministry team.  Teach them about worship and discipleship.  Teach them about music and techniques.  Teach them about effectiveness as worship leaders (spiritually, musically, visually).  Teach your choir that true worship is giving (giving praise, honor, glory, blessing, our hearts, and all that we are). Build excitement about the ministry potential of choral worship.

*  IMPORTANT  NOTE:   For greater understanding about the importance and meaning of worship and for help with preparation for teaching about worship, see our Addendum at the end of this blog article, where you will find links to articles on worship found on our blog and on TheWorshipCommunity.com , on the online magazine ChurchMag , and on ChurchLeaders.com (or recommended on WorshipLinks) .   http://www.worshiplinks.us/2013/09/devotions-praise/

5.  Be a good steward of your time. 
Plan and prepare effectively, praying for guidance as you do so.  You can make the most of your limited rehearsal time and allow team members to be well prepared for congregational worship when you have:
a.  Made sure that the order of worship is clearly understood by all participants in worship ministry, providing each person with a copy containing all of the information needed.
b.  Prepared a weekly newsletter, poster, or white board with the order of your rehearsal so that music will be ready and you can make the most effective use of the choir’s rehearsal time.
c.  Made sure that all music is available to your choir and that they have sharpened pencils to mark anything necessary in their music.
d.  Made sure that your accompanists have all needed music in time to play through and prepare themselves for rehearsal.
e.  Made sure that your tech team has all needed lyrics and any media or videos that you intend to use, as well as orders of worship with any special notes they may need.
f.  Made sure that your ministerial staff has copies of the order of worship (not just the bulletin, but your expanded version for worship ministry that specifies such things as the number of verses or repeats for a given songs, which staff member is doing the welcome, etc.).

6.  Encourage your choir and other worship ministry participants.
Make rehearsals as fun and joyful as possible. Try to keep the mood light and yet focused on preparation for worship as well as on worshipping even as your rehearse. Let your choir and accompanists, praise teams, praise band, and tech team know that they are loved and valued by you and by the Lord. Use the rehearsal time very wisely so that your choir members and other worship ministry personnel do not feel that their time is being wasted (this communicates value as well). Share any positive comments or notes you’ve been given about the choir with the group.

7.  Expand your Choir’s vision of their role in worship ministry.
Help them to see that they are there to do more than just produce an anthem each week. Teach them that they can serve as worship leaders for congregational worship.

8.  Keep a realistic timeline in mind.
W
hen you are preparing for rehearsals, don’t try to cram too much music into one session. Confusion and poor preparation will be the result. Do allow several weeks of rehearsal on any new music that requires some time to “settle in”. Plan an adequate number of music rehearsals and tech rehearsals when preparing for any special program. Our choir often has Sunday afternoon rehearsals in addition to our Wednesday night rehearsals to help us prepare in the weeks leading up to a Christmas, Easter, or worship musical. We usually rehearse about an hour, beginning at 5:00 p.m. That’s the time which seems to work best for our group, but your group may have a different preference depending on factors like other schedule considerations and how far away they live from your church.

9.  Provide and encourage training opportunities for your choir and all worship ministry personnel.
Make sure that your tech team has adequate knowledge, and provide periodic training for them (bring in a specialist to teach and work with them for a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon). After all, your choir could share an anthem beautifully, but it’s the tech team who will make sure it can be heard. Take worship ministry team members to conferences and concerts when possible. Encourage your worship ministry team to listen to contemporary Christian radio (at least occasionally). If you want to inspire multi-generational worship and a greater open-ness to new music, do what you can to introduce new music that can unite the generations in worshipping the Lord.

10. Use media to enhance the worship experience.
If your church has screens, make sure that the lyrics of your anthems are on screens as the choir is singing. Use scenic or spiritually meaningful background photos for the text, and make sure that the text is in a color, size, and font that shows clearly all the way to the back of your worship center. After all, you have carefully chosen this music because of the message that it conveys. Whether your anthem has a message of praise or testimony, encouragement, affirmation, or exhortation, the words are important. Let’s be honest. Sometimes the most beautiful choral settings can make the text difficult to understand.Seeing the lyrics visually on screens employs the sense of sight to imprint the message your choir is sharing on the minds of your congregation more vividly. Your congregation is more likely to take away from the service something that has meaning to their walk as a Christian when every means has been utilized to enhance the worship experience, simply but effectively communicating visually as well as aurally. If you have the capability to make videos of lyrics that can employ photos as background for lyrics and perhaps snippets of video (something like a few seconds of video of a running stream when singing a message about living water), do that. However, keep in mind that it can be very difficult to stay with a video tempo-wise without a click track for the director and in-ear monitors for him or her and for key personnel such as accompanists or praise band (rhythm section) members. If your church does not have media capability, make sure that your anthem choice reflects this fact and that lyrics are as clearly understandable as possible. Use low tech but effective visual means to communicate what your choir is singing visually when possible (perhaps a banner proclaiming “Jesus is Lord” could be displayed when you are singing about the Lordship of Christ). Employ some talented people in your congregation to form a banner ministry and create visual representation of the names of God / Jesus that can be used for regular as well as special services to visually re-enforce the messages being sung and shared.

11.  Choose music carefully.

Here are two of the most important considerations when choosing music.
   a.  Keep the capability and number of your singers in mind.
b.  Know your congregation. 
The choir certainly seeks to glorify God in their ministry, but it is also important to encourage God’s people through music that is carefully chosen to reflect the make up of your congregation.  In most churches, it works well to chose anthems which reflect a variety of styles.  For example, you might choose a ballad style or more reflective anthem for one service and a more upbeat and celebratory anthem for the next.  You might occasionally include an anthem that has a more southern gospel type style.  Don’t neglest newer, more contemporary choral arrangements.  You may be stretching your choir’s preferences when you introduce choral arrangements of contemporary worship songs, but this is one of the very things that will allow your choir to be more relevant to the hearts of all generations within your congregation.  Remember that when God inspires new songs for His people and His church, they are often a revelation of truth or a truth stated in a new way.  New songs are God speaking to hearts just as the new songs of 50 years ago did.

  c. Pray for wisdom, and procede with care in every decision about music choice.

  d. Make sure that the music has a clear message and is not too difficult.
In making the difficuly decision, consider more than just the capabilities and confident vocal ranges of your Choir.  Consider the difficulty of the accompaniment and the tech capabilities for making your choir heard.

  e. Avoid “big ending syndrome”.
Some Choral Anthems would not be as effective without a big ending. Just make sure that every single anthem does not end that way. Look for some anthems that fit your choir and have a great message with a more reflective ending. Have you heard the one about the little boy who asked his Mom, “Why does every song the choir sings end like this…?” (He demonstrates, with mouth open wide, tongue hanging out,…”AHHHH”)

  f. Support any special emphases at your church with your music selection when possible.
(For example, a special emphasis on prayer would be a great time to sing an anthem that is a prayer set to music or an anthem that talks about God’s faithfulness in hearing our prayers.)

  g.  Be open to newer music yourself, recognizing it as a sign that God is still at work in the hearts of His people, young and old.  Remember that both your choir and your congregation represent a variety of musical tastes.  Continually stretch your own musical tastes and those of your choir and congregation by including new music in your repertoire that may be more contemporary in nature but has a message that will speak to the hearts of everyone who is there as a true worshipper.  Worship should unite the generations.  If your focus is on giving glory to God, using the best of more traditional music in various genres and the best of what is new as well, your choir will be more likely to grow, to include younger singers, and to minister more broadly to your congregation as they bring glory to God through their worship and praise.  There is a lot of wonderful, God-honoring and exalting music out there in a wide variety of musical styles.  If your choir sings wholeheartedly, no matter how many years (or months) ago God inspired the writing of their music, worship wins!  God is honored when His people place worshipping Him and consideration for others above their own preferences.

Note:  For further reading on the subject of new songs, see our post entitled, Singing a New Song

Here, we’ll offer a few suggestions of more contemporary choral settings that will be enjoyed and be very meaningful and worshipful, even for more traditional choirs and congregations.

1.  “Blessings”  Try Heather Sorenson’s arrangement of Laura Story’s song, “Blessings”, published by Shawnee Press / Hal Leonard.  http://www.jwpepper.com/10292259.item

2.  “Who Can Satisfy?”  Our choir and our congregation both love a fantastic arrangement of Dennis Jernigan’s “Who Can Satisfy” by Gary Rhodes (Lifeway).  The arrangement has a really strong choral setting of the chorus, “There is a fountain / Who is the King / Victorious warrior, and Lord of everything / My Rock, my Shelter / My very own… / Blessed redeemer, who reigns upon the throne”.  The brief a cappella section during one of the repeats of the chorus is incredibly powerful (when sung well, of course).  Our congregation loves it so much that they are now singing along on the chorus when Travis turns around to direct them.  Here’s a link to the anthem:  http://www.lifeway.com/Product/who-can-satisfy-satb-anthem-min-10-P001220705

There is not a listening link with the anthem info, so here is a Youtube video of the song being shared during a worship service, performed by Riverview Baptist Church Worship Choir, Bixby Oklahoma. ~ January 30, 2011.  (Note:  This is not our choir but just a video we were able to find with the same arrangement we use.  There is also an arrangement of this song by Russell Mauldin for Word.)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3brh8Bjcvc

3.  “We Have Met to Worship”  by Travis L. Boyd from Worship Sounds Music
This is a contemporary, guitar and piano driven, setting of the traditional hymn, “Brethren, We Have Met to Worship”, arranged for worship choir, praise band, and congregation with the addition of Travis’ chorus, “For He’s Worthy”.  There’s also a full orchestration.  Our congregation (all ages) loves it and took to it right away.  You’ll find it on our Worship Sounds Music website’s “Solos / Worship Songs” page (info copied from the website is below).

Serving as a bridge between traditional hymns and modern worship songs, this arrangement features the hymn “Brethren, We Have Met to Worship,” combined with a new, contemporary chorus. 

*  Worship Pak,  $15.00
(includes PDFs for the Choral parts, piano accompaniment, rhythm section parts, and a string reduction for keyboard, with permission to make an unlimited number of copies, as needed for your groups)

*  Full orchestration, $25.00
(Bundled PDFs include Conductor’s score and reproducible parts for strings, winds, & percussion). 

*  Accompaniment Trax, $10.00 (MP3 download)

NOTE:  At Worship Sounds Music, all of our music is downloadable, and there are never any additional “per copy” fees.
The cost for the PDF master copy (and your printing costs) are all that you will pay for as many copies as you need to make.  Our goal is to be an affordable resource for worship choirs, soloists, and congregational worship, helping others to bring glory to God through their worship ministry.  

Our demos can’t capture the live worship experience with the full choir, praise team, and musicians.  Just imagine the choir singing these parts along with you (as worship leader) and the entire congregation.

Here’s the link to the “Worship Songs” tab on our website where you’ll find the purchasing link for “We Have Met to Worship”:
http://www.worshipsounds.com/Vocal_Solos.html#ws

SOMETHING ELSE FOR CHOIR DIRECTORS AND MINISTERS OF WORSHIP TO CONSIDER:

Georgia Minister of Music Greg Burrell (FBC, Barnesville) makes a good point about music selection and about extending the reach of choral worship ministry with this comment and the follow-up conversation from Facebook:

“Wow… comprehensive article! People LOVE a good choir, period! But what I’m learning is that we can’t relegate the choir to the “traditional” service, or it will become extinct.
We have to make a choir work in the service where the younger people are, or it will age itself into oblivion.
If Bruce Springsteen performs with choirs, certainly we can make it work, too.”

  Travis L Boyd  Very true, Greg. There are a lot of great choral arrangements of contemporary worship songs.

  Greg Burrell  And everyone loves black gospel. And once a month [in a more contemporary service, whatever frequency works in your situation], a truly powerful traditional anthem can reach people who never thought they liked that sort of thing… IF it is really done well!  Anything a choir cannot do well, they shouldn’t be doing in worship.  I’m speaking of adult choirs here; I don’t think anyone expects youth choirs to always be wonderful.  (Editor’s note:  Hopefully, most congregations will extend a lot of grace to student choirs who are just learning how to contribute as worship leaders and to sing in a choir, giving the youth an opportunity to grow through the experience.)

Note:  To further clarify the point about the necessity of only sharing with the congregation that which can be performed with excellence… whatever the genre may be, Greg offers this example (paraphrased here):
“If the director loves “How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place” and wants to show his congregation “what real music is”, then takes that song [choral anthem] into the worship service and it is only mediocre, he has only hurt his cause, not helped it.  However, if he has time in [choir] rehearsal to play with “How Lovely…” and give his choir the great experience of getting to know the song, the investment of time can be valid, even if the song never makes it to the service.”

(Thank you for the feedback and for your permission to add it to the article, Greg.) 

12.  EXTENDING YOUR WORSHIP MINISTRY INTO THE COMMUNITY

FINALLY, take your choral worship ministry (and other worship ministry groups) outside the walls of the church and into the community and beyond as frequently as possible.  Contact the facility and find out who to speak with about your group.  Possible locations for ministry include:  your State Capitol (optain permission through your Representative), nursing homes, assisted living facilities, rehab and long term care facilities (some do regular worship services, and some allow groups to come at other times), juvenile detention facilities, local arts festivals, a shelter or non-profit, a mall or shopping center (with permission – make sure that they will turn off their Muzak), a community or county-wide national day of prayer or patriotic observance, resorts or public entertainment venues (permission must be obtained, and some only permit outside concerts).  Make sure that your music is appropriate for the setting.  Performance is less important than ministry (by far!).  Your choir might sing an anthem or two at the nursing home and then join residents in singing some favorite hymn tunes.

1.  Make sure that the group which will be ministering off-site is well-prepared (confident that they know the music). aware of what to wear and what to bring, and aware of any rules for visitors to the location.

2.  Make a pre-trip to the site so that you can see any logistical or space challenges and then prepare accordingly (bring needed equipment, sing without risers in a room with a low ceiling, etc.).  Make sure that your group is physically able to meet the logistical challenges (bring a cart to help transport equipment, scout the equipment loading entrance and a drop off point for your group).  Make sure there are adequate restroom facilities and that the trip to and from the venue is well-planned, allowing necessary stops for a meal or break at sensible times.

3.  Build some time into your ministry schedule for relating to the people who have listened to your group.   Help with a non-musical ministry task when possible.

4.  Get creative and think of ways to minister in your own community and beyond.  Make this a matter of prayer for everyone on your worship team.

And serve them with all your soul in love, as unto our Lord and not as unto men.
~ Ephesians 6:7  (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

An important note about doing choral anthems with select singers on mics:
A comment was posted on a facebook link to this post which went something like this, “Don’t have the choir’s sound covered up by a few elite singers on individual mics!” 
For so many of us who are choral purists, this is a really tough pill to swallow.  However, we do need to keep in mind that a lot of Directors and Worship Ministers are doing what they have to do in order to allow their choirs to survive.  Given the mandate, “contemporize or die”, most of us would choose a praise team on mics in front of the choir rather than the alternative of choral extinction.  Hopefully, there are many situations out there where this mandate has not yet been spoken.  For directors, my advice would be to choose to contemporize (at a pace and to an extent and frequency that suits your situation, tech capabilities, and musicians) and earnestly seek to speak to the hearts of all generations on your own… before the mandate comes down (perhaps avoiding the mandate altogether).  In addition, my Minister of Worship hubby mentioned that sometimes the reason for having a few singers on mics is to addresss balance issues, especially when there is an orchestra in addition to accompanists and rhythm section.

The Trinity Worship Choir from Trinity Church (Assembly of God), Cedar Hill, TX, Minister of Worship Jeff Sparkman

The Trinity Worship Choir from Trinity Church (Assembly of God), Cedar Hill, TX, Minister of Worship Jeff Sparkman

GENERAL NEEDS:

1.  Make sure that there is a time and a place for worship ministry rehearsal and preparation.  Your worship ministry team will be as flexible as possible, but they do need some consideration.

2.  Make sure that there is an adequate budget for worship ministry.  There are ways to manage a worship ministry as frugally as possible, but the basic needs should be met.

3.  Make sure that there is child care for rehearsals.  If you want to encourage participation in worship ministry, this is a key priority.

4.  Listen and act (as soon as possible!) when your Worship Pastor or Choir Director says that some equipment is seriously outdated and in need of replacement.

The Prestonwood Baptist Church Worship Choir, Plano, TX, directed by Worship Pastor Todd Bell

The Prestonwood Baptist Church Worship Choir, Plano, TX, directed by Worship Pastor Todd Bell

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”  ~ Colossians 1:10

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
~ Romans 12:1 – 2

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This post was written by Cynthia Boyd, with a great deal of input from Travis L. Boyd

NOTE:  This post is a work in progress.  Travis has contibuted to the content, but there is more work to be done.  Specifically, I am going to have him refine the section on what Worship Pastors / Choir Directors can do and perhaps provide some additional guidance regarding practical matters such as song and anthem selection.  In addition, we are open to the thoughts and ideas of others on this topic.  Please let us know if there’s anything we failed to address in this article.

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Worship Links has posted a link and recommendation for this blog post, “How to Keep Church Choirs from Becoming Extinct”, with brief commentary.

http://www.worshiplinks.us/2014/02/saving-choir/

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Travis L. Boyd

Worship Pastor and Composer Travis L. Boyd

OUR MUSIC

Here’s a link to our listening page for music by Travis L. Boyd of Worship Sounds Music. 
You’ll hear publisher’s studio demos (from Lorenz, Shawnee Press / Hal Leonard, and Church Street), custom recordings, and our own demos for music that is offered only on WorshipSounds.com

https://worshipsounds.wordpress.com/listen-to-my-music/

Click this image to go to the Adult Choir tab on the General Usage Anthems page of our Worship Sounds Music website.

Click this image to go to the General Usage Anthems page of our Worship Sounds Music website.

Here’s a link to our Worship Sounds Music website, where you will find downloadable Choral Anthems, Anthem Orchestrations, Vocal Solos, Worship Paks for our Congregational Worship Music, and Accompaniment Trax for both Anthems and Solos.  All of our music is designed to be practical for worship ministry, Biblically sound, musically memorable, lyrically meaningful, and very affordable.

http://www.worshipsounds.com

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*  ADDENDUM  * 

Help for teaching and learning about Worship
For  Worship Pastors, Pastors, and Ministerial Staff
Worship Team Members, and Church Members

KEY QUESTION:

* What should every Minister or Worship Team member (and every Christian) know and understand about worship? *

Here is an excerpt from our post called “Understanding Worship”:

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“So many people seem to think that worship is a 25 minute time of singing just before the preaching begins in a congregational worship service. Others have actually been told that the purpose of congregational worship is to “prepare the hearts of the people to receive the message from God’s word” (preaching).

However, in reality, worship is worship! It is not preparation for anything… except Heaven!

While it is certainly true that God can use any part of a worship service to speak to hearts and to draw people to Himself, and while it’s also true that He can continue to speak through the remainder of the service, that is the work of God’s spirit. He will use whatever and whomever He chooses to use. If we are lifting up Jesus in worship, the Lord will do the drawing of people unto Himself. Remember that we are to give God glory through the way that we live all of our lives, so times of corporate worship should certainly not be the only times that God can use our witness and our surrender for His glory and for our good. However, we are not worshipping God because of what He will do. We are worshipping Him for who He is. His deeds are an expression of His being, but it is who He is that matters most.

Worship is our response to recognizing God’s ultimate worth.

The goal of worship is to give God glory!

We do not worship God in order to prepare for something else or to obtain His favor. He gives His love and His favor freely because that is who He is. He is a loving and giving God… constantly giving life, mercy, love, grace, and our very breath through His sustaining power.

Yes, when we sing praises to God wholeheartedly, that is worship. We are reverently giving to God our praise, our thanks, our prayers, our lives, and our songs.

The preaching of God’s word is worship, too, when it brings God glory!
We worship through the proclamation of the word.

Unfortunately, many people have very wrong ideas about what worship is and how the concept of worship should fit into the everyday life of every Christian.

The primary focus for every Christian should be to relate to our holy God and worship Him, and yet we are woefully under-educated about how to do the very thing for which we were created and for which the church meets together every week. What day should we worship? Every day… not just on Sunday.

In a corporate worship service and in the way that we live our daily lives, our focus should be on worshipping God and giving Him glory. We choose to live our lives in thankfulness and in the awareness of God’s supremacy over everything, constantly seeking to give our best effort in every moment of our lives so that we may bring glory to Him. He is always giving, and we join Him in giving when we live our lives in an attitude of worship. Even as we give, He continues to give His spirit through us so that we can do all things through Christ. He blesses us with assurance and peace in His presence. He never stops giving.

However, when we view God only through the lens of our own lives, what we want Him to do for us, and the blessings we seek, then our focus becomes all about us.

We become more concerned about what we get out of worship and not concerned at all about what we give!

The Bible tells us repeatedly to give God honor, glory, blessing, praise, worship, exaltation, joyful singing, thanksgiving, reverence, awe, and all that we are. Just as He is constantly giving, we seek to give.

THIS IS THE KEY:

Worship (our response to our holy, almighty, and supreme God) is about giving!

It is not about us, or about our preferences, or about what we get out of the experience (although true worship does give back abundant blessings when we give Him the glory due His name!).

Worship is about seeing God for who He is…
the Creator of everything that is,
the Sustainer of Life,
the Holy and Righteous One,
the God of grace and glory,
the Merciful Father who sacrificed His one and only Son out of love for us!

Our response, then, becomes an effort to GIVE all that we are to Him, seeking to bring Him glory in all of life.

“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

That is worship… worship as a lifestyle or way of life, seeking to bring God glory through giving Him all that we are… even our hurts and scars.

That’s what Jesus did and how He lived. He lived to bring glory to God through giving every moment as a sacrificial offering to His father, choosing obedience and God’s will over His own.

“When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You, since You have given Him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
I glorified Thee on earth, having accomplished the work which You gave me to do ;
and now, Father, glorify me in Your own presence with the glory which I had with You before the world was made.”” ~ John 17:1 – 5

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(The teaching on worship above is from “Understanding Worship” on the Worship Sounds Music blog)

If you disagree with the teaching that the act and the heart attitude of worship is one of seeking to glorify God as a result of recognizing who He is, giving Him all that we are, please read some of our other articles such as  “A Lifestyle of Worship”. It’s relatively short and is a static page. You will find the title above the header photo (mountain scene) on our blog. The title is a clickable link to the page.  In addition, read “Worship… It’s all about Giving!” and “The Missing Piece… ”  (see info and links below).

Would you like to read some of our other articles on Choral Worship and on worship in general?

Here are some links for you:

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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Why I Love to Sing in the Choir

I have always loved music, and I love to sing; but the reasons that I love to sing in my church choir are are so much deeper than that.  Here are the top ten reasons why I love to sing in the choir at my church:

MY  TOP  TEN  REASONS
FOR  JOYFULLY  SINGING  IN  THE  CHURCH  CHOIR

choir smiling1.  Singing in my church choir gives me an opportunity to express my love for the Lord.

I am so thankful for God’s love and mercy and for the sacrificial life and death of Jesus and the victory of His resurrection.  How else could I express the profound spiritual understanding of the goodness of God that goes beyond words and is only revealed in my heart through the work of God’s Holy Spirit?  Someimes, within the congregation, it is only through musical praise that I feel I have done all that I can do, with God’s help, to share the message of God’s salvation and His incredible love for me and for all of mankind.  

“O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the people.  Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him; talk of all His wondrous works.  Glory in His holy name; let the heart of those who seek the Lord rejoice.”   Psalm 105:1 – 3 sing a new song to the Lord

2.  Singing in my church choir is more than a hobby or an activity.  It is a calling.

What an incredible privilege it is to know that God has allowed me to have the ability to participate in something that brings Him glory as those who love the Lord assemble together for worship!  He has made each of us with particular gifts and talents.  I believe that the calling to minister through these gifts is what gives faithful choir members the passion to continue their service and to strive for excellence in expressing their praise to the Lord.

There is a lot of  * JOY  * in fulfilling your calling and in giving praise to the Lord, who has given us everything we’ve ever had and all that we ever will have!

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast!  I will sing and make melody!  Awake, my soul!  Awake, O harp and lyre!  I will awaken the dawn!  I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples, I will sing praises to You among the nations.  For Your steadfast love is great above the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!  Let Your glory be over all the earth.”  Psalm 108:1 – 5

Lift up His name!

Lift up His name!

3.  Singing in my church choir allows for a type of expression of praise to the Lord that could not be accomplished in any other way.

Although I love all kinds of music and all kinds of arrangements, there are some songs, some lyrics, and some messages that just would not have the same intensity of expression if they were shared in any other way than through choral singing.  The Hallelujah Chorus is one such example.  Can you imagine it as a solo?  It just would not have the same impact.  There is something about voices joined together as a choir to share a message for God’s glory that is just a very unique means of expression.  Although Tom Fettke’s “The Majesty and Glory of Your Name” or Heather Sorenson’s “God of Heaven” would still have a beautiful melody when sung as a solo, the impact would not be as great as if a choir were singing these worshipful anthems and joining their hearts and souls to bring glory to God in a soaring or contemplative or victorious or joyous choral arrangement.

“Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for His wonderful works to the sons of men!  And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His deeds in songs of joy!”   Psalm 107:21 & 22

Serve Him with gladness4.  Singing in my church choir allows me to participate in the overall ministry of leading in worship, which is a joy and a privilege.

As long as I have a voice, I want to use it to praise God.  I don’t want to miss an opportunity to use my voice and even the expression on my face to proclaim God’s goodness through all of the musical praise during congregational worship.  I realize that the choir is not just there to sing an anthem or to perform.  We are there to worship and to lead in worship.  Whether we are singing a new song or an old song, a hymn, a worship song, a choral anthem, or a musical benediction, it is a joy to share these messages of hope and faith with the people of God and to gather in God’s name for the purpose of bringing Him glory.  

“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 Sing to the Lord a new song all the earth

5.  Singing in my church choir and in other Christian choirs has given me many opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ in many settings, throughout my home country and in other countries as well.

Whether a choir is singing in an outdoor setting, a shopping mall, a small church, a prison, a nursing home or assisted living center, a juvenile detention center, a community center, a state capitol building, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D. C., or in a great concert hall in Australia or a public school in Russia, the opportunity to bring glory to God and to share the message of His love and mercy is a blessing and an incredibly humbling miracle of God’s grace!  If God had not saved a wretch like me, I would have no message to share anywhere!  

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.  Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing.  Know that the Lord is God; it is He that has made us and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.  For the Lord is good:  His mercy is everlasting, and his truth endures to all generations.”   Psalm 100 (all verses, 1 – 5)

Psalm 107:8

Psalm 107:8

6.  Singing in my church choir and in other Christian choirs has implanted incredibly profound messages within my heart and soul through the lyrics of the songs that I have been able to sing.

I have been incredibly blessed to invest time in learning these wonderful words and then have had the blessing of remembering them so often as the Lord uses them to speak to my heart over and over again.  Often, the words of sacred choral anthems are either entirely scripture, based upon scripture, are paraphrases of scripture, or contain some scriptural content.  Singing them helps me to learn and to remember scripture passages and spiritual truths.  As a choir member, I am not just singing these songs once a week on Sunday morning.  Because of the work aspect that goes into preparation for sharing these messages in worship, we really live with these incredible words, and they have a deep impact in our lives.  What a joy it is to sing these messages, live these truths, and share these words of truth and hope, faith and love, blessing and victory, challenge and mercy, and ministry and grace!

“O sing unto the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord all the earth.  Sing unto the Lord, bless His name; show forth His salvation from day to day.  Declare His glory among the heathen, His wonders among all people.  For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised.”   Psalm 96:1 – 4a Bless the Lord O my soul

7.  Singing in my church choir and in other Christian choirs has allowed me to get to know so many wonderful people who love the Lord and have a heart of service.

A choir becomes a family as we serve together and care for one another.  We pray for one another.  We love each other and share God’s love with each other.  There is an incredible bond when you have worshiped and cried and smiled and laughed and worked and learned and prayed together.  I can sing a wrong note or sing in the wrong place, and my choir family just considers such things to be part of the process of learning the music and growing in faith and in musical expression together.  I have never heard anyone groan or complain about singing the same portion of a song over and over in order to get it right.  We embrace our humanity as we strive to sing beyond our own abilities in order to bring God glory.

“Blessed are those who dwell in Thy house, ever singing Thy praise!   Selah”    Psalm 84:4

8.  Singing in my church choir allows me to participate in something that is so much bigger than my self.to God all praise and glory

The spiritual and emotional and mental messages that flow out of the marriage of music and lyrics in each song become so much more meaningful as I sing with my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I know something of their stories and their lives.  I know when someone is singing about God’s healing for broken hearts with deep emotion that flows from their own fountain of personal pain.  I know when someone is singing of the joy of the Lord even when they have just experienced a personal loss.  I know when the message of Christ’s victory over death has very personal meaning to one of my dear sisters or brothers.  I know when the hearts of all of us are touched with God’s mercy and when the joy is so real that I am amazed that it is not visible in the air around us.  So, not only is the sound and the arrangement something that I could never accomplish on my own.  The collective testimony of this group and the way that God is ministering to our individual hearts as we sing (and to us and through us as a choir) create an impact through the very real and heartfelt sharing of musical testimony that extends far beyond myself or any one individual.

“O come, let us sing unto the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms.  For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.  In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the strength of the hills is His also.  The sea is His, and He made it; and His hands formed the dry land.  O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.  For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.”   Psalm 95:1 – 7a give God the glory

9.  I believe that singing praise to God is the closest thing to Heaven that I can experience on this earth.

What could be better than the times when I have the blessing of joining my own voice and heart with the voices and hearts of a group of people whose desire is to praise God, encourage God’s people, share the story of who God is and what He has done, tell the good news of Jesus, and bring blessing and honor and glory to God?  The Bible speaks of the singers and the musicians and of choirs.  The scriptures talk about the voice of God and how He rejoices over us with singing.  There is something special about the way that God created us to use music as a form of expression that goes far beyond words.  If is much more that the music itself.  It is about how God Himself speaks through the music and then allows us to speak to Him and about Him through the music.  

“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 Praise continually

10.  I love to sing in my church choir and in other Christian choirs because of the incredible songs that God has inspired men and women to write, which then become part of my own spiritual journey.

I believe that before a spiritual song can touch the hearts of people, God must first touch the heart of the song-writer (composer) of the song.  I believe (and know!) that every song begins with a revelation of truth from God or a new way of looking at or expressing a truth already known.  It is like experiencing my own spiritual journey as I try, then make mistakes, and then try again in rehearsal, while simultaneously experiencing the revelations that flow from the spiritual journeys of others.  I have learned so much, and my own journey has been blessed beyond words by the profound spiritual truth that I have learned through the songs I’ve been priveleged to sing with my brothers and sisters in Christ.  To me, a choir rehearsal is not just working on music.  It is a time of worship.  I have wept as my heart has been moved by the message of a song.  I have reached out to grab the hand of a friend.  I have felt my heart swell until I thought I might burst.  I have experienced joy so great that I was amazed to find my feet still on the floor.  My soul has been convicted and stirred.  My heart has been broken and mended and strengthened and challenged.  My faith has grown.  I have walked through deep valleys and enjoyed the view from some mountaintops… all while praising the Lord through the songs that he has inspired men and women to write and then to arrange for choir, for the blending and unity of hearts and minds and souls as we learn and grow and rejoice together in this lovely, human expression of the eternal and divine that we call choir.

“The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.  Then Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar.  And when the burnt offering began, the song to the Lord began also, and the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of David king of Israel.  The whole assembly worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded; all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.  When the burnt offering was finished, the king and all who were present with him bowed themselves and worshipped.  And Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praises to the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer.  And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed down and worshipped.”  II Chronicles 29:26 – 30

What a blessing a joy it has been to sing in church choirs and in other choirs made up of my brothers and sisters in Christ!  I will continue to praise the Lord through choral music for as long as I have the opportunity.  I am so thankful to God for my salvation and for His presence in my life.  I cannot help but sing.

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This post was written by Cynthia A. Boyd, with thanksgiving to God for giving me something of eternal meaning and worth to sing about, and with love and appreciation for my favorite Choral Director, Travis L. Boyd, for giving me a love song in this life.

I am also thankful for all of the wonderful choral and band directors and voice and piano teachers who have taught me so much about music and then about singing and playing music for more than the here and now.  They include:  Dr. Jon Duncan, Dr. Bill Green, Dr. Terry Segress, Eugene Beck, Steve Westmoreland, Dr. Charles Jurrens, Mrs. Betty Westomoreland, Dr. Robert Reynolds, Faye Casey, John Robinson, Steve Smith, John Casey, Dr. Charles Chapman, Dr. Merle Taff, Lillian Loe-Stoddard, Eugene Butler, Dr. Irving Bunton, Lloyd Pfautsch, Wynn Anne Hook, Ron Stanton, Eph Ely, and John Gerber, who was directing the invitation hymn when I laid down my music and left the choir loft to say “yes” to Jesus.

Sharing this post:  In order to share this blog post with your choir, congregation, or worship team, a link to this post may appear in a newsletter, bulletin, or e-mail.  In addition, reprint information is provided below (as a result of the volume of inquiries). Link to the post:  https://worshipsounds.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/why-i-love-to-sing-in-the-choir/

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REPRINT INFORMATION FOR THIS ARTICLE

Non-paid publications:   This article may be re-printed in non-paid publications (church newsletters, bulletins) without further permisson, provided that the author’s name is posted at the end of the article, along with the link to our blog:  http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com

Paid publications:  To reprint all (or a portion) of the article in a paid publication, permission must be obtained.  You may comment on this post in order to request permission, stating the type of publication (and terms) plus providing a return e-mail address for a reply from us.  Your comment will not be seen by others since comments to our blog are not seen publically unless we approve them, and we will reply within 48 hours (unless providentially hindered).

Internet postings:  In order to post this article online on your own site (other worship blogs, music ministry or church websites), you must have a working link back to our blog, with a notation that states: This article, and many others, can be found on the Worship Sounds blog at http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com  In addition, the article must be posted in its entirely.  If it is going to be online, we prefer that the original wording stays intact.  An edited version might read differently from our intent.

So, online postings must:

1.  Contain the statement previously mentioned.
2.  Be un-edited, posted as written.
3.  Contain the author’s name at the end of the article, as it appears in the blog post.

We will stand by our words and prefer to have the opportunity to answer any inquiries about the content of the article ourselves. Let us hear from you! We would love to hear about how the Lord has used the message of this article to encourage and inspire your choir, worship team, or congregation.  If you can do a follow-up comment after sharing it, that would be a real blessing to us. Thank you so much for your interest in spreading the word about the very vital and incredible experince of being a part of a worshipping choir and worship ministry in general.  It is an indescribable blessing.

…And we all thank You, Lord, for allowing us to have a part in leading others to worship You!!”

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Here are two of my favorite choral anthems, written by my husband, Worship Minister and Composer Travis L. Boyd.

For more information about this anthem, with purchasing links, click on the title to go to our Sound Cloud page for “Jesus, My Redeemer”.  There is also a set of other Publishers’ demos on our Sound Cloud.

For more information about this anthem, with purchasing links, click on the title to go to our Sound Cloud page for “Praise God”. There is also a set of other Publishers’ demos on our Sound Cloud.

Information about additional Choral Anthems, Orchestrations, Vocal Solos, and Congregational worship music by Travis L. Boyd, which can be found on our Worship Sounds Music website, is below.

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Click this image to go to our WorshipSounds website.

Click this image to go to our WorshipSounds website.

Find Worshipful  CHORAL  MUSIC  for your Choir at  WORSHIP  SOUNDS  MUSIC! Worship Sounds music offers downloadable Choral Anthems for Adult Choirs, Senior Adult Choirs, and Student Choirs in several voicings (SATB, SAB, SSATB, 2-Part, SSAA, and TTBB).  Many of our anthems also have Full Orchestrations available, and some also have downloadable Mp3 Accompaniment Tracks.  In addition, we offer Vocal Solos, with most available in 3 keys, Solo Accompaniment Tracks, and Congregational worship music. You can find all of this at http://www.worshipsounds.com

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Looking for answers for yourself or for a friend? 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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We have a new name!

WE  HAVE  BIG  NEWS !

After much thought and prayer, the name of our company has been changed

from “Boydbrain Music”  to  “WorshipSounds Music”

for both our primary blog

and our music website!

Click the photo above to go directly to our WorshipSounds Music website!

Our new URL for the website is

http://www.worshipsounds.com

The current URLs will continue to workfor both the website and the blog for a while.


*  OUR  COMPANY  FOCUS  REMAINS  THE  SAME ! 
*

Essentially, the name will be changed, but the focus of our Music Company will remain on providing excellent quality downloadable Choral Anthems, Orchestrations, Vocal Solos, and Congregational Praise Songs.  We will continue to expand our growing list of available music with the goal of providing music for worship and praise that is affordable, practical, Biblically sound, and musically memorable.  Our company will remain a resource for all types of worship ministry music needs and a friend of choral music as a meaningful expression of worship.

Here’s what has happened as we changed over to our new name:

* The old URL for the website has been re-directed to the new URL until at least March, so there will be no problem with finding our company website .

* The “WorshipSounds” blog URL has been changed and is now http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com   However, we have re-directed traffic from the old Boydbrain Music blog URL to the new WorshipSounds blog URL for several months to allow time for us to go back and change all of the old links.

* We have updated our website with a new look and new “WorshipSounds Music” logo photo, which will mean that all of our blog posts and links on other sites which featured the old “Boydbrain Music” logo photo will be updated as time permits.

* If you have copies of music that you have previously purchased, there is no problem with retaining them and even with making additional copies from your original PDF Master if some of yours become damaged or lost.  You are always given permission to make as many copies as needed for your own choir(s) and accompanist(s) for our low one-time Master Copy price.

* Travis will add a new webmail address to the “WorshipSounds Music” website, which will reflect the new site name.  His webmail address for any questions or problems with music orders will become Travis@worshipsoundsmusic.com, but he will keep the current webmail address of Travis@boydbrainmusic.com for a while just to make sure that we can help anyone who has previously used the old webmail address.

* Our Boydbrain Music Facebook page will stay the same for a while.  It will be more difficult to change since the current policy for pages is that name changes are not allowed for a page with more than 200 ‘likes’.  However, we can contact facebook support to ask for an exception.  There is a possibility that one will be granted and we will be able to keep our original fan page.  (Travis’ personal page was changed from Travis Boyd to Travis L. Boyd with permission after we discovered that there are so many other “Travis Boyds”  out there, including a hockey star, a football star, another worship leader with videos on Vimeo, and many more….).  If we are not allowed to change the name, we will start a new page with the new company name, invite our friends to ‘like” the new page, and eventually phase out the old page.

Why are we making this change?

Both Travis and I have known for a long time that we would eventually change the company and website name.  The Boydbrain Music name worked well for us initially because everyone who knew about Travis’ music in the early years was someone who knew us or knew of us because of our membership in and association with The Singing Churchmen and Singing Churchwomen of Oklahoma and the Sons of Jubal and Jubalheirs of Georgia.  As our contacts have expanded and we have begun to have customers purchase our music who were not familiar with the name “Travis Boyd” and found us primarily because of our announcements and forum posts about Travis’ music on ChoralNet and other sites, it has become clear that a name change is needed.  In order to eventually allow others to find our website more easily when they are searching for music to be used in Worship Ministry, we need to have a company name that more accurately reflects the type of music that is available on our site.  The name change will hopefully allow a larger number of individuals, Worship Ministers, and Choral Directors to find and utilize this music to bring glory to God through worship ministry.  After considering several options, we felt that WorshipSounds Music was a good name for several reasons:

a.   The domain name and URL were available.
b.  There were not any competing downloadable music companies with simlar names showing up in our web searches.
c.  While much of our music is Choral, we also offer Vocal Solos, Orchestrations, and Congregational Worship Music.  Therefore, “Worship” was a more universal descriptive word for our offerings than “Choral”.  We will continue to list all of the available types of music in our website description and in tags associated with individual songs and with our website pages to enable people who are looking for all of these types of music to find us more easily.

Please be patient with us as all of these changes are being made.  The process will take some time.   Feel free to contact us through a message to our Boydbrain Music Facebook page or through either of the webmail addresses listed above if you have any questions about Travis’ music or about the changes.

NOTE:  If you have not visited our website for a while, there have been many recent additions! 
We have lots of new anthems, available in a multitude of voicings.  We have also added Full Orchestrations for some Anthems and several Vocal Solos, which are available in multiple keys.  Our Choral Video Demos and our new Vocal Solo Demos  make it easy for you to see and hear the music!  Pay us a re-visit, and check out what’s new at WorshipSounds Music!  http://www.worshipsoundsmusic.com

Let us know what you think about all of our changes.   We’d love to hear from you!

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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