Worship: Philosphy

One of my twitter friends @youcanknowgod Michael Le(I can’t spell his name)wkawski just wrote a post that knocked me out of my chair. Lately I have been processing thoughts on worship. It all came from stuff that has come up at Discovery and questions that have been raised about Crusade recently.

I would just link you to his post here, but many of you wouldn’t bother to click it! So here is the post in its entirity. It puts alot of stuff that I have been processing lately into words. I agree 100% – the parenthetical comments are mine.

Michael says…

I think it’s important for the philosophy of the worship leader to match the philosophy of the pastor and the philosophy of the church service on Sunday. Here’s something I wrote and sent to all of our worship leaders, not as a response to anything, but as a reminder.

– I like upbeat and celebration rather than intimate and thoughtful. It’s okay to do these kind of songs, but make them the spice rather than the meal.

– I like to get up right after a rockin’ song, not after some prayerful meditation. I typically start pretty light and funny and conversational, so a slow song doesn’t set that up well. (This varies week to week at Discovery… so would only apply some of the time)

– I love ending the service with something loud and memorable. either a performance tune or a rockin worhsip song. get people leaving on a high note.

– We love opening the service with a popular cover tune. That kind of stuff unfolds people’s arms. If a guest is there and he hears a popular song, he will relax and be more receptive to the message. this isn’t a stand up and sing song. (This also gives folks an opportunity to get into the worship space…)

– We need to program and pick songs with the unchurched in mind. If it would sound confusing to someone who hasn’t grown up in church, we probably shouldn’t do it.

– We like songs for dudes. not necessarily love songs to Jesus about how beautiful he is or how intimate we love him. That may be true, but most guys don’t talk like that.

– We are rock and roll, and we like it loud

– I like a mix of songs that people will sing and maybe one new or newer tune each week. If it’s all new, then we will lose people. if it’s all old, then we will become boring. (This is a must!)

– I don’t like it when worship leaders set up songs for 2-3 minutes. The little sentences during intros or quoting a verse during a guitar solo is very cool, but in general, I’ll do the talking and you do the singing. I promise not to pick up your guitar during my sermon and lead 10 extra minutes of worship if you promise not to preach a sermon setting up a song.

– A worship leaders job is to lead people in worship, not just worship personally. If a singer has his eyes closed, he’s not engaging the crowd. you’re a worship LEADER. if nobody is following, you’re not leading.

– Think of how the words would sound to unchurched men. that’s the filter. If a song has a confusing lyric, we need to explain what it means or skip it.

– It’s nice when the songs fit the theme, but we connect those dots way more than our people do. there are some awesome songs that are just awesome to sing. the song right before the message and right after the message should fit the best…some of the other songs can just be great songs. if they all fit the theme, then that’s great…but an unsingable song that fits the theme doesn’t do much for most people.

– It may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s not…old hymns redone are also connecting points. People in Cartersville have some church background, so reaching back and pulling something that they remember and updating it is a great way to make a connection. (Same applies for Greenville)

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I’m not trying to preach at anybody by posting this, but Michael really has put into words alot of the things I have been processing lately. Head over to Michael’s blog and give him and Oak Leaf Church some love!

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New Song Watch: God is Alive – Fee

I know I am on a steve fee kick lately… but this song is really good! It is one of the best up tempo worship songs that I have heard lately. I would love to hear this on Easter Sunday. *cough cough (are you reading Marcus?) Every one of the lyrics in this song is just bangin’ – “He is alive, He is alive – We are free”

New Song Watch: Glory to God Forever- Fee

I first heard this song at Catalyst 08 and I absolutely fell in love with it. The lyrics really speak to me. Steve Fee recently recorded it in the studio so I am highly anticipating the single.

Here is a version with the chords and everything for all you “music” people.

Worship: Thoughts…

There has been a lot of conversation going on about worship lately. Jason has been having a good conversation going on over at his blog.

Most of this conversation has been spurred by a comment that we got on the back of connection card that somehow made its way to the stage. We normally don’t read comments at the end of the service. We generally save that time for people who have questions related to the message. The comment said something like “I didn’t come here for a rock concert. I thought we were here for worship.” The person who wrote it probably didn’t intend for the comment to be read from the stage, but it just so happened to get mixed into the questions like comments sometimes do. Jason decided to respond to it. I think Jason’s response was good. (You too can watch the entire service and watch his response on the web in a secret location. The first DC non-staff person to find it will get a free cup of starbucks from me.)

Let me weigh in here a little bit…

I’m the guy who keeps “hazing” up the situation.

I think this is a positive dialogue.

The bottom line is that worship is not a what we get, but it is what we bring… Jason said it best during that off the cuff spirit led rant.

The person who wrote the comment is cool in my book. It is great to ask the question. We just have to remember that we can worship God in whatever the context. I have to remind myself of this when I am in an “acoustic” or “traditional” worship environment. Its not what I get out of it, but it is what I bring. So I have to work to focus on God and bring a heart of worship with me. I face many “distractions” in these environments like church organs and high church elements. In those cases I sacrifice my personal taste while in those experiences.

On the flip side some people need to do that when entering into the Discovery environment.

When it comes to the environment during Discovery’s worship service… well it is similar to a concert venue. However, that is done on purpose. Its not just to be “cool” or “hip”. The real reason we work so hard on our environment is so we can connect with outsiders. Most “non-christians” or “seekers” are used to these elements. Most of the time when they go to see their favorite artist at the RBC Center or Walnut Creek… Its dark, there is haze, the music is loud, the lighting matches the music.

So most normal “outsiders” can hopefully connect and relate with a DC weekend experience. They hopefully feel more comfortable, welcome, enjoy the music, enjoy doughnuts and coffee, and enjoy the message. It is to be hoped that once they are comfortable they will be able to connect with the message and music and hopefully eventually one day enter into a relationship with Christ.

So the question to ask yourself is if you are willing or not to sacrifice personal music taste (and maybe wear earbuds) in order to maintain an environment that an “outsider” can hopefully connect to Christ?

Just remember. We can create a positive environment, but without the holy spirit we can do nothing. So that’s why as a church body we need to be consistently praying for the hearts of those who don’t know Christ.

Oh yea… inviting people who don’t know Christ helps too! The upcoming series “Six Things I Hate About Christians” will be a great opportunity.

Back in Greenville!

Yes the rumors are true… I am finally back in good ole Greenville! I still haven’t gotten fully unpacked yet, but it has been good getting to see everybody.

I am trying to get use to this new invention yall have down here… AIR CONDITIONING! The place we lived at while we were in the city did not. However, the weather was amazing while we were up there. The first day temperatures hit way over 100, but after that most evening we enjoyed temps in the upper 70s. That is not normally the case in NYC, so we were very fortunate!

I also enjoyed returning to my bed and sheets. The foam mattress on the bunk bed in NYC was not the most comfortable thing in the world.

I do already miss this city though… I turned on Letterman last night, and all the memories started calling me back.

I am looking forward to DC on Sunday. I don’t think the folks at Discovery know how good they have it. We have some of the best music, preaching, and teaching out there!

Thats all for now… Tonight I get to reunite with some of my East Carolina people at the 12 am showing of The Dark Knight.