Not About You, Not About Me

Your blog. Your follow count. Your marriage. Your ministry.

Everything around you is screaming otherwise, constantly contending the corner of You, the Great and Unrivaled. To and from our deepest place – the mighty, smoldering, invisible nucleus of every person – we are coached over and over and over that we are, in fact, really really important. That we could rule this kingdom. That we honestly do deserve some credit. We are continually self-medicating on the holy scriptures of brownie points and weekly attendance and Klout and PostRank. Continue reading

How Messy Is Your Worship?

If I’m not careful, I find myself making worship into a time that is:

polished

rigid in structure

spiritually stationary

But real worship is messy and honest. Brutally honest. That means it’s not neatly trimmed and sometimes it smells bad. It’s the offerings of real, messy people. Living sacrifices. If offered in true seeking of the Spirit of God, the spotted lambs, the three-legged calves (juxtaposed anatomical pun, check), and the rotting meat are all welcome at the altar of God.

As a worship leader, I want to encourage times of corporate worship that are free to be:

awkward

fluid in structure

spiritually transformational

Do you try to clean up the mess? How do you encourage genuine worship?

4 Thoughts On Observation And Participation In Worship

If you’re a worship leader or someone in a church leadership role (staff or not), you’ve probably experienced the frustration of a “dead crowd”. We ask ourselves How in the world could these people be standing still, staring at the stage looking like they either want to beat somebody up or can’t wait to get to Shoney’s? I believe this is a legitimate desire wrapped up in that ugly school wrapping paper you bought from your niece so she could win a trip to Disney World. No one likes that.

Of course we want to see true transformation in people’s lives expressed in joyful worship! But the part that gets the air-time is the nasty, judgmental spirit that can rot a fellowship of believers from the inside out. The Enemy loves a noble complainer. Continue reading

What Is An Effective Worship Leader?

In an effort to continually improve at what I do, I’m always stacking myself up against people who are much better at it than me. Guys like Redman, Tomlin, Christy Nockels, Kim Walker, Hillsong, and even guys in my church seem so natural and transparent when leading. The question I want to always ask myself is what are those recurring qualities among the most effective worship leaders and how do those qualities weigh against my character?

I’m not talking tattoos, skinny jeans, and scarves. Those are just obvious. Duh.

An effective worship leader…

  • is a discerning servant of the Spirit who leads by listening
  • initiates and models authenticity in the gathering and in his or her life
  • invests in the lives of his or her congregation
  • plans flexibly and knows when to get out of the way
  • has a deep hunger for the Word of God

These are some qualities and trends I’ve observed in some of my worship leading heroes. I’ll be honest with you. I struggle with most of these every time I set foot on stage to lead, so these are truly things I strive for on a daily basis. It was indicting to write them, and I kept trying to soften them up a bit. But that would just be dumb.

Think about your worship leading heroes. Would you add anything to the list?

The Order Of Worship: Cause Or Effect?

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The writers of the New Testament spent very little time describing their worship services. Justin Martyr’s account is probably the most well-known and earliest description, but aside from not wearing jewelry and hair coverings and rules on tongues, there’s just not much practical detail in the canonical texts as to what these mysterious gatherings should look like. And what is offered (mostly by Paul) is usually in admonishment to a current issue in the early church. They do, however, take up much more real estate talking about the things that happened before the worshiping took place. Continue reading

Better Than Coffee

Jesus calls us the same way He called the first disciples. We’re busy minding our own business, going about our lives and He chooses to come to us and call. We should never think that we sought Him out. It is a volatile and poisonous idea that we initiated the conversation at all.

He did not call us to abandon, but to obey the law that He has already fulfilled. Our exclusive obedience to Christ satisfies His command to perfect obedience to the law. To live as though I am in all ways free of the law is a dangerous presupposition to faith as it nullifies and takes out of view Christ’s fulfilling work on the cross.

It is finished.

I should hold ever before me that my right standing before God is only on account of the grace He alone showed in calling me, the faith He alone gives me that Christ alone has perfectly completed the demands that were, are and will always remain on me. In that light I think faith and works can be seen to ‘coexist’.

There is no fulfillment of the law apart from communion with God, and no communion with God apart from fulfillment of the law. To forget the first condition was the mistake of the Jews, and to forget the second the temptation of the disciples.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

What a thundering paradox, that I am at the same time inexorably bound to the law and fully free from its weight, only in that through my communion with Christ I am carrying out a law whose demands have already been satisfied. So God – the Beginning, the only sovereign King, the holy Judge of all creation – has indeed made me alive when I was dead.

I am to Him as He is to Himself.

What a beautiful way to start my day.