Month: March 2010

Leading Worship

As I head down this road please understand I am not attacking anyone.  Many of you who read this have made these statements either to me or in my presence. I hope to clarify words and intents. Please know I have the utmost respect for you, your ministry, and your calling.

Several years ago Andy Park¬† wrote an excellent book called “To Know You More“. It’s written to worship leaders not to the congregation. In it he makes the Biblical case for the title “Worship Leader”. I strongly recommend you get a copy if you feel called to the office of worship leader.

I first heard Jack Hayford use the term “Lead Worshiper” in his book “Worship the Pattern of Things in Heaven” now I’m hearing the term “Lead Follower”. It’s not that I have a particular problem with any of these terms. I just want to make sure were not missing the point when we use them.

Recently I came across an article on HigherPraise.com with this paragraph at the beginning:

As worship leaders (each member is a worship leader, not just the lead singer), you need to remember that leading worship is NOT trying to get people to sing, It is WORSHIPING GOD yourselves, SO THAT others will FOLLOW your LEAD!! !! Instead of concentrating on worship leading, focus on being a lead worshiper.

There’s that term again,

I don’t totally disagree with this statement however it leaves out some critical elements of standing on the platform in the position of leader.

Eddie Espinosa writer of amazing songs like “Change my Heart Oh God”, and “Most of all”, said:

Worship leading is not worshiping God while others watch. I liken this to eating in front of hungry people.

Leading worship begins well before we stand on the platform on Sunday It begins in our ongoing prayer life and individual worship times. We must be asking God what He wants to say to His people. Taking into consideration everything God is speaking to us to evaluate if it’s for us, for the team, or for the congregation. All in submission to the leadership of the Church or event.

When we stand on the platform we must have already received direction from the Holy Spirit and given Him every opportunity to change what we think we heard. The reason we stand on that platform should be because we have been affirmed in our calling and gifting by Elders and been delegated authority over that part of the service.

Walking in that authority we must then engage those God has entrusted to us and lead them to where we have already been with the creativity God has given us. I agree our job is not to “get people to sing”. It is also not to “Worship God myself so that others will follow my lead”. We must lead them gently, humbly, and confidently, as many as will come, into the secret place.

Leading worship always begins where the people are. If you miss where they are spiritually you will miss them entirely. Very few people will run to catch up once you’ve begun. Getting a large group of people to walk aimlessly down the street is much different than leading a marching band. Leading is not directing from the front or being a cheerleader. It does however require actively meeting the people where they are and taking them with you.

If we merely show up and worship through the 20 or so minutes given to us we may have, but most likely have not, “lead worship”.

would love your thoughts on this.

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Posted by Gary in Worship, 4 comments

Frontier School of the Bible, Closure

Got this awhile ago and haven’t had time to post it. Here is the conclusion:

Dear Alumni and Friends of FSB,

In October of 2008, Frontier School of the Bible discovered that a state statute, designed to deal with diploma mills, inadvertently affected legitimate schools and led to all religious schools in Wyoming losing their religious exemption. The consequences of this action could have caused us to relocate to another state.

Some of the effects of that statute were negated by Frontier School of the Bible being granted a Leadership School exemption by the Department of Education. We appreciated their help with our dilemma. In order to deal with all of the unintended negative aspects of losing our religious exemption, Representative Ed Buchanan submitted House Bill 16 on behalf of Frontier School of the Bible and all other religious schools in Wyoming. In February, this bill was passed with nearly unanimous support by the Wyoming Legislature and signed by the Governor on March 3, 2010. The passing of this bill has restored our religious exemption!

The prayer support for this situation has been astounding and humbling. We clearly saw the hand of God work in numerous ways and many blessings came to Frontier in the midst of this situation. Every time we encountered difficult obstacles, God provided direction and assistance from wonderful people and organizations.

Thank you so much for your prayers.

Yours In Christ,

Frontier School of the Bible

God is good.

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Posted by Gary in Civics, 0 comments

I love my life

When I was in college a friend of mine would always pray, “God You are so big”, I remember thinking “That is the understatement of all understatements” however; I often find myself at a loss for words explaining what He is doing.

I find myself in that situation today.

Last weekend I had the privilege of being with some great people in Limon Colorado leading a worship retreat for Life in Christ Church. This is the first time a church has invited the community to join them. As a result we were blessed to have three churches represented. What a blessing to have different levels of musicians, different places in their walk with the Lord, and different traditions of worship. It created a different but very good environment.

We started on Friday night with Repentance and Dieing to self. It set the tone for the whole weekend. God was faithful and set a tone of reverence and expectation.

Saturday morning we began with Real worship, went into the rewards of loyalty by teaching through the book of Ruth, after which we were prepared to go to the centerpiece of the whole weekend, “walking in intimacy with God”. What does it mean practically to walk in intimacy with God? I know I’m supposed to read my bible and pray but there has to be more, and there is. We finished the morning answering the question “why music?”. If worship isn’t about music then why music?

After lunch we began by explaining what it means to be a “worship leader” and what is potentially wrong with the titles of “lead worshiper” or “lead follower”. We finished the heart portion of the day talking about excellence. What is it and can we offer it?

The practical “how to” portion began at about 2:00 with the purpose and elements of a worship team. What is the purpose of the choir and each individual element of the team. Where does each instrument fit into the sonic space. My friend Andrew did an excellent job with practical music theory. He starts with where we are rather than taking us back to theory 101 it was great.

After supper we went into planning and delivering a worship set and an actual rehearsal for Sunday morning.

I came home exhausted but energized. Seeing the fruit of God’s word and some practical application is always amazing.

If you were going to have a retreat what things would you add or subtract? What did I miss?

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Faith, Intimacy W/God, Personal, Practical, Worship, 1 comment

Is Excellence Perfection?

Excellence is a word we like to throw around especially in Christian circles. My sons old school used it so much it almost had no meaning. It’s not quite as bad as “Awesome” or “Incredible” but almost.

What does is mean? In regard to performance, our effort, our offering, our worship.

We can look at Hillsong, New Life, Willow Creek, or Mars Hill and say it’s easy for them to offer excellence look what they have. But how can I offer excellence when all I have is an old church piano player and a 13 year old drummer?

Is it possible we have incorrectly linked excellence with perfection?

The dictionary defines “Excellence” as:

“The quality of being outstanding or extremely good”

So far so good but what is the standard by which we determine what is “outstanding” or “extremely good”? Is it Darlene Zschesch, Ross Parsley, Chris Tomlin, or is it the music teacher at the high school?

The dictionary defines “Perfection” as:

“the condition, state, or quality of being free from all flaws or defects”

Is that something we can offer? Do we have within our capacity or control to bring an offering free from “all flaws or defects”?

Vines Concise Dictionary of the Bible gives definitions for each usage of “excellence” here are the key words:

Over and above, The surpassing thing, To differ, A throwing beyond, The act of overhanging or the thing which overhangs, More, Greater, Superior by reason of inward worth, Mightiest, Noblest, Best.

When we talk, or think, about worship the word that is coupled with worship most often is “sacrifice” or “offering”. There are 5 different types of offerings in Leviticus.

Burnt offering, Leviticus 1:3
To show worship, devotion, and ask for forgiveness
Grain offering, Leviticus 2:1
To give thanks and recognize God as the giver of blessing and provider of good things
Peace offering, Leviticus 3:1
To ask God for blessing
Sin offering, Leviticus 4:1-2
To ask forgiveness for a specific unintentional sin or to become clean after becoming unclean
Guilt offering, Leviticus 5:15, 17-18
To make up for cheating, robbing, or destroying anything belonging to the Lord or to the people

These are all things we do, in whole or in part, when we come to worship. All of these require a sacrifice. All of them except the grain offering require an animal from the herd “without blemish”. The grain offering requires “fine flour”.

“Without blemish” can literally be translated “possessing integrity or truth”. Integrity is “the state of being whole or undivided”.

Consider King David in 1 Chronicles 21. Ornan was willing to give everything for the offering even the animals for the burnt offering. But David’s reply should cause us to stop and think, verse 24:

“I will not take what is yours for the Lord, or offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing”

Excellence then is:

“to offer the best I have, something above and beyond or different from the norm, something costly”

What are your thoughts? What am I missing?

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Practical, Worship, 0 comments