Month: April 2011

Is Style In Worship Really The Issue?

Recently Glenn Packiam cut through the noise and nailed the heart of the issue regarding style in worship.

If you read this space with any regularity you know I have a great deal of respect for Glenn. He is someone who is absolutely brilliant yet does not live on another planet. Glenn has the unique ability to speak to issues from a place of experience and integrity.

A couple of days ago I had a conversation with a friend about style in worship. He and a friend were discussing how our contemporary worship style has led to a flippant attitude toward God. I immediately dismissed the idea that our style, necessarily, leads to a flippant, casual, or “Jesus is my homeboy” attitude.

Then Glenn, as he often does, shook me awake.

Glenn asks the question: Do the words we use in worship and prayer really matter?

The very first shot out of the gate redirected my attention:

“Worship songs” are not just “expressions of our hearts to God”, they shape what we believe about God.

He is absolutely right. When I do retreats I teach this. We often forget much of the message we heard by Sunday afternoon but were still singing the songs we sang in worship on Wednesday. We as worship leaders hold a very powerful and potentially dangerous tool in our hands. We can use it to build up or tear down. And dare I say your intentions are not the issue. God is very specific about how we should approach Him. As Glenn points out in his response to the statement “its the heart that counts”:

Tell that to Nadab and Abihu– you know, the guys who offered a “strange fire” and got struck down in Numbers 3. Or Uzzah, the guy who struck dead for touching the Ark that was sliding off a cart it should never have been on because David did not “seek the Lord about the prescribed manner.” Where did we arrive at the notion that God does not care about the way that we worship? Or that all that matters is our heart?

Glenn asked the question in a video response to questions asked through “The Worship Community Blog“:

If someone were to get their view of God solely from the songs you’re singing this weekend, what would that “God” look like?

This question should challenge us right down to our shoes. What are we teaching those entrusted to us in the songs we sing and the prayers we pray? I make the case in my retreats that we have more influence over the congregation as worship leaders than the Pastor on Sunday morning.

Its way past time to stop arguing over style. Don’t misunderstand me; style matters but only to those God has called us to reach. It’s not about my preference. It’s about speaking to those God has called us to reach while being unapologetic about proclaiming the truths of God the church has been declaring for two thousand years.

It’s about learning to worship in “spirit and in truth.” The uncomfortable truth is that “the way we worship and pray is the way we believe is the way we live” (or, in Latin, if you prefer: Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.)

If we will stand on truth and proclaim it loud and proud. God will build His church. When Jesus said in John 12:32 “If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me”.  He was talking about His death and if we will lift Him up in praise, in Spirit and in Truth, He would draw all men to Himself.

Let us never get so caught up in anything that we miss proclaiming the truth of God, which is the power of God for righteousness.

Click through and read the whole thing: Do the words we use in worship and prayer really matter?

Also check out: Video response to Worship Community questions and On the Theology of our worship services.

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Faith, Worship, 1 comment

He Chose To Go

Happy Good Friday,

The pinnacle of Holy week is just three days away and today we remember what Jesus endured for us over two thousand years ago.

So many thoughts run through my mind. Messianic prophecy for one. The fact that without God the odds of all the prophesies about Jesus coming true are 1038 (1 in a 100 billion, billion, billion, billion).

But what is taking up most of my headspace today is the fact that Roman soldiers did not put Jesus on the cross and it wasn’t the nails that held Him there.

Over the last several years I have been engaged in conversations with those in and outside the Church who tell me its barbaric to believe a loving Father would  send His son to be brutally beaten and murdered in the most horrific way to glorify Himself. This line of thinking is based on a faulty premise. Which is the case most of the time in these conversations. We need to be careful not to accept a premise without consideration. Most of the time the question is irrelevant because the understanding behind it is flawed, as in this case.

The Father and the Son are not separate but with the Spirit are one in essence. Essence is the attribute or set of attributes that make an object or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity. They are three in one.

God chose, by Himself, to pay the penalty for sin so we can come boldly into His presence. Ephesians 2 explains that because of Jesus sacrifice we are seated in heavenly places with Him so that for all eternity He can point to us as an example of His goodness, grace, and mercy. God made a good world, we rebelled, but God had a plan. He chose to go the the cross and endure what He endured on Good Friday because He loves us.

It was sin that put Jesus on the cross. Not an angry Father or Roman soldiers and it was love that held Him there.

The mystery kept hidden for generations is now made known to the saints and the mystery is this; Christ in me the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:26-27)

See you Sunday. He is Risen!

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Posted by Gary in Faith, Intimacy W/God, Worship, 1 comment


According to lots of people it is of the highest importance.

Not that I disagree. Our ability to influence, persuade, is very important.

What kind of influence do we want? How do we attain it? Once we have it how do we use it?

Carlos Whittaker nailed this idea last week when he said:

Jesus did not set out to become an influential leader by getting other influential leaders to fall in love with him.
He set out to see people rescued from the grip of death.
And lives changed was the base of his influence.
Not the words of another.

I have fallen into this trap from time to time. I have been blessed to have the opportunity to be around some really amazing people. People who are having a huge Kingdom impact on the world. Looking back I can see how, instead of relying on God to fulfill His call and promise in my life, I have served the man of God well hoping the man of God would launch me into my calling.

It wasn’t a conscious thing and I am aware of how serving another mans vision shows me faithful to carry my own call. David laid down his life for sheep he would never inherit. It’s a subtle shift with  huge implications. We must be faithful servers and stewards and look only to God for what He has for us.

In the last several years I have had the enormous privilege of mentoring dozens of amazing young men who will be world changers. I’m happy to have my influence in the hands of those God has entrusted to me.

Contentment is watching someone you have walked with over several years making good choices, loving his wife, and serving with joy and passion.

Who has God entrusted to you? Pour into them and watch them step into the fullness of their calling. Zig Ziglar  said years ago the way to fulfill your dreams is to help others fulfill theirs. A truth that rings true in my heart today more than ever.

Don’t waste time on superficial temporary fame. Make sure your influence will last.


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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Practical, 0 comments