Stop making church “cool?” Ok, but you’ve missed the point.

Typically I don’t comment on these types of things but this article has been getting enough traction lately in various places that I felt it warranted some interaction.

In the article, Rachel Held Evans makes some accurate observations and quotes a lot of compelling stats, but ultimately her conclusion here is massively flawed. Continue reading

The most important voice in the room

I once had an ongoing joke with a sound guy that I was “number one” because he would usually plug my vocal mic into channel 1 on the snake at my church. As if us worship leaders need any additional help boosting our egos any higher than they already are… Continue reading

Keith Getty, “In Christ Alone,” and sung theology

This is a great interview with Keith Getty, one of the authors of the song “In Christ Alone.” The article focuses mainly on the song and how some denominations have recently chosen not to publish it in their hymn books because of one line. I really appreciate the way Keith not only defends his commitment to retaining the original lyric, but goes on from there to share a number of wise insights into the importance of singing our theology, including difficult concepts such as God’s wrath. For example:

Each of us faces the temptation to fashion God out of our own image. And a picture of God formed through our experiences of hurt, anger, injustice, or rage is a sad and vindictive one indeed. But this is not the infinite, good God we serve. God’s wrath is not like our wrath, and his ways are not like our own.

The final paragraph of the article sums up well the need for worship songs that contain a full scope of sound theology:

We need exciting, passionate songs with beautiful lyrics, rich in theology, and infectious melodies that invigorate our congregations. With every line we write and tune we compose, we need to portray a fuller picture of Christ for the people among us. We need not shy away from the hard, mysterious sections of Scripture. Songwriters need to demonstrate a grasp of the whole biblical context. We must not be afraid to write about hard things. Singing songs with more depth allows us to experience the relief of lifting our eyes off ourselves and toward the unimaginable vastness of our God. This is what I pray for myself and for others creating music for the church today.

Read the entire interview here.

Please Don’t Just Stop Singing

The following is an edited transcript from a brief encouragement I gave my church during worship a couple months ago.

Here at Redemption Church, we say that “It’s All About Jesus.” We’re unapologetic about that – it’s what we want you to know about us right from the very start. Jesus died on our behalf, and we are His church – the Bible calls us His bride – so it really is all about Him.

Recently I read an article by someone in Christian leadership – in other words, someone who has some measure of influence. The article was a blog post about how this person had actually stopped singing at the church that he attends. He presented a list of reasons why, such as overly simplistic music, poorly written lyrics, and so on. And I have to say that I got his points. I really did understand and could sympathize with the criticisms he was leveling (in fact, several of them were criticisms I myself have voiced about modern church music). But his ultimate conclusion – to simply stop singing – broke my heart. It was tragic to me to read that because I realize all too often that it can become very easy for us to miss the mark when it comes to worship. Very quickly, our tendency can be to start shifting the focus from worship being all about Jesus to it being all about us. We start asking more, “What can I get out of this experience?” or “How does this make me feel?” rather than “What can I give to Jesus?” or “What pleases Him?”

I recognize that at our church there will be times when the music will not be your thing. It won’t be your style. And we own that. And who knows – if today isn’t your day, maybe next week will be! Or perhaps you’re fine with the music but you’re just not “feeling” into worship yet today – you woke up this morning and it’s taking a while for your heart to be in that right place. My encouragmenet to all of us would be, rather than choosing to simply not engage, remember that when we come together to worship we want it to be all about Jesus. That means, and my hope is, that today is not about an audience watching a performance happening on stage, but today our audience is Jesus in heaven. Those of us on stage are kind of acting as prompters, leading the charge in a sense, but we are all performing together for His glory!

So my encouragement to all of us is that you will sing today – and sing loud! Not to impress the person next to you, but because Jesus is worthy – because of what He’s done and what He’s doing in your life.

Maybe singing’s not your thing, or it is somehow hard for you. Well, that’s ok – there are other ways you can worship. Maybe clapping along is your thing. You feel the beat and that’s how you can express yourself. But don’t do it because you’re excited about the music, but because you’re excited about God! That’s our heart and our hope.

Or maybe you don’t clap – maybe you don’t have any rhythm in your body. If that is you then, then please DON’T clap! But you can raise your hands! Psalm 134 says “lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord.” The bottom line is that we simply want to bless God in some way when we come together.

So ultimately worship is not about what we get or receive. And like I said, if the music’s not your vibe or your style – maybe next week it will be, I don’t know. But the point is, let’s all be asking ourselves: today, right now and in this place, how can I engage God, how can I give Him glory and bring Him the praise? That’s what it’s all about.