Getty Music Worship Conference: Sing!

Why do we sing?  It seems like a funny question – in our churches, it’s just what we do, every Sunday morning.  But really, why do we sing?  Furthermore, what does our singing say about our view of God? How does it reflect our relationship with the Lord and with each other as believers? What is the importance of congregational singing?

Keith and Kristyn Getty, modern-day hymn-writers, have teamed up with an amazing list of speakers and musicians to answer these questions and more.  If you’ve heard any of the Getty’s music, you probably know the wonderful depth it has both theologically and musically.  This coming week in Nashville, more than 4,000 believers from over 16 countries will be gathering for the very first Getty Music Worship Conference: Sing!  Now, however, you can join them through the free, live simulcast they are offering, September 18-20!  RSVP now and receive a free songbook download with 25 of Keith and Kristyn’s songs.

I know this is a late notice, but I didn’t find out about it until yesterday and was unable to post anything until now. However, you can still get the entire conference on demand because they are also making available all 70 hours available by purchasing a LifeWay Digital Pass as an individual or with a group rate here.

So, what are you waiting for? While you’re there, check out the Getty’s new book titled “Sing!” (If you order through the link, you get a really great discount.)

Learn more here.

 

Self-Centered Worship

I have found a helpful bit of advice on modern Self Centered Worship, from Australian worship leader, Darin Browne, at PraiseandWorshipLeader.com

This podcast explores self centered worship, and whether or not “I” songs have become the focus of modern worship music. They make the excellent points:

  • If we are going to worship, it must be centered on God. When modern songs fail to mention even one of His many names, it is hard to say if it is focused on the LORD, or a human fancy.
  • The “Formulas” vs. the Holy Spirit.
  • Choosing the right kind of songs for worship and choosing songs with purpose and looking at the meaning. Not using “throw away” songs. Time for music in worship is limited already. Every song should either point to God, or your response to God.
  • The call to worship.
  • Seeking God on every song you do. This is something that has been important to me, and I have personally seen this have a big impact in my worship.

Top five take aways:

  1. Choose lyrics and songs carefully. Choose the right key. Check out the lyrics and melodies to be sure you are not singing “junk” music that is not accurate, or is difficult to sing. Just because they are doctrinally or scripturally correct, doesn’t mean they are great corporate worship songs! Don’t introduce more than one new song in a week. Learning new songs isn’t usually the focus of worship in song.

  2. Ask why do you do the song you are doing. You need to have a valid reason for each song.
  3. Avoid formulas. Three fast, two slow…two fast, three slow, or whatever it be, God will not fall off His throne if you do it different.
  4. Middle songs should be about proclaiming God- i.e., He is Lord, Man of Sorrows, When I Survey
  5. Finish on song that directly glorifies God. i.e. How Great Thou Art, Agnus Dei, How Great Is Our God.

While these folks are discussing this subject in terms of a modern worship music setting, the same can be said for much of so called traditional music in worship. If this is your form of worship, take a hard look at the music you choose as well. This phenomenon is not exclusive to CCM.

 

2016 PPMC Music Conference part 2

Music Conference photos part 2…

Vocal Class

Jim’s vocal class was well received. In the first session, he had the most students!
20160601,2,3 (29)For those of you, who haven’t had the pleasure of hearing him, he sings in a natural, easy style, that has really is a joy to listen to! A lot of people are preferring this over traditional classical operatic singing that typifies traditional church music. Jim showed that you can sing both praise and worship songs, and traditional solos, such as The Via Dolorosa, and not still project your voice, and add proper emotion and technique without sounding gaudy. One of Jim’s strengths which I believe added to this conference, is that he comes from a slightly less traditional background, having been a professional entertainer, and then later serving on the music ministry team at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, CA. He now leads the music at a Messianic Jewish congregation in Irvine, CA., and he possesses the ability and sensitivity to balance the technique and style. He understands both sides and their proper uses and was able to communicate this through instruction and demonstration._MG_1759

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim did a lot of private lessons in addition to the group sessions that covered the basic techniques. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of photos from this class.

 

Conducting/Songleading

Everybody loves Mr. Fox! He is a blast to be around, and he knows his stuff! Don’t let his this serious look scare you away!

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Mr. Fox. Photo Courtesy of the Shove Family

Too bad there isn’t a picture of the historical conducting devices which you would’ve seen had you been here, but I guess we will have to do this again, and you will have to come to his class, so you can learn not only the history, and beginning of conducting, but also learn some actual conducting skills (if you can between laughing!)

Doing what He does best!
Doing what He does best! (Photo Courtesy of the Shove Family)

 

Really, Mr. Fox was another wonderful asset to this conference, bringing many years of teaching and believe it or not, actual conducting experience! 🙂 He is also very expressive, and his students always have a great time and burn calories laughing from the fun in the process!

Mr. Fox also had the difficult task of taking 46 of us, with varying degrees of ability and experience (some not even reading music), and led us in making actual music! It really was amazing that he was able to pull it off!

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Photo Courtesy of the Shove family.

Each student at this conference was involved in either the chorale, or the accompaniment for the chorale.

Logan O. Accompanying the chorale.
Logan O. Accompanying the chorale.

In the short time we had together, we put together two anthems and a hymn, which were sung on Friday evening in addition to the individuals and groups that shared their gifts.

20160601,2,3 (78)We had a number of string players which brought their instruments and did a fantastic job accompanying us, as well as Logan O. on the piano, under Mr. Fox’s fabulous direction.
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Thank you to the Smith, Haymond, Osborn and Bisceglia family members who were willing to do a little extra and share your talents with us in the string ensemble!
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Photo by Treasured Moments Studio
Photo by Treasured Moments Studio

Really, all of you should be congratulated on your perseverance and hard work on learning some brand new (to most of you) music in just two short days! You all did an incredible job!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructor Forum

On Friday afternoon, we held an instructor forum, with the combined experience of the professionals to answer your questions. As you can see, we aren’t always serious!

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If you were there, you would know what was said…:) 20160601,2,3 (83)

20160601,2,3 (89)20160601,2,3 (88)We solicited questions on Wednesday, and Thursday, and held the forum Friday. 20160601,2,3 (85)

Our purpose wasn’t to discuss the merits of Traditional vs. Contemporary, or to get into a divisive argument which doesn’t serve to help us worship. Instead, we deliberately steered the conversation toward things of practical value to any musician of any leaning, with the emphasis and encouragement of keeping a heart of true worship. We did seek to define what worship truly is, earlier in the week, and this discussion expounded on that somewhat.

 

Final Concert

The conference culminated on Friday evening, with a community evening of worship in song, led by the staff and conference attendees. Each of the students had the opportunity to put to use some of their new skills. All participated in one way or another. We had a chorale, special numbers, and community hymn-singing led and accompanied by the students and staff. 20160601,2,3 (93) 20160601,2,3 (94)

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Mr. Smythe shared some history about the iconic hymn, How Great Thou Art, and then led us in singing it. This was his first time leading music for an event like this!

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Vicki L’s powerful piano accompaniment on the hymn, “And Can It Be?”
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Osborne sisters with Natalie L. brought us a beautiful trio!

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Greg H. accompanying congregational singing.
Greg H. accompanying congregational singing.
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Kristen and Amy H. Violin duet.
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Cathy O., doing a fine job leading us in another hymn!
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These two sisters in Christ, shared an Acapella arrangement they created of “Oh Glorious Love” by John Peterson. Wish you could’ve heard it! It was very beautifully done.
Mrs Smythe Leads singing for her first time!
Mrs Smythe Leads singing for her first time!

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Mr. Fox leading, with student accompaniment. BeccaLee S. and Mrs. Lopez, on the piano with string ensemble and organ.
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Community members joined us for a night of worship in song.

After we had sung the last song and acknowledged our incredible director, Mr. Fox, he said he had one more thing to do and handed me an envelope with donations he and Mrs. Lopez had collected so that I could go to the Pine Lake Composer’s Symposium in Atlanta, GA. Only Mrs. Lopez knew I wanted to go to this, and she “put a bug in someone’s ear” suggesting they do this. 

Receiving the generosity of the students! Photo Courtesy of the Shove Family
Receiving the generosity of the students! Photo Courtesy of the Shove Family
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Photo courtesy of the Shove family

I was so overwhelmed! We had just, by the grace of God, had the most wonderful conference, and then to top it off, the kind generosity of so many of the students, which allowed me to go and learn from the likes of Joe Martin, Mary McDonald, Brant Adams, Victor Jackson, Robert Sterling, and Brad Nix. THANK YOU ALL SOOOO MUCH!! it was an incredible “Composium” which I will write about in the next blog post, God willing.

 

Mr. Kenny Shove Jr. Assisting with technical aspects such as sound, and recording.
Kenny S. Assisting with technical aspects such as sound, and recording. Photo Courtesy of the Shove Family.
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Maria B. taking photos. Photo Courtesy of the Shove Family.
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Josiah P. photo crew. (in the background is James S.) Photo Courtesy Shove Family
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The Instructional staff. Photo Courtesy of the Shove Family

All of you who attended made this a fantastic conference, which was better than I could’ve hoped for and all of you who didn’t make it, missed a great conference!  Lord willing, we will do this again in the future.We have identified a number of areas that people are looking for further training in, and hope to be able add those as well. We are currently praying about what the LORD would have us to do. If you would join with us in this, we would greatly appreciate it!

2016 PPMC Music Conference Part 1

On June 1-3, 2016, we held the very first Powerful Praise! Music Conference, at Opportunity Presbyterian Church, in Spokane Valley, WA!

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Our welcome banner

Forty-six musicians and worship leaders from as far south as Southern California, and as far North, as North Dakota, showed up to learn how to improve their musicianship in order to make God’s praise glorious! It was an awe-inspiring time with representatives of several different denominations including Presbyterian, Baptist, United Methodist, Messianic, and Non-Denominational churches. I really appreciated the oneness in spirit that everyone had-we were here for the purpose of learning to bring our Lord and Savior praise through music, in the best possible ways, preparing our hearts, minds, and bodies (through excellent technique and practice), to bring Him the very best we can.

We had instruction in piano accompaniment, modulations, arranging, master classes, playing the message of the music, vocal techniques, singing with proper form, projection, mic techniques, conducting hymns for congregational singing, conducting choirs and  ensembles, understanding your audience, understanding the difference between praising God and putting on a performance, a forum with the experts, and hands-on practice. This is only a partial list of the many, many things taught during this two-day conference.

Our instructors were Faye Lopez (piano accompaniment), Brian Fox (song leading and directing), and Jim White (Vocals). Mr. Tom Wylie was invaluable behind the scenes with technical aspects making things run smoothly, as well as Logan O., and the Shove, Pinkerton, Smith and Haymond families. And I can’t fail to mention the gourmet refreshments and service which were graciously provided by the John Smythe family! Thank you all for your servant’s heart and your gracious generosity in giving of time and resources to help out in making this a success!

This has been the culmination of a vision which has been such a joy to see come together!  THANK YOU TO All who participated, helped get out the word, attended, gave of your time and resources, and made this conference happen. It would’ve been a lonely endeavor without you!

At the close of this two day conference, after the choir sang, and we acknowledged our amazing conductor, I was presented with an envelope of donations which they had collected unbeknownst to me, so that I could go to Pine Lake Music’s Composer’s Symposium, I had heard about through Mrs. Lopez. I will tell more about that in part 2. Thank you to all who donated toward this!

As people arrived, they checked in with Tom W. and received their name tag and personalized folders.20160601,2,3 (15) 20160601,2,3 (16)

Photo Courtesy of Shove Family
Photo Courtesy of Shove Family

Everyone received a name tag and a folder with sheet music (several octavos and a new hymn), instructions, and notes, as well as information on copyrights and church music complimentary of CCLI, and Hymnprovisation.com

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We were blessed to have 46 worship leaders, pianists, vocalists, and fellow musicians from South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California! It was a great group of people who sought to improve their skills in musicianship, and to learn how to make excellent music in praise to God.

We began on Wednesday evening, with welcome, introductions, announcements, and a concert by our instructors, Brian Fox, Jim White, and Faye Lopez.

Mr. Fox was Master of Ceremonies, and led in corporate worship at the beginning of the group sessions, as well as conducting the chorale, and string ensemble, and teaching conducting and song leading. We began with the introduction of a brand new hymn by Faye Lopez, Blest Be The Tie, which was fitting for this conference seeing as we had many people from many denominational backgrounds, who all were come together to make God’s praise excellent!

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Mr. Fox, taught conducting and song leading and was MC for this conference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We began with introductions and learning the new hymn, "Blest Be The Tie", by Faye Lopez
We began with introductions and learning the new hymn, “Blest Be The Tie”, by Faye Lopez

After the the introductions and announcements, the rest of the evening was dedicated to hearing from Faye Lopez and Jim White, as they shared the gifts God has entrusted to them, with us. Part of the purpose of this was to hear what they are able to do with the training and experience they have gained from years of practice, performance, worship, and teaching.

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J.W. Pepper was also on hand with four tables of music, books, and resources for those involved in music ministry, and if they didn’t have what you were looking for here, they offered free shipping to conference attendees! 20160601,2,3 (57)

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This was intended to be a “hands-on” music conference. Each student was encouraged to try out and implement the techniques they were learning, and each who wanted it, had the opportunity to present, accompany, or lead the singing at the final concert and community hymn sing.

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BeccaLee S. taking notes.

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Practicing

Impromptu singing at the breaks in the wonderfully acoustic lobby!20160601,2,3 (60) _MG_1636

Piano Accompaniment Class

We were very, very blessed, to have published composer, teacher, and pianist, Faye Lopez, all the way from Bob Jones University, in South Carolina, come out and teach piano accompaniment. The wonderfully expressive Mrs. Lopez, shared from her years of experience teaching, playing, arranging, and writing music. In addition to the regular sessions, she also did a couple of Master Class sessions, where students could present a piece they had been working on, and receive instruction on how to improve their technique, the way they think of the music, the way they express their music and much, much more, in a mutually encouraging, constructive environment!

20160601,2,3 (51)20160601,2,3 (49) 20160601,2,3 (56)Students were encouraged share a song they had been working on, with the purpose of improving techniques through excellent instruction. 20160601,2,3 (48)

There were also a limited number of private lessons available from Mrs. Lopez for an additional cost.

Break time…

During the breaks, there were numerous opportunities for networking, and to learn from others, browse, and purchase sheet music from JW Pepper, practice what you learned, play or sing music in the lobby with others, or simply relax and enjoy the incredible refreshments provided by the John Smythe Family!

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Click here for part 2 with more photos…

 

All photos on this page unless otherwise noted, are ©2016 Treasured Moments Studio. You can find out more about Treasured Moments Studio here.

The Pinnacle of Music

James Koerts  in his blog, posted a quote about music and why True Worship music is the Pinnacle of all music. It’s worth reading, and because he is a fellow believer who has much, much, more experience in this field, I’m going to suggest you go to his website and check it out here! While you are there, don’t forget to sign up for his newsletter, and receive a free hymn arrangement from him. Check out his blog, CDs, and arrangements!

James is a fantastic pianist, writer and arranger of music, and serves on the pastoral staff of Mikado Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia. He is passionate about worship. Not talking about it. Doing it. And there’s nothing like bringing people into the presence of God through corporate worship. It’s one of his favorite things to do. (I personally think he really excels at accompaniment that is not distracting!)

Learning from my own advice

Today, I played an offertory for church. Offertory isn’t my favorite thing to play for. I’d much rather play for the congregation to sing. I am an accompanist, not a soloist. But I was asked to play, and the others who sometimes play, couldn’t, so I agreed to.

I have to add here, I’m not a fan of passing the bag or offering plate. I grew up in a church that had a small wooden box in the back somewhere. We never talked about it and never asked for money, yet God always provided our needs and then some! When I first started coming here and was asked to play offertory, I was a little conflicted, since I personally believe the “brown box” is the better way to go about this. But I came to grips with it for three reasons:

  1. I was giving an offering of my gifts, to the LORD, through worship music.
  2. The music was (usually) a blessing to others, and since, what we do to the least of these, we do to Him, I was blessing Him!
  3. I believed in the work the church was funding with the monies the collected.

I usually have this honor once a month, but was asked to do it two weeks in a row (last week, and this week). Last week, I played a rousing rendition of “Wonderful Grace Of Jesus” which wasn’t close to perfect, but many people were impressed with. Jim, our assistant Pastor, commented, “Now that is what I call an offertory!” Even as I walked in this morning, a week later, several people complimented me about it. I should’ve taken that as a hint.

Feeling just a little too good about last week’s offertory, I couldn’t think of what I should play this week. Even when I got to church, I hadn’t figured it out. In the past, often, I will have picked out a hymn or gospel song, and worked up some arrangement for it, and when it came time, a  still, small but firm voice, says, “Don’t play that one. Play this one instead.” Sometimes I listen to this, and sometimes I don’t. When I have listened, often people have come up and told me how they were blessed. And then I am blessed that they were blessed, and I think it was what’s called a double blessing! When I don’t listen, bad things happen. :/
Such was today. I wasn’t sure what to play. Several hymns stood out, but I kept comparing them with last week’s offertory song, and well, it’s hard to top Wonderful Grace Of Jesus! But that’s where I kept getting derailed.

It’s not about what the people think is it? Who am I really playing for, the congregation, or the King of kings?

As the time came to decide, I chose to do one of my all-time favorite hymns: I Am His, and He Is Mine. When I opened the hymnal to that page, (as I do to follow the words while I play) the opposite page was, A Child Of The King. I heard that still, small voice again:

“Play that instead.”

“But I don’t really know how to do that one so well, LORD, and it only has like three chords in it (okay, maybe more, but it’s not a terribly exciting melody!”

“So?” 

“…and this one is my favorite- I know how to play it, and make it sound good!”

“So you are more worried about impressing men, huh? Okay. Go ahead.”

The prayer was ending…it was time to choose: Child of the King, or I Am His, and He is Mine…?

And I chose.

I wish I could say that I was playing to bring honor to my LORD, but sadly, I let my pride get the better of me. It was awful: It sounded horrible, and I was nervous because I was worried about what people were thinking. I felt all 500 eyes on me. I stumbled. I forgot what key I was in at the middle of the last line. I recovered the best I could and ended what was once a beautiful hymn, that I had destroyed by distracting from the message of the song. I wasn’t playing to my LORD, I was trying to play to the crowd, and miserably failing at worshiping the LORD!

Folks, don’t make the same mistake I made! Whether it’s an offertory, special number, living room session, or accompanying a thousand people, your audience as a minister in the house of the LORD, is always God the Father. It’s not Mom or Dad, or uncles, aunts, friends, family, or anyone else. It’s God, and God alone!

If I could encourage you in one thing only, it would be to not worry about what anyone else thinks, but to honor the LORD with all you have been given, whether that is time, talent, wealth, family, or anything else that is “yours”. It all really belongs to Him, for all things are created by and for Him, and He is before all things. And it is by Him alone, that all things consist. (Colossians 1:16–17)

Now go and bless the LORD!

 

 

 

Some more thoughts on Worship vs. Entertainment…

Mike Livingstone, on his appropriately named blog, mikelivingstone.com, wrote an article titled, “The Heresy of Worshiptainment”, which caused quite a furor among the church today, and inspired the last article I linked to in my previous post. If you did not click the link to read Livingstone’s piece, I highly recommend you do now!

I wish I had read this one before posting the last one, because even though I don’t appreciate people throwing around the accusation, “heresy” (because most of the time they have no business doing so), I think that Livingstone nailed the church to the wall in this post, as evidenced in part by both the furor and the angry comments received!

It was convicting.

As a minister of music, I have to constantly guard against the pride that I struggle with day after day-especially when the Holy Spirit is moving freely through me and the music coming out is good. I constantly struggle in the desire to please men though, and to “tickle their ears”, by entertaining them. But, while there is, I believe, an appropriate time and place for entertainment, while assisting the congregation in worshipping God, that isn’t my calling. And it’s certainly not the time and place! My calling is to praise the Lord whose name is Holy and Righteous, to bring Him honor in body and in Spirit-in essence, to tickle His ears! It is to assist others in doing so while playing piano accompaniment or even while playing a special or offertory. In fact, my desire is that all men should worship the Lord, rather than me, and sometimes that means I need to stop what I’ve been doing, and be still. I can’t tell you how many times I had prepared something to share as a special or offertory, only to be led by the Spirit at the last minute, to change it. I had prepared all sorts of grand ideas and fancy playing under the guise of it being for the Lord, when it really wasn’t what would’ve brought Him the most glory. Instead, he had me play something totally different, but every time I’ve listed to this still, small, voice saying, “This is the way…” I have had people come up afterward and tell me how blessed they were!

And you know, I am blessed when they are blessed! That means it’s  double the blessing it would’ve been!

All I can say is, Praise the Lord: Give God the glory due unto His name!

 

 

Worship-tainment…wait, what??

I just read this interesting article, chronicling some of the church’s history as an entertainment venue. I’d never really considered it as such before, but I think the author is correct. I suggest reading it with an open mind.

It’s some interesting food for thought: Our houses of Worship (that are supposed to be reserved for worshiping the LORD GOD), have become places of entertainment, many of which hardly differ from a night club or a fancy concert hall. Really, what IS the difference? Concert halls have sacred music in them sometimes. And though I’ve never been in one, I’m quite sure that you can hear about God in a night-club too, albeit, probably in a derogatory manner. But maybe God isn’t all impressed with our huge buildings, light shows, overhead displays, fancy chairs, theater lights, sound systems and so on and so forth. Have we ever really stopped to think about this? What really brings Him praise?

Psalm 50 tells us that He doesn’t despise the broken and contrite in heart;

Psalm 66 tells us to make His praise glorious;

John 4:24 says, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

Jeremiah 29 reminds Israel that if they obeyed the LORD, “…then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.” (vs 12)

Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Brothers and sisters, there are hundreds more like this. None of these verses have anything to do with bands, and fancy lights and smoke machines, or orchestras and pianos and pipe organs either. They have everything to do with the heart. In fact, all of that stuff that is designed for entertainment, is really a distraction most of the time, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be used as ONE channel of blessing and honor to the LORD. It can also become a stench to Him. Can I encourage us all to make sure our hearts are right, so God will will accept our praise? And if you are in a position of leadership, to encourage the congregation to do the same?

 

Worship Belongs to GOD, and Benefits You.

As I’ve been meditating on Worship, and just what it is exactly, I received the following weekly devotional email from Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Tx. It was appropriate to this discussion so here it is:

Worship is For You Too-Tony Evans

Worship is for you too-Tony Evans

Mr. Evans points out that worship lifts us up emotionally. This is true, but if we worship for this reason only, we worship for the wrong reason. Worship isn’t about us only, it’s about GOD. Mr. Evans is simply pointing out that even though it is designed to bring GOD benefit, it also by inherent design, brings us benefit as well. Not when we are doing it for our sake, but when we do it for the LORD’s sake, because He alone is worthy of worship. He alone is worthy of praise! So may the LORD be glorified and your spirit uplifted as you worship the LORD today, tomorrow, and always!

A Puzzling Paradox

A friend sent me the following quote by A.W. Tozer, that has been floating around the internet lately: 

“Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us.”

-A.W. Tozer

I’m puzzled by something.

There is a paradox, a contradiction of sorts in so-called Worship Music, and I don’t know what to do with it. I’m the kind of person that sees things as black or white; right or wrong; good, or bad, so when I come across certain music, I tend to run it through this filter. The problem is I can’t define all of it this way. It just doesn’t seem to work because some music has different purposes. I can think of music meant to tell a story, make a point (political or otherwise), entertain, woo a lover, heal the soul, make you joyful or sad, put you to sleep, keep you awake, lead you into battle, etc…

The paradox is that we have this thing called worship music, and yet my spirit is not, no matter how hard I try, in a state of worship when I listen to most of it. I have to say most, because it would be untrue to say all. And herein is the problem: What makes some of it put me in a spirit of worship, but not all of it?

I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I think I’ve hit on something.

Jesus told the Pharisees that they were following the letter of the law, and not the spirit of the law. What does this have to do with music? I believe some music is written in true worship to the Lord of lords, the God who redeemed the writer’s soul from the chains of bondage, and that it comes through in their music, and that the other music is possibly written, (even if unwittingly) to please man, to glorify self, to produce an emotional high, to bring smooth words to a certain demographic, to complete a record, or to fulfill a publisher’s demands, as this article supposedly by CCM artist Matt Papa, confirms.

It could also be that the writer isn’t really actually a true believer, and that they don’t have the spirit of God filling their entire being, which might also explain some of the music, lyrics, techniques, performances, and the lives and appearance of some of the composers and performers. This was unfortunately true in one of the most successful modern Christian worship bands, Newsboys. George Perdikis, founder of Newsboys has renounced Christianity and become an Atheist.

And George isn’t the only one. An atheist female backup singer for an unnamed Christian contemporary band had this to say on Reddit.com Athiest’s forum,

“When I was hired, everyone got wasted and the casting director told me the reason I made it to final callbacks was because I had the “good girl look” and was “Christian sexy”…Also, the typical CCM-listener is an evangelical middle-aged woman with kids that radio has named “Becky”, and this article describes how they target her better than I can:

“Christian radio plays songs for Becky. The labels know that in order to sell music, they have to get songs on radio. Radio = Becky. So the labels coerce their artists and bands to all write and record songs for Becky….songs that will make her feel good. Songs that tell her she is good. Songs that are “safe for the whole family”. Songs that remind her of her snow-flake-ness and tell her to turn that frown upside-down. Songs that focus on love and hope. Songs that aren’t confrontational. Songs that aren’t theological because man, that stuff is up in the clouds. Songs that don’t talk about blood and crosses and depressing stuff like that. Songs that focus on Becky and her busy life. And if the artists or bands want to write songs for another demographic or another purpose, that’s fine, they can just make music somewhere else. There is money to be made. And sure, all radio stations and all record labels do this, they sell whatever the listener wants to hear, and they hire musicians and singers for their looks, but CCM markets their whole operation as FOR JESUS. Meaning HOLIER than NOT FOR JESUS.” (Emphasis in original)

If you think that’s bad, it gets worse.

This article, quoting Tim Lambesis, a former member of the band, As I Lay Dying, which has traveled with many bands, says that your favorite Christian band probably isn’t Christian:

“We toured with more ‘Christian bands’ who actually aren’t Christians than bands that are. In 12 years of touring with As I Lay Dying, I would say maybe one in 10 Christian bands we toured with were actually Christian bands.”

The article goes on to say,

“I remember one Christian festival where an interviewer wanted one of the guys to share his testimony, and he just froze up and let one of the guys who was still a Christian at the time answer the question. We laughed about it afterward, but we were only laughing because it was so awkward.”

“When kids would want to pray with us after shows, I’d be like, “Um, go ahead and pray!” I would just let them pray. I’d say ‘Amen.’ If praying while I have my hand on their shoulder makes them feel better, I didn’t want to take that away from them. When they would specifically ask me to pray for something, I’d say, ‘I don’t really like to pray out loud, but I’ll take that with me to the bus.’”

These sad testimonies don’t prove that this is why my spirit resonates with some contemporary songs and not others, but it does point to some evidence that indicates it’s a strong possibility. Even so, as I read these testimonies and looked into the lives of some of these people, I am convicted- especially when George Perdikis, the founder of Newsboys, said in his interview with Patheos,

“The Christian music scene is populated by many people who act as though they have a direct hotline to a God who supplies them with the answers to the Universe. There seems to be more ego and narcissism amongst Christian musicians than their secular counterparts.

Recently, the Newsboys were featured in the movie God’s Not Dead. The movie demonstrated the pervasive attitude of Christians. They demonized everyone while giving a pass to their own particular brand of Christianity, making themselves look like fluffy white angels with perfect, synchronized lives.

The truth is — from someone who knows what went on then and what goes on now — the Newsboys aren’t as holy as they profess. Instead of wearing a mask of “righteousness,” they should acknowledge that they are struggling as much as everyone else.

Now that’s a movie I’d like to see.”

 

Now I didn’t see the movie, so I can’t speak to whether or not that part is an accurate portrayal or a jaded perspective, but whether on purpose or not, he makes a point saying that the Christian musicians have the same temptations as the world and maybe ought to be more honest in both their music and their lives. I’m not suggesting living in the cesspool of sin because we were born into it, rather, being honest with ourselves and with others about our weaknesses, and living like we were redeemed out of it!  After all, God resists the proud but gives grace to the truly humble. He doesn’t despise the broken in heart, or the contrite (broken; crushed) spirit. I really believe that it is in this humility, this place of brokenness, that the Spirit of God comes and dwells in men and women and allows them to be an instrument of praise, writing, singing and making a joyful noise unto the LORD.