Weekly Worship Team Devotional: Worship Is Collaboration With The Congregation

[The Weekly Worship Team Devotional is designed for reading before a rehearsal, forwarding via email to your team, or sharing with your tagged team on Facebook]

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WORSHIP IS COLLABORATION WITH THE CONGREGATION

From 1 Corinthians 14:26 in The Message. “When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight.”

DEVOTIONAL

The next time you and I step to on a stage, stand behind a microphone, strap on our instrument, or rehearse our hearts out – we are only getting closer to achieving half of what is about to happen in the room during that worship set. The reality is, unless the community we lead in worship engages, finds their language of prayer in the songs and liturgies presented, and offers themselves to the community worship experience happening in the room that day, then our worship expression is only a show.

That is why we choose songs that gather the community in one voice, familiar songs seasoned with new songs on occasion. That is why we create for our communities, yet do so in a way that is submitted to a higher goal than just our own self-expression. This is why we can step on a stage to lead, or step off to serve in other ways for a time. We are collaborating with the community. Then community is then, ideally, collaborating with the Spirit. This is when all the gifts of worship truly flow.

When their song rises, to the tune of the music we lead, and amplify, and sing – then we are all collaborating in the kind of worship that the Father seems to seek. Recognize that we are collaborating with our congregation in worship, and leave the show to another place and time.

TEAM PRAYER

Lord, help us to see the beautiful collaboration that is our community in worship. Help us serve with our instruments, musicianship, and technical equipment, the shared worship experience going on in the room. Teach us to serve with our gifts and talents, rather than making our self-expression the motive behind what we do. In Jesus’ living name we come, amen.

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About The Author: Dan Wilt is the creator of WorshipTraining’s Essentials In Worship Video Training Course for worship leaders and teams. His worship leadership blog serves up weekly tools and team encouragements at DanWilt.com.

3 Reasons I Want To Bleed Worship

When you’re cut, you bleed. I bleed. We all bleed. And life cuts us. Sometimes it scratches us when a phone bill is off by a few dollars, and we’re frustrated that we must spend part of the currency we call “life” dealing with it. Sometimes life cuts us deep, and hard, and to the bone, like when a child is far from God, or we receive a halting doctor’s report. We are wounded. We are reeling. What comes out of us then?

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Many years ago, my grandfather, as he was being rushed from his home in an ambulance, his heart failing him, lifted his frail arms, shaking, hands to the sky and said, “Jesus, I see you, I’m coming.” (Here is my radio story about my grandfather’s last moments.)

In his greatest crisis, his moment of truth, my grandfather bled worship. Death is the biggest challenge any of us will face. How he responded here, is how I want to respond in my greatest challenges, and my smallest (but no less significant) challenges.

I want to bleed worship. I want to bleed adoration, and thanksgiving, and love when I am cut, scratched, bruised, or harmed. I want to die like my grandfather – with worship in his heart and hope filling his eyes.

More than that, I want to live like my grandfather died, always aware that the moment I am in is part of a much bigger story, and even the mundane duties and conversations contain miracles if I will see them.

3 Reasons I Want To Bleed Worship

We want to bleed worship, I want to bleed worship, because:

1. My Life Began, And Will End, In The Presence Of God.

I’m not just doing the dishes today. I’m doing the dishes in the presence of God. I didn’t come into the world in a vacuum, and I won’t leave life as I know it in a vacuum. Neither will you.

2. My Spouse, Children, Family, And Friends Deserve The Legacy Of A Thankful Person.

I want to leave a legacy, an inheritance, all around me. The best inheritance I can leave is not money, furniture, land, or even a memoir. It is a thankful, worshipping life, that strengthens everyone around me, and inspires them to live the same.

3. My Days Are Short, Then I Will See His Face.

God grabbed my heart when I was in my late teens. I mean, He revealed Himself to me in my college dorm room, and I was His. Forever. Now I’m ending my 4th decade on the planet. Guys, it blows by very, very quickly. Worship feeds us. Worship is our only fitting response to the love of God that is pursuing us at this moment.

Today, when you and I are scratched, or cut, or wounded, let’s ask the Lord that we would bleed thanksgiving, praise, adoration, and worship. Not only will God be blessed by our offering of love, but we will be transformed in the process.

Lord, make us people who bleed worship.

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Question: What words are you going to tell yourself today when a crisis happens? How will you create new habits?

Resource: The Essentials In Worship Video Course explores this idea in the “what is a worshipper?” section.

Weekly Worship Team Devotional – Create Something For Others

[This week's Worship Team Devotional is designed for reading before a rehearsal, forwarding via email to your team, or sharing with your tagged team on Facebook]

CREATE SOMETHING FOR OTHERS

From Genesis 1 in The Message. “First this: God created the Heavens and Earth – all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.”

DEVOTIONAL

The very first verse of the Bible tells us something about the way God works in the world that should cause us to sit up and take notice. God creates. From nothing, He creates. For something, He creates. God is about making things, but those things He makes always have a purpose. At the beginning of time, God creates all things, in part, for you and for me. Every shining star, every dancing rain drop – it all started from Love.

When we approach our God-given creativity, we do so as those who reflect God’s image. Unlike God, we can only make something out of something He has already allowed to run through our hands, our eyes, or our hearts. He starts the creative process in us. Why? To do what He does. He creates to show love, and to build others. We can take what seems to be insignificant to the world, and we make it into something substantial. Just like God has done with us.

Look for the hidden gems, in people and situations, that God is inviting you to touch with your creativity.

TEAM PRAYER

Lord, let me see the seemingly worthless things today, with the eyes of my Creator. I want to join you in recreating people through the creative work of my hands. Teach me to create something in response to what You’ve done in my life. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

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About The Author: Dan Wilt is the creator of WorshipTraining’s Essentials In Worship Video Training Course for leaders and teams. His worship leadership blog serves up weekly tools and team encouragements at DanWilt.com.

Weekly Worship Team Devotional – Come Out Of Hiding

[This week's Worship Team Devotional is designed for reading before a rehearsal, forwarding via email to your team, or sharing with your tagged team on Facebook]

COME OUT OF HIDING

From Genesis 3 in The Message. “When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God. God called to the Man, ‘Where are you?’ (Gen. 3:1-3).

DEVOTIONAL

Many of us as worship leaders, musicians, and technical leaders have gotten somewhat skilled at hiding from God. Just like Adam and Eve, we avoid the vulnerable moment where God speaks into an area of quiet unbelief, misguided hope, disobedience or sin in our lives – even if we know His goal is to heal us and love us to life. We especially avoid those moments if He chooses to speak through someone else. Becoming whole is a vulnerable process, and Adam and Eve knew it as well as us.

Our job as a Worship Team is to create an honest meeting place for others in our community with God. We invite them to ‘come out of hiding’ before God, and self-disclose in His presence. We ourselves must be in that honest place with God also, as it deeply affects our ability to lead others there.

When we create that place of encounter, with words and music that draw the soul from its hidden struggle, we give people the opportunity to touch the healing power of God. Let’s come out of hiding before God, and welcome Him to do whatever He pleases with us.

TEAM PRAYER

Jesus, help us to consistently, as individuals, come out of hiding in Your Presence. We want to create a place in worship where people can come out of hiding to be healed by Your touch. In Jesus’ Name we pray, amen.

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About The Author: Dan Wilt is the creator of WorshipTraining’s Essentials In Worship Video Training Course for leaders and teams. His worship leadership blog serves up weekly tools and team encouragements at DanWilt.com.

Alert: 1970 Was (Almost) 50 Years Ago

My blog post for today contains a little math. This math does not a contain a revelatory or revolutionary idea, but when applied to worship music, church design, communicating to different demographics in our churches, and reaching out to the world of the 21st century – it matters.

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photo courtesy of mattfrise.com

Here is the simple math for every communicator, pastor, worship leader, songwriter, and missional Christian. Just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it’s not important. I have seen many churches struggle with this over the last 20 years in my work.

It is approximate math, giving or taking a few years – but it is close enough for what we are measuring.

Let’s round the year to 2020. Just for fun. We’re only a few years away, and time flies.

  • 1970 was almost 50 years ago (1/2 century)
  • 1980 was almost 40 years ago
  • 1990 was almost 30 years ago (1/4 century)
  • 2000 was almost 20 years ago.

A lot changes over time. In a day where rapid cultural change is happening at an alarming historical rate, these general estimates matter even more.

The Question

How much do

  • music styles,
  • sound experiences,
  • design styles,
  • cultural metaphors,
  • optimal times for teaching retention, and more…

…change over approximately half a century?

Significantly.

Every communicator, worship leader, pastor, artist, and spiritual leader who desires to culturally connect, in a culturally current way, with the various age groups that are out there, must be alert to this reality. We aren’t compromising when we say we want to connect (nor are we just being “seeker sensitive”) – we are thinking like the Bridge-building Jesus of the parables, the stories, and the metaphors.

And just because we “love, love, love” a certain style of music, or atmosphere, or design, doesn’t mean we aren’t way out of sync, or maybe way in sync, with demographics we desire to serve. It may not be a problem, but we need to be aware that things change, and peoples’ eyes, brains, and emotions are not seeing, processing, and feeling in the same ways.

Some elements of our worship and church life are timeless. Here are just a few.

  • The Eucharist/Communion
  • Singing together
  • Silence
  • Hearing the Word together
  • Reading the Word
  • Praying for one another
  • Fellowship
  • Reaching out to our communities, and
  • Daily, weekly, and yearly Worship Year calendar rhythms.

But the forms in which we express them can, and should change. We are not being inauthentic when they do. We are being accessible, missional, bridge-builders. We are thinking hard, and making hard changes, for a greater cause than our preferences.

Just because my guitar player learned all their riffs in the 80s doesn’t mean they are done learning, any more than I as a songwriter listening to the music textures of today and applying them to my writing. We don’t need to go overboard, but we need to be aware of our defaults and make an effort.

The Experiment

In my work over the years, both in the church and outside of it in media and communications, I’ve come to embrace something. Everything, absolutely everything, messages. In other words, everything from our website style, to our church catch phrases, to the architecture of our buildings sends a message. That message suggests who we are, how we approach faith, our concern for the community, our primary age demographic, our target group, and who we believe the church is to be in society.

In my last church, we spent a chunk of money designing and building a very cool cafe, complete with a vibey stage and great sound system for young people. We spent more on that little cafe, in our old elementary school building, than we did on the rest of the church spaces that year. We wanted to communicate to our pre-teens and teens that they have greatness in them. We did that because architecture and space is messaging (noun) – and that room filled up with young people playing games, having concerts, and connecting with faithful people. The message was reinforced at every turn. “You have greatness in you; and we’ve created a place to call it out.” I’m convinced that room was used by God to save a few lives over those years.

Also note that one of my family’s favorite things to do is to go to Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal church in Nashville, with its bright, sun-washed interior, to sing, receive the bread and cup, and pass the peace with others. Being “current” doesn’t always change everything. But when the priests speak, it connects.

So here’s an experiment. Note that, for you to be authentic to your calling as a church, not all will apply. But it’s still worth asking the questions.

Here are 10 ideas to try:

  1. Think hard about your worship and fellowship spaces; what do they message? Ask different age groups who won’t just agree with you,
  2. Embody older songs in 2014 sonic arrangements (not 2000 or 1990 or 1980 or 1970),
  3. Speak for 15 minutes, as opposed to 45 minutes (some studies show retention and application is much higher in our stimulus overload, TED talk generation – this one is tough on me),
  4. Get younger leaders giving significant input on worship spaces and environments,
  5. Get younger, professional designers to create visual messaging (websites, foyer signs, titles, logos, flyers)
  6. Work as a band to create sonic textures that are less reflective of your past and more reflective of your wider community’s present,
  7. Use ancient forms of worship in a non-dated way,
  8. Use ancient forms in a dated way (because that can be beautiful, too),
  9. Be thankful for the riches of your story – without getting stuck in the past.
  10. If you’re an “older” leader, find a group of younger leaders (unless your calling is primarily to your general age group), in a church environment you don’t hate, and serve them in any way you can. You may discover a fresh, unique call that’s as sweet as the glory days of your past leadership.

The fact is, we may have some heavy-lifting in the homework part of what we do so we don’t miss God’s highest and best plans for us to reach out to folks who aren’t like us.

Having said all of that, most things that are old are rich, and a new generation needs to encounter them.

But if they can’t access them, because we’re unwilling to reconsider our delivery, we must consider if we are locked into nostalgia. If we don’t at least ask the question, we’re just running on our defaults, wanting everyone to come our way.

Churches are museums all over Europe because of this (and other factors).

This takes discernment in our planning. And some very teachable leaders. We all know that gets harder as we age, so we should practice early.

What The Math Means

This math doesn’t always mean we should or shouldn’t change. It just means we need to be aware of why we do what we do, and how it affects (or doesn’t affect) people so we’re not surprised.

Everyone is not the same. And things change, very much so, over these kinds of time increments.

Alert: 1970 was (almost) 50 years ago.

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Question: How does the change of time affect you as a leader of people? How does this idea, that 1970 was almost 50 years ago, help you think about the way you currently do elements of church life –  from music, to visuals, to discipleship, to design, to reaching out to a 21st century world?

Resource: The Essentials In Worship History Video Course addresses this head on, and seeks to draw from the riches of our worship past to empower our worship present. Hymns, cathedrals, sacraments, visuals, environments and more are discussed.