Weekly Worship Team Devotional – Come Out Of Hiding

[Each weekly devotional is designed for reading before a rehearsal, or for forwarding to your team]

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.

::

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.

front-coram-deo

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.

::

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.

Why “Worship Is All About God – It Is Not About Us” Is Dead Wrong

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times. I’ve heard pastors and conference speakers say it, too. You probably know the phrase, or some version of it: “Worship is all about God!” The crowd always responds with some measure of enthusiasm. After all, we are called to make God famous, to proclaim His renown, right? But then, after I’ve made that bold and seemingly noble statement, I’ve followed it up with a phrase that carries the weight of a logical afterthought. Confidently I would say, “Worship is all about God – it is not about us.” I know what I’ve meant all these years. And in most ways, I’ve been wrong. Dead wrong. So has everyone else who has said it – especially without qualification.

front-violin-close

photo courtesy of www.mattfrise.com

One time, when I said this as a guest speaker in front of a worship conference of about 600 folks, I pounded on the plexiglass podium for emphasis. (I’m not given to that; it just felt like the right thing to do at the time.) “Worship is all about God,” I said, “…it’s not (pound) about (pound) us (big pound)!”

That last pound did the trick – in more ways than one. A large glass of cold water, sitting on the inner shelf of the podium, spilled as I hit the podium on the word “us.” It tipped right onto my pants. From my belt to my toes, it looked like I had wet myself! I stepped out from behind the podium, and the entire conference burst into laughter. I was a living metaphor. And yes – the water was very, very cold. God has a quirky sense of humor.

I’ve heard pastors, worship leaders, and very influential people communicate this same idea – that “Worship is all about God – it’s not about us” – in a hundred different ways. The intention is good, and even seems Scriptural. But the problem is that these ideas strung together convey something about human beings – and God’s invitation to worship – that is dead wrong. Especially if our Gospel begins in Genesis.

Worship Leader – Get Off The Platform

front-window-on-stairs-in-church

Worship Leader – get off the platform. Let me tell you what I don’t mean by that – and what I do mean.

I don’t mean that you should stop leading, or even performing, from a platform. Physical platforms serve a necessary function in many worship environments. I am a fan of platforms that support both effective worship leadership and penetrating performances. Being a few inches or feet off the ground is no crime, when the elevation is for practical purposes.

I do mean this: Worship Leaders – get off your fixation with an ever increasing leadership platform. Get off of it. More specifically, get off the ambitious desire for a certain kind of leadership platform that you think will make you feel fulfilled in your calling.

The Hidden Motives Of Our Heart

Even those who hunger after God have them. Those unspoken, hidden desires for platform that fuel the wayward motives we don’t think we have. But deep down we can’t shake the feeling that we are missing something in our lives if we don’t have the right platform, the right opportunity, the right audience.

Worship Team Tip #2 | Prepare For Spontaneity

Diligently plan the songs, transitions and order of your set for the gathering. Then, after your band is secure and you are confident, you have more grace all around to deviate from the prepared set to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Question: How does this tip connect with you? Leave a comment to help others.

Free Resource: 3 Word Lessons: 52 Weeks Of Pre-Rehearsal Tips (PDF)