People Of The Wild Hallelujah

Why A Few Thousand Year Old Word Has Power Today

The year is 1984, and George Orwell’s dystopian future has not come to pass. A 50-year old musician’s career has reached an all-time low. A song he is about to write, rooted in a word that is thousands of years old, will rise like a phoenix from his creative ashes – flying right into the popular consciousness of a generation.

He is sitting on the floor of his hotel room in New York City, clad in only his underwear, with numerous lyric-filled notebooks strewn around him. He is banging his head on the floor as he struggles to complete a song for which he has 80 draft verses; a song that has been stuck inside him for at least two years.

The Twin Masteries Of The Worship Leader

Two skills, running in tandem, will make or break our leadership.

As worship leaders, we are often looking for a secret key that will make us more effective at what we do. But the answer to being more effective at leading worship hasn’t changed. It never will.

In my experience, we as worship leaders will do almost anything else in order to avoid mastering the following two areas. I know that I do. When they come together, however, there is a quiet increase in effectiveness and authority in one’s worship leadership.

What are the two things that every worship leader must master to become the most effective worship leader we can be? 

5 Things Every Congregation Must Understand About Worship

What We Get Wrong, and How We Get It Right

I’ve now spent most of my adult life (30 years) thinking about, leading, and teaching on the topic of worship. It’s been central to my life’s call to reflect on why we do what we do in worship in settings like local churches, conference events, an universities. After interacting with contemporary worship ideas around the world over these past 3 decades, here are the top 5 most important things I believe every congregation needs to understand about worship.

As each of the following sections is a summary, I promise that I will leave out language about worship that is important to someone. But in this setting, the summaries will have to suffice.

Under each point, I suggest “What We Get Wrong,” and “How We Get It Right.” I hope these insights are helpful to our shared understanding of worship.

What You (Probably) Don’t Know About Modern Worship (Glenn Packiam)

If You're A Worship Leader, Please Read This

Friend Glenn Packiam ( recently posted his response to the current tide of voices calling for an end to the “modern worship” enterprise. It’s one of the best recent posts on the topic to date.

image from Glenn’s original post

I’ve written a few similar posts on this same topic, touching the idea that nuance is vital in conversations like these. Sweeping judgments of entire movements (megachurches, the “industry”, etc.) are unhelpful in moving us all forward.

Glenn, in this post, addresses the vantage point from which these articles are often written, and conveys why certain arguments lack care and – to put it simply – the due diligence of adequate research (primarily phenomenological research).

As a reader of my blog, I commend it to your reading and sharing. These are the kinds of words that must become as viral as any rant about the contemporary worship experience.

“What You (Probably) Don’t Know About Modern Worship” by Glenn Packiam.

7 Trends That Are Changing Contemporary Worship

And Why Every Worship Leader Should Be Aware Of Them

As I walk into my office each day, a quote greets me. I printed it out many years ago, and keep it on a music stand in my daily view. It is not a Scripture quote, nor is it a poster platitude meant to keep me encouraged. Rather it is a command; a call to action.

The quote is from author Seth Godin, from his book, Tribes. It simply says this:

“Paint a picture of the future. Go there; people will follow.”

In our life’s work helping people to enter into God’s Story through worship, this quote reminds us that we can proactively work with the Holy Spirit in shaping the worship life of the Church both within – and beyond – our lifetime.

A Forward Looking Church

Most churches, and in fact, possibly most leaders, are not seeing beyond their next 5-10 years of vision – let alone beyond their own lifetime. This keeps us all living in a very small story, and obscures our vision of what is important in worship now that will impact the Church centuries in the future.

The Church, I believe, has a mandate and responsibility to be the most forward-thinking, trend-setting womb of innovation that exists on the planet – while always staying rooted in the most ancient of narratives and practices. In other words, we must always be looking forward, while reaching backward, as we live with passionate devotion to Christ in the present.

In practical terms, many of us need to hear again that 1970 was almost 50 years ago. That’s an entire half century. And times, as Dylan sang, are always changing.

We need to ask: “God, what are you doing now in worship – what must remain in our worship practices and styles, and what renewed forms of worship would you like to further reform at this time in history?”

The following is my attempt to ask that question, and to come up with some answers.