10 Ministry Tools for the Non-Musically Inclined Pastor.

YouNot all of us pastors have the luxury of having a full worship band, pianist and an ear for music. Let’s face it, some of us reading this article right now can’t carry a tune in a bucket…and that’s okay. We don’t all have to have the gift of music. Scripture even points out the various gifts that we are all given and appointed with (Eph 4:11, 1 Peter 4:10-11), and just as the focus on speaking in tongues can become an issue, so too then use of music. Don’t get me wrong, music in worship can be most beneficial to the body of Christ, but it should be viewed as a conduit to deeper worship, not the desired end result.

Today, let us focus on this element of worship with the non-musical pastors in mind. If you fit this mold, then take note. My wife is very, very talented in other areas of ministry, but she will openly admit that music is not one of those talents.

There are many, many pastors in small churches or corps that do not have a musical bone in their bodies, and that’s okay. I want to help you find some tools to use within worship that will assist you and your congregation within and even around the conduit of music on Sunday.

1) YouTube Videos/YouTube Video Downloaders.
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If you are not musical at all, you might utilize a plethora of Christian worship music on YouTube. There are even Youtube downloaders that you can use to have the videos accessible in places of worship where WiFi and the internet are sketchy or nonexistent. Using a video on YouTube could include modern top 40 Christian songs, a movie clip, or numerous other topics other than just music.

Don’t neglect the power of videos and or worship songs in your Sunday services. Feel free to be creative and intentional in the planning of your service theme too. Caution: This will take time, so don’t just throw everything together on Saturday night and expect amazing results…intentional planning takes time and hours. We are all busy people, but not taking the time to find the appropriate videos and/or music, is noticeable in our services (I’ve been guilty of this too).

2) iSing Worship (app)
This is a great app that does cost a little bit, but is a tremendous tool if you have a portable device like an iPad or iPhone. The app is free, but the songs will you about $3 a piece, which is only a dollar more than what you would pay for songs you currently buy on Google Music store or the apple iTunes Store. When you buy these songs, you then have the ability to include all of the elements of the song (i.e lead vocals, guitar, drums etc.). So, for instance, if you wanted to lead the song you could turn the vocals down and sing with the music like it was Christian Karaoke hour. Or iSing worship could become your worship band in a box by simply hitting play. Be sure, however that you plan the songs you are going to sing ahead of time and have the words either printed or displayed on the screen for the congregation to sing along.

Just some of the songs I have purchased and used in my services.The nice thing about iSing Worship is that once you select the songs you want to present on Sunday, it comes up on the display in front of you with the Lyrics as you lead the song.I highly recommend this app if you are willing to invest a little bit of money for the songs.  It adds an element of intentionality into your worship, even if you’re not musically inclined.
3) Recruit & Delegate
One of the challenges for many pastors, regardless if they are musically inclined or not is the use of other people in worship services.   Do not be afraid to ask other people to help out, or lead elements of the service.   In fact, a shared worship experience with other people leads to a better all around worship service.  If you’re at all like me, perhaps you are a control freak and you want to ensure everything goes according to plan, perhaps we have to come to the conclusion that we must trust the Holy Spirit as well as other people.
When we share the worship experience with other people, we share ownership.  Be picky when you select, recruit and delegate people to these tasks, make sure you are selective and intentional.  Find people who have potential as future leaders or already established leaders.  It’s okay to fail or have rough worship experiences with these individuals, that’s a part of the learning & discipling challenge!
4) Utilize your Youth
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The apostle Paul told Timothy not to allow others to look down on him because he was young (1 Timothy 4:12)…the same can be said about young people in our churches and in the worship setting.  Use your young people, don’t discount their willingness and abilities to lead.  Teach them, disciple them as the future leaders by investing in them now within your worship services.  Have them help by reading a prayer, or scripture verse, a skit, or even by leading a song.  Some of your young people might be more musically gifted than you are – so cultivate that gift and use it in your worship service!Also, don’t let older people in your congregation overly criticize your young people.  We do not want to discourage their growth as future leaders, we want to encourage them.  Unfortunately most churches have the old grouches who grumble at anything new – even young people.  Don’t tolerate that behavior from any member of your congregation.  We need to disciple our youth, and this is a great way to begin to do that!5) Set the Stage (don’t neglect this!)


Regardless if you are musically inclined or not, we can become more creative in our church decor.  Don’t neglect the aesthetics of your worship space!  Take into account the seasons, the topics you are preaching on and use your worship space to reach all of the senses of the worshipper.  Use smells (plug ins, or spices, candles – but don’t let it become over-powering.  Use sites – place artwork up, or banners, build sets out of styrofoam and paint it…there are many links of Pinterest and other websites to explore and tap into our creative sides.
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Use worship songs at the beginning of the service through cd/mp3/computer…set the stage with song (even if you aren’t musical).
When we actually plan the scenes of worship within our worship spaces we introduce our congregations to a living and moving God.  The stages and worship places are concerts or performances, but there is something to be said about being intentional with the sights and sounds (and smells) or our spaces for the purpose of ushering our congregants into the very throne room of God.6) Worship Band in Hand (app) 80F2AEDA-13F8-4F91-9073-5EC1C971B0E4
This app also costs some money in terms of purchasing the songs that you want yo use, but it comes with a lot of features and abilities.  You get one free song included upon installation of the app, it gives you the opportunity to try in it out and see if you like it.7) Auto Pad(app) DB7C4580-E865-4E70-90EB-D6A043897404
This app will cost you $2.99, but there are many features that this ambient sound pad contains that could set your worship onto a new plain.  Perhaps you use this during your sermon and the use of tone and ambient sounds can deepen the worship experience.   Using such a tool might require you to include/recruit others to help you operate the app while you preach or read scripture.  Give this app a try and experiment with its use in your worship service!8) Lead a Messy Church instead!  messy church 2
Do you want to break up the monitany of the worship experience?  Do something different.  Some have begun to do dinner church, while others have started to incorporate Messy church into the worship experience.  Messy church can be a great way to reduce your music phobia by utilizing stations through this very practical, teachable methods.here is a link to a few that we have done over the years – https://pastorsponderings.org/category/messy-church/9) Conduct A Quaker Service7256EF73-FB9D-41F8-A2CB-50ABA8C4E724
A Quaker service generally is not focused on music, but instead the recitation of poetry, prayers, and the element of silence.   This type of service might be a stretch to many of your congregants, even more so than Messy Church because of the use of silence.  Despite the drawbacks, using this type of worship setting, but be just the thing your church or corps needs in order to have everyone dig a little more deeply into their hearts and minds.

Here is a link for more information on the Quaker service

10) Prayer Stations/Artistic Approach
20A21EF5-8630-4240-9045-86461F35EDE7Conduct a prayer service with stations.
If you want to get creative, you can go onto Pinterest and explore the many ideas expressed there when it comes to Prayer Stations.  This approach takes the focus off of the use of music and onto a hands-on prayer service.  You could quietly play worship music in the background through your sound system and encourage everyone to spend the next 45 minutes at the many prayer stations that you have intentionally set up in your sanctuary.  Here are some links to help guide you in this:
Prayer Loom
Thy Kingdom Come
Scrabble Pieces
More Pinterest Ideas

These are just 10 suggestions to help the non-musical and musical pastor a like, for the purpose of creating a deeper, more meaningful worship service.  These are not exclusively ‘it’ for worship ideas, but just a primer for more exploration and worship developement in your corps & churches.

Please tell us what you use in your churches that help to make your worship experiences more meaningful and helpful to you and your congregation?  Post your commends below, we want to hear from you.

Something more for all of us to Ponder today.
To God be the glory!

Dear Salvation Army, Where Are We Going?

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” -Michelangelo

This is more of a collective pondering today. We need your comments, thoughts and opinions in order to carefully and thoughtful answer the above question: Where Are We Going?

What is our vision?

What should our vision be?

How do we make that vision a reality?

What are some of the obstacles in our way of fully realizing that reality?

Who will it take (e.g. soldiers, officers, volunteers, donors)?

How important is accountability in such a large movement/organization?

How can we become more accountable to Christ within this Army? Where does Holiness belong in such a conversation?

I have disclosed numerous questions to ponder today…are you willing to take a chance at answering any or all of these questions? The larger scope question: Where Are We Going? In other words, if you were to envision where the Army SHOULD BE in 20 years, what would it look like? What would you want to see different, the same, the growth?

-If we have no plan or vision, then we will flounder and waver.

We look forward to your responses!

Something more for the Army to ponder today!

Vision without execution is hallucination.” – Thomas Edison

*Disclaimer: the thoughts and opinions represented here do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of The Salvation Army and are that of the writer of this blog, reader discretion is advised.*

Messy Church: Lent & Light

Theme:  I am the Light of the world
KEY VERSE:  John 8:12 –  “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Other verses for the stations:
Genesis 1:3 “Let there be light”
Isaiah 9:2 “The people walking around in darkness have seen a great light”
Acts 9:1-6
Psalm 119:105
1 Samuel 17:45-47
1 John 1:5-7
Matthew 5:16

Welcome (Chapel):  Introduction of Lent & Light…  5 Minutes.
Introduction and Welcome to Church today!
Today we are going to explore the Light of God through a “Messy Church” experience.
Some of you might not be all that comfortable with the notion of not being in this chapel for the entire service today, but let me reassure you that this will be an entire family teaching time today.  Grandparents and parents, aunts and uncles, you will all be working side by side with your children and grandchildren and adopted children of this corps to learn more about Christ and His light.  This week also begins what the Church call the Lenten season.  This season is all about reflecting and preparing Christians around the world for what Jesus did at the cross and at the tomb in resurrection.  So, with that thought in mind today, we are going to explore the very important topic of light in our messy church service today .  For those of you who are extremely worried about getting messy, don’t worry – you won’t have to, but I would ask that you all participate in some way as we go from station to station today.
Table #1 Light Bulb Cards:  (5 Mins)
Need:  Pencils/Crayons/Scissors
Make Lightbulb shaped cardstock papers by drawing a light bulb, coloring it and then cutting it out.
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Read:  “The people walking around in darkness have seen a great light”…Isaiah 9:2

Discuss: Talk about different kinds of light and light sources…make a list of them.
-Which kind of light is your favorite?  Why?
-Have you ever had a time when you had to walk in the dark?  Talk about that experience.
Say:  Lightbulbs and electricity help us in our homes to see at night.  Before lightbulbs they used candles and oil-filled lanterns.

Ask:  Have you ever experienced a time when the power went out and everything went dark?
What do you do when something like that happens?  What kinds of tools do you use?
How did you feel when the power was restored and you have light again?

Close by saying:
God’s great light can shine into the darkest of places in our world.   He can light up the darkest night.  Tonight, when you go to bed, thank God for his great light that shines in our hearts because he loves us!

Table #2 Stained Glass Windows (5 Mins)
Card Stock Rectangles Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and table
Pre-cut moons, stars, crosses, fish, candles
multi -Colored tissue paper
Create stained glass by gluing two shapes then placing tissue paper behind the shapes.
Blend colors using multi-colored strips of tissue paper.
(show a picture of a stained glass window)

Talk about the way Light transforms stained glass.
What colors are visible in the stained glass?
Look at this picture of the stained glass, can you see different shapes and symbols in it?
What do you see?
Stained glass like this are used to tell stories.  It is much more than just decorations in a church.
These windows convey to use bible stories that we know and help to remind us of God’s light shining down upon us.

Read:  Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers.[a] So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.

As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”

“Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.

And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”  Acts 9: 1-6

Ask:  How did Jesus get Saul’s attention?
(God’s light shone from heaven).
Saul was blinded for a short time because of this light from heaven, but after this experience, he changed his name to Paul and began to preach and teach about Jesus to everyone he met.  God’s light shines upon all of us just like this stained glass.  He wants us to live for him and to reflect that light in all that we say and do.

Ask as you close:  How can we shine for Him this week?

Table #3 A Lamp Unto My Feet (5mins)
Card stock pages with slices in themImage may contain: 1 person, indoor
a Scripture passage on a strip of paper
A Paper handle strip

Read:  “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light unto my path.”  Psalm 119:105

Talk about:  God’s word will direct our lives if we are willing to listen to Him.
He wants to help us make wise decisions in life.
Ask:  Have you ever walked around the darkness and tripped over things?  How did that experience make you feel?  Were you afraid?  Did you hurt yourself?
What happens when you turn the light on in a dark room?  You can see right?
What once was dark is now light.
Ask: Why do you think parents have rules for kids when they are growing up?
What happens when those kids break the rules?
What happens when adults break the law?
There are consequences to breaking the law or the rules right?
But those laws or rules are there to protect us right?
In the same way, God’s word is there to protect us and to keep us safe.
He wants us to follow it so that we don’t wander around in the darkness.

Hold Up Your lamps:  And read the scripture passage on the handle together:
“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light unto my path.”

Table #4 Make Paper Hats (5 mins)

Need:  Card Stock & Glitter, Makers, Crayons, Tape.
We are going to make party hats.
We all know the Story of David and Goliath, but did you know David had the light of God inside him?  He was brave and he had faith that God would help him defeat this giant!  The Giant had huge weapons and a was very fearsome and frightening to all of the Israelite soldiers including the king.  But David had faith in God and he said to Goliath:

Read:  …“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45-47

Ask:  How did David win the battle?
Did he do it with his own strength?
How important is it to trust in God?

Do you know people who seem to have God’s light inside of them?
Do they seem to be bright and cheery people who have peace even when they face their own giant problems?  How can we become like David and have courage and the light of God in us?
Put on your party hats…each one looks amazing and colorful…and bright!  You can shine for God in your life too if you have faith and know that He is with you in every situation especially those that involve giant problems and worries.

Table #5 Star Cookies (5 mins)
Need:  Yellow Frosting, Sprinkles,
Families will frost their cookies and sprinkle them.
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Talk
about how stars give off light in the night sky.
How far away are stars?  Hint: millions of miles.
Our nearest star is 4.24 light years away.

Read:  Genesis 1:2-4
God gave us light in the darkness:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

God spoke creation into being, and he gave us light so that we can see.
Light also gives us life.
Ask:  Can plants grow without sun light?
Talk About:
The Sun in our galaxy is a giant star.  It is a great big ball of fire made up of gas.
If you even go near it we would not live for very long, but God placed this star and our planet at just right location in order for all of us to live.  If the sun had been placed any further away, our planet would freeze.  If the sun was too close Earth would be way too hot to live on.  God knew exactly how to create light and darkness ( and the rest of creation for that matter) in order that we might live and love Him.

Table #6  Walking In Light or Darkness?  (5 mins)
Need:  Little water bottles , plastic cups, baby oil, washable markers (for color) sparkles. Image may contain: drink and indoor
Pour the water into the plastic cup.
Grab a washable marker and dab it into the water until the water changes color. (only 1 per cup)
Pour water back into the bottle about half way, then fill the rest with a little bit of baby oil.
Close the lid and then shake it up.

Read:  “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
1 John 1:5-7

Talk:  Before Christ came to the earth, the people in ancient times have to make lots of sacrifices so that they could remove the darkness of sin from their lives.  When Jesus came, he died on the cross for our sins and become the ultimate sacrifice so that sacrifices were no longer needed – Christ’s was enough for everyone in the whole wide world!  Think about that: God’s one and only son, bringing his perfect light into a dark world.  Look at the dark section of your bottles –  When we choose to follow Jesus, we stop living in the darkness of sin and we begin to walk in the light of His love.  When we do this we can shine so that others might see Jesus too.

Table #7 This Little Light of Mine  (5 mins)       
Need:  2 Flashlights.  One with batteries and one without.  Put wads of paper and coins and whatever else in the second flashlight.
Begin by Singing:  “This Little Light of Mine”
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Read:In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” –Matthew 5:16

Take turns reading the verse together. I like to read the verse normally, then read it super-fast and super-slow. Sometimes we read our verses “underwater” meaning I rub my fingers up and down over my lips while I speak to make the underwater sound. After you read the verse together, have kids sit quietly and answer a few questions.

Say, “What do you think it means, ‘Let your light shine before men…” Encourage kids to answer, let them know there’s wrong answer. After they have shared what they think, bring out the flashlight that doesn’t work. Don’t tell them it doesn’t work. Flip the switch on and try to shine a light. Say, “Wow! This isn’t working.” Shake the flashlight. “I think I hear batteries in there. Should we check it?”

Open the battery and show kids the junk that’s in the flashlight. Say, “Wow! These aren’t batteries. No wonder it’s not working. You know, we are kind of like these flashlights. When we have junk in us, we don’t shine our light. Now let’s see what happens we do have a flashlight that shines correctly.” Flip on the working flashlight and turn off the lights to show how bright it is.

(Object Lesson Source: http://ministry-to-children.com/shine-a-light-object-lesson-for-sunday-school-matthew-516/)

 

Total Table Time:  40 minutes

The Wrap Up Back In The Chapel –   15 minutes

Sing:  Marvelous Light
Here I am to Worship

Devotional:
Today we explore what topic in Messy Church?
That’s right the topic of light.  More importantly Jesus said:
John 8:12 –  “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
In all of our stations today we have explored all kinds of ways that we can share that light with outs and how we can shine as well…right?  Jesus told this to many people, and he wants us to follow him as well.  He wasn’t just any light…like a light bulb that can be replaced when it burns out – NO!  He is THE light of the world.  In fact it says in Revelation 22:5 about heaven that “there will be no night there–no need for lamps or sun–for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.”  Imagine that!  God’s light will never go out, never become dim, or ever, ever be extinguished.
Jesus came to this earth and told everyone he was the light of the world and that they should follow Him…I have good news today for you!  He still is the light of the world and when we choose to follow Him, we have this light inside of us and it shines too.

Now, perhaps this is the first time you are hearing about Jesus in this way.
And maybe you would like to receive this light for the very first time.
Jesus came to this earth to die for our sins and when we accept this sacrifice, we become His people.  We become Christ-followers, and he said that one day we would all be with him in eternity or heaven.  But do you know what we have to do?  We have to accept this gift of eternal life.  The light Christ offers will last for eternity, and with that light comes love, peace and hope.  Would you like to accept this light today in your lives?  If so, I would like to pray this prayer with you and if you would like to accept Jesus for the first time, or maybe just reaccept Him, would you pray this prayer with me?

“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I have walked in the darkness for far too long.   I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will.  I pray that you help me to be Your light in this world.
In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

 

*This lesson plan was adapted from the book: “Messy Church: fresh ideas for building a Christ-centered community.“*

Day 14 – All Your Anxiety

Philippians 4:6  (NIV) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
I know what you’re thinking, easier said than done, right?  We spend a lot of time consumed with worry and stress over things that we cannot control.  That doesn’t mean we don’t stop trying, but is it comforting to know that we have One who intercedes and hears our prayer?!  

Stress can become our prison if we allow it to consume us.  The anxiety that we may feel can also bring about other health concerns.  Letting go isn’t easy, but perhaps we have to begin by taking a step back from the problems at hand.  Get some perspective.  Look at something else instead of the trouble of stress you are facing.

Could it be that even within this moment it is a test of your faith?  Do you trust God to help you through it, even if He doesn’t deliver you from it?  In the grand scheme of things, how bad is your trouble really?  Has God not overcome worse in our world?  What makes you think that He won’t be there for you now?  

Paul tells us to bring everything to God through prayer and petition in a spirit of Thanksgiving.  That seems crazy to thank God for your troubles as well as your joys, but in so doing, we will experience His very real presence and power.  So make a list of your troubles, both big and small, and bring them before God in prayers of Thanksgiving.  Thank God for the challenges and for His presence.  Perhaps this could be an opportunity for you to test your faith (and perhaps your patience).  

Prayer: Dear Lord, I confess that I have troubles and stress in my life.  Help me to have some perspective on these things.  Allow me to have a deeper faith as I wait on you to lead me through.  Be with me now as I lay these petitions of Thanksgiving at your feet.  Today I pray for (list your troubles, anxiety and stress – name them, even say them out loud).  Close by thanking God for leading you through your past stresses and have faith that He will deliver you through these very present troubles.  -Amen.

3 Worship Songs God Hates

tredWe must tread lightly here, for to insinuate that we know the mind of God is dangerous territory.  However, what we know of Him and that of human interaction with the Almighty, there are certainly forms of worship God hates.  Do you think the term “hate” is too strong?  Does God hate?

There are many scriptures that describes the displeasure of God.
One prime example of this is Proverbs 6:16-19

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

So with that being said, are there things that God hates?
I believe the answer is YES!

Can we then describe moments in worship and in song that could displease God?  Absolutely!  I should also clarify that the term “Worship Song” could be anything we do as we sing to God.  It can contemporary, it can be traditional, or somewhere in the middle.  Are there other things in “worship” other than song?  Of course, but just for this discussion, we are zeroing in on the topic of “Song”…

Here are 3 Worship Songs God Hates: 
Allow me to preface this with the following statement: If you were looking for specific names of songs that God possibly hates, sorry…that’s not what this particular blog post is about.  Again, sorry to disappoint you, I won’t be roasting the latest Chris Tomlin song here today.

But here is what I think are 3 Worship Songs God Hates and why…

1  Songs Sung Out Of Obligation
Have you ever gotten up on a Sunday morning to lead worship and the songs you have selected aren’t really resonating with you?  Sometimes it could be that we are just out of sync with our walk with the Lord…there are certainly seasons of life, and not everything is flowersgoing to be peachy.  But I believe God hates obligatory worship.  Imagine if I were to give flowers to my wife simply because it’s the right thing to do, not that I want to, but rather because it’s expected.  How do you think she would feel if, as I gave her the flowers, I said; “Here’s you weekly obligatory flower arrangement dear!”?  Do you think she would enjoy them and feel loved in my gift of those flowers?  Of course not!

In a way, when we sing songs of worship and adoration to God because we feel obligated, it’s like giving Him flowers that mean nothing to us and are given out of ritual not love and appreciation.  God doesn’t want our obligatory worship songs and our meaningless attempts at worship – He wants it to mean something to us, something that aren’t just meaningless utterances of lyric lines and memorized scriptures.  God hates obligatory praise!

2. Songs Sung Out Love For The Song
Which do we worship, God or our favorite song?
I’m not saying this happens all of the time, but sometimes those worship songs (or even hymns) we sing can become a false idol of our worship.  We just don’t “feel” it when we aren’t singing just the right songs…but if that all time “fav” comes up – we are rockin’ and rollin’ with our hands raised high.  hands

Let me ask a question – is it God that we worship or the song that we sing?
I would hope our answer would be “God”, but there is a danger of placing our favorite song on a place of worship instead of God himself.  God hates the worship of idols – He is truly jealous for our worship and that of us.  He wants all there is of us, not a portion – but our EVERYTHING!  I fear at times, we place the love for a song over the love for God.  Our worship cannot simply revolve around our emotions and how WE feel…We are to worship Him REGARDLESS of how we feel.  Perhaps that is the toughest thing to do, yet through discipline and perseverance, we can!

3. Songs Sung To Display Talent (The Concert Performance)
worshipWorship leader – beware!  Worship was never about how good YOU sing or how Awesome your Guitaring or Piano-ing is… Seriously, if all we do in worship is try to emulate a Hillsong or Jesus culture/David Crowder concert, then we’re going about it all wrong and we need to stop!

Jesus called the Pharisees praying loudly in the streets so that everyone could hear and see them – Hypocrites or Actors.  He certainly had a lot of harsh words to say to those kinds of people – people who knew better.  He even went so far as to call them a brood of vipers.  God abhors actors, fakers and hypocrites.  hypocriteOur worship of God ought not to be a circus displaying our vast array of talents for the world to see.  Real worship isn’t about a concert or our aspirations to be the next big thing in the Top Ten CCLI Worship Leaders.  All these things are earthly desires – as we strive for human accolades and praise.

Such things do not attempt to elevate the name of Jesus, but rather promote our name to the masses.  In the words of U2 “Then they put Jesus in show business, now it’s hard to get in the door…” (God Would Send His Angels, U2)

God hates performances by actors and hypocrites that should have been about who He is, not who the performers are.  Where is the depth of worship here?  I’ll tell you – it’s about an inch deep and a yard wide.  Do our best?  Absolutely!  But if what we do is called “Worship” but it’s not God we are adoring but rather the music and our abilities on stage, then perhaps it’s time to reassess and realign our motivation and goals once again.

Well, we have strolled lightly here today.
The Bottom line, God doesn’t want any substitutes or consolation prizes – He wants our hearts and our attention.  Are there times when we worship with a divided heart or mind?  Are our motivators God honoring or human praise seeking?

What do YOU think?
Something more to ponder today.
God Bless You!

One Question: Saturday Night Worship?

I have seen a sharp uptick in other churches having Saturday evening worship services.  Some of it has to do with working people who now work on Sundays, some of it has to do with younger generations and what they prefer…what do you think?

Does your Corps already have a separate worship time/day?
How does that work for your corps?
Have you seen any growth/changes in worship attendance?
Should this be something to consider in our current corps that have seen a decline in regular worship attendances?
What would the benefits be?
What would be the detractors?
Pros/Cons?

Are we afraid to take risks?
Is this something feasible for YOUR corps?
What’s holding you back?

Let me know what YOU think?

Dear Salvation Army, Is The General Right?

This quote has bothered me, perhaps more than it should.
Is there more to this conversation that has not been quoted here that would cast a different light on this subject?  I do not presume to know everything, but I would like to attempt at interpreting this soundbite with your help.

Are we splitting hairs here, or is this a general assumption?
Photo Apr 25, 7 05 35 AM
I have seen this quote floating around for a day and a half, and I wonder if, perhaps some context is required before jumping to conclusions.

What does this quote mean?
What did the General mean when he said “Worshiping community”?
Are these two mutually exclusive or interconnected?

If I were to simply interpret this quote/sound bite, I would have to wonder why shouldn’t they be interconnected?  And also, what is so bad about being a worshiping community?
Another thought that comes to mind within this pondering then is this; wouldn’t a worshiping community’s bi-product or outpouring/ evidence of fruit be in the complete submission to God and the service of man – thereby being also a serving community?

If, I have interpreted this correctly, (and if I haven’t please correct me) I would have to disagree with the General.  I do not believe the Army’s paradigm has shifted nor has it’s hand to man.  This army of salvation certainly has an ever evolving identity within this world, but it’s mission, in my opinion, still remains firmly intact.

Is there fear that The Salvation Army is yearning to become a full-fledged Church somewhere?  From my small context of the Army world, I do not see that as an issue.  In fact, just the opposite would be my fear – we become, or have become far too Social Work heavy and lacking the “Heart to God” in our service.  With the ever increasing funding sources coming from governmental entities(at least in the U.S.), sometimes there is the fear that our hands become tied to preach the Gospel in His name while meeting the physical needs.

The Balancing Act…
I understand what the General is saying, if the context is correct, but I would have to counter with the notion that this is certainly a balancing act.  We serve the Almighty and through our discipleship, fellowship and worship we begin to understand how to better serve the world around us.   The pendulum certainly can sway in either direction and we must be mindful of it.  If we are properly aligned as an Army,  our worship and adoration of God will lead to the outpouring of service to man.

So is the General wrong?
Perhaps in places of the world this is true, but in this little corner of the world, I just don’t see it.

What do you think ?
Leave your comments below, share your thoughts on this and tell us what you think this means?

Something more for our Army world to ponder today.

*Disclaimer, this blog’s opinions and content does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of The Salvation Army.*

THIS should be our ONE aim and desire!

“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.” Psalm 103:1

Conversational Statement:
spiritual
There is no such thing as a “spiritual life”.
You might ask yourself; “What, no spiritual life?  How can that be? Why would you say such a thing?  Of course there is a spiritual life!
Let me ask you this; is there a separation from what we do in Church to what we do at home?
How often do we compartmentalize what we do with God and what we do in our everyday life?

QUESTION:
Was this life ever intended to be compartmentalized and separated?  No.
In the Jewish culture there was no such thing as a spiritual life, because everything was considered spiritual.  Everything they did; everything they discussed; everything they thought was considered spiritual.
Life, as a whole = IS SPIRITUAL!

Is it no wonder that David, a man after God’s own heart, says “ALL my inmost being” praises His holy name?!  What does God require from us?  What sort of relationship does He want from us?  Is it a part-time relationship – where we come to Him once or twice a week while at church?  Is this relationship that is just a friendship type of deal?  We just sort of pick up where we left off after some time apart while we do our own thing?  NO!  This relationship is either all-in or nothing at all!

That might sound like such a committed thing…BECAUSE IT IS!  I’m not saying I’m even there yet, but I’m saying that we need to get to the point where we either say “Lord I’m all-in” or “I’m out!”.

Which will it be for us?
Can we honestly say right now that ALL our inmost being praises His holy name?
Can we boldly say – “Lord come with me, I invite you to go wherever I go today…”?
Can we cast aside the “part-time” relationship deal that we have sort of conveniently worked out in our minds?

God wants all there is of us.
God desires a relationship that goes far beyond some sort of surfaced thing.
He wants to walk beside us.
-To commune with us.
-To journey along with us wherever we go.

Is your everyday life currently segmented and separated from your “spiritual” life?
Perhaps it’s time to realign them and put it all back together again.
Perhaps it’s time for us to declare (and mean it) ALL my inmost being – praise His holy name!

You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You. Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.” -Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

It’s either ALL or NOTHING.
Something more for us to ponder today.

“Undoing Church” 4 Ways We Miss The Mark

Sometimes I wonder if Church, the way it is right now, is the way Christ intended it to be.  What I mean is, over time the early “Christians” met in houses and broke bread together, sang some songs of praise and prayed together…but soon the incorporation of “things” and “elements” within those worship settings were added.  These things and elements aren’t a bad thing, but what if those things and elements begin to shape our worship so much so that now we have actually lost some of what “Church” was supposed to be in the first place?  What if  Church has become so mainstream and so institutionalized that we have lost some of its initial significance and power?

Ear Phones, Tangles & Church
If you’re anything like me you probably have some of these:earlying around your home.
They are really pesky to keep straightened out.
They can become easily tangled by just putting them down on the kitchen counter or in the dreaded pocket of your jeans.  Undoing the tangles on these earbuds is a necessity in order to use them properly.  If we allow them to remain tangled or if we yank them apart in frustration we will most likely break them.

This simple illustration is kind of how I see the Church today.
We’re often times just a big, frustrating tangled mess.
We have allowed some elements and even the institutionalization of the Church to become so embroiled in complications, rituals and non-biblical traditions that these sacred cows have entangled us and restrained us from experiencing what true “Church” is all about.

We think that everything points to what we do on Sunday morning in our very rigid “bulletin” format.
We think that what we do in these elements is what matters most…but if nothing translates from ritual to spiritual disciplines and real life application in our lives, then it is all for naught.

So…perhaps instead of tightening our rigid formats in worship we need to undo them.
Perhaps part of the dwindling attendances on Sundays has less to do with “worship styles” and “cultural distractions” and more to do with our complicated worship practices and formats.

I am not saying that we toss the baby out with the bath water…but perhaps the bath water is tired, dirty and cold, if you know what I mean.  Why do we do what we do on Sundays?  Is it because that’s the way we’ve always done it?  Is it because this is what feels comfortable to us?  Is it because we’re mandated by the powers that be to conduct our services this way?  Are we so tangled up in complicated knots that we wouldn’t even want our families who don’t go to church to come to our services?
mark
4 Ways we miss the mark: 
1.  Beating the same, tired, broken drum.  drum
I won’t beat up on traditional music, there is still a place for it.
Music is vital, but it is not our focal point in worship.  It ought to lead the worshiper towards what God is saying…it should never be a performance to show off the talents of the few.  The drum we beat that is tired and old actually lies in our format of worship.  There is this sort of rigid format that we follow every Sunday where we always have the message at the end, and before that we sing a song, and before that we have the bible reading…and so on.  It’s a worn and beaten path.  It gets old.  It’s a tired and broken drum.  Sometimes I believe we lose the significance of our worship if we don’t change things up.  I believe that we can lose new comers, not because of the content of our service, but because of how we – the long timers – respond to it in our own hearts and expression.  If the drum is broken, if worship is mundane and uninteresting, if we just keep plodding along like a tired mule on a familiar path, then, perhaps it’s time to change.

We also miss the mark many times because –
change2.  We fear change so we lag behind
We don’t want to upset the apple cart.
We don’t want to “break with tradition” even when “tradition” has nothing to do with the true origins of Christian worship.  So, because of this fear of changing, we drag our feet for as long as possible.  This is just one more rung in the clumpy, tangled mess of the church.  Sometimes it’s not so much culture that is prodding us to change and adapt, but it is the Holy Spirit who is doing the prodding.  Even then, the steeped traditions and tired drums keep being played without so much as a cadence change.  Our fear of change as a body of believers might be the death of us.  I might receive some negative criticism for this, but I believe it doesn’t make it less true.  I have said it before and I will say it again that I despise the phrase “We have never done it that way before” …which sometimes translates as “We’re not about to try either!
Perhaps, in the undoing of church, we ought to be less fearful of change and more fearful of not changing and adapting as the Lord leads us.

3. We fear change in our church because of what denominational leaders might think leaders
Dare I say that “undoing the church” isn’t only about addressing the fear of change, but it is also about addressing this misguided notion about fear of what institutional and denominational leadership might think.  I am not advocating anarchy or rebellion against leadership, in fact, for the most part, God has placed leaders in those positions for specific tasks and they should be honored and respected…but…if we spend so much time pleasing our leaders and worrying about what THEY will think or say, I believe we will have lost our way and will have only added to the tangled mess that is the church today.   Yes, denominational leaders set the vision and motivation for the churches but we in those churches must meet the communities in which we live.  We must be innovators of the Word of God.  We must please God and fear Him above all else.  We must move when He asks us to move.  We must change when He prods us to adjust.

bubble4.  Our focus is inward instead of outward
Another way in which we miss the mark is the internal focus of our mission.
We, as a church, can become so internally focused that we lose the great commission unless it means the “lost” come to our doors.  I find this inward focus to be extremely entangling and detrimental to our mission as a church!  We must be welcoming of new comers to our worship services, while at the same time be community focused and attempting to serve the needs of others.   Sometimes, when our church has been a long-time established we can have this air about us…that we are “amazing” and think “why wouldn’t people want to come to us?“; or even ask condescendingly (God forbid we ever say this) “well those people really wouldn’t fit in here!”  Do cliques occur in church?  I wish I could say “no” but as sure as they exist in schools, they are in church as well!  Sometimes these cliques are inclusive of new members and many times (without saying so) they are not.  We miss the mark of true “Church” when we lose the love of the “outsiders” and instead insulate ourselves inside our own glass bubbles.

If we are to “undo” Church, we will need to adjust these issues, and untangle our hearts.
Perhaps we must revamp our worship services even though we fear change.
Perhaps we must question why we do the things we do and what real significance they actually play in leading others to Christ and into a deeper relationship with Him!  If we beat the same drum and refuse to undo church, we could face church extinction…I don’t say that as a threat, it’s just simply the truth…and sometimes the truth hurts.

Something more to ponder today!
God bless you!

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