The purpose of Theology, Worship

Saturday, October 11, 2008
I've been reading 'One Thing' by Sam Storms and came accross these paragraphs which I thought worth a post. I like his description of the progression into worship from education to exultation then to exaltation.

Our knowledge of God (education)is the cause or grounds for our delight in him (exultation), which blossoms in the fruit of his praise and honor and glory (exaltation).

What this tells us is that the ultimate goal of theology isn't knowledge, but worship. If our learning and knowledge of God do not lead to the joyful praise of God, we have failed. We learn only that we might laud, which is to say that theology without doxology is idolatry. The only theology worth studying is a theology that can be sung!

John Wesley on congregational singing

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Thanks to for a list of suggestions for proper congregational singing from the Hymn writer and founder of Methodism, John Wesley.

I. Learn these tunes before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please.

II. Sing them exactly as they are printed here, without altering or mending them at all; and if you have learned to sing them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can.

III. Sing all. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a single degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it is a cross to you, take it up, and you will find it a blessing.

IV. Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, then when you sung the songs of Satan.

V. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony; but strive to unite your voices together, so as to make one clear melodious sound.

VI. Sing in time. Whatever time is sung be sure to keep with it. Do not run before nor stay behind it; but attend close to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can; and take care not to sing to slow. This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from us, and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at first.

VII. Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.

Copyright, what rights have we?

Ok, usually at this time of year I faithfully fill in the CCLI (Christian Copyright) software listing all the songs we've sung over the previous year. Which will enable CCLI to give us a new licence to perform, project and reproduce worship songs while covering our back legally over copyright.

Each year I also faithfully question why I have to do this and the purpose of copyright. Maybe it's cause I'm lazy, got better things to do or just the rebel in me wanting to get out. I know the usual arguments for justifying copyright like artists getting money, nobody stealing songs, changing words and making money out of your work.

Yep I'm all for people not stealing someones music to make money out of it and for a worker getting his wage but should we have to pay for the gospel. Do we as Christians have any 'rights', copy or other? Should we not be able to copy a Matt Redman song and pass it on to our non-Christian friend. Why can I not be able to play a Paul Oakley song in a Pub freely? How should the likes of Matt or Paul survive you say? Should his ministry not be church based and church funded?

Christians against copyright has been launched recently by a guy called Phil Ward in which suggesting a new way of dealing with copyright similar to what's been happening in the secular music industry with the likes of Radiohead.

I'm not doubting the sincerity of these worship guys or CCLI but is our copyright system the best and most God honoring way of administrating Christian music. This is a reasonably big subject with a lot of legal grey areas and I'm sure a lot of strong views on both sides but it's worth questioning what we do and if it can be done better.

Anyway after writing all this I feel there are bigger fishes in the seas of injustice but it fills another post in my attempt to a blog-a-day for a week.
Looking forward to filling in my CCLI software next year, hopefully I'll do it on time.

Top 10 Mistakes Most Churches Make When Recording Their First Worship Album

Got this top ten emailed to me today and thought it was quite funny, tongue-in-cheek. I don't think our church or the majority of churches will find this relevant but good to put a smile on one's face. I love number 4

10. Raising $150,000 and hiring the Hillsong production team only to end up with the best-sounding, worst-written, worship CD to sell 211 copies in the history of churchianity

9. Raising $300 to contract Young Johnny Boskers and his 2-channel M-Audio interface to "complete a full recording within six months" only to realize Little Johnny has no chance of completing said-project under said-conditions with said-budget in under 8 years... The church, nearly one-decade hence, ends up with the worst-sounding, worst-written, worship CD to sell 211 copies in the history of churchianity

8. Raising no money whatsoever, but contracting a professional, secular engineer "by faith"... This pretty much has "is going to go sour" written all over it right from the get-go

7. Including "that one singer we never put in the monitors or mains" because "she's faithful" and "we should all be involved" -- unless, of course, the whole point of doing a recording project is actually to facilitate community and involvement -- this in itself can be an excellent reason to record, but one that should not be confused with "...and also have a great-sounding, big-selling project at the end of the day"

6. Concluding a pre-production meeting with phrases like "yeah, who needs a metronome anyway?" and "that kind of stuff just makes things sound 'clinical' and 'stale'" and "because in our church we want that natural, spontaneous, LIVE feel" (unless of course you drummer's meter is actually so good that click tracks literally run and hide inside their dual-cores from the sheer terror of his or her presence)

5. Listening to the takes as a group and agreeing together "that stuff can all be fixed in the mix"

4. Not stoning "that guy" who kept publicly sharing his vision of twelve stars (who ironically had names like Tim, Matt, Martin, Chris and Darlene) bowing down to an even bigger star (which ironically was named after your home church) .. The day God tells you to do a CD because "you're the next big thing on the worship scene" should be a huge warning sign *8)

3. Calling Kingsway's A/R reps to inform them that you've finally capture "The New Sound" on tape... To be honest, the greatest concern here is that they've never EVER heard that before, and they'll be so socked / filled with joy it could lead to heart issues.

2. Getting the "Word of the Lord" that it's time to record on Thursday and figuring things should be ready to commence the following Sunday, thus provoking an exciting pastoral announcement *this* Sunday that "We're recording a CD! Don't worry, this won't take long at all - in fact, we should have copies for sale in the bookstore by month's end!" Insult to injury can be added by announcing pre-pays / pre-orders will be taken starting immediately.

1. When the music pastor confuses the phrase "The Church is making a worship album" with "This is the congregation's opportunity to blessedly and lovingly fund my future ministry career, which will undoubtedly involve touring, guest appearances on the 700 Club, and me getting out of this dead-end, unpaid job as fast as possible"

The story behind the song 'Hungry' by Kathryn Scott

Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Got sent a link to this video today. Camera work and sound has a lot to be desired but it's a good story.

Family worship

Monday, October 06, 2008
Something that we've always struggled with in worship in our church is how to make the worship all inclusive especially for younger kids (as we have a high percentage below 10 years old). What we've started doing is making the first 3 songs on a Sunday morning accessible to kids and include object lessons, actions (aaaaaaahhhhh), maybe one kids songs and getting people including kids to pray and participate.

To be honest it's a struggle to make to this work because you fall into the danger of making a kids section within the worship and adults tuning out for that part. Though I can still see the importance of including all ages in worship. I can also see an opportunity of expanding people's expression of worship within the church by being more participatory.

I've found a useful website, which discusses some of these issues. Let me quote some useful paragraphs from articles within it:

"family worship can be compared to a family meal time, where there is something for everyone. I love this comparison, because conceptually it leaves room for the separate times of worship that we can enjoy, for example, larger adult celebrations are likened to an adult dinner party, and children-only times of worship are likened to a kids' party. There's nothing wrong with these occasions - they're wonderful, but we need the family meal regularly to express our togetherness, and ensure a healthy diet for everyone. It's interesting to note that in the world, many families no longer sit down to a regular family meal, but exist on a pattern of TV dinners for the kids, and separate meals for the adults. We need to be careful not to follow the same pattern in the church."

"In my experience, successful times of worship with all ages present depends not so much on the practical details of what is done, but on the attitude of heart of those leading, and those participating. If we are prepared to let go of our preferences and prejudices, and ask God to give us his heart and mind to see one another as he sees us, then the release of love that will surely result may give us a taste of heaven in our worship."