Archives For Worship

Prayer

At Grace Hills, having sensed something of the direction God was taking us as a community, we declared 2017 to be “the year of the breakthrough.” And we’ve seen breakthrough!

  • People have come to know Jesus and have been baptized.
  • Marriages have gotten back on track toward unity.
  • People have discovered and committed to biblical community.

And much more. God’s Spirit has been stirring our hearts as we’ve gathered before him. And it’s left us wanting more of what God wants to give us, which really means, it’s left us wanting to give ourselves more to his control and influence.

We held a worship celebration recently and referred to it as an “All In Gathering,” but it was really a meeting filled with prayer, praise, and a little bit of preaching, too. The night culminated in us huddling together as a church family around the stage, praying over our leaders and asking God to show us how to follow him into the future more faithfully.

1. God, Give Us a Breakthrough in Evangelism!

God, remove the blinders from the eyes of unbelievers so that the Gospel we are sharing will connect with their minds, hearts,…

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Time with GodAs pastors, our life-blood, our power, and our strength come from the time we spend with God. But if you’ve been in ministry for more than a few minutes, you may have noticed that as a pastor, spending time with God can feel like yet another task on the to-do list.

There’s a tension here — because something that used to feel like an intimate, refueling time with your Creator has now become a part of your job description.

This can sometimes threaten to steal the peace, rest, and connection it once had.

There’s also this incredible responsibility. We’re not just reading the Bible for ourselves anymore. We’re reading to study for our sermons or so we have an answer ready whenever someone needs a word from the Lord. Our prayer time isn’t just about our relationship with God anymore; it’s about filling up to pour back out.

So what do we do as pastors to have fulfilling quiet time with God, without it becoming another task on our to-do list?

Here are some tips that have worked for me. 

1. Change locations

If you find yourself in a rut, try switching locations for your quiet…

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Prayer on the Beach

“I will . . . station myself . . .” (Habakkuk 2:1 NIV).

If you want to get God’s vision for your life and ministry, you must want to hear it, you must withdraw to hear it, and then you must wait to hear it.

The New International Version says, “I will . . . station myself“( Habakkuk 2:1 NIV). What does it mean to station yourself before God? It means stay put. It means, “I’m not moving.” It means, “I’m going to be still. I’m going to sit here and I am not going to move until I hear from you, God.”

Hurry is the death of prayer. And, as pastors, we feel all kinds of pressure to get in a hurry. Yet God won’t speak to us as we run out the door. He wants us to care enough to linger and listen in our prayer time.

So many times, we’re running so revved up, we can’t slow down enough to tune in to God.

So, how do you slow down? You calm your mind by relaxing your body. You take deep breaths and you relax your muscles and let the…

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If you walk into the Little Lambs preschool choir rehearsal at Saddleback Church on any given week, you’ll hear tiny but powerful voices singing out with all their might.

Lyrics like “You are good all the time, all the time you are good” echo through the worship center. It is so precious to hear the praise of Jesus on the lips of our young children.

I have the privilege of mentoring children in what it looks like to live a life of worship. We are teaching children to become lead worshippers in the various kingdoms God has placed them in – school, family, church – and all of the activities in between.

It is both an honor and a responsibility that we are given to invest in these children now and not 10 years from now. They are today’s leaders, but they are too often sidelined in their ministry until they become adults.

At Saddleback, we understand and believe that these early years are the most formative, and we recognize the opportunity that we have to inform the foundational building blocks that will help shape these young worshippers. We take them seriously and always remind them…

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Ebb Flow

There is an ebb and flow to ministry life. We can quickly go from weeks that are jam-packed with meetings and multiple events, to the regular rhythm of planning and preparing for weekend services. And while the pace of ministry can sometimes be unpredictable, the presence of people is not. Our team, our volunteers, our family, our friends – they are with us through thick and thin. How we react and respond to the people around us during the extraordinary seasons of ministry says a lot about our leadership. One thing is sure:

We are in constant need of God’s grace.

There is so much joy that comes with leading others. But sometimes the leadership seat can be challenging and lonely. Remaining mindful of who we are in the light of God’s grace gives so much courage and direction when it comes to leading those around us. Here are five quick reminders of how God gently guides us with his kindness and grace:

When you don’t have the strength, God fills in the gaps.

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

When you make a mistake, God…

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Socrates

It’s truly a privilege to see others connect with God. As worship leaders, we get a front row seat to life change. There is no greater joy.

While leading worship is certainly life-giving and rewarding, it also demands that we pour ourselves out spiritually, emotionally, and physically. There’s no doubt that a day will come when you just don’t feel like doing it. You might feel tired or worn out; you might feel stressed or overwhelmed; or you might feel discouraged by events in the world that are tough to process.

David didn’t hold back when it came to being honest with God about how he felt. Throughout the Psalms, it is clear there were moments when David just wasn’t feeling it, so to speak. In Psalm 73, he was troubled and confused when he observed people doing wrong and getting away with it. Psalm 42 figuratively describes David in a deep ditch with mud weighing him down. In Psalm 42:3, David openly admits to a deep sadness: “I’m on a diet of tears – tears for breakfast, tears for supper” (Psalm 42:3 The Message). All of this as he recalls joyfully leading a great procession…

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Church Building

This week, walk around your church campus and try to see it through the eyes of a first-time guest.

We become so familiar with our surroundings that we become oblivious to the faded paint, the frayed carpet, the chipped pulpit, the stack of stuff on the piano, or the burned-out light bulbs overhead.

One way to combat this tendency is to do an Environmental Impact Report on your church. Take pictures throughout your facilities and show them to your leaders in order to figure out what needs to be changed.

Here are some environmental factors to pay close attention to:

1. Lighting: Lighting has a profound effect on people’s moods. Inadequate lighting dampens the spirit of a service. Shadows across a speaker’s face reduce the impact of any message.

Most churches are far too dark. I’ve noticed that even churches with plenty of windows often cover them up. Somehow, churches have gotten the idea, maybe from funeral parlors, that dimming the lights creates a more “spiritual” mood. I completely disagree.

I believe that church buildings should be bright and full of light. God’s character is expressed in light. 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light; in him there is…

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One of the reasons people are hesitant to try attending a church for the first time is that they’re not sure what to expect. In fact, they probably expect it to be a little bit awkward and uncomfortable.

Over time, it’s important for your church to become known as a place where people will be able to understand what’s happening. That doesn’t mean changing the message, but it does mean clearly explaining what is going on during the worship service.

If you use words like “prelude” or “convocation” without explanation, you’ll send the message that the service is intended for insiders and those who already understand what’s happening.

Here are a few suggestions for how to make people more comfortable in a church worship service that might be brand new to them.

1. Use easy-to-understand terminology.

Instead of “Invocation,” call it an “Opening Prayer.” Or better yet, don’t call it anything. Just have the prayer. No one really needs to know that a “Prelude” will be happening. Just play the music.

If you have a traditional altar call, or even an invitation for people to go somewhere for prayer, be very clear and specific in how you invite people to respond.

I’ve…

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Culture

“The modern Church is so consumeristic!” It’s a common line uttered by the religiously fed up, and of course, there’s a lot of truth in it. Some churches in America do tend to cater to the consumeristic mentality of our culture. But I think, on the whole, most churches don’t, and that’s actually part of the problem.

The modern Church has a perceived problem of consumerism. And it’s very popular to speak and write on the topic, preaching to the choir and an angry chorus of amens. The insinuation is that churches too often go out of their way to please seekers and make the Gospel palatable to nonbelievers, watering down the message and skirting hard truth in the process.

Does this happen? Sure it does. Some leaders, choosing the approval of people over the fear of God, invite people to an easy version of Christianity that never makes the invitation Jesus made to “come and die” with him. But let’s be honest for a moment. For every “six flags over Jesus” fun house version of church, there are dozens of churches that really couldn’t care less about what the average consumer thinks. And that may be the…

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Train Station Schedule Board

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30 NIV).

Timing was important to Jesus; everything in its time at just the right time. On his mission to bring you and me from death to life (Romans 6:13), he never rushed or struggled to play catch up.

He clearly worked from a different clock than everyone else. Instead of Eastern Standard Time, Jesus seemed to be on Eternal Standard Time. He never arrived late and he never arrived early; he simply arrived according to his purpose.

Jesus was born at exactly the right time to be in Bethlehem with his parents, right as the stars aligned to announce the birth of Israel’s long-awaited king. When he was older, he stayed to study Scripture in the temple, even though his parents had left for home.

When others thought he was late, Jesus arrived just in time to raise Lazarus from the dead. When his brothers wanted him to go with them to the Festival of Shelters, Jesus told them, “Go on to the festival. My time hasn’t yet come,…

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Josh Miller

Heading into the new year, our worship team was encouraged to write down some thoughts on our renewed focus for the year ahead. What is God putting on or planting in our heart in 2017? After thinking and praying, I felt like God was simply giving me one word: abide. It seemed too easy — maybe I missed the rest of what he was trying to say? Maybe I needed to wait longer to receive more insight? Surely God had more planned for me than to just merely abide, right? Struggling through these questions led me to John 15.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain…

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Writing Songs

God labels us as his “masterpiece.” We have been intentionally created in the image of our Creator, and we are called to create.

For some of us, this creativity reveals itself through songwriting.

It is such a privilege to write with my teammates in Saddleback Worship.

We try to write songs for our congregation that support the vision and direction of our church while having open palms for what Jesus wants to say through lyric and melody. We place an emphasis on the sound of celebration, staying current and relevant, and remaining true to who we are in our writing.

But these songs aren’t always revealed neatly in the first few drafts — it takes time.

It takes wrestling with combinations of lyrics and melodies, writing and rewriting, sorting out differing opinions among team members, and above all spending plenty of time in prayer.

This journey is joy-filled and fun, but it is also taxing. No matter what stage of songwriting we’re in, we must remember why we do it.