Archives For Worship

Crowded ChurchAlmost every church in the world will see an attendance spike this week. In the this-is-really-obvious-research-finding, we found that Easter was the highest attended day of the church year. (OK, really, it was about Mother’s Day, as USAToday reported in a front page story on our data, but Easter was number one.)

If you work in ministry, you already know this and did not need LifeWay Research to tell you. You’ve been planning for it. But are you planning for next week, too?

Nicola Menzie, a reporter for the Christian Post, asked me some questions for her story, “How to Keep the ‘Chreasters’ Coming: Experts Say Preparedness and Follow-Up Are Key.” The story has lots of helpful information, and the subtitle gets it right, “While Churches Look to Make Converts for Christ on Easter Sunday, Many Fail to Make a Connection.” Her good questions got me thinking—so I turned my comments to her into a full post here.

Let me share some thoughts on what your church can do to follow up its Easter guests.

Seize the Easter Moment.

Easter is an opportunity, but it has to be seized. More people will hear…

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Building Strong Worship Leaders

One of the greatest needs of the church today is gifted, godly worship leaders who will not only pour themselves into the weekly corporate gathering but who will, behind the scenes and off the stage, pour their very lives into discipling and training a whole new generation of worship leaders. That’s why I’m so excited about the work of Dwayne Moore and the Asaph Generation. Worship leaders from various backgrounds are coming together to see a generation of people giving authentic praise to God as never before.

From Nehemiah to the apostolic era, from the Renaissance to Azusa Street, great movements of God have always been fueled by heartfelt repentance and passionate worship. When God’s name is glorified, great things begin to happen. Please read this book slowly. Soak in its wisdom. Hear and heed the call, first to be a worshipper, but also to determine how you can invest your life into seeing God’s name magnified and glorified in our culture.

– From the Foreword, by Brandon Cox

Grab your free copy here!

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QuestionsEvery church I know of holds weekend worship services. Most of them hold at least 52 a year. Nearly all of them will have visitors show up, even if by accident.

What we don’t often realize is the incredible anxiety most of them are feeling as they walk through our doors.

Their minds are racing with questions.

The answer to those questions will most likely determine whether or not they ever come back.

For some, it may even determine where they spend eternity!

Here’s my unofficial list of a first time guest’s questions:

1. Is the roof going to cave in on me? Or sometimes stated, “Am I going to get struck by lightning?”

Many of our guests are feeling the incredible contrast between their current lifestyle and what they know God wants from them. Because of this, they think that God and them are on the outs and that He’s probably ticked off at them.

2. Is anyone going to acknowledge me?

This is human nature. Whether we are visiting a church or a restaurant or a store. When we enter walk into an organization we believe to be customer-driven, we expect someone to speak to us. In fact,…

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Saddleback JoyWhen I was a kid, Christmas was a time of forced church attendance and family conflicts with out-of-town relatives. We did not have much, the gifts reflected it, and we did not know enough to be grateful that we got anything at all.

In other words, when Christmas came around every year, my focus was on it being an unhappy holiday. I was not at all concerned with the actual meaning of Christmas—the birth of the Son of God. So, I grew up not liking Christmas much. Then I became a pastor, and it got worse. Maybe that’s you, right now, but in a different way. One too may late nights. One too many critics of the technology. One too may experts on what the church Christmas service should really include. Just one too many….I get it—if you are reading this magazine, you probably are at a church where it takes a lot of work to pull off a Christmas service. As a pastor, I see how hard our team works every week and how much time and effort they put into every last detail.

Hours of work already go into a…

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HandsAs we saw in last week’s article, worship is three-directional: inward, outward, and upward. Conveniently, Hebrews 13:15-16 touches on all three of these aspects of a worshipping life. Please read that passage now. Notice that the passage concludes with these words: “for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

The aspect we are focusing on today is the third direction: worship pointed upward, toward God. It’s what most folks think of when they hear the word worship. In Hebrews 13:15 the upward direction involves two specific actions: praise and thanksgiving: “Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (NKJV). Praise is primarily acknowledging God for who he is. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is giving thanks to God for what he has done for us. In this lesson we will focus on the priority of being thankful.

We can be sure nothing ever happens to us that our loving God doesn’t permit. After all, like Moses, he protects us “in the cleft of the rock” as he covers us with his mighty hand (Exodus 33:22, NKJV). His rod of correction…

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DirectionsAt some point in your life, you may have been as I was (and so many in our churches still are!). Anytime you heard the word worship, you assumed that word mostly referred to singing, clapping, and talking to God. Worship is actually much more than that: True biblical worship encompasses our entire lives. In fact, in his book The Ultimate Priority, John MacArthur Jr. explains that for our worship to be “whole-life” it must include three aspects or directions. Most certainly, we worship God when we focus directly on him, pointing our worship upward (as we normally think of worship). However, we should also worship God inwardly. The third direction we should worship him is outwardly, to those around us.1

Three Directions of Worship

You might think of three-directional worship like this: Imagine you say to your boss, “You are the greatest boss to ever walk the face of the earth. Furthermore, this is the best job I’ve ever had or ever will have. In fact, I practically worship at your feet for just letting me do this job every day.” (Am I laying it on thick enough yet?) OK, having said such…

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Arm WrestlingI have to admit that I’m growing weary of the “Is it better to be relevant or obedient” arguments. Frankly, it’s wasting a lot of time and energy, plus, it’s causing division and isn’t helping the cause. Here’s why:

1. We’re not even using the word correctly.  By definition, “relevance” isn’t about popularity, being cool, being liked, or by extension, compromise. Relevance is about the right thing at the right time. It’s about being connected to the matter at hand. It’s about the right tool, strategy, message, or idea that fills a need. What could be more important in sharing the gospel? By misinterpreting and condemning the word “relevance” we’re closing the door on important and critical ways it could be used to reach this culture with the gospel.

2. Relevance and obedience actually work together.  Using the word correctly, if you’re obedient, then you’re relevant. In our obedience, God uses us to be the right answer at the right time. Anything else is disobedience and irrelevance.

3. The relevance versus obedience argument is a slippery slope.  It can too easily imply our superiority and godliness, and minimize other’s efforts to share…

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The Priority of Praise

By Dwayne Moore

PraiseHave you ever looked out the window of an airplane just before it pierces the clouds and noticed how much of the terrain you could see from that one vantage point? You suddenly begin to realize just how enormous this earth of ours really is.

Imagine with me now that we’re “flying over” and looking down at praise. As we take a broad view of praise, we’ll begin to notice two things that show just how important to the Lord praise really is. First, we’ll realize that praise, like land and water seen from an airplane, stretches as far as the mind can perceive in all directions. It is infinitely vast.

Praise Is Prevalent

As we scan the “plains of praise,” we see many landmarks that give us a clear picture of how far-reaching praise to God is:

God’s people have always praised him. I’ve been a praise leader for a long time. In fact, I was leading worship “when worship wasn’t cool.” It’s exciting now to see just how far praise has come. More and more churches and individual Christians are embracing greater freedom in worship. Praise is no longer just for “that…

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Worship LeadingWe recently started a unique and needed community for worship leaders. We call it the Asaph Generation (AsaphGeneration.com). Why the name “Asaph Generation,” you might ask? Simply put, we want to be part of a generation of worship leaders who leave a godly legacy in worship ministry–like Asaph did!

The Asaph Generation is an exclusive community committed to 1) whole-life worship of God, 2) musical excellence, and 3) investing our lives in others. These three qualities really define Asaph’s life…

1. Asaph was a worshiper. Read any of the twelve psalms he was credited for writing (Psalm 50 and 73-83), and you’ll immediately know that Asaph (pronounced “aw-sawf’) was a passionate worshiper of God, who was growing in his relationship with God. He wasn’t perfect, but he really wanted to please the Lord.

Passages like the following help us see how well Asaph “got” worship:

  • “But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:23. NLT).
  • “But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and…

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LibertyUChoirIt was five years ago, on a hot August night in Orlando, Florida that I unintentionally entered into one of the deepest valleys of my life. I had been fighting a summer cold, but throughout the weekend had been singing through it…as always. However, on this night, as I was singing along, I went up to hit a high note, and suddenly there was no voice…no sound. I came back down and then tried it again, and nothing…not a peep. So for the rest of the night, whenever I had to sing a high note, I would choose a lower note instead and tried to simply survive the rest of the concert.

A few days later, after I had rested my voice, I tried to sing again…and still nothing. It slowly went from bad to worse. So after about a month, I finally went to the doctor where he discovered a polyp on my left vocal fold. He then said these words. “Outside of a miracle, unless you get this surgically removed, you will not be able to sing.”

Suddenly I was faced with a crisis. I had never even considered what life…

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Cleanse

I hate to feel sweaty and dirty. In fact, anytime I come in from exercising or working out in my yard, I immediately head for the shower! I love feeling clean (and I’m sure all those around me appreciate it, too!).

In the same kind of way, we should want to always keep a clean heart before God. Our goal should be to live in a constant state of forgiveness. Notice I didn’t say a constant state of perfection. Unfortunately, we will sin on occasion. However, anytime we get “dirty,” we should confess it instantly and then trust God to cleanse us completely. Remember, neither the Lord nor the world needs to be around “stinking” Christians!

If we’re to enjoy clean living every day, we need to embrace two important habits: accountability and self-examination. Being accountable to another person or persons we respect and trust is a powerful deterrent to sin. When you know someone else will be asking you the “tough questions,” you think twice before indulging in things you shouldn’t. Also, accountability partners encourage and challenge us to grow in our faith and do the things we should do. Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us,…

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Assembly LineAt Valley View Church, our vision for the worship and creative arts ministry is to be a “sculpturing factory.” The analogy of a factory works especially well in the southwest area of Louisville, where our church is located. Many of our members work at the Ford plants or the major UPS hub nearby, so it’s easy for them to understand and relate to this simple word-picture of our vision.

Below are some particulars, which help explain our “factory” model of ministry:

Products

We have 3 “products” (or goals) that our worship ministry aims to produce:

  1. Quality worship services (based on Psalm 33:3)
  2. Quality worshipers (based on Matthew 28:18)
  3. Quality worship leaders (based on 2 Timothy 2:2)

Chief Operator

The Lord, “the Author and Finisher of our faith,” is the Chief Operator who directs the sculpturing process. He determines the speed of the conveyor belts and the pace that each “product” is produced. (After all, they’re His worship services and His worshipers!)

Conveyor Belts

We have strategies in place, which act as “conveyor belts” moving everything along. These strategic processes rarely change. We believe they are biblical, logical and effective in any situation to produce the results…

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