Worship Matters Part 2

Continuing my series from last week, here’s my study guide on chapters 4 and 5 in Worship Matters.

Worship Matters – Chapters 5, 6

Chapter 4 – My Hands: What Do I Practice?

  • “Rightly understood and pursued, skill can mark the difference between ineffectiveness and fruitfulness in our leading. It can contribute to, or hinder people from, engaging with God. That’s why we should make it a priority.” (34)

We are called to do everything to the best of our ability. How can you grow in the abilities God has given you? How can we encourage each other as a team to grow in our abilities?

Five Things to Remember About Skill:

  1. Skill is a Gift from God, for his Glory

See 1 Corinthians 4:7

“All gifts are from God, are intended to direct our attention to God and create fresh affection for God.” (34)

  1. Skill Must Be Developed

See 1 Chronicles 25:7

What are some ways you can develop the skills you’ve been given?

  1. Skill Doesn’t Make Worship More Acceptable Before God

See 1 Peter 2:5

Skill isn’t all God is looking for, but combined with a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17) we can better worship our Creator.

  1. Skill Should Be Evaluated By Others

We are often blind to our own areas of weakness. How can we help critique each other?

  1. Skill Is Not an End in Itself

“God wants us to realize that the point of our practice isn’t to receive the praise of others. It’s to bring him glory.” (36)

What Skill Helps Us to Do

  1. Skill Helps Us Focus on God

“My lack of skill can tempt people to be distracted, confused, and potentially irritated. I might be worshipping God, but I’m not doing all I can to help everyone else join me.” (37)

If we’re continually messing up it’s going to hinder people from truly worshipping God. I know mistakes will happen, but that’s why we need to practice to help minimize the distractions for ourselves and the body.

  1. Skill Helps Us Serve the Church
  2. Skill Multiplies Serving Opportunities

What are some areas you could possibly grow in or learn to better serve both the music team and the body?

Skills to Develop

  • “John Piper calls the right balance “undistracted excellence,” It’s a proficiency that doesn’t draw attention to itself but rather points way from itself.” (38)

Are there any ways we draw attention to ourselves instead of God? What are some ways you can think of that would draw attention to oneself?

 

  1. Leadership

All of us are leaders, just because I’m the one directing the songs doesn’t make me any more important than you. We’re even in front of the people just as long as the preaching pastor. What/who are you leading the people to?

  1. Musicianship

“Probably the most challenging part of good musical taste is knowing what to leave out.” (39)

What are some things you could leave out in your leading? What are some things we could do to simplify?

  1. Communication

How can we better communicate to the body the goal and purpose of our worship through music?

  1. Technology

As we grow in this area it may become more important (i.e., Planning Center Online)

  • “The important thing to recognize is that leading the church  to worship God requires more than a sincere hear and good intentions. It requires skill. And that involves work, time and preparation.” (41)

Do you need to invest more time to get better at leading God’s people through music?

Chapter 5 – My Life: What Do I Model?

  • “Everything we do should be governed by one goal – to see Jesus Christ praised, exalted, magnified, lifted up, and obeyed. . . People are watching us as well. Not just on Sunday morning, but throughout the week.” (44)

How well do you lead those you spend time with during the week (family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc)?

  • 1 Timothy 4:12 isn’t just a commendation to the young, but something all believers should strive for. Especially those who are in a visible leadership position. We should be setting an example for the believers in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. Which of these areas is hardest for you to set an example in? Which area do you, through God’s grace, do well in leading?
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Worship Matters Study Part 1

Starting tonight I’ll be leading the music team at the church I pastor through the book Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God by Bob Kauflin. It’s the most helpful book I’ve read about leading worship through music at churches today. I’ll be posting the study guides I’ve put together as we go through them, this being the first one. I hope you find it helpful.

Worship Matters – Chapters 1, 2, 3

Chapter 1 – The Important Things

  • “After thirty years of leading worship, I’ve realized that worship isn’t just an opportunity to use my musical gifts. It’s more than a heightened emotional experience or a way to make a living. It’s way more than what we do on Sunday morning.

“Worship is about what we love. What we live for.

“It’s about who we are before God.” (17)

How are some practical ways we can model this to the congregation?

  • “Worship matters. It matter to God because he is the one ultimately worthy of all worship. It matters to us because worshipping God is the reason for which we were created. And it matters to every worship leader, because we have no greater privilege than leading others to encounter the greatness of God. . . And if you don’t feel adequate for the task . . . you’re in the perfect place for God to use you.” (19)

What about those of us who do feel adequate for the task? How can we keep our pride in check to give God the glory instead of focusing on our gifts?

Chapter 2 – My Heart: What Do I Love?

  • “Your greatest challenge is what you yourself bring to the platform each and every Sunday. Your heart.” (21)

What are some idols in your life that you need to check yourself on before you lead God’s people in worship? In my experience, musicians have a tendency to revel in their own gifts and abilities, have you found this to be true with your musical gifts?

  • “If you were really hopeless, you’d stop trusting in yourself and what you can do and start trusting in what Jesus accomplished for you at the cross.” (24)

“I didn’t think of myself as a very great sinner. Which meant I didn’t need a very great Savior.” (25)

It’s only when we see ourselves in light of the perfection of Christ that we are truly able to worship God. Do you see yourself as a great sinner? Martin Luther said,

“If you are a preacher of Grace, then preach a true, not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. For he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here we have to sin. This life in not the dwelling place of righteousness but, as Peter says, we look for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. . . . Pray boldly-you too are a mighty sinner.”

What does it mean to “sin boldly”?

  • “While it’s simplistic to say that worship is love, it’s a fact that what we love most will determine what we genuinely worship.” (25)

What do you love? God wants us to love him more than anything else, and only when we love him that way can we love others. The love for him will spill over into our other relationships. What are some ways that you need to love Him more fully?

  • “It is therefore a matter of infinite importance, to have the whole heart engaged steadfastly for God.” (26)

Chapter 3 – My Mind: What Do I Believe

  • “The better (i.e., the more accurately) we know God through his Word, the more genuine our worship will be. . . Regardless of what we think or feel, there is no authentic worship of God without a right knowledge of God.” (28)

Do you desire to know God more fully? How often do you read your Bible? I’ve heard it said that many people have enough dust on their Bibles to write their own name in condemnation on it, and a Bible that is worn out is read by someone who isn’t. How much of a priority is there for the Bible in your life? (If you want some supplemental books in addition to the Bible talk to me about it!)

  • Misconception #1: Studying This Stuff Should Be So Hard (29(

See Luke 10:27 – notice all the areas we are to use to love the Lord

  • Misconception #2: We Know God Better Through Music Than Through Words

“Being moved emotionally is different from being changed spiritually. Music affects and helps us in many ways, but it doesn’t replace truth about God.” (30)

  • Misconception #3: Theology and Doctrine Cause Problems

“Theology and doctrine make life simpler. They protect us from reading verses out of context, restricting our diet to our favorite passages, and making decisions based on impulse rather than truth.” (31)

  • “If our doctrine is accurate but our hearts are cold toward God himself, our corporate worship will be true but lifeless. Or if we express fervent love for God but present vague, inaccurate, or incomplete ideas of him to those we’re leading, our worship will be emotional but misleading – and possibly idolatrous. Neither option brings God glory.” (32)

Which way does our church body tend to lean toward? What do we need to do to correct this error?

 

Blue Like Jazz Movie Review

There was a book written back in the early 2000s with the provocative title ‘Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality‘ written by a guy named Don Miller on his experiences living on Portland, OR and attending some classes at the local Reed College. The book slowly made it’s way on to the New York Times bestsellers lists and Christians all across the country soon learned that it was ok to ask questions of your faith and pursue relationships outside of the church (and drink a beer, swear and befriend homosexuals, Tim Challies has some helpful critiques of it as his blog). Being as successful as it was, it was only a matter of time that a movie would be made out of it.

I didn’t get a chance to see it in theaters as it was only on limited release and wasn’t near me (one of the disadvantages of living in Cheyenne, WY) but now that it’s in my local RedBox I rented it last night and watched it. My reaction is very mixed. On the one hand I was grateful that it wasn’t another feel good “Christian” movie with bad acting and clearly trying to hard to preach a point, but at the same time I don’t think a movie needs to have scenes of drunk parties, getting high and glorifying homosexuality to reach the “world” For those who haven’t read the book the movie probably won’t make too much sense. It follows the life of a conservative Don Miller who grew up in Texas and left to the Pacific Northwest to attend a godless Reed College because he discovered his mother was having an affair with his youth pastor. He goes on to explore all that the world has to offer and eventually reaches the conclusion that the writer of Ecclesiastes did, “everything is meaningless.” And without Christ, everything is meaningless. The movie ends on a positive note which is the scene most people remember from the book: the reverse confession booth where Don apologizes for the sins of so many Christians. Don apologizes by saying, “I’m ashamed of Jesus because I want you to like me. It’s like Jesus is the geek in the cafeteria and I’m the one pretending that he’s not my friend.” He goes on to ask, “Do you forgive me for misrepresenting God?” This should strike a chord with many of us in the church today who misrepresent God on a regular basis. We too often give in to the world or completely condemn the world who need us to give them an example of what a Christian really is – it gets down to even calling yourself a Christian, a “little Christ.” How many of us are defaming the name of Christ on a daily basis? We say we’re a Christian then cheat on our taxes, or lie or spread rumors about our brothers and sisters. On a retreat I recently went on a comment someone said came to mind during this scene: the Christian community is the best apologetic to the faith.

This movie does a good job of asking some questions but ultimately falls short of providing the ultimate answer – Christ’s atoning work on the cross. The book did a far better job of showing this answer. This isn’t a movie I’d share with a conservative youth group, but could be a good conversation starter for those who have grown up in the church and are planning to attend a public college with all the temptations the world has to offer.

*For a good review of the movie see this article by Mike Cosper.

The Point of the Book

This past weekend I started reading ‘What Is the Mission of the Church‘ by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert and while it’s too early in the book for me to give many thoughts on it, I came across something that really stuck out to me. So often, books in the Bible state explicitly why they were written. For example, in the very first chapter of Mark, in verse 38, Jesus explicitly states the purpose of his ministry. “And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” Jesus didn’t come to heal the lame and sick (although that was a byproduct of his preaching) but to preach! We can’t preach the Gospel unless we use words, for then we are no different then the world who is here just to help those who are less fortunate than they.

Another example of this is in John 20:31 which says, “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” The whole point and purpose of the Gospel of John is to lead people into repentance. It’s so easy to get caught up in reading through the text of the book and pass over some of these very key passages that give us a framework to understand the whole book. As you continue in your Bible reading this week, I encourage you to slow down and take in the verse and the contexts. Pray for God to illuminate in light of the context and apply it to your life.

Encouraging Your Pastor

In my Bible reading last week I was reading in 1 Timothy and came across 5:17 which says, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” (ESV) As I’ve had the privilege to teach and preach on a few occasions (my first time preaching here in Cheyenne wil be September 2, Lord willing, prayers are greatly appreciated!), I’ve learned just how exhausting it is. Sunday is the culmination of everything Pastors work toward during the week, and you never know how well it will go or who it will impact. It seems the weeks that you are least prepared are the weeks most people are affected (not advocating for lack of preparation). Tim Challies has a very helpful blog today on how to encourage your pastor this week, I encourage you to read it. 

“Behold, how good and ho…

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” -this is the Scripture’s praise of life together under the Word. But now we can rightly interpret the words “in unity” and say, “for brethren to dwell together through Christ.” For Jesus Christ alone is our unity. “He is our peace.” Through him alone do we have access to one another, joy in one another, and fellowship with one another.
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together

Church Membership

An ever increasing number of people have been trying to grow in their Christian faith apart from a local body of the church. I’ve heard many people complain that church is boring, doesn’t meet their needs and ultimately isn’t necessary for growth in the Christian faith. While the church on this side of heaven is imperfect, it is still the representation of Christ to the world.

The key verse for this discussion, “is answered definitively in Hebrews 10:25. “Let us not… [forsake] the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but [exhort] one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” This verse requires more than regularly attending worship services, but it doesn’t require less. Believers go to church. The writer says that church attendance is more important today than it was yesterday!”

I have always encourages those people I’ve talked to to get plugged in to a local church body. When I miss a week I am so very desperate for the fellowship of the body, and if I wasn’t involved in a local body I wouldn’t have a complete picture of the church. God made us to be in community with each other, to hold each other accountable and to encourage growth and support within the body.

I have many more thoughts on this, which I’m sure will come up at some point, but what started this thinking today was a blog found here. Don’t neglect Jesus’ bride.

Witnessing to Mormons

After moving to Cheyenne, I have become more aware of the Mormon religion. Being so close to Utah brings about an influx of Mormons as opposed to Minneapolis where I was living before. I came across a very helpful blog today on how to effectively witness to Mormons. This article encourages using a theological argument instead of an apologetic argument. The first will probe deeper into why Mormons believe what they believe while the latter tends to simply turn them off of religion completely. They say, “the approach we believe is the best way to witness to Mormons is the theological approach: to elucidate the Biblical message of sin, righteousness and faith by using and challenging Mormonism on its own theological ground. People do not need correct Christian doctrine to realize that they are sinners… they need it to solve that problem!”

They encourage the use of asking questions because Mormons are out to witness (as should we be), but then we should be asking questions about the answer they give because, “Mormons are trained to speak the same things as if from a script, but we should come in the opposite spirit, as Jesus taught His disciples (Luke 21:14-15). We don’t have to be experts on Mormonism, but we should be experts on the gospel. If we grasp the basic concepts of the gospel and rely on the Spirit for words, we’ll be able to witness to any person from any religion at any time. We don’t need to worry about every question or word to be planned. This allows for each conversation to be unique.”

You can read the blog in full here.

Why Posture Matters in Worship

I just found a great new blog called ‘Doxology and Theology’ and came across a blog that voices a big issues I’ve seen in many different churches. I’ve often seen a big disconnect between “worshipping” during the week and worshipping on Sundays at church. It’s easy to stand up and cheer during the week when you’re watching the Olympics and Michael Phelps becomes the most decorated Olympian ever, but why don’t you do it on Sunday when you sing about the ramifications of Jesus taking our place on the cross? I like what the following article says that the outward posture reflects what’s going on in your heart. Granted, there are times to stay still in the presence of God, but not always. You can read the full article at: http://www.doxologyandtheology.com/2012/06/29/with-arms-high-and-heart-abandoned-why-posture-matters-by-stephen-miller/