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Author: admin, 09.10.2014. Category: Small Goals 2016

About 8 months ago, our church discovered that the multipurpose room we were meeting in (I call it a sanctuasium) was structurally unsafe. Luckily, we have a Fellowship Hall that is large enough where we can squish everything and cram everyone for a worship service.
We made a deliberate, conscious decision as a church that we were going to trust God and give praise to God and use this insane permit delay as an opportunity for God to build character in us as a church. Our church has come together and we have seen a greater sense of unity then I ever could have imagined. Now I’m not at all saying you have to experience dramatic situations like being kicked out of your meeting space in order to see unity.
So my challenge for you is simply this: look for the small (and perhaps even big) ways that you can be flexible. In previous posts we’ve looked at reconsidering the nature of our corporate singing in church. All of these aspects are important in singing, and in this final post in the series we will consider target. Finally, in brief, I would like to just make mention the final aspect of target that you’ll see in the attached Song Selection Rubric. Sadly, over the years, churches have separated and grown apart over things like stylistic preference, racial and cultural expressions in song, and over age. Recently, I found myself sipping beer and carrying on conversation with some good Christian blokes around a table at a local restaurant. The Spirit filled life of the believer on earth is one that is fraught with all kinds of tension and release.
In my Song Selection Rubric, you’ll see how I work my way through a song canon as I plan singing in a particular church. We must ask ourselves, are our song choices nourishing us, our families, and our churches with a full and nutritious diet of melody and emotion?
We are fortunate to be able to introduce you to someone you may not yet know – Zach Loomis.
In case you haven’t tuned into previous posts, In Post 1, I introduced our series by considering Paul’s exhortation in Colossians as to why and how he thinks we should sing as Christians.
Years ago I attended a church that sang “I Give Myself Away” as the opening song in their worship. The heart here is to crave and thirst for good poetry and prose in our singing; using language that adorns God’s truths with beauty, and allows God’s people, in the best way possible, to comprehend God’s majesty.
We are fortunate to have great friends like Joe Brookhouse who take advantage of opportunities to do interviews on our behalf. I heard a Professor in college once say that most Christians are struggling deeply with their faith because they believe in a “canon within a Canon.” He made this statement while teaching the history behind how we received the 66 book Canon of The Bible. A great example of cherry picking Bible knowledge is the everyday bumper sticker that resounds Jeremiah 29:11’s promise to Israel, that God has plans for us and will give us hope and a future. The bottom line is that God gave to us a complete Canon—not portions—of Scripture that is about HIM, not US, and within its pages it tells the entirety of the Gospel.
This idea of churches forming a “canon within a Canon” has shown up in our singing unfortunately. In the next 4 posts we will try to examine a way to ensure that we sing the story of Scritpure fully.
To do this, my approach over the years has been to steal an outline from Mark Driscoll’s book Doctrine (His outline is reflected in the first portion of the Song Selection Rubric.
As I’m picking songs, for any reason, I categorize them by the truths they emphasize, in order to see if I’m being enriched with ALL of God’s truths. Are we singing songs that are deeply enriching us with all the truths that God wants us to know—mind, body and spirit?
Songs are important to us!  They not only have the power to equip us for a good car ride but they rise to even higher levels of influence.
The fact is the world is going to perpetually attempt to define the style, the songs and the artists that are appropriate for the training of the human mind, body and soul.
NOTE: Throughout this series, I’ll be examining particularly the church’s corporate singing and will include a document called the Song Selection Rubric. To introduce this series of posts, I’d like to briefly look at one of the most famous verses in the Bible when it comes to singing.
Songs are for our Mind: Notice that this verse implores us to let the message of Christ dwell among us as we teach through song. Jonathan Edwards in Religions Affections said this, “Since holiness is the main thing that excites, draws, and governs all gracious affections, it is no wonder that all such affections tend to holiness. Stay tuned to my future posts in this series where we will turn to some practical tools to help us sing better as Christ’s bride. If our previous posts 1-4—detailing Christ’s role as High Priest (Part 1), Christ’s duty as Worship Liturgist (Part 2), and his effect on the Cosmos (Part 3) and the Church (part 4)—are correct, then Christ indeed has something to say about culture.  To deal with this issue, the famous H. If you’re looking for an idea for a family service or a theme to tie your Christmas service, or kids Christmas services together, you might want to check out ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas Eve! Following the aforementioned, we have begun to discuss the ramifications of Christ’s leadership.  In Part 3 we considered his role in the cosmos, and in our post today we’ll consider his role in the church, and next time we’ll talk about his role in the culture. The Bible says the church is body, many but one, and connected to Christ as our ‘Head.’ Like a temple we are built up.
As a parent is encouraged to “train up” a child in the way they should go (the Hebrew literally meaning to “give the child a palette and taste for beauty), our rhythms as a believing people should be giving us a palette and taste for the kingdom in the moment-by-moments of our lives. See, our meeting space is a pole building design and the posts that are holding everything up were rotten. It took a lot of effort, but one Sunday we were in our sanctuasium and the next Sunday we were in our Fellowship Hall. The lyrical texts we use should not only proclaim, praise, exhort, and make petitions to God, but should also consider the whole of the church, and most definitely should sing the truths of the gospel in our lyrics in order to evangelize the lost person in our midst. We must pay very careful attention to the demographics of those singing in our context—not only relating to whether they are saved or not saved, but according to their cultural and generational background.


Some churches have aged to the point where they have grown completely deplete of youth in their midst, and in others one cannot find a gray hair in the congregation. We were philosophizing over the state of singing in the church, and talking about how the church has grown too “happy.” On a typical Sunday morning, a Western church goer puts on a shine to their shoes and smile, and goes to a amped up church, singing about the peppiness of faith and practice.
Good song choices should acknowledge that we are human, and we need to be fully represented in all our depths of feeling.
I judge every song in relationship to all the others as to whether I am fully embracing the tonal ethic of the Psalms in the songs choices, as well as balancing what it means biblically to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
In Post 2 I first explored how a good approach to singing would be to first ensure that we are singing the total scope of God’s story. She looks at a lyric’s strength and weaknesses in allusion to story, Trinitarian language, references to God, corporate Ethos, sentence structure, diction, coherence, sound, melody, harmony, rhythm, compatibility with music and text, and singability. What he meant in this statement is that most Christians are like flower pickers rather than Gardener’s (my designation) when it comes to the Bible. Those who parade this verse often cling to its promise in hopes that God will one day reveal his plans for them, and give them the dream for which they hope.
In the book, Driscoll outlines the core doctrines of Scripture very well in my opinion and his chapter titles have provided me over the years with good headings by which to consider the songs I’m introducing in my church.
Consider what it would be like if someone wrote a crime mystery thriller and left out the ending?  I’m afraid the church and its people are guilty of shortchanging God’s story in leaving aspects of it out, as well as overemphasizing things inappropriately in like fashion!  Note, the Song Selection Rubric, does not teach a science, as many songs will definitely fall into multiple categories, and there are many songs that when strung together may highlight the story better as a unit, but the heart of this approach is what needs to be grappled with. We must realize however, that God created singing, and thus as its grand architect, he knows completely its purpose and appropriate use. I give this tool to song planners everywhere, and I will refer to it often throughout my posts and give the reasoning behind each section. This implies centripetal (motion inward) and centrifugal (motion outward) motion to our songs. We are not to heavily rely on the music and lyrics simply indoctrinate and instruct us, but we are to bring robustly trained minds to our singing. This is why the Scriptures seem to prioritize the human voice in resonating with other voices as the main accompanied sound of heaven. How often does corporate singing in our churches cause people to feel as if they’re like a bunch of floating atoms flying around the room in their own independent little worlds? Richard Niebuhr developed five models for how Christ deals with culture: (1) Christ against culture, (2) the Christ of culture, (3) Christ above culture, (4) Christ and culture in paradox, and (5) Christ the transformer of culture.  The question for us to answer, is which one is most Biblical? Lastly, in Christ the transformer of culture model, he takes the old heap of metal in that car, he obliterates it, reshapes it, makes it new and completely redeems it.  This last model is what I believe to be most consistent with the Christ of the Bible. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. So in a matter one week, we had to move our entire worship service out into the Fellowship Hall.
People initially got energized because it felt new and we all felt like we were “in this together”.
And in that moment, our worship ministry, our leadership team, our church had an important decision. That when you as a leader and a church decide you’re going to be flexible and trust in God, it really does build character. I’ve also provided a resource called the Song Selection Rubric, that enables one to plug in their songs and categorize them according to doctrine, emotion, corporate and personal language, and other items in order to evaluate the health of their churches overall singing diet.
Singing and music provides a language or experience founded on universal acoustic laws that are given sonic presence in a myriad of cultural and generational dialects.
Where I live in the deep South, you’ll actually hear people refer to churches not by name, but by whether it’s a white or black church. The heart was to be able to give away this album FREE to the church to help those who are hurting, grieving, lost, and caught in despair, bitterness and even rage—whether their feelings be toward God or even injustice shown to them in their own life. He explains that the good life is “an implicit picture of what human flourishing looks like.” Through our singing, we try and pull a fake heaven down into earth and convince ourselves that life is all positive thinking and emotional joy, when in reality the Bible is very honest about the fact that “real life” in this present evil age, and heavy rich experience is just not like this. I included a document for Corporate Worship Singing called the Song Selection Rubric , that will continue to help us more thoughtfully think through our singing, and I want to explore in Post 3 the next part of this Selection Rubric in hopes of broadening our approach to corporate singing.
These may seem like small things but in a day and age where we’ve lost profound poetry in worship music, we need to learn from those in the body of Christ that have gone before us who have enriched us in how to craft more illustrative prose. Most people cherry pick verses from the Scriptures in whatever manner they like, and assemble the truths (apart from their context) into beautiful worldview bokehs that fit their taste.
Sadly, what they never realize is that this verse has already been fulfilled in the person of Jesus.
Some churches shout for God’s kingdom and yet fall silent when singing of sin and the cross. Classical compositions such as Gioachino Rossini’s Morning Song became powerfully attached to a sunrise through its use in cartoons. This is why I want to deeply consider singing!  If as Christians we’re to SING, I want to know what songs we’re to sing.  What is the purpose of our singing?  Who do we sing to?  Why do we sing?  Should we think at all about the songs we’re choosing to listen to? The more we know the Bible, and the more we know the person of Jesus, the more our singing is enriched. Hands are raised, eyes are closed, lights are off, and voices shout, but all in an effort to create an individual encounter with Christ. A lot could be said on how it brought our worship teams and leadership teams together as we all worked really hard to make the move happen. Then the bombshell: the plans we submitted to the county for permits was not going through. Were we going to whine and complain and begrudge the fact we were “stuck” in this smaller, cramped Fellowship Hall? In the midst of all that flexibility, something grew and something amazing came out: unity.
You don’t need to have a gigantic situation in order to be flexible and in order to see opportunities for unity. In considering the total scope of God’s story in our singing, we ensure that people mine through all of his truth even in song.


The more we become aware and attempt to enter into the worldviews, cultural backgrounds, and generational age viewpoints of our people, the more distinctly we are hearing the voice of God…as the mosaic of the world’s cultures and generations reflect Christ’s face.. Even Jesus, in his perfect, fully God, fully man state here on earth, experienced the full tones of human emotion.
God sets us aflame with his training, and brings us to our knees in lament, only that we may feel the weight of our sin and dross fall off our shoulders, and thus stand up to rejoice. I found myself wondering, “how can I give myself away to nothing—what am I responding to?” The Bible clearly shows us that God observes a rhythmic pattern in worship whereas he always reveals himself FIRST, and in our encounter with his holiness, we are then motivated to give our sins up in repentance, and ourselves away in service.
This verse is a Messianic promise to the nation of Israel, and by cherry picking it out of its context, a person can absolutely obliterate its original meaning.
Some are infatuated with God’s reign, strength, and power and have overlooked his posture of a humble servant in the Incarnation. We will also continue to build on our look at singing by following a simple rhyme of words that can help us stay balanced:  total, text, tone, target. It reveals the things our church tends to love to sing about, and the things we naturally neglect. Is a big conglomerate like EMI Records going to define what edifies the body of Christ, or is God? In Colossians however, it would seem singing is predominantly grounded in the context of being amongst “one another.” We are to benefit the BODY of Christ first and foremost in our singing! Paul’s view of singing is far more corporate.  Enriching corporate singing is dispensed through the sound of the masses, not in the isolated sound of an ear bud headphone! We will speak more about how songs emotionally and “soul-ish-ly” form us in our Christian maturity in future posts, but consider for a moment how singing changes when married to thankfulness! Those acts which men delight in, they necessarily incline to do.” Related to singing, this quote implies that singing shapes and forms and shapes our perception of beauty, delight, and desire. In this episode we will be talking about how they have built a relationship and some things you may consider doing as you think about raising up youth worship leaders in your church. In part 2, Joe & Jon talk about some of the struggles they have had at New Life, and more importantly how God has shaped Jon and the church through them.
What should have been a 3 month construction project is going on 8 months… and still no permits! In valuing the total story of God we affirm that the whole Canon of Scripture is important in order to shape God’s family into a healthy organism. However, popping songs like worship pills of “happy,” seems to stink of unauthentic denial. This means that we must reconsider what our singing is saying about how we view “the good life.” Is our singing fully capturing, preparing, shaping, forming, and readying our people to express their heart in response to God through all of life’s valleys and mountain tops? Here, text and function become important because this church I speak of is not just making an illogical choice, but an unbiblical one. The misinterpretation of this verse and many others has set a slew of Christians up for placing hope in their self-conceived dreams, which leads them into making idols of their ambitions. We cannot just pick out the parts we like and ignore the ones that don’t “speak to us.” The whole of Scripture is there for our training, rebuking, and edification in righteousness (2 Tim. To begin, we will consider the whole or total story of Scripture, and briefly think through how to involve the whole story of God in our song and lyrics. Bach’s Joy of Man’s Desiring is iconic in religious settings as well as Handel’s Messiah.  Even into today on a more popular level, we have songs like Beyonce’s Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it) that defines not only a mantra for a new generation, or a relationship, but promotes a dance craze, much like Chubby Checker’s The Twist. Truth spins out of us in passion and zeal, and as it hits the air, others hear, are edified, and it creates a climate of spinning truth. It’s not just the truths in the songs that matter, nor that we keep our eye on our neighbor as we’re singing. The mind, the Body, and the affections (soul) are deeply connected not only to our well-being, but to our mission. Well, in this episode of the WMC podcast, we get into some of the reasons why you should consider using Mainstage for playing keys in your worship band.
If you’ve ever struggled or gone through the valley at your church or in your ministry, you’ll want to listen and share this interview! In considering the text of our songs, we examined how it is beneficial to think through the quality and depth of poetry and prose in our singing.
An overall happy approach denies what real life is really like and how deep affections are truly formed. They are stressing the actions of man first before the actions of God—going against thousands of years of church liturgy and wisdom—and are truly shaping their church toward a man-centered-focus rather than a Godward gaze.
We should see the whole thing as being enriched with nutrients, and seek to harvest every square inch of soil in the hopes that a healthy life will grow. The concern in Paul’s mind is that we also bring our whiny, complaining, sin-bent soul to the altar of God, and lay down our entitlement crowns through our singing. Singing shapes us in an effort that we may leave enflamed with love for our fellow Christian friends, and empowered for witness before a watching world! We must be excellent in using songs appropriately in their place in our services (consistent with Biblical standard, theological implication and historical wisdom), as well as using shaped language that is beautiful and impactful in its own right. As seen on the Song Selection Rubric , when I plan songs, I take a look at the number of total songs, and the text of the songs I’m using in order to best determine if I’m including songs of revelation (God’s actions) and our actions (response). Rather than embracing the attitude of the world, singing is supposed to form us in our mind, body and our attitudes and affections. Thirdly, we looked at a songs tone in Post 4, and considered how we shape people through song in their affections and emotions.



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