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What Style of Music Is Best for Your Church?

When I evaluate a song for the church, my question isn’t so much whether or not it sounds like everything else we call “worship,” but rather whether the song invites the hearts and minds of believers to see and savor Jesus as he really is.

Worship. This one word in today’s church culture holds massive connotations. We’ve heard it said over and over again that worship doesn’t equal music and music doesn’t equal worship. The reality is, for better or worse, we have created a whole sub-culture of Christian music and have labeled it “Worship.”  Whichever side of the fence you fall on, it’s important that we think about the place of music in the church, lest history repeat itself again. 

A significant turning point in my life occurred when I traveled to Jamaica to help lead worship alongside a missionary team. With my acoustic guitar, I played many contemporary songs that were very well known back in the United States. The church body joined in the best they could and showed appreciation for my being there. When I had finished, a woman in the congregation stood up and burst into a song. Immediately, I heard tambourines and other percussive instruments join in, followed by the rest of the congregation’s voice. I looked around and saw the church gathered and connected in a way I was not used to, around a song I did not know, with a style that didn’t seem common to me.  To this Jamaican church, the song was normal. To them it was familiar. It was a musical language that worked within their region and context.  There was no acoustic guitar.  There was no bass guitar.  There was no drum set.  Was this not worship? It didn’t sound like everything I was used to. They had only their hands for clapping, voices for singing, and a few instruments for percussion. The song was in a style that Westerners might call simple, trite, and repetitive, but with it, I had witnessed a powerful, loving worship of God.  I saw a united prayer of a congregation. I saw a united love of the God they were singing to and about.

Standing on the other side of the many years of “worship wars,” I question how it was ever a battle to begin with. When we gather as a congregation, we are told to do all things that edify or build up believers (1 Cor. 14:26). This entails loving one’s neighbor as themselves.  We are called in our gatherings to unite and sing “to one another” (Ephesians 5:18-19). Have we ever stopped and pondered what style best accomplishes that in our context? Could it be that much of the bickering about musical styles stems from our individualistic bent within our western culture. It is concerned mainly with the vertical (me and God) to the detriment and neglect of the horizontal (me and my neighbor) as well as the missional (how our unity in song looks to those outside the church).

So why is it that we sing when we gather?  Is it for God? Is it for us? I’d propose our singing and our gathering, and ultimately all we do in life should be for both.  In doing what God commands, we are always doing what’s best for us. We gather to remember and we sing to remember (because we need to be reminded) that the sacrifice of Jesus is sufficient. Sometimes the way we treat our music in the church comes across like it’s the new medium for us to connect with God. Simply put, the Christian’s sacrifice and offering has already been accomplished (1 Peter 3:18) and it’s Jesus who brings us to God.

When I evaluate a song for the church, my question isn’t so much whether or not it sounds like everything else we call “worship,” but rather whether the song invites the hearts and minds of believers to see and savor Jesus as he really is. If we are only looking for one musical style within worship music what is preventing us from creating a new standard that we will be fighting to break free from in the years to come?  

So where do we go from here?  I’d suggest we as local churches talk about the “why of worship in song”, amongst pastors, and amongst the congregation.  Let’s not assume that we are all on the same page about what’s taking place during our worship services. I believe as churches collectively seeing the way that singing to God, to one another, and with the knowledge that the outsiders are looking in have there place we will worship through song with more passion and experience more of God’s presence than ever before.  

 

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The Top 5 Worship Tracks Your Church Should Be Singing This Sunday

Open your congregation’s hearts to God with these popular worship tracks:

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1. What A Beautiful Name

by Hillsong

 

2. Great Are You Lord

by All Sons and Daughters

 

3. This is Amazing Grace

by Phil Wickham

 

4. 10,000 Reasons 

by Yancy Ministries

 

5. Good Good Father

by Chris Tomlin

 

WorshipHouse Media offers only the best in church and worship media. With a range of video illustrations, mini movies, worship song tracks, motion backgrounds, and Christian pictures, we have everything you need to visually bring your message to life.

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10 Things to Remember When Planning Your Christmas Eve Service

The Christmas season is one of the most special and unique times of the year for ministry. You’ll notice your attendance numbers rising and the hearts of those in your congregation opening up, willing to receive a message. Here are 10 things to remember when planning your Christmas Eve Service.

Spread the Word!

1. In the weeks leading up to your Christmas or Christmas Eve service, include announcements at the end of your service, inserts in your bulletins or show promotional videos to excite your congregation about the upcoming service and encourage them to invite others!

Engage Families

2. Get kids involved in the service either through a special song, drama, reading, or children’s choir. Have you checked out the Christmas media on WorshipHouse Kids!?

Don’t Forget About Traditions!

3. Whether you simply light candles across the stage or you fill the entire room with each individual holding a candle, a candle-lighting can be an extremely powerful moment. This is a time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and an uplifting escape from the hustle and bustle of the season.

4. Display an Advent wreath in your church. The Advent wreath, four candles on a wreath of evergreen, is shaped in a perfect circle to symbolize the eternity of God. In some churches, four purple candles, one for each week in Advent, are used with one larger white candle in the middle as the Christ candle. During each Sunday of the Advent season, we focus on one of the four virtues Jesus brings us: Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. The Christ candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day reminding Christians that Jesus is the light of the world.

5. Communion is a time to remember. Allow the taking of the communion elements to usher in remembering Christ’s birth and sacrifice for you personally this holiday season.

Enhance Your Service with Imagery

6. Use Christmas Motion Backgrounds. Motion backgrounds are the perfect way to make your time of worship more engaging. WorshipHouse Media offers a variety of options that will not only look good, but tie the entire theme of your service together. Edit lyrics on top of the motions or leave them as-is while singing hymns.

https://worshiphousemedia.s3.amazonaws.com/images/main/s/st/sgs/st/thechristmasdilemmawisemen.jpg

The Christmas Dilemma Wisemen from Skit Guys Studios

7. Use An Influential Sermon Illustration. One of the easiest ways to make your Sunday sermons memorable is by using an illustration or video to make your point. Illustrations bring clarity to biblical truth turn the ear into an eye so that the congregation can better understand the Word. Shop the Christmas Store on WorshipHouse Media and browse through a variety of Mini-Movies to accompany your Christmas message.

8. Use a Christmas Themed Still Background During the Sermon. Using imagery that portrays the miracle of Jesus birth and the joy of Christmas will complement your message and help you connect to your audience. Browse still backgrounds in the WorshipHouse Media Christmas store!

Plan Ahead! 

9. Christmas is basically like the Super Bowl for a pastor. Here’s something to keep in mind; most people in your congregation have heard the Christmas story many times and we all know… “Jesus is the reason for the season.” And it’s true, He is! But, the same message year after year can start to seem repetitive. The message every year should remain the same, but you need a bit of a creative spin on the way you present it every year to keep the message fresh. SermonSearch.com has over 30,000 sermon outlines that can assist you while planning your Christmas service.

Invite them Back!

10. Chances are, you will see a lot of new faces in your congregation during the holidays and at your Christmas service. Thank them for coming and tell them, “we would love to have you back!” If you have guest slips, make sure they fill them out so that you can stay in touch.

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Tools for a Great Easter Gathering (Student Ministry Edition)

 

mydesign

You’re busy and Easter is upon us! I thought I’d give you a few tips to create a great Easter Gathering.  Maybe this will put some time back in the margins for you and give you an opportunity to do some self-care or simply spend some time going to a basketball game at the local high school.

I assume since this is an Easter gathering—you will be talking about the Resurrection of Christ.  I highly recommend picking songs that will lead people to reflecting on past talks about the death of Christ and to ponder the magnitude of the resurrection.  The Resurrection is a topic that gets confusing for students, because of the amount of theology that is often included, so using songs, videos and other objects can be helpful in illuminating the idea.  We will get to the sermon a bit later in this blog post.  However, I wanted to start by giving you an idea first for a mixer, a game, songs and then finally, I’ll leave you with an idea for a talk.

Typically, I plan a service like this (feel free to move the order or add things relative to your context and church culture):

 

Song

Host welcomes and explains the mixer.

Mixer

Song

Host comes back up to explain game.

Game

Song

Song

Talk.

Mixers are great because they get everyone involved.  Let’s be honest with one another, we all have that kid in our student ministries that is picked for everything.  A mixer gets everyone involved and gives you an opportunity to make some kid a hero.  When you have a winner of the mixer, bring her or him on stage, and give your students an opportunity to celebrate the winner.  When a student is celebrated, that is a WIN in student ministry.


Mixer Idea

Where My Peeps?

Create a list of nouns that are pop-culture relevant.  Place those words on stickers or printable labels and pass them out to each student as they walk in the door.  DO NOT LET THEM LOOK AT THE STICKER NOR ASK A FRIEND TO TELL THEM WHAT IT IS.  Once everyone is in the room and has a label on their back, play some music and have them go around and ask “yes” or “no” questions about the word on their back.  The object is to guess what label is on your back before anyone else.  Each student may only ask 2 or 3 questions per person until moving on to someone else.  I have created a list already, keep in mind that this list was created for a church I was working at in Chicago so some of the stuff may not be relevant to your context.  The winner gets a box of peeps (gross), make sure you use this as another opportunity to make a kid feel like a HERO.  Bring the student on stage and have everyone applaud them.


GAME IDEA

Get that Jelly in my Belly.

Call up four people to fish jellybeans out of a bowl of whipped cream.  Have two sitting in a chair doing the fishing and have two lying down on their back in front of them. The person that successfully gets the most jellybeans in their partner’s mouth wins!


SONGS

For the first song, I will have the band play some pop-culture song that is relevant to the talk that evening.  I know for some contexts and church cultures this is a taboo and there is some credence to forgoing the use of secular music in your service, if this is the case.  However, I found that it is a great way to break down walls and barriers that students often associate with Church.  Students that are new to the notion of a faith journey often have dogmatic misconceptions of what a relationship with Jesus entails.  By playing a song from pop-culture you’re allowing space for their misconception (and walls) to crumble, and their heart to soften to a relationship (with both you, the leader, and more importantly Jesus).

So here are some songs and charts I’d use.

foofighters_espg_cover

These lyrics are perfect for a talk on resurrection.  I’m sure you can find TAB somewhere.

Come Alive by Foo Fighters.

Itunes

Spotify

thisisliving(feat.lecrae)141

This song makes me want to boogie and worship, I call it “boworship.”

This Is Living (feat. Lecrae) by Hillsong Young & Free

Itunes

(acoustic version)

Spotify

onthethrone

This song is so emotive and points to Jesus’ empowerment of his people through the resurrection.

On The Throne by Desperation Band

Itunes

Spotify

godwithus

 

This song captures the Easter message so well, “Over everything, our redemption—God with us.”

God With Us by All Sons & Daughters

Itunes

Spotify


Talk

Finally the talk; It’s an obscure concept to explain that Jesus is risen from the dead both physically and spiritually, that then He appeared to His followers (first Mary Magdalene), proceeded to have an entire meal of food and finally ascended to the right hand of God (according to Luke’s account).  The Resurrection is the catalyst of Christian empowerment; it is also all about movement. Matthew’s account leaves us with a lovely cliffhanger at the end while quoting Jesus, saying “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Those words at the end of Matthew are the crux of the resurrection.  While, in verse 18 of Matthew 28, some of the disciples doubted, Jesus continued to draw near to them calling them towards their goal of “making disciples of all nations.” This is the purpose of the resurrection, that we are gifted with the sweet spirit of Jesus that leads us to pursue others, the same way that Jesus continues to pursue us with the Resurrection.  The labels that we bring to the empty tomb–those we place our identity in, “lost, broken, unworthy, failure, too young, ugly, overweight, unloved, child of a single parent, hypocrite, loser” are suddenly replaced with the empowerment of Jesus. For us, as followers we are allowed to be who God has designed us to be, “known, loved, cared for, missional, peacemaker, dweller, justice bringer, alive, and risen.”  To bring this point home, I would hand out nametags and have students write one word describing how they really see themselves and to then place it in their pocket.  At the end of the sermon, have them scratch it out and rename it with an adjective that describes how God sees them.

To bring this point home, I would hand out name tags and have students write one word describing how they really see themselves and to then place it in their pocket.  At the end of the sermon, have them scratch it out and rename it with an adjective that describes how God sees them.  I hope this gives you some ideas for a sermon on the resurrection.  What are some verses you’ve used?  What games help set up an eggcelent (see what I did there?) student ministry gathering?

EDIT:  I love using a bumper video before a talk, I particularly like this one.

 

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Welcome New Producer LyonTamer Productions

LyonTamer is a new producer to WorshipHouse. Give them a warm welcome by taking a look at the new videos they have. Each mini-movie is a scripture reading set to interesting visuals. Soon to come will be a Small Group series based on the I AM statements of Jesus. Take a look at let us know what you think!

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