For this year’s Holy Week, I experimented with sharing a daily morning video devotional on Facebook Live. This was my first time doing such a thing and it was both a little nerve wracking and fun. Ultimately I was really blessed to see so many people show up, more than once! 🙂
The video above is the final installment: Saturday Holy Week Devotional:The Waiting is The Hardest Part.
I’m going to do one final “broadcast” on the Monday after Resurrection Sunday. This will be about the Eastertide season and Resurrection Power. I have some new thoughts to share.
Here’s a brief recap of the Holy Week Devotional series and links to the accompanying videos.These were quite loose, as I was both learning the technology and organizing my thoughts. But there’s some interesting ideas here, imo. You’ll have to watch the videos to catch it all. Bless ya!
During Holy Week I’m sharing a short video devotional every morning at 6:59am CST on Facebook Live, April 10-15. Join us in real time or watch the replay on my Facebook profile. #HolyWeekExperience
Years ago I discovered the riches available when we practice “worship as a lifestyle” by allowing the Christian calendar to shape our spirituality. During Holy Week you can embark on a personal worship experience of “spiritual immersion”.
This article explains why and how. Be forewarned though, the way I do it is a little extreme, and probably not for everybody.
Recently I’ve attended several churches as an incognito visitor and I’ve noticed a trend – a lot of people don’t seem to be singing in worship these days! There definitely seems to be a decline in congregational singing from say, 10-15 years ago.
Now this is an admittedly subjective observation – I am probably biased as a musician/singer/worship leader. And this post is not intended to be a judgmental critique nor an angry rant. I’d recommend any of these churches. They were friendly, offered great hospitality, excellent music and solid, inspired teaching.
However, the idea that “Churches don’t sing anymore” has been a hot topic of discussion among worship thought leaders for a while. From my non-scientific sample of churches, I’d say it’s an accurate trend. A Google search of “why churches don’t sing” will find many articles from a wide range of perspectives. I especially appreciated an excellent in depth series from Kent Sanders entitled: Whatever Happened to Singing in Church?
I have a very different take from what I’ve been reading and in this post I’ll offer my own thoughts on Why Your Church Does Not Sing. I’ll also offer some practical solutions both long term and short term. In fact you can experience some level of breakthrough in congregational singing almost immediately if you follow some of the suggestions in this article.
But first a qualifier – I have no interest in firing another salvo in the never ending worship wars. I see worship as a worldview and a lifestyle. Music is just one aspect of the congregational worship experience, but it is strategic and important.
I appreciate and see value in almost every style of music and church culture out there. This post is not about the very tired arguments concerning preferences over musical styles, hymns vs modern worship, consumeristic mentality, or the evils of modern production techniques.
Once upon a time, wrestling with God about the pain and confusion going on in my world and those around me, I wrote this song called “No Easy Answers”. Recently there’s been a renewed interest in the song and I’ve been in a lot conversations with folks about these thoughts. I’d like to share some reflections.
When God makes no sense.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for believers in God, followers of Jesus and lovers of His ways, is – how do we honestly reconcile the painful realities of life that lead so easily to disappointment, distance and even anger towards God?
Sometimes there’s a silver lining and a redemptive purpose in suffering, like the story of Joseph. “What was meant for evil, God used for good.” (Genesis 50:20)
Sometimes self sacrifice results in a greater good, like those who serve in the military or first responders.
Sometimes people just do evil wicked acts that steal, kill and destroy – like serial killers and terrorists.
Well I’m excited to return to Eastern Europe this year with my wife Ivalene. During the month of May 2017 we will teach in Ukraine, then minister in Bulgaria, lead worship in Hungary and finish in France.
We’ll depart the USA the beginning of May and return at the end of May.
It will be a very long journey and we would be most appreciative of your prayers! You can also support our ministry financially with a tax deductible donation.
TEACHING AT UKRAINIAN EVANGELICAL THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
The next week May 8-15, we’ll lecture at UETS teaching in the Music Ministry and Theology Department. The courses I’m teaching will be Essential Biblical Foundations of Christian Worship during the day and Worship Music Composition and Songwriting Workshop in the evenings. Ivalene will teach a Children’s Worship Workshop for leadersinterested in teaching children to be worshipers.
Besides teaching, we will be there to coach, mentor, advise and encourage students and staff.
For May 2017 I‘ve been invited back to teach at UETS and a Worship Conference in Ukraine. Ivalene and I will do this trip together. We will also minister in Bulgaria, Hungary and France during that trip. Find out all about it in this post.
MISSIONS REPORT FROM MY UKRAINE 2016 TRIP
In 2016 I served teaching at the Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary in Kiev, Ukraine. I taught my course Practical Theology of Worship, led songwriting workshops and a staff retreat. Our ministry also donated an acoustic-electric guitar, several books for their library, CD’s, songbooks and other music resources.
This wonderful bible college is training the next generation of young adults to be musically skilled and spiritually anointed leaders.
It’s a guided journal exercise to “slow down”, fully experience life, and hear the voice of God. Like all things, you can get as much out of it as you’re willing to put into it.
In this article I’ll share my first journal entry. His first inciting quote from page 1 is this:
“If we can change the way that the church understands music and worship, we will change the way the world encounters God.” – Ray Hughes
This is a big idea, and quite profound if you’re serious about exploring and applying the answers. This is important because, in many areas, the “world” is rejecting God as represented today by the church. Many, many churches are struggling and in decline.
If you need support, advice, and encouragement in worship ministry, maybe I can help.
I’ve been leading, teaching and mentoring in worship ministry for over 20 years. I’ve served as a volunteer and later as full time church staff. I’ve lead the worship ministries of large, medium and small churches. I’ve served as an advisor to pastoral leaders in dozens of ministries around the world. I also have over 30 years experience in business leadership, management and music production.
It was totally, prophetically, inspiringly awesome. If you can attend live, do it. If not, watch the video series here.
I’ve known Ray for a long time, his teachings have profoundly influenced my understanding of worship.
Here’s one takeaway from the night I was there. Regarding Martin Luther and the lives of the psalmists and hymn writers…
You know revolutionaries, and those who carry awakenings, typically walk through seasons of controversy and conflict, until conviction and conversion comes. But until that comes, your life ends up being redefined on many levels.
They were pioneering and birthing something in the spirit realm that was hanging on the balance of how they stood with integrity and character.
The power of the might of the Lord, the One who touched them, and the One they had their encounter with, would hold them up until their conflict and controversy would become songs. And then it would begin to carry a life of it’s own from generation to generation.
When you become a songwriter you are creating something that holds a promise for a future generation.
Ray Hughes, Journey of Worship, Session 7 February 22, 2017
Many of the great hymns of history, written by “revolutionaries who carry awakenings” were birthed through seasons of controversy and conflict. This was the legacy of pioneers like Martin Luther and Isaac Watts. They paid a heavy price. Today their message still inspires and carries the purposes of God through song.
Can you relate to this? I know I can. Don’t give up singing your new song. God is on the move. Let faith rise up.
“It’s time for a generation to begin to fully trust Him with the sound that they have been given. You see, faith and trust is part of this thing called worship. Faith is the ability to respond to God’s definition of your future.” – Ray Hughes, Journey of Worship, Session 1
Faith is the ability to respond to God’s definition of your future!