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Safiyah Fosua writes a great piece, primarily about worship… but I think it fits for other areas of the church as well. What year is it in YOUR church? Here’s part of what she writes: Should it matter to the Church what year it is?  Why, aren’t the music, the language, and the texts of the church timeless?  We who lead churches know that the answer is both yes and no.  Yes, there are some timeless qualities about the ethos of the Church.  But, no, not everything is timeless.  From time to time, the worship aids used by churches must be updated or adapted for new worshippers, while retaining meaning. The original function of memorized or written liturgy was to give worshippers a tool to enter the presence of God.  I invite you to also view songs sung in worship as a worship aid, atool to help congregants actually worship and come into the presence of a Holy God.  How do we select music for the 21st century?  Consider the following:
  1. There are some songs and hymns that proverbially stand the test of time.  By this, we mean that the texts and sometimes their tunes transcend time and culture and convey meaning for multiple generations.
  2. For every timeless hymn, there are many more hymns and songs with a very limited shelf life.  These songs and hymns were helpful tools for worship for their time, but times have changed and now people either find their texts awkward or their tunes meaningless.  Some of them were born in a spiritual movement.  For example, the genre of Christian music that emerged during the Civil Rights Movement is said to have fueled the movement by inspiring people of multiple races to remember the biblical principles for which they were demonstrating.  Once the movement was over, the music of the movement quickly retreated into history. The same could be said of music that emerged during several of North America’s spiritual awakenings.  These songs were targeted and specific.  While they fulfilled their purpose in their time, times have changed and the people today who need an awakening are often unable to hear their message.
  3. And then, there are a number of songs whose texts continue to convey meaning, while the tunes no longer connect with our times or vice-versa.  What do we do with them?  Perhaps we could take a cue from younger generations who have become skilled in pairing them with different texts or more contextually relevant tunes.  Two important words to remember as you consider using music from another era areremix and mashup.  A remix involves repackaging the text or the tune with either a new set of lyrics or a new tune.  A mashup goes a step beyond to pair the familiar text and tune with a more contextual one.  Charles Wesley’s “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” (1739), has recently been both remixed and mashed up in very distinct, culturally relevant ways. Mark Miller provides a recent example of a remix and the David Crowder Band provides a popular example of a mashup
Read more here… What do YOU think? What year is it in YOUR church? Todd

“My Song in the Night” recently featured these two paragraphs from the book Doxology and Theology by Ken Boer:
“… some leaders (myself included) have believed that to be gospel-centered, every song we sing has to explicitly state the gospel, or more narrowly, substitutionary atonement. But we shouldn’t be more gospel-centered than the Bible is. The Bible includes all kinds of topics, and our services and songs should address the full range of human experience. “If the history of the universe is a movie, Christ’s death and resurrection is the turning point of the movie. Don’t let people grow dull by only ever playing the highlight reel. Let them see the whole movie! At the same time, don’t be ashamed of going to the highlights again and again, because without them the rest of the movie doesn’t make sense.”
Have you ever thought about this? How much of the complete gospel message do you require in all of the songs you sing in your worship service? Is it possible you’re being a bit legalistic in your approach? Are you showing too much of the ‘highlight reel’ all the time? More here… Thoughts? Todd

Agree or Disagree?
“The mature worshiper is easily edified.” When hearing lackluster (even if biblical) preaching, immatureworshipers will typically not listen to the message because they wish the messenger was more exciting. Conversely, mature worshipers eagerly receive the truth as it is proclaimed, even if it sounds like the preacher is reading a phone book.
Found here… Agree or disagree? If I got up and read from Lamentations like Ben Stine for 50 minutes, is it right for me to think that you should be edified? I certainly hope not. (OK… hearing Ben Stine read Lamentations could actually be interesting). And if you agree with the quote… why is all the burden on the worshipper?  I could be really into Jesus and worship, but if you’re reading from a phonebook, my mind is bound to wander. How immature is THAT?

That is one of my favorite hymns from growing up. This morning I received an email from Dan Koch, a member of the Christian band Wayfarer. The band ‘repurposes hymns’. According to Dan, “We do something a little different than most bands: we take lyric sets from old, largely forgotten hymns or Southern Spirituals, and we write entirely new music to those lyrics: melodies, chords, arrangements, etc.  We call it “Repurposed Hymns” I listened to their version of “Alas and Did My Savior Bleed” (that you can download here for free) and really liked it.  Not sure what style I’d classify it as… but it was fresh and different. Take a listen…  Let me know what you think. Todd

My friend Kent Shaffer has put together a really great resource for all you creative types.  As Kent puts it, Environment can have a remarkable influence over how people feel, behave, and learn. So while nothing replaces the power of preaching the gospel and God’s Word, a creative church set design can accomplish two things if done well:
  1. Make a sermon more memorable.
  2. Create an atmosphere that is more worshipful, reflective, and in awe of God.
Check it out here.

What worship leaders/albums have had the most influence over the past 20 years?  Well, Worship Leader Magazine has just released their list.  You can see the whole list here. Here are the top ten: 10. Passion: Better Is One Day Passion Band (1999) 9. Pray Andraé Crouch Warner 8. Beautiful Things Gungor Brash Music (2010) 7. Facedown Matt Redman Sparrow/sixstepsrecrods (2003) 6. United We Stand Hillsong United Hillsong/Integrity Music (2010) 5. Change My Heart Oh God Various Vineyard Music (1996) 4. Live From Another Level Israel Houghton Integrity Music (2004) 3. A Greater Song Paul Baloche Integrity Music (2006) 2. Arriving Chris Tomlin Sparrow/sixstepsrecords (2004) 1. Cutting Edge 1&2 Delirious? Furious? (1994) Agree or disagree? What shouldn’t have made the list? And what SHOULD have but didn’t? What’s your FAVORITE worship album of all time personally?