Tag Archives: Church Music
Well, I finally got around to a blog overhaul. I haven’t done that in over 4 years and there has been a LOT that has happened since then. We are enjoying a new season of ministry here at Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church in Johns Creek, GA. We have made a new home in Roswell, GA and have met many new friends! I’ve been waiting for a more convenient time and realized that that wasn’t going to happen. So in typical fashion, I laser focused on it (that sounds better than “obsessed”, but that is usually what I do with creative projects) and just got it done. It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s my little corner of the “intranets” and I trust that if you know me, you’ll at least appreciate my efforts, and if you don’t, well, I trust you find something helpful or useful to your life or ministry. If you’re wondering about the name, well, it’s as simple as “jasoncross.com” was taken (evidently by someone even more “geeky” than myself), the suffix “music” just seamed a little too narrow and, well, “live” was a whole lot better than “dead’, I guess. So there you have it.
I’m always learning and have a strong desire for growth in my life. Most of what you find here will just be things that I’ve found out, stolen, borrowed or begged from someone else (with proper credit of course!) and a few random (none dare call them ‘original’) musings of my own. Some that are way smarter than myself claim that everyone is an “expert” at something. If I am, I’m not sure I have figured that out yet. I have been doing the church music thing for a while, though, and have “discovered” (fancy word for a lot of ignorance and trial and error) some things along the way that I’ll share here. I have had the privilege of studying with some of the best there are in church music and my desire is to simply be a conduit of all that has been poured into me while adding any value that I can to it along the way.
Most of my ministry has been leading multi-generational congregations and helping them transition into a worship environment that attempts to encourage the church as well as be sensitive to the presence of those who may be far from God. Some may call this “blended”, but I just prefer to pursue relevant (contextual), multigenerational worship, whatever that may look like. So with that, most of my “professional” posts will revolve around that topic as well as the fact that I’m a “gadget guy”, a music gear aficionado and producer. I’m also a proud dad and husband of the best girls in the whole world (btw…WAY too much estrogen in my house–anybody got a mountain cabin I could borrow from time to time?) and they might make their way here every so often too.
Thanks for partnering with me in growth and I hope that we can ask good questions together and encourage each other along the way even if we disagree on the answers. I hope you will leave a comment or fill out the poll below and let me know what you would like to see here. Thanks for stopping by!
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In a recent discussion with one of our church staff, we were speaking of God as Creator and what it means for us and the local church. In many churches, and especially within the Independent Baptist movement (of which I am most familiar), we often hear of many attributes of God–holiness, grace, judgment, mercy, and so on. Of course, in children’s Sunday School we’ve been faithful to teach on the seven days of creation and that God “created the heaven and earth…”, but I have found that, often, very little application of this is made to our lives personally, as those created in His image. If God is creative and we are made in His image, then it seems that gospel-centered creativity should also be encouraged and developed as part of our formation as those who are God’s image bearers.
We are God’s image bearers
Man was created in the image of God (Gen 1:27). As such, we possess unique qualities that differentiate us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Though we may share common genetic code with the rest of the animal kingdom, we are distinct and different–creativity being one of the principle differences.Through reason and language, man has the capability of forming original thoughts and acting upon those thoughts. Though, unlike God, we do not create ex nihilo (out of nothing), we do have the capacity to see, think, reason, feel and respond to our surroundings while adding something very unique to it.
Lessons from the Creator: Creation is not God–neither are we our “creation”
God, through His own volition and desire created because He wanted to. We are not able to fully know the mind of God outside of what He has revealed, however, we know that God must have a purpose for His creation, though we may not fully understand every aspect of it. God is very distinct and separate from His creation. His creation reveals some things about Him, but it is very separate from Him.
In a similar way, we are not our creation. It is unhealthy as creative people, to wrap our identity around our “creations”. They may reveal a part of our character and be an expression of who we are, but they are not us and this is a very important distinctive. We must find our identity in our relationship with Christ Himself, because this is the only identity that is complete and fulfilling. As His creation, this is what we were created for. To find our identity in something else, whatever it may be, is unhealthy, unfulfilling and less than what God intended for us.
This fact also frees us to create imperfect creations. This may sound a little counterintuitive, however, as imperfect creators, this is all that we can produce. Creativity for human beings can be (and should be) a constant pursuit of excellence for the sake of the gospel, however, “perfection” will always elude us because we are not perfect creators. This is when we rest in the grace of the gospel to redeem our art because of the finished and perfect work of Christ. Christ frees us to create imperfect creations out of a pure heart and offer them to a perfect Creator as an act of worship for Him. The gospel frees us and gives us the ultimate reason to offer our very best, while at the same time, freeing us from perfectionism. We are free to create and, yes, even make mistakes, because we are not our creation and we find our identity in Christ who has already finished the most perfect work on our behalf on the cross.
How has the gospel influenced your creativity and what would you add to these thoughts?
You present the greatest message known to man, week in and week out. You’re attracting more and more talent to your church. You think you have a great band and you work tirelessly to prepare, but what happened this last Sunday–the mic squeel, feedback, bass guitar out of control, acoustic guitar distorting–is just proof that Satan does not only inhabit deacons, but sound systems as well (just kidding on the deacon part–I think).
There is no question the devil wants to battle every inch of ground that you take for the Kingdom’s sake, however, let’s not give our enemy more credit than necessary. Often, good sound can not only come from a successful exorcism, but a well-trained sound tech that knows how to use the tools he/she has.
Often, churches will usually purchase about 3 sound systems before they end up with the one that meets their needs. Sometimes this is due to poor purchasing advice (or worse, none at all), and sometimes it’s due to putting technicians in places that musicians belong. If a person cannot discern what good sound is (quality/balanced sound appropriate for the genre), then no matter how many knobs they turn, you will not get pleasing results–and after all, music is supposed to sound good.
One way to help curb this issue is to audition your sound personnel before you invest any time/money in training them. Make sure they know what good audio sounds like. One resource is the S.A.T. (The Soundman Aptitude Test). You can find this resource at www.soundmantest.com.
Once you’ve qualified your personnel effectively, another resource that can be of immediate improvement to your sound is a training website called Own the Mix. These guys have compiled a significant library of training videos in real-life situations that will help your volunteers to dial in to good sound week after week. You can find them at www.ownthemix.com. There is also a forum and other networking tools to help your team to connect with others that are on the journey to better quality sound. For a very reasonable price, you can give your team the tools to succeed week after week.
It helps to have a quality car and driver to win a race. It’s not a lot different when it comes to church sound. If you put a 6 year-old in a Formula One car and expect them to break any records, you may be a little disappointed. On the flip side, Mario Andretti in a Yugo…well, you get the point.
Not long ago, a Florida mega-church abandoned split services (traditional and contemporary) for a more unified, “blended” service. The church, led by their new pastor, Tullian Tchavidjian (grandson of Billy Graham), decided to bring their church under one umbrella, united around the gospel. Tchavidjian said, “Generational appeal in worship is an unintentional admission that the Gospel is powerless to join together what man has separated”(click here for the article). This move triggered quite a bit of buzz in the church community. This move seems to be counter-cultural to much of the prevailing thought in church-growth today. Time will tell how well this works for them, but I applaud their consistency and vision for why they have made such a move. My forthcoming attempt to choose better terminology is by no means a criticism of this church–I simply give this as a high-profile example of a trend that is happening in the local church. While many of our churches have chosen their battles in the “worship wars”, many are still looking for answers to this complex question.
As in most conflict, much of the problem arises out of a misunderstanding of the language and intentions of those with whom we disagree. So, it is highly important that we define our terms and give everyone the benefit of the doubt in that we all want the same thing–a gospel-centered community of faith. Once we can agree on terms and trust the motives of our brothers and sisters in Christ, then we can begin to find answers as we participate in the free exchange of ideas that are based on biblical principle–not personal attacks and ideology based on personality and preferences.
Let me start with the idea of “blended” worship. First of all, I think I understand what most church leaders are referring to when they use this term, however, unless this is defined, it can still create several issues. First, the term blended worship was first put into the mainstream church lingo by Robert Webber, author, seminary professor, and founder of the Institute for Worship Studies in Jacksonville, Florida. The problem with this term, as it is commonly understood in non-liturgical, free church worship (which would characterize most independent and Southern Baptist churches), is not the way in which Webber defined it. Webber’s definition involved the blending of the ancient, liturgical practices with more contemporary expressions. He was an advocate of using liturgical church structure and infusing contemporary expressions within that structure. It’s not the intention of this post to debate the merit of Webber’s writings at this time (though, it is a worthy discussion for future posts), nor to debate the use of liturgical elements in worship, however, it illustrates the point that this term is greatly misunderstood. What we find is that those of us who often use the term the most, define it vastly different than the one who coined the term and wrote over 40 books that dealt with the idea.
My experience has been that most pastors and church leaders that I talk with define “blended” as a mixture of hymns and choruses. This is fine, and many churches have blended these two expressions somewhat successfully. However, I also believe that many that are attempting to move to a more “blended” format, carry some unrealistic expectations of what this format will do for them.
First, many attempt “blended” worship to try to “make everyone happy”. If you carry this motive for “blended” worship, you will find yourself sorely disappointed. What you will most likely find is that you will really make no one “happy”, but that everyone will be sufficiently dissatisfied with the music choices. The preferences of virtually no one will be satisfied and you will once again have a “fight” on your hands. The extremes of the personal preferences in most of our churches usually lie with the very young and the very old, and these two groups tend to be the most vocal, also assuring that “blended” worship will still fall tragically short because it still fails to address the preferences of these two groups. If we go to a blended format to make everyone “happy”, we are still relying on music to be the unifying factor, which doesn’t find it’s root in the Scripture.
Second, “blended” worship doesn’t typically address the content issues that we find in our songs. “Hymns” and “Choruses” are both broad terms that are equally as misunderstood and poorly defined as “blended”. What is a hymn? Is it what Paul talked about in Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19, or is it anything that was written prior to 1950? What is a chorus? Is it the refrain of a hymn or gospel song like “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus” or is it a contemporary song like “In Christ Alone”, which resembles more of a modern hymn than a “chorus”? If you think that a “chorus” like “Gone, gone, gone, gone, yes my sins are gone…” is going to strike a nerve with the youth culture of this generation, you are probably going to be disappointed. Or if you think a “hymn” like “Mansion over the Hilltop” (which never mentions any attribute or name of God) is going to bring a Christo-centric unselfishness to your church, you may be disappointed there as well. I have no problem with either of these songs in the right context, but they help to illustrate the misunderstanding that can often occur when we don’t define our terms.
Third, “blended” worship, as it is commonly defined, fails to address context. The context of a church and the culture it is trying to reach is incredibly unique from church to church and from culture to culture. There is no way that being overly simplistic in saying that we do “blended” worship can adequately define or describe the way that you do church. The corporate worship needs of a new church plant are vastly different than a church that has been in existence for several decades. Each presents unique challenges and opportunities for unity and gospel-centered community.
Lastly, “blended” worship does a poor job of addressing the aesthetics of the music that we present. Does this mean that we do hymns that are “updated” and choruses that are “sanitized”, or does it mean that we do 50% traditional hymns and 50% contemporary choruses? Should “blended” worship look pretty much the same from church to church? What of the music, then? Does blended mean a mixture of drums and organ or electric guitar and timpani? What if you don’t have an organ or an electric guitar–can you still do “blended” worship? What does this sound like? Can we find this sound anywhere else in culture? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? These are a few of the questions that we need to wrestle with as we look at the concept of “blended” worship.
In the following post I will discuss the idea of “balanced” worship and see if this concept can provide a greater understanding of both the biblical and cultural implications of effective, gospel-centered ministry. What challenges do you see in some of our terminology and how are you addressing this in your church?
On Tuesday of this week we concluded our first Church Life Conference here on the campus of Trinity Baptist Church and Trinity Baptist College. It was a great time of fellowship, worship, and networking with other ministry leaders from across the country. I want to take a few moments and reflect on some of my take-a-ways from the conference.
It was a great honor to have Charles Billingsley with us for our Sunday night “kick-off” along with his pastor, Jonathan Falwell, Pastor of Thomas Road Baptist in Lynchburg, VA. Charles joined with our Celebration Choir and Orchestra and led us into a wonderful time in God’s presence. Charles is a masterful communicator, a phenomenal talent and most of all, an authentic worshipper and follower of Christ.
On Monday, Charles led worship in our morning sessions as well as an afternoon session for worship leaders and other church musicians. He dealt with the idea of “Transitioning Your Worship without Starting a Worship War”. This is a very relevant topic for most of us who find ourselves in transitionary ministry of some kind. Actually, like Charles said, if you’re alive, whether you like it or not, you’re in transition.
On Tuesday, I led corporate worship along with the Trinity Baptist College worship team, Lifesong. This is a talented group with a heart for worship and they did a fantastic job. If you are interested in having them in your church you can get more information by clicking here. It was also great to have the Nelons leading us in worship and providing special music. The Nelons (pronounced “Nee-lons”) serve as Artists in Residence here at Trinity Baptist College. They are a multi Dove award-winning group that has tremendous talent and a heart for the local church. You can find more about their ministry by clicking here.
We also introduced a couple new songs written by Trinity alumni, Joel Carney and Shannon Foldy, as well as a custom hymn arrangement of “Our Great Savior” entitled “What a Savior You Are”. It was a privilege to share these with the attendees and many of them purchased music to take these songs to their churches. “Isaiah 53” really connected well and is an incredible description of the sacrifice of Christ as well as an opportunity for us to respond to Him in worship. If you are interested in sheet music and demo tracks of these songs, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to take care of that for you.
On Tuesday afternoon, Lindsey Terry, author and worship ministry leader for many years, spoke into our lives and gave us a great perspective on worship ministry as seen from over four decades of leadership. I am delighted as I recall his stories of conversations with song writers over the years. I encourage you to check out his website here and check out the many resources that he has available to help educate us and help bring greater depth and understanding to so many of the songs that we sing.
I was thrilled to be able to speak with several old and new friends. It’s amazing that, though we have such variety and diversity in our ministries, we have so many of the same challenges and opportunities before us. I am grateful for the opportunity to exchange ideas and sharpen each other as “iron sharpens iron”.
One of the topics that kept coming up during several conversations was the idea of “balanced vs. blended” as well as how we can have a comprehensive ministry that is biblically sound as well as culturally engaging. I will be discussing this idea in my next post and look forward to continuing this conversation.
I am already looking forward to next year’s conference. We will be continuing the conversation of many facets of church life at www.churchlifeconference.com and keep checking back for updates and video posts of the conference sessions. For those of you in music and worship ministry, we will be continuing the conversation right here as well. I look forward to your comments and continuing our discussion on how we can make our worship ministries as effective and God-honoring as they can be.
We are so good at making God into our own image. If you’ve been a believer for any length of time, just look around–better yet, look within. If you happen to be a person that is in touch with your emotions, then you probably believe that God is a God of mercy, compassion and second chances. If you are a person who naturally thinks very left-brained and you go through life making very rational, logical choices, then you are more apt to believe that God is a God of principle, righteousness, and judgment. These just simply come easier for us, because they’re consistent with our personalities. I’ll admit, these are very sweeping generalizations, but if we look within and look around, by and large, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that it is largely the case.
Leading corporate worship on a weekly basis allows me the opportunity to witness this first-hand. I see people throughout our auditorium responding to God in various ways: some acknowledging the truth and doctrine of a song with a gentle head-nod; some acknowledging with reckless abandon, their brokenness before God with great outward demonstration; and some in vehement protest to the response of others. Most of the time, this is very consistent with our own personalities. I do not necessarily believe this is a bad thing. However, I believe that in the body of Christ, we have a lot to learn from one another, and more importantly, from God Himself.
The truth is that God is all of those things. He is merciful, compassionate, holy, and righteous. Take the apostle Paul, for instance. Before his conversion, Paul (Saul) was a zealot against Christianity. He had people killed and thrown into prison for their beliefs. He was “principled” in his disdain for Christianity. After his conversion, Paul was still a zealot but with a different focus and direction. Take Peter and Barnabas, on the other hand, who were more in touch with their emotions and the thoughts and feelings of those around them. Paul said (Galatians 2) that Peter even led Barnabas astray in his fear of what people thought. Paul, consistent with his personality, withstood them “to the face” concerning their hypocrisy toward the Gentiles (for fear of what the Jews thought). In this story, Paul, acting consistent with his personality AND the Scripture was right. Peter and Barnabas were living hypocritically. Score: Paul 1 – Barnabas 0.
Now take a look at the other side of the coin. Barnabas and Paul in Acts 15, had a disagreement so sharp concerning the “worthiness” of one of their companions (John Mark) that it caused them to go their separate ways for a time. Barnabas, acting consistent with his personality, saw something in John Mark that Paul did not see (or didn’t want to see). John Mark had abandoned them before and Paul didn’t want anything to do with him. Barnabas, acting in compassion and grace, saw John Mark’s potential and determined to give him a second chance. In time, Paul later recognizes John Mark’s value by his own admition, no thanks to him (2 Tim. 4:11). Score now: Paul 1 – Barnabas 1.
What does this all have to do with worship? We often respond to God’s truth in ways that are consistent with our own personality. This is not necessarily wrong. However, in the Spirit-led life, none of us get “off the hook”. Brokenness does not get off with a “head nod”. Nor does an outward demonstration get off with inconsistent living and poor choices. Throughout Scripture God is always demonstrating the balance of the head and the heart. Take John chapter four–Spirit and truth; Philippians 4–hearts and minds; 2 Tim. 1 – love and a sound mind. The list could go on and on. 2 Timothy chapter 2 summarizes this well–“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” Don’t be angry (heart) or unbelieving (mind). Also, don’t be judgmental of the worship of others. When God’s people come together in spirit and truth, without wrath and doubting, something very powerful happens. That is what God desires from his people.
We are all different. God wants to use all of us and created us with a specific purpose and plan. We all have a lot to learn from God by walking daily in His truth and being led by His Spirit. We also have a lot to learn from each other. That is the beauty of the Body of Christ. The fact is, God wants ALL of us–our head and our heart. Let’s remember that we are ALL made in God’s image, but let’s be careful not to make God into our image.
Choices in life are interesting. Most of the time the choices we make occur long before what can be observed as the “point of decision”. Often decisions begin as a statement that is embraced by our attitude and then fleshed out in our daily living. Such as the statement: “I am blessed”. What a powerful affirmation! That statement alone, if fully embraced, can radically change our lives and the lives of those around us.
It is impossible to be bitter if you believe that you are blessed. This weekend at Trinity, one of our soloists (go get ’em Kristin!) will be singing a powerful song of affirmation entitled (you guessed it!), “Blessed”. I have included the lyrics below for you to ponder as you approach the weekend (or tune in online if you’re reading this after July 12). The remarkable thing about this song is that it was co-authored by Ginny Owens, who is blind and has an interesting story.
She grew up as the oldest of two kids in Jackson, Miss., where she started playing the piano when she was 2. She lost her sight to a congenital eye disease around the same time. For Ginny, music was always a hobby. In many ways it was a relief because it was such a great way to express many of the thoughts and feelings she had trouble articulating. In fact, She wrote her first song when she was only 7 or 8 years old. When she moved to Nashville to major in music education at Belmont University, she had every intention of teaching high school music after graduation. Instead, she found herself getting discovered by a friend who took an interest in her songwriting. Since then she has released 4 albums and has traveled extensively throughout the U. S. and the world though she is a self-confessed “homebody” and introvert.
As you reflect on the lyrics below, remind yourself of how blessed you are. You may or may not have your eyesight, health, or a lot of material wealth, but know that you are loved by the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Cindy Morgan | Ginny Owens
I may never climb a mountain
So I can see the world from there
I may never ride the waves
And taste the salty ocean air
Or build a bridge
That will last a hundred years
But no matter where the road leads
One thing is always clear
I am blessed
I am blessed
From when I rise up in the morning
‘Til I lay my head to rest
I feel You near me
You soothe me when I’m weary
Oh Lord, for all the worst and all the best
I am blessed
All along the road less travelled
I have crawled and I have run
I have wandered through the wind and rain
Until I found the sun
The watching eyes ask me why
I walk this narrow way
I will gladly give the reason
For the hope I have today
You’ve given me joy
You’ve given me love
You give me strength
When I want to give up
You came from heaven to rescue my soul
And this is the reason I know
CCLI Song No. 3120381
© 2000 Word Music, LLC | Above the Rim Music | BMG Songs, Inc. (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.) | (Admin. by BMG Music Publishing). All rights reserved. Used by permission.
CCLI License # 287059
Corporate worship is based first and foremost on our common relationship in Christ. At first glance, this sounds pretty elementary and foundational to Christian doctrine. However, if you’ve ever tried to unify a diverse and multi-generational body in worship lately, you might find that it is easier said than done. Does that negate the truth of our unity in Christ? Not at all. However, the unnecessary conflict (some conflict is both healthy and necessary) exposes the fact that we enter into corporate worship with motives and expectations that aren’t based on our unity in Christ. Also, how we deal with that conflict is a tell-tale sign of where we are in our own relationship with God as well as an indicator of our love for our fellow believer.
So, what are the principles that should guide corporate worship in the church? Are we left to the whims of culture or are we confined solely to the traditions of man as they’ve been handed down to us? Is there middle ground, or is that simply compromise? These are questions that I have asked over the years.
As a leader, I want my actions and decisions to be founded on practical principles that won’t change through the passing of time. Does that mean that I lock myself in a cultural time-bubble, stick my head in the sand and decide right now THIS is the way it should be? I think not. I don’t want to make blanket statements today that I have to retract 20 years from now simply because I succumb to pressure or because I realize that my past decisions were based more on comfort and convenience than on what is biblical, practical, and effective.
Below, I have lined out some key thoughts that help guide me in my decisions for corporate worship. I pray that as we seek the Lord and learn to love people, our churches will once again experience the joy and unity of our common relationship with Christ.
Principle #1: Though Christianity is supracultural in its origin and truth, it is cultural in its application—this includes the arts when used as medium to the gospel message. (Acts 2; Acts 17:26-30; 1 Cor 9:19-22)
Principle #2: Through Christ, the church has experienced the redemption of articles and practices that may have at one time been considered common or undesirable for believers (Acts 10:9-15; 1 Tim 4:1-5; 1 Cor. 10:29-31; Titus 1:15).
Principle #3: God is both transcendent and immanent in His relationship with His people and the nature of this relationship will be evident in a balanced view of this truth as it relates to corporate worship. The fear of God is our foundation for our friendship with Him (Acts 17:24-27; Psalm 25:14).
Principle #4: Recognition should be made that sola Scriptura requires consistent reevaluation of even the most revered human traditions (Matt 15:3-6; Mark 7:9-13; Col 2:8; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
Principle #5: Clear communication is vital to corporate worship, and communication must be contemporary, at least in the sense of being familiar to the hearers. Anything that varies greatly from common forms and styles will do more to detract from the message rather than contribute to its communication (1 Cor 14:7-9).
Principle #6: Sensitivity to the potential presence of unbelievers in corporate worship gatherings should influence, at least to some degree, the elements of public worship events (1 Cor 14:23-25).
Principle #7: The Great Commission requires us to engage with the culture of people outside the church (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 17; Romans 15:20; 1 Cor 9:19-23).
Principle #8: Maintaining unity among the diversity of the church’s membership requires that we defer to one another in love, being willing to submit one another’s preferences to that which is most edifying to the church body as a whole (John 13:35; 1 Thes 3:12; Gal 5:13; Eph 5:21).
Principle #9: Expressions of art have no inherent power other than what the creators and interpreters of the art willingly give to it (Isaiah 2:8; 2 Tim 1:7; 1 Cor 8:1-13). This has two main implications concerning corporate worship music: (1 Cor 6:12).
- There is no music that is unlawful for Christian expression in and of itself. However, not all music may be appropriate for all cultural contexts. (1 Cor 10:23)
- There is no particular music and/or artistic expression that is necessary for corporate worship. However, certain expressions/styles will be more appropriate for particular cultural contexts. (Psalm 34:18; John 4:20-24)
Principle #10: God accepts and desires the worship of people from every race, nation, and tribe. (Psalm 66:4; Rev. 14:6-7; Rev. 5:9-10; John 4). These distinctions are largely cultural and the Scripture does not prohibit the free expression of worship based on cultural grounds only, unless the heart of the one who offers is not authentic (spirit and truth), or the expression is expressly forbidden in Scripture. (Mark 7:7; Gen. 4:4-7).
Let me know your thoughts.
I am writing this sitting on the Gulf Coast of Alabama at Orange Beach. (I know, I live in Florida but am vacationing in Alabama…what’s up with that??? It’s a long story, but we’re here with some good friends). I have had the time to think, process, and simply relax. It has been so timely and Randi and I have enjoyed the time away. This has also given me the opportunity to “catch up” on a few things that I’ve wanted to do for several weeks/months.
I am often asked for the resources and materials that we use at Trinity to aid and influence our corporate worship. Here I hope that you will find this site both informational and inspiring. You will notice that to the right there are links to several resources that we use regularly. I’ve also included some posts from another blog site that I have posted several weeks/months ago that are relevant to this site. These resources, hopefully, will be helpful to you whether you find yourself in a new church plant or in an existing meg-church or somewhere in between.
One of the greatest lessons that I have learned is that there is nothing new “under the sun” (if it was true for Solomon several thousand years ago, I’m sure it’s true for me). Chances are, if I need it, someone else has as well. Usually someone a lot more intelligent and experienced than myself has already come up with a solution to my problem long before I was even aware I had one.
I hope you will find these resources helpful to your ministry. If you have any that you would recommend, please send them my way. I’m always looking for new ideas and resources to help our congregation experience God corporately in a fresh way.
I’ve found that there are two vital elements to successful leadership: 1) Exposure and 2) Experience. I hope that this site will be informative enough to help expose all of us to new ideas as well as inspirational enough to motivate us to use them. Without exposure we simply are bound to the hamster wheel of what we already know (which usually isn’t much). I’ve met people in ministry for 30 years who have claimed to have 30 years experience. Often, I have found that they have had one year of experience repeated 29 times.
With exposure, we have the ability to experience and process new ideas as they relate to ministry. However, it is actually getting out there and using these ideas that gives us the experience and fortitude to be effective. Otherwise, we become highly theoretical and idealistic with little to show for it.
I’ll close with this quote that I came across the other day “We must think like a man of action and act like a man of thought.” (even though the author, Henri Bergson, was not a believer, I believe this is a truism–see James chapter two and the entire book of Acts). If we will be diligent in both our thinking and our actions, we can change this world for Christ.
Our family had the privilege of going to Disney World in Orlando, Florida on vacation a couple weeks ago. As I was there, I couldn’t help contemplating some of the things that Disney has done probably better than any other institution in modern times. It was my first visit in almost 17 years. I was amazed at how much had changed as well as how much had stayed the same, but all the while with the same level of excellence. Below are just a few thoughts that I had while there.
1. Music that touches the masses still touches the masses (I saw every possible generation having a great time and no one was complaining about the music).
2. Family atmosphere is still a major attraction
3. Excellence matters
4. People will pay good money just to see someone’s creativity (there are bigger and better roller coasters, but no one attracts more visitors than Disney World).
5. Nothing is more important to people than their kids (I was amazed at how long people will stand in line for a 4-minute experience and pay $5 for a hotdog!).
6. An incredible tradition coupled with great innovation bring the same people back year after year (or month after month…that’s for you, Melissa!).
7. Disney has created a culture of “yes” and “why not?”. (when guarded with biblical truth, this isn’t a bad idea for most churches–many in our culture have associated the church with “no” or “smite” (that’s for you, Paul), and we wonder why people don’t come).
8. People don’t merely want to “attend”, “see”, or “observe”, but they want to experience.
9. Everyone there has been taught how to make everybody esle feel like a million bucks (I guess that’s because they convinced me to leave mine at the gate…ouch!).
10. While they do everything thoroughly with excellence, they still allow room for the individual’s own sense of wonder and imagination.