Ever been scheduled to both take the offering and play the offertory during the same service? Found yourself the sole soprano while singing hymns? Been locked out of your worship space because the only two keyholders were both out of town? If so, you probably belong to a smaller congregation.
Articles in this issue:
Three years ago, a major construction project at First Presbyterian Church was coming to an end. As the architect put it, we were more than doubling “our footprint” on the property. Membership growth through the 1990s had made the building expansion necessary, and our members—bless ’em—had stepped up generously to support the cost, which was substantial—more, in fact, than I ever dreamed we could raise.
I first saw Stuart Townend at a Worship Together conference in Waterloo, Ontario, two and a half years ago. He led the worship, and his voice, combined with a musical sensitivity to the needs of the songs and the Holy Spirit, culminated in a session that I will long remember. I came home that night inspired by a new song that is becoming a well-known, modern hymn for the church: “In Christ Alone” (see p. 33). My aim here is to introduce readers to a gifted songwriter who has written many new songs for the church.
God Has Gone Up with Shouts of Joy!
Click to listen [ melody ]
How should a worship leader respond to the individual who wants to offer a gift of music or some other performing art in a worship service? What standard do we use to determine if a believer is gifted in the area of interest? How should a worship leader decide if, in fact, including particular individuals in certain roles is appropriate in corporate worship? Are there biblical principles that can help worship leaders make such decisions?
This festival of song based on Romans 8 was the concluding service of the Calvin Symposium on Worship and the Arts, January 2003. It would be especially appropriate for use anytime between Ascension and Pentecost, or as background material for any service based on a portion of Romans 8. The entire chapter of Romans 8 was proclaimed from memory by different people who had been coached by Dennis Dewey (see RW 65). For this service, we celebrated in song the gifts from the body of Christ from many times and places, united by the power of the Spirit.
For the past three years our church has planned a hymn festival service to mark the closing of the choir season before the summer break. We are a medium-sized congregation (400 members) blessed with several instrumentalists. In addition to organ and piano, this year we were able to add two flutes, four violins, and five brass players.
For all of its significance in the church year, creating a visual for Ascension Day is a tough assignment. Christs work on earth was done and he returned to heaven to take his rightful place. The tricky part in representing this idea is the mix of tangible and intangible. We can imagine what it might be like to be among the disciples, but what about the part about Christ being taken into heaven and, as Mark writes, sitting at the right hand of God? Both ideas are critical to our understanding of what Christ did for us.
Q. I find my own worship suffering because of my role as a worship leader. I’m too concerned for the details of the service to really enter into worship. Any advice?
A. This question comes up regularly in classes I’ve taught. Here are some insightful comments from my students, many of them veteran leaders: