September 2004

RW 73
Reformed Worship issue cover

Articles in this issue:

  • We can never find enough musicians for our worship band or enough leaders for our worship committee.”

    “Our church is dying. Once the kids turn sixteen or seventeen they leave the church and never come back.”

    Comments like these represent two major crises in churches across the country, in both urban and suburban contexts:

  • Iappreciate a good gadget. Many times a day, I reach into my pocket for my personal digital assistant (PDA) in order to look up a phone number, schedule an appointment, or update my to do list. When I do, no one around me looks twice. However, if I pull out my Palm Pilot (one brand of PDA) to do a pastor-specific task—look up a Bible verse, write out the melody to a new song I’ve just heard, review my prayer list, or brush up on my Greek at the bus stop—peers and passersby rubberneck without shame.

  • Permission to Pray

    When I first started editing the Psalter Hymnal in the early 1980s, the story then making the rounds was that permission for including the song “How Great Thou Art” in the 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship was finally granted with a handshake at a cost that would remain secret.

  • Some years ago, I was leading a Master Class workshop at a local church with some of the LOFT gang. We arrived to discover that the church’s “band” was a rather odd assemblage of musical talent. Accompanying the vocalists was an electronic keyboard. And a piano. And an organ. I listened to a couple songs, and then asked, “Are you all playing the same music, the same notes?” When they responded affirmatively, I blurted out, “Well, stop it! Don’t do that any more!

  • Araw, gritty wind swirls through the dark night as I lock my bike on the crowded sidewalk. Turning around, I step toward a cordoned-off area, behind which policemen, their hats pulled down and collars pulled up, bark at the jostling crowds, urging them to stop pushing and stand back. Several thousand people form a line snaking along the sidewalk, funneling down to one person at the narrow gate.

  • Since music is such an integral part of worship, selecting a hymnal that will meet a congregation’s needs is an awesome responsibility. But it doesn’t have to become a nightmare.

    Following the steps of the process described below can help a committee choose a hymnal that will serve its congregation well for years to come.

  • Our Advent series was prepared by a group of Christian Reformed pastors and others from five different congregations in and around Listowel, Ontario. This peer mentoring group, which calls itself “The Preaching Group,” is also part of the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program sponsored by the Christian Reformed Church and funded by the Lilly Foundation.