Posts by bobbygilles:
In many churches, the Sunday order of service (liturgy) is focused and effective, with each element making sense and building on the others. Until it’s time to tack on the announcements. And then, it’s as if the ship has run aground and the train has slipped the tracks.
“It was an Old School way of having a lot of ceremonial stuff in worship services.”
“No, I think it’s just like a Greek Orthodox thing. Or Catholic? Something the priest does?”
In recent years elements of contemporary evangelical Christianity have begun to study the purpose of liturgy in corporate worship — often for the first time. Many others still don’t know what it means or how it would be relevant in modern worship, but are pretty sure that they serve in a non-liturgical church.
In the truest sense though, any church that has an order of presentation and a way for the congregation to participate can be said to have a liturgy. For instance, Church A might conduct services like this:
In the previous three articles we looked at reasons for establishing a songwriting community, ways to do that, and how to establish the community through regular workshops and fellowship. But if your goal is to produce new worship music for your church fellowship, then your songwriting group hasn’t arrived until it’s doing that. And it’s not going to do that in the most efficient manner until you provide clear direction and lay out a vision.
This can be as simple as saying “We need more songs about the cross” or “we need some good ‘Call to Worship’ songs and some songs of assurance.” Then you need to communicate how writers should submit songs. If you have a small church and only a couple writers, this might be an informal process. Large churches will need to come up with specific procedure, which might look something like this:
Now we’re diving into the middle of how to start a songwriting group, so if you haven’t read part one and part two of this series, I’d encourage you to begin there. I’m going to begin this article by addressing pastors, elders — whoever is in charge of “shepherding the flock” of your church. If this doesn’t describe you, then you still have a role to play in this article: show it to your pastor. You’ll need to give him an idea of the kind of sub-group you’d like to launch within his church’s music ministry, and you’ll need his counsel.
In part one of this series we laid out a biblical and historical case for encouraging a community approach to songwriting. Of course an exhaustive argument from the Bible alone would probably take a book, because the Bible is replete with proverbs, examples and prophecies relating to community. Isaiah 52:8 says “The voice of your watchmen – they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy” and Proverbs 11:14 tells us “… in abundance of counselors there is victory.”
As we head into the nuts-and-bolts of how to set up a songwriting circle, we must start with an awareness of two things: the enemy and the foundation:
“We have met the enemy, and he is us.” ~ Walt Kelley
“I had tried to visit Woody (Guthrie) regularly… I would usually take the bus there from the Port Authority terminal, make the hour-and-a-half ride and then walk the rest of the half mile up the hill to the hospital, a gloomy and threatening granite building…. Usually I’d play him his songs during the afternoon. Sometimes he’d ask for specific ones–”Rangers Command,” “Do Re Me,” “Dust Bowl Blues,” “Pretty Boy Floyd,” “Tom Joad,”… I knew all those songs and many more.”– Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1
What an image: a young, pre-celebrity Bob Dylan traveling 90 minutes one way to trudge up a hill and play a few songs for his dying hero. Many hold Dylan as the archetype for the modern model of the artist: a reclusive rebel, peerless and owing nothing to artists who have come before. The truth is that not only did Dylan feel a heavy gratitude toward his musical forebears and mentors, but he constantly surrounded himself with others in his set, trading notes, swapping tales, helping with gigs.
How does one become a “worship songwriter?” On the one hand, groups like the Enter The Worship Circle musicians, say “Anyone can write a worship song.” They encourage a “just do it” method that begins with studying the Psalms, asking the Lord to show you His heart as you meditate on the passages, then playing chords as you sing the words of psalms. You keep repeating them until new thoughts come to you. You then sing these new thoughts and phrases and “let your worship carry you” into a new song.Then there are those in modern hymnody who advocate for extensive training and awareness in poetry, music and theology, such as Timothy Dudley-Smith, who tells Paul Westermeyer in Tongues of Fire: Profiles in 20th Century Hymn Writing, that what he finds alarming in modern worship songwriting is “The apparent belief that anyone with a guitar can dash off a ‘worship song’ fit to be sung by a congregation to almighty God, without effort, consultation, or revision – and often without grammar, syntax, meter, or rhythm either!” Read the rest of this entry “