My wife and I like to watch the show Restaurant: Impossible. If you aren’t familiar with it here is the skinny. A world renown chef, Robert Irvine, goes into failing restaurants with a design and contracting team and turns them around in only 3 days. He identifies problems, recreates environments, trains up deficiencies, tweaks menus, and then leaves with a project that SHOULD succeed if managed well. (I’ve never followed up on the website to track the actual success rate.) [Read more...]
Legacy: “anything handed down from the past.”
I think if you asked anyone, “Do you want to leave a great legacy?” they’d probably say yes.
When it’s all said and done, most everyone wants to be remembered in a great, positive light. We want people to say nice things about us at our funeral. After we die, and our name comes up in conversations, we want people to describe us in beautifully positive way.
Recently, I had the privilege of being part of a group of guys that led worship for a large group of men for our annual men’s retreat. The entire weekend was a blast and I’m already anticipating next year’s! We had a great time in our sessions and contrary to what most would expect about a group of men like this, the “room” (you can see it is actually a large tent) was inundated with bass, baritone, and tenor voices rising in praise and worship. It was great. [Read more...]
Have you ever given thought to why we clap our hands during or after we sing a song of praise in our gathered congregation? Have you ever wondered why some congregations are eager to clap their hands while others are reluctant during worship services?
I’ve thought much about this in the last few weeks and months, leading worship at my church. A recent conversation with Sojourn New Albany Worship Director Justin Shaffer encouraged me to ponder these things even more deeply. He and I were observing how at some service times, the congregation is exuberant and often claps their hands after we finish singing our praises and prayers to the Lord. And then there are other times when there’s hardly a peep of excitement after we just finished belting out our praises and acknowledgments of God’s extreme goodness and kindness to us in Christ.
It’s hard for us leaders not to attempt to measure our worth by the responsiveness of our congregation to each song. We should not be measuring “our” success as worship leaders in this way, but it’s a temptation every worship leader must confront. May the Lord help us keep our eyes fixed upon Him and our hearts fully in awe of HIS perfect success in making our praise beautiful and acceptable.
But is there a legitimate reason for encouraging a congregation to clap?
Yes, if we teach that clapping is our applause of His great name, done eagerly in celebration of the salvation we have received by grace through faith in Christ’s redemptive work on our behalf. They shouldn’t clap to applaud and honor the musicians and singers, but they should not fear or hesitate when it comes to applauding our great God.
Where clapping in our worship services is concerned, you may have experienced a conflict in your own heart similar to the one I’m about to describe. There have been times when I — as a worshiper in the congregation — hesitated to clap after a song because I wasn’t sure exactly why I should be clapping, and I didn’t want to do it without conviction. As excellent as the musicians and singers who led the song may have been, I knew it wasn’t really appropriate in the context of our gathered worship of God to applaud the efforts of the worship team. But, neither was my heart fully engaged in awe of God’s splendorous grace that we’d just sung about. I wasn’t considering HIS applause-worthiness and therefore my heart was not convinced to compel my hands to clap.
I’m sure that there are many in our congregations who are experiencing a similar conflict of interests in their own hearts. We have the opportunity to lead them by our example and through exhortations that encourage them to understand why it’s appropriate for us to eagerly applaud our Lord. When we sincerely contemplate who He is and what He’s done for us as we’re singing about who He is and what He’s done for us (because, let’s admit it, there are times when our lips are moving, but our hearts are dull and unresponsive to the grace we’re singing about), our hearts should desire to applaud the great name of the Lord—the name by which we are saved!
Convinced of His worthiness of all praise…
…we should desire to openly and exuberantly celebrate His great grace and love demonstrated to us in sending His only Son to suffer and die in our place. These appropriate heart responses, if we allow them to, may compel us to respond with our whole bodies in sincere worship of the Lord, who is entirely and eternally most worthy of all praise, glory and honor.
Together, let’s freely applaud His great name and celebrate His great love when we gather in worship.
Psalm 47:1-2—Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! For the Lord Most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth.
As the daughter of a worship pastor, Kristen Gilles became involved in music ministry at a young age. Accomplished as a vocalist, pianist, guitarist and songwriter, she has led worship in various churches and conferences, toured the United States from New York City to Dallas, Texas and many points in between, and recorded an EP in 2009, Embrace The Bigger Picture. Connect with Kristen at Facebook.com/kristensmithgilles.
Kristen currently leads worship in Sojourn Community Church and was featured on Sojourn’s 2011 album The Water And The Blood: The Hymns Of Isaac Watts, Volume Two.
Originally published at: http://mysonginthenight.com/2012/09/19/is-it-okay-for-the-congregation-to-clap-after-a-worship-song. Republished with permission.
Thanks to Nathan Gifford of Church52.org for sharing this today.
Our goal as we worship at Church52 is that the time of worship would be effective. “Effective” means producing a definite or desired result, efficient. What is your desired result when you come into a worship service?
The Bible is full of references to praise… times when people offered praise through song, through sacrifice, etc. The Bible also teaches us HOW to praise… when to praise… what praise is and more. We want to give God our best praise, so we need to dig in and learn more about it so we can do it effectively!
Our acts of praise and worship are not only songs as we often think, but also include our actions, our giving, our speech, and so forth. For this post, we will look specifically at our praise through singing.
In Eph. 5:18b-19 (NLT), the apostle Paul writes:
“…be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So this notes three types of songs to sing as we make music to the Lord in our praise and worship. Also note that this is referring to corporate times of worship. Paul writes this same thought in Col. 3:16 as well. So if we look into the original language and translations from the Bible, as opposed to our opinions and modern thoughts, what are these three types of songs??
“psalmos” – a striking or twitching with the fingers on musical strings; a sacred song, sung to musical accompaniment, a psalm.
This passage is not referring specifically to singing direct text from the book of Psalms in the Bible. It is more general and is a sacred song, sung with musical accompaniment, or even just instrumental music.
“humnos” – a song of praise addressed to God. Usually people think a hymn is defined as an older church song that is bound in a hardcover book found in their church pew. However, we find that it is really a general label for a song of praise to God. So based on what a hymn actually is, regardless of what some may think, we see that every song that we sing at Church52 is a hymn! :) All of the songs found in traditional hymnals are still good and have their place… I am not dismissing them… but we choose to sing songs here based on what we believe God is leading us to do, regardless of how new or old the song is, who wrote it, or what book it can or can not be found in.
In the New Testament, there are times where the “Psalms” from the Old Testament are referred to as hymns in general. For example, the Last Supper as we read about in Matt. 26:30 (NIV) says “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Contrary to popular belief, they didn’t sing “Amazing Grace” or “There Is Power In The Blood”. While those are great songs… this is just saying that they sang a song of praise. It was likely something found in the book of Psalms, possibly something from chapters 113-118.
3) SPIRITUAL SONGS
“ode” (song) “pneumatikos” (spiritual). Songs that are sung in or by the aid of the Holy Spirit.
In 1 Cor. 14:14-16 (NLT) Paul writes:
“14 For if I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I don’t understand what I am saying. 15 Well then, what shall I do? I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand. 16 For if you praise God only in the spirit, how can those who don’t understand you praise God along with you? How can they join you in giving thanks when they don’t understand what you are saying?”
Spiritual songs could be spontaneous or prophetic in nature. They could be a song sung by the worshiper to God… or could be a song sung by God THROUGH the worshiper. When God sings through a believer, He prophetically reveals His heart to his people. This is done to bring edification, exhortation and comfort to the church. “Spiritual Songs” are often referred to by people as prophetic worship or free worship. In the Bible, I believe often this is referred to as a “new song”.
Psa. 96:1-4 (NIV) “1 Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth…”
Psa. 40:3 (NIV) “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God…”
Psa. 98:1, 4-6 (NIV) “1 Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things…”
Psa. 149:1 (NIV) “Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song…”
What is a “new song”? A prophetic song of praise to the Lord. Prophetic… a song about the future? No, not necessarily. Prophetic is not just about revealing the future, but it is more about revealing Jesus. It is the word of the Lord coming forth through a willing vessel, saying what He wants to be said. Giving direction. Giving correction. In the realm of worship, the prophetic could be anything that further reveals Jesus.
This could be…
- a spontaneous song done at the leading of the Holy Spirit that speaks what the Father’s heart is saying to the body.
- a moment of waiting quietly, maybe silently, as God speaks to our hearts.
- a moment of free worship where we just play and sing freely unto the Lord with no structured song, but just flowing from our hearts, and the Spirit speaks through the worship leaders a message or a prayer that reveals God’s heart for that moment.
- an instrumental break where a musician worships through his/her instrument and that anointed music… without even words… reveals Jesus. The presence of the Lord is being ushered in, just through the playing of that instrument.
We see a couple of examples of this in the Old Testament with Elisha in 2 Kings 3:15 and also with David in 1 Samuel 16:23.
Prophetic worship doesn’t have to be spontaneous though. In preparation for a service, God can lead the worship leader or pastor to do a specific song, human video, maybe something that’s very old, maybe even write a brand new song… and it might be used just in that service and never again. It’s for that time.
As I stated, our goal as we lead worship at Church52 is that the time of worship would be effective… producing a definite or desired result.
The goal and end result should be to connect with God.
Stepping out in this realm of worship is scary. What if no one else goes with me? Sometimes I will have a simple leading to change gears and go in another direction. It may be a specific song… but it may just be a line or two to sing out. But then what? As the leader, I have to be willing to step out and see where God leads from there. Or I can stay in a comfort zone and miss out on what God wanted to do at that moment.
The truth is that when a leader steps out like this, we likely do not see the full picture. We don’t know exactly where things are going… and may not even know the extent of what happened in that moment until people share and testify later.
The purpose of singing psalms, hymns or spiritual songs is not for anyone’s entertainment or to make any individual look good, but it is for effective praise and worship to God.
Rev. 5:9-13 (NIV) talks about the four living beings and the 24 elders around the throne in heaven:
“9 And they sang a NEW SONG, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’ 11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ 13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’”
Lord, may our praise and worship be effective and pleasing to You! As we sing to You a new song, come and inhabit our praises… take us further as we move deeper into Your presence!
Nathan Gifford is the Worship Pastor at Church52 and has been a part of the leadership team since 2007.
Happy New Year! As we start the new year off many folks will be making goals and resolutions, they’ll be starting diets and workout programs, committing to read more, or even just working harder on eliminating bad habits. We all approach the new year with the expectation of something fresh and new (even if we don’t make resolutions).
This series explores the different “shades” of praise and worship that we see throughout the Bible. Where in English we might only see the word translated as “praise” – there are several different meanings that can apply.
Today’s worship word is TOWDAH – Pronounced to-daw’ (8426)
This worship expression uses the lifted hands to express sacrifice, specifically things given up to show thankfulness to God. In a literal sense, the picture we have of this outward worship activity is extending the hands in agreement. In the same way that we understand a handshake as a sign of agreement, the lifting of our hands in worship is an outward sign of our “agreement” with God. [Read more...]
Thanks to Steve Ball for sharing these insights with The Worship Community!
In my view, accountability is very much under-rated and under-valued. Too often I see situations (sadly, too frequently in churches) spiral out of control and eventually cause real damage; and at the heart of the issue is a lack of accountability. Some people may see accountability as a threat, others as a hindrance to their vision or leadership. But I believe if a culture of accountability is developed in any area of life, it can only lead to more positive outcomes – for everyone. [Read more...]
Can Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing Help Bridge the Worship Generation Gap?
Many feel the worship wars have been fought, and that our congregations destined to be divided into ‘traditional’ and ‘contemporary’ forever. The question is – does it have to be so? Perhaps we should take another look at the music and the lyrics we are using and see where that leads us.
This is not a discussion of musical taste and style. I think these are definitely important, but are not the main issue. Style is something that can be easily modified to suit many listeners. In the words of my friend Tom Kline – why do we have more participation singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ at a baseball game than in many churches? What I mean is, a great song is a great song. A great song, with a good hook and a catchy melody, will be sung by everyone. Worship leaders can choose great songs and transcend musical style boundaries. It is not that hard. [Read more...]
Thanks to Steve Ball for sharing this post with TWC. Originally published at: http://stevejball.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/worship-bands-and-exclusivity/
From the age of about eleven I’ve always been involved in playing in a band. In the early days I was the drummer (which may surprise some as I now rarely get to play them!). Other members included bass, piano, sax and singers. After a few years together we even recorded a couple of albums which are thankfully now collecting dust on bookshelves somewhere!
As time went on and we got more involved in worship at church, I was needed to play the piano/keyboards more as we had other good drummer. I also dabbled with the guitar and flute (not at the same time) which was really good fun. I loved exploring new musical ideas and with the tight musical set up that we had, this was easy and very effective. [Read more...]