Still waters, in a literal sense, are waters that flow slowly and serenely—an image that is beautifully depicted in Psalm 23:3, "He leads me besides still waters. He restores my soul."
We all need a little more solitude in our lives. We also need a little more community as well. The more I experience life as a Christian the more I truly believe that communal spirituality fuels our individual spirituality and individual spirituality fuels our communal spirituality. We need both. Just like how introverts need a little more extrovertism in their lives, and how most extroverts need to learn to calm down.
I’m a pastor in a small church north of Boston, MA. Our congregation is full of very different people… Diversity across age, race, IQs, education levels, income brackets… And yet, as worship leaders and pastors, we’re tasked with sharing the Good News of God’s redeeming love, each weekend, in a relevant, engaging way.
I recently had the privilege of hanging out with about 20 dedicated volunteers who serve the worship ministry of their congregation, one that worships nearly 1,000 people each week. Their worship pastor had just moved on to a new church and, before launching a search for a new one, we thought it best to have a conversation with those most involved in the ministry
It’s mid-March and Easter is right around the corner. If you’re part of a larger church with good structure and organization, you’ve probably been talking about Easter since Christmas. If you’re part of a smaller church (like me!) with less structure and organization, there’s a chance it’s barely crossed your mind yet.
I found it in an antique store. I was there to shop for my wife’s birthday, but heard the siren song of an old bookshelf filled with old books and was lured into complete distraction. I stood shuffling through the collection, amused by the lack of organization. Julia Childs cookbook next door to a Ronald Reagan biography, giant hardback coffee table book shoulder to shoulder with a Louis L’amour paperback. Dostoyevsky sandwiched between The Hardy Boys. It was like literature whiplash.
My favorite movie of all time is unashamedly Back to the Future (and for the record, I consider all 3 movies to be one continuous film).
For those of you who have been living under a rock since 1985, Back to the Future is a story about a teenager named Marty McFly (played by Michael J Fox) who time travels in a DeLorean with the help of scientist Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown (played by Christopher Lloyd). The movie is filled with time traveling adventures to the past as well as to the future.
We've all been there. We posted the song on Planning Center in the key of F, (and everyone learned it in F), then on Sunday morning the vocalist can't hit the high-note. She needs it dropped to the key of E... Or, in the middle of rehearsal, you realize it'd be great to flow from one song into the next, but you learned one in the key of B and the other is the key of C. Do you need to run back into the church office and print out new chord charts for the band?
Tragedy struck a family in our church and, while visiting their house, I was called upon to lead worship for a room of grieving family members, with no monitors, no lights, no haze, no band, no confidence monitor, and no advance notice.
And in that moment I found myself with nothing to sing and even less to say.
I remember strumming very poorly through part of a hymn, mumbling a prayer, and leaving the house crushed by my inability to pastor these beautiful people during this precious moment in their lives I had been invited into. Of course, they were incredibly gracious, but I knew that I had failed.
As I’ve led worship increasingly in various countries and foreign cultures in the past few years, I’ve had the chance to not only share some of the worship songs God’s been using in my local community, but I’ve also had the distinct privilige of hearing some of the indigenous worship songs that are being written around the world.
I’ve long loved Psalm 34:1, “I will praise You at all times, your praise will continually be on my lips.” I want to praise God at all times—not just the good times, or easy times—but I so often fail to. I often default to whining, not worshiping. I often complain, rather than consistently praise God in faith. “The Valley” is an aspirational prayer that aims to determine: no matter what comes my way, I choose to bring you praise.
Whether we like it or not, worship leaders are theologians. They are shaping the theology of every believer with every song they sing. This is a terrifying reality and responsibility. Many of us in the 10,000 Fathers community say it this way: we need a generation of worship leaders who aren’t just leaders of songs, but leaders of people.
Without question, male worship leaders dominate the stage in our worship gatherings, leaving little room for gifted and anointed female worship leaders to join in. If a female worship leader (without a sort of “male chaperone”) is actually found leading a congregation, it’s a rare and beautiful thing to witness...
We were backstage at a massive event a few years ago. I was about to lead worship for around 3,500 people in the room, and another 100,000 (!) people watching online. In-demand preachers were slated to preach. We were going through the program beforehand, getting on the same page regarding all of the cues, transitions, and last-minute details. The producer of the event asked me what I planned to do for the opening worship set...