We want to be relevant with our worship music and need to have spiritually vibrant worship. A church itself is described by many leaders by the musical “ style” offered. There is traditional, gospel, contemporary, and modern as some words to describe just a few of the menu options. Music itself appears to how we brand our worship.If we brand worship as a music style what message does this send? I may have bad news for those who would be so pragmatic. We want something that works. Would we rather have something dumbed-down that we can control, or something that actually is culturally relevant, powerful, or engaging? In a discussion about styles of music in worship, we have to ask about the intent. Why do we want to be germane with our music? My point is clear. It’s complicated.
I will be periodically posting a series of essays this year: "How We Worship Matters: Essays on the Worship Battles We Should Fight."
As human beings, we live in the physical world. Our spirituality is connected to this and there is nothing like the Incarnation to give us a picture of how this mystery exists. Jesus is fully God and fully human. What did Jesus display to us? Spirituality is housed in people, not in stone temples or in only one physical spot.
The arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost only amplified this by entering the life of every believer on the planet. We can now pray in concert with people all over the world because of our connection with the Holy Spirit. Our worship is empowered, no matter at a mountain campground, warehouse turned house of worship, or country chapel.
There are two types of creativity needed as humans. We have presented issues that need addressing and to be creative in this case mean people work to solve what needs to be solved. After all, necessity is the mother of invention. Things that are “needed” get the resources, the cash, the spotlight. This is true in our spiritual leadership, as well. Culturally, we are locked into a love affair with making things “work” which is not entirely a bad thing. The problem comes when the other leg of creativity is neglected and even denounced. You see, aesthetics are hard to justify as expenditures when your only vision of creativity is one of utility. This modernist thinking clashes with our souls, yet we still in our leadership worship "what works."
We all need signs. Where am I? I love the arrows on maps that tell me exactly where I am and the context. Real life scares us because rarely are signs this clear. When it comes to faith, signs were sought by many of our Bible heroes. Whether I am praying and leaving out the fleece at night or putting my fingers into the holes in the hands of Christ, it is all the same. I need to see. Those that truly saw God like Isaiah wreathed in the fetal position. Honestly, I may ask for a sign, but may not want the real deal. If God truly shows up, it seems I might have to change as anyone is “undone” in his presence. This is the reason why Christ came as a baby. God knows we just can't handle it.
Real life is never lived in a straight line. In fact, it's the turns and bends that teach us about who we really are and reveal the Creator’s intervention. I confess that often I forge out straight into the gauntlet, hoping the speed of a dash in the right direction will get to the destination. I might fail as badly as Halo’s Master Chief would if he were to run--outnumbered and out gunned-- directly into the “zombie-fied” flood. Unlike in a video game, there is no replay in life. Or, the replays are very limited. That straight line tactic simply does not work.
I was introduced to new terminology—trailing spouse. This is the marriage partner that is uprooted from his or her job when their spouse moves for work. They are the individuals whose job or career is secondary to the other’s and willingly break what in some cases may be very rewarding work and relationships.
Memories flood at times when a scent arises–catching you off guard. Bacon does this for me. The sacramental experience of our dad’s Saturday breakfast event unfolds for me. With five boys eager as chicks in a nest to feed, our dad would make from scratch his waffles or pancakes, mountain-piled plates of bacon, and potatoes. At times, he even made his own recipe of brown-sugar syrup. The bacon-fat haze in the house was a welcome sight after delivering the local San Jose Mercury newspapers earlier that morning.
There has been a lot of dialog in the Evangelical world in recent years about a war on Christmas. The cry was to say “Merry Christmas” in defiance to something like “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.” Regardless of the words we use, the war on Christmas is fed from law suits to remove civic-sponsored Nativity Scenes and school prohibitions about mentioning the Jesus of Christmas. However problematic the external forces of our society press against a Christ-centered Christmas it may be our in-house disregard of Advent that sets us back. Could our fight for Christmas be a fight against Advent?
The twice Grammy-nominated Small Town Poets are a Georgia based alternative rock group. This is their second Christmas release and the quality and musicianship still shines on this their seventh studio recording. The blend of pop/rock hooks, original songs, and ancient Christmas carols offers a surprisingly cohesive project. Christmas Time Again is something that will not annoy the holiday cynic while delighting the biggest fans of Christmas.
I wanted to write a simple note and simply say thank you to my family, friends and fellow sojourners. Blogging for over nine years brought me encounters with many of you who might have never met. These have proven to be life-changing. My thinking has been challenged and my soul enriched by meaningful conversations and personal encounters. Imagine a pub where good friends hang out and discuss important ideas. This is how the journey has proven to unfold for me here on RKblog.com.
A very well-produced track captures the stadium-filled praise from Time Warner Cable Arena this past August in Charlotte, North Carolina. Elevation Worship represents a thriving local mega-church that has heart for their community yet they surely have something in their worship expression that blesses the greater Body of Christ! This much anticipated project stands out amongst the growing number of modern worship releases for that very reason. You cannot deny the authenticity that something grown local brings. Thankfully, the exponential growth of their franchise has not watered down the passion from Elevation Worship’s earlier releases.
My blog, Rich Kirkpatrick's Blog (RKBLOG.com) has been honored as an Editor's Pick for 2014 in Worship Leader Magazine this month. This recognition is among other worthy bloggers in the online worship community, as well. Here is the full quote from Worship Leader Magazine this month:
Since 2005, Rich Kirkpatrick's blog has consistently been ranked among the top 50 Christian blogs, that and the fact that he is specifically writing from a worship perspective makes the RK blog a must bookmark. He's also a beloved faculty at NWLC (so you can tap into his wisdom both online and in person). - Worship Leader Magazine
There are just so many amazing technology advances today to aid the average church musician. You can get the original multitrack stems from the best recordings of modern worship music and do everything from rehearse with them, sweeten a live set with them, or fill an empty band spot with them. I applaud all of these and actually currently employ them in worship settings. However, how we lead our modern worship musician requires us to ask a couple questions. Are we dumbing-down our ability to lead by relying too much on tech and not enough on musical skill? Are we using musicians to fill a slot in a machine rather than inspiring them to create?
Intergenerational worship is something we all say we value in the local church. But, it is not easy to display in real life. My daughter, Emilie, has led worship with me since she was about 13. Now, with her college work, songwriting, boyfriend and day job it is quite a treat to co-lead with her whenever I can. Ministry, whether as a paid "church worker" or volunteer lay person is a family business. Or, at least I think it should be. Our faith should be passed on not just in word but in deed.
All Sons & Daughters song "Great Are You Lord" is now a Dad & Daughter song as you will see on this recording. How are you living out intergenerational ministry?
No matter the size of your church or worship team, you will have administrative tasks that require diligence. In my book, The Six Hats of the Worship Leader, I make the argument that the job of being a worship leader is beyond being in front of people as you lead them in music. You all know this. However, how do you deal with the details and still remain an artist? This where the hat of the administrator must either be worn, shared, or given away. It is the task who requires hidden work, yet visible results. Imagine if no one shows up for rehearsal. No one gets the calls or emails you make, but the consequences are obvious to all.
The biggest advice here is that administration is all about priorities. One does not get more organized by having a clean desk. We are successful when the right things are performed at the right time. Here are 5 tips to help you solve the dilemma of details for the worship leader.