In the original post, “Five BAD Ideas to Make Your Worship Services FAKE,” I discussed some ways of thinking that seem to reinforce inauthentic worship. Hundreds of shares and thousands of readers later, the new year has brought us a new and even worse list! I know, it’s not the best moment to be negative with our discourse in the public arena these days. However, a new year brings with it an opportunity to evaluate and refocus our worship leadership. And, it is important to find a clear way to articulate what we may actually be feeling—for better or worse. If we can form a lingo to describe something very subjective like our worship services, then it helps us to clarify where our closely held values come into play. 1. You use EDM-pop dance worship music written and recorded for a youth-oriented market for your intergenerational congregation. If we don’t have inspiration from our younger sounds, we end up isolating ourselves. However, if your church’s average attendee is 45-plus and you target 17 in your worship music you are probably creating a group of worshippers who try very hard to connect to what they are asked to sing, but most likely don’t. That can feel rather fake! In some settings, anything with a beat is called for! But, I have seen many services where the…
Photo Credit Sophia Louise Creative Commons It was repeated several times in a church staff meeting, so it was nothing new this time. The pastor instructed us to essentially be his “amen corner” during the sermon and exuberant charismatics during the musical time of the service. Laugh, visibly take notes, and clearly “leading” the crowd around you to respond to the platform. Of course, if the staff were lazy slobs and sleeping during the sermon and eye-rolling at the worship leader I might expect a reprimand. But, it was clear the goal was to create a more charismatic response through manipulation rather than instruction. Might the congregation say amen if the sermon was better delivered? Might the church sing louder if they were invited rather than coaxed into it? Authoritarianism Versus Egalitarianism In 2015, a movie called The Experimenter told the story of famous social psychologist Stanley Milgram. His experiments on obedience are legendary. These were the ones, if you recall, where a subject was a “teacher” who zapped the person in the other room with ever-increasing voltage. The test responses if in error or silence were punished. Most participants went all the way to the end, where the man in the other room went from pleading, screaming, to silent non-responsiveness. The moral choice to fulfill the experimenter’s wishes outweighed the well-being of the man…
Social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are now not only personal expressions but company branding machines. With the proliferation of this new media, I have identified five sins that create weak impact—unless you are into rewarding stupidly bad behavior. And, they drive me crazy! The dark side of social media might hurt you more than help. Many companies see added stats to follower lists, but do they know that their supposed social media manager is cheating a system instead of engaging people?
In our society, what works and produces profit is what we value. While we hunger for a post-modern identity and story, the structures, all around us scream utility, conformity and results. Money rules. This might even be true in our houses of worship as we may have unintentionally turned business metrics on our expression of worship. The question is this: do we value utility more than beauty in our worship? The answer is that our culture-infused church in modern America apparently does.
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.
I know in the title it says this will save you some pain. To be honest, I am in pain. Often, I read status updates or tweets that cause hives or indigestion. Those of us who are Christian’s at times tend to spiritualize banal activity online. How can some of us be so naive to use our social media immaturely, expressing our thoughts like ill-timed flatulence? I cannot answer that, but hope these ten guidelines save pain–for all of our sakes!
If you are not familiar with the term “Streisand Effect” and you work in leadership where you certainly deal with church communications you are missing a very important phenomena in our culture today. Barbara Streisand in 2003 sued a photographer in order to ban her coastline home from public exposition on a website about soil erosion. As the story goes, only six downloads of the photo existed, with two downloads of the photo logged by the plaintiff attorney regarding the case in question. Due to the notion of a impending banned photo, the public downloaded the photo 420,000 times within the next month.
I am writing this to my core audience of creative leaders who are faith-based, but any business or non-profit leader can learn from this. If you are tired of being beaten up by all the reasons why you SHOULD do Twitter, then this post is surely for you.
There are many land mines for the worship leader who serves as the church lead musician each week in front of the congregation. Those who attend have opinions that range from personal preference to theological heresy. Add to that the job of working with the lead pastor and staff team who have their own ideas. Often, opinions and directives fly in the direction of a worship leader with little dished out in the other direction. Why? Well, it is a dangerous proposition to do so. I know this because I talk to worship leaders on a regular basis from all over the place and have been in that seat for many years. Here are four questions I chose that a lot of worship leaders might relate to that will help bring up the conversation in your setting. Let me know what you think. After all, open dialog is important in learning and leading. So, after reading this, please give me your input! Why do we have a weekend (or Sunday) service? I’m sure there are traditional, theological, and practical reasons as to why this happens. But, how do we explain it to our people? Yes, there are components to a worship service. There are biblical grounds for teaching, worship, prayer, and the gathering itself. In a particular denomination, there are clear lines relating to tradition…
Rage quitting to those who are gamers is when a player out of disgust at being utterly dominated by the other team abruptly exits the game. If you are online playing Modern Warfare 3, for instance, in your headset you can here the chuckles when such an event occurs. “Oh, wow, he rage quit…loser!” None of us like being the loser. But, some of us have a hard time staying in the game when we are not at our best. Perfectionism, pride, and lack of restraint keep us from sticking things out. In real life this looks something like an employee who after having a bad season, disappears. Or, it is like a young couple dating that has their first fight, suddenly then seeing one party break up the relationship. You attempt prayer to overcome an issue in your life, then you mess up once again. You quit praying. You quit attending church. All of these relational rage quits come out of impulse. You mean well. And, usually you do well. But, there is always that time when something unexpected hits you. Your ranking on the leaderboard begins to lag and you take you ball and go home. Tenacity is a sign of self-control. Patiences and self-control are fruits of the Spirit. So, in order to stick things through we need more than our own…