Worship Devotional-Balance

The following devotional titled "Balance" is an excerpt from an upcoming devotional series on worship from the Active Word. I was blessed to write some of the devotionals in this series.

Colossians 3:16
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

A while ago I was discussing songs with a friend, who asked how a hymn got the label of being a “hymn.” That conversation led us to this passage in Colossians that teaches us how we worship God corporately through music.

You and I know that part of the worship that we offer God is through song. Paul reminds the church that the Word of Christ should dwell in us, through both teaching and singing. He clearly shows us the balanced model of worship through song should include psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Each of these terms has a depth of meaning for us. Psalms are songs of scripture, most notably passages from the book of Psalms. Hymns are songs of celebration-this isn't simply “Amazing Grace,” -the songs we call hymns had yet to be written! And the term songs of the spirit suggests more powerful and intimate songs of reverence and awe.

These categories may overlap but each area contains a unique quality of worship. This threefold approach is designed to reveal His Word dwelling in us through both the truth of the Word and the work of the Spirit. Singing songs of scripture, celebration and the spirit is a healthy and balanced way to honor God in our worship.

Sometimes we can find ourselves having a preference for one of the three over the others, but view that preference as an opportunity to submit our desires and will to the authority of scripture. Consider today how this area of your worship can grow to reflect the truth of His Word, and the leading of the Spirit.

Vision-Part Deux

One of the most important things a worship leader should grasp is this truth:

Your vision must fit together with your pastor's vision.

I share this because I've seen this scenario too many times:

1. Worship leader attends conference/seminar/event.

2. Worship leader is creatively inspired by the passion and excellence of what they see.

3. Worship leader returns to own church and tries to replicate what they saw.

4. Pastor isn't on board with direction the worship goes.

5. Pastor and worship leader disagree on vision-the relationship is strained.

6. Often this scenario ends with arguments, and sometimes with the worship leader leaving the church, usually grumbling about the pastor's lack of vision, or that the church is "stuck" and isn't willing to move forward.

This can play out in almost any church, in any denomination. But, there's hope! Worship leaders can add a few steps into this process, and the whole thing turns out in a way that strengthens and edifies the local church. Here are the keys.

Make sure your vision for worship aligns with the overall vision your Pastor has for the church. Like a puzzle, each piece must fit perfectly with the pieces around it, or chaos ensues. We as worship leaders are prideful if we think we can do whatever we want and not have to submit to the vision of our overseers. For more on that, read Hebrews 13:17.

Pray that your vision is birthed from God, and not simply copied from someone else's vision.
What God is doing in Australia, England, India or California may not be what He's doing in your community. He may not be interested in having you do what someone in Atlanta or Charlotte is doing. God is creative and unique, and He reflects that in the fact that He makes us unique. Pray and chase after God for the vision He wants to birth in you for your church.

What vision does God want to birth in and through you? It's up to you to find out.

Vision-Part One

1. eyesight: the ability to see
2. mental picture: an image or concept in the imagination

When I was in high school, I had to spend a lot of time running. Whether it was on the soccer field or in conditioning drills for basketball, it seemed like I was always running. My dad was a state champion track athlete in high school, and he told me something that I’ll always remember-keep your head up and your eyes forward when you run. Seems simple, doesn’t it? When you keep your head up and your eyes forward, you see your destination. You can picture the end, and you can make adjustments as you chase the goal.

My nephew learned to run with his head down when he was young, and when I saw him run, I realized the wisdom of my dad’s advice. My nephew thought that he could just put his head down and plow through anything-hoping that as long as he kept running he would eventually get to his destination (usually first base). After a couple of collisions and missing the base a time or two, he started to learn to run with his head up and his eyes on the prize.

Often we can do worship ministry without vision, sort of like my nephew running hard. The problem is that when we do that, a lot of energy is expended but we don’t hit our goal. Consider these questions:

What is your vision right now?
Has God given you that vision, or are you copying someone else’s vision?
Do you have smaller steps in place to run towards that final vision?
What are your 1 year, 3 year and 5 year goals for yourself and your ministry?
Have you talked to your pastor about your vision?

My hope is that God has or will birth in your heart a vision for your community-a picture that is so vivid in your imagination that you can’t help but chase after God’s plan for you!

Taking the Long View

I read a powerful quote last week, and it's still resonating with me. The exact quote was this.

"Preachers think Sunday is coming and focus their efforts to prepare the message. Leader's think Jesus is coming and invest their efforts to prepare the people."

I can't get it out of my head, and the truth of the quote requires me to wrestle with the way I approach ministry. Instead of Preachers, you could easily substitute "Music Ministers," and for message, put in "music."

It forces me to step back and take the long view, not the short view. The short-term view is that we need to make sure everything is ready for this coming weekend, and that we all know what's going on, what our tasks are and what our role is supposed to be. And of course, that still remains true! But if we keep getting ready for Sunday, but never think where we are headed or where we want to be headed, like a hamster on it's wheel we can look really busy but never actually get anywhere.

So ask yourself this-am I more focused on preparing for this Sunday's service, or on preparing people? It's not an either/or, but instead a challenge to us to make sure we are taking the long view.

For your consideration.



This weekend, we pause to give thanks for those who so bravely chose to give their own lives for our freedom. I remember as a kid that on Memorial Day weekend (and also July 4 and Veterans Day) our pastor would ask anyone who had served in the armed forces to stand.

From a very young age, I would always look around the room and gaze in awe at the men who stood. Even though it was a small church, there were men there who served in WW2, Korea and Vietnam. I would always end up staring at my grandpa, because I was most proud of him. There he would stand as we would all clap and honor the men who put their lives on the line for us.

Sometimes I'd ask him what it was like to serve, and he'd tell me stories of his time in the army. Those are the times I love to remember. I'm proud of men like him, men like my uncle David, who spent 20+ years in the army.

Thank a vet today, and pause long enough to say a prayer for the families of our fallen soldiers. For in Iraq, Afghanistan and many other places today, they are still serving and some are still paying the ultimate price.

Books I'm Reading

Someone famous once said that leaders are readers. I don't know if that's true, but it rhymes-which makes it catchy!

When I read a lot of books in my youth, it made me a nerd. I'm not sure how later in life it qualifies me to be a leader, but it definitely helps me think and approach theology, worship and leadership from different perspectives. I read (finish) one book a week, but at any given time I could be in the middle of a few different ones. These are the texts I'm wrestling through right now.

We Have Seen His Glory-Ben Witherington III

I'm trying to tackle this one in order to use it as a textbook for my classes at
Ocean's Edge School of Worship this fall. Great premise for worship perspective-I'm about halfway through and I'm loving it!

One Minute Manager-Ken Blanchard

I'm always looking for help becoming a better leader of people and manager/steward of their talents, gifts and resources. This is a classic but I've never read it before, so I started it this week. Recommended to me by my boss, Pastor Clay Hecocks.

Orthodoxy- G.K. Chesterton

This guy is brilliant, and most of his philosophical arguments are filled with humor and sarcasm. I'd put him right up there with C.S. Lewis when it comes to brilliant theologians and philosophers, although I can read Lewis in bigger chunks it seems. I've been working on this one for a while now, and the content is solid.

Prayer (to God) is becoming illegal

It's interesting when 2 things that are protected by the Constitution (Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion) collide with a statement that isn't found anywhere in our country's documents (separation of church and state).

We're headed down a slippery slope when senior citizens at a senior center aren't allowed to pray out loud for their meals because part of the meal is subsidized by federal funds.

Read the story here. And keep praying!