Posts Tagged ‘church’

What is “Blended Worship”?

Blended worship is essentially a blending of the two major ways of thinking about worship: aesthetic and kinesthetic. Aesthetic worship emphasizes beauty and order, while kinesthetic worship emphasizes the experience and participation of the worshiper. When these are blended, it can take many forms, yet these foundations remain the same. In this presentation, we will examine some of the foundations and motivations of blended worship designs, along with challenges and examples of these designs.

An Overview of Worship Renewals of the 21st Century

Blended worship is linked to the major events of both the liturgical and contemporary worship renewal movements in the 21st century (Exploring the Worship Spectrum, pg. 175).

The Renewal of Liturgical Worship
  • In the 21st century liturgical worship can be characterized as:
    • Tied into a print form of communication
    • Service structure is predictable and executed based on a pattern.
    • Worship is isolationist in nature.
  • These three principles drove the worship structure until the 1960’s during Vatican II and the Roman Catholic reforms. Reforms that came from this include:
    • Worship is put into the language of the people and simplified.
    • Focused on the renewal of theology, architecture, style, and environment.
  • These reforms took root in the Protestant denomination in 6 different ways:
    • There is new concern to restore the theology of worship.
    • There is new attention to the historic pattern of worship.
    • The Lord’s Supper of reexamined.
    • The Christian year is restored.
    • New discussion and questions about the role of music and the arts of worship appear.
    • The desire to include the entirety of the congregation in the worship experience.
The Renewal of Contemporary Worship
  • Three movements lead into the renewal of contemporary worship:
    • Azusa Street and the Pentecostal Movement beginning in 1906.
    • Latter Rain Movement, known of it’s spontaneous worship.
    • The rise of the chorus tradition which lead to the more current rock band style popularized by the Vineyard movement.
The Blending of Worship

“Blended worship brought the content of the liturgical movement and the experience of the contemporary movement together.” (Exploring the Worship Spectrum, pp. 177-178)

This blending began in 1987, where national worship was led by Maranatha! to explore what the blending of these two worship forms could bring.

“Blended worship at its best is substance and relevance, truth and experience, divine and human.” (Exploring the Worship Spectrum, p. 179)

Blended worship is a combination of the strengths of the other forms of worship. (Exploring The Worship Spectrum, p. 176)

• Liturgical tradition—emphasis on beauty
• Reformed tradition—emphasis on the centrality of the Word
• Anabaptist tradition—concern for community and discipleship within worship
• Restorationist tradition—commitment to weekly Communion
• Revivalist tradition (Baptists, Methodists, evangelicals)—concern to move toward the invitation and call sinners to repentance
• Holiness tradition—emphasis on the need to break through and achieve sanctification in worship
• African-American tradition—emphasis on soul worship


Motivations of Blended Worship

Blended worship ultimately comes from a heart to unite the Church, rather than to segment it because of preferences in worship. In joining elements of both the aesthetic and the kinesthetic together into one worship service, generations can be drawn together. Also, the best of each worship tradition can be valued and shared with the other. Those of the traditional or aesthetic tradition have the opportunity to learn from and value the fervency and passion of the kinesthetic tradition. Those of the contemporary or kinesthetic tradition have the opportunity to learn from and value the love of truth and beauty of the aesthetic tradition. Multiple generations can learn from one another, and legacy can be shared in this context, which would not be possible if the different generations and traditions were segregated from one another based on their respective preferences.


Difficulties of Blended Worship

Blended worship can easily fall into the trap of seeking to please everyone, rather than leading a congregation toward a God-given vision for the church. A worship leader considering blended worship must be careful to not simply use it because it is the best “compromise,” but rather because it follows the leading it makes the most sense in the current worship environment for their particular congregation.

Blended worship is not meant to be a “catering” to needs or wants, but rather a leading the church into unity and leading one generation toward the other. The target is not the pleasure of the congregation (making everyone happy) but on unity. If blended worship devolves into a means to please people, then it misses the mark, and settles for far less than it can be. This is a common issue in blended worship environments. In order for blended worship to work, everyone in the congregation will have to make some sort of sacrifice and give something up, in order to serve one another.

Another difficulty of blended worship is in forming a team that can confidently and skillfully lead a congregation in multiple styles of music from multiple generations. The music of one generation or another can easily be done poorly, and the people can smell a fake. It then seems disengenuous, and it disengages the congregation, rather than engaging them together. Care must be given to the presentation of the various styles within a service, to ensure that each is an authentic and skillful representation of the media.

  • Achieving cohesiveness with varying styles
  • Many congregants remain unsatisfied with the mixed style offering
  • Invites criticism of the unpreferred style
  • Presenting multiple styles with one, unified team
  • Team talent limitations
  • Sacrifice of team members to play other styles which are less desirable to them
  • Some songs/styles are more difficult to lead than others
  • Requires adaptability and flexibility on team


Examples of Blended Worship

The description “blended worship” covers a broad sweep of churches and worship services, which can range from mostly traditional to mostly contemporary, while including aspects of both. The flow of blended worship environments also depends on the tradition from which they are born. Some spring out of very liturgical, aesthetic tradition, while others spring from more of a revivalist tradition, all of which influences the look and feel of how they design and lead a blended worship offering. Below are some examples of blended worship.

General Blended Worship Outline from Exploring The Worship Spectrum

– Preservice music
– First set of music
– Prayer/Welcome
– Second set of music
– Sermon
– Invitation
– Offering
– Decisions affirmed by church
– Benediction

Another example from the text

– Gathering Songs
– Entrance Hymn with Procession (The experience of coming before God)
– Greeting, Call to Worship, and Invocation
– Songs of Praise and Worship (The experience of God’s transcendence)
– Confession and Forgiveness (The experience of God’s forgiveness and relationship)
– Opening Prayer (Transition to the Word)

Other Examples of Blended Worship Service Designs
Design by Brandon Cullum

Prelude – Great is Thy Faithfulness
Special Music – The Heart of Worship
Welcome and Greeting – led by Pastor
Worship through Music
– From the Inside Out
– How Great is our God
– Great is Thy Faithfulness
Scripture Reading  – Psalms 48:10 – led by Elder
Offertory – instrumental
Worship through Music –  Awesome is the Lord Most High
Sermon – Pastor
Invitation – Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
Benediction – led by Pastor

Design by Bill Horn 

Pre-service – Video Countdown
Call to Worship – Ps. 96:1-4
Worship Through Singing
– Sing to the King
– On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand
Prayer/Welcome/ Time of Greeting – Lead Pastor
Worship Through Singing
– You Never Let Go
– It Is Well
Worship Through the Word – James 1 – “Faithful” – Lead Pastor
Response – ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
Worship Through Giving – In Christ Alone
Benediction – Lead Pastor

Design by Adam Gillespie

Pre-Service Music – The Family of God (Instrumental)
Welcome / Prayer – Deacon of the Week
Expressions of Praise – Music Minister
– We are God’s People (Hymn 383)
– Oh, How I Love Jesus
– Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine (Hymn 334)
Special Music / Testimony – Praise Band
– Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)
Proclamation of God’s Word – Eph. 1:7-10 – “How Great Is Our God!” – Lead Pastor
Invitation to Respond – Just a Closer Walk With Thee
Worship Through Giving – Take My Life
Presentation of Decisions and Closing Prayer
Closing Song – The Family of God (instrumental)

Resources and References for learning more about Blended Worship

Referenced in this presentation:

Exploring the Worship Spectrum. Paul A. Basden, ed.  Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2004.

Other Resources:

Books

Holy Gatherings by Michael Sharp and Argile Smith

Unceasing Worship, by Harold M. Best

Christ-Centered Worship by Bryan Chapell

Engaging With God by David Peterson

Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin

Worship By The Book, edited by D.A. Carson

Planning Blended Worship: The Creative Mixture of Old and New by Robert Webber

Articles

Gary Hollingsworth – Moving from traditional to blended worship
In this article Gary outlines 10 steps when making the transition from traditional to blended:

  1. Take Your Time
  2. Do Your Homework
  3. Know Where You are Headed
  4. Work to Earn Trust
  5. Expect Challenge
  6. Transition Is a Prcoess, Not an Event
  7. Call the Right Personnel
  8. Don’t Compromise Quality
  9. Understand Techincal issues
  10. Be Prayerful and Careful

David Burroughs – The Brouhaha About Blended Worship
In this article from beliefnet.com gives a great overview of the current trends, benefits and concerns over blended worship.  There is a great emphasis on unity between the older and younger generation and how Blended worship seek to bridge the gap that exists between generations as well as between typical service times.

Presentation created by Bill Horn, Brandon Cullum, and Adam Gillespie for Dr. Gregory Woodward and Dr. Gary Dennis, for the course Worship Leadership of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary 

This weekend, we focused on John 12, looking at Mary’s offering of worship as she anointed Jesus’ feet with her costly perfume. Joe preached about dying to oneself in order to come alive to Christ, and giving of our selves to gain more of Christ. In order to grow deeper in Christ, we have to become less. We were all challenged to make Jesus our treasure. You can listen to the entire message here.

Here’s our service plan from this weekend:

Time of Preparation/Prayer
“Jesus, You” (E) [original]
Call to Worship
“Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)” (G) [Paul Baloche]
Welcome/Greeting Time
“Glory to God Forever” (A) [Steve Fee, Vicky Beeching]
“Because of Your Love” (G) [Phil Wickham]
“Son of God” (G) [Tim Neufeld, Jon Neufeld, Ed Cash]
Prayer
Message – John 12:1-8, 13-20 [Joe Hishmeh]
Offering/Video/Announcements
Response/Closing Time

“Take My Life And Let It Be” (D) [Frances Ridley Havergal, Henri Abraham Cesar Malan]

Dismissal

“Jesus, You” – We opened our preparation time with this song. This is a song that I wrote as I was studying and teaching through the book of Romans a few years ago while serving in Gainesville, FL. This was the first time we have sung it here at Fellowship, and I thought it was fitting for our time of preparation. The song was written in Gb, but we brought it down to E to make it a little more mellow, and also to make it a little easier to sing with (eventually, as people pick it up). The song has an unconventional structure, so I’m not sure how it will function as a corporate worship song. The change may be beneficial in that it shakes us up from what we consider “normal.” Regardless, I think it is worth the effort, so we’ll try it a few more times to see how the congregation takes a hold of it. I really enjoyed doing this song with just acoustic, vocals, and keys, and I think it worked really well as a preparation song, getting us focused on the gospel. Here’s the lyric:

Jesus, You
Words and Music by Bill Horn

Verse 1
Who can rescue man from sin?

Who can break him from this hopeless prison?
Who can bear the wrath ahead?
Who can make him live, though he’s long been dead?

Verse 2
Who could light the darkest night?

Who could speak a word, that death would turn to life?
Who could heal this hopeless pain?
Who could make it right, and make me live again?

Refrain
You, Jesus, You

Verse 3
Death reigned and all men died

‘Til You paid the promised price
The ransom of Your life
Most holy sacrifice

Verse 4
But the grave could not contain

The Lamb who bore my stain
You died and rose again

Refrain
You, Jesus, You

Verse 5
Now, Death, where is your sting?

You send me home
Where forever I will sing

Refrain
You, Jesus, You

“Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)” – This was our call to worship song this week, and I think it is perfect for that part of the service. Musically, it begins with sort of a stirring feeling, and lyrically it calls us into greater praise of our God and invites Him to have His way in us because He is the one who saves us. Another reason we sang this song was because the focus passage included Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as King, where the people shouted “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel” (John 12:13). It was the right way to start our services this weekend. This is a favorite among our people, as we always get engaged quickly in singing it together.

“Glory to God Forever” – We only did this song at the 7 PM and 9 AM services, because we had child dedications in its place during the other services. It has almost been two months since we last sang this song. For the focus of this weekend, giving our lives and our resources to grow deeper in Christ, this song was a fitting call for us to offer our lives for His glory as living offerings of worship. Jesus is worthy.

“Because of Your Love” – I love this song because it makes clear the reason for our living a life of obedience. We follow Him, not because we have to earn our way into favor with God (we cannot), but because He loved us with such an amazing love as demonstrated on the cross. Our obedience and our worship is our response to what God has already done for us. I tried to emphasize this thought throughout our time together, both through the songs and in the things I said between the songs. This song is still a little unfamiliar to our congregation, but I think we are starting to sing it better together.

“Son of God” – This is a clear and somewhat comprehensive song of praise to Jesus Christ. It points to Christ’s deity, His sacrifice on the cross, His power, His fulfillment of prophecy, and His unique worth. We connected this song with “Because of Your Love,” emphasizing again that the giving of our lives to God and for HIs purposes is our response to who Jesus is and what He has done for us. This is a favorite of our congregation, and it’s for good reason.

“Take My Life And Let It Be” – We responded to God’s Word with this song. I can’t think of a greater hymn for the purpose of giving our lives to the Lord as living offerings of worship. It covers all the bases: our lives, our time, our hands, our feet, our voices, our lips, our money, and our minds. Our keyboardist, Cory Zipperle, had some great ideas about changing the arrangement up (especially the vamps between verses), and I think it gave it more of a reflective tone. It was a great fit to respond to the message today.

This was a great weekend of worshiping our Savior. Our team did a great job, and our congregation was engaging in each of the four services. I’m thankful for what the Lord is doing in us.

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were.

In the Son,

Bill

p.s. don’t forget to check out The Worship Community!

Here’s our set from this weekend:

“God Is Alive” (A) [Steve Fee and Eddie Kirkland]
Call to Worship – Psalm 96:1-4, 10a
“Say, Say” (A) [Kristian Stanfill, Chris Tomlin, and Christy Nockels]
Welcome/Offering/Announcements/Greeting
“Everlasting God” (Bb) [Brenton Brown and Ken Riley]
“It Is Well” (Bb) [Todd Fields, Philip Paul Bliss, and Horatio G. Spafford]
“Stronger” (Bb) [Ben Fielding and Reuben Morgan]
Message – “I Believe: Questions & Answers” [Joe Hishmeh]
Response – “All To Us” [Matt Maher, Matt Redman, Jesse Reeves, and Chris Tomlin]

This week we introduced Steve Fee and Eddie Kirkland’s “God Is Alive” to our congregation. We began teaching it today in preparation for Easter. I cannot think of a more fitting lyric for celebrating Christ’s victory over sin and death through His death and resurrection. I think it is one of the best modern songs that have been written for Easter. The solid lyric and high energy of the song  are a perfect fit for celebrating Jesus’ resurrection:

“God Is Alive”

Verse 1
Let the darkness flee
It’s got no power over me
I have been set free
God is alive

Verse 2
Death where is your sting?
Sin had got no hold on me
I am free indeed
God is alive

Pre-Chorus
We’ve been redeemed
So rise and sing

Chorus
Everyone, glorify the risen Son
The Holy One has overcome
Jesus is alive
The enemy is broken underneath His feet
Death is crushed in victory
Jesus is alive, Jesus is alive

Verse 3
Let us wake and rise
Lift your voices, lift your eyes
We’re gonna shout, we’re gonna shake the skies
God is alive

Bridge
The empty grave is singing now
It’s shouting out
He is alive, He is alive
And we are free

We also brought back “Say Say” for the closing message of our “I Believe” series. It is a fitting declaration for this series, as it sings in the chorus: “Say, say, say you believe it/ Sing for the whole world to hear it/ We know and we declare it/ Jesus is King/ Say, say, say you believe it/ Sing loud, sing like you mean it/ We know and we declare it/ Jesus is King.” After doing this series for ten weeks, this is where we must land. After all we have seen and heard about the greatness of God, the proper response is to go out a proclaim the truth and greatness of the name of Jesus and His gospel to the world. We need to know what we believe to be able to communicate that message clearly to others.

This week, we also introduced our new pastor of ministries, J.D. Holt. He just finished making the 2100-mile trip from Bellingham, WA to Topeka to begin working with us. I am excited about having him on our team, and about the leadership and experience he will bring to managing our staff team. He’s a great guy, and I really look forward to getting to know him and his wife, Christy. I was nervous as we were searching for the man to fill this role, as my experience has shown it to be crucial to the personality of the staff team. I believe our prayers have been answered in J.D., and we are very grateful!

After the welcome time, we started the second set of music with “Everlasting God.” From Isaiah 40, this song paints a powerful picture of God and His attributes. As we sing the chorus, “You are the everlasting God/ The everlasting God/ You do not faint, You won’t grow weary/ You’re the defender of the weak/ You comfort those in need/ You lift us up on wings like eagles,” I cannot help but see not only a description of God’s greatness, but a call to God’s people to be like their heavenly Father. As I sing, I feel challenged to defend the weak and comfort those in need as I am strengthened by the Lord. This song is a favorite of our congregation, and I don’t mind at all – this is a solid song from the Scriptures that speaks of the unchanging, everlasting greatness of our God.

We followed this song with Todd Field’s hymn rewrite, “It Is Well.” I have said it before, but I’ll say it again: this is one of my favorite hymn rewrites. It preserves the original verses intact, with a very cool acoustic arrangement underneath, has a very fitting new chorus, and it even includes the original hymn’s refrain at the end. I love how it ties the old and the new in a fresh way. It always brings us to worship as we celebrate God’s faithfulness.

We finished this set with “Stronger,” by Reuben Morgan and Ben Fielding. We’re dusting this one off for Easter, because it is a clear anthem about God’s great power to save and conquer sin and death. This was the first time I have led this song with a band. It was one that I began teaching in one venue where I was previously, but I never had the opportunity to bring it into our main services because I ran out of time. I love the chorus: “You are stronger/ You are stronger/ Sin is broken/ You have saved me/ It is written/ Christ is risen/ Jesus, You are Lord of all.” The use of the word “stronger” is refreshing, because it takes the common “mighty” or “powerful” ideas and uses our current language to express it. This song reminds me to write in such a way that captures the truth of the Scripture in vibrant, current language that our congregations can take hold of and sing from their hearts. It is easier for the “average Joe” to connect with words we normally use than it is to connect with erudite language. This song does that well.

We finished the services with “All To Us,” which also effectively connects with the sum of this “I Believe” message series. I struggled with using this song in the beginning, because when the phrase “all to us” is taken at face value, it could be easily misunderstood to mean something like, “God exists for our sakes.” However, its meaning is more along the lines of, “God is everything to us.” He is our sufficiency and our strength, our foundation and our confidence. May this truly be our declaration, that God is our everything. He is the only one that we need. He is the only one on whom our hope should be built.

It was a great weekend of worship. Zach Pruett stepped up and played bass for the first time in our weekend services, and he did a great job, after only playing bass for five months! Bob Fulmer did a great job adjusting to the click track for the first time ever. His attitude was admirable in saying, “It will make me a better player.” I hope for each of us that difficulties and challenges are seen as opportunities to better ourselves and to better serve our church and the kingdom of God with our abilities. The rest of the team did a great job, as usual, and it was a great joy to lead with them again. Our tech team is so faithful to do a great job each week, and they make it easy for each of us to do our part. I feel that each week we are strengthening and improving, and there are great things on the horizon for this worship and arts ministry. Also, the Aviom system continues to be an asset to give us more time to rehearse and prepare for the weekend, and that has been very apparent in the way we play.

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were. Please visit The Worship Community to check out their Sunday Set Lists to see what other leaders and team members did this weekend in their contexts. Leave your comments below and join the conversation about our worship ministry and the songs we sing together.

In the Son,

Bill

Here’s our set from this weekend:

Pre-Service Song- “Your Grace is Enough” (G) [Matt Maher]
Call to Worship
“Holy is the Lord” (G) [Chris Tomlin, Louie Giglio]
Welcome/Intro Special Guest
Video – Trash Mountain Project, “DR Thank You”
Guest – Brett Durbin, President of Trash Mountain Project
Announcements/Greeting Time
“Glory to God Forever” (A) [Steve Fee, Vicky Beeching]
“Our God” (A) [Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin]
“Lead Me to the Cross” (D) [Brooke Fraser]
Message – “I Believe: God Empowers (Sanctification)” [Brian Tryhus]
Response – “Take My Life and Let It Be” (D) [Frances Ridley Havergal and Henri Abraham Cesar Malan]

This weekend we focused on how God empowers believers in the process of sanctification. Brian did a great job unpacking the truth of this doctrine, making it clear and laying all the cards on the table so everyone could understand it. I can honestly say that his message was one of the clearest explanations of sanctification I have heard. It’s a beautiful thing. I thought the songs that were planned communicated the same message well, and that the whole was unified and clear that our God is holy, and He is the one who makes us holy.

We also had my close friend, Brett Durbin, in to share about something happening with his missions organization (Trash Mountain Project). They have begun a child sponsorship program in which every dollar goes to feed and educate a child in the Dominican Republic called “Kids With a Hope.” Our church’s goal this weekend was to sponsor every child they have left to sponsor at the facility, which was somewhere around 140 kids. His organization has taken a risk and has not incorporated any administrative fees into the sponsorship fee, so every dollar goes to the kids. The sponsorship is $34 per month – $28 for food (2 meals and a snack per day) and $6 for education costs. In my family, we have been considering doing a sponsorship for a while, for our daughter to get connected to what God is doing in the rest of the world, so this was a no brainer. We are excited to finally find the right child to support, and we are excited that it is connected with Trash Mountain. Because of my daughter’s enthusiasm, I had to fight to hold it together during the last service this weekend. When she found out we were going to be sponsoring a child this morning, she ran upstairs and grabbed her piggy bank and said, “I want to give them all my money!” While it was only a few dollars, her generosity was truly beautiful. I am so proud of her. I was overwhelmed with thanksgiving for what God is doing in her life.

As far as the music part of worship goes, it was a great weekend. A highlight for me was when Sarah Oldberg and the band did a fantastic job on “Lead Me to the Cross,” which was a great connection with Brian’s message. He emphasized Romans 12:1-2, where Paul calls the church to offer their lives as living sacrifices. I took that and connected it with Jesus’ call to take up our cross daily and follow Him before we sung this song. I really love this song and its message, and how it connected with the weekend’s focus.

We spent most of the morning on songs that celebrate God’s grace, holiness, and greatness. We opened the pre-service time with Matt Maher’s “Your Grace Is Enough.” This was the first week that I didn’t sing the additional choruses from Chris Tomlin’s version, because I felt that they were more complicated and would make it more difficult for our people to participate. I think it was a good decision, and I will continue to sing it with just Maher’s chorus. After the call to worship, we moved to “Holy is the Lord,” which is a great and simple celebration of God’s holiness and the fact that His name will go out over all the earth. One day, everyone will understand His holiness.

The rest of the set consisted of “Glory to God Forever” and “Our God,” which each have elements of recognizing God’s greatness and of challenging us to go in boldness for His kingdom. The bridge of “Glory to God Forever” has become my favorite part of the song, and I consistently call our people to make this our prayer: “Take my life and let it be/ All for You and for Your glory/ Take my life and let it be Yours.” The only thing I would have changed would be the key. We tried these again in the key of A, when we have been doing them in the key of G most recently. There are parts of these songs that extend out of most people’s reach, so I think we’ll return to G in the future with these songs.

We also introduced an arrangement of “Take My Life and Let It Be,” which I have taken (and modified slightly) from Andrew Osenga from his days with The Normals. I have always loved this treatment of this great hymn, and it was a perfect opportunity to bring it in, because it really tied in with Brian’s message, and where he landed it. It is a great prayer for us to pray, as it focuses on different areas of our lives and how we can give them over to God and His purposes. The writers mention our lives, our hands, our feet, our mouths, our intellect, and our resources as means for worshiping God and building the kingdom of God –

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee
Take my moments and my days
Let them flow in ceaseless praise
Let them flow in ceaseless praise

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee
Swift and beautiful for Thee

Take my voice and let me sing
Always, only, for my King
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee
Filled with messages from Thee

Take my silver and my gold
Not a mite would I withhold
Take my intellect and use
Ev’ry power as You choose
Ev’ry power as You choose

May this be the prayer of our lives, that every aspect of us would be poured out as an offering of worship to our great God!

In the Son,

Bill
p.s. Be sure to check out what other leaders did this weekend at Sunday Set Lists!

Here’s our set from this week:

Pre-Service: “Happy Day” [Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon]
Call to Worship – Psalm 66:1-4
“Hosanna (Praise is Rising)” [Paul Baloche, Brenton Brown]
Welcome/Announcements/Greeting
“You Alone Can Rescue” [Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin]
“It is Well” [Todd Fields, Horatio G. Spafford]
Message – I Believe We Respond: Salvation
Lord’s Supper – “Just As I Am” [Charlotte Elliott, William Bradbury]
Response – “Jesus Messiah” [Daniel Carson, Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, and Jesse Reeves]

This was another great weekend of worship, and we continue to build momentum. People continue to participate more, and respond to worship God through music and the Word. I am also learning more about, and getting more connected with, our people and our team. I am happy with our progress, and with what is happening when we gather each week. This week we also celebrated the Lord’s Supper/communion, which is always a sweet time where we focus on remembering what God has done to redeem us. It was especially significant this week, because it followed Joe’s talk about salvation, and how we respond in faith and repentance to what Jesus Christ has done for us.

We repeated “Happy Day” in the pre-service section again this week, because it is still fairly new to our people, and because it was particularly fitting for the focus this week. I enjoy this song, if only for the fact that it is simple and happy song of thanksgiving for what Christ has done. It sings of the gospel clearly in a celebrative way, and I think that is the song’s greatest value. We followed the call to worship with “Hosanna (Praise is Rising),” which is a great song to follow the call to worship. It has a feeling of preparation and entering into God’s presence, and sings clearly of some of the proper motives and responses in worship: “Hosanna, Hosanna/ You are the God who saves us/ Worthy of all our praises/ Hosanna, Hosanna/ Come have your way among us/ We welcome You here, Lord Jesus.”

We also continued teaching “You Alone Can Rescue,” and our people took hold of it more. It was a great fit for our focus this weekend, as we focused on how salvation is the work of God alone, and we place our trust and confidence in His finished work. I love this song. It’s not the music that makes it exciting, either. It is purely the lyric of this song that is overwhelming. Jesus is our only rescue. This will be a song that the church sings for a while.

We brought back Todd Fields’ arrangement of “It Is Well,” which is one of my favorite modern hymn arrangements. He preserved the melody of Horatio Spafford’s original, but added a fitting chorus which captures the spirit of the song well. It serves as a strong declaration of confidence and hope in Christ, through anything that we experience in this life. The guitar part that Fields has written is really interesting, too, which only adds to the value of this song. When we come to the original chorus at the end of the song, it is beautiful to hear the congregation singing out so strongly.

We used the great hymn “Just As I Am” for the time during the Lord’s Supper, and we arranged it in a Sufjan Stevens-ish kind of way–with a slow swing to it, organ with Leslie on it, and minimal percussion. It was another great fit for the focus this weekend. I was unsure of how we would arrange it going into the weekend, but the team came up with some nice ideas and instrumentation to make it work nicely.

We finished the weekend off with “Jesus Messiah,” which was perfect. I cannot claim credit for this one, because it was the result of some changes late in the planning, and I needed a song to plug the hole, and thought this would work. It connected with Joe’s message in more ways than I can count, and coming out of the Lord’s Supper only added to its impact. The more I sing this song, the more I enjoy it and its message.

It was a great weekend, and I’m excited about how things continue here with Fellowship Bible Church!

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were!

Bill

Sunday Set Lists

Here’s our set from this weekend:

“All Because of Jesus” (A) [Steve Fee]
Call to Worship
“Happy Day” (Bb) [Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon]
Welcome/Announcements/Greeting Time
“Jesus Messiah” (G) [Daniel Carson, Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Jesse Reeves]
“You Alone Can Rescue” (Bb) [Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman]
“Jesus Paid It All” (Bb) [John Thomas Grape, Elvina M. Hall, Alex Nifong]
Message – “I Believe God Acted – Redemption” [David Hinkle]
Response – “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” (Eb) [Louie Giglio, Chris Tomlin, John Newton, Edwin O. Excell, John P. Rees]

I feel like this week was another step forward for our team and our congregation. We took more steps to make it easier to participate – we brought some songs down to a lower key, and we were more intentional about teaching new material. It seemed like there was more participation overall in each of the four services, which is exciting and encouraging. The team felt locked-in (most of the time), and I felt like we were engaged in worship as we were leading the congregation, as well.

We brought “All Because of Jesus” down to the key of A from the usual key of B, and we brought “Happy Day” down to Bb from B. Both were good moves, as the people sang out more on both. When I took a close look at the lead sheets this week, I noticed that both of these songs had parts of the melody that went well beyond the range of the “normal” voice, from C to C. We brought them both down to get them close. They still weren’t entirely in the desired range, but if we lowered them much more, the verses would bottom out! That’s one of the biggest problems with some modern worship songs – the low verses and high choruses make it difficult to get them into a normal person’s vocal range. We’ll keep working on it, though!

“Jesus Messiah” is one of the 21 songs we have done more than five times over the past year, and therefore is one that I would be safe in saying we know as a congregation. It showed as people sang it out and connected with God through it. I love the lyric of this song, as it really declares the gospel clearly, and finishes it all off with the simple, powerful bridge: “All our hope is in You/ All our hope is in You/ All the glory to You, God/ The Light of the world.” Jesus is our only hope of salvation. Enough said.

Also, this week we introduced “You Alone Can Rescue” by Jonas Myrin and Matt Redman. When I initially heard this song done live by Matt Redman, I was very excited about it, but when I heard the recorded version, I was a little underwhelmed, so I put it off for a while. However, when Matt led at Student Life in Daytona this past summer, I was reminded again how powerful this song is. It is a simple lyric, but proclaims a powerful truth – that Jesus is the only one who can save us. Here’s the lyric:

Verse 1
Who, O Lord, could save themselves
Their own soul could heal
Our shame was deeper than the sea
Your grace is deeper still

Chorus
And You alone can rescue, You alone can save
You alone can lift us from the grave
You came down to find us, led us out of death
To You alone belongs the highest praise

Verse 2
You, O Lord, have made a way
The great divide You healed
For when our hearts were far away
Your love went further still
Yes, Your love goes further still

Bridge
We lift up our eyes, lift up our eyes
You’re the giver of life
We lift up our eyes, lift up our eyes
You’re the giver of life

Even typing the lyric of this song is bringing me to tears. What a beautiful expression of confidence in Christ alone for our rescue and salvation. We have no hope apart from Him! His humble, loving sacrifice is the only way for us to be rescued; the fact that He chose to redeem us at such a great cost to Himself is overwhelming. This song brings this into clear focus, and is a beautiful expression of thanksgiving and recognition of the work of Jesus Christ to save us. He, and He alone, is the one who can rescue, who can save us, who can lift us from the grave. This is because He is the one who came down to find us a lead us out of death. Scripture says that Jesus’ efforts to rescue us are the reason God has given Him the name above every name (Philippians 2). I know this is the reason I worship Him. He is so good, while I am still so undeserving of it. My life is completely dependent on His grace and finished work of the cross.

We bracketed the message about our redemption with Alex Nifong’s arrangement of “Jesus Paid It All” and Tomlin’s “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone).” These two songs never get old to me, because there is beauty in the simplicity of their declarations. I never tire of singing, “O praise the One who paid my debt/ And raised this life up from the dead.” On “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” Kelsey Thomsen and I traded off on the verse. She did a great job leading, and I think it facilitated a very powerful moment of worship, especially after David’s weighty message about our redemption. I loved his words about what God has done to rescue us! We owe it all to Jesus Christ, who made a way where there was no way.

I love my church, and I am very excited about what is going on around here. We are learning and growing together, and we are pursuing Jesus Christ and His gospel. Jesus, and His work to redeem us, was truly lifted high this weekend. I am so grateful for how He has rescued us. He is truly my only hope!

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were.

Jesus alone is worthy!

Bill

Sunday Set Lists

Here’s our set from this weekend:

Pre-Service: “Say Say” (A) [Christy Nockels, Chris Tomlin, Kristian Stanfill]
Call To Worship –  Hebrews 13:8
“Unchanging” (G) [Chris Tomlin]
Welcome/Offering/Announcements/Greeting
“Hosanna” (G) [Brooke Fraser, arr. by Starfield]
“How Great is Our God” (G) [Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, Ed Cash]
Focus: “Phos Hilaron”/”Hail Gladdening Light”
“Joyous Light” (G) [unknown, John H. Gower; Arr. and additional chorus by Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, and Louie Giglio]
Message – “God Is: Trinity” [David Hinkle]
“Holy Holy Holy” (D) [Reginald Heber and John Bacchus Dykes]

This weekend in worship with Fellowship was one of my favorites so far. It felt like everything connected really well, and that the focus of the morning permeated everything. The message for the weekend was about the doctrine of the Trinity, and Pastor David did a great job of communicating the understanding and the significance of this doctrine for the Church. There was a lot of ground to cover, and it was thick subject matter, but I think the message was clear, and people walked away with something to cling to for practical purposes in their Christian life. David ended with the idea that we are to live our lives “To the Father, by the Son, and through the Spirit.”

We chose two main songs to emphasize and support the teaching time and bring our people to a point of worshiping in a “trinitarian” way: “Joyous Light” and “Holy Holy Holy.” “Joyous Light” is a song that I value highly, as it is based off of the earliest known hymn for the church, “Phos Hilaron.” Before teaching this song to our congregation, I read a translation of “Phos Hilaron,” known as “Hail Gladdening Light.” Here is that text:

“Phos Hilaron”

Hail, gladdening Light, of His pure glory poured
Who is the immortal Father, heavenly, blest,
Holiest of Holies–Jesus Christ our Lord!

Now we are come to the sun’s hour of rest;
The lights of evening round us shine;
We hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit divine!

Worthiest art thou at all times to be sung with undefiled tongue,
Son of our God, giver of life, alone:
Therefore in all the world Thy glories, Lord, Thy own. Amen.

It’s an amazing thought that we can join in a song that the church has song since the 3rd century A.D. (almost 1700 years ago!). The writers of “Joyous Light” put it this way:

“Joyous Light”

Verse 1
Hail Gladdening Light, Sun so bright
Jesus Christ, End of night
Alleluia

Verse 2
Hail Gladdening Light, Eternal Bright
In evening time, ‘round us shine,
Alleluia, alleluia

Chorus
We hymn the Father, we hymn the Son
We hymn the Spirit, wholly Divine
No one more worthy of songs to be sung
To the Giver of Life, all glory is Thine

Verse 3
Hail Gladdening Light, such joyous Light
O Brilliant Star, forever shine,
Alleluia, alleluia

It was a great moment for us this weekend, as we we joined in singing this ancient hymn and truth about the nature of our God.

“Holy Holy Holy” was a late addition/change to the set for this week, as David and I discussed late Thursday about wrapping the message. Some scholars maintain that the Scriptural phrase, “Holy Holy Holy” is referring to each person of the Trinity, and we thought it might be fitting (even without mentioning that) to do a song that contained both that phrase and explicit references to the “Blessed Trinity.” It was also another way to connect both old and new in our worship time.

In reference to my learning experience last week (see here), we did “How Great Is Our God” all the way down in the key of G (A bit lower than the recording in C#…). It was rather low, but it fit well in the flow of the rest of the worship set, and the people sang it well. I think the key of A would have been fine, but it further emphasized to me the value of putting things in singable keys – which is something I have been working on and learning for the last 4 years. If you are leading somewhere, and it seems that people are not singing with you (I believe the participation of our congregations ought to be part of the goal), try dropping the key a step or so and see what happens. Try to eliminate any excuse people can give for not joining in the song with the church, especially for the guys.

In all, it was a great weekend of worshiping together. I love our team here at Fellowship, and I am so blessed to serve with them. Their hearts and their talent is what makes our weekends special together. I’m excited about where things are heading, and the things we’re learning together as we help to lead God’s people in worshiping their King!

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were!

In the Son,

Bill

(Sunday Set Lists)