Friday, April 22, 2016

Loud, louder and even louder

The common progression in a worship service often goes from loud to louder and then even louder.
Worship leaders often believe that, that is the way to go. To give their very best and to worship from the heart requires, so they think, a corresponding increase in the decibels.
The result of this myth is not better worship but has led to many half deaf musicians and yes, half deaf congregations too.

There are certainly times to be loud as we celebrate the bigness and greatness of God. But to do that every week in every service and every moment of the service makes it 'boring' and even irritating at times. There is no variety in it. Good musicians understand tension in a song. They know the correlation of the loud and soft side to music.
More than that, it is the failure to understand that we can experience God in quiet moments.
God wants to speak in quiet moments.
His voice can be heard if we do not drown it out by the overwhelming loud music and our self interest of feeding our own emotions. Don't fall in love with your voice or the sound of the band. We do need good sound. I am all for it. But still the primary goal is more than the sound. It is God. Fall in love with God's voice and let Him speak. After all, it is His meeting.

Quiet moments can be very powerful and life changing.
Moses, alone in the back side of the desert, was changed when He heard God speak from the burning bush. A crushed Elijah trembled when he heard the still small voice of God. The preceding strong wind, earthquake and fire did not make a dent on him. Jonah repented in the belly of the fish. Joshua and Gideon rose up with courage and great confidence from their personal God encounters. Jeremiah shook off the discouragement when he was thrown into a dry and lonely well; cause there in the pit, God lit the fire of His word to burn in the prophet's bones. John received the revelations in exile on Patmos.

So the next time you lead or play for a worship service, don't just go loud and louder. Take a detour to the quiet side. You may just find God waiting for you and the congregation.

Maybe I am getting older and growing more mellow to prefer the quiet. Yet again, I think I am actually understanding more about the beauty of dynamics in worship and appreciating the movement of God when He speaks and we actually listen to His matchless voice.

Ps.46:10 Be still and know that I am God;
Hab.2:20 But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

How can we keep silent?

12 Sept 2013

Our worship is an indication of our understanding of God. A true understanding of God will naturally induce pure awe of who He is. How can we keep silent and remain unmoved when we know God as the mighty Creator who made all things? How can we fold our hands when we understand that He did not withold anything from us but forsook everything including His own life to ransom our wretched lives. How can we remain unmoved and stand afar when we are understand the truth that God is total virtue, purest light, the embodiment of love and there is no evil vein in all of His being and He completely loves you.
Our souls are created to be drawn by beauty. So if worship of God no longer stirs you, it's because you do not see Him as beautiful as He is. He has not changed. sadly we have grown dim in our sight. We are wearing the wrong lenses and have mistaken the beauty of created engineering and sophisticated devices as the real thing when it is just a passing fad.
Take an honest measure of your worship temperature. David sings ' as the deer pants for the waters, so my soul pants after you'. True knowledge of God leads to lavish worship.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Going Double

We are going double in September. As we prepare to double our worship service, we know that more is required of the worship team. The strategy is for the same team to play twice each Sunday.
1. Did I hear 'play twice'. Wow! - playing twice - what an honor. To be able to do the thing you love and are gifted for a second time - what an honor. Its like a double helping of ice-cream, double delicious cakes, double premium Brazilian coffee...or double any food you like to eat.
2. Playing twice - will also result in us getting better. Repetition has a way of improving us.
3. As we stretch to enlarge the congregation, commitment to fellow team members helps build morale. Commitment requires discipline. Yes , the uneasy word 'discipline' comes up again. Discipline is not a joy killer. It is an influence multiplier. It opens the door to greater freedom and expressions. Skills improve and respect for each other goes north. Discipline and commitment expresses our internal values that the ministry is important and that we respect our fellow team members time and sacrifice.
4. Communication - positive chatter will strengthen the glue among members. Cheer your own team members. Be generous with praise. Dont wait for the congregation to pat your back. Do that for each other. It oils the machinery and everyone can play from the same score sheet.

Double service leads to a shorter time in worship. Shorter worship is however not inferior worship. In fact more creativity and ability is needed to accomplish the same goals in a shorter time. A small car engine can reach 100mph in say 10 seconds. A high capacity car, aerodynamic in design can reach the same speed in half that time. I read an interesting book on how to get your point across in 30 seconds. Words need to be precisely minted, throw in good blend of humor, speak with clarity and passion and close the presentation with a knock out punch.
Therefore we need to trim away poor arrangements, banish sloppy endings, work on better transitions, build excitingly to a high climax of celebration and deep intimacy, respond to the softest whispers of the Holy Spirit to throw open the flood gates into His presence and power.

Walk with me the 'second mile'. Double the effort. The 'double anointing' awaits us.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Going Up To The Next Level

When someone complains that a program or presentation is 'boring', what do they actually mean?
They probably mean one or two things listed below...
1. There is nothing new about it.
2. They have seen/heard that before.
3. Nothing has changed or improved over the years. Its the same old thing. The worship structure is set in cement.
4. It is predictable. They can tell the end from the beginning of the program.
5. There are no 'wow' moments.
6. It is sub standard to what they are exposed to.
7. It lacks creativity
8. Mediocrisy is tolerated.

A worship service can easily melt down to a mere maintainance mode where worshippers just drift in and out every weekend without having an encounter with God. When this happens, who should take responsibility? When a TV series drops in its ratings, does the management blame the viewers that they dont know the value of the program. On the contrary, the management, the producers of the program takes a hard look at why they are not drawing the crowds and make the necessary changes to make the program exciting.

So when the worship service becomes 'boring', the worship team and church leadership have to face the issue squarely and humbly and say 'WE ARE RESPONSIBLE AND WE HAVE DO MAKE CHANGES FOR IMPROVEMENT'.
Usually that is easier said than done. Why?
1. Our egos get in the way for us to admit that not everything is ok. Giving excuses is easier than confession.
2. Making changes is difficult because it requires e-f-f-o-r-t. Doing things the old way seem so much easier.
3. It requires stepping on some toes and getting screamed at (silent screams though, because we are supposed to be Christians, yet we know those silent screams are actually deafening). We want peace at the expense of growth. Calm seas never made good sailors.
4. We cannot demand change but rather we have to lead change by changing first. Its easier to try to change others than change ourselves.
5. It may require money. Be the best, but dont use more $$$$. (means you are required to perform a miracle) Create modern sounds from the portasound???

Yet, if we dont change, we are left behind (I dont mean the rapture), we lose our effectiveness. We lose the opportunity to experience the greater works of God and fail in reaching our enormous potential.
It was Thomas Edison who said 'Inspiration is 99% Perspiration'.
Let's make improvements in our worship services a continuous contant.
Its worth our every effort. We are called to make His praise 'glorious'.
May I add "Its a 'sin' that a worship service rendered to the only God, Supreme, Matchless and Source of all creativity, Giver of all gifts, be found (sigh..) boring".

Friday, January 15, 2010

Leading in Worship is a Calling

On Jan 9, a meeting was called by Tim Lee for the Creative Worship to gather and be briefed on the plans, goals, guidelines and the introduction of the new committee for 2010. I shared a short devotion on the above subject.
The worship team members are not
1. Performers - performers are interested in their ability to perform.
2. Entertainers - they are there to make the crowd happy.
3. Actors - they focus only on the role they are assigned to play.

The worship team has a different agenda. The first born was set apart after the Exodus. Later the tribe of Levi were chosen to assist the Aaron priesthood. In the NT, though everyone believer are called to be priests, those with the special gifting and calling will lead in worship. Therfore, worship team members need to understand their call as Priests unto God . As priests...
Our task is spiritual in nature.
Our applause comes from God.
Our aim to direct people to God.
The worship ministry should be highly esteemed by the worship team members themselves and they be properly equipped and prepared for this enormous privilege of standing before the ONLY God to lead ourselves and others in corporate praise and adoration.

When the worship team does their ministry effectively, then the congregation is not distracted from God. It is often when the singers sing off key, musicians play different chords, the sound system lets off a big squeal while the sound man is dozing, the projectionist is two frames behind the singing - those are times, the congregation is thrown off and they land flat on earth instead on being carried into the 3rd heavens.

The worship session can be a defining moment for God encounters to take place. Let's aim to see this happen more and more as we use our talents to lift up the Lord and hide our ego's behind the cross. What should thrill us more is not when the music is great - it shows we have performed well , but that the people say 'The Lord touched me', 'He spoke to my heart', 'I felt His presence' .
Usually, this happens more when our hearts are humbly bowed and great music is done. When skill and the right spirit KISS, heaven is felt and God is manifest.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

4 Things Worship Team Members Should Know

Last weekend, the Creative Worship Department organized a 2 day Empowerment Seminar to inspire and equip the members of the department. The group had representation from the musicians, worship leaders, sound technicians, dancers and drama sections. I shared a short word with them - 4 things they should know about the worship ministry.

1. We are Dealers in Hope and Peace in Jesus.
Our ministry is to offer hope and peace. There needs to be a clear and strong message that encourages and brings people to turn to Jesus. The lyrics of the songs needs to be biblical based and yet relevant to the needs of the listeners. It is more than a feel good session and a sing, clap along time. We are ministers of God, binding their wounds and helping them to stand strong during storms.

2. We are Carriers of God's presence.
Our ministry is an extension of our relationship with God. To have a visitation of God during the services, the worship team must be walking with God and playing their instruments with the fulness of God's presence. The congregation needs to see God at work IN us before they can see God's work THROUGH us. Waiting before God precedes singing, serving, playing for God. Prayer is primary. Prayer primes our spirit to hear a fresh word or sound to be released prophetically. The congregation hungers for a real touch of God, where He breaks through the normal hum drum of church meetings. Give them food from above, not just any food.

3. We are Showcase Mirrors.
In a house, there are many mirrors. There are mirrors in the bedrooms, bathrooms and passage ways. But the mirror in the living room is likely the most beautiful mirror that the owner of the house will put out in display. This is done because that's the place where guests are received and it adds beauty to the room and the whole house. Music team members need to understand that they have the opportunity to stand on stage, under spotlights, viewed by the entire congregation. Many faithful leaders in other ministries do not frequently have such attention in the church. This special privilege comes with responsibilities.

Those who step up on stage are the like the special showcase mirrors. Visitors come to the common conclusion that those on stage are the church's cream of the crop in talent and character. They have been screened through, equipped and endorsed by the leadership That's why they are there. The worship team therefore reflects on all the other church ministries. It gives the first impression of the church. When there is excellence and genuineness on stage, the audience will gather that this is probably so in the other church ministries.

4. We are Pace Setters
The high visibility of the worship ministry is a great place to set the standard for the rest of the ministries. When the worship department shows a high level of commitment, the commitment level of other ministries rises. When the level drops, the other ministries are affected. This goes the same for creativity, excellence and unity among the worship team. Why is that so? Because, all the rest of the congregation and church department members watch and know what is going on the stage. The attitude on stage affects the attitude in the pews and the rest of the church - cells, youths, children...etc

The worship team impacts not only the worship atmosphere of the church. Its influence is much wider. This may be looked upon as an added pressure because of the high expectations but when viewed positively, worship members can count it a privilege that they can be a source of inspiration and model effective ministry for the whole church. Let's minister with honor, humility and serve to lift the name of Jesus high.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Where is the Passion?

Here we go again, another song, another service. Simply dry, impassioned participation from the congregation. A worship service has got to be more than a spiritual karaoke session. Where is the passion in worship? Some have passion for food, others have passion for sport, still others have passion for fashion and rock music....and the list goes on. You can detect passion. There is increased energy. The heart races with excitement. Dedication follows. Passion is fire to the soul. Passion for lesser things in life, but where is the passion for God in worship?

Worship is a time where blood-bought sinners come and belt out their gratitude to God. From a hopeless, sin damaged individual, Jesus transforms us and gives us an amazing new life and future. Every thing we could imagine and needed, is now made real in Jesus. Christians have every reason to celebrate and rejoice in their wonderful Savior.

Isaiah speaks of worship in the temple where the the sound of the voices of the heavenly worshippers shook the doorposts and threshold of the temple and smoke filled it.(Isa.6) They sang with such fervor and commitment. Rivers of praise flowed abundantly to the majestic God. The temple was filled with worship and the Lord responded by revealing His glorious presence.

Yes, we need to be fully engaged with God during worship. Express freely and express deeply. Don't bottle up or be afraid of your emotions. Let your flesh do the holy thing and that is to praise your Maker and Savior. Lift up your hands, break out into a dance, rejoice exuberantly or fall on your face, let the tears flow unashamedly. Let your mind be fully captured by the Lord and your heart in deep reverence for Him. Shake off the restrains. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor.3:17). Freedom to worship. Freedom to express your love to God. Freedom to boast of the greatness of our Lord.