Helpful Resources

The Conundrum of Choosing the “Right” Praise Songs...

 

I am often asked by folks in our fellowship to play certain songs that have deep meaning to them in particular. That’s great! I LOVE it when individuals are touched through a song, when a song brings them to a deep worship experience, or when music can set them free from something they are dealing with in their personal lives. The conundrum I also often find myself in is whether to play said songs to touch and/or refresh the one person when it does not reach or benefit the entirety of our fellowship or to refuse to play it and possibly hurt the feelings of the requester – tough choice... really tough.

 

I wanted to share a blog post from another worship leader that I came across quite a while back that struck a nerve with me and exposes some of the same thoughts that I have had when trying to choose “just the right” songs for a particular service. The “8 Questions Every Worship Leader Must Ask When Choosing Songs” blog post really stood out to me and has helped me when there are songs that I myself REALLY like but I know in my heart would not be proper for a worship setting for one reason or another. It has also been helpful (for me) in answering questions like the one posted at the beginning of this short conversation.

 

My hope is that this can shed some light on the process that I use to choose individual songs as well as overall set themes and tones to help our fellowship come into a powerful corporate worship experience on Sunday mornings.

 

http://www.davidsantistevan.com/choosing-songs/

 

Lewis Brookshire

Friday 8 November 2013

 

 

 

Thoughts on Leading Worship

 

This is an unusual way to start my blogging career, but I thought I would share some thoughts from a very close friend and mentor of mine who is now a missionary on the other side of the globe. He shared these thoughts with me in an on-going conversation on "leading worship" and/or “leading" in general. The thoughts below had a significant impact on my thoughts and views on worship in general as well as "leading" worship. I hope you enjoy this is much as I did.

 

Worship leading – what an interesting subject! On one hand, you have the modern day concept of the church worship leader. On the other hand, you have the example of the early church whose gatherings were initially very simple in form and in all likelihood did not even recognize “worship leader" as a leadership role within the church. I see that reality here among the new house churches in South Asia as the church is still in pioneering phase and where the setting looks very similar to the New Testament.

 

In these places, you’ll occasionally see a guitar or drums here and there, but more often than not, their songs are sung a cappella and without a songbook! However, someone is usually there who knows the songs well enough to keep everyone on the same page. I’m drifting from the main point a bit, but I mention this because one thing I’ve observed is that this simple form of worship, wherever it is found, seems to guide believers towards personalizing and learning the songs well. Whereas in many western churches, I’ve noticed that people rely a bit too much on the worship leader and/or band to sing and make all the music for them.

 

Now, what about the challenges that come along with this responsibility? First, I think leading worship is just plain difficult simply because leadership in general is difficult. Leading people to Christ is not easy, leading people to walk in obedience to Christ is a challenge, and leading people in God's Word is a struggle for all who preach and teach. I don't know any preacher who ever walks away from a sermon saying, "Yes, that was a bad-to-the-bone way to interpret and communicate God's Word today, and it came so easily.”

 

Leaders have followers. We can't lead anyone to where we have not been or are not willing to go, even if we're only just a few feet ahead. Maybe worship leading is really as simple as others following us as WE worship. Then that begs the question, how do we become the worshippers we were born again to be? Hmm... thinking on that one.

 

On a different note, I think worship leaders throw this great burden upon themselves. My guess is that a lot of this flows from the fact that, whether consciously or unconsciously, we can't help but view our weekly gathering/service as primarily a worship event. And we can't help but view the core of that worship as what happens during the singing and music time. Our team had some interesting discussions last month about the fact that the New Testament never clearly says [so far as we're aware] that the purpose of our "coming together" is for a "worship service". I'm NOT saying that we shouldn't worship through giving, preaching, praising, singing, and fellowshipping. However, I am pointing out the reality that the New Testament seems to be saying that the main reason for our assembly is to "spur one another on to love and good works" (Hebrews 10:25), the main goal being to equip one another for the mission.

 

Recently, I talked to a guy that I discipled intensively back home, and he is now our first church planter that we’ve sent out. He has a clear vision for going after the lost and training them in simple and reproducible church structures. He gave me a report that four people in the new house church are about to be baptized, three of them just turned to Christ in a matter of a few months of his family's efforts. Some have jumped the gun, asking him if their church has "music" yet? To this he replied, "That's just not on the radar right now. We're busy connecting with the lost and leading them to Christ." (That doesn't mean they will never worship and praise God through song.)

 

While their question about music was valid, I think it’s a natural result from our overly "churched" mentality of what community and worship are all about. This same mentality creeps into our thoughts about worship leading as well. I'm thinking that, when our hands are busy in the lives of the lost and we're seeing them return to Christ, our songs will be so much louder than before and our worship will be more in the Spirit and in truth.

 

Matt Redman is considered by many to be one of the more gifted worship leaders of our generation. He wrote the song "Heart of Worship" in response to seeing his church becoming so fixated on the worship experience that they were missing the heart of worship. The “heart” of worship is so much more than singing songs in Jesus’ name. That’s why I began by saying worship leading is such an interesting subject. If leading worship is much more than just leading out songs, how do we lead worship “when the music fades”? Worship leaders have the responsibility of leading those who are following them to “bring more than a song”.

 

To wrap this installment up I would like to point out one of the most profound statements, to me, in the lengthy exchange was this:

 

“Leaders have followers. We can't lead anyone to where we have not been or are not willing to go. Maybe worship leading is really as simple as others following us as we worship. Then that begs the question, how do we become the worshippers we were born again to be??

 

This thought could be applicable to many forms of leadership, but it leads me to ask myself...

 

"Where have I been?"

"Where am I headed? Where is God taking me?"

"What can I do or improve, in my own heart, to be the worshipper that God created me to be?"

 

Lewis Brookshire

Monday 28 October 2013

 

 

 

Backdrop to a Song: “Give Me a Heart”

 

This being my first blog post ever [not much of a writer over here], I wanted to start by sharing a song I wrote about eleven years ago. It was one of the first complete songs I had written after becoming a father, and at the time, I was thinking a lot about being God's child and wondering what kind of request my Father would want to hear from me. I thought about my, at the time, two-year-old son, Elijah, and what I would be proud to hear him ask of me. The theme of the song was born based on that premise.

 

To tell the story, I used the amazing testimony (and sacrificing love) of my two favorite people from the New Testament, Jesus [obviously] and Stephen. Also, in the chorus, I wanted to incorporate the verses I Samuel 13:13-14. “You acted foolishly,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord's command.”

 

Our Father said in Ezekiel 36:26, “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

 

“Give Me a Heart”

 

A man full of the Holy Ghost

Stood amidst a questioning host

And, with compassion in his heart,

Began to explain his faith from the start.

 

Burning inside to save their souls...

But their minds were already made,

And with stones clinched in their hands,

He looked up to see the Son of Man...

And the heavenly throne...

And cried, “Father, forgive them.”

 

Father, give me a heart

Like this heavenly soul,

Man so bold for You!

Make my heart like unto Thine,

This heart like mine so cold...

Help me love like You.

 

He came into this darkening world

To shed the light of God’s true love –

Incorruptible, unstained from all sin,

Bringing salvation – a choice for all men.

 

He came to bring a dividing sword,

The Word of God to pierce our hearts...

And in the end when they nailed his hands –

Hung Him to die, an innocent man...

He looked up in the sky...

And cried, “Father, forgive them.”

 

Father, give me a heart

Like this heavenly soul,

Man so bold for You!

Make my heart like unto Thine,

This heart like mine so cold...

Help me love like You.

 

My hope and prayer for my family, our fellowship, and our community is that God would, in each of us, “give [us] a new heart and put a new spirit within [us]; and... [would] remove the heart of stone from [our] flesh and give [us] a heart of flesh.”

 

Lewis Brookshire

Sunday 20 October 2013

 

 

 

Small Groups: A Big Element

 

They were devoting themselves to the Apostles' teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

 

Traditional Sunday schools. Wednesday night Bible studies. Youth group meetings. Children's church. Prime-timers luncheons. Wesley's societies, classes, and bands. [Going old-school, here.] Each of these approaches to Christian ministry share a common refrain: smaller than the whole congregation.

 

For centuries now, the Church has focussed in various ways upon the benefits of meeting in groups which are themselves found within the larger congregational body of the local church. In other words, for quite some time, churches have found help in smaller gatherings.

 

Today, many of these approaches are being replaced or, better yet, refurbished within local congregations by a more generically all-encompassing system: a network of small groups.

 

What is a small group? A group of people, limited in size (typically 3-12), which gathers on a regular (often weekly) basis to fulfill a variety of purposes within the larger context of a local church.

 

Why are small groups so helpful and therefore important? Because they offer greater potential for folks to build relationships based upon love, trust, and mutuality. Small groups tend to lend themselves as avenues conducive to nurturing personal relationships, facilitating spiritual growth, offering holistic accountability, fostering Christian education, and so forth. Some small groups exist simply for the express purpose of meeting any one or combination of these particular needs, while others exist more generically for the purpose of enhancing community, or –as I like to put it– shared life.

 

Regardless of how numerically large or small a local church is, no Christian congregation should miss the simplicity and yet the profundity of what is said of the early New Testament Church. Of all that could be said of this newly Christened Body, the account of Acts is beautifully succinct regarding that to which they corporately “gave themselves” – Apostolic doctrine, shared life, shared meals, and communal prayer. The context of any of these four “irreplaceables” is the context of them all: togetherness.

 

Furthermore, it's both interesting and telling to notice that the Greek term for fellowship, community, or shared life (koinonia) found here in Acts 2:42 shares the same root as the term found in verse 44 which is often translated “in common” (koinos). How seriously did the earliest of believers devote themselves to sharing life together? How captured were they in community with one another? How much did they pursue genuine fellowship as the Body of Christ? So much so that they “had all things in common” – even to the extent that some sold what they had so as to share the proceeds with those among them in greater need.

 

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Small groups are uniquely helpful to Christian life and nourishment, and they're “a big element” of the life and ministry of Faith Methodist. If you're not already part of a small group that is currently meeting, please consider joining one of our upcoming ones. In the next few weeks, we'll be sharing information about new small groups that will be forming throughout our communities. They'll meet at a variety of times, on a variety of days, and in a variety of places, so one will hopefully be a great fit for you. If you're at all interested, please mark your Communication Card accordingly any time during the next few Sundays. Blessings in Christ!

 

Adam Godbold

Friday 18 October 2013

 

 

 

Celebrating the Eucharist

 

“The Eucharist... What in the world is that?!”

 

Good question. I'm so glad you asked it.

 

Eucharist (pronounced, you-ka-wrist) is the English noun form of a transliterated Greek verb, eucharisteo, which is translated literally, “I give thanks.” Simply put, eucharist means “thanksgiving” – or, the activity of expressing thankfulness.

 

Throughout its history, the Church has gathered together as a celebrating people. We have gathered to celebrate, generally, the Lord's presence among us and His work in our behalf, and we have gathered to celebrate, specifically, His physical presence in the incarnation and the fulness of His redemptive work in His glorious death and resurrection. In fact, the resurrection of Jesus is the reason the New Testament Church began to meet on Sunday (i.e., “the Lord's Day”), the first day of the week, even while still joining hands in the synagogues on Saturday (i.e., the Sabbath), the last day of the week. Why worship on Sundays? Because Christ conquered death and rose again from the grave... Indeed, He is risen!

 

From its very beginning, part of the Church's celebration has included a holy Meal, the Eucharist. This simple Meal of bread and wine, instituted by our Lord on the very night of His betrayal and subsequent arrest, has borne many names over the years: the Lord's Supper (N. B. I Corinthians 11:20), Holy Communion, the Blessed Sacrament, simply Communion, and even the Sacrament of the Altar among others. To be sure, each of these various names uniquely carries theological richness, reminding the Church of the various implications of what our Lord has given in our behalf – His very own body and blood.

 

At base, when we gather to celebrate the Eucharist together, we give thanks to God the Father in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Together we look backward to His sacrificial death (N. B. I Corinthians 11:24-26; Luke 22:19) and forward to His triumphant return (N. B. Luke 22:14-18; Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25), even as we look together here and now for His presence among us as His people through His Holy Spirit. Regardless of how often we might celebrate this Meal together (N. B. “as often” in the words of both Christ and Paul [I Corinthians 11:25-26]), when we do celebrate it, we are compelled to do so gratefully, for we have much for which to give thanks.

 

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Please join us this Sunday morning as we celebrate our Lord's presence together and His work among us. Our fellowship will begin at 10:00 a.m. and will include coffee and tea, and our service of worship will begin at 10:30 a.m. and will end with the Eucharist.

 

Adam Godbold

Thursday 10 October 2013