Here's our set from this weekend: "I Will Go" (F#m) [Starfield - Tim Neufeld, Jon Neufeld] Call To Worship - 2 Cor. 5:20-21 "Say Say" (A) [Kristian Stanfill, Chris Tomlin, Christy Nockels] Living Water International Honduras Report Welcome/Announcements/Greeting "Holy is the Lord" (G) [Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, et al] "I Stand Amazed" (G) [Charles Hutchinson Gabriel, arr. by Chris Tomlin] "Wonderful Maker" (G) [Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman] Message - "I Believe: We Are" [Joe Hishmeh] Response: "Mighty to Save" [Ben Fielding, Reuben Morgan]
This weekend of worship was yet another good one. The team gelled well, played solidly, and was sensitive to where the Lord was leading during each of the four services. I feel like the entire worship team is getting some traction for moving forward. I felt like the worship team was all prepared for the week's music, and it was somewhat easy to put everything together as a result. We were able to make some changes on the fly as people were responding to God, and it was a beautiful thing. There were moments this weekend when the congregation was singing louder than I've ever heard them. I am very excited about what the Lord is doing in our midst.
This week has been one where I learned a great deal about the landscape of our worship ministry and where things have been until today. My worship associate, Jason, did some investigating, and dug up what our church has sung in worship since the switch to four services back in August. I was a little surprised by the results: 90 songs in 28 weeks. That comes out to a little more than 3.2 unique songs per week! What does that mean? It means people do not really have a chance to learn any of the songs or make them part of their worship vocabulary. It means our people are stuck staring at the projector screen trying to see the words and learn the songs.
My takeaway? We need to start repeating songs more often, so we can teach our people and get them "off the page" just like we want the band to be "off the page." When we don't have to stay glued to a screen or our music to know the song, then it is part of our vocabulary, and we are able to use it easily to express ourselves to God. Then, it comes from within us. Then we can truly put ourselves into what we are doing, rather than worrying more about what we are doing. We can focus on doing it. My normal method for doing this is to repeat a new song for three weeks, and surround it with songs that are already part of the worship vocabulary of our people.
My first opportunity for implementing this was "Say Say." This was our third week singing this song, and I believe we have now added that song to our worship vocabulary as a congregation. I think the song communicates a simple but strong message to us, challenging us to stand up and "declare" that "Jesus is King." Our praise of our great God ought not to be something that only happens within the walls of a church's building, but ought to be happening for the whole world to see. Our exalting of God ought to be a very public thing, both individually and corporately. This idea can be extended to all areas of our lives, as living our lives as living sacrifices is how we worship our God on a daily basis. Thus, loving and serving others is a way that we declare the glory of our God to our world. It is easy to hunker down, get comfortable, and feel safe in our space each week, but what we do weekly as the church gathered together should be a culmination of a week lived in daily worship of our God. That is my prayer for us.
In the same vein, we introduced Starfield's "I Will Go," which is one of my favorite newer songs. It is a very driving, high-energy song, but the message warrants it, I think. Here's the lyric of that song:
VERSE 1 To the desperate eyes and reaching hands To the suffering and the need To the ones the world has cast aside Where you want me I will be
CHORUS I will go, I will go, I will go, Lord send me To the world, to the lost, to the poor and hungry Take everything I am I’m clay within your hands I will go, I will go send me
VERSE 2 Let me not be blind with privilege Give me eyes to see the pain Let the blessing You’ve poured out on me Not be spent on me in vain Let this life be used for change
BRIDGE I wanna live for You, Go where You lead me I wanna follow You
I still get the feeling that I'm pushing the envelope a little for some of our people, but I think we are being challenged as a people by the lyrics of these songs and by the messages that are comprising this "I Believe" series. I think it is worth the risk of pushing a little bit. "I Will Go" is a song that can work in a variety of treatments, and I have tried it successfully as a response song with more of an acoustic feel to it. It will be one we use frequently, because there are not many songs that say it quite so boldly.
For the second set of songs, we put together a few modern worship standards: "Holy is the Lord," "I Stand Amazed (How Marvelous)," and "Wonderful Maker." "Wonderful Maker" was very fitting for Joe's message today about the image of God and the fall of humanity. It deals directly with God's goodness in creation and God's declaration that what He made was "good." It also deals with God's goodness in redemption. This song holds a special place in my life, because it signaled a turning point in my worship leadership. This song is solely focused on God and who He is, and barely even mentions us in the process ("we" is used once in the third verse). Many of the worship songs I sang in youth group and elsewhere were about the singers and what God could do for us. This song was markedly different in that regard. This song helped me to see what true worship was - about God, to God, and for God. It was not for us. From that point late in 2002 (after Chris Tomlin's Not to Us was released), my view of, and priorities in, worship music were changed. Every time I sing or hear this song, I remember that change, and I am called back to the true priority in worship, which is our great God and Savior.
We closed the service out with "Mighty to Save," which was the highlight of the weekend for me. Joe's message was a heavy one dealing with our depravity. He didn't pull any punches, and helped all of us see ourselves and our sin clearly in light of God's holiness and goodness. When we see God as He is, we see ourselves rightly. And when we see the depth and gravity of our own sin, we see just how great and truly amazing the grace of God really is. When we came to "Mighty to Save," this was our context. When we sang, "Savior, He can move the mountains/ Our God is mighty to save/ He is mighty to save," we meant it, for we had just finished hearing and reading the Word of God as it spoke to our spiritual condition without Christ. The congregation was singing out at this point in each of the services, and it was a powerful moment of worship. To God be the glory. May we never forget that we were dead in our sins when Christ came in to rescue us and make us alive.
I feel privileged for the opportunity to build and develop our worship & arts ministry at Fellowship Bible Church, and I am thrilled about what the future holds for our congregation!
I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were.
In the Son,