This weekend, we focused on Philippians 2:19-30, where Paul commends Timothy and Epaphroditus, pointing out their sacrificial service for the gospel and for the Philippian believers. The call for us this week is to live a life of ministry, leveraging everything we are and have for the purposes of God and His kingdom. Because of His worth, we should put everything, even our lives, on the line for His sake.
Here's our set from this weekend:
Pre-Service - "I Will Go" (F#m) [Tim Neufeld, Jon Neufeld]
Call to Worship - Isaiah 40:28-29, 31
"Everlasting God" (Bb) [Brenton Brown, Ken Riley]
"Glory to God Forever" (Bb) [Steve Fee, Vicky Beeching]
"Always" (Bb) [Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram]
"Jesus Paid It All" (Bb) [John Thomas Grape, Elvina M. Hall, and Alex Nifong]
Message - The Appraisal of All Things: A New Appraisal of Ministry [Joe Hishmeh]
Response - "Take My Life And Let It Be" (D) [Frances Ridley Havergal, Henri Abraham Cesar Malan]
"I Will Go" - This song is a strong call for us to lay down privilege and blessing for the sake of Christ, reaching out to the hurting and the helpless in our world. We used this song because Joe's message was focusing in on the life that is laid down for Christ and His purposes, and the conscious decision to sacrifice, which goes against our nature. I think this song may still be a little surprising to our congregation, just because the sound is a little "edgy." I think I may play with the arrangement and/or presentation of the song in the future. This song is definitely worth singing, because it is a challenging call on each of our lives. May the cry of our hearts be with that of Isaiah, as the song sings, "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."
"Everlasting God" - Coming out of our call to worship from Isaiah 40, I wanted to make the challenge to our people that God calls us to imitate Him and His character, and what Scripture says of Him it also, in a way, challenges us to be the same. In the Isaiah passage it describes God as not fainting or growing weary. At the end of the chapter, it says that the ones who wait on the Lord and find their strength in Him will not faint or grow weary, either. In the midst of this, it describes God as helping the faint and the one without strength (us). We should of the same mind, helping those in need and those who are powerless. This song points out these characteristics of God, and as we sing them, I am challenged that the things He cares about are the things I should care about, too. His priorities are the only right priorities, because He is God. This is a song that our congregation engages easily with but I wanted to approach it from a different angle, to keep us thinking about what we're singing, so that it doesn't lose its impact.
"Glory to God Forever" - I have commented many times before, but the bridge of this song is a beautifully simple prayer for God to use our lives for what matters: Him and His glory! "Take my life and let it be/ All for You and for Your glory/ Take my life and let it be Yours." I strive to make this my prayer each time I sing it.
"Always" - This was the second week of teaching this song. I decided to bring it down a half-step to Bb to see how the congregation sings with it there. This song is tricky in that regard, because the verse is pretty low while the chorus reaches fairly high. In Bb, the verse goes all the way down to a G. In the key of Bb, it still seemed that the chorus was hard to reach. Some of the quiet response to the song may be due to the newness of the song, so we'll leave it where it is for another week to see if it changes. The lyric continues to resonate with me, and reminds me that my strength and my hope are only in Jesus, and not in my abilities, talent, knowledge, strength, or anything else on this earth. It is only in Him. He is the only one who is able to rescue me and change me. The battles of this life belong to Him.
"Jesus Paid It All" - This song points to the cross and the price Jesus paid, in our place for our sins. The only proper response will be something like, "All to Him I owe." Our response to His grace, love, and sacrifice does not earn salvation for us, but it is a response of thanksgiving for the amazing free gift He gave us. He is so good to us, and loved us even when we were His enemies! This is what I shared with our congregation before we sang it together, because it is so easy for us to drift into the mentality that what we do can make God like us more. We cannot be any more acceptable to God than through the finished work of Jesus Christ in His atoning death and His resurrection. He has made the way for us to be right with God, and now we are free to love and to serve without another thought for ourselves. I have been reading Martin Luther's On Christian Liberty (aka The Freedom of the Christian) this past week, and it sparked a thought: because of Christ's selfless and sacrificial life and death for us, we can now be truly selfless. In the paradigms where we think our own works make us righteous before God, even the smallest good deed has a selfish twist to it, because we are trying to make ourselves acceptable to God. In Christ, we don't have to think that way anymore. We can truly love and serve without thinking of ourselves, because Christ has thought of us and gave Himself for us. His selflessness made it possible for us to be truly selfless. It's the only way that we could be truly selfless. We owe our lives to Jesus, expressed in our love for Him and for others.
"Take My Life And Let It Be" - I got the idea for this arrangement from Andrew Osenga's former band, The Normals. On the 21st track (the bonus track), they had a really nice acoustic arrangement of this song, with a beautiful introduction. I tweaked the idea a bit for congregational use, and brought it down to the key of D to make it a little easier to sing. I love the focus of this song, and I felt it was a great fit for Joe's message this week. This song is a simple prayer for God to use everything about us (our life, our hands, our feet, our lips) for Him and His purposes, sanctifying them in using them for His glory.
It was a good week of worship. We are still struggling to get everyone awake and aware at our 9 AM service on Sundays, but by the end of the song set, I think we were focused on the gospel, and ready to obey the Word of God. Overall, the congregation's response seemed a little quieter and weaker. I'm trying to figure out to what it can be attributed. Maybe the first song got us started on the wrong foot, even though the message was on point. Maybe the rainy/cloudy weather had everyone a little down compared to normal. It still surprises me how we can do things in very similar ways, yet have very different responses and engagement from a congregation. It just goes to show that it is not about us. We are just facilitators, trying to make it as easy as possible for people to see Jesus Christ and all His glory, and to see what the proper response is to who He is and what He has done.
I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were, and that you were a part of lifting up the name of Jesus!
Join the discussion below! I would love to hear your thoughts. What are some things that have helped your congregation "wake up" in early morning services? What are some things you have tried that help your congregation engage in your context?
In the Son,
p.s. be sure to check out The Worship Community's Sunday Set Lists to see what other leaders and worshipers experienced this weekend with their communities.