dOn’T assuMe yOu kNoW hOw tO leAd wOrShiP aT mY chUrcH

While I respect everyone’s views on music-as a worship leader, I feel it is important to represent contemporary worship songs fairly. Indeed, an abundance of them say the same thing over and over but, so do many sacred hymns. STANDING STANDING STANDING on the PROMISES of GOD MY SAVIOR. STANDING STANDING, I’m standing ON THE PROMISES of GOD. GLORY TO HIS NAME, GLORY TO HIS NAME. THERE TO MY HEART WAS THE BLOOD APPLIED. GLORY TO HIS NAME.  SINCE JESUS CAME INTO MY HEART. SINCE JESUS CAME INTO MY HEART. Floods of joy ore my soul like the sea billows roll, SINCE JESUS CAME into MY HEART. Sound doctrine. But repetitious.

We sing them because they’re old; because great grandpa did. We sing them because they evoke memories of that church back home. But, let’s be honest. Plenty of hymns are not composed of earth shattering lyrics. I love traditional hymns; have never NOR will I-abandon the hymns that our faith is built on. But-compare the lyrics above to these-Thank you for the cross Lord. Thank you for the price you paid. Bearing all my sin and shame, in love you came, and gave amazing grace. Thank you for this Love Lord. Thank you for the nail pierced hands. Wash me in your cleansing flow, now all I know, is your forgiveness and embrace. WORTHY is the LAMB, seated on the THRONE. We crown you with many crowns, you reign victorious. High and lifted up, JESUS, son of GOD. The darling of heaven crucified, WORTHY is the LAMB!  There is no comparison to the depth. N.O.N.E.

I’ve been a worship leader a long time now. I’ve been blessed to lead in several countries and various cultures. I’ve planned the music for congregants in large churches, medium sized churches and very small ones. The formula for harmonious worship is similar in every setting. I have a God given responsibility foremost to PRAY about every song I add to our playlist. I believe that it is courteous to choose a variety of songs so that everyone goes away-moved-even if EMOTIONALLY-by at least ONE song. In other words, it just not healthy for the whole body if I am catering to one section only. Do I receive criticism? On a weekly basis, I usually receive an email, call, or face to face request that we do more hymns and I am still asked where the hymn books are. That same week, someone wishes that we didn’t sing so many slow songs while another is sure that the songs are much too upbeat for a worship service. Another wants the band to be featured more, while a few yearn for the old days when the piano and organ were the only instruments in sight. That’s the tightrope a worship leader/minister of music walks; thus my safety net is permanently affixed.

I recently responded to a particular article and have been asked to clarify my comment. The sole reason that I chose to “add my two cents” was simply because the writer openly advised others who hold the same ministry title-to follow his example and (why not add PRAY about it first) mostly abandon contemporary worship songs. Just as I believe that GOD inspired the words of Fannie Crosby, Issac Watts and other hymn writers, it’s an injustice to imply that modern day writers like Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Kari Jobe, Marvin Sapp, Don Moen, William McDowel, Shannon Wexelberg-aren’t equally inspired to write worship music with words & melodies that I, my kids & grandkids understand.

Still, I would’ve let it pass-if not for one overly troubling statement written–Second, the content of hymns is almost always vastly more theologically rich. When I say rich, I don’t necessarily mean every hymn recounts the Gospel in it’s entirety, or that all hymns clearly teach the Five Points of Calvinism. The hymns he sites are used to emphasize his own Calvinist doctrine; that undoubtedly is taking liberties that I’m not sure the writers of many hymns would appreciate. Perhaps they were NOT all Calvinist.

Just my views on what’s always been and will continue to be a controversial topic in churches.  I suggest that WE CAN SING ALL of IT as long as it GLORIFIES the LORD. I have many friends who are five point Calvinist, so please understand, I don’t think it’s of any major relevance-UNLESS-an article is pushing the points unnecessarily. If you want to lead your church that way, okay but, be straightforward about it is all that I ask. Selah.

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