I understand the significance of high production value. Our desire is to bring the very best before God in his house. A congregation expects, as well they should, for the preacher to be prepared. Sermon prep begins on Monday or Tuesday (and sometimes weeks or even months in advance) not on Saturday evening or before church on Sunday morning. Bible teachers and worship leaders, soloists, music directors, choirs and praise band members are all expected to put in time working together and practicing. And in this day and age you need the crew in sound, projection and lighting to go over the program, discussing transitions and the order of service. There is nothing wrong and in fact there is a lot right about devoting time and energy to prepare for worship. But what has slowly happened over the past 20 or 30 years, from my point of view, is that worship has morphed into a spectator sport. Authentic worship is not something we are to sit and watch. I don’t know who said it first but the term I like to use for that activity is worshiptainment. I do not believe that is what God desires. Continue reading
Today is the third Sunday of Advent. Many of us will light the shepherds candle and sing Joy to the World. We’ll read Luke 2:8-20 and talk about how joy was for all people, even lowly shepherds. That first Christmas night was celebrated by a carpenter, an unwed mother, and a few dirty, smelly shepherds from a nearby field. There is certainly a message of hope in the clear demonstration that Christ had come for all…
But why not shepherds? Continue reading
The 150th Psalm lists several musical instruments then declares “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” But are drums welcome in your sanctuary, or what about that kid that thinks he can play the tambourine? People are still entitled to their opinion, and Thom Rainer has poked the hornet’s nest. His post Five Favorite and Five Least Favorite Musical Instruments Used in Worship Services is exactly what it sounds like. Continue reading
I saw a quote the other day, see if this sounds about right.
“It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments.”
Originally published November 24, 2010
Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’s birth, but there is no biblical command to observe it. There are however feasts, songs and prayers of thanksgiving are all over the Bible. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with Christmas; during his lifetime Jesus was an observant Jew, and every indication is that he observed all the Jewish festivals, including the historical ones not just the religious festivals commanded in scripture. The arrival of “God with us” is a major turning point in all of history. But we are commanded to praise God and give thanks. Moses sang songs of thanksgiving, David wrote his own. James reminds us that “every good gift and perfect gift is from above.” The United States was the first country to observe a national holiday for giving thanks. Continue reading
Easter is coming up. The last Sunday in March (there are five this year) is Palm Sunday and the first Sunday in April is Easter. The dates are March 29th and April 5th. Those of you that observed Ash Wednesday and/or the season of Lent are aware of these dates already, as well as anyone planning church activities and worship services. And it is those individuals – pastors, preachers, minsters and directors of music, all worship leaders – that I wish to address.
I spent several years in a ministry that included a daily chapel service. Not only did we observe Palm Sunday and Easter but we had the opportunity to celebrate each day of Holy Week. We could talk about the Triumphal Entry on Sunday and focus on the different aspects of Jesus’ final teachings with the Apostles each day that week. We could give a full day to the Last Supper, another to the arrest and false trial, and spend Good Friday detailing the events of the crucifixion. With all of that said and done the focus of Easter Sunday was entirely on celebrating the resurrection. Continue reading
We’ve all seen stories where a gas station customer pays for someone else’s gas, or a good Samaritan in a grocery store pays for the next person in line. At a Tim Horton’s in Winnipeg last Friday, a chain reaction of paying it forward was set off lasting for three hours. A total of 228 drive through customers paid for the person in line behind them. What’s more Canadian than Tim Horton’s and hospitality, eh?
I mentioned the History Channel’s upcoming mini-series The Bible in a post yesterday. I had been putting it off for several days, and it was this devotional at Our Daily Bread on the endurance of God’s word that motivated me to act. There’s also a bit about a Bible museum being built by the owners of Hobby Lobby.
There is an argument to be made for the Christian roots of Halloween. The very name is created from the words Hallows Eve, the day before All Saints Day. But let’s be honest, unless you’re Roman Catholic most American do not celebrate All Saints (or even know what it is). Would you celebrate Christmas Eve if you didn’t believe in Christmas? Halloween may also have roots in paganism, and is certainly associated today with the occult and many “non-Christian” activities as well. Continue reading
Jesus had many followers. He often spoke to multitudes of people, and we have identified some members of those crowds previously. Many came out to hear Jesus because they were curious. His fame spread quickly in the early days of his ministry. Some followed Jesus from town to town eager to hear and learn more. Some of those “following” Jesus were not interesting in learning from him, but were seeking incriminating evidence with which to accuse him. Among the throng of those listening were people that loved Jesus, hated Jesus, and various levels in between.
Jesus had many disciples (students) but from a large group he choose 12. After the crowds went away – or Jesus escaped from them – he would offer explanation or answer questions in a more intimate setting. Think of it as the difference between the church sanctuary and a small group. Continue reading