How to Select Worship Songs for “Your” Church

How to Select Worship Songs for “Your” Church

Church song selection has a lot to do with your philosophy on the power of music.

If you merely want songs to be theologically accurate and emotionally powerful, most CCM songs will do.

But, if you believe that music can be more powerful than the sermon – that the words in the songs we sing can be more impactful than the big 3 takeaways on our handout – song selection becomes a greater responsibility.

Then you choose songs with lyrics that match the spiritual reality you want your congregation to embrace.

For a church struggling with humility, sing songs about the depravity of man and the need of repentance.

For a church struggling with faith, sing songs about the sovereignty of God.

For a church struggling with love, sing songs about community and connection.

And if you can’t find songs to match what your congregation needs to cry out, write them.

The Manipulative Power of Worship Music

The Manipulative Power of Worship Music

Posted by on Oct 27, 2011 in Worship Music | One Comment

One common argument I hear from both Christians and not-yet-believers is the idea that worship music can wrongly catch people up into a emotional trance or tizzy in which they too readily accept anything being said from the pulpit.

This is absolutely true.

But, removing music doesn’t solve that problem.

Consider Martin Luther King Jr.’s unique speaking ability. Is it manipulative? Absolutely. The cadence. The repetition. It’s breathtaking. It sounds so good that it immediately sounds right.

But neither does removing rhetoric solve that problem – in the sense that we might disqualify a pastor based on their speaking gifts, which might too easily manipulate the masses.

The problem only rests if truth is not being spoken. If our worship music soars with lyrics that simply aren’t true. If our pastors’ language stirs our hearts with words that are empty.

Capitalist Music Choice in Christian America

Capitalist Music Choice in Christian America

Posted by on Sep 14, 2011 in Worship Music | No Comments

“Sunday is the most segregated day of the week.”

Historians often point to the beautiful unity in the early church, which I had partially attributed to its homogeneity – the fact that it’s easy to be united when you have the same personal and cultural preferences anyway.

But in the book “Fresh Power”, Jim Cymbala, pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle Church takes issue with the “homogeneity” argument, bringing up how the early church created tremendous unity between Jew and Gentile, groups with cultural chasms between them.

So, since Pastor Cymbala refuted my first argument, I thought of another. 🙂

How many options were there for the 1st century Christian in terms of finding community? Because today, there are 25x the number of churches in America than there are McDonalds. And if there were only 1 church nearby, that’s probably the one I would go to. But if there’s a God-fearing, Bible preaching church down the street – that also plays music closer to what I’m familiar with and can more easily participate in – I’d be stupid not to go here, right?

Unless I’m intentionally trying to make a point that music doesn’t matter and unity is more important than anything else? But if we all did this, then we’d end up with 1 mega-church per town, right? Is that what we’re going for? I can’t remember now.

1VOICE Worship Experience

1VOICE Worship Experience

Posted by on Sep 9, 2011 in Christian Music, Worship Music | No Comments

I am extremely excited to be a part of the 1VOICE Worship Experience – a worship night for Chicagoland, tomorrow night, Sept. 10th from 7-10 PM.

Practices have been absolutely amazing. Even for your Christian friends who typically hate Christian music, it’s going to be pretty ridiculous.

Come say “hi” afterward if you can make it.

Check out the details for 1VOICE here.

Wanting a Racially Diverse Church that Prefers White Music

Wanting a Racially Diverse Church that Prefers White Music

Posted by on Sep 2, 2011 in Church Music, Worship Music | No Comments

When I first moved back to the Chicago suburbs, I attended a black church for a little more than a year. It was an amazing place. The people were passionate. The pastor provoked you to growth. The music was performed with excellence.

And my wife and I were the only white people in the room.

Our pastor often spoke of our vision for “becoming a church that looked more like the rainbow – more like what heaven would be like.”

I led worship a couple of times. Everyone was polite. A very few number of people told me that’s how they wished we would worship every week. But it was clear the vast majority didn’t care for it.

So, I met with my Pastor and asked him about his vision for the church and the role that music plays in it.

As I began to explain my thoughts, he interjected with, “You know Eric, if I change the music to what you like, I’ll have a bunch of people say, ‘they’re the only white folk in the room,’ Why are we changing to please them?” I was caught off guard, forgetting that pastors are so often bombarded with requests to change service specifics to their personal preference, he assumed that’s what I was after.

I told him I absolutely agreed, and that wasn’t what I was asking for. But that we might have to give up on our vision for becoming a racially-diverse church. Because in reality, what we’re asking for is a racially-diverse, culturally homogenous church.

We want white people that love Gospel music. We want black people that love Hillsong.

If we actually want a racially-diverse church, we need to expand our musical repertoire. If we don’t want to do that, we have to be ok with the Sunday segregation.

I Wouldn’t Get Attached to Your Favorite Worship Song

I Wouldn’t Get Attached to Your Favorite Worship Song

Posted by on Aug 16, 2011 in Worship Music | 2 Comments

Composed by Matt Larson, Christian Indie Musician

I wouldn’t get too attached to your favorite worship song – be it a modern “worship” tune, or good old fashioned traditional “hymn”.

Now hear me out on this. There are some very well written songs that move me deeply. But, what limitations do our songs have – if written in a sinful world – while at odds with our sinful nature?

There is an amazing sense of audacity in our sense of what pleases God, and what will please Him for eternity. We think a lot about our creations – mostly because we think a lot about ourselves. We believe that if we write a hit song = Jesus is honored (and probably forever). But, again, I ask my original question – “What limitations do our songs have?”

Still you say, “How could ‘How Great is Our God’ or ‘Amazing Grace’ not fit in well with the songs of heaven?”

Well, when you imagine worshiping in heaven, are you singing in English? Is the song in a major key? Is it composed in a verse-verse-chorus-verse structure?

We are constrained. Our worship is constricted and small. Sin has distorted our view of God. We live in this distortion, and cause it. Anything created here is not perfect, and will not be in God’s presence.