Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Day the (Church) Music Died

No wonder I end up with diarrhea during me 60-second drive home. A dainty humble church-going lady came to me after a worship service and kindly stated, "Bryan, I hope we never lose the hymns." I smiled as we shook hands and parted ways. Right behind her, a bushy-haired teen with a cross-pierced ear 'shook' my hand and said, "Bryan, I love that edgy music we do." That’s when I get the diarrhea. But here's the bigger question. What about all the other music? Where did all the music go? You know...the Gregorian Chant and stuff. Allow me explain.

New songs are baby songs. What are new songs? In the scheme of history, it’s basically, anything written in the past 20 years. These songs aren’t in our hymnal (the hymnal we select some of our music from for services was published in 1986). We don't know if they'll survive into to their ‘teen years’ until they prove themselves like some hymns have. Some will become the hymns of tomorrow. Most will die out.

Hymns are in mid-life crisis. Allow me to explain. Our hymnals today contain music mostly written from 1800-1900. There is, however, the occasional exception. Take for example the melody that "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" is derived. It's a Gregorian Chant. Or the 14th century Christmas carol "Good Christian Men, Rejoice." But our hymnal doesn't represent all of musical history. It only spans 500 years.

So where are all the senior citizen songs? You know, the rest of the Gregorian Chants...where are they? How about the music that the Psalm were originally sung to...where are they? Let me ask again, WHERE ARE THEY MY TRADITIONAL AND CONTEMPORARY FRIENDS!? Why doesn't anyone ask for the ancient music of old? It's because they've been lost and forgotten by the church. We no longer sing the ancient music. Maybe we sing to the text of Psalms and lyrics written in the 8th century, but the music is long since vanished from the church.

The fact is, the music we use in church today (both hymns and new songs) is extremely narrow historically. If we truly want to be "blended" or prevent losing our musical historical roots - I need to sign my children up for the nearest Chant school. The question is, are we ready for that? Do we really want that? Will it help us or hinder us in our worship? Does God want it? Do we need it, or any style of music (or music for that fact) to demonstrate to God what He's worth?

I suddenly don't have diarrhea any more on the drive home as I find myself switching from Top 40 Radio to NPR Radio and back again. For my birthday, someone please get me a subscription to satellite radio. I promise to leave it on the Bluegrass hits station every day as I leave the office, just for Scott Distler to listen to at Grace Church (Lititz, PA).

Friday, April 14, 2006

Worship...Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

My son, Joshua, enjoys a book we read him with the song "Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." In fact, at times he will spontaneously break out into movement at a TV commercial, song on the radio, or just for the fun of it. I'm afraid for the day that he begins dancing at church in front of everyone. Should I stop him? Nah. It's cute. Besides, he has better moves than either his mom or dad.

What is appropriate in worship when it comes to HOW we worship? Does the heavenly Father enjoy watching us dance for Him, similar to the enjoyment I get watching my son dance for us? How about clapping hands? Raising hands? Oh boy, now I'm getting controversial (for some).

When there is a wedding and the bridal march begins, what do people do without thinking twice? They stand in honor of the bride and groom on this special day. When a man asks a woman to marry him, he gets on his knee to propose to her. Why? Because he wants to show her that this is an important event and that she is being honored as someone very special. Dancing plays a part of our culture in that it expresses celebration, intimacy, and individuality. We clap with enthusiasm for everything that pleases us. Musicians will play their instruments for hours on end with no one listening. Speaking doesn't need to be mentioned at all.

Have you ever been to a ball game where the parents of the players were present? If so, you've experienced shouting at its best. Singing is done by the talented and untalented alike, and is often done in cars, showers, and on stage. In sporting events or competitions we see this quite often. Whenever a player scores a basket or touchdown the hands go up. It a natural response to an amazing task performed.

Let'’s pause and ask ourselves what we are doing during our worship times today. How do we worship? What are we able to do and still be reverent before the Lord? What is God's desire for our worship? Does God give us the right to pick and choose how we worship? Here are nine expressions of worship from the Psalms that stem from David's desire to worship the Lord wholeheartedly and without reservation.

It is important to keep in mind that these modes of worship took place thousands of years before 'the charismatic movement' that some believers are so afraid of. I'll agree, there are dangers in the charismatic movement..but shall we throw away biblical worship because it's associated with something that we are afraid of? Hmmm. Just food for thought.

Consider the following. Which ones are accepted in your church? Which ones do you feel comfortable doing? Which ones would you not be caught doing?! Why or why not?

Our Voice
1. Speaking - Psalm 34:1 says, "I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips."

2. Shouting - Psalm 27:6 says, "Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord."

3. Singing - Psalm 47:6 says, "Sing praises to God, sing praises to our King, sing praises."

Our Posture
1. Bowing - Psalm 95:6 says, "Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker."

2. Standing - Psalm 119:120 says, "My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws."

3. Dancing - Psalm 149:3 says, "Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp."

Our Hands
1. Playing Instruments - Psalm 33:2, 3 says, "Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy."

2. Clapping - Psalm 47:1 says, "Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy."

3. Lifting Hands - Psalm 63:4 says, "I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands."

[Content taken from "Nine Ways to Worship" by Stephen M. Newman]

God h
elp me to express Your worthiness like David did. I don't want to be concerned about what others think of me as I worship You. I want You to be concerned with how I worship You. God, there are times I don't fully express how I love you because of what others think of me. Forgive me for putting others before You when it comes to how I worship You.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Trust: One of Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Trust. It's such a simple concept. Yet rarely do people function in real trust. It's the first of five dysfunctions shared by Patrick M. Lencioni in his book "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team." Without trust, the willingness to be transparent and honest with others, a team will rarely be more than the sum of its parts.

The book lists the five dysfunctions of a team:

Teams are truly cohesive when...
1. They trust one another.
2. They engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas.
3. They commit to decisions and plans of actions.
4. They hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans.
5. They focus on the achievement of collective results.

I wonder how much people really trust each other? Think about it. When was the last time you told someone everything about you? I mean EVERYTHING. See, we all have a problem here. We share almost all the details about ourselves, but stop short for fear of what this person would do with the information. Today, people find it easier to spill their guts in a chat room online than to someone they know. Why? Because of trust.

Having people on your team that you trust is vital to the effectiveness of the team. Without it, a team limps. Team members who hide information, guard their true thoughts, or avoid honest dialog with each other limits what the team can do. Remember the lack of trust between Samson and Delilah? Delilah pretended to love Samson while looking for her own personal gain. Unfortunately, Samson wasn't smart enough to realize it after she took advantage of him four times. Take a look at Delilah's words to Samson, would you trust this girl?

“How can you say you love me when you don’t confide in me?” she whined. “You’ve made fun of me three times now, and you still haven’t told me what makes you so strong!” (Judges 16:15)

When trust is absent on a team, it is extremely difficult to generate trust. Why? No one wants to commit first! Whether it be shear fear or not being able to humble ourselves...we don't make the first move. It's only safe (maybe) after someone else has been transparent or proven themselves trustworthy in small ways. Who will be the first to share about inconsistency in prayer life? How about when our marriage isn't going well?

Who goes first? Until someone goes first, the team resorts to veiled discussions and guarded comments. It's these underground dealings that causes failure in the team (as a whole) to commit to any decision.

Unless I'm willing to be open, honest, and transparent first...why would anyone else want to commit their trust to me? It's most difficult to develop trust with those who have proven themselves untrustworthy.

God, help me take a risk in my trust with others. I especially need Your help when it comes me and others who are untrustworthy. I don't want to give a second chance...but I'm thankful that You are patient. Help me be trustworthy and have integrity in all areas of my life, especially those areas that You know I need improvement. (I'd put them here in my blog, but I don't trust those reading it...but I know You know them.) Help me take resonable risks to develop a similar trust in others that I have in You.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Top 25 at Grace

Ever wonder what the most frequently used songs are at Grace? Ever wonder how they compare with other churches? Here's a very quick comparison of the top 25 songs churches use from CCLI (Christian Copyright Lisencing International) and the most used songs based on frequency at Grace?

Top 25 CCLI Songs as of April 3, 2006

1 How Great Is Our God
2 Here I Am To Worship
3 Blessed Be Your Name
4 You Are My King
5 Open The Eyes Of My Heart
6 Forever
7 Holy Is The Lord
8 Come Now Is The Time To Worship
9 Lord I Lift Your Name On High
10 God Of Wonders
11 Shout To The Lord
12 Indescribable
13 Above All
14 The Heart Of Worship
15 The Wonderful Cross
16 We Fall Down
17 Trading My Sorrows
18 You Are My All In All
19 How Great Thou Art
20 Breathe
21 You're Worthy Of My Praise
22 Draw Me Close
23 Hallelujah
24 I Give You My Heart
25 Better Is One Day

Most Frequently Used Songs at Grace (May 2005 through April 2006)

# / Title / Number of Times Used

1 Arise 9
2 God Is Great 8
3 We Want to See Jesus Lifted High 8
4 Above All 7
5 You Are Holy (Prince of Peace) 7
6 You Are My King 7
7 Better Than Life 6
8 Forever 6
9 Indescribable 6
10 Offering 6
11 That's Why We Praise Him 6
12 The Wonderful Cross 6
13 All the Earth Will Sing Your Praises 6
14 All the Earth 5
15 Your Grace Still Amazes Me 5
16 Blessed Be Your Name 4
17 Great is Thy Faithfulness 4
18 How Deep the Father’s Love for Us 4
19 O Worship the King 4
20 Shout to the North 4
21 There is a Redeemer 4
22 We Fall Down 4
23 You Are My All and All 4

The following songs were all used 3 times in the past year, so it's difficult to tell which really should fall in #24, and 25.

24 All Hail the Power (band iWorship click track version) 3
25 Ancient Words 3
26 Cry Out Your Name 3
27 Friend of God 3
28 He is Exalted 3
29 How Great Thou Art 3
30 I Love To Tell The Story (H237) 3
31 I Sing the Mighty Power of God (H59) 3
32 I Will Call Upon the Lord 3
33 I'm Forever Grateful 3
34 Lord Most High 3
35 O God Our Help In Ages Past 3
36 Revive Us Again 3
37 The Heart of Worship 3
38 You Have Been Good 3