Archive for July, 2010

Revitalizing Worship Songs

In recent years there is a great deal of interest in revitalizing hymns (i.e., adding new instrumentation to standard hymns). I am a big fan of this procedure, particularly because it increases the chances that our young worshipers will be singing the hymns for many years to come. But another approach has been occurring for some time in the rock world. PBS recently interviewed Sting regarding his revitalization of standard rock tunes with orchestral accompaniment. Sting addresses his desire to keep his songs viable over the course of decades, but I can’t help but think that Sting felt compelled to add another layer of sophistication to these songs. Particularly, if one considers the projects he’s been involved in over the past decade (e.g., lute songs by Byrd). Young worship leaderships, I hesitantly include myself in this group as I approach 40, have a tendency to relegate all orchestrated worship songs to the category of Lawrence Welk Worship, but is Sting providing a path for adding a real aesthetic value to songs conceived originally as rock pieces?

Media culture in worship

Churches who have been using movie clips without permission may be relieved by a recent decision of the courts (see below). But the deeper issue is the appropriateness of certain clips for worship. This site is devoted to the ongoing debate regarding how the desire for purity in worship should be balanced with a desire for cultural relevance. What should be the guidelines for  the use of secular media in worship?

“Relevance versus Reverance”

Ed Stetzer and Mike Harlan presented an excellent discussion that relates directly to the topic at hand: incarnation of worship ( I am particularly impressed with Stetzer’s suggestion that we exegete a community before trying to force our worship preferences on a particular church. If worship leaders(music or otherwise) would adopt this model, we would see far fewer splits in churches. Let us know what you think about this dialogue–feel free to reference specific sections of the interview as that will encourage others to view the video themselves.

How Do We Define Success

How do we define success in worship leadership? The highest standard of artistic influence according to one of the leading creativity researchers in the world, Csiksentmilhayi, is artistic productivity that permanently changes culture. Although very few artists achieve this level of influence, in the world of worship leadership even this standard is not adequate. For example, Constantine certainly changed worship practices forever, but whether he was a good worship leader is quite debatable. Real worship will change the culture of a church and eventually a community, but how culture is changed and the nature of the change that occurs must be carefully evaluated before we label change as succesful.