Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

What is incarnational worship?

Welcome to my new blog: (i)ncarnation of worship. In this blog I will review the current landscape of worship leadership and encourage dialogue and creative sharing in relationship to the topic of worship leadership. The title of this blog represents the greatest challenge of the 21st century church in relationship to worship: How do we reconcile a desire to connect with culture with a desire for pure worship before the Throne Room of God. I have the great privilege of discussing this issue frequently with my students at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Most often, students of various calling and worship leaders in particular are more passionate about one of these two extremes. Our churches need a balanced perspective on worship for maximum health, and it is the responsibility of worship leaders to provide that balanced perspective. In future posts, I will seek to describe how this proper balance can be achieved through the framework of incarnational worship. Rest assured that future conversation-starters will include practical aspects of worship leadership; although, my students would probably warn you that I tend to drift back to philosophical inquires.

Song Review by Phillip Townsend

Posted originally by Phillip Townsend on August 5, 2010 at 12:16 am  

Song: Lord of All
Artist: Kristian Stanfill

I guess I’ll kick things off if there aren’t any objections? Hearing none, I will proceed I’d like to review a song called Lord of All by Kristian Stanfill. Kristian is an emerging artist from North Point Church in Alpharetta, GA under Pastor Andy Stanley. He is one of my favorite leaders due to his passion, humility, and solid song-writing. Lord of All was first released in 2007 and many churches now sing it. However, I wanted to review the song for those who might be less familiar with Stanfill. I believe this song is an example of top notch song writing and sound biblical theology.

YouTube link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7ii8WTXilw

MUSICALITY
I realize this is a highly subjective category. But in my opinion, this song is a great example of straightforward song writing that stands out for its simple and memorable melody. The chord progression and song order are very predictable. But I think this draws more attention to the power of the melody. Unexpected changes might seem forced and/or “gimmicky”.

The interplay of the lead guitar and piano in the introduction gives the song an epic feel. This is important for accentuating the subject matter which will be covered below.

The pre-chorus and bridge sections add in a minor 2nd chord. This provides just enough chord variation to keep things interesting without being distracting.

In this recording, you’ll notice there aren’t distinguishable vocal harmonies. And truthfully, it doesn’t need any. I think one sign of a well-written melody is that it can stand alone. It doesn’t need backing harmonies to sound powerful.

There is a loop used until the 1st pre-chorus. This simple percussive beat drives the song until the drums come in. The drums remain tasteful throughout – very dynamic but never showy.

The extremely simple and punchy piano part during the chorus gives the whole section an epic feel.

I love the dynamic contrast between the bridge and final chorus. Over the course of 60 seconds, we are taken from the most delicate moments of the song to the most dynamically intense.

The simple chord progression, simple lead guitar riffs, simple piano parts, and simple loop…..combined with a medium tempo….make this song accessible to even the most elementary musicians (like me!).

THEOLOGY
I think Lord of All hits a home run in terms of theology. The lyrics communicate an awestruck wonder that comes from considering the sovereignty, holiness, and absoluteness of God.

Verse 1
Wonder and awe surround You, Lord (Job 5:9)
Glory and fire light Your way (Isaiah 4:5)
Day after day the heavens proclaim
The beauty of the holy One (Revelation 4:8)

Prechorus
We will respond with joy in our song
Your enemies rise
Your enemies fall
Your fire consumes them all (Isaiah 26:11)

Chorus
There is none so high and holy (1 Samuel 2:2)
King of kings the one and only (Revelation 19:16)
You are adored, You are the Lord of all

Verse 2
Mysteries unknown are known to You (Job 11:7)
All wisdom is Yours to reveal (James 1:5)
You hold in Your hand the days of all men
All life and breath is Yours to give (Acts 17:25-26)

Bridge
We adore You, we adore You
Lord of all the earth (Joshua 3:11)
Lord we love You, Lord we love You
Let our hearts be pure (Psalm 51:10)

As you can see, every concept in this song has blatant biblical support. What I particularly love is that…in addition to proclaiming God as the holy and sovereign One…the song includes an element of personal reflection. Phrases such as “We will respond”, “We adore You”, and “Lord, we love You” make the song more than simply descriptive. They allow the worshipper to respond to God with love, adoration, and purity. In other words, we are acknowledging the absolute holiness of God and declaring our desire to be holy like Him (Leviticus 19:2).

CONCLUSION
Lord of All is a modern, well-written, accessible, and biblically sound song that makes a fantastic addition to any church’s song repertoire.

Original Song by Truett-McConnell grad (Tim Johnson)

Check out Tim Johnson’s post for song contest in Atlanta. Posted with his permission

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSNTx0lMkVI&sns=tw

Original Song by Heather Palmer (student at Truett-McConnell, GA)

Heather entered this song in a contest sponsored by the The Fish in Atlanta–posted with Heather’s permission.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJSsNHxDMzI

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?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ytech_wguy/20100726/tc_ytech_wguy/ytech_wguy_tc3236_2

“Relevance versus Reverance”

Ed Stetzer and Mike Harlan presented an excellent discussion that relates directly to the topic at hand: incarnation of worship (http://vimeo.com/6415170). 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.