Tag Archives: music

How Many Words Should Our Songs Have?

by Scott

One of the things that can get mentioned as a negative against some of the newer congregational worship songs of today is in reference to their length. You know, they are just too short. And, accordingly, these short songs cannot and do not carry much theology within them. Thus, the conclusion is that much of today’s songs are not as good as those of a foregone era. It’s those longer, more wordy songs that are chalked fully of theology and, hence, they are more pleasing to God (or at least more pleasing to those making the assertions).

As one who loves deeper study and engagement with theology, you would think I would agree with such a sentiment. And, at times, I do recognise that some modern songs seem a bit too fluffy, lacking in substance. Yet, overall, I am not sure I appreciate much of the banter against modern day hymns. Continue reading

A Simple Way God Spoke Through A Song

by Scott

I thought I would share some music musings that I had originally posted over at The Prodigal Thought. I wanted to share a simple little story about an ol’ favourite singer of mine, a song that has been stuck in my head this week, and a little story of how God spoke to me through the song.

One of my favourite singers since I was a little toddler has been Kenny Rogers. Yes, Kenny Rogers! Now, I don’t listen to him on a regular basis today, but my ventures with Kenny Rogers all started when I was just a little tyke of a boy. I fell in love with his singing when he appeared on one of the Muppets episodes (not the Muppet Babies cartoons, but the real Muppet puppets). And my parents taped that one show (on a VHS tape) and I watched it constantly, continually, perpetually, even religiously. My parents regularly recall how I would always call out to them, ‘Mommy, daddy. Kenny Waagerrs and Mwuppwets! Kenny Waagerrs and Mwuppwets!’

I supposedly could not get enough. And I have vague memories of that one show with Kenny Rogers embedded deeply within me.

Well, interestingly enough, before I was to move to Brussels, Belgium, I had been involved with a guy’s prayer group on a weekly basis within our local church. A few weeks before I moved, the guys were specifically gathered around me, praying for my situation. I had shared how there were a lot of things going on with preparing to end out things in Memphis and preparing to head to Brussels. I was beginning to feel quite overwhelmed.

As the guys were praying for me, one of my good friends, Sam, spoke up and said something to the effect of: Scott, I don’t know if you know the Kenny Rogers song, The Gambler. But I really believe God wants to speak to you through the one line that says, ‘You’ve gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.’
Sam went on to share how, in this time, there are things that I need to consider if they are worth holding onto or if it is simply better folding them and laying them down. Though you might laugh, and some might even mock at my suggestion that God could ever speak through such a song, it was quite a strengthening word given to me from a simple line from a simple song, a song from my favourite singer as a little tyke. I will always remember that evening as I gathered with a handful of guys for prayer. And who wouldn’t remember a time when God speaks like a two-edged sword into your life and situation?

So, lately I have been singing that song. And so, in tribute to my most-liked singer as a little boy, and in remembrance of that strengthening word before heading to Brussels, I post this video of The Gambler by Kenny Rogers.

Four Questions For Worship Leaders

by Scott

As a musician and worship leader myself, I regularly look to give input into our music team and worship leaders at Cornerstone. Recently, I have been emphasising these four questions with our worship leaders as very important to ask as we lead both the music team and the congregation.

1) How is your intimacy in your own worship?

One thing I am very convinced of is that one cannot lead others where they have not been themselves. Of course, God is sovereign and can do as He so pleases. But it is much more difficult to lead people where we have yet been.

And so, we need to be intimately relating with our Lover, for we are His beloved. This is not so much about programmed quiet times or reading a certain amount of Scripture and praying a certain amount of time, though those things are not bad. But can you imagine a husband and wife always approaching one another in a programmed way? It would not work very well. The two typically want to simply be with one another, listen, talk, laugh, etc. And it usually is very spontaneous instead of programmed. Yes, study the Word. Yes, have specific prayer focus. But also be spontaneously and freely intimate with Him.

One way to grow in this as musicians and worship leaders is with our own instruments and voices. We are told in 1 Samuel 16:16 that David was ‘a man who is skillful in playing the lyre’. The word for skillful in the original Hebrew is yada, which refers to being knowledgeable and acquainted with. David knew his instrument with intimacy. Hence, why this man was able to intimately worship Yahweh.

We are called to worship God as intimate lovers. It is our great privilege. And our intimacy can be expressed through music and voice, whether on the guitar, with the piano, with a snare drum, with the voice, or with a CD on in the background.

2) Are you leading the team and the people?

As leaders, we have a responsibility to lead. It sounds simple, but we have to lead. Of course we need to guard against acting as Levitical priests completely responsible for administering the presence of God to people. Some churches lean too far that way. We are all called to maturity. But, in our worship leading, we are called to serve both our musicians and the congregation by leading them. Leading is an opportunity to serve.

So, practically, we can lead with hand signals and with specific statements into the microphone for all to hear. Sheep like to be led, and so we have a great opportunity to lead. All the while, we are challenged to know the leading of God’s Spirit and to remain humble, especially steering clear of any manipulation in our worship gatherings.

3) How are the transitions between songs?

For some inexperienced teams, there might be a lack of wisdom of how to transition between songs, both musically and from a Spirit-led perspective. Hence, there might be a lot of complete stops with no smooth flow from one song into another. Of course, there is no legalism here. But solid flow between songs, however that might look in varying situations, can help maintain a corporate focus of worship.

Remember, leading worship is an opportunity to serve the body. And what might seem like a small thing as transition between songs can go a long way in serving the body. Can you imagine how helpful it would be if the congregation is in a deep place of worship and the music team transfers nice and smoothly from one song to the next? Now imagine the opposite? Though a smooth transition might go unnoticed by many who are not musicians, it will definitely be a blessing and help to the corporate gathering, even if that blessings lies in the background.

Of course, there will be times when it is appropriate to completely stop at the end of a song. Such scenarios might be: 1) a big ending to a song of celebration, 2) a needed time of stillness and silence to hear God or 3) a possible key change that does not flow well between one song to the next and so we end the song before beginning the next one. But this, too, is all part of considering smooth and helpful transitions between songs. A small practical aspect that can make a big difference.

4) What is God currently stirring and speaking to the church?

This is very paramount as leaders, whether one is involved in preaching-teaching the Word, leading worship, inviting the congregation to take of the bread and wine, to whatever aspect of leading within the corporate gathering. We definitely need to be aware of what God is currently saying and stirring.

So, for worship leaders, as songs are chosen, our great goal is not to choose our favourite songs or the newest song, though maybe such will connect into what God is already doing. But we need to learn to hear God. We must guard against being over-burdened with this responsibility. We serve a wise and sovereign God. Nevertheless, as leaders, we need to be regularly asking what God is currently stirring and saying.

What a blessing the simple choosing of songs can be as it links directly in to what God is particularly stirring within the larger context of the body.

Here we have an awesome opportunity – the love-worship relationship with our Father. And what a sobering responsibility – learning to lead the people of God in our corporate gatherings. I am grateful that our God is the initiator of the worship relationship. And I am grateful that God Himself is very interested in helping us grow as leaders in the corporate worship setting.