Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Praise & Worship II
   Greetings, all. One of the most highly visible ministries in any church is the worship team.  It can also be one of the most influential; music is a powerful force that touches us in a deeper way than just about any other means of communication, affecting the intellect, emotions and the heart. For these reasons, the Pastors and Elders must keep close watch on what's going on there: who's leading, where are they getting their material, what's required of band members, how loud can they get, how long can they play? Church leadership must maintain control or things can very easily get out of line.
   The Prophet Amos delivered this shocking message: "Take away from Me the noise of your songs! I don't want to hear your music!" (Amos 5:23, paraphrased ) Why would God say that? Surely He doesn't hate music: His creation is filled with it! But He didn't want to hear their music. Ephesians 4:30 says, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit"; in what ways might our offerings of praise and worship become a grief to the Holy Spirit?
   Colossians 3:16 tells us to speak to each other in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. And Jesus said the Father seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.  Let me tell ya a little story. Several decades ago, a foul-mouthed comedienne made a movie about a worldly singer who slips into the church impersonating a believer, and taking over the choir, brings worldly music into the sanctuary. The Church saw Sister Act and said, "What a great idea! Let's use worldly music in our praise services!" The Church jumped in with both feet and never looked back.
   Have you never read in the Scriptures Moses' warning to Israel, "...inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so to the LORD thy God" (Deuteronomy 12:30-31) If Satan's children want to serve him with heavy metal rock music, that's their problem! Should we do what they do? Clearly not. And why do we play worldly sounds in our meetings? To please God? Or to please our flesh? We need to ask ourselves some questions. I'll have more next time.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Praise & Worship in the Church

We'd been talking about building the local church, and I discussed several offices and ministries that need to be in place for the church to be healthy, strong, and growing. You may wonder why I didn't start with the music team? They're important aren't they? Well, on many church bulletins, you'll see the worship team leader's name listed right after the Pastor's. Usually, the first thing you see & hear upon entering is the band; they literally take center stage! So, why didn't I list them first? 
   My premise is, we're going to build the church the same way God forms a baby in the womb: He begins with the vital organs and works His way outward. So I ask you, in which trimester does God put the breasts on this little girl? "Um, when she's a teenager?" NOW you get it! The part everyone notices, that part that gets all the attention, He leaves until LAST---His finishing touch on this young lady! The kidneys, liver, heart, lungs: they're all ugly and gross, but you can't live without them! Those breasts might look pretty, but that's basically all they do-until another life begins. Scripture tells us the same thing. And so I've left the music team for last. I'm not saying they're not important, but other ministries that don't get noticed are more important.
   Prove it? Consider this: in the New Testament there is no such position or title as "Worship Leader"!
Check your concordance; you won't find it. But every church in America has a worship leader. Why? Americans love music! We practically deify it; that's why we have a show called American Idol. My church back in the day had a killer music team: they cranked out some awesome music! One service, the Pastor gave a prophecy:  the Lord said, "Don't worship the worship." Wow! We were lovin' the music so much it was becoming an idol!
   Jesus said, "The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth."  It is so easy to get into the flesh because music and singing and dancing and clapping, pleases our flesh and our souls as well as our spirits! This is where it gets tricky. This is why who we appoint as music leader is so important. More on that next time. Peace, grace, and thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Building the Local Church- part 10

Odds & Ends
A few more items to cover before we examine the worship team, to which I'll devote an entire series. First, let's talk about missions and giving.  Every church should support missions work one way or another. If you cannot send someone yourselves, assist those on the front lines with your prayers and financial contributions.
The Great Commission is still Job #1 with God; He hasn't pulled the plug on that operation! There are still many, many thousands of people who have never heard the glorious Gospel of Christ!
   If we want God's blessings on our work, we'd best be involved in His work. Most assemblies take up a missions offering once a month. That's fine: make sure your people know what week so they can prepare! Pastors, never, never be ashamed to ask for money for missions! When I was Head Usher, I used to stuff the bullletins with missions offering envelopes so everyone would have one. Now I'm not a money preacher, but it is true that if you give, it will be given back to you. "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" when you support missions. And THAT'S a fact!
   I'd like to say something about endorsing political parties and candidates: DON'T!! We are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Thirty-forty years ago, the Church was deceived into thinking the GOP was God's party and the Dem's were satan's. Wake up, folks:  Left Wing & Right Wing are flying the same plane! They told us GOP would overturn Roe v. Wade. Guess not. Nor did "conservative" leaders stall our cultural decay. You cannot serve God and mammon---guess which the politicians serve?
   Finally, let's talk about mentoring. Anyone who's doing anything in the church ought to train someone else to do their job for when they're away or get promoted. This avoids the "last-minute scramble" to cover for you when you're out! "The same commit thou to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also" 2nd Timothy 2:2 instructs. Moses/Joshua, Elijah/Elisha, Paul/Timothy; it's the Biblical model.