Tag Archives: worship

How does a pastor encourage military veterans in his congregation during July 4th weekend?

How does a pastor encourage military veterans in his congregation during July 4th weekend?Posted on June 24, 2015 by Brian Croft — 1 Comment ↓For those living in America, you know July 4 is coming, which is the day we celebrate our Independence as a nation.  For my international readers, this is a day that is often used to honor those who have served our country in the military.  This typically means the Sunday connected with this holiday becomes the place where these celebrations take place.  You will find a variety of approaches, from churches doing full blown patriotic musicals in place of the corporate gathering, to nothing different than a normal Sunday service.Some go way over the top, while others do nothing trying to make a statement about how church is not a place to celebrate your country, but worship God.  Regardless where you find yourself on this spectrum, most American churches have men and women who either serve, or have served in the military who are present on Sunday.  How does a pastor encourage these members in his church?I must confess, in the early years I was more concern with upholding Sunday as a day to worship God, not honor our country.  This caused me to make some unhelpful and insensitive rookie comments in discussions with a few folks wanting more done on Sundays.I still feel that Sunday is the Lord’s Day and should be focused on the Lord, but here are a few ways I have learned we can still encourage those who have served in the military over this holiday weekend without compromising our convictions about Sunday worship:1)  Recognize vets in your congregation publically.We do announcements at the beginning of the service as well as any other logistical issues before our call to worship.  This is a great time to do things like this as it is placed before worship begins in our view.  This can be a great encouragement and help church members learn something about each other they didn’t know before.  The last time we recognized all those who serve or have served in the military, we observed four different generations standing, which was a wonderful way to see the presents of a multi-generational church in our midst.2)  Pray for the leaders of your country in a pastoral prayer.American holidays as this give us a great opportunity to teach our congregation how to process them in light of the gospel and God’s glory, not a man-centered focus.  A well prepared pastoral prayer can accomplish this in a powerful way.  We should be regularly praying for our President and those leading our nation in our public gatherings any way throughout the year.  It is also nice to have a mature Christian man respected for his military service pray in the service in some way.3)  Thank military service men and women privately.There is an elderly saint in our church who fought in a war defending our country over 50 years ago.  For several years, we argued about why we don’t do a musical and sing patriotic songs in place of Sunday worship.  I have learned throughout the years how kindly to explain why we don’t do this.  Yesterday, I decided to go to him first before we had a chance to meet and discuss the service planned for that day.  I went to him, looked him in the eyes, and thanked him for all his service.  I acknowledged I don’t say it enough, but I am aware of the freedoms I enjoy came at the sacrifice of men like him.  This 80 year old man looked up at me with tears and just hugged me.  There was no argument about the service.This is a lesson I wish I had learned years ago.  These faithful folks don’t want a musical, they just want to feel appreciated by what they have done and the sacrifices they had made for us.  They want to know their young pastor cares about this important part of their life and history and does not take our freedoms for granted.Pastors, we don’t have to change our convictions, but we need to be sensitive to all our people and seize the opportunities to encourage certain folks.  The 4th of July in America is one of those days.  Make a plan in the next couple of weeks to call all the vets in your church and thank them for their service.  You may be surprised how much it means to them and will open future opportunities for ministry with them.

via How does a pastor encourage military veterans in his congregation during July 4th weekend? | Practical ShepherdingPractical Shepherding.

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Is Your Church Worship More Pagan than Christian?

Orginally posted on CrossWalk.com

Todd Pruitt
Sept 29, 2014

Is Your Church Worship More Pagan than Christian?

There is a great misunderstanding in churches of the purpose of music in Christian worship. Churches routinely advertise their “life-changing” or “dynamic” worship that will “bring you closer to God” or “change your life.” Certain worship CD’s promise that the music will “enable you to enter the presence of God.” Even a flyer for a recent conference for worship leaders boasted:

“Join us for dynamic teaching to set you on the right path, and inspiring worship where you can meet God and receive the energy and love you need to be a mover and shaker in today’s world…Alongside our teaching program are worship events which put you in touch with the power and love of God.”

The problem with the flyer and with many church ads is that these kinds of promises reveal a significant theological error. Music is viewed as a means to facilitate an encounter with God; it will move us closer to God. In this schema, music becomes a means of mediation between God and man. But this idea is closer to ecstatic pagan practices than to Christian worship.

Jesus is the only mediator between God and man. He alone is the One who brings us to God. The popular but mistaken notions regarding worship music undermine this foundational truth of the Christian faith. It is also ironic that while many Christians deny the sacramental role of those ordinances which the Lord Himself has given to the church (baptism and the Lord’s Supper) they are eager to grant music sacramental powers. Music and “the worship experience” are viewed as means by which we enter the presence of God and receive his saving benefits. There is simply no evidence whatsoever in Scripture that music mediates direct encounters or experiences with God. This is a common pagan notion. It is far from Christian.
In his helpful book True Worship Vaughan Roberts offers four consequences of viewing music as an encounter with God. I will summarize them.

1. God’s Word is marginalized.
In many Churches and Christian gatherings it is not unusual for God’s Word to be shortchanged. Music gives people the elusive “liver quiver” while the Bible is more mundane. Pulpits have shrunk and even disappeared while bands and lighting have grown. But faith does not come from music, dynamic experiences, or supposed encounters with God. Faith is birthed through the proclamation of God’s Word (Rom 10:17).

2. Our assurance is threatened.
If we associate God’s presence with a particular experience or emotion, what happens when we no longer feel it? We search for churches whose praise band, orchestra, or pipe organ produce in us the feelings we are chasing. But the reality of God in our lives depends on the mediation of Christ not on subjective experiences.

3. Musicians are given priestly status.
When music is seen as a means to encounter God, worship leaders and musicians are vested with a priestly role. They become the ones who bring us into the presence of God rather than Jesus Christ who alone has already fulfilled that role. Understandably, when a worship leader or band doesn’t help me experience God they have failed and must be replaced. On the other hand, when we believe that they have successfully moved us into God’s presence they will attain in our minds a status that is far too high for their own good.

4. Division is increased.
If we identify a feeling as an encounter with God, and only a particular kind of music produces that feeling, then we will insist that same music be played regularly in our church or gatherings. As long as everyone else shares our taste then there is no problem. But if others depend upon a different kind of music to produce the feeling that is important to them then division is cultivated. And because we routinely classify particular feelings as encounters with God our demands for what produce those feelings become very rigid. This is why so many churches succumb to offering multiple styles of worship services. By doing so, they unwittingly sanction division and self-centeredness among the people of God.

Scripture is full of exhortations to God’s people to sing and make music to the Lord. Our God has been gracious to give us this means to worship Him. But it is important to understand that music in our worship is for two specific purposes: to honor God and to edify our fellow believers. Unfortunately, many Christians tend to grant music a sacramental power which Scripture never bestows upon it.
Todd Pruitt serves as Lead Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Raised a Southern Baptist, he is a graduate of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City. He blogs regularly at Ref21 and 1517. Todd, along with Carl Trueman and Aimee Byrd, is one of the hosts of Mortification of Spin. He and his wife Karen have three children.

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We’re Asking The Wrong Question When We Go To Church

Reposted from the The Aquila Report

The most important question isn’t, “What am I getting out of this ministry?”

After all, in our, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” culture, it’s hard to not be self-centered in our spiritual lives. We want to make sure that we’re being fed, built-up, and connected when we come to church. And we live in a world that is filled with reviews and evaluations. I loved the shrimp and grits at “John’s Seafood Shack” and gave the place five stars on Yelp! I had an awful customer service experience and I told all my friends on Facebook (I actually did this recently, but don’t ask me about it because I get angry every time I tell the story). It’s easy to treat church like any other consumer experience.

It’s a phrase I’ve said or thought many times. Church is over, I’m sitting at home eating lunch, and I think to myself, I didn’t really get much out of church this morning. The worship leader was wearing a loud, distracting plaid shirt, that looked like an Amish quilt and a neon sign had been thrown into a blender and then reassembled at American Eagle. We also sang that one song that I really don’t like – the one that repeats the chorus over and over and over, like some sort of druid chant. And the sermon…well, it definitely could’ve been better. I mean, it was Bible and Jesus and something about holiness, but the pastor definitely can’t preach like Matt Chandler.

What did I get out of church?

Have you ever asked that question? I suspect you have.

After all, in our, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” culture, it’s hard to not be self-centered in our spiritual lives. We want to make sure that we’re being fed, built-up, and connected when we come to church. And we live in a world that is filled with reviews and evaluations. I loved the shrimp and grits at “John’s Seafood Shack” and gave the place five stars on Yelp! I had an awful customer service experience and I told all my friends on Facebook (I actually did this recently, but don’t ask me about it because I get angry every time I tell the story). It’s easy to treat church like any other consumer experience.

It’s interesting though, that when we look at Scripture, we find very few details regarding the things we should get from church. Rather, we find lots of details about what we shouldbring to church.

In 1 Corinthians 14:26, Paul describes what a gathering should look like:

“What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”

Paul describes church as a bunch of people coming together and giving themselves away. He expected that every one of the Corinthians would come prepared to give something, whether that be a hymn, lesson, revelation, tongue, or interpretation. For Paul, church was not a spectator sport. It was an all hands on deck kind of thing. No slackers allowed. For Paul, the most important question wasn’t, “What can I get out of this gathering?” Rather, the most important question was, “What can I do that will build others up?”

In Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul says,

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”

It can be tempting to think that ministry is the stuff done by pastors, worship leaders, and small group leaders. We let them do the work while we sit back and watch. But the passage from Ephesians makes it clear that ministry is done by every Christian. Pastors and teachers are called to arm the saints for ministry, and then the saints are to go into the battlefields. The most important question isn’t, “What am I getting out of this ministry?” The most important question is, “What ministry am I doing?”

John Frame puts it this way:

Worshipers should not take a passive attitude toward worship, such as we usually take toward entertainment. As we have seen, worship is a priestly service. It is latreia, “labor, service.” Therefore, we should go to church to do something: to bring praise to God and to minister to one another. This perspective should make us less concerned about what we “get out of” worship and more concerned about what we contribute to God and to our brothers and sisters. (Worship In Spirit and Truth, pg. 80)

Obviously, it’s important that we attend a church which allows us to experience biblical preaching, fellowship, the sacraments, and all the other important parts of church. But if our main question after every service is, “What did I get out of it?”, we’re asking the wrong question.

It’s time to be all in.

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