Many worship leaders in the church today feel like song machines. Their chief role is to assemble and present a set of songs for the gathered church to (hopefully) sing.
Songs are certainly part of the job and one of the most important things we do, but is there more?
Scripture points to a whole life that worships the living God but that’s not a musically exclusive command! How could our short gathering each week better prepare our people for a life of worship? Here are a few thoughts:
SCRIPTURE – Could we include scripture in our music times? Are people hearing different voices from the congregation participate? How can non-musicians bring substance to the liturgy? (I added this calendar to my iCal so I can use the common book of prayer readings https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/calendar.php)
PRAYER – Instead of the typical “transitional” prayers we usually improvise, what if we really planned and prepared something that proclaimed the character of God.
RESPONSE – Are we inviting people to participate in worship in other ways than singing? Perhaps leading a responsive reading or a moment of holy silence. In Holy Communion, we invite people to respond in a non-musical way. Praying the Lord’s Prayer in unison is a spoken way to be formed in worship.
FORMATION – As the lead worshipper, your role is more than songs. You are pastoring and discipling all the people on your team. Your words, manner, behaviors, and social media presence all speak and form.
What did I miss? What about gathered worship is beyond the songs?
My name is Mike O’Brien and I am passionate about teaching and mentoring worship leaders and teams. My calling is to use my experience as a producer, worship leader, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist to come alongside musicians, helping them more fully worship God with their instrument and lives. Find out more about how I can help your worship leaders and teams HERE.
Reclaiming historic worship elements for modern services
When I walked into a Vineyard church in 1994 my mind was blown. On a Friday night, the room was full of expectant people singing TO God. Coming from Presbyterian roots, the only time we gave this expression of exuberant praise was at summer camp! For the first time in my life, I learned of the power of the Holy Spirit through an extended, uninterrupted time of singing.
Fast-forward a couple decades and the “5 songs + sermon” model has become the standard “liturgy” of the modern church. Outside of our empowered ministry prayer times, you would be hard-pressed to see what makes a Vineyard Church distinct from many evangelical church models today.
I believe that as a movement, a time has come for us to pause and reconsider the way forward in worship, both musically and sacramentally. What did we fail to carry forward as a new movement (started in the late 1970’s) that can be reintroduced with care? Here are a few practical ways worship planners in the Vineyard can consider and implement elements of liturgical form in our services:
1. Eucharist (celebrated weekly)
Avoiding mindless, heartless repetition is a common reason many Vineyard pastors say they don’t want to lead their congregation to the table on a weekly basis, favoring to do it once a month or less. It begs the question why we sing, preach and offer prayers repetitively? Are these features any less special because we repeat them over and over? Are we increasing demand by planning scarcity?
A weekly invitation to feast on Christ is a beautiful picture of our Kingdom theology (God is here, now). In the meal, we are reminded that His active presence is with us; it is a vibrant and visceral picture that embodies all the senses while engaging everyone on the same level. Creatively and enthusiastically inviting our people to the meal more frequently might be the greatest discipleship plan we have.
Church planter, Luke Geraty recently submitted an excellent paper on Sacraments to the Society of Vineyard Scholars, check it out HERE.
Ten years ago, leading into the Christmas season I had a nervous breakdown as I was frantically preparing songs, dramas, and choirs for our medium sized congregation. The pressure of making Christmas “extra-special” for everyone nearly broke me. Below is a video of my story and a few ideas of how I reclaimed the Advent season. This is a VIDEO re-post of a previous text blog from last year.
My name is Mike O’Brien and I am passionate about teaching and mentoring through music. My calling is to use my experience as a producer, worship leader, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist to come alongside musicians, helping them more fully worship God with their instrument and lives. Find out more how I can help your worship leaders and teams HERE.