When I was a kids pastor at the ripe age of 21 I did then what I find unthinkable now. I wouldn’t sing Christmas songs in kids church and never would sing hymns. As I think back I can’t even remember why I felt that way. I think I felt that kids wanted to have fun and Hymns were above their pay grade. I think I thought Christmas Carols were things you heard in stores not songs of praise sung in church. What changed my perspective was being in the same church for 20 years. Seeing the kids grow up that I had taught in preschool I realized that I had made a couple of mistakes.
One mistake was thinking that fun mattered more than substance. If I made it crazy enough they would come back. I’m all for fun but not at the price of substance. The other mistake I made is I thought I was helping kids with the faith that they need today rather than preparing them for the faith they are going to need. As kids pastors we have to give them a faith for today but we also have to prepare them for the faith they are going to need.
We must give our kids a faith that is big enough they can grow into. Kids also need to be connected to the history of our faith. The need to know that God loves them yes, but many people have lived a life of uncompromising faith they can to by God’s grace.
As a pastor one of the concerns I have surrounds what songs we sing in church and why we sing those songs in our churches. Most of the things we say about the songs we sing are founded in style. The songs we like or dislike is most often an issue of personal style. The problem with this way of approaching the songs we sing is we make the wrong things the major things. The songs we sing in church and in kids church can to often be based around the style preferences of the Sr. Pastor or Worship Pastor. There is nothing wrong with style but if what we sing and why we sing doesn’t transcend our own personal sense of style we limit the very purpose singing songs in church is intended to have.
I would like to offer this disclaimer. I have written very few worship songs. I do however pastor at a local church. I have been in the same church for 18 years and have seen the results of people and movements who based their lives on preference over substance. Given that here are my 4 questions that every worship song needs to answer.
1. Is it God directed – This is not a preference thing for me. If the song you are sing is more about you than the God who made you it’s not worship. It’s something else but not worship. The songs we need sing need to be filled with wording about who God is and what he has done. Is there songs of lament and petition in the bible? Yes. Those songs are based on an understanding of that everything begins and ends with God. It’s about what he’s doing more than how I’m feeling.
1. Make it fun – I love fast songs fun songs, we have done “The Roundup” for over 10 years and our kids still love it. The round-up has nothing to do with Jesus it’s just fun. I try to be the best father I can yet I make mistakes our Father in heaven is perfect. If I delight in the sound of my kids having a good time laughing and playing in the next room, imagine how our Father in heaven delights over us. Our father in heaven delights in us when we are simply having fun.
My friend Yancy has released a new worship album. She sent me a copy of it and it’s fantastic. I love Yancy’s music because her generous spirit and her passion for the local church can be felt in the music she writes and in any conversations you have with her. Yancy is a gifted musician and songwriter with an obvious passion for kids and family that is tangible in everything she does.
In her latest offering you can really sense her authenticity in every song she has recorded on “Roots For The Journey“. I am a sucker for old songs so I love “Eye is on the sparrow” Yancy also adds a few modern songs to the mix to create a well-balanced record that I believe will stand the test of time. We play “Roots For The Journey” in our house during dinner time which is huge for us as a family. It’s during dinner that we talk about everyone’s day go over catechism question for the week. Yancy’s Roots album is a perfect addition to our dinner conversation.
Another way we plan on using Yancy’s record is to give it away along with the Jesus Storybook Bible to all our families who dedicate their babies at our church. So if you are a church leader or a parent pick up a copy of Yancy’s Roots for the Journey today!
Order the CD today! We are offering a great deal on a pack of 5 CD’s too. Get some to give to others who are needing encouragement or use in classrooms, etc. (Get FREE SHIPPING with code: yancylovesme )
Or you can download from iTunes and other digital outlets.
There have been many instances of people using guns to inflict pain on others all over the country. Each one is horribly tragic. To read about the senseless slaughter of innocent people is overwhelming and mind numbing. This reality of senseless gun violence came to my town literally down the street from me. People who attend our church were directly affected. It is unspeakably tragic.
You will hear the Republicans and the Democrats over then next few days point the blame at many things. Some will say it’s a mental health problem others will say it’s a gun control problem. We go back and forth in reality we are arguing over the symptoms but no one wants to address the true sickness. Although both sides see that there is a problem they both are so blinded by the symptoms they can’t see the actual problem. It’s a trap we all fall into because if we point to a symtom we don’t have to deal with the deeper issue. We think we are ok and everyone else is the problem. We don’t have a gun control problem we have a worship problem.
What we believe about God matters, because it informs the way we live. I did a blog post a while back about how so many Christians are Theological idiots. I got a lot of feedback from people saying that every person should not have to know or understand deep biblical truths. What I was trying to say and may have been unclear in that post was the decisions we make are based on what we believe to be true or untrue about God wether we like it or not. We believe something about God even if that something is that He does not exist.
The chief end of man is glorify God and to enjoy him forever. Our worship problem starts and ends here. When we don’t believe in God and we eradicate Him from the our schools, our courts and our hearts what happens is we fail to see him is our creator God and when we no longer see God as our creator and maker we no longer see that which he has made as precious We no longer see man as the image of God because we have contempt for the image of God. When we have contempt for the image of God people become things we use for our own pleasure and discard when we are done. The problem with both sides of the isle is they are trying to fix our worship problem by addressing the consequences of our worship problem. What or who do we live our lives for because that’s what we truly worship. Very often we substitue true worship for something that isn’t God. Romans 1 addresses this very issue.
Romans 1: 21-25
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator,who is blessed forever! Amen.
More than gun control, more than mental health reform each of us need to recalibrate the loves of our lives. Piper says “Worship is a way of gladly reflecting back to God the radiance of His worth” When there is awful situations of profound sadness and loss due to gun violence it is easy for me to point the finger at the broken person who perpetrated this act and society that enabled this act but I must also point the finger at myself and ask God to help me to properly love and worship him so that I can proper love and serve the people He died for. That the loves of my life are recalibrate to reflect the culture of heaven.