Paul’s Message Message Of Encourage To Single Believers

 

It is a FACT that not everyone likes Valentine’s Day. That’s probably because not everyone is “boo’d up”, so the day feels kind of cruel and dismissive to people who aren’t in a relationship of some kind. I was one of those people when I wrote this. Then I remembered that Paul actually talked about the subject of being single.

So I thought about taking Paul’s message, breaking it down and giving commentary on it, talking about what it means, etc. But then I thought, nah. Paul was doing a pretty good job of that on his own. So I’m just going to post the passage and let you read it in his own words. My hope is that if you do find yourself single today that you’ll be encouraged also. Take note of what Paul is saying here about the advantages of being single for someone who is in ministry. Happy Valentine’s Day!

1 Cor. 7:25-40

25 Now concerning the virgins (the marriageable [a]maidens) I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion and advice as one who by the Lord’s mercy is rendered trustworthy and faithful.

26 I think then, because of the impending distress [that is even now setting in], it is well (expedient, profitable, and wholesome) for a person to remain as he or she is.

27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.

28 But if you do marry, you do not sin [in doing so], and if a virgin marries, she does not sin [in doing so]. Yet those who marry will have physical and earthly troubles, and I would like to spare you that.

29 I mean, brethren, the appointed time has been [b]winding down and it has grown very short. From now on, let even those who have wives be as if they had none,

30 And those who weep and mourn as though they were not weeping and mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they did not possess anything,

31 And those who deal with this world [[c]overusing the enjoyments of this life] as though they were not absorbed by itand as if they had no dealings with it. For the outward form of this world (the present world order) is passing away.

32 My desire is to have you free from all anxiety and distressing care. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord;

33 But the married man is anxious about worldly matters—how he may please his wife—

34 And he is drawn in diverging directions [his interests are divided and he is distracted from his devotion to God]. And the unmarried woman or girl is concerned and anxious about the matters of the Lord, how to be wholly separated andset apart in body and spirit; but the married woman has her cares [centered] in earthly affairs—how she may please her husband.

35 Now I say this for your own welfare and profit, not to put [a halter of] restraint upon you, but to promote what is seemly and in good order and to secure your undistracted and undivided devotion to the Lord.

36 But if any man thinks that he is not acting properly toward and in regard to his virgin [that he is preparing disgrace for her or incurring reproach], in case she is passing the bloom of her youth and if there is need for it, let him do what to him seems right; he does not sin; let them marry.

37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart [strong in mind and purpose], not being forced by necessity but having control over his own will and desire, and has resolved this in his heart to keep his own virginity, he is doing well.

38 So also then, he [the father] who gives his virgin (his daughter) in marriage does well, and he [the father] who does not give [her] in marriage does better.

39 A wife is bound to her husband by law as long as he lives. If the husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she will, only [provided that he too is] in the Lord.

40 But in my opinion [a widow] is happier (more blessed and [d]to be envied) if she does not remarry. And also I think I have the Spirit of God.

How To Get Your Youth Choir Excited About Their Ministry

Grumpy MaryLet’s face it, dealing with a young choir can be very challenging. Sometimes it seems like they’d rather be anywhere, doing anything but this. Helping them past this stage often means stepping back from your own frustration with it and seeking to understand them where they are a little better.

To illustrate that, let me ask you something. Have you ever rented a car and then spent a couple of hours detailing it inside and out? Putting Armor-All on the tires? Filling the car with gas before you brought it back? Of course not. Nobody does. Why? Because it’s not yours. You have no emotional bond or connection with it. It’s someone else’s thing, you’re just “in it”.

There’s a certain pride that comes with ownership. It makes you see a thing differently. It changes your attitude towards a thing. I feel that same sense of ownership about the church band I play in as well as the sancuary choir. I don’t “own” the choir, but ask me about them and I’ll refer to them as “my choir”.

This sense of ownership is often missing in young people when it comes to how they feel about the choir they’re participating in. That’s true because of several different reasons that would make this blog way too long to discuss in detail. Suffice it to say though-and excuse me for stating the obvious here- young people are young.

Many of them, even though they may want to be there, are simply very shy or very turned off by the thought of being in front of people singing and clapping and jumping around and being excited for Jesus.

But a lack of enthusiasm can also stem from a lack of pride or ownership. A lack of connection with the ministry as their own. So when I first started working with our youth department that’s one of the first things I sought to begin instilling in them.

Aside from constant dialog and verbal reinforcement with them, simply telling them that this is their choir; their ministry, and something they can and should be proud of and dedicated to. Something they should want to be as good as it can be; we seek to reinforce that sense of pride and personal ownership by asking and encouraging even the youngest of members to step forward and take on leadership roles.

That may be directing, playing an instrument or taking lead vocals on a song. Our young people were instrumental in choosing the songs for this year’s musical, which I think is extremely important. Because the act of doing so makes this year’s selections “their” songs, rather than songs they were given and forced to sing.

If there’s one thing young people care about it’s their image. What’s cool and what isn’t. They don’t want to look bad and they certainly don’t want to sound bad in front of people. This, for me, is often a powerful motivator to get them to go the extra step to learn parts, or loosen up and move.

But when it comes to moving and displaying energy, having fun and being themselves, young people have to be absolutely certain it’s ok. Not only that it’s ok, but it’s actually what the audience wants; and more importantly, what God wants. Even with all that in place though, they will hesitate to do it if the environment they’re in isn’t one that makes such behavior “the norm”. The cool thing. If they feel it’s something that’s being forced on them they’ll certainly resist it.

But again, without a deeper connection to the ministry itself, young people will often lack the kind of passion and excitement teens start to display as they get older. What do we, the adults do in the meantime? We continue to coach, teach, encourage, and stay positive in front of them. And more importantly, to be what we’re asking them to be.

Be energetic, be positive, have fun. But DON’T scold and fuss at them. I’ve been guilty of this, and if you want to completely shut a group of young people down, that’s the way to do it. We must be examples of what we’re asking them to be. And we must keep reinforcing the fact that it’s ok to have fun and smile and laugh and be their natural energetic selves while they sing for God. Not only is it ok, but God LOVES it and so does the audience.

I think though, the most important thing to remember when working with a youth choir is (again stating the obvious here) it’s a youth choir. Depending on the ages you’re dealing with, many of them have to be brought to rehearsal by their parents. So we can’t really be upset when they aren’t there; Not with them, not with their parents. We must keep in mind everything that parents have to do already.

Secondly, even with a group of kids who want to be there and want to be a part of the choir, it takes time for them to start to “get it”. And as my friend and I discussed the other day, it’s just not something you can rush. You just have to continue to encourage, teach, foster an environment of fun, make it ok for them to be themselves, and nurture that sense of ownership. Ownership brings about pride. Personal connection. A different level of belonging and caring. And trust me, as a few start to get it, they will strongly encourage their peers to “get it”. And nothing we adults can ever say will be more powerful than that.

Just ask Markus, age 16. Markus would barely make a sound, ever. That is, until his buddy told him at the last rehearsal “why you singing all weak like that? You need to come on with it!” After that the two of them proceeded to blow everything out of the water for the rest of the night. And that started a chain reaction that made everybody else step up their game too. Now both of them have a whole new sense of pride in being great, strong tenors that can handle their section.

So if we’re summarizing this whole thing down to a few bullet points, let’s call it:

  • Be what you’re asking them to be
  • Be patient and encouraging
  • Don’t fuss or scold at them. Teach and educate
  • Create a sense of ownership and pride by giving them assignments, leadership roles and involving them in decision-making

Young people have to get to a point where they “get it” on their own. Often that simply won’t happen until they’re ready. We can aid in getting them to that point by offering wisdom, guidance, encouragement and patience, while being more of a partner in the process rather than adopting the “drill-sergeant” approach. Or worse yet, giving up on them entirely.

5 Spiritual Dangers To Praise Teams

There is a certain glamour or prestige associated with being on the praise team; at least in many people’s mind. Praise teams have become the it thing in churches, it seems. But with their popularity comes many challenges.

While doing some research on the subject I came across a powerful article that dealt with some of the “spiritual traps” many praise team members can fall into.  The title of the article was 5 Spiritual Dangers To Praise Teams. I’ll list the 5 topics covered in the article and give you a little snippet. Then I’ll post the link and the author’s info at the bottom so you can read the article in full.

Danger #1:  Ego issues

“Musicians take pride in their craft. Whether vocal or instrumental, most have an emotional investment in what they do. Being a part of a team effort places you in a position of having your pride challenged. Consider the vocalist who at times tends to let their pitch drop just a bit, or one who isn’t getting the correct rhythm. Being corrected by the worship leader in front of the others can be a blow to our ego. Some musicians are far more impressed with their talent level than are others and can tend to want to push their sound to rise above that of the others. What can you do about that?”
Danger #2:  Addiction to the spotlight

“This is closely aligned with the ego/attitude problem.  Being in front of people on a weekly basis can become addictive, and tends to give an unhealthy balance in how a member views themselves and their life. A person’s identity shouldn’t be defined by being on a stage.”

Danger #3:  Being a performer rather than a worshipper
I personally read this one with great interest. If you know me you know that I do believe in the importance of perfecting and honing your craft. But I believe that’s important not so that you can be the center of attention. In fact I believe the opposite. I think the most important reason to perfect your harmony and musicianship is precisely so NOBODY will be paying attention to you. The objective is to remove all hindrances, not to focus on the importance of the performance itself.

However when you spend that kind of time and effort on perfecting and honing your delivery there is indeed a danger of  beginning to place too much importance on the performance itself. The author does a great job of addressing this in danger number 3.

Danger #4: Burnout

“Rehearsals and multiple services can drain our time and energy. If you are naturally active, you can be so involved that you grow to resent the time drain of the team.”

Danger #5: Ignoring Spiritual Disciplines

 

“You might assume that serving on the team gives you all the spiritual nourishment that you need. Well, it doesn’t. Like every believer, you need to practice the spiritual disciplines if you expect to have any vital spiritual strength.”

Ok is this great stuff or what?! I gave you the highlights here, but they’re only excerpts from the full article. The Article was written by Thamuss. Originally I included a link to it but unfortunately it has been removed. I’ve been unable to find the author to properly credit and link back to him. If you happen to know him or how to connect with him I’d love to know so I can update the link to point to his new location.

You can find more helpful articles like this one in my e-book Praise Team 101.

75 Great Altar Call Songs

Someone sent me an e-mail recently asking me to give her some suggestions for Altar Call songs. Every music ministry needs altar call songs. Well, the Fan Page family loves making song lists, so I took it straight to them. And as usual, they delivered in a big way. There were over 80 comments in this thread at this writing. I chose 75 to allow for some possible duplication. The actual thread is below. Allow a couple of seconds for it to load if you don’t see it. It may not work in Chrome.

Just click the comment button below to be taken straight to the live post. If you haven’t already, please click the “Like” button in the top right corner and join the family!

4 Possible Reasons Your Congregation Didn’t Like The New Song

So you hear this great song and think it’s great for your choir or praise team. You go to all the trouble of learning it and teaching it. You perform it in the front of the congregation next Sunday and…. (insert cricket sounds here). The song bombs! It’s a very peculiar thing, isn’t it? Sometimes you’re just sure a song will bless everyone, because it blessed you! And then sometimes a song you don’t really care much for will tear the house up. It’s a very hard thing to predict sometimes. The good news is there are some pretty common things that can cause this to happen. Knowing what they are and making a couple of slight changes to your song selection process can dramatically increase your success rate with new songs.

Let’s start with the 4 most common reasons a song you loved ends up bombing:

1. Great music, weak message.

Gospel music isn’t like secular music. While we love our music, it is in fact still ministry. So if the song isn’t really saying much of anything people will pick up on that. We as musicians and singers love music on a deeper level than the average person sitting in the congregation. So we may grow so attached to a great musical arrangement that we become willing to overlook or justify lyrical content that is maybe more fluff than real message. This one is perhaps the most deceptive of the 3 I’ll give you today, because music just moves music lovers. But if you’re not very careful in this regard you could end up with a song that only moves the people in the music department, while leaving the congregation feeling like outsiders.

2. Great message, weak music

I know it’s hard to accept or even admit (which is why nobody else talks about this) but even a song with a good message can fail to go over well with the wrong arrangement. This one can get more complicated to explain, because of the propensity of songs to speak to people on such an individual way. So I’ll give you a case study. We had a director once who chose a song for us to sing. The message ministered to him in a deep and personal way, and he believed the message was too important not to do. Well, to make a long story short the song just went over like a rock with the choir. None of us liked it. We couldn’t feel it spiritually, and we just couldn’t get into it. The director felt so strongly about the song that he forced us to do it anyway. We obeyed. The song bombed. And we never did it again.

The thing about Gospel music is that it has to have both. It needs a great message AND a great musical arrangement. In the above example the message was a good one, but it was a very personal one. It was a song about God bringing someone back from the brink of suicide. Encouraging, but not something everyone can relate to. But that’s not what killed it for us. What killed it for us was the arrangement. It was a very slow, somber kind of musical arrangement that was very quiet and didn’t really build any sense of triumph until the end. Even the melody of the vocal arrangement had this sad, somber delivery through most of it. We were so depressed listening to that song we just couldn’t get into it. But because it meant so much to him, we did it anyway. You already know the results.

3. Great music, great lyrics, wrong style

Sometimes a song just has it all. Awesome musical arrangement, powerful message….but it still doesn’t go over well. Usually that’s because the style is wrong for your congregation. You should definitely bring variety to your music ministry. The key is being smart about how you use them, and knowing how far to go in either direction. There’s almost no extreme in the backwards direction. Older songs had a tendency to put much more thought into having both the music and the message. Then there’s that old-school sound that takes us all back.

Contemporary songs though, offer a lot more potential to get it wrong. Even with an audience that is receptive to contemporary music you have to be very careful how far you push the envelope. You are much more likely to end up with a song that fits scenario number 1 above when you’re dealing with contemporary Gospel/Christian music. The key is learning, observing and getting to know what your house responds to best. If you’re making the effort to do that and adjusting accordingly, your chances of success increase significantly. For example, even if your audience loves old traditional songs you have to be smart about how you incorporate them. In most churches an old traditional song will have a much more powerful effect if it’s used as a “throw-back” now and then instead of something that’s happening every Sunday. A really edgy contemporary song might bomb if the sanctuary choir did it but get a standing ovation from the junior choir.

One change you should consider if you don’t already do it this way, is to involve more than one person in the song selection process. We’ve done it this way for many years and it works very well. This gives you a system of checks and balances, so-to-speak.  That way you’re never choosing songs based on how it affected just one person.  Allowing a small group to listen, evaluate and vote on a song gives you a much better idea of how well it will go over.

4. Great Lyrics, Great Arrangement, Bad Performance

Let’s face it guys. Sometimes a song has everything it needs. It’s a great song, from front to back. Perfect for your audience, lines up with you Pastor’s vision, everything. And we just don’t pull it off.

A great song, no matter how amazing it is, can not overcome a bad performance. That’s why I’m such a big advocate of doing two things:
1. Choosing songs appropriate for your group’s skill level
2. Perfecting those songs to the best of your ability.

It takes a lot of honesty..and frankly, a lot of time…to realize a song is just not right for your group. It may be any number of reasons. And the thing is we often won’t know until we try it by learning it. But if you’ve tried it several times and just can’t get it down, it may be one you have to let go of.

Sometimes though, a great choir learns a great song but is still a bit unsure. But because they learned it they sing it anyway. Mistakes happen and it doesn’t go well. So don’t sing it until you have it down. There are other scenarios of course, but the main point here is to choose songs you can do and do them to the highest level your ministry can do them.

Help take your performances to the next level with professional vocal training. Study in the comfort and privacy of your own home, at your own pace. More Info:

Image courtesy of “Grant Cochrane”FreeDigitalPhotos.net

150 Gospel Choir Songs With No Leader

Recently I asked my followers on the fan page to create a list of Gospel Choir songs with no leader. And boy did they step up to the plate! I put the number 150 on this list because it was somewhere around there the last time I was able to count! I’ve embedded the actual post below. It may take a couple of seconds to appear depending on our connection. All the buttons are live, including the like button (smile). Just click on the comments button to see the list.  This doesn’t seem to work for me on Google Chrome, so try I.E or Firefox. Be sure to click the “like” button in the upper right corner also, if you’re not connected with us already.
Need more leaders for your choir, or want to lead songs yourself? Here’s help.