How To Plan Engaging Christmas Worship Services

I found this article on ChurchLeaderInsights.com. It’s one of several sites I’ll be telling you about in a future blog post that I believe can be really beneficial to you as you strive to grow and improve your worship team. What I love about this article is that while the title suggests it will include content specific only to Christmas, the content really covers the one thing most worship teams struggle with all year ’round; getting our audiences engaged in worship. I’ve never seen someone explain WHY they aren’t engaged as well as Jason does in this article:

 

…the congregation doesn’t experience the worship set the way you and I do.

They aren’t hearing what we hear (or should I say feeling what we feel).

We’re actually playing the music, feeling the connection with other musicians, onstage and amplified.  In short . . . we’re fully invested.  Whereas the congregation can oftentimes feel like bystanders, simply observing what’s happening onstage.

Ever heard it explained that way? Me either, but that makes so much sense doesn’t it? So anyway, check out the rest of the article here. I think it’ll bless you!

The 5 Myths of Worship

The 5 Myths of Worship

When you think of the word worship, what comes to mind? Most of us think of church, but worship is much more than that. As we’re developing the worship cultures in our churches, it’s important that we address the stereotypes of worship. Many believers don’t know what worship looks like because worship isn’t being taught. If worship isn’t being taught, there’s a good chance that it hasn’t been experienced. Here are my thoughts of what worship was before I realized what it is.

1.Worship is music, particularly slow music.
I’ve thought this for most of my walk with God! When we understand that worship is a lifestyle, we recognize music as a way in which we worship (Psalm 28:7).

2. Worship is a gesture (lifted hands, running, shouting, etc.).
Worship is more than an emotional response. Worship is a posture; posture is defined as “the attitude a person or group has toward something or someone”. As we endure different circumstances, we develop a confidence in God because of his history of deliverance. The more we walk with Him, the better we know and trust Him (Psalm 103).
Worship requires a gift (“I have nothing to offer God”). If God blessed us by the types of gifts we gave, many of us would be out of luck! Worship requires a sacrifice and that sacrifice is us! God created us, His gift, to worship Him (Psalm 141:2)!

3. Only “good people” can worship God.
God is not pleased by our works. He’s drawn to the hearts of His children. Those who are willing to be used by God are lead by their “yes” to God, yielding to the Holy Spirit and obeying the Word (Ephesians 2:8-9).

4.Worship is an event on Sunday.
Can you imagine going to the same place and doing the same thing over and over again? As exciting as the church service is when you first visit or become a member, eventually the excitement wears off. If you’ve felt like this, then your focus was in the wrong place. Worship isn’t about a program. Worship is an encounter with God that grows into a fruitful relationship. The Bible states that God rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6). The more we seek God, the more we experience new characteristics of God’s nature.

5. I have to feel good/be happy to worship.
Worship is not about emotion, but about personal choice. Choose to worship God in your pain because you know who He is; if He is your Savior, then you know that your pain isn’t permanent. We serve a High Priest in Jesus Christ who has experienced humanity, so He knows about worship and suffering (Heb. 4:15).
I challenge you to write down your thoughts of worship and allow God to reveal His thoughts through the Word. Your seek of true worship will allow you to experience God on a deeper level.

Sonja R. Jones is a wife, mother, educator, author, and a Virtual Worship Pastor. Her assignment is to spiritually cover music ministry leaders, help churches develop and retain music ministry leaders, and equip and send music ministry leaders to churches. Connect with her online at www.sonjarjones.com

10 Traits Of Spiritually Mature Worship Leaders

I love it when God blesses me with something that I know will benefit the body of believers as we all strive to reach higher heights in our music ministries. The only thing I love as much as sharing something God gave me is sharing something He gave someone else.

Easily the most popular topic here on the blog as well as the Fan page is praise and worship teams. Worship leaders and team members all over the world are seeking more knowledge about how to serve God better in this calling. I ran across this powerful article on a site called Ministrytodaymag.com called 10 Traits Of Spiritually Mature Worship Leaders. What I really love about this article is that not only does it get right to the content, going almost immediately the list, but it’s so intently focused on the one thing that I think many of us don’t focus on nearly enough; that being spiritual maturity in our service. This one is a must-read. Click on the link below to go straight to the article.

10 Traits of Spiritually Mature Worship Leaders

Does your church's worship leader possess these character traits?

 

Music Ministry 101: The Structure of Music Ministry Leadership

If you are new the music ministry leadership, you may not know what your role is or what it entails.

The structure of a church’s music ministry will be based on a few factors:
1. Tradition- What’s already been established in the church.
2. Team Capacity- The qualifications of the current music ministry leadership.
3. Resources- How much money is allocated to the music ministry.

Here are the different roles of music ministry that I’m familiar with. Feel free to add other roles in the comment section:

1. The Minister of Music (MOM)– aka Worship Pastor is the head of the entire music ministry department (which includes all performing arts ministries- all choirs, dance/mime ministry, and musicians). This person should be qualified to teach choir parts, write chords/charts for musicians, and provide counsel to all ministries under his/her supervision. The MOM should also be qualified to handle administrative tasks, which include accepting/declining/scheduling ministry opportunities, establishing rules and procedures, and resolving conflicts. The MOM reports directly to the pastor.

2. The Music Director(MD) is over the musicians and reports to the MOM. The MD normally works with or is over the sound dept. Additional duties of the MD will be at the discretion of the MOM.

3. The Choir Director is in charge of leading the choir during Sunday service. This person will be 2nd to the MOM in teaching parts (if qualified to do so). Any additional tasks are at the discretion of the MOM.

4. The Worship Leader- The Worship leader is responsible for leading the congregation in singing, normally at the beginning of service. It’s common for the worship leader to have a dual responsibility in another music ministry leadership role.

5. The Section Leader– The section leader is normally the strongest singer in a section. If the MOM needs someone to sing a part for others in a section, this would be that person. The section leader would be the next person to teach parts if the MOM or choir director is unavailable. In most music ministries, the section leaders assist the worship leader in leading congregational singing (aka the worship team).

6. Music Ministry Officers– The music ministry officers assist the MOM in administrative tasks and maintaining order within the ministry. If conflicts arise in the ministry, the officers would settle issues before escalating them to the pastor. These offices include choir president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and parliamentarian. These positions are still active in some churches but are phasing out in most churches.

If positions 2-6 aren’t available, all responsibilities fall on the MOM. If a MOM isn’t assigned, then these taks will be delegated amongst the other leadership positions. I’ve never seen all roles active in one church; however, it is possible. Most churches will only have a MOM and that person is in charge of everything; at best, you may have a MOM and choir director.

In part 2 of Music Ministry 101, I will discuss the administrative tasks of the music ministry. These tasks are small but daunting and one person shouldn’t have to do all of the work. Delegation is key to an effective music ministry.

If you would like to hear this topic on the Worship Builders Podcast, click here:
Episode 37: Music Ministry 101-The Structure of Music Ministry Leadership

Sonja R. Jones is a wife, mother, educator, author, and a Virtual Worship Pastor. Her assignment is to spiritually cover music ministry leaders, help churches develop and retain music ministry leaders, and equip and send music ministry leaders to churches. Connect with her online at www.sonjarjones.com

Do We Have To “Urbanize” Everything We Sing?

I’ve often pondered this privately because it’s one of those things that can easily spark a bunch of debate, and I’m really not too fond of that. Especially regarding faith and the things of God. But a blog is a different story. You almost NEED a little controversy now and then on a blog, or it’s just boring. Sooo, let me ask a very frank question here. Do we have to “Urbanize” everything we sing?”

First of all let me say that I realize and greatly appreciate the fact that I have readers and followers from several countries, nationalities and ethnicities.  If you all would be so kind, please talk among yourselves for a moment.  I need to chat with my Gospel groups, praise teams and churches for a bit.

I often say if you’re a Gospel praise team and you’re not doing any of the wonderfully beautiful praise and worship songs being written in the Contemporary Christian Music genre you’re doing your team and your congregation a great disservice. Some of the most beautiful worship songs can be found down the dial a bit. Ditto for praise songs. Great up-beat, up-lifting songs.

There are indeed a growing number of Gospel music ministries that have figured this out and are adding CCM praise and worship songs to their roster. But what I see quite often is that when they do they feel the need to somehow “make it more black”. They change chord progressions, add vamps and fancy bridges, etc.

I think this is rather unfortunate, actually. And really, unnecessary. I suppose the general thought is “if we do this song just like it is our congregation won’t like it or won’t receive it because it will sound “too white” or “too plain”. I definitely understand the concern, but I think it’s perhaps a bit of over thinking.  So I’d like to offer two thoughts for you to ponder the next time you’re considering “doctoring up” a CCM song to make it sound more “gospel-y”.

1. Your concern about whether or not your congregation will accept the song done the original way is probably misplaced. Many, many people who grew up listening to Gospel music actually love the fresh, clean sound and pure message of CCM praise and worship songs. Not only would many of them embrace these songs, many of them would think it a welcome change.

2. The fact is, if you’ve been eating, sleeping and drinking Gospel music all your life, anything you sing is going to have that flavor. The same goes with the musicians. So even if you do a CCM worship song as is with no changes, it will take on a Gospel feel just because a Gospel group is doing it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that these modifications don’t work. Many of them go on to be big hits. But Contemporary Christian praise songs have a sincerity and purity that frankly is sometimes lacking in Gospel. The focus with CCM writers is  on pure, authentic worship and praise. The musical arrangement is often understated so that it’s not the focus. The song arrangements are kept simple (we can get pretty complex sometimes, making it more about the musicianship than the message).

I could go on here, but the point I’m making is that adding CCM songs to your roster and just doing them straightforward could be just the thing to help your ministry widen it’s appeal, add depth, variety and balance. So don’t always feel that the only way you can do CCM songs at your church is to somehow make them blacker and more gospel. A great worship song is a great worship song, just the way it is. Going out of your way to add stuff to make it sound more like a Gospel song can actually detract from it if you’re not careful.

Just one more point of view.

How To Protect Your Church’s Music Department Against Copyright Infringement (part 6 of 6) Copyrights and Royalties

Today Susan Fontaine , Founder and President Christian Copyright Solutions wraps up her 6-part series on protecting your church music department against copyright infringement. This has been really educational and we’ve all learned so much! I’d like to thank Susan and Christian Copyright Solutions for taking the time to do this wonderful series for my readers. Take it away Susan!
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They say money can’t buy happiness. But paying professionals to take care of intimidating tasks that would make you very unhappy is pretty much the same thing. I pay an accountant to do my family’s taxes every year. I might be able to figure out how to do it myself, but the time I would spend doing it, not to mention the stress and frustration, would be significant. The accountant doesn’t deliver a manila envelope of happiness along with that tax return, but the freedom from anxiety and extra time to spend with my family is well worth the reasonable price.

When it comes to keeping your church’s music use legal, the same logic applies. You want to do the right thing, but if there’s anything more intimidating than the complex clergy tax code, it might be navigating the world of music copyrights and royalties. You don’t need to panic. Christian Copyright Solutions (www.Christiancopyrightsolutions.com) makes it easy and affordable to get the license you need. CCS offers two blanket one-stop licenses that cover all 16 million songs from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, including all genres of Christian and secular songs.

The PERFORMmusic License provides churches and ministries with a license for the performance of live and pre-recorded music in their facilities, including satellite campuses. With a sliding scale to keep costs low even for small churches, the PERFORMmusic License starts at $199 per year.

If you want to live stream or archive your complete worship services online, the WORSHIPcast license covers webcasting of that same enormous catalog of music. The sliding scale starts at just $500 per year, enabling churches to maximize their global, online outreach for less than it costs to produce and ship one glossy mailing to their community!

The experts at CCS can save you money, time, and a lot of headaches. That may not be a box of happiness on your doorstep, but it’s pretty close.

Want to know more about copyright myths that put your church at risk? Watch this helpful video from Christian Copyright Solutions and download their free downloadable resource to worship ministers – 6 Myths About Copyrights That Put Your Church at Risk.

CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.” CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches, as well as representation, administration and advocacy for copyright owners.

How To Protect Your Music Department Against Copyright Infringement (part 5 of 6): Music Outside Your Church Walls

Today Susan Fontaine , Founder and President Christian Copyright Solutions  is back for her 5th installment in the 6-part series on protecting your church music department against copyright infringement. There are basically 2 places your music department will perform music; inside the church and outside the church. Today Susan explains how to keep everything legal no matter where you are. Susan!
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Some churches are more musical than others in their worship. For some, Sunday morning is like a free visit to the symphony, with impressive choral renderings and a full orchestra. Some do a lot with a five-part praise band. Some love a simple piano accompaniment, and some sing a cappella. Whether you keep it simple or have to offer earplugs at the door, the religious service exemption to U.S. copyright law covers your musical performance in worship.

Churches vary in their use of music outside of worship as well. At the church I grew up in, music was part of practically every gathering. Our youth group regularly had talent shows, sing-alongs, and concerts. The annual craft bazaar wouldn’t have been complete without Christmas music playing in the background, and my fellow voice students and I had our recitals in the sanctuary. Contrast that with my current church, at which lively conversation and the shrieks of children provide soundtrack enough for any gathering. But even at this comparatively less-musical church, we have wedding receptions in the fellowship hall and a day care that often plays music for the children.

It’s a common mistake for church leaders to assume that any music they might be using is covered by the religious service exemption. When they learn that the exemption only applies to music performed in worship services, often their immediate response is, “We don’t play any music outside of services.”

You might not play much, but you probably do more than you think.

Do you use on-hold music for your phone system? Host choir concerts? Play background music during your fall festival? Have an annual talent show? Offer exercise or dance classes? Take retreats and sing around the campfire? Hold weddings or funerals in your sanctuary?

Chances are, you are using music outside of worship services, and if so, you need a performance license to keep it legal and musically-enhance your events and activities with integrity.

Want to know more about copyright myths that put your church at risk? Watch this helpful video from Christian Copyright Solutions and download their free downloadable resource to worship ministers – 6 Myths About Copyrights That Put Your Church at Risk.

CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.” CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches, as well as representation, administration and advocacy for copyright owners.

How To Protect Your Church Music Department Against Copyright Infringement (Part 4 or 6): What the CCLI License Covers

Today Susan Fontaine , Founder and President Christian Copyright Solutions  is back for her 4th installment in the 6-part series on protecting your church music department against copyright infringement. Today Susan explains the CCLI Licence and what it covers. CCLI stands for Christian Copyright Licence international. Susan breaks down what the licence covers as well as dispelling some common myths. Go for it Susan!
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Do you ever grow increasingly uneasy the more times a chorus is repeated at the end of a worship song? You’re never quite sure if this is the last one or if it’s repeating another time or two? My home church uses a little symbol, a simplified version of the church’s logo, to indicate when the song is really, truly ending. I thought that was a brilliant idea, since otherwise, you have to rely on the worship leader’s sometimes-unreliable “one more time” warning or maybe the appearance of the song’s copyright and CCLI info, since those lines of tiny type are included on what is, presumably, the last slide of the song.

Unless you’re experienced with copyrights, your main familiarity with CCLI is probably in that lovely fine print at the bottom of the screen. But like the fine print on pharmaceutical ads or in a magazine’s masthead, we tend to just overlook it. Like many in the church, my guess was that CCLI gives the church the right to use the song in worship.

That’s true, to an extent, but what exactly does “use” mean, in this context? Not to parse language too much, but it actually makes a big difference—the difference between using music legally and illegally in your church.

The CCLI basic license is a reproduction license, covering the printing of copyrighted music and lyrics in bulletins or congregational songbooks, or projecting of them on screen, the CCLI license covers some very specific music uses, including the limited creation of custom arrangements for congregational singing, and limited recording of worship services onto CDs and DVDs. (For further detail of what is covered by the CCLI license, contact your CCLI representative.)

The CCLI license does not cover performance of copyrighted music. Performance of hymns and other songs in worship is covered by the Religious Service Exemption in U.S. Copyright Law. But that exemption doesn’t apply outside of a congregational worship service. Playing or performing copyrighted music during other events requires performance licensing. CCLI is a valuable resource, but don’t make the mistake of assuming it covers every way you use music in your church.

Want to know more about copyright myths that put your church at risk? Watch this helpful video from Christian Copyright Solutions and download their free downloadable resource to worship ministers – 6 Myths About Copyrights That Put Your Church at Risk.

CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.” CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches, as well as representation, administration and advocacy for copyright owners.