Problems with sung worship?

Thanks to Vicky Beeching for inspiration for this post from her questions on twitter this week.

Many people will say that they aren’t a fan of the singing part of church. I have to say I quite like it, being a musician and worship leader that bit of church is right up my street, it’s just the rest of it I don’t like. Quite often it’s men that I hear grumbling about the content of worship in our churches. A university friend of mine told me that he couldn’t engage in sung worship in church, partly because he isn’t much of a singer and he finds it a bit uncomfortable but also he finds that the words are hard for him to engage with. And I can see where he’s coming from.

Often the songs we sing in church aren’t particularly ‘manly’. And men also have a bit of a habit of running away from anything with the word ‘love’ in it. So it would be easy to say that songs that go like ‘Jesus I am so in love with you’ should be thrown away. But doing so would get rid of one of the fundamental parts of being a follower of Christ – God loved us so that we can love.

And if we look at it more subjectively across the broader spectrum of worship songs there does seem to be a much more ‘manly’ focus as well. For example songs like ‘Yesterday, today and forever’ by Vicky Beeching, ‘Happy day’ by Tim Hughes and ‘Strength will rise’ by Brenton Brown are all songs that don’t have that focus on love.

I believe that as we worship a God who is bigger than anything we can possibly know, and has at least as many emotions and characteristics as us – then our worship should reflect that. We should look at the Psalms as an example. The breadth of emotions are huge, they range from fear to joy, from love to abandonment.  However they all cling to the truth that God is there,  bigger than we can know,  in control, stronger than we could imagine, and He loves us so that we can love. And so so so much more!

A challenge to worship leaders is to incorporate the whole of God not just one aspect of him. Maybe not in every worship time in church but we need to make sure we experience and recognise all of God not just one bit.

And a challenge to men…Man up and share the love that God has given, first with Him and second with everyone else!

Thoughts?

Finding a church

So recently I moved from Bath to Exeter. Not a huge distance but certainly not close enough for me to keep going to the same church. This put me in a bit of a dilemma – how do you go about finding the right church for you?

The first question I had to deal with was why I don’t always like going to church? It’s become almost too obvious to say that men don’t like going to church, but often it’s true. I’m still not 100% on what makes me not like it, maybe I just like to have a lie in on a sunday or maybe I don’t like the idea of being preached at, though I do quite like doing the preaching. There’s lots of things it could be and maybe one day I’ll realise what it is that puts me off every so often. However me not always liking being there isn’t going to stop me going. I’ve figured that this whole following God thing seems to work best in a group!

Looking for a church is something I’d never had to do as a regular punter so to speak. I went to the church my parents when to when I was a child and continued there until I went to uni. While at uni I worked for a church on a placement and was expected there on sundays, so had never really had to find a church to go to for myself. There were a few things however that I thought were important about a church, and this is what I based my decision on, in no particular order.

  • Outward looking – they need to be involved in the community, the city/town and be concerned about engaging with real people missionally, not necessarily always focused on evangelism but working against injustice and bring glory to God in the local area.
  • The Bible as a high priority – I’ve noticed that at times it’s easy to under estimate the Bible and just take it at it’s face value, when in fact it’s a book that can entirely change your life.
  • Passionate worship – it was important to me to be in a church that passionately worships God, not just in sung worship but in everything they do.
  • A place to serve – there needed to be opportunities to serve in all sorts of areas but I do have a passion for worship leading and youth work

and now after a fairly long time of looking, trying to decide between visiting traditional churches and super charismatic churches and everything in between, I have found a church that seems right for me. It’s a free church, with all of the above, to the extent that the second time I went I was in the worship band!

The thing is, it’s not just a church that meets my ‘requirements’ . Its a  church that I feel a part of already. This is because of the welcome I’ve received, to the extent that I feel I now belong to a church that wanted me to be a part of it.

I wanna go to housegroup!


This CartoonChurch.com cartoon by Dave Walker originally appeared in the Church Times.

I was going to comment about housegroups / home groups / cell groups / what ever… I was going to talk about how meeting half way through the week to study the Bible can seem like a weird and odd thing to do. I was then going to say something about loving being able to share in the brutal craziness of life in light of Gods Grace.

But my throat is doing some weird aching thing, and I’m missing not being at housegroup.

But I think Dave said it better on his blog.

Married. Dad.

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Photographer.

Support worker. Short sentences. I write Bio in.

Micah Challenge

If you read the Bible, it would be hard to not notice that the God we follow likes justice. And that He likes mercy. Both are themes that come up far more often that faith or worship, yet often we focus on these much more.  One of my favourite books in the Bible is one of the minor prophets, Micah. A lot of what is contained here is about justice and mercy. And that is what the Micah challenge is all about.

Martin Smith “You Have Shown Us” (Micah Challenge) from Small Seed Films on Vimeo.

Micah Challenge are asking 100 million people to pray and petition in support of the Millennium Development Goal to halve global poverty by 2015. They will be hosting events and campaign activities around the world. You can find out more and get involved at micah2010.org

Martin Smith, above, gives a performance of ‘You have shown us from the CompassionArt album. CompassionArt is a charity that joins the dots between art and poverty: compassionart.tv

I think this is a challenge to all of us today, how do we show justice and mercy whilst walking humbly with God in our local church and community and on a global scale. How should we act in the places where we are?

Are You Religious?

I love this from ASBOJesus:

I dont just duck it, I dive and jump away from it. I get my head down and run away from that question. Quite simply because I dont think I know what it really means. In my mind at least, it means that I go to Church every Sunday, and follow a bunch of rules about what I should and shouldn’t do.

I like to think its more about a relationship with God then anything else.

Maybe one day I’ll stop the ducking and diving, and actually answer the above question.

If you answer it, how do you answer “Are you Religious?”

Married. Dad.

Blogger / WordPress / Email List Guy.

Photographer.

Support worker. Short sentences. I write Bio in.

Church Pews v Seats Research

It has come to our attention recently that our site has become a bedrock of knowledge in the research field of “Church Pews or Seats”.

Whilst we hope to continue our work in this field, we do need a grant to help us investigate further. An example of where our research could go, is a close examination of churches, and how people sit.

So we can possibly link up and develop our work further, please let us know if you know of other centres of this research.

If you would like to support us please get in touch.

Married. Dad.

Blogger / WordPress / Email List Guy.

Photographer.

Support worker. Short sentences. I write Bio in.

What to do in a boring sermon!

If you’re anything like me about 5 minutes into most sermons you might find your mind wandering off. The first thing I have to say about that is ‘bad mind, very bad mind’…or maybe not! Sometimes this wandering off might be that you’ve got a lot on your mind like something at work, what you would have been doing if you hadn’t been dragged along to church or any number of other things.

There is however that rare occasion as every preacher will tell you that the sermon is just boring. Here’s some challenges for you to do that will hopefully amuse you and those around you when you find yourself in such a situation.

  • See if you can tie your neighbours shoe laces to their chair or pew whilst pretending to be deep in contemplative prayer.
  • Search the weekly update sheet for mistypes to point out to the vicar later.
  • For the more charismatic types, lay down. Sleep. See how long it takes to be awoken by the sounds of people praying over you.
  • Cough every time the preacher says the word God/Jesus and see if anyone catches on.
  • Repeatedly try to catch the preachers eye and wink at them.
  • Tweet a message to The Church Sofa.
  • Attempt to get your row to do a mexican wave.
  • Hum the mission impossible theme tune and see if you can get out with out anyone seeing.
  • Every time the preacher asks a rhetorical question, answer it out loud.
  • Pull faces at the preacher and see how long it is before they laugh.

Let us know how you get on with these and if you have any more suggestions let us know!