How to End the Worship Wars

How to End the Worship Wars

Australia invaded America in the 1990’s. In 1996, it seems like every church in America was suddenly going through an identity crisis because of this singular question: “Should we sing ‘Shout to the Lord’ during our Sunday service?”  Sure the words were harmless, and most of the accompaniment is with a piano, but the song wasn’t in the hymnal.  That Australian (female!) worship leader Darlene Something-No-One-Can-Pronounce (is it Check? Czech?) had unwittingly stirred the pot, and what would be known as the “worship wars” began.  Churches had to decide: are your services going to be ‘traditional’ or ‘contemporary?’  And for the churches that couldn’t decide, they would be ‘blended.’ Some of you are reading this post and are laughing because you thought that the “worship wars” ended years ago. Not true. We now stand nearly two decades after the start of the worship wars, and many churches are still stuck on the issue.  At The Malphurs Group, the topic of worship styles is still sensitive and relevant to many of our partner churches. Too many churches have split (and are still splitting) over the issue of what type of music to sing on a Sunday morning.  And the churches that decided to be ‘blended’ have discovered that by choosing no firm direction, they haven’t made everyone happy–they’ve made everyone discontent. But here’s the good news: the worship wars can end today. How? It’s simple: be yourself. As a church leadership team, it’s time that you sat down and asked these questions in order to end the worship wars: 1. What’s our main purpose as a congregation; is it externally...
7 Church Technology Tips

7 Church Technology Tips

Let’s rip off the bandaid. Churches that do technology well get called McChurches. Churches that don’t do technology well get called Old-Fashioned. Both insults are unfair, and are often rooted in pride or jealousy. So, whether you’re a church with a lot of gadgets or a church that’s way more analog than digital, let’s aim for the same goal: be tasteful. I’ve been to churches with some really neat toys that abuse them. It feels like a concert, the tech is distracting, and the production feels like an offense to the concept of stewardship. It isn’t tasteful. I’ve also been to churches that have an old projector poorly aimed at a tragically-placed screen. In its own way, it’s distracting. It isn’t tasteful. The amount of technology used in a church is almost completely irrelevant. What matters is how you use it. Be tasteful. But practically speaking, what does that look like? Here are seven church technology tips: 1) It’s all about the screens. Whether you’re a tech-driven church with lots of projectors or a church with a minimalistic approach, where you place your screens makes a huge difference. Don’t hang them in odd places or places that frequently cause you to look away from where the worship leader or pastor are standing. Get the resolution right. If you are projecting at a 4:3 (full screen) aspect ratio, use a screen with that same ratio. If you’re projecting a 16:9 (wide screen) aspect ratio, use a 16:9 screen. Be strategic, not ultilitarian, about the placement of screens and the projection onto them. Do the work to get them right or don’t do...
Dear Church, Stop Stealing

Dear Church, Stop Stealing

Dear Church, Stop stealing. I know that pulling off excellence in church every single week is difficult and expensive.  Churches, especially church plants and smaller churches, don’t have enough time, budget, staff, or expertise to produce high-end stuff in-house each week. So I get it, it’s easier to take a short-cut. But sometimes our attempts to save time or money inadvertently lead us to an ethically treacherous place.  Most often, this happens within the realm of intellectual property, and so we don’t think of it as stealing.  We think of it as sharing. I’ve been where you are, walked in your shoes, and rationalized the same way. Even in creating this website–a place designed to help church leaders train up, heal up, and pump up so they can have their maximum impact–there’s a temptation to want to use great stuff on the web. But just because it can be downloaded for free doesn’t mean it’s yours to use for free. Having walked this journey, too, I think that most of us in church want to do the right thing but get confused by what’s legal and figure since it’s “all for Jesus” it doesn’t really matter. Here’s why it matters: using intellectual property without permission is literally picking the pocket of content creators. While major studios or production companies might not miss the small royalty, the photographer, videographer, musician, or artist who is hustling each week to make ends meet certainly does. If everyone in your church decided not to tithe simply because your sermons were offered for free, every church in this country would be in trouble. Likewise,...
5 Worship Songs Worth Singing

5 Worship Songs Worth Singing

Planning worship services is fun, but serious work. Worship leaders and creative teams are tasked with the responsibility of weeding through possible song choices, trying to find what aligns best with message and stays true to the Bible. One of the greatest joys of my life has been to listen to music with ears to hear how a worship song might impact the people of God. I love searching for the subtext, emotion, veracity, and movement of worship music. I also enjoy discovering new music. While there’s something special about a song that sticks around, the benefit of new music is that we may hear a classic truth framed in a fresh way that renews our affections for Jesus. You see, worship music communicates truth about Jesus in a unique way. It touches our soul and whispers God’s promises in our ears; melodies resonate within us through and wordlessly echo the truth that God is faithful, good, and relentlessly loving. If you’re a worship leader or serve on a creative team and you’re looking for some music, this post is for you. If you simply love worship music and want to know why the songs on this list are worth singing, this is for you, too! Here are five (newer) worship songs worth singing:   1. O Praise the Name This brand new song from Hillsong Worship is an addition to your song rotation you won’t want to skip. In a world where so many songs are designed to help us navigate our own thoughts about God, which is not always a bad thing, this song reflects on the narrative...
How to Jumpstart Your Worship Ministry

How to Jumpstart Your Worship Ministry

Let’s take some immediate pressure off of you. Your worship ministry is not the reason why any first time guest will or will not come back to your church. If that’s your primary concern, read about what really matters in getting guests to return. Your worship ministry may influence whether or not someone stays at your church long-term. Even then, people care less about style and more about excellence. Even younger generations are flexible on what worship looks like, provided that it is thoughtful, genuine, and well-executed. If you’re looking at those three adjectives and shaking your head, then read on, friend. There is hope. To revolutionize your worship ministry and turn it into something that is truly thoughtful, genuine, and well-executed, it comes down to one word: plan. Here are the five ways you need to plan to jumpstart your worship ministry: 1. Plan ahead. Have set planning chunks, with increasing amount of detail. Plan a years worth of series’ and messages. If your church preaches through books, determine the weekly text a year out. If your church teaches topically, determine each week’s big point. Then identify key weekends within each quarter. Are there major initiatives that will require additional promotion? Is there a special weekend like Easter or Mother’s Day that should have special programming? Bold these critical weekends months in advance so that they can receive the attention they deserve. Each month, look ahead to the specifics of each weekend service. Be sure to give the people in your creative department—staff or volunteers—at least a couple of weeks to produce or plan any special elements that...
10 Tips to Get More Returning Guests

10 Tips to Get More Returning Guests

When our church moved from meeting at a YMCA into a permanent location, we tried to be extremely intentional about what the first-time guest experience should be like. From the moment they pull into our campus until they leave, we want to be sure we’re communicating how much we value our guests. Here are ten things we’ve learned along the way, mostly from trial and error, in what it takes to turn first-timers into returning guests. If you follow them and contextualize them to your church and your space, I promise it will pay dividends–it has for us. 1. Don’t forget the parking lot. Some weeks our parking lot is crazy busy and crazy full–especially between services. Other weeks, especially in summer, it’s easier to navigate. Regardless, having parking lot attendants is less about helping a person find a spot and more about communicating the desire to connect with people from the moment they pull onto the campus. 2. Greeters should greet, not have conversations. I know this is counterintuitive since you’d think you should have the most social, talkative people on your greeting team–but you shouldn’t. Put warm people with a good smile and a firm handshake on this team. Put the people who like to talk at your connection area. Greeters need to focus on greeting, not conversing. First-time guests who miss out on a smile because a greeter is engrossed in a conversation are far less likely to return. Greeters need to focus on greeting, not conversing. || Tips for #Guests to Return Click To Tweet 3. Have lots of greeters, and make them identifiable. You simply...