September 30, 2013

Worship Ministry Purposes and Goals

Over the last few months, our Worship Leadership Team has been defining our overall purposes and goals as a ministry.  This has been a very helpful foundation for us as we are hoping to set the direction for this ministry.  This is a pretty long blog post, but if you haven't heard these yet, I'd love for you to read through them.  Our Worship Leadership Team would greatly appreciate any comments or suggestions you might have for us regarding these goals.

“The Edgewood Worship Ministry strives to honor and glorify God while engaging others in the ongoing journey of worshipping Him.”

We want everything that we do to bring honor and glory to God.  Every song that we sing, every word that we speak…how we handle good situations and hard situations…we want everything to honor and glorify God.

This “journey of worshipping God” can be split into four stages:

I. Coming to a Personal Relationship with God
            (Romans 10:13-15, John 13:35)

II. Growing in that New Relationship with the Lord
            (Psalm 1:1-3, Colossians 3:12-17)

III. Using Gifts to Serve God and to Strengthen the Body
            (Romans 12:4-8, Colossians 3:23)

IV. Continuing to Worship God through Contagious Faithfulness
            (Romans 12:1, Matthew 28:19-20, Psalm 78:3-4, Luke 16:10)

As a church and as the worship ministry, we have people in all four areas of this journey.  Because of that, we cannot put our focus fully on any one of these areas.  We want people to come wherever they are to join and grow with us in the journey of worshipping God.


I. Coming to a Personal Relationship with God
This is where the journey has to begin.  You can’t worship what you don’t know.

Romans 10:13-15
Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.  How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?  How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!

Church-wide and within the worship ministry specifically, we must have opportunities to connect with people from outside the church.  Whether it’s our people going out, or finding ways to draw new people in, we have to take steps to reach out to the lost.

We do not believe that our Sunday morning services should be fully focused on reaching the lost.  They are primarily an opportunity for believers to worship.  However, we do want to provide connection points for non-believers and speak in a way that they can understand.
A better approach to reach Sunday visitors is for them to see how much we are in love with our God.  Our greeters and ushers are a huge part of this stage in helping visitors feel welcome.  However, visitors notice everything…including how all of us respond to one another.

John 13:35 says, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

When we are showing love to those around us and we are passionately worshipping God, people will notice and they will want to know the God that we serve.  We don’t want people to go home impressed by our music; we want them to go home impressed by our God. 

Since Sunday mornings are not geared specifically toward non-believers, we do feel it is important to have events throughout the year that ARE focused on those outside the church. 

For the worship ministry, that would include things like NATP, Christmas Programs, Concerts, the Outreach Challenge and things like that.  These types of outreach events are important in drawing people into the church and inviting them into a relationship with Christ.   We also want to encourage our own people to live an evangelistic lifestyle in order to reach out to those around them.

John Piper put it this way.  He said that “missions exists because worship doesn’t.”  You can’t worship what you don’t know.  We must continue with these outreach missions so that more people can turn to worship Him. 

II. Growing in that New Relationship with the Lord
Psalm 1:1-3
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.  He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season. And its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.

Once someone has made that decision to follow Christ, we want to offer areas where they can grow closer to Him and learn what it means to truly follow Him.  For the Worship Ministry, this is a huge part of our Sunday morning services.  We want people to have their delight in the Lord and to be firmly planted in His Word.  We want the preaching and our songs to be Biblically-based and to encourage our people to deepen and develop their relationship with God.  To help new believers, we want to make sure we’re speaking in terms that they can understand and are taking the time to explain complex issues as they arise.

Another encouraging passage is Colossians 3:12–17.
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.  Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

This passage talks about sharing compassion and love for one another and bonding together in perfect unity.  THEN, it talks about singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.  It’s our God that unites us, but singing gives us an opportunity to express that unity.  By focusing on God and His holiness, we should minimize ourselves and our preferences.  Sunday morning’s time of singing is the only time all week where we unite together and declare the same message at the same place at the same time.  That is a powerful example of our unity in Christ.  New believers need to experience that unity and love from the Body of Christ.

Music is a tool for worship…it is not the driving factor of worship.  Our hearts and our focus on God have to be more important than the music itself.  And helping people understand that is a strong way that we can help encourage people to grow in their walk with Him.  Explaining when songs are directly from Scripture or are strongly based from Scripture can help assist this process as well.

We want people to leave our services in love with our God, desiring to grow closer to Him all week long. 

III. Using Gifts to Serve God and to Strengthen the Body
Romans 12:4-8 instructs us about the Body of Christ.
For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

As people grow in their walk with the Lord, they will realize God has given them unique gifts and talents.  We want to come alongside people to help them identify, use, and develop their gifts.  We need to help people understand that their gifts were given to them BY God and to be used FOR God.  And we, as a church, need to give places for those gifts to be used.

For the worship ministry, we have opportunities for those with:
            Singing abilities (choir/praise teams/solos)
            Instrumental abilities (orchestra/praise band/solos)
            Technical abilities (sound/video/lights)
            Acting skills (drama)
            Abundant friendliness (greeters/ushers)
            Administrative skills (office/scheduling)
            Muscles (stage/equipment setup)
            Servant’s Heart (cleaning/painting/etc.)
            Creativity (decorations/graphic design)
            Encouragement (we all need it!)

Colossians 3:23 is one of our driving verses and it says, “whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly, as if you were working for the Lord, not men.”  When you’re working for the Lord, you can’t settle for anything less than your best.  One way we honor God through each of these ministries is by striving for excellence.  Excellence is not perfection, but it is giving our best to the Lord.

We want to provide opportunities for people to worship Him by using their gifts.  And we want to challenge people to strengthen their gifts and continue to grow.

If people don’t make the step from stage two to this stage of serving, they will never fully experience what it means to worship God.  They will always remain as “spectators” and will likely become very stagnant in their walk with the Lord. 

We need to take whatever gifts He has given us and use them for His glory.

IV. Continuing to Worship God through Contagious Faithfulness
As Romans 12:1 states, we want to “present our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, which is our spiritual service of worship.”

Whether we came to know the Lord yesterday or 50 years ago, we have to remember that He saved us from death and eternal separation…and THAT deserves our full praise every single day!  We want our people to look forward to every Sunday that we get the opportunity to come worship Him together. 

We need to continue challenging people to grow deeper in their walk with the Lord.  Explaining song lyrics or the story behind songs can help with this.  If it’s a song we’ve sung a thousand times, it can be a reminder of the importance and meaning of the song.  If it’s a new song, it can help us think about our God in a new and fresh way.

In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus gave us the Great Commission.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
We want to help people realize that the process of learning, growing and serving is never complete until God takes us to our eternal home.  He commands us to take what we know and share it with others.  Mature Christians should be very active in this through missional living and personal evangelism.  Two other ways that we want to be encouraging this are through mentoring connections and leadership opportunities. 

Mentoring connections are a beautiful way to take what God has given us and to pass that on to future generations.  Psalm 78:3-4 encourages us to do just that. 

Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.

Leadership opportunities also give us a powerful way to keep growing.  Being a part of a group and leading a group are two totally different ways to serve.  We already have many leaders in place who oversee the greeters, ushers, drama and other areas.  These are good opportunities to use their gifts while continuing to learn and grow.  Having a variety of other worship leaders would be a huge benefit to the church and a great leadership opportunity for the volunteers.

Luke 16:10 says, “he who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much.”  As we see people who are being faithful in little things, we need to give them opportunities to grow, take on more responsibilities, and transition into leadership roles.  We can only dream of the worship service we’ll have in Heaven!  Until God takes us there, we must continue to grow and be faithful in a way that inspires as many as possible to join us on that day.

September 7, 2013

How Great is Our God (Worldwide Edition)

I am liking this worship and missions combo more and more.  I love John Piper's quote that "Missions exists because worship doesn't."  I find it such a privilege to be able to serve on both sides of that statement.  One day we will all be worshipping our God together with every tribe and every nation.  But, until then, we must be seeking as many people as possible to join us on that day.

I recently came across this video from our End of the Year Worship Ministry Concert back in May and wanted to share it with you today.  It's "How Great is Our God" with a mix of English, Spanish, and Tagalog.

How Great is Our God (Worldwide Edition)

Tomorrow, Edgewood starts a brand new service completely in Spanish.  We are extremely excited about this new opportunity to better reach and serve those in our community who speak Spanish.  We are blessed to have Julio (who is singing in this video) and his wife Liana leading this ministry.

In less than a month, a team of 10 Edgewood members is taking a mission trip to the Philippines.  Megan and I are blessed to be able to join this team.  It's mainly a medical team to serve the needy areas around Manila.  However, we're also going to have the privilege of joining with a church worship team and helping lead their service on the Sunday that we're there.

Because of these two big upcoming events, I wanted to share this video with you today.  I pray it will  be an encouragement to keep striving to reach those around us until we see Jesus face to face.