This book is designed to provide practical orientation to the thousands of church members who volunteer to serve both vocally and instrumentally in the music program of their church through choral groups, instrumental groups, and special music selections.
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September 30, 2002
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Excerpt from Serving in Your Church Music Ministry by Randall D. Engle
Words on WorshipCome, we that love the Lord,And let our joys be known;Join in a song with sweet accordAnd thus surround the throne,And thus surround the throne.ISAAC WATTSWORK WORTHY OF ETERNITYOne Wednesday evening after choir rehearsal Jon and Joy grabbed their two daughters from the church nursery and slumped into the seats of their minivan, exhausted and spent. Tomorrow was a school day, and the hour was late. Jon had gone to church directly from the office, skipping dinner. They had spent all evening at church. After a quick stop at Caribou Coffee on the way home, Jon muttered to Joy, "Do you ever get tired of this? Frankly, this is one of those nights where I wonder whether it''s worth it all. Maybe we should cut back and drop out of choir."Joy was quick to respond. "I know how you feel, and tonight''s not a good night to ask! But I came across an article this morning that helped change my whole attitude about music in church. The article pointed out that, in heaven, no earthly occupations will be needed, save one: church musicians.Think about it. In heaven doctors will have no clinics, for there will be only perfectly functioning and reenergized bodies. Lawyers and judges will have no reason to appear in court to settle disputes among people who are living together in peace.Even preachers will no longer need pulpits to win souls, for Christ will be living in the neighborhood, and we shall see Christ, and Christ shall be all in all!"The article was right. For church musicians, earthly service comes with an implied eternal contract.Given such a momentous task, church musicians ought to learn to worship well and lead worship well, for our worship here is a warm-up for the everlasting worship of God that is to come.But what exactly is worship?ENTERTAINING GODWorship is entertaining God. Worship celebrates God''s greatness and his love for us. Worship receives God''s word as it comes to us through the Bible, the sacraments (or ordinances), and Jesus Christ. It''s clear that God desires and enjoys our worship and that God created all things to praise. The Bible says that all creatures give glory to God and that everything has its unique voice and mode of praise. Thunder, cattle, crickets, fruitful trees, and birds give glory to God (see Psalm 148)! One day even the trees of the fields will clack their branches together as though they were hands applauding the premiere of God''s new creation. God delights in creation and in all of creation''s worship. Worship entertains God.Of all God''s creatures, humans were created with a special role. Biblical authors hardly know how to express just how valuable we are to God other than to say that we were crowned with glory and honor and made just below the angels (Psalm 8:5). As the blue-ribbon prize of creation, God made us breathing, living instruments of praise. When we fill our lungs with air and breathe out through our vocal chords to shape words and phonate pitch, when we "play skillfully" (or not so skillfully) upon the harp (think "piano"), when we glide our bow across the fret of five-strings, the Spirit of God uses that to the delight of God.Worship is explosive and life changing when we see it, not as a means to entertain us, but as a way to bring attention to God. God delights in creation''s worship. I think God even whistles along with us in our praise of him!WHO''S AT THE CENTER?When we gather for worship, then, our attention should naturally be directed to God. Several times, when describing worship, the Bible''s writers observe God at the center of worship. This makes sense, for worship exists to praise God, the One seated on the throne (Revelation 4:2). Worship does not first of all exist for us, but for God.For example, when John has his vivid dream, which is recorded in the book of Revelation, he sees God seated on a throne (Revelation 4-5). This image is the center of the picture. Arching the throne is a jewel-studded rainbow comprised of rare and costly gems-imagine a ribbon of