GoingFullCircleBlog

Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission for Christ


1 Comment

A Summer Meditation for Worship Leaders: “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed”

cross01 If you desire to be a leader of disciples, you must beware. “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it” (Gen. 4:7, NIV) The biggest challenge we face as leaders is the mastery of our private self. What am I when no one is looking?

Alas, and did my Savior bleed and did my Sovereign die?

Would He devote that sacred head for sinners such as I?

Was it for crimes that I had done, he groaned upon the tree?

Amazing pity, grace unknown, and love beyond degree!

I shudder to think of the whip on Jesus’ back. I do not want to imagine the cat-of-nine-tails bruising and cutting him for me. Yet I persist in my sin, heaping pain on him. Are you too weak to embrace the pain of rejecting secret sin when he took the whip and nails for you? By his stripes we are healed. They are his gift to you. Allow the image of his stripes to overpower private sin. That is your gift to him. Our choice is to either be healed or hold the whip.

Well might the sun in darkness hide, and shut His glories in,

When Christ the mighty Maker died for man, the creature’s sin.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe

Here, Lord, I give myself away, ‘Tis all that I can do.

Watts, “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed,” Public Domain.

— Mark Powers


3 Comments

Here’s Why I’m Not Big on Blended Services

wondering Our “blended” worship is often restricted to a blend of only contemporary and traditional church styles. A true blend must be more representative of the musical heart languages of our church and include all musical styles prevalent in our community: bluegrass? urban? pop? etc. etc. To be honest, though, I believe that worship is more effective offering different styles in multiple services wherever believers differ in their musical heart language, as opposed to simply offering one blended service. Different services of different styles allows traditional worshipers to continue to embrace the hymnody of the past while other groups embrace styles that resonate with them.

And most of our church members are not spiritually mature “to wait their turn to get what they want.”  That’s why blended worship has often been called “the equal opportunity offender.”

Radio stations understand that blending seldom works. Top forty stations don’t offer a daily classical symphony; country stations don’t suddenly break in with a few jazz selections, and rap stations don’t program an occasional hour of contemporary adult hits and oldies.

So if we are going to truly connect our people with God in deeper discipleship and active missions, we must know our church’s heart languages. Too often we assume we know our people and their favorite styles of expression. Have you polled them lately to see exactly what their heart language is?  Email me at markpowers@scbaptist.org if you would like to see some samples of worship polls for your congregation.

One thing the radio preference chart shows in last week’s blog is that we probably don’t even know what they are listening to on their way home from church. (Click here to see last week’s blog: http://wp.me/p4ybbl-az.) It is dangerous to assume we are on target with our worship planning and are speaking their cultural language without researching it.

Or worse, we are being just plain arrogant if we think we know what is best for them and what style God prefers. 

— Mark Powers

 


Leave a comment

What Style of Worship Music is Right for Your Church?

Question-MarkOur Missional Music

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him.

Acts 17:16–18, NASB

Ethnomusicology is the comparative study of music from different cultures. Ethnomusicologists combine the study of musicology with anthropology to analyze music as a reflection of society and culture. Missional ethnomusicologists encourage the development of indigenous Christian songs produced by the local believers in their own language and music system. Music workshops are presented to native peoples illustrating the value of using local music systems rather than foreign systems, thinking through Scripture passages that might be put to music, composing new Christian songs in their own native style, and recording the new songs. In this way, the gospel becomes incarnate in the musical language of the native people.

A Brazilian missionary reported that a Palikur woman was asked, “Which do you like better, the hymns with non-Indian music, or the ones with the Palikur tunes.”

She replied, “We like them both, but the ones with our music can make us cry.”

Using the heart music of a people connects the gospel with their own legacy. Missionaries have reported that native people, normally apathetic about Christianity, listened with great attention to the words of new Christian songs written by their own musicians in their own style. Putting the biblical message in an indigenous style gives it an authority it would not otherwise have. We, too, must be ethnomusicologists. Worship leaders need to analyze their communities to effectively connect them with God in their indigenous cultures.

Paul was very careful to analyze the surrounding cultural context wherever he went. In the above Scripture, we see him relating to Jews in the synagogue, to Athenian citizens in the marketplace, and to Greek philosophers. In every one of those contexts, Paul saw idolatry alive and well. As a missionary, each of us must analyze our context as well. Who are the people groups in your community/town/city? And what are the idols they have substituted for relationship with almighty God?

The Intercultural Institute for Contextual Ministry offers many resources on its website, http://www.iicm.net, for analyzing the ethno-musical context of our communities. First, we must know the classifications and characteristics of people groups in general before we can analyze who is in our community. IICM identifies these American communities listed below.  Plus, according to Arbitron radio ratings, I have listed the most popular style of music each of these communities were listening to by percentage of radio market. These style preferences are the second thing we must know:

  • Upscale Communities – Affluent families living primarily in suburbia but also in posh neighborhoods in urban settings = ADULT CONTEMPORARY MUSIC.
  • Mainstay Communities – A diverse mix of ethnically mixed singles, couples, and families in established, diverse neighborhoods within small towns and second cities = COUNTRY MUSIC.
  • Working Communities – Racially-mixed, lower middle-class blue-collar households living in older towns = COUNTRY MUSIC.
  • Country Communities – Rural families with outdoor-oriented lifestyles working in agricultural and mining communities = COUNTRY MUSIC.
  • Aspiring Communities – An eclectic group of young, mostly single, ethnically-diverse households living in homes, apartments, and group quarters = URBAN CONTEMPORARY MUSIC.
  • Urban Communities – Ethnically-diverse singles and single-parent renters living in struggling-diverse, inner-city neighborhoods = URBAN CONTEMPORARY.

Obviously, this data is limited because it only includes radio listening habits and does not include data from personal listening devices. But despite those limitations it remains useful for analysis of general music trends in our American communities.

Here’s the kicker… Churches far and wide have started contemporary services using popular musical styles that they suppose will connect their members with God and be attractive to the world. Such Christian writers as Chris Tomlin, Tommy Walker, Laura Storey, and Paul Baloche, as well as a multitude of others, have given us wonderful songs of worship. Their songs are in a pop style that relates to those who listen to Adult Contemporary radio. But that’s where this strategy breaks down, and here’s why. The Arbitron ratings show clearly that the leading radio style is Country music in Mainstay, Working, and Country communities. Urban Contemporary music, which includes rap and hip-hop, is the leading style in two communities —Aspiring and Urban—while Contemporary Hit radio leads only in Upscale communities.

The style of music being used in most contemporary worship services best compares with Adult Contemporary secular radio. If we are going to effectively connect all people with God, we must offer worship in other musical heart languages as well. Yet how many churches do you know that are offering a worship service featuring country, rap and hip-hop, top forty, or the myriad of other styles available? Can we truly think we are connecting all worshippers with God when only contemporary and traditional styles are being offered on any given Sunday?  — Mark Powers

 


1 Comment

Singing Churchmen Mission Trip to Cleveland: Amazing Works of God!

 Cleveland 2016 - street singing 2 Twenty eight members of the 60 voice SC Baptist Singing Churchmen were on mission in Cleveland Ohio from last Saturday, April 30 through today Saturday, May 7.  God used us in amazing ways to share the good news of Christ!

Every time we sang we included a simple straightforward presentation of the gospel. But even better… from Sunday through Friday, we recorded 219 one-on-one conversations in which we presented the gospel in a personal and non-threatening way. Something like this: “Hi, did you enjoy our singing? We’re here telling people how much God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them through Jesus.  Are you a Jesus-follower or have you experienced that relationship with God?”

From these conversations we gleaned 22 contacts which were turned over to Jay Schroder to give to Cleveland Church Planters for follow up.

DURING THE FIVE DAYS IN CLEVELAND we sang  TWENTY TIMES in every imaginable setting. Here is a list of the places we sang:

Sunday, May 1:

  • Morning Worship at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church where the Holy Spirit moved mightily.  After our songs, Pastor Dwayne Simmons abandoned his sermon and communion service plans and preached on prayer and led us into an hour long time of praise and prayer for chains to be broken in the congregation and the city.
  • Evening Worship with the Chinese Church in Hudson Ohio followed by Q&A about worship and music ministry then dinner with the church members and guests.

Monday, May 2:

  • Concert at Tower City Mall in downtown Cleveland at lunch hour which led to many spiritual conversations.
  • Singing in four locations on the downtown streets of Cleveland. Fun time!
  • Concert at the Cleveland VA Hospital, one of the largest VA hospitals in the U.S.

Tuesday, May 3:

  • Concerts in three Assisted Living Centers where NAMB church planter Dave Wible has started discipleship groups.  (Dave has started over 70 discipleship groups in the past three years in the Cleveland area.)
  • Flash Mob twice at local mall food court… many great conversations!
  • Two concerts during evening feeding shifts at Lakeside Lutheran Men’s Shelter.  Amazing experience!

Wednesday, May 4:

  • Concert at the Medina OH town square gazebo for Brunswick Community Church then lunch at cafes all around the square to talk to those who had seen and heard us. Pastor Buck Wilford, former Special Forces officer, was meeting and talking to those passing with great energy and a huge smile.
  • Flash Mob at the historic Westside Market in West Cleveland, a huge inside market featuring bakeries and delis and butcher shops.
  • Concert for Liberty Hill Baptist Church, an African American congregation that loved us and provided for us in their dormitory style rooms where many mission groups stay each year and let us use their full kitchen for our meals.

Thursday, May 5:

  • Participated in and sang for the Cleveland National Day of Prayer Event in Wade Oval Park, a powerful four hour prayer and praise fest with Christians from across the city.
  • Concert of kids songs and gospel magic for Laura’s Home, shelter for abused mothers and children.  One of the real highpoints of the trip… watching our group “dance” and sing motion songs with the kids.  Jim Diehl, Director of Missions for Aiken Baptist Association, presented the gospel through kid-friendly magic, too.

Friday, May 6:

  • Traveled halfway home and presented an evening concert at Ansted Baptist Church in West Virginia for a packed house pastored by Randy Spurgeon who is the former Worship & Music Director for WV but was called to pastor this church last fall.  This church is a major force for the gospel, running around 200 in worship in a small town of only 2,000 residents. What a great way to end our trip!

THIS IS GOING FULL CIRCLE… WORSHIP THAT LEADS TO DISCIPLESHIP AND MISSIONS!  And YOU can do it, too.  GO!  — Mark Powers