Here’s the latest Grace Life Music video. This is taken from last month’s Shoals Christmas Praise. Enjoy!
(BTW, onstage with me are (from L to R) Sarah Cosby, Mark Tucker, Chris Quaintance, and Julie Thompson)
Yesterday we began a new season in the life of our church. We began an entirely new Order Of Service on our Morning Services. In the past, we would do something like this:
10:28 Pre-Service Music (w/Orchestra)
10:30 Welcome from Pastor/Announcements/Missions Report/Opening Prayer
10:40 Time of Fellowship
10:42 Congregational Singing (3 songs)
10:53 Offertory Prayer/Receive Tithes and Offering
10:55 Congregational Singing (1 song)
11:45 Closing Song
Yesterday we changed the Pre-Service life music to almost 15 min. of Music Videos. We changed the welcome and announcements to a 5-minute video (called GLC-TV). We only sang 2 songs before the sermon instead of 4. We sang more after the sermon. It looked like this:
10:15 Music Videos
10:30 GLC TV
10:35 Congregational Singing (1 song)
10:39 Offertory Prayer/Receive Tithes and Offering
10:41 Congregational Singing (1 song)
11:30 Congregational Singing (2 songs)
11:40 Receive New Members (Just this Sun)
Why make these changes?
It gives a better segue from Small Groups to Main Service. While we didn’t want to interrupt the interaction with folks mingling before the service after they dismiss from Small Groups, we did want to give our people a better way to engage while waiting for the service. Playing music videos is a way to do that. We will also, on a rotation basis, have live music (praise team, band, or solos), or scripture readings (live or scrolling on the screen) with music bed as other options.
It streamlines the service. GLC TV will do in 5 minutes what live speaking would take 10-15 minutes to accomplish. Plus the announcements are more attractive and draw the congregation’s attention a bit better. It also eliminates the possibility of any mistakes in information that might occur (or at least lowers the chances). It also gives each minister a personal touch with the congregation. It also frees up Bro. Jeff’s (our preaching pastor) attention to focus only on the sermon and not have to worry with giving announcements.
It moves the sermon earlier in the service. This might help with those who struggle with attention spans or have to leave early due to other commitments (family appointment, work schedule, etc.)
It gives our congregation an opportunity to sing in response to the sermon. I’ve often wondered if we have the order of singing and preaching backwards. Historically, churches have done 80% of their singing before the sermon. We even think of the song service as a way to prepare a congregation for the sermon (and rightly so). However, I’ve all to often observed that it’s after the sermon that our congregation is really ready to engage in singing. Their hearts are full to overflowing as the gospel has been thundered from the pulpit.
Sometimes it’s just good to change things up. All of us are prone to get into a rut. Where we have freedom from God’s word, it’s sometimes a healthy thing to shake up the pattern to freshen things up and give your congregation a different perspective and help their attention spans.
This new Order of Service is very much in a fluid state. We’ve still got to bring the Choir and Orchestra back this Sunday. To be honest, this OOS presents some problems for the Choir. I’m praying that we’ll be able to figure out a good, effective, and proper way to keep the Choir central to the singing at GLC. Stay tuned!
As I type this I have just returned from the land of Scotland (were are laying over back in London and flying back to the USA tomorrow). We were hosted by Grace Baptist Partnership Scotland which is headed up by Ali McLachlin. Ali is a wonderfully kind and humble brother who is a missionary to Scotland (he’s originally from England).
Bro. Jeff and I served along with Barry King and presented a conference on evangelism/church planting where I led the singing. The culture here is very conservative. We held hymnals and were accompanied by piano (my thank to Barry and Ali’s fine son, Jonah). The McLachin family is one that has been greatly encouraged by the Anchored In Truth/Grace Life Church internet service broadcasts.
Because of excesses, they are a people that remain very reserved while singing. The work here in Scotland is in great need as there are only about twelve churches in the entire country that are of the reformed tradition.
One of the more interesting moments for me was a Church Music Q & A session that we held at the end of the conference. Nearly everyone who attended the conference stayed for the session. Many of the same issues that we face in America are controversial issues in Scotland as well. I fielded questions regarding music styles, hymnody vs. psalms-only, emotionalism, and song lyrics were all discussed. As they asked questions about the size of our church and music department, they seemed astonished that our choir was substantially larger than any associational church in Scotland. I pray that that would not be able to be said for much longer. God, please send an awakening in this wonderful land!
One other moment worth mentioning was our trip to Stirling Castle. It was built in the 1500′s and was a very strategic location for those who controlled Scotland ever since.
I couldn’t help wondering while we were there with those wonderful folks what Wales and England, Scotland and America looked like before the Great Awakening began. It is my deep prayer that a mighty move of God would hit this storied and beautiful land and its lovely people.
Not only is the True Church Conference FREE this year but for the first time, you can watch the entire conference live-streamed.
The schedule is as follows (all times CST):
Tonight (Thu): 7 PM
Friday: 9 AM, 1:30 PM, 7 PM
Saturday: 9 AM, 7 PM
Sunday: 10:30 AM
If you or your group wants to sing along with the song services, you can download the lyrics here
The largest event in the life of the Music Department at our church is certainly the Shoals Christmas Praise. We take a broad overview approach to looking at the gospel. It centers on the prophesies of the coming Messiah, the Nativity, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the Eternal Reign of Christ. So much of church Christmas productions focus only on the Nativity which, in itself, is a wonderful thing. However, by focusing on it they turn it into something that the scriptures never intend. It becomes more of a lesson in world peace and tolerance than about the gospel.
We wish to look at the Condescension, the Incarnation, the Nativity all in context of the historical redemptive plan of God in sending His only begotten Son as Savior. You can watch the archive of the Shoals Christmas Praise here. Keep in mind that it is a house mix. DVD’s of a studio mix will be available soon.
You will notice that the only spoken words (other than the pastor’s welcome and prayers) are scripture.
I was asked to be a guest blogger at www.bible.org by sharing an entry dealing with the “triumphal entry” passage in Matt. 21. (The site promotes the use of the NET Bible.) I thought I would share it with you here:
21:1 Now when they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 telling them, “Go to the village ahead of you. Right away you will find a donkey tied there, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you are to say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: 5 “Tell the people of Zion, ‘Look, your king is coming to you, unassuming and seated on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” 6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those following kept shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 As he entered Jerusalem the whole city was thrown into an uproar, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Several things jump out at me from this text.
Jesus is sovereign as God. He was in total control of the situation. He designed the entire scene and gives evidence to that fact by telling ahead of time what was going to happen. It also gives further evidence that Jesus was not murdered (at least from His perspective) but gave Himself as a sacrifice to satisfy the wrath of God against sinners and mediate justification to those same sinners.
The disciples did exactly as Jesus commanded. They did not pray about whether or not to do what Jesus asked of them. They did not have a committee meeting to decide what would be the best way to go and find a donkey and colt. They just did what Jesus told them to do. Our responsibility is to simply obey God’s commands given in scripture.
This event fulfilled prophesy given hundreds of years earlier. This was no accident. Verse 5 of this passage is a reference to Zechariah 9:9 which was written over 500 years earlier. All of the Old Testament points to this One named Jesus. Nothing happened in Jesus’ life by accident. It was scripted out before the foundation of the world (Matt. 13:35; John 17:24; Heb. 4:3).
What man means by praising in the natural is not the grand design of redemption. The same crowds that were hailing Jesus as the Messiah in this passage would soon be crying for His crucifixion. This was because their definition of what “Messiah” meant and what Jesus meant by the same term was completely different. Once Jesus did not fulfill the vision of the masses for governmental and political emancipation, the public was done with Him. Our challenge is to die to our own definitions of what it means to be “god” and to bow at God’s definition of His Title. Only as we have seen Jesus as He knows Himself to be—A Savior, A Redeemer, A Mediator of the New Covenant—can we truly praise Him appropriately. Only then can we worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Worshipping Jesus as we think He is does not deceive God in the least. He is the maker of a new creation and He knows the sound of a truly born-again heart. Our responsibility is to die to our own ideas and worship of a “Jesus” of our own making and to treasure the true Jesus of the scriptures.
Did you think I forgot to write entries???? I’ve been rather slammed here at the office and the church. Summer is supposed to be somewhat of a lighter schedule but it actually is one of our busiest times in our church calendar. Here are some random bullets:
**Our choir and orchestra take six weeks off starting the Sunday after July 4. We do so because of schedules and a time of refreshing. However, since we’ve started a Praise Team” here (I’m thinking of coming up with a new name for this group) I’ve never given them any Sundays off intentionally. I’m praying through how to give them some time off during the break as well.
**I had a great time leading the singing at our Super Camp (student camp) this year. I’ve never done so before. It was a great encouragement to me to hear our students sing out great truths of the gospel. If you’re looking for a location to have your next student camp, check out CampToKnowHim in little ol’ Pisgah, AL. You won’t be disappointed!
**It was also my joy to use Super Camp as a way to kick off our new Student Band (what to name it??). This has been a desire of mine ever since I’ve been at Grace Life. For some reason, it never took shape until now. I’m so pleased with the members of the band (not just because my oldest daughter plays bass…) and look forward to great things in the future with them.
**We’re working on putting together singers for our annual Family Picnic on our church grounds. We borrow a flat-bed trailer (thx Bro. Chad!) and have our folks sing songs for 90 minutes leading up to a rather large fireworks display. We’ve got everything from Southern Gospel quartets to parents and children singing together to rapping! I can’t wait!
**Our Small Groups also take a month or so off from teaching each Sunday. We usually have Large Assemblies during the Small Group hour over this break. This year, we’re trying something new. We are going to have five breakout sessions (Why do we call it that? Are we escaping from something???) at different locations on our campus. There are classes dealing with finances and evangelism to name a couple. I’m teaching a lesson over the four Sundays on corporate singing and will also be sharing this lesson with you here at the blog. My four main points are as follows:
I. The Charge To Worship
II. The Chance To Worship
III. The Challenges To Worship
IV. The Choice To Worship
Here’s my formal invitation to join us for this year’s Christmas program at Grace Life Church of the Shoals. We will present the program on Sunday evening, December 13 at 6:15 pm in the New Auditorium. You now can’t say that you weren’t invited! (Please forgive the double-negative!)
The lyrics are as follows:
This righteous Man of innocence
Laid aside His own defense
And bore the wrath and wretched sin
Of all who put their faith in Him
And then at the appointed time
When God the Father gives the sign
This One will joyfully present
The souls His grace caused to repent
And the Lamb will be the light
In the city of our God
Our faith will then be sight
And we will stand in awe
“Worthy is the Lamb!”
With one voice we will cry
The Lamb will be the light
In the city of our God
All creation cries to see
The day of righteous liberty
Then new life in full display
We hasten on the coming day
We will rule and reign with Him
No longer bound by fallen sin
The matchless glory of the King
Will completely cover everything
Worthy are You
Our Lord and our God
Words and Music by Thomas G. Clay © 2006 GraceAnne Music
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