(originally delivered as a Christmas Eve devotional at Sun River Church, Rancho Cordova, on December 24, 2019)
Let’s talk about the angels and the shepherds, and the song, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. First, in case you’re not sure, the word “Hark” basically means: Listen up! Check it out! This is important! You know the word, because of the song. But you probably don’t use it in your everyday language. It’s kind of an interesting word though. It’s almost onomatopoeic. Yup, that’s a real word, too. It means “a word that sounds like what it means.” Like, “bang,” or “sizzle,” or “bark.” Hark! It definitely gets your attention. Especially when yelled. Or when coming out of the mouth of an angelic being!
But what about “Herald”? That’s not a real common word these days, either. No, the song is not called Hark the Herald Angels Sing because the lead Angel singer was named Harold. The word “Herald” means to proclaim or announce. This is why so many newspapers have the word Herald in their name. The Daily Herald, the Herald News. These angels were proclaiming the most important news ever.
But what about the shepherds? Why shepherds? Continue reading
The question of what role women can or should take in leadership within the church has been a hot topic for many years. I believe, and I hope, that we are coming to a point of greater consensus on this matter; a consensus that exegetes the scriptures with an appropriately global and historical perspective that reaches beyond our personal preferences, pat answers, and the comfort of our traditionally accepted (and unquestioned) stances. Here is an overview of the position I have come to through much research, prayer, and seeking wise counsel.
The Whole of Scripture
I believe that when the whole of scripture is taken into account, together with an understanding of the culture and the people to whom it was written, the Bible supports the unrestricted ministry of women today (other than the restrictions that would be applied equally to men) and, therefore, I believe women should be allowed to be pastors and worship leaders and even elders.
Klyne Snodgrass, in his article A Case For The Unrestricted Ministry of Women (http://www.covchurch.org/resources), points out the importance of understanding there are a variety of positions on this issue, including “that women should not speak at all, not teach men and boys, not teach from behind a pulpit, not teach authoritatively, not teach except under emergency conditions (as on the mission field or when no qualified male is present), not teach except under the authority of a male senior pastor. Apart from the first two, none of these positions fits a literal reading of 1 Corinthians 14:33-38 and 1 Timothy 2:9-15. Everyone is making hermeneutical moves to deal with these texts, even if they do not admit it.”
A summary of some of the scriptural support for my position: Continue reading
This article first appeared on ChurchTechToday under the title “9 Ways to Worship Corporately Without Singing.”
The recent restrictions that the COVID-19 stay at home orders have imposed on churches has led church staffs to rethink not only how we “do church,” but what elements are truly essential. We must think creatively about how to perform traditional worship service elements such as singing and taking communion. Shared communion cups have always been a little awkward, but now they’re out of the question, and even passing a bowl for people to reach into and extract a wafer with their bare hands is dangerous.
The most frustrating order for some (e.g. worship leaders) was the order from California Governor Gavin Newsome that churches “discontinue singing” while gathered for worship services. This resulted in an uproar from many Christians. How can we hold a worship service without worshiping? How can the government dictate whether we praise God or not? Didn’t Jesus say that we must sing? Luke 19:40 says, “If they keep silent, the very stones will cry out!” (NET Bible) Our God must be praised!
This is true, of course. But did Governor Newsom’s order actually prohibit worship? Continue reading
This article first appeared on ChurchTechToday under the title “8 Tips for an Online Service Host.”
The Online Service Host is a relatively new role that churches are developing, especially now that COVID-19 has forced churches in America to shut their doors and move to an online-only format. The future of church as we know it is uncertain, but online worship services are becoming the new norm. Even when churches are able to meet on campus and in person again a significant portion of the congregation is likely to remain at home. So it is imperative that we establish procedures that will make an online worship service feel more like the real thing and provide authentic worship experience.
One of the most important elements in helping people feel connected is having a host (or two) to virtually “greet” people as they log in to your online worship service, a real person with a real name who can interact with them during the service, Continue reading
This article first appeared on ChurchTechToday under the title “7 Guidelines for a Healthy Worship Team.”
I’ve been leading worship teams for over 20 years, and I’ve learned that the culture of the team determines the effectiveness of the team. A team that has a culture of camaraderie and connectedness is going to be much more effective at working together and leading others in worship. The quality of the relationships among the people on stage has an impact on the environment in the room. If the band is privately quarreling offstage, their presence on stage will reflect that. If the band is a group of best friends, that will translate to the rest of the room when they’re leading worship.
The best way to create a culture of camaraderie and connectedness is to Continue reading