The Art of Godliness, Episode 5: Music in the Church

Today I bring another episode of The Art of Godliness, the podcast that attempts to think out loud and in public about how to lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. Paul and I discuss the always-controversial topic of music in the church. Isn’t it ironic that music, meant to create unity in the church, is so often a source of division? It shouldn’t be this way! Thanks to this week’s sponsor Logos Mobile Education from Faithlife …

The Beauty of a Defiant Church

Beti loved adventure and loved to invite others to join in them. Her latest thrill was skydiving. “You should come with me,” she told Sam. “You’re crazy,” he replied,” “There is no way I’m jumping out of a plane. Why do you like stunts like that, anyway?” “Because they give me joy.” “And what if your parachute doesn’t open?” “Then I’ll be with Jesus.” On Sunday, Beti’s parachute didn’t open and she went to be with Jesus. The news went …

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The Mark of the Most Successful Worship Leaders

Every week a pastor or worship leader chooses the songs his church will sing the following Sunday. Every week he combs through the possibilities to select the five or six that will best fit within the service he is planning. How can he choose well? How can he best serve his congregation in their singing? I have traveled a fair bit through the first half of this year, and just about everywhere I’ve gone I’ve had the privilege of attending …

What We Gained When We Lost Our Hymnals

A few weeks ago I wrote an article titled What We Lost When We Lost Our Hymnals and was rather surprised to see 300,000 people stop by to read it! I meant to point out that there are consequences in shifting from one medium to another—in this case, shifting from hymnals to PowerPoint projection. (I use “PowerPoint” to stand in for all forms of projection.) It is true of every new technology that it brings benefits and drawbacks. Neither hymnals …

What We Lost When We Lost Our Hymnals

I don’t think we should go back to using hymnals. But I do think there’s value in considering what we lost when, over the course of a relatively short period of time, we gave up hymnals for PowerPoint projection. Not all of us, mind you, but most of us. It’s worth considering because it helpfully shows what we stand to lose when we switch from one media to another, and especially when we do so quickly and without due consideration. …

Why I Didn’t Sing When I Visited Your Church

It was a joy to finally visit your church a couple of Sundays ago, and to worship with the believers there. You know I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. Just as you promised, the pastor is an excellent communicator and a man who loves God’s Word. His sermon was deeply challenging and led to some great conversations with my children. Now, you asked me why it looked like I wasn’t singing. I know that was probably a …

How Well Do You Know Your Hymns? (A Quiz)

As Christians, we are blessed with a long legacy of great hymns. As contemporary Christians, we are blessed with many modern-day hymn writers who are carrying on the art. So how well do you know your hymns and their authors? This little quiz is designed to find out!

How Petra Rocked My Soul

When I was a teen, I didn’t know much about Christian rock music, but I did know that it was for losers. Big losers. Big losers who were probably barely Christian at all. Those sad, sorry people listened to those sad, sorry bands playing their silly, shallow little ditties. But not me. No way. My best friend became a loser right around age 14. I had hopped a Greyhound from Hamilton to the far side of Toronto to spend a …

Sojourner Songs

I do enjoy poetry. My few attempts to write it have not gone particularly well, but I have often benefited from reading and memorizing the work of real poets. Poetry has the ability to convey feelings and emotions in a way prose does not. Both genres communicate truth, but poetry has its way of being quicker to reach the emotions. I enjoy that at times. I need that at times. Most of the poetry I enjoy is the kind you …

3 Errors of Musical Style that Stifle Community

It is ironic that music, an element meant to draw Christians together in mutual love and service (see Colossians 3:16) has become a force for significant division within the church. It just goes to show, I guess, that we can make a mess of pretty much anything. In their book The Compelling Community, Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop point out 3 common errors of musical style can stifle local church community: Music that’s difficult to sing corporately. If your music …