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In Philippians 1:21, St. Paul makes one of those jaw-dropping statements that can be meditated on for a lifetime and more:

“…For to me, to live is Christ…”

Wow!

How about letting this verse impact our worship?

Let's think about it—how amazing would it be if we could live and lead our sessions in a manner that inspires us to say, “For to me, to worship is Christ!”

In this post, let’s look at some of the ways in which we can engulf our worship into the vast expanse of the wonder of Jesus.

4 tips to lead Christ centered Worship

 

Embrace death

No my friend, I am not advocating suicide.

I am talking about dying to self and letting go of our fleshly desires to make worship attractive/interesting/entertaining—for that would turn the spotlight that belongs to Christ alone upon us. Instead, think about what Jesus would want from His Church's worship and lead out of that mindset.

Out of this embrace of self-death, our dependence will shift from our talent/ability/experience to the Holy Spirit who will then bring out a worship that's far more authentic and holier than we would have otherwise offered—trust me on this one!

1. Represent Christ

    I doubt any of us will ever declare “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1) like St. Paul!

    But that doesn’t mean we don’t strive to be Christ like either. Here are a few questions to ponder:

    • Am I still arrested by the love of God or is it the lure of the stage these days?

    • Am I pursuing God’s will as the food of my life or is it all about me, myself and my latest favorite song?

    • Am I willing to encourage, train and equip others in worship ministry or am I wallowing in insecurity possessively hogging the stage?

    • Do I value integrity and personal prayer-life above ministry?

    • Can I take suffering in my stride or am I constantly murmuring when things don’t go too well for me?

      Your team and others watch you and when they see Christ in you, they will follow your footsteps far more comfortably and confidently—inevitably, this will also reflect positively in the way your stage ministry functions.

      2. Tell the story

      Check your song lyrics—are we too caught up with songs about me, what I can do for God, my emotions and feelings and so on? While such songs are not bad by themselves, too much of them can skew our worship towards self-centeredness than God-centeredness.

      Let’s sing more about the greatest story of all—of Christ saving us again and again and again! Sing of His Cross, His mercy, His justice, His Blood, His ridiculously extravagant love, His resurrection… you see, a gospel focus is crucial to instill joy and life into our worship.

      Let's make the story of Jesus Christ the cornerstone of worship.

      3. Marry songs with scripture

      When selecting songs, let's not just be seduced by things like the melody, other musical attributes or the songwriter's reputation.

      Rather, it's important to use the mind too when following the heart. Let's strive to use songs that are correct in theology, rich in lyrics and firmly grounded upon the Word of God.

      At times, it’s also helpful to take a few moments to explain the song, maybe even quoting the scripture verses that the lyrics are based on.

      Carefully choose appropriate verses from the Bible and read/recite them between songs or over an instrumental interlude during a song. Keep it short with 1 or 2 verses, else it could be distracting.

      4. Communion

      I've said this before, but I'll say it again: There's no other tangible means of placing Christ at the center of our worship than the Eucharistic meal. It brings alive the Story right before our eyes enabling us to join with John the Baptist and joyously proclaim, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)

      Let's lead the kind of worship that routes us to Communion—there's no deeper climax to worship than this—not the most artistic of lyrics or the sweetest of melodies. For it’s at the table that Christ becomes the sole focus of our worship enabling us to joyously proclaim, “For to me, to worship is Christ!”

      Okay so those are my thoughts—but I am keener to hear yours. What does it take to lead worship that’s centered on Christ?

      4 Tips to Kill the Mystery Out of Leading Christ-Centered Worship

      By Gangai Victor →

      sspx_and_ccr

      Dear friends in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR), this post is for you.

      Because some of you are taking the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and its programmes a bit too seriously. Founded in 1970, SSPX claims to be Catholic but does not accept Catholic teaching—especially anything taught since Vatican II. They bizarrely believe worship should be offered only in the Latin language, oppose ecumenism and in general, shun any kind of progress .

      Why the CCR and the SSPX are completely incompatible

      Purely because of what SSPX believes and teaches about the CCR.

      Let's look at the most important stuff.

      1. On the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

      CCR: The Baptism in the Holy Spirit or BHS as it's popularly known is the doorway into Charismatic spirituality, by which a person receives the life-transforming presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

      SSPX: The BHS is "obviously a mockery of the sacrament of Confirmation...", "a sin" and a result of "heretical worship" (How about that worship leaders?)

      2. On the gift of tongues

      CCR: The gift of tongues is a a legitimate gift of the Holy Spirit, similar to what we read about in the book of Acts.

      SSPX: "Either one of two explanations seems probable: that the subject really wills—perhaps unconsciously—to perform this act because of group dynamics (or mass hysteria) or that his utter relaxation of the will leaves him open to a true manifestation of the "spirit"—and not the Holy Spirit! Speaking a language one does not understand is a classic sign of diabolical possession, after all."

      Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, anyone?

      3.  On other charismatic gifts

      CCR: Charisms are gifts of the Spirit used to gather, sanctify, edify and minister life in the Church and in the world.

      SSPX: "Prophecies, healings, miracles, etc., were given [in Apostolic times only] to prove the claims of the Church and to foster conversions. With the achievement of the Church’s moral universality, the need for such phenomena ceased for several reasons, primarily because of the presence in the Church of people of every nationality and because of the Church’s proven record as the true religion, short though it was."

      According to the SSPX, God no longer needs to perform signs and wonders. Maybe they should visit the Middle East / Africa to understand how universal Christian morality really is.

      4. What else does SSPX teach about charismatic spirituality?

      Still not convinced? Check this out:

      "The CCR as a whole is not a Catholic movement at all but a deception of the Devil."

      "Charismatics’ beliefs and practices are undeniably based in heresy,"

      "The Catholic Charismatic Movement is a blighted tree bearing poisonous fruit, sown by the Devil... This fruit is truly a seed of destruction and one of the most perilous fruits offered to man since the first fruit offered to the first Eve by the same serpent."

      Need I say more?

      So, if you are a charismatic Christian, according to the SSPX, you are a sinner, heretic and probably possessed by the devil.

      Bottom line: you can either be in the CCR or the SSPX—there's just no way to swim in both oceans.

      All of the above SSPX quotes are from their official websites:

      To my Friends in the CCR: You Cannot Attend Latin Mass—Here's Why

      By Gangai Victor →

      Watch on YouTube.

      Want this song for free?

      Just click here and it's all yours!

      The free digital download contains the MP3 file and a PDF chord chart.

      Your Grace is Enough-old

      Yes, it's really that easy!

       

      Song credits

      Sung by: Catherine Claret Harry

      Written by: Gangai Victor

      Composed by: Gangai Victor & Robert Martin

      Music direction, arrangements, mixing and mastering: Gerard Joseph

      Hope the song helps you in your worship, let me know what you think in the comments.

      Free Worship Song: Your Grace is Enough

      By Gangai Victor →

      worship-songwriting

      For a worship songwriter, few things are more frightening than playing a song publicly... for the first time.

      "What if it crash lands the worship?", "what if they hate it?", "what if they don't sing along?", "what if..." are only some of the inner questions that we struggle with, right?

      Trust me, introducing a song before it's fully ready is quite the heartbreaking mistake!

      Developing a very thick skin to withstand the holes that others could poke into our works of art is essential for any creative artist. That apart, here are some effective measures to get our songs 'public worship' ready before introducing them on stage.

      5 Surefire Steps to Safely Introduce Your Own Worship Songs

       

      Step 1: Be sure of the song's purpose

      Is the song a secret prayer to the Lord? Is it meant to be sung in public at all? I mean, not all worship songs are strictly public church songs, right? If it's not meant for a congregation and it's written solely to express your heart personally to the Lord, the song has already achieved its purpose.

      Step 2: The personal test

      If you're sure the song is meant for congregational worship, create a rough recording of it. Hook a mic to your PC and record it with a piano or acoustic guitar. If that's too complex for you, use any voice recording app on your smartphone.

      Listen to the mock recording yourself. No matter how good you think the song is, hearing a recording of it always helps to notice flaws and tweaks that we otherwise tend to miss.

      Now, give it a break and listen to it again on a weekly or fortnightly basis. Do this 3 or 4 times and make those adjustments that you identify.

      If you still like the song, you're ready for the next step. Else, go back to the drawing board, and rewrite and/or recompose!

      Step 3: The peer group test

      Play your song to a trusted group of friends who understand your art—people who are worship leaders, songwriters or musicians themselves and ask for their honest feedback. Oh and be sure to put on the armor of thick skin before you ask them!

      Listen to their views impassively—while you don't have to agree with everything they say—listen carefully—you will get useful points of improvement. Also, pay attention to a suggestion, especially if it comes from more than one person.

      Make changes to your song if required and repeat steps 2 and 3 until there is some kind of a consensus that the song is a good one.

      Step 4: The non-musician test

      By now, you should have sorted out any musical and technical flaws at least, which is great but still not enough.

      It's also important to estimate what someone in the congregation would think of your song.  So play it for a non-musician friend to get what I call "qualitative" feedback—you know, things like "It doesn't speak to my heart" or "I don't get it, what's it about again?" and so on.

      If the song makes a positive impression on the non-musician, you're on to something!

      Else, the song is probably still not ready and needs more work. 

      Step 5: Playing it live

      Now it's time to include your song in your next worship set-list and see how it goes in the real world of congregational worship.

      If you've followed the previous 4 steps diligently, your song should work out well with your congregation. You would also be a lot more convinced about the song yourself and be confident of playing it live. Take time to teach it, reprise it at the end of the meeting/service, use it again in the next few weeks and then gauge its effectiveness in church worship.

      What's next

      All of the above steps are useful to get your song truly ready, if you're planning to record a proper demo of your song too. Otherwise you might end up burning the song and your money!

      If you're an independent artist, a song that's come through these steps would be a great choice for your next recording project. If you hold a recording contract, then your publisher would also be happier with songs that have been tested and found effective.

      As a songwriter, don't rush this process and kill your song—patience always leads to better songs!

      Hope you found these tips useful. How have you introduced yours songs to your congregation? Why not share your top tips in the comments?

      Image: http://pixabay.com/

      5 Foolproof Steps to Introduce Your Own Worship Songs to the World

      By Gangai Victor →

      conflict-votivepraise

      The best worship teams don’t need to have the best musical or vocal talent.

      But they undoubtedly need to have the best of relationships within.

      Anointed worship teams are more often than not made up of people who genuinely like each other, regard each other positively, encourage each other, and treat each other fairly. It’s not too difficult to understand that it’s probably because in God’s eyes, it’s wonderful and beautiful “when brothers and sisters get along!” (Psalm 133:1, MSG).

      In fact, God loves it so much when His people get along that He “commands the blessing” (Psalm 133:3 MSG) when we manage to!

      One of the best things we can do as a worship team, when there are struggles to get along with each other is to check our attitudes—most of the time, that’s where the challenge lies!

      So let’s look at some attitudes that we need to be avoiding to build, and maintain excellent worship teams

      4 Harmful Attitudes That Spoil Relationships in a Team

       

      I am the best

      Musically, maybe that’s true—in any team, some musicians will of course possess greater skills than others. But, that’s no reason to rub it in all the time sporting an I-am-better-than-you attitude.

      And, it need not be confined to musical skills alone. We can also express things like “I pray longer, so I am more spiritual”, “I can quote more scripture, so I am holier”, “I am a full-time worship leader, you’re not, so I am more anointed”, and so on.

      Remember the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14? At times, we can tend to be like that Pharisee putting others down, and raising ourselves up. God didn’t like it then and hasn’t changed His opinion since.

      You need to change, not me

      Remember those times when we listened to a sermon thinking, “I hope _______ (insert team member name) is listening to this point and understands it’s for him/her!”

      We love to see others change, but we just cannot see it as easily when we need to. “It applies to others, not me” is not an attitude that helps the team in any way! Many a time, we need to be the change to bring about transformation in our ministry.

      I am never wrong

      It’s impossible for anyone to be right… all of the time! Though we know that no one is perfect, we find it so hard to acknowledge to others when we are wrong, right?

      But guess what, the people in any team who command more respect, are those who are willing to admit it when they are in the wrong.

      I don’t need you

      “For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn't be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, "Get lost; I don't need you "? Or, Head telling Foot," You're fired; your job has been phased out "?” (1 Corinthians 12:21-24 MSG)

      Need I say more? This is a brilliant Bible verse to apply to our worship teams! Let’s remember that none of us have the right to say to a person in our team that he/she is not needed—it’s probably one of the worst attitudes that we can carry!

      So let’s stop grousing that our guitarist is not like Lincoln Brewster; or our drummer is not like Carl Albrecht. Instead, let’s aspire for contentment with those that we have been blessed with, and joyfully look forward to growing together in unity and harmony.

      When there is mutual respect and bonding within the team, the payoff for everyone including our church is multi-dimensional—we will be well able to tune into the heart of our God; our rehearsals will be pleasant, and productive; our ministering will be blessed; our congregations will better connect through our authenticity; our relationships will be deeper than just a “ministry colleagues” level; and more!

      Mother Teresa once said that a family that prays together stays together—it’s no different for a worship team! Let’s worship together, stay together, and edify the Body of Christ.

      While some of these are picked up from personal experience, I’ve learnt more by listening to others—so I am keen on hearing from you. Do you agree that better relationships lead to better ministry among other things? From your experiences, can you share what else can negatively affect relationships in a worship band?

      Image: http://pixabay.com/

      4 Attitudes That Mess Up Team Spirit and Ruin Relationships

      By Gangai Victor →