Posts Tagged ‘hymn


Keeping it Relevant

As worship leaders, we naturally want our congregation to be happy with the music we choose. This can be taken to a negative extreme of worrying too much about what the congregation or pastor may think. I am not referring to that type of situation here, so please recognize that disclaimer before reading any further.

I was recently given a book about hymns by several older women from a ladies Bible study that I had been leading worship for. They had requested “a hymn every now and then” and I had done my best to acknowledge their request without totally reverting back to hymnal days and losing the rest of the women. The group was comprised of women from their mid-twenties to upper seventies so I did my best to choose set lists that would include at least one song that each woman should know. While most of the ladies would worship to well-known contemporary worship songs, it was the older women who blew me away with their response to the hymns. They were so appreciative for songs that they had known and sung much of their lives and really worshiped. I had known that they enjoyed the hymns that I had thrown in the set lists every now and then, but I was really shocked and touched as I read all of their hand-written thank yous inside the front page of their sweet gift.

It would be nice if our congregants were composed of men and women who were all completely alike in age, stage and musical preference, but in reality that is usually never the case. As worship leaders, we need to do our best to find music that ministers to as much of our congregation as best we can. This usually means that we need to get to know our congregation and be accessible to them. We can’t know what will minister to them if we never see them away from the platform or we never have a moment to talk with them. Jesus himself modeled this, as he went from town to town talking, visiting and ministering to people one-on-one. He had large group ministry (think of the loaves and fishes crowd), but he also had personal ministry as well (think of the woman at the well). My boss Ray Jones has said, “People won’t remember you for the great song you sang or the cool guitar lick you played. It’s when you take the time to talk and pray with them that you make an impression.” Take time to listen and get to know those you are serving and then watch them worship with you.


“Without Him”

Two weeks ago, I made an unexpected trip back to my hometown because of a funeral. I had not been in north Alabama in two years, and it felt like a step back in time. From singing an old Mylon LeFevre tune at the funeral (“Without Him”), to attending choir practice at my aunt’s church, to listening to two of my aunts and my uncle rehearse their gospel Bluegrass music for a ‘singing,’ I felt like I was 8 years old again. A real treat was hearing two of my cousins sing with their dad on an old recording. When I was a kid, singing along with them taught me how to harmonize and to sing without vibrato, and put a love in my soul for Jesus deeper than words can convey. I can still remember my granddaddy leading the hymn singing in his little country church. I can still remember my momma swapping parts with her sisters. The simple shaped note hymns and gospel songs are a very real part of who I became. It’s all mixed together with the piano lessons and later the downtown church youth choir, then college music education, then seminary. But the passion was instilled early on. “Without Him, I could do nothing. Without Him, I’d surely fail, Without Him I would be drifting like a ship without a sail.”

This makes me realize how important Kids Choir is. Aside from the music, drama, and dance, we have the privilege of forming the spiritual foundation for our kids. I really can’t remember any sermons, but I can remember every word of the Baptist hymns I haven’t sung in 25 years. If I teach a child a song, they will remember it. But if I teach a child to worship and to live a life of worship, they will have the ability to be in the presence of Jesus in good times and in bad. They will have a love of Jesus deeper than words can convey. And it’s hard to rebel against a God that you love. As a teenager, I tried. But I wasn’t’ very successful. Because the truth was, ‘Without Him I could do nothing, without Him I’d surely fail, without Him I would be drifting like a ship without a sail.”

As I researched the history of this song, I realized its main claim to fame was the fact that Elvis recorded it. Even pop icons still acknowledged God back in the day. It’s a tough world out there now. Our kids have no viable role models. It’s up to us to be the driving force of what shapes them musically and more eternally, spiritually. It’s up to us to teach them that singing songs is nice, but worship is life-changing. It’s up to us to be a part of rescuing them from making wrong life choices. It’s up to us to help them to fall in love with Jesus. Because “without Him, how lost we would be.”

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