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Jason Soroski Christian Blog and Commentary

Jason Soroski

Writer, worship pastor, and homeschool dad. Connect on Twitter or at JasonSoroski.net .

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This morning was one of those that found me frazzled over things I should have dealt with yesterday and had to address this morning. Of course, I was edgy with the kids and reactionary to things that weren't really a big deal, overwhelmed for no particular reason. It set a poor tone for the day and isn't the good start I wanted everyone to get. Instead of harping on who hasn’t packed their lunch yet and who left their shoes on the porch, these morning minutes would have been better spent as a time of peaceful encouragement before facing the day.

Of course, things will be fine and the rest of the household has probably moved on by now. But I am once again learning the lesson that that reactionary parenting, and reactionary leadership in general, is always ineffective, and is best avoided by planning ahead and starting my day the right way. As a dad, my words and actions set the tone for the kind of day my family is going to have, and when I get my spirit right, it leads to a better day for everyone involved.

I am pretty sure that I’m not the only one who has felt the remorse of setting a negative tone for the day and then trying to band-aid it up once the damage is done. Every parent has been there at some point. We let ourselves get impatient and agitated about things that aren’t really all that important, and then realize our kids now have ‘that look’. You’ve seen it too; the, “I’m just going to keep my mouth shut and stay out of the way while dad vents his frustration” look. And it is heartbreaking to know I put that look on their faces.
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I’ve found that he best way to avoid this kind of a start to the day is by praying through Scripture. When we start off with the right focus and perspective, it tends to carry us through whatever we may face throughout the day, and gets us off to a much better start.

>Romans 8:6 – “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

>Galatians 5:23 – “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

>Colossians 3:15 – “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

>Matthew 5:16 – “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Psalm 51:10 – “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

These are verses that we can pray each day, asking God to give us a spirit of peace, patience and kindness that allows us to shine for Him, leading to joy and a right focus for ourselves and encouragement for those we influence.

Worship-Background_crop1 An open letter to my fellow worship leaders (and anyone who worships in church, really):

It can be argued that worship leaders have a major impact on how our church is viewed in the community due to the simple fact that we often have the highest visibility. When people are curious about a church, they typically don’t start by asking about the programs, the theology, or the preferred Bible translation. They eventually get to those things, but that’s usually not what they ask about first.

The first question is usually about the music.

Here’s how one of those conversations usually goes:

“What church do you go to?”

“I go to Community Christian Church.”

“Oh! I’ve heard of that church before. What’s the worship like?”

And of course by asking what the worship is like, they are asking what the music is like. They are asking if your church does the hymnal thing or the Hillsong thing. They are asking if your church is choir driven or guitar driven. They are asking if the music is relatable to them and where they are at in life or not. They are asking if your music is ’80’s CCM, post-modern Jesus Punk Rock, or something in-between.

In essence, they want to know if you sing songs they also like to sing, songs that make sense to them.

Music can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, and music in church even more so. The question for us is how we can best utilize feelings about music and worship to reach the community around us, grow the members of our church, offer true worship to God, and offer the best answer to the question of “what our worship is like.”

lance-gatch1 When newcomers walk into a church service on a Sunday morning, chances are their first impression will be based in large part on the music. The first person they hear speak from the front of the room will likely be the worship leader, and the first thing they see will be your worship team/choir/hipster Djembe guy. So what will the things they see and hear say about your church? More importantly, what will these things say about Jesus?

Should we start by asking ourselves if one “style” of worship is better than another, and if so just how far should we go to make our music what we think people want?

The answer has nothing to do with style, marketing, surveys or presentation. It can be tempting to try way too hard to present the ‘right look’ and the ‘right sound’, and so we warily wade into uncomfortable waters in order to reach a certain demographic that we feel we need to be reaching.

And that is the worst thing we can do.

People in today’s world, especially younger people, can sniff out inauthenticity a mile away, and trying to be a hip or relevant version of yourself will yield poor results just about every time.

As a worship leader, you are who you are and you do what you do. Embrace who God has called you to be, and do it the best you can to the glory of God. There is always room for growth, change, and learning, but only prayerful, authentic growth and true unbridled worship will honor God and yield great results. Offer your best to God in all you do, not just in the music, and the music will be worshipful.

Singing as a form of worship is an ancient practice, from the Song of Moses in Exodus 15, the Psalms of David, the praises of the early church, to the present day. Singing in itself is not worship, but singing is certainly a form of participational congregational worship that has been practiced for millennia.  There may be opinions about how we sing and what songs we sing, but there is never a question of whether we sing.  The goal of the Sunday service is not to draw in or to entertain, but to allow an opportunity for the body of Christ to participate in a time of worship together. A worshipping congregation is a powerful testimony to God's goodness and an important means of expressing our praise to God. 

boston-avenue-methodist-episcopal-church-tulsa-ok-interior-hymnal As Matt Redman once said so well, the heart of worship isn’t about the music anyway, it’s about Jesus being honored and lifted up. We need to find and use the best songs for our congregations, but true worship is more than a song.

It’s a sacrifice.

If that part is missing, it doesn’t matter how ‘relevant’ we are. We are no longer worship leaders, but noisy gongs and clanging cymbals; nothing more than weekend performers in a Top 10 Christian cover band.

After all, worship is not about music. Worship is not about a set list.

Worship is about Jesus.

Worship is about bowing our hearts and minds and families and jobs and cares and worries before the Almighty Creator of all things and saying we trust Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

Worship is about bringing honor and glory and thanks to Him who gave all for us.

Worship is exhortation and praise, and it is a prayer born of the deepest longings of the heart.

Worship is the very Words of God set to a melody and shared amongst us.

If we are doing things right, a personal daily walk with Jesus will yield worship focused on Christ and not on the songs we select, and worship will become infectious and empowering to your church; a highlight of every week. Set your mind on things that are above, seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and your worship music will truly become more than a song.

“So, what is the worship at your church like?”

“Our worship is about Jesus and nothing but Jesus. And that's exactly what it is supposed to be like.”

 

Jesus Is Alive!

Luke 24:1-12 records the first recognition of the singular event that has changed all of humanity forever:

1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.

10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

Today we still marvel at what had happened, and celebrate the risen King! He is alive!  

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