Tag Archives: worship

A flooded Filipino church, but look at the crowd! What’s your great excuse again?

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January 1, 2016 · 13:21

Charlie Wesley, eat yer heart out!

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November 21, 2015 · 13:02

Hey, Mrs Tambourine Woman….

Tambourine player tased during church service
POSTED 2:11 PM, JUNE 29, 2012, BY LANCE WEST, UPDATED AT 05:49PM, JUNE 29, 2012 – News Channel 4

 

EDMOND, Okla. — Most churches encourage praise and worship. In fact, the Bible states, “make a joyful noise to the Lord.”

But 50-year-old Vickey Sue Beyersdorfer apparently went a bit too far.

Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department Spokesman Mark Myers said, “Nobody could pay attention to the sermon or what was going on so that’s when our deputy was able to take care of the situation.”

The religious ruckus happened at Victory Church at 1515 N. Kelly Ave in Edmond.

A woman was apparently playing a tambourine too loudly during Wednesday night services.

When she refused to stop, the woman was escorted out by an off duty Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Deputy.

Myers said, “He had to physically escort her outside the church. Once outside, she broke free from the deputy and tried to go back inside, there became a physical confrontation.”

According to the arrest report, the deputy was forced to pepper spray and tase the unruly woman.

Myers said, “She was not filled with the Holy spirit. She was not being very Christianly and this is why the folks decided to get her out as soon as possible.”

Witnesses said the combative Christian was staggering and had slurred speech.

Authorities did find prescription pain medication in her possession.

Authorities have not said if that medication was found in her system or if that may have contributed to the incident.

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September 29, 2015 · 09:58

Getting down with the kids (praise bands)

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The bastardisation of worship

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Reimagining Christmas

Reimagining Christmas
by Sheldon C. Good | December 2013

A movement is underway to free people of faith from the yoke of Christmas consumerism.
CHRISTMAS, ON THE surface, looks like the most wonderful time of year—the season of love, lights, carols, candles, and family reunions, the time when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Look a bit deeper, though, and one might notice a more idolatrous narrative shining just as brightly: consumerism.

Circle of Protection for a Moral Budget
A pledge by church leaders from diverse theological and political beliefs who have come together to form a Circle of Protection around programs that serve the most vulnerable in our nation and around the world.

From Black Friday to New Year’s Day, we are inundated with the commercial demands of Christmas. For many, the list of things to do and gifts to purchase can seem endless. We buy into the mantra that the more money we spend, the more love we convey. We become lost in crowded stores, endless websites, and credit card debt. Christians often struggle to faithfully observe Advent, a time of waiting and preparation for the miraculous birth of Jesus.

While many of us purchase this spurious version of Christmas, a new movement has been born. It’s called Advent Conspiracy (AC), and its participants are seeking to turn Christmas upside down by exchanging consumption for compassion.

“Advent Conspiracy is not a four-point checklist on how to do Christmas. If anything, it’s a chance for us to rediscover the wonder and the mystery of the incarnation and what that means to us personally and what that might mean for the world,” said Greg Holder, lead pastor of The Crossing church in the St. Louis area.

In 2006 Holder and two clergy friends—Rick McKinley, lead pastor of Imago Dei Community in Portland, Ore., and Chris Seay, pastor and lead elder of Ecclesia Church in Houston—realized that they and their parishioners “were getting through the season with no sense of joy or celebration, with almost a sense of survival.” In response, the three pastors formed Advent Conspiracy to help people turn away from the hyper-consumerism of Christmas.

AC’S CORE tenets are quite basic: Worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all. When lived out, however, these principles have subversive power to not only turn Christmas upside down but to transform lives.

WORSHIP FULLY. This principle distinguishes AC from other people speaking out against consumerism.

“How we worship and whom we worship begins to shape us as people,” Holder said. “We worship Jesus as King; we make no apologies for that. Christmas is the story of a king entering into our world and our story, calling us to a different way. We’re spending billions of dollars worshiping this king? I don’t think so.”

SPEND LESS. U.S. Americans spent $579 billion from November to December 2012, according to the National Retail Federation. AC pushes back by inviting people to spend less.

In Advent Conspiracy: Can Christmas Still Change the World?—a book and DVD produced by the founders of AC—“radical consumerism” is cited as the fastest growing religion in the world, promising “transcendence, power, pleasure, and fulfillment even as it demands complete devotion.”

“Part of saying ‘yes’ to Jesus is that we say ‘no’ to overspending and to overconsumption,” Holder said. “We don’t say ‘spend nothing,’ but ‘spend less.’”

GIVE MORE. In response to spending less, AC encourages people to give more—not just monetarily, but relationally. The most meaningful gifts, AC organizers suggest, often involve spending time with those you love, making a gift yourself, or purchasing a present from another sustainable source. To give more is to prioritize quality over quantity.

AC encourages people to give some of the money they saved from spending less to those whom Jesus calls “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40). For example, Kate Townley—the global outreach director at Journey Church in Bozeman, Mont.—encourages children and congregants to give back to the international community.

“If we can help children and upcoming generations see the benefit in giving, then we have a shot at changing the culture of Christmas—at least within Christianity,” she says. “We are quite convinced that Christmas as-is is not the celebration Christ would want.”

LOVE ALL. By spending less and giving more, people can worship Christ more fully and experience the fourth principle of AC: Love all.

“Picture entire churches,” say the authors of Advent Conspiracy, “deciding that some of the money they are saving by giving relationally and resisting cultural norms should be given to the ‘least of these’ in our communities and world—that’s when Christmas still makes a difference. … The presents around the tree aren’t stacked quite so high, but the stories of worship and love grow richer and deeper.”

ADVENT CONSPIRACY grew slowly the first few years but has accelerated ever since. The first year, five churches participated, collecting nearly half a million dollars for charity. Since then, reportedly thousands of people from myriad denominations and traditions around the world have taken on the AC challenge. Because AC is not an institution—it’s a movement, a catalytic idea—there is no way of knowing exactly how many individuals, families, churches, and groups have participated over the years. But the vision of AC is taking root around the world.

Since 2006 AC has partnered with Living Water International, resulting in donations for nearly 1,000 clean water projects in more than 20 developing countries. Many churches are now involved directly with Living Water as a result of their connection with AC. (Holder noted that a fraction of the money people in the U.S. spend at retailers during December could supply the entire world with clean water each year.)

Advent Conspiracy recently started sponsoring International Justice Mission (IJM), a human rights organization that combats human trafficking. While people cannot donate directly to AC—it has no staff and no budget—AC encourages participants to give to life-changing organizations, such as IJM and Living Water International.

The Magnificat describes a God who “has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly,” and “has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty” (Luke 1:52-53). This radical vision can be found in AC and its capacity to help people of faith rethink Christmas, allowing participants to redefine priorities in service to God and others.

With so many people participating in this conspiracy of compassion, AC’s impact can be felt around the world.

Parishioners at First Evangelical Free Church in Manchester, Mo., where Dawn Manske is a part-time outreach coordinator, raised money through AC to help construct a center for survivors of human trafficking. Manske went with a team to West Bengal, India, to get a first-hand look at the center and to explore the possibility of establishing a partnership with an apparel manufacturer and its employees.

During the trip, Manske met dozens of girls, all between 13 and 16 years old, who had been sold, beaten, tortured, raped, and starved. Manske spoke with several people who encouraged her idea of launching a business to help survivors of trafficking. Her participation in Advent Conspiracy at her home church acted as the catalyst in moving her business—Made for Freedom—from dream to reality.

“AC connected my desire with a mission,” she says. “It helped me think about how we spend our money. I love the idea of buying less and giving more, but if you’re going to buy something, why not buy something that’s significant in multiple ways?”

Several testimonies are also documented in Advent Conspiracy. One story describes how the owner of a private truck line established an optional payroll deduction program for his 15 employees; he matches their deductions, with all proceeds going to Living Water International. Another testimony describes how a South African church threw a Christmas party at a local school for underprivileged persons and gave 750 children gifts they had specifically asked for; the church members’ children came along and celebrated alongside them.

Ecclesia Church, self-described as Houston’s holistic, missional, Christian community, also has multiple events throughout the Advent season to help parishioners engage the tenets of AC. The church hosts an annual Art Market featuring live music and more than 150 tables of products made by Ecclesia members and local artisans, including abstract art, baby clothes, pottery, and other items. A portion of the proceeds go toward AC-sponsored organizations such as Living Water International and IJM. In 2012, the Art Market raised $14,000.

In Portland, Ore., multiple congregations have used parishioners’ AC donations to partner with the city on local social justice initiatives, including poverty, sex trafficking, education, mentoring, and foster care. McKinley, a local pastor, said the churches always choose initiatives that parishioners are passionate about and can work with long term.

“We don’t just cut a check,” McKinley states. “We partner with the city around these projects.” Right now, more than 100 churches are rallying around foster care.

Holder hopes Advent Conspiracy sparks change not only for individuals, churches, and communities, but for generations. He wonders what it would be like for Christmas to look like something different, something deeper, than what many of us grew up with.

“What if Christmas weren’t just for me?” he asks. “What if it were something where we could reach across lines and do this together? If the story of Christmas changed the world once, which I think it did, what if it would continue to do that?”

Sheldon C. Good, a former Sojourners media assistant, is associate director of Eastern Mennonite University’s Washington (D.C.) Community Scholars’ Center.

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Exiting pastor saddles church with odd worship leader

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FRESNO — After repeated conflicts with his church board about the direction of Family Life Center, pastor Dave Chandler decided to leave the church. But on his way out he used a little-known clause in the bylaws to singlehandedly hire a new worship leader: Bill MacNerny who specializes in “alien folk music” and “tunes for chickens and other intelligent beings.” MacNerny was last employed as a street performer in Key West, Fla., and has made several albums of himself playing the ukelele and making barnyard sounds.

“We’re in a true bind,” says board member Jeff Garrety. “We couldn’t believe when this bozo showed up to lead worship.”

The quirk in the bylaws gave Chandler sole authority to hire and fire the worship leader and to define contract terms. The contract includes a severability clause of $150,000 if MacNerny is fired before two years. It also specifies that he must lead worship on Sunday mornings and any other time the church meets. Lawyers informed the board that the contract is legitimate and must be respected.

On a recent Sunday morning, MacNerny opened the service with a rendition of “Amazing Grace” in which he encouraged audience members to make “Martian noises.” Few people joined in. He then segued into “This Old Man, he played one, he played knick-knack on my thumb” and seemed unfazed by people’s non-participation.

The church has tried to work around MacNerny by cranking the volume of everyone else on stage and having other musicians wear brightly colored clothing. Still, it’s hard to look past his signature look which he describes on his web page as “Where exactly am I?”

“It saps part of your soul to show up Sunday morning and see Bill in his undersized cowboy hat, strumming the ukelele,” says one man. “A lot of people are trying out other churches.”

Some want the church to pay $150,000 just to get rid of MacNerny. Others want to make the best of it for two years and say it could bolster small group participation.

After making a series of weird noises he describes as “me entering the room,” MacNerny says in a phone interview that he is happy to be at Family Life Center because it offers a built-in audience and less reliance on tips. Street performing taught him to hold people’s attention, a skill he hopes to employ at the church, along with “making sure people get their proper amounts of of gamma rays, and also consider poultry ownership,” he says.

Chandler, in between ministry assignments and living in Alabama, says he thinks MacNerny makes a good fit for the church, and for the board members. •

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Organists (article in the “Telegraph”)

Telegraph.co.uk  Friday 03 May 2013

Beware the wrath of the church organist – musical revenge is sweet

They are the stalwart pillars of the community whose week-in, week-out dedication has kept the country’s choral traditions alive for generations.

Beware the wrath of the church organist – musical revenge is sweet

A survey of churchgoers found that at least half have noticed their organist straying from the path of musical orthodoxy  Photo: Getty Images
 

By , Religious Affairs Editor

7:30AM BST 03 May 2013

But, if new research is be believed, behind the quiet exterior the humble church organist is not someone to be crossed.

While charged with providing spiritually uplifting music to worshippers, it seems many also seize the opportunity to extract subtle revenge on clerics who have displeased them or simply play pranks on congregations.

A survey of churchgoers found that at least half have noticed their organist straying from the path of musical orthodoxy at some point – slipping snippets of heavy metal classics, advertising jingles and even nursery rhymes into hymns and anthems.

In some cases it can be a means of waging musical war with clerics while in others it is simply an effort by bored organists to make the choir laugh.

Christian Research, a polling and research group asked its 2,000 strong “Resonate” panel of churchgoers for their views on church music and organists.

Of those who responded, half said they had noticed an organist slipping unexpected tunes into services.

Among examples cites was that of the organist in Scotland who had fallen out with some of the elders in the Kirk but got his own back by inserting a thinly disguised rendition of “Send in the Clowns” as they processed in for a Sunday service.

Elsewhere, a vicar sacked an organist after he played “Roll out the Barrel” at the funeral of a man known to have been fond of a drink.

In one decidedly high church congregation, an organist punctured the mood of reverence as an elaborately dressed clergyman processed back after the gospel reading – by playing the theme tune to The Simpsons.

Another congregation found themselves passing around the collection plate to the strains of “Money, Money, Money” by Abba.

The survey uncovered examples of Eucharist celebrations livened up with renditions of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer”; the theme tunes from the Magic Roundabout, Blackadder and Harry Potter and even “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts”.

Sung Evensong – widely regarded as the jewel in the crown of English choral music – has been spiced up such unexpected offerings as “I’m a Barbie Girl” and “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”

One organist who responded confessed to playing hits by Oasis, Billy Bragg and even Kylie Minogue in services but added: “Nobody notices – I do it all the time.”

But when an organist played a slowed-down version of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins, even the most tone deaf members of the congregation eventually recognised, sending them into gales of laughter.

An older bridegroom took it in good humour when the organist played “No one loves a fairy when she’s 40” at his wedding” while candidates at a confirmation service were left perplexed to hear the strains of “I’m a Little Teapot” from the organ loft.

Stephen Goddard, of Christian Research, said: “It’s an oft-repeated adage in church circles – ‘What’s the difference between an organist and a terrorist? -you can negotiate with a terrorist’.

“Hidden from view, your local church organist may appear unassuming and self-deprecating, but like any true artist, he or she can be eccentric, mischievous and very opinionated.

“Mess with him at your peril – he will pull out all the stops to get his own back.”

The poll was conducted ahead of the Christian Resources Exhibition, a trade fair for all things ecclesiastical in London later this month, which will be showpiecing new organs among other things.

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Why Men Have Stopped Singing In Church (from the blog – “Church for Men”)

  • Worship band in the dark

    It happened again yesterday. I attended one of those hip, contemporary churches — and almost no one sang. Worshippers stood obediently as the band rocked out, the smoke machine belched and lights flashed. Lyrics were projected on the screen, but almost no one sang them. A few women were trying, but I saw only one male (other than the worship leader) making the attempt.

    Last month I blogged, “Have Christians Stopped Singing?” I did some research, and learned that congregational singing has ebbed and flowed over the centuries. It reached a high tide when I was a young man – but that tide may be going out again. And that could be bad news for men.

    First, a very quick history of congregational singing.

    Before the Reformation, laypersons were not allowed to sing in church. Sacred music was performed by professionals (priests and cantors), played on complex instruments (pipe organs), and sung in an obscure language (Latin).

    Reformers gave worship back to the people, in the form of congregational singing. They composed simple tunes with lyrics that people could easily memorize. Some of the tunes came out of local taverns.

    A technological advance – the printing press – led to an explosion of congregational singing. The first hymnal was printed in 1532, and soon a few dozen hymns became standards across Christendom. Hymnals slowly grew over the next four centuries. By the mid 20th century every Protestant church had a hymnal of about 1000 songs, 250 of which were regularly sung. In the church of my youth, everyone picked up a hymnal and sang every verse of every song.

    About a decade ago, a new technological advance – the computer controlled projection screen – entered America’s sanctuaries. Suddenly churches could project song lyrics for all to see. Hymnals became obsolete. No longer were Christians limited to 1,000 songs handed down by our elders.

    At first, churches simply projected the songs everyone knew – hymns and a few simple praise songs that had come out of the Jesus Movement. People sang robustly.

    But that began to change about three years ago. Worship leaders brought in new songs each week. They drew from the radio, the Internet, and Worship conferences. Some began composing their own songs, performing them during worship, and selling them on CD after church.

    Years ago, worship leaders used to prepare their flocks when introducing a new song. “We’re going to do a new song for you now. We’ll go through it twice, and then we invite you to join in.”

    That kind of coaching is rare today. Songs get switched out so frequently today that it’s impossible to learn them. People can’t sing songs they’ve never heard. And with no musical notes to follow, how is a person supposed to pick up the tune?

    And so the church has returned to the 14th century. Worshippers stand mute as professional-caliber musicians play complex instruments, and sing in an obscure language. Martin Luther is turning over in his grave.

    What does this mean for men? On the positive side, men no longer feel pressure to sing in church. Men who are poor readers or poor singers no longer have to fumble through hymnals, sing archaic lyrics or read a musical staff.

    But the negatives are huge. Men are doers, and singing was one of the things we used to do together in church. It was a chance to participate. Now, with congregational singing going away, and communion no longer a weekly ordinance, there’s only one avenue left for men to participate in the service – the offering. Is this really the message we want to send to men? Sit there, be quiet, and enjoy the show. And don’t forget to give us money.

    There’s nothing wrong with professionalism and quality in church music.The problem isn’t the rock band, or the lights, or the smoke machine. The key here is familiarity. When that super-hip band performed a hymn, the crowd responded. People sang. Even the men.

 

Murrow also blogs:

When I was a kid growing up in church, we sang hymns. Songs about God. From a book. Never more than three in a row. There was little emotion attached to this experience. Nobody dimmed the lights.

  • And we all sang. Loudly. Or at least we mouthed the words.

    Today, worship is not something you do – it’s something you feel. We no longer sing about God, we sing to him. There might be seven songs in a row without a break. We are expected to feel something. The lights are low.

    And we’re not singing any more.

    As I visit churches around the country, I’ve frequently observed that the majority of attendees do not sing. They stand motionless, looking at the words on the jumbo screen. It’s particularly noticeable in so called seeker-friendly congregations. I’d guess that only a quarter of the men sing.

    According to LifeWay Worship Director Mike Harland, the modern stage-driven worship atmosphere gives people an excuse to be spectators instead of participators.

    Lillian Kwon writes in the Christian Post, “While the congregation is left in the dark under dim lights, stage lights place the focus on the gifted worship leader — who has in-ear monitors and who sings songs in a key that best fits him or her. The worship leader can’t hear the congregation or see the congregation and ‘they don’t even know that the congregation is not even singing,’ Harland said.

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