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Training and Ideas In Worship

A bunch of stuff in enabling you to look at what worship is, some worship exercises, training young people in worship and more.. again, dip in, dip out, use what’s useful and inspiring.. add your own magic ingredients and.. (Holy Spirit inspired puff of smoke).. there you go..

What Is Worship? A Biblical Study

Summed up in Matthew 22.37-39, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind.. and.. love you neighbour as you love yourself.’ (Youth Bible)

Then in Romans 12.1-2, ‘So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy. I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be holy – only for God and pleasing to him, which is the your spiritual act of worship. Don’t conform or be like the ways and the people of this world any longer, but be changed within, transformed, by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test God’s will for your life, his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ (paraphrased from NIV and Youth Bible)

In Matthew we see worship is giving yourself totally to God. Every part of us is included. Our heart, our soul and our mind. Loving your neighbour is the outworking of this love for God and the love he puts in us.

Romans explains that our physical bodies are to be offered to God as a sacrifice. This is kind of like Abraham offering Isaac. We have to be prepared to offer ourselves completely and without reservation to God.

Then God will start to change our ways of thinking to become more like him. As he does, his will for our lives gets worked out – something that is at first good, then pleasing, then perfect.

So this also tells us how to find God’s will for our lives. How to find our place. But the two passages of the Bible also shows that the heart of worship is in giving ourselves to God and then expressing that through his love.

Alternative Description of Worship

“Worship is our response to the revelation of God’s holiness.”

So if we do not have a revelation of God’s holiness we cannot worship effectively. I believe we can make choices about this, so that God reveals more and more of himself to us – causing us to be able to worship him ever increasingly. 

Examples of Music / Worship In The Bible

2 Chronicles 29.30 – Hezekiah as King had destroyed idols and purified the Temple. The Bible says they praised the Lord with the words of David and Asaph, they sang praises and bowed their heads and worshipped.

So worship is about the words we sing, also about reading God’s Word to us – The Bible. Also about being purified inside through the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus through confessing sin. It is about singing songs of praise, having a thankful attitude in all we do and about bowing our heads before the Almighty God in heaven. 

John 4.24, worship is about the Spiritual and about Truth. We need the Spirit of God and Jesus (the Truth). We need to be submitted to God the Father.

There are many other examples of worship – with dancing, praise, prayer, heads bowed, stringed instruments, cymbals and more. Basically, if there’s a style of music, God can mostly be glorified through it – be that rap, rock music, dance music or Lithuanian folk music!

Some Music Worship Exercises

1. Turning up!

2. Tuning up!

3. Praying together.

4. Your attitude is essential. I knew of a band with a couple who were always fighting. It made worship interesting! Get rid of the rubbish and the trash from your life and get right before God. Get cleansed by the blood, that means say sorry to God and to others if you need to. One woman once came up to us after worship in tears confessing a wrongful attitude towards us as a band. What an attitude, what humility.

5. As said, be humble. Worship isn’t what God brings to us but what we bring to God. It is our way of saying thank you. Praise and thanks to God needs to be at the heart.

6. Reading form the Bible as a group.

7. Make sure everyone has all the music – keep spares in case. Make sure the church is covered by music and copyright license.

8. Going round and explaining what you like in worship, what songs and why.

9. Being accountable to each other. Doesn’t have to be out loud. Get right with God. Get into God’s presence. Be open to the Holy Spirit doing something difference to what you’ve planned.

10. Treat each other with respect. Don’t diss people but build each other up.

11. Learn from each other. I’ve learned a lot about guitar riffing and tabs from one young person, another young person gave me a whole bunch oif useful recording tips.

12. Mix the visual with the audio – images, graphics etc.

13. Respect the sound man. Remember that technical expertise is as much worship as musical expertise. Spend time training young people in PA, audio and visual work.

14. Have fun! Do fun stuff. Allow time for settling down and having a laugh. It’s not always about the end itself, remember that.

15. Can you use non-Christians in worship? I say yes. My friend says no. I say look at the evidence. He says it’s not right. What do you think? Why?

16. Remember the purpose of worship is to glorify God, not yourselves. Recently when a band I was in finished a song, the church started clapping. I realised it was the Spirit leading people praising God. Some of the group thought it was them. Go with it, praise God. Later, the band did get a clap but I was able to talk to them about this.

Worship visuals (also in ‘outdoor games’ section) 

Thanks to Simon D and Joe P for this one. Get hold of a camcorder (with a firewire output, also called d-link) and a digital camera. You’ll also need your firewire cable from camcorder to laptop, and your digital camera’s cable to go from the camera into a laptop via USB. Arm yourself with an iBook or Powerbook (or the Windows equivalent equipped with a firewire / USB input – if it has it) and get iMovie and iPhoto ready to blaze (or Windows equivalent – movie editing programme and photo editing). If your digital camera has movie capture you can also use this and get it into the laptop according to your instructions.

This is the deal, you go out with students – with both the camcorder and digital camera. The aim is to get a whole bunch of creative / worshipful images.. so trees, the sky, urban environments, nature etc. Go out and get a bunch of photos and footage. Make sure you have enough memory / tape on your camera / camcorder. Go film / photo out and about for up to 30 mins.

Then you come back. Plug in the camcorder to the laptop via the firewire cable and to a Mac, iMovie will open up, create a new project. Capture (‘record’) the footage (iMovie will explain how, it’s incredibly easy and yet advanced where it needs to be). Do the same with the camera (plug it in via USB) and iPhoto will open up (or equivalent). Hit ‘import’ and the photos will import.

Using iMovie you can then drag clips into the ‘timeline’ (this is like creating a ‘storyboard’ to tell the story). You drag clips into this timeline (at the bottom of the screen) and you can add transitions (ways different clips merge) easily. You can also add music from your iTunes playlist or music on your Mac. (Windows Movie Player does similar things). You can playback the clips from within iMovie once you’ve finished, and ‘export’ (save) it as a Quicktime movie file. 

Using iPhoto you can create a ‘slideshow’ (click on the ‘slideshow’ icon at the bottom of the screen) which means it will play back a sequence of your photos (they fade in and out with each other) over a tune you can choose. If you want. it will automatically fit the slideshow to the length of the tune or you can play back each photo for a specified length of time.

There’s much more you can do. But you can play back the clips during a service. We did this in a session on creative forms of expressing our worship to God and it worked very effectively. 

What worship isn’t

– Worship isn’t just music. It is part of worship

– Worship isn’t just one style of music

– Worship is as wide and deep as reflected by the cultures, nations and personalities of God’s family

– Add your own ‘ worship isn’t ‘ categories here..

Practical Exercises

1. Get people to discuss what worship is to them and why – in small groups.

2. Discuss what worship isn’t and how we can resist or limit the Spirit in worship.

3. Have a list of words which they feel are important in music worship – throw in unnecessary ones and ones that aren’t so important as well. Eg:

Thankful heart
Praising God
Having a rainbow guitar strap
Right attitude
A passion for God

4. If you’re good at an instrument, help others. Get young people to help each other practically. If you’re like me, get them to help you!!

Ideas For Music and Training Young People In Worship Music 

1. Remix Christian songs using keyboards, sequencers, software. This is what I do and have remixed nearly 100 songs, in differing styles from r&b, dance, drum’n’bass to rock.

2. Think about how you choose songs. I used to work with some people who chose songs because they liked the tunes. They would also dismiss songs due to the slightest ‘inaccuracy’ in the words. I couldn’t agree with this. I think we should be completely open to the Holy Spirit, rooted in the truth of the Bible. What about you?

3. Don’t just disrespect songs or styles simply because you don’t like them. What works for some does not work for others. Personally I don’t like rock music but am a city boy into urban music. In Exeter, where I work, ‘urban’ is not a word I would ever use and most Christian (usually middle class) young people like rock, so that’s what we use at Christian worship events most of the time.

4. Think about the audience you are playing to when you choose songs. If there are old people there, choose a couple of classics like Amazing Grace etc. You can always make them funky. I’ve done a trip hop/nu-metal crossover for this in 4/4 time (the original is in 3/4). We use more urban, pop and dance sounds for outreach as that is the sound favoured by many non-Christian young people.

5. On the other hand, don’t be limited by other people’s expectations. Be sensitive but creative, passionate about music worship to God. It’s so important and significant to God. Fear God not man. Do what God says not man.

6. Mix live instruments and sampled beats/tunes. You can have a looped drum beat, get a drummer to play over this, have a tune with a drum loop so you can keep time. If you’ve remixed songs, take out instruments you have playing live (eg bass guitar).

7. Play new songs as people come in to worship so they get them in their heads a bit before you teach them. Unless it’s a full-on music session, don’t introduce too many songs.

8. Get young people to arrange the songs in their styles. Change the bass riff, add guitar bits here and there, have bizarre harmonies.

9. Don’t have intros etc that are too long, people get a bit confused! Lead the singing well and clearly when you need to.

10. Practice regularly. When you do this, you get a fell for playing together and can be much more innovative and Spirit-led when you do lead music worship in church or at events.

11. Remix and use secular songs if you feel appropriate, especially when they have good words, especially working with young people as this can help them as they’ll know the tune and words. Be careful of this though, I’ve seen it backfire badly.

12. Use songs from artists such as Creed, POD, Mary Mary, Out Of Eden / the latest Christian artists etc. that are Christian artists working in the secular market. Their tunes are often well known and often Christian in lyrics or tone, albeit unknown to many.

13. Write your own songs. Encourage young people to do this. Whatever is on their heart. Have a worship time where this is what they do. If they’re stuck, read Psalms or other Bible verses and put them in their own words.

14. Pray together.

15. Work on harmonies, parts and more. Don’t be too clever, just try new things. Be and stay fresh!

16. Don’t step outside of your areas of gifting unless specifically called to by God and covered in God’s grace/kindness. Once you do, you lose your anointing

17. Think about the advantages of different music styles. For example when you’re out clubbing, you’re dancing about as the tunes drop. One thing missing in most ‘worship’ music is the audience really expressing themselves. So here’s where dance music culture has an advantage. In the old classics, they are powerful booming organ numbers to fill the souls of those into them and that’s where this kind of music is strong. With a band, you can have a more lively, passionate and Spirit led worship as the band can create new songs, play on etc.

18. Encourage young people to write their own songs and mentor them through the process. You should encourage a Bible focused approach to lyrics, as there’s such power in the Bible, but don’t prescribe this as you don’t want to be controlling and dictate what young people write from their hearts. I’d also say there is a lot of quite lovey-dovey songs about Jesus, and mellow songs out there. There seems to be less lively and assertive songs. It’s good to have a balance of all sorts.