“I Don’t Like the Music on Sundays”

It’s wild to think that it has been six months now since we changed our worship styles from contemporary and traditional to a united format.  While there have been concerns along the way, there has been minimal, and I mean minimal drama.  I can’t overstate how God has blessed this decision.  Instead of splitting or losing tons of people that others predicted we might, our attendance is actually up significantly than this time last year.

Was it the right move for our church?  Without a doubt.  Does everyone love the music portion of services week in and week out?  Not a chance.  But for the most part, people are adapting and giving it a shot.  We are truly worshiping together now as a church.

To illustrate where our church is, let me share a conversation I had with a church member the other week.

The church member walked into my office and the first words were, “I don’t like the music on Sundays.  I just can’t help it.  I do no like it.”

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Worship Preferences

Yesterday, we showed a video at North Side that really summarizes our approach to worship here with our church.  We have shown it to remind us during a time of worship why we are actually gathered together.  We made the video about 1 year ago.  I had been asked by some fellow ministers to get a copy and I thought why not make this available to any church that might find it useful?

Here’s the video description:

The process of picking a place to worship has kind of become like picking a place to eat. We all have individual preferences, but when did worship ever become about what we got out of it?

You can watch the video here:

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Worshipers on Boycott

It’s intriguing to see how encouragement and ministry happens over the Internet.  When I started sharing North Side’s journey of uniting our church concerning worship styles, services, and preferences, I mainly was attempting to share our thought process with the people of North Side.  Along the way, I began to receive correspondence from other pastors desiring to unite their churches but were afraid of the fallout.

We are still in awe of how God is doing more than we could possibly imagine during this time of transition in our church (Eph. 3:20).  Sunday was our 7th united worship service schedule, and attendance is up.  Involvement is up.  Excitement is up.  Of course, there are people who are not raving fans of the changes, but it is very minimal.  God is challenging all of us to strive for a united church.  It’s been a great thing.

I was asked last week by a minister in another church: “What do you do with disgruntled worshipers?  They are boycotting the music.  We have members waiting outside until the music is over to come in.  Some cover their ears.  Some refuse to sing certain types of songs.  Some won’t even stand up and sit there with their arms crossed.  It’s offensive to me.  What should I do?”

My first word of advice: “Stop being offended because those people’s actions are not against you.  They are against someone else.”

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“We Said We Would Never Visit North Side…”

Yesterday, I talked about how North Side is experiencing incredible growth even during a time of transition.  Normally, you are supposed to lose people when you make changes to your church, and in reality, we are gaining people.  Lives are being transformed by the gospel.  People are being baptized.  All ages are signing up for discipleship groups and service groups.  It’s been amazing to watch!

I wanted to tell you one story that we have heard through this time of change.  A couple recently moved to Greenwood who had been church leaders in another state.  As they began their time of searching for the right church, someone invited them to come to North Side.  They checked out the website, asked some questions about the church, and told this person they wouldn’t come.  They had doctrinal stances they had to ensure which our church met with no problem.  But they had one other criteria as far as looking for a church that was a non-negotiable for them.

Do you know what the one criteria they had that was hindering them from coming to North Side?

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Why I’m Not a Fan of Blended Worship

You may or may not have heard that North Side is going through some changes now.  Many have asked me, “Are you guys getting rid of the traditional service?”  The short answer is yes.  The other part of the answer is: we are also getting rid of our contemporary services.

We are uniting our church from 3 services into 2.  There are many theological and logistical reasons of which this one post cannot address.  Succinctly, we believe that God is more honored when we unite in worship regardless of our preferences (theological), and we have accommodated preferences to a point where our schedule is actually a hindrance for many families in our attempt to please everyone (logistical).

So, no traditional.  No contemporary.  So everyone assumes that we are doing blended worship.  The only problem with that is North Side’s worship pastor (me) is absolutely disgusted by that format.  Let me explain why:

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The Purpose of Worship: The Glory of God

The following is an excerpt from a document North Side’s elders gave out to our church body on April 17th.  As we have prayed concerning the direction of the church and studied Scripture together, we are under conviction that we must be a church according to scriptural mandates.  Our church currently uses different styles of worship to relate to different groups of people.  Our time in the Word has changed our heads and our hearts.  The following is a brief excerpt, you can get the rest of the document here.

A passion for the glory of God is the hallmark of the redeemed. Because it is God’s passion, it must be our passion. To live passionately for the glory of God means that our greatest delight is found in delighting Him and our greatest fear is found in displeasing Him. When we fall short of living for His glory, (Romans 3:23) we fall into a life lived for the glory of self. Living life for our glory is sin. When we lose the great, high, noble calling of living life for His glory, the results are disastrous for the church. Worship is reduced to a consumer-driven personal experience, discipleship is reduced to a self-help program, and evangelism is reduced to a goal-driven sales pitch. Living as a church for the glory of God will redefine our purpose and redefine the methods we use in pursuing that purpose. Corporate worship, or worship as a church family, becomes a priority.

Psalm 133:1 reads, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!”

Most of us have been conditioned to think of salvation in terms of the individual. The truth is, however, that God has saved a people unto Himself.

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Derailed by Idolatry

What a pivotal day for North Side.  It was one of those days where God was so clear to me in so many different areas, that it was hard to shake.  Continuing on through Derailed, here is where we landed today:

Derailed by Idolatry (1 Corinthians 10-11).  The Corinthian church had gotten into the habit of gathering together in the name of the Lord but making it all about themselves.  They had become their own idols.  In this message, we hear how this warning still applies to us today and what it means for the future of North Side.

The picture above shows holding a document entitled “The Glory of God.”  As North Side has sought God’s leading on our future, we believe he has spoken to us concerning the future of worship styles at the church.

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Why We Have Been Leading So Many Hymns Lately

If you are a part of North Side or follow my Sunday’s set list on my blog, you might have noticed I have reintroduced some hymns lately.  While we have always sung hymns over the years, we mainly have used arrangements that others have used, but lately we have been adding some original twists on some classics.

Why might you ask?

Because I believe that Chris Tomlin and Charles Wesley are both my brothers in Christ and both have been blessed to write songs for the Church.  Too many people get stuck in a particular style of worship music that they can’t appreciate how God has gifted the entire Body of Christ over its entire life.

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Do Buffet-Styled Churches Honor God?

For years, I have bought into the church growth principle that the more choices you give people in a church, the more successful the church will be.

To agree with that principle, you must gauge a church’s success by the number of people who stay at that church.  But is that true success?

Here are the courses that the American church is serving up:

  • Worship – traditional, contemporary, blended, cutting edge, emergent, ancient future, classic, golden, choir, band, hard rock, country western, southern gospel, chandeliers, go-bos, expensive organ, expensive guitar, etc.
  • Discipleship – Sunday school, community groups, small groups, Bible fellowship classes, on-campus, in-homes, co-ed, single, married, guys only, girls only, by hobby-interest, by age, by life situations, etc.
  • Preaching – coat and tie, jeans and t-shirt, podium, table, old, young, hip, wise, screen, video, sermon, message, talk
  • Family Ministries – discipleship times, creative programs, glorified babysitting, “community” sports programs with a side of Christ, men’s ministry, women’s ministry, single, divorced, newlywed, with kids, with small kids, with fussy kids, for fussy kids, puppets, Awanas, GAs, RAs, children’s choir

And the list could go on.

  1. Is God honored when we explain what church we belong to by describing the type of music we like?
  2. Is God honored when we defend our group’s methods within the church rather than celebrating the diversity of the whole church?
  3. Is God honored when we try to woo members from other churches because this program is better than that program?

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