“The Spiritual Benefits of Unbroken Focussed Worship”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 32

We tried something a little different this last Sunday – around 30 minutes of singing, prayer and readings at the beginning of our service.

See what you think of what we did. It is warts-and-all, so be kind!

Please share your ideas here by leaving a comment.

And please pass this on to one other person.

God bless, Malcolm

“How to be safe”, Psalm 100

"..we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”

How can we be safe? What is true safety? And what does Jesus provide that no other person can?

“Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” (Psalms 100:3 NIV11)

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send us your questions or suggestions.

Thanks again for watching. Have a super day.

God bless,

Malcolm

“Amen, and Amen”

The Sunday Sample, Episode 31

How often do you say the word, “Amen” in a church service? Not as a response to a prayer or statement from another person, but as a filler word? It’s probably more often than you think. I do it more than what I would like to admit. The frequency has declined, but it still happens from time to time. Why does it matter?
It matters because the word, “Amen” is a Bible word rich in spiritual meaning. To use it loosely empties it of its potential power, and compromises its God-given purpose.
 
I would like to create some momentum amongst those of us who lead worship in eradicating the word “Amen” from any context in which it lacks meaningHow will we do this? Let me take you through five points inspired by the book, “participating in worship” by Craig Douglas Ericsson

“Amen” comes from the Hebrew verb ‘mn. When we say “Amen” we are saying a Hebrew word that has been used for millennia. It means: surely, truth, most certainly, so be it, to be faithful, reliable, steadfast, established, firm.

2. Origin of usage

The word, “Amen” was used in synagogues and the Temple. Since then it has become common in both Christian and Muslim circles. It has been adopted as a transliteration by many languages.

3. Biblical usage

The Hebrew version of the word is found in 25 verses of the Old Testament. The Greek version of “Amen” is found in 104 verses of the New Testament, translated in a variety of ways (Amen, truly, very). It is most common in the Gospels, with Matthew (31), and John (50) containing by far the most.
 
“In Biblical usage, ‘Amen’ is a formula that is spoken by the congregation at the end of the liturgy (e.g. 1 Chronicles 16:36) or at the end of the doxology (e.g. Romans 1:25).” Erickson
 
In the New Testament “Amen” is used as an indicator that something important is about to be said. Jesus said “Amen, Amen” (translated as “Verily, verily,” or “truly, truly”) before some of his most important pronouncements.

4. Historical usage

Most commonly, “Amen” is used after someone has prayed, and the congregation signals its agreement with what has been said. Augustine wrote, “to say ‘Amen’ is to subscribe.”
 
  • Agreement: a congregation might say “Amen” spontaneously in agreement with a speaker. In saying “Amen” we, as the body of Christ, are giving collective spiritual agreement to the truth of what has been said. There is much power in this corporate assent. Jerome recorded that the Amen of his congregation was “like thunder shaking the empty temples of the idols”!
  • Unity: “Amen can express unanimity of belief. This is the predominant sense at the conclusion of the creeds.
  • Sealing: “Amen” is appropriate when someone is baptised or married. For example, “I am now able to baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit and you will be added to Christ’s church. AMEN”

5. Modern usage

In the congregations I serve, “Amen” is most commonly used in corporate settings in the following ways:
  1. As a corporate response to someone leading a prayer
  2. As a spontaneous personal response to something said in the church service, most often the sermon.
  3. As a corporate response to a Bible reading. As in, “… and the church said – AMEN.”
  4. As a seal on baptism (as above in point 4).
  5. As a way for a speaker to get a response to his or her point. As in, “If you want to be confident of your salvation, you must make every effort. Amen?”
  6. As a filler between songs, at the end of speaking slots. Too often the word is used to mask insecurity in the speaker or worship leader or fill a moment of silence.

Two Recommendations

Using the word, “Amen” in our times of corporate worship is thoroughly biblical and helpful. However, we might want to rethink the habits, traditions and customs we have adopted. Let us consider whether the way we use the word, “Amen” is serving a useful spiritual purpose.
  1. Stop using the word, “Amen” as a filler in corporate worship. Instead, allow silence. Or say something more meaningful about what has just been said or sung, and what is about to be said or sung. The key to improving is to be better prepared and consider in advance what to say, for example, at the end of a song.
  2. Continue using the word, “Amen” in all other corporate worship circumstances.
Augustine wrote, to say 'Amen' is to subscribe. Click To Tweet

Questions

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you think it’s worth trying to eradicate the use of the word, “Amen” as a filler? Am I being too fussy? What have you done to reduce the use of filler words?
 
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Thank you so much for reading, listening and watching. I hope that the next time you gather with your friends to worship God, you will have a cracking time of corporate worship.
 
We can all say, “AMEN” to that!
 
God bless, Malcolm
¹ “Participating in Worship: history, theory, and practice”, Craig Douglas Erickson, Westminster/John Knox press, 1989, pp61-64

“How to teach a new song”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 30

Psalm 33:3, “Sing to him a new song; play skilfully, and shout for joy.”

What is the best way to teach a new song? We look at a four-step process:

  1. Go through words
  2. Play audio track
  3. Sing along to backing track
  4. Sing with own instruments

Please share your ideas here by leaving a comment.

And please pass this on to one other person.

God bless, Malcolm

“How to keep the worship flow going”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 29

How do we keep the worship flow going? What prevents the songs from being separate items? I share something we tried at church last Sunday.

Please share your ideas here by leaving a comment.

And please pass this on to one other person.

God bless, Malcolm

“To dance or not to dance?”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 28

I received a question recently. It asked whether we, as worship leaders, should be leading the congregation in dancing? Here is my answer….

Please share your ideas here by leaving a comment.

And please pass this on to one other person.

God bless, Malcolm

“How God Transforms Lives”, Acts 3

Not one, but two versions of the same sermon surveying the first part of Acts 3 looking at the Spirit’s work in bringing grace-poor and grace-rich people together. We learn lessons about noticing people and expecting the unexpected.

The first is the discussion-style version with the Watford church of Christ, and the second is the interactive version with the Thames Valley churches of Christ.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send us your questions or suggestions.

Thanks again for watching. Have a super day.

God bless,

Malcolm

A new ‘sending’ song: “Send us out”

The Sunday Sample, Episode 27

Here is a new ‘sending’ song we’ve learned recently in Thames Valley.

Have a look at www.resoundworship.org/song/send_us_out for more resources.

Do you have a favourite ‘sending’ song for concluding your service? Please share your ideas here by leaving a comment.

And please pass this on to one other person.

God bless, Malcolm

“How to reap your reward”: Hebrews 12, Acts 8

What it takes to inherit spiritual rewards, and how to live consistent with our faith in those rewards

It is easy to grow weary and lose heart in the Christian race.  Hebrews chapter 12 provides us with the inspiration of Jesus, and Acts chapter 8 provides us with the inspiration of the early Christians. In this lesson, I examine how their examples help us to not give in to the temptation to become weary and lose heart.

Thank you for watching and listening to this recording. Please leave a comment on anything you saw or heard.  We learn best when we learn in community.

Please pass the link to this recording on to one other person.

God bless, Malcolm

“Warnings and Promises from Hebrews”

The final class from the Hebrews teaching series 2018

In this final class we look at some of the warnings and promises in Hebrews.

Click for the Handout.

Please leave a comment with your own thoughts, or post a question.

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Heb 13.20-21

God bless, Malcolm