My first music director job in a church was in a tiny Baptist church in a blue collar Houston suburb. It wasn’t exactly my dream church job, but they generally treated me well and gave me a shot when I was desperate to get out of waiting tables. Like many Baptist churches in Texas, this wasn’t exactly the kind of place to let a civic patriotic observance like the the 4th of July go by without fanfare. I had already… Read more

Churches, Pastors, Music Directors, worshipers, everybody who will be in church in a few weeks, you’ve got a perfect opportunity coming up on July 1. That will be the Sunday that you will be tempted to worship country instead of Creator. I pray you will make a different choice. Listen to how Jesus describes himself in Revelation 1: “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am… Read more

As part of the firestorm that forced Paige Patterson into his long-overdue retirement, some Baptist women have finally begun speaking out and standing up to the good ol’ boy. In the middle of it, most notably, was Beth Moore. Her courage and boldness in sharing her own experiences of misogyny and discrimination are admirable. I’m glad she’s stepped up and called these guys out. She’s right, of course, especially about Patterson. His words and actions toward and about women and… Read more

It’s hard to believe that I’ve spent 15 years of my life in some form of professional church music ministry. It is my calling, my life’s work, and my dream job. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for this opportunity. Along the way, I’ve worked under eight senior pastors and over 20 associate pastors of some type. There have been ups and downs in those working relationships; some have been supportive and professional, others not… Read more

As I’ve said before, engaged traditional worship [primarily] because we like it or because it creates this sensory experience for us, but because we need it. Because we need the grounding, the shaping, and the “rootedness” that it brings us, while looking for new and creative ways to express our Christian story. Because it reminds us of what has already been done in Christ, and what one day will be. These are things that all worshipers need, regardless of our… Read more

People keep asking me about the song “Reckless Love” by Bethel Music and Cory Asbury. (With a last name like that, shouldn’t Cory be Methodist?) Apparently it’s caused quite a stir with the idea that God’s love could be described as “reckless” in any way. That’s understandable, because, well, just look up the definition to the word. Adjective utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution; careless (usually followed by of): to be reckless of danger. characterized by… Read more

And now in the name of our loving, liberating, and life-giving God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen. From the Song of Solomon in the Bible: “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is as strong as death, passion as fierce as the grave, its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it out.” The late Dr. Martin Luther King once… Read more

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This post is a prayer, most of which I wrote several years ago after another mass shooting. The events that unfolded today hit a bit closer to home for me, mere miles from where my family lives. There are some that say they don’t want to hear about our prayers anymore. That’s understandable, but make no mistake, prayer is vitally important at times like this. They just can’t be the pointless, self-absolving kind that the church is used to praying…. Read more

Dear Jonathan, “Enjoy your posts on Worship. I pastor a small traditional Southern Baptist Church that sing only the hymns and do responsive readings every Sunday. We are hoping to replace our aging 1975 Baptist Hymnals. Is there any Hymnal that you could recommend? Any thoughts will be appreciated. Thanks!” Sincerely, Wise Baptist Pastor Greetings, o wise pastor friend. First of all, I’m elated that there are Baptists who are still singing hymns, and even more elated that you are… Read more

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