June 11, 2018

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

June 9, 2018

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

June 4, 2018

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

May 19, 2018

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

May 18, 2018

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May 18, 2018

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

May 17, 2018

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

May 13, 2018

Mother’s Day is a difficult day for the church. A lot of folks expect a big to-do about the whole Mom’s Day thing. They want to be handed carnations, smile adoringly as the oldest mom present has her yearly moment of glory, hear that awful Proverbs 31 reading, and sing those hymns that might have been mom’s favorite. Then there are those among us, more than most realize, for whom this day is marked with pain, grief, and sadness. Some… Read more

May 6, 2018

A few weeks ago, a woman in a Facebook group pertaining to church music and worship posted a picture of two tickets that she was trying to unload for an upcoming event. A closer look revealed that these were tickets to a Chris Tomlin concert, except it didn’t call itself a concert. The name of the event was “Chris Tomlin Presents Worship Night in America.” And for a price, one could apparently arrange to get in. Wait, wait, wait! Is… Read more

May 5, 2018

All the heroes and legends I knew as a child have fallen to idols of clay And I feel this empty place inside so afraid that I’ve lost my faith. -Styx, “Show Me the Way” I usually write about worship, liturgy, church music, and megachurch culture. So when I occasionally delve into something else, it comes as as bit of a surprise to my regular readers. “Stick to worship, Jonathan,” is the way one faithful reader phrased his protest. Duly… Read more

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