January 30, 2019

I’m not exactly sure who first thought it would be a good idea to line a sanctuary floor with carpet. I’m even less sure of their reasoning. Perhaps it was to make the environment warmer and more comfortable. Some probably installed carpet to cut down ambient noise from footsteps and dropped items. Or maybe it was the same person who thought churches should look more like converted Wal-Marts than a sacred space. Whatever they were trying to accomplish, let me… Read more

January 27, 2019

Yep. I’m with you. Not very long ago, I was one of you. Sitting in the pew stadium-style seating, trying to pass the time in the darkness, wondering how many more times they can sing this same, inane refrains. Counting the the times the spotlight-loving, mic-hogging, hot shot pastor says the word “just” in each prayer. “Why does every sermon end with the same cliches?” “Why does he take so long to say basically nothing?” “Why must he talk about… Read more

January 27, 2019

O for a thousand tongues to sing My great Redeemer’s praise, The glories of my God and king, The triumphs of His grace! My gracious master and my God, Assist me to proclaim, To spread through all the earth abroad The honors of Thy name. Jesus! the name that charms our fears, That bids our sorrows cease; ’Tis music in the sinner’s ears, ’Tis life, and health, and peace. He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner… Read more

January 25, 2019

“If music is to fulfill its intended purpose in worship, it has to be understood as an important medium through which the various components of worship retell the Christian story. If singing fails to communicate the church’s metanarrative or to reinforce the church’s basic identity as the covenant people of God, then worship has fallen short of being a ‘divine office.’ The real reason we worship is that we are a people shaped by the Christian story. If this is… Read more

January 23, 2019

Contemporary megachurch-style worship is a self-worshiping, self-referential, nearly auto-erotic pursuit. Many times, I’ve chosen to use the word “masturbatory” to describe it, and it’s made a lot of people unhappy. Likewise, I will be heartily rebuked by many for what I write here. I will be told I’m being gross, prurient, inappropriate, pagan, degenerate. People will unlike my Facebook page. I will get lots and lots of emails. Pastors, ministers, and youth directors will be righteously indignant. For many, even… Read more

January 14, 2019

A guest post by Les Lamkin Why Liturgy? In my previous guest articles for Ponder Anew, I have maintained that worship is formative, not expressive. God does not need our worship, but desires that we worship Him for our own benefit, rather than for his. The benefit we derive from worship is the formation of Christlikeness in our lives, both individually and corporately as the Body of Christ. “Whatever, Les,” you are probably thinking. “How does reciting a bunch of… Read more

January 9, 2019

Most of the time when I talk about church music it’s tied into its function in liturgy. In my mind the most tragic aspect of contemporary worship isn’t simply that the music is popular in nature, but that those worship settings ignore the historic liturgical pattern of corporate worship. A rock concert, even when followed by the best of sermons, is not worship. It is simply a mainstream entertainment product hijacked for a jesusy bait and switch. It requires nothing… Read more

January 7, 2019

I recently read an online article entitled, “Where Next for Contemporary Worship?” It was actually an interesting read, but the title left me with one inescapable thought. Contemporary worship needs to die. It’s already dying a slow death, of course, along with the boomer generation that created and sustained it. But it’s happening waaay too slow. (Lest I get the usual email bag full of silly “All worship was contemporary once, Jonathan!” replies, let me insert this disclaimer: By contemporary,… Read more

January 3, 2019

  Neither praise nor worship have a style. They are to be spontaneous, unrehearsed, and not synchronized with the way anyone else praises and worships the Lord. . .The most important thing is that we praise and worship the Lord when we come together. The thing to keep in mind is that His spirit flows more freely when worship is done spontaneously and freely. – comment on the Ponder Anew Facebook page This is a common refrain from those who… Read more

December 24, 2018

Many of you may have heard that today is the 200th birthday of Silent Night. Actually, Austrian priest Josephus Franciscus Mohr supposedly wrote the poem in 1816, but whatever, it was first sung 200 years ago tonight. You probably know the story. The church organ flooded. Mohr gave his poem to Franz Xaver Gruber, who wrote the tune and accompanied it on guitar for the Christmas Eve mass that year. Again, supposedly. I know of no evidence to contradict the… Read more

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