Two Big Helps For Ministry

29 05 2012

There are two handy apps that have helped my prayer life and devotional times. I hate lugging things around. The fewer things I have to carry the happier I am. I also find that my mind is getting less able to remember all those things and people I need to pray about.

I really love Evernote for making prayer lists. I can have them with me anytime I have my iPhone or iPad. It makes it easy to update the list when someone asks for prayer. I can share those lists via email or a shared folder online. It’s great to have a place for all our elders and deacons to be able to upload information on answers and visits made.

My old large print Bible weighs a few pounds and takes up a lot of room in my backpack/briefcase. Now it is only as large as my iPhone or iPad that I carry almost everywhere. If I am waiting for my wife to finish shopping or sitting in the waiting room at the hospital I can always have my Bible to read. Sometimes I’ll think of a passage but can’t recall where it is found. YouVersion is snappy in its search features.

If you are like me and need access to your Bible always and take notes about your readings or prepare devotional thoughts do yourself a favor and use these two free tools.





Keep Your Words Few

28 03 2010

Granny Chase used to say “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.”  James the half-brother of Jesus stated in a similar way “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19 NASB).

I don’t know why being in front of people can open the spigot of speech for some worship leaders.  Unless you are the preacher most of the time our words should be kept to a minimum.  More often than not we will detract from the flow of worship with our talking.  Whenever we interrupt the flow, worshipers have to refocus from God to us back to God.

There might be times that we have to interject something but those occasions are rare.





Encourage Other’s To Participate

17 03 2010

One of the greatest things we do as worship leaders is to invite and encourage people to participate in the worship. Our actions and any words we speak should be aimed to this goal.

One of the greatest tools you have to do this is to compliment individuals regularly. When you can tell people you appreciate their participation, their spirit, their smiles, their pretty voice, a fitting prayer or anything you can find that is honest to commend.  A word of encouragement in the church newsletter or bulletin is always a good idea.  There is nothing wrong with commending the entire congregation either.  Preachers and teachers seem to have no problem correcting an assembly. Why not edify with carefully chosen words of praise?

Song leaders can encourage people with facial expressions and body movements. A welcoming smile will brighten any worship assembly. Be careful about singing entire songs with your eyes closed people will think they are disturbing your personal worship.

Invite other leaders to participate throughout the worship time. There is nothing wrong with having several different song leaders, prayer leaders, readers or even preachers all focused on one assembly. Sharing the “stage” lets people know that worship should engage all of us.





Last Minute Do’s of 2009

30 12 2009

There is always a list of projects that never seem to get done.  However, there are a few things that really need to be done on a periodic basis to ensure your ministry doesn’t face big trouble.  Some of these little things will take a few minutes to do but will protect you in the long run.

  1. Check your driver license and insurance expiration. You can find yourself in a heap o’ trouble if either of these are expired.  You put yourself and your ministry in danger if either are out of date.
  2. Change your passwords on your various account log ins. You can’t imagine the pain of someone hacking your blog site or facebook or email account.

    Keepass Password Safe

    There are several ways to keep up with log in pass codes I suggest keepass. It is open source so it costs you nada. They even make a version to keep on your USB key.  Which by the way should also have a pass code protection in case you loose it.

  3. Check  fire extinguishers and smoke alarms at church and home.
  4. Update all your privacy settings at your various social sites like facebook, twitter, flicker, photobucket. With all the hype over Facebook’s change in privacy policy it is a good idea to check to see how much of your life is available to the world.
  5. Backup, Backup, Backup. I don’t care how many times we hear this phrase we are loath to backup our data.  Every hard drive is going to fail someday.  If you don’t have a copy of the information somewhere else then you’ve just lost it or you’re in for a whoppin’ bill from a data recovery service.  The most simple way to maintain a back up of your data is buy an external hard drive.  They are really reasonably priced these days, so for good measure buy two.  Now hook it up to your computer and copy your documents folder.  Do this two or three times a week.  Now take that hard drive to the office and do the same with your office documents.  That second drive you bought, use it at home and copy your documents folder.  This way you have two copies of your data.  Trade out these drives every Monday.  If you keep the backup right beside your computer and something bad happens like a fire then your really don’t have a back up do you.  How sad it will be to loose all those pictures of little Johnny.
    Let me also suggest your try one of the online backup services.  They cost about 50 bucks a year and you will have another backup off-site in case the horrible happens.
  6. Speaking of backup, do you have more than one copy of your blog posts?  What would happen if WordPress had a failure?  Would you loose all that valuable work?  Keep a copy of your work in your “my documents” folder so it will be backed up onto your two new hard drives.
  7. How’s your will? I know this is sounding pretty doom and gloom.  Take a few hours and make out a will and send it to a lawyer to make it all legal.  You might also think about a living will while your in the mood.  Please tell your family about your wishes before the will and living will are needed.
  8. Check your credit report. Did you know your credit report can actually hurt you when it comes to being hired, buy insurance and a lot of other things.  Check it and clean up any bad information.  Don’t fall for that stupid commercial that says its free they expect you to enroll in a spam machine.
  9. Forgive bygone trespasses. Grudges only hurt the one who holds them.  As Jesus said if you have a bone to pick with your brother go and work it out, don’t even let the day end before you fix the problem.  Start the New Year with a clean slate with all you can.
  10. Renew your commitment to Christ and the church. Waning faith is an invitation to the devil to come set up residence in your heart.  None of us want that.  While you’re at it go ahead and renew your commitment to your wife and family.  Let them know your renewed dedication.
  11. Write or call your missionary. Don’t forget those we sent to do God’s word in other places.  Send a note of encouragement.  You might even include a little monetary gift.

This list certainly isn’t the end all of your responsibilities but it is a good place to start on cleaning up the past and making ready for a new year unburdened.





Learning to Read Out Loud

12 12 2009

Public Reading of Scripture

“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching”
(1 Timothy 4:13)

I am almost on a crusade to improve the public reading of Scripture in congregations.  Personally, I don’ t think we read enough, well enough or often enough to really put the emphasis on public reading of Scripture that God intends.  It does not seem many churches are truly devoted to public reading of Scripture. This is my opinion you can have a differing one but I think we can agree that we can improve this vital part of worship.

Reading the Bible out loud seems to be a simple undertaking.  Reading it so people pay attention and respond to its message is something that takes some skill that we can learn.  Forensics is the science and practice of oral interpretation of the written word.  It includes learning to understand the authors intent (Hermeneutics) and the artistic execution of the message without changing the writers intended message.  There was a time that people would gather to listen to the oral interpretation of prose and poetry.  Radio got its start with reader’s theaters which rely heavily upon forensic reading.  “Oral Interp” is first cousin to the art of acting.  In fact much of acting depends upon forensic reading and oral interp.

Memorable readings of prose and poetry have a profound effect on hearers.  Jimmy Dean was a master at painting pictures with his voice.  Anyone over 40 can recall his recording of “IOU”  YouTube of IOU.  Red Sovine made our nation cry with many of his recitation songs here is one Red Sovine Roses for Mama.  In Scripture reading we are not saying we have to be a master thespian to read and give the proper emotion to the message.  But, you can certainly learn something from listening to people who are skilled at matching thoughts, messages and meanings with their voice.

It is certain that these skilled readers don’t just pick up a piece of literature and start performing a polished reading.  They take time to map out the passage.  They read it with the intention of learning what the piece is meant to say.  They take time to try various inflections of phrases searching for the one that captures the importance of the text.

The Experience Bible is a dramatic presentation of the text.  This is a great way to “experience” the art of oral interpretation of Scripture.  You will actually be seeing with your minds eye the action as it is read.  There are many preachers online who are really skilled at reading Scripture with proper emotion and meaning.  Spend some time on YouTube looking for poetry readings, Bible readings, oral interpretations, dramatic readings and such.  These will broaden your understanding of forensic reading.  You will hear things you will want to avoid and some things that will be helpful for your own reading.





Get In The Mood

9 12 2009

Your mood is important to the message you are trying to portray. Songs, Scripture and sermons all have mood messages that are our job to duplicate. Mixed signals can confuse worshipers. The mood of “Holy, holy, holy” would be ruined if sung like “Jesus is Coming Soon.” The joy of Exodus 15 cannot be read correctly like The sad words of Jeremiah 9.

“Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying, I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. 2 The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. 3 The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name” (Exodus 15:1-3)

“Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!2 Oh that I had in the desert a travelers’ lodging place, that I might leave my people and go away from them! For they are all adulterers, a company of treacherous men.3 They bend their tongue like a bow; falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know me, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:1-3).

Mood is important to understanding a message. Conversations depend greatly upon the inflection that mood brings. It will take some work on your part to bring the mood off of a dead piece of paper. Look for the clues we use in language to help discern the intended mood.

Some Mood Markings

Punctuation in Scripture and dynamic markings help you know some of the intended mood.

Sometimes the use of short or curt wording lead us to see anger or urgency. Subject matter often indicate the type of mood is appropriate. Be aware of the mood expressed and match that with your singing or reading.

It seems only natural for us to use the mood built into types of songs and passages of Scripture to build mood into a worship assembly.

Worship that centers on repentance and godly sorrow calls for songs and readings with those moods.

  • Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy
  • Break My Heart
  • My Eyes are Dry
  • 2 Corinthians 7:8-11
  • Psalm 51

These songs and passages reflect the state of heart and being needed for a worship theme of repentance and godly sorrow.

There is much to be gained by learning to discern mood in Scripture text and in poetry and in musical phrasing.  Adjusting our mood to the passage or song will bless those we are trying lead. Fill your heart with a lot of the Bible and sing a wide variety of styles so you can shape your demeanor as needed for worship leading.





Public Reading Tips for the Bible Reader

1 12 2009

God’s Word is powerful (Romans 1:16; Hebrews 4:12). It gives life (John 6:33), luminance (Psalm 119:105), and liberty (John 8:32).  It is vital for those reading God’s word to make it clear and understandable (Habakkuk 2:2) . Many of the readings of Scripture I hear seem to be ill-prepared, ill-practiced and ill-presented. This doesn’t have to be the case. There are some very simple preparations readers can use to make their readings polished.

1. Practice reading before the presentation. Seems simple but many will try to bypass this important step. Read it out loud just like you will for the assembly. Hearing the flow will help you identify difficult words and phrases that need more practice.
Read it many times, correcting problem areas as you go along. Do a few trial readings for your family or friends and listen to their comments.

It is at this stage that you want to define words you don’t know.  Use an online dictionary like www.dictionary.com it has a feature that will pronounce the word for you. Sadly, a lot of the names and places in the Bible don’t make it onto dictionary.com.  If there are some words you can’t pronounce pick up the phone and call your Bible class teacher or preacher who might be able to pronounce it for you.  There is a great website that has a lot of those words pronounced for you http://netministries.org/Bbasics/BBwords.htm

Analyze the text.  To convey the meaning of the passage you need to know the meaning.  Use proper dynamics that portray the message.  If the section demands quiet, somber tones then use them.  If this is a jubilant victory cry then by all means let your emotions reflect that in your reading.

2. Arrive early at the building and try reading before the congregation arrives. This will help you be familiar with your surroundings and things that might distract you.

3. If you are using a microphone and sound system you should meet with the sound tech and do a sound check. Microphones used in most churches are unidirectional. This means they pick up sound directly in front of the microphone and filter out sound coming from the sides and back. You need to stay close  to the microphone for it to work best usually 4 to 10 inches works best. If you move to far away it will cause feedback.

4. Speak loudly, clearly and slowly. God’s word is important and people need to hear in a way they can understand.  Our aim should be to speak distinctly.  That usually means slowing down a bit, especially when we are nervous.  Reading is different from singing in that vowels are the important part of singing, singing the vowel sounds are what make the music pretty.  The spoken word needs more emphasis on consonants.  Humans have the tendency to run words together.  Our brains are amazing in that most of the time we can fit the breaks and consonants in places they belong even when they have not been spoken.  That is why it is so difficult for us to learn a foreign language, we don’t know when people are jamming words together.  Elision happens in every language and it takes time for us to recognize when it is happening.

At first emphasizing clarity in your reading will seem odd to your ear.  However, people would rather understand you than not.

5. Recognize the importance of Public Reading. Perhaps this should have been first on the list.  When we realize the transforming and healing power of God’s word we will take the time to do it with skill.  Many in the church have the tendency to “zone out” during Scripture reading.  Some folks pay more attention to the announcements than they do the Scripture reading.  When you do your part to present the reading in a power, purposeful way it will help people to engage in this form of worship.