December 30, 2012 
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Nicholas Zork
New Year's Resolutions for Your Worship Ministry

By Nicholas Zork

There is something about a new beginning -- on a calendar or otherwise -- that inspires us. We are invigorated by an opportunity to "do better this time around." We all know, of course, that January 1 rarely ends up being the watershed moment we had envisioned. But making New Year's resolutions continues to seem like a reasonable idea. We realize that there are at least two or three simple things we could do every day -- exercise, chip away at that long-term project, read the Scriptures -- that would drastically change our lives. So what happens between January 1 and our failure by the end of February (or, more likely, January 4)? 


The reality is that even the most important and least time-consuming activities are impossible in a life that is already too full. Looking at your worship ministry, here are two things I suggest you resolve to remove. This intentional inaction will not only create needed space in your personal life but help you prioritize in your ministry as well:

  1. Give yourself and your worship team several weeks of extravaganza-free worship gatherings. The Advent and Christmas Seasons are generally the busiest in the church year. Between special events and all the additional work that goes into seasonal worship services, December is hardly a vacation month for church leaders and musicians. With little time for restful renewal, the human resources in your leadership team have likely been depleted. The ecology of a worship ministry cannot sustain the effort required in high liturgical seasons. Enjoy a few weeks of simplicity as a matter of ecological ethics and justice. In the process, you might just discover things you can  permanently remove.
  2. Set aside at least one Sabbath morning to simply participate in your community's worship gathering with no leadership responsibilities. If the intrinsic value of restorative rest is not reason enough to take a break, view it as an essential learning exercise as well. Those of us who are always leading from the platform need to be reminded of what worship is actually like for participants in the pew. And more importantly, we need to practice a truth that is obvious but sometimes overlooked: worship is an encounter with God, not with us. Worship ministry is important, but we are not necessary mediators of God's gracious presence. God wants to use all of us, but Jesus is the true worship leader who draws people to himself (John 12:32). As we take time to rest in the sufficiency of God's work, we can relearn the true, intrinsic value of what it means to be human -- to be beloved daughters and sons of God. Sometimes we have to set aside our "to do" lists to recognize the magnitude of what we already have.
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Worship, Culture and Justice
Pedrito Maynard-Reid

Singing in a Strange Land 

y  Pedrito Maynard-Reid

Traditional, Western worship is, for the most part, a monolithic, individualistic, cognitive, and spiritual exercise, that is purportedly unrelated to the rest of life. For the marginalized and the oppressed, worship is "singing in a strange land." Their worship is totally connected to their daily existence. Such worshipers have a cultural worldview that does not envision a universe that is compartmentalized. Life is wholistic. What happens in the week significantly impacts what happens in the worship setting. There is a connectedness and interrelatedness that involves the worshiper's total self and existence. Issues of justice and injustice, equality and inequality, life on the underside, pressures from the economic and social margins, all are brought to the worship setting. Collectively the worshiping community, rather than worshiping individualistically, weep together, and celebrate together. Together they sing in a strange land. Society may have treated them as "nobodies." But church and the weekly worship service transformed their "nobodiness" into "somebodiness." During the week their lives were plagued by trouble and suffering, difficulties and disappointments, trials and tribulations, cares and woes. For many, life was a daily physical, emotional, and economic grind. Sabbath morning worship is a "bridge over troubled waters," it is a "shelter in the time of storm," it is a time when the community "takes their burdens to the Lord and leaves them there." The disenchantment, marginalization, dehumanization, is left in the worship space, and full acceptance and equality takes their place. Justice is preached, sung, and acted out in worship. Pressures from the frustrations and ailments of daily living and social injustice are released in a flood of emotion and joyful celebration. Worship thus is therapeutic. The worshiper then departs and goes into the world, into the strange land, to bring justice, equality, and salvation to a dying world.


[Editor's note: Pedrito Maynard-Reid will be a featured presenter at the 2013 Andrews University Music & Worship Conference, continuing the conversation on worship, culture, and justice. For more information and to register:] 

Visual Technology in Worship
Eddie Cornejo
Eddie Cornejo
Visual Technology and the Local Church   
Technology is rapidly shaping society. From iPhones to iPads to complicated lighting boards and powerful projectors, society is influenced by the best gadgets and electronics this age has to offer. But how are cellphones, computers, projectors-you name it-influencing your local church? Read more

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Older Folks Like Visuals Too

As technology has worked its way into our sanctuaries over the last two decades, generation gaps have grown into chasms. Any church over 30 years old is having to traverse the balance between their young adult and senior members by finding relevant ways to teach their congregation while staying grounded in biblical principles and tradition. For many this balance has been the cause of frustration and conflict. Churches with largely older members have often decided that avoiding change is the best course of action, resulting in a loss of dynamic energy that can lead to decreased membership and effectiveness. However the gap can be bridged with good communication. Read more

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Bill Aumack 
Bill Aumac
Downey Church uses SongShow
Like many churches we started our media experience with PowerPoint. When we needed more features, we started by listing the features that we thought were important that were missing from PowerPoint.  
We read every review and article we could find. One of the great features of worship presentation software is they all allow some type of trial. We installed them all and evaluated them as well.  This is an important step that everyone who is thinking about changing systems should do. Nothing says more about the software than actually trying it on your own system. There were some software packages that were highly rated, that just didn't feel right to us. That's an important item to consider as you will be using this software every week. Read more

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Prezi Can Be Stunning

Roy Ice
Roy Ice

If you're looking for a way to spice things up a bit from the same old PowerPoint slides, or if you'd like to pre

sent your worship graphics in a more linear way, you might give Prezi a try.


Prezi, much like PowerPoint and Apple's Keynote, is a computer-based presentation program that works on PC, Mac, iPhone and iPad. It differs from the other presentation software options because, instead of being slide-based, Prezi uses one large canvas where all of your text, graphics, and even videos are placed. This can be really helpful when you need your audience to grasp concepts and how they are connected in a more visually spatial method. Read more   


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Kevin Watson
Kevin Watson

Spartanburg Uses ProPresenter

ProPresenter is a very dynamic worship software application suitable for the simplest of needs to more complex integrations. There are many features you can read about on, but I will cover some here that I find very appealing. We utilize the site license and find it very convenient to have it on multiple computers. The software is also cross-platform so we can all get along. Read more... 

Worship Leadership
Jason Decena

Mentoring Worship Leaders 

y Jason Decena

Nothing worth doing or achieving ever happens by accident.  There is always a clear intention behind every grand accomplishment. 


Great worship music doesn't happen by accident either, but our approach often denies that point. How can we, as leaders in our churches, help to achieve consistency and excellence? There are many solutions, but I'll offer one in particular: mentorship.

Read more


Visual Design
Dannon Rampton
The Design of Worshipful Spaces (Part 2) 
Last month I mentioned that the design of a worship space makes a statement about a community's values. It follows that each statement would be as unique as the community itself. There is no "right" way to design a worship space -- as some of you commented, design simply adds depth to the unique worship experience. 

There are plenty of different expressions of community values in worship. Some groups choose a formal "high church" experience, emphasizing the grandness of the Creator. They often meet in spacious halls, with hard surfaces that create reverberant acoustics. Other groups prefer a more personal, community-focused experience, connecting with the intimacy of God. They might worship in a cozier space with lower ceilings, warmer colors, and softer finishes. There are groups that want their worship service to feel familiar to those who aren't "church" people, more like a contemporary concert venue. They would prioritize stage lighting and audio equipment, with softer finishes to absorb echoes. And some groups like a casual urban space that invites God into daily life. They might use sofas or tables and chairs, perhaps in a warehouse with concrete floors and exposed framing. 

None of these ideas are wrong. Our Scripture makes no mention of sofas or pews, organs or video projectors. What we do find in the Bible is a call to authentic community -- loving strangers
(Deuteronomy 10:19) and caring for others (Acts 4:34, James 1:27). And where decorations are mentioned, each item has a purpose in supporting the worship experience (Exodus 25-27).

What type of design best expresses your community and supports worship?

[Editor's note: Dannon Rampton is an interior designer in Los Angeles. He has agreed to lead a four-part discussion on interior design in worship. Get involved by offering your initial thoughts on this article in our Facebook dialogue.]   
In This Issue
"Singing in a Strange Land"
Visual Technology in Worship
"The Design of Worshipful Spaces (Part 2)"
To the Point
Featured Event
Andrews University Music & Worship Conference
March 7-9, 2013 will mark the tenth annual Andrews University Music and Worship Conference. Hosted accross the University campus, this conference will provide biblically grounded training opportunities for church musicians, pastors, worship leaders, and anyone involved in worship ministry. Our theme this year is "Singing in a Strange Land: Worship, Culture and Justice." Presenters will discuss principles and practices for incarnational worship ministry that glorifies God, transforms worshipers, and changes the world. As a participant, you will have access to a variety of seminars, workshops and worship experiences.

Come and be inspired to honor God more fully in your worship. Be equipped to minister more effectively through worship and worship music. Connect with others who share your passion for God and commitment to service. Don't miss this exciting opportunity to worship and learn together!
Registration and more info:
To The Point
"The word became flesh, said St. John, and the Church has turned the flesh back into words:  words of good advice, words of comfort, words of wisdom and encouragement, yes, but what changes the world is flesh, words with skin on them, words that hug you and cry with you and play with you and love you and rebuke you and build houses with you and teach your children in school."

- N.T. Wright in The Crown and the Fire

Best Practices for Adventist Worship is published by NAD Ministerial. Editor: Nicholas Zork . Copyright 2012 North American Division Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists. v(301) 680-6418