Serving. Changing the World.

SERVING.  CHANGING THE WORLD.
Mary Kate Young, left, of Paris, Ky., at head of table, and Emma Calvert of Scottsville, Ky., lead a workshop for church leaders at Campbellsville University.  (Campbellsville University Photo by Candice Boone)

Mary Kate Young, left, of Paris, Ky., at head of table, and Emma Calvert of Scottsville, Ky., lead a workshop for church leaders at Campbellsville University.
(Campbellsville University Photo by Candice Boone)

by Candice Boone, Campbellsville Unviersity Student News WriterCAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — Students and faculty from Campbellsville University’s School of Theology and School of Music hosted a workshop recently titled “Making the Pieces Fit.”

“The purpose of this workshop was to serve and equip church leaders and volunteers in the rapidly changing world of technology in ministry,” said Dr. Shane Garrison, associate professor of educational ministries and director of theology online.

“Churches, in our modern day, have to be fully functional in online marketing, graphic design, social media and desktop publishing. Every church has a mission given by God. We want to help them communicate and achieve that mission.”

There were 12 churches present with 28 total participants. The churches represented at the workshop included churches from Taylor, Adair, Russell, Whitley, Breckinridge, Hart and Green counties.

Students led most of the workshops with the exception of the sound and lighting design led by Robert Bender, CU coordinator of audio and visual services.

Among the workshops offered were: Stage Craft and Set Design, led by Fred Hoagland of Falls of Rough, Ky. Clayton Brooks of Bardstown, Ky., worship arts major, and Drew O’Neal of Campbellsville, educational ministries major, led a workshop titled Worship Presentation Software and Design. Leading the Church Web Design and Podcasting workshop was mass communication student Josh McCoin of Frankfort, Ky. and educational ministries major, Chris Wright of Williamsburg, Ky.

In the second round of workshops there was Print Publishing led by educational ministries major Emma Calvert of Scottsville, Ky. and worship arts major Mary Kate Young of Paris, Ky., was held for Social Media Integration was led by educational ministries major Jon Kattus of Versailles, Ky., and worship arts major Devan Bishop of Columbia, Ky.

Garrison said, “I was personally very proud of our student presenters. Their topics were relevant, informative and professional. They shared from personal experience and left a lasting impression on those who came.

“The mission of the CU School of Theology is to produce world changers for Christ who are passionately evangelical, church connected, spiritual entrepreneurs. These student presenters demonstrated that mission and helped equip these leaders to more faithfully and effectively serve the kingdom of God in their local context.”

The workshop was done in part in response to a request from the Campbellsville University Church Relations Council during the CRC’s spring 2014 meeting.

“CU very intentionally engages with the local church. This is another example of how we are working with our CRC and leaders of local churches in engaging our faculty, staff, and students in helping churches to be better engaged in ministry,” said Dr. John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president.

CUTheology Students Host Worship and Tech Workshop

mosaic

Workshop Theme: “Making the Pieces Fit Together”

Nine students and several faculty and staff from @CUTheology and the CU School of Music are hosting a Worship & Technology Workshop, Thursday, November 20, 2014 from 6:30-8:00 pm in the home of the School of Theology, Druien Hall.

Check out the flyer.  Registration is still available.

Worship Tech Workshop Flyer

WORKSHOP OPTIONS

Stage Craft & Set Design – Druien Hall 6
Learn how to build easy and cost-affective staging based on a sermon series or season of ministry.  See examples of materials and ways to utilize lighting and fabric for maximum effectiveness.  Presented by Fred Hoagland.

Worship Presentation Software & Design – Druien Hall 4
Take a quick tour of ProPresenter and Media Shout, the two industry standards for worship presentation.  Discuss how color, font and image impacts what is in the worshippers heart.   Presented by Clayton Brooks & Drew O’Neal

Church Web Design & Podcasting – Druien Hall 2
What can you do to improve your church’s website?  Images, logos, announcements, branding, and media.  This session will help make your website workable and useable for your church’s specific needs.  Presented by Chris Wright & Josh McCoin

Print Publishing – Druien Hall 3
Bulletins. Bulletins.  What can you do with that all-important print piece that takes time and energy to make every week.  This session will show you how to make the bulletin more attractive and appealing for readers.  Presented by Emma Calvert & Mary Kate Young

Social Media Integration – Druien Hall 4
In our world, a church must be present on social media.  This session will explain how to integrate your vision, mission, purpose, and ministry on Facebook, Twitter, and Instragram in a way that honors Christ.  Presented by Jon Kattus & Devan Bishop

Sound & Lighting Design  – Ransdell Chapel
The sound system does not have to be a monster in the corner or the bully in the booth.  Learn from a professional sound technician how to make your sanctuary sound system sing.  Presented by Robert Bender

 

 

How to Get More Out of the Preached Word of God

sermon preaching

Christian believers sitting in church hear a lot of sermons.  Sermons preached from the Old and New Testaments.  Sermons preached through exposition and sermons preached on topics.  Special sermons for holidays, weddings, ordinations, and during revival meetings.

My personal conviction is that growing believers in Christ should also be ingesting the Word through personal Bible study, online videos, podcasts, CDs, books, or from radio broadcasts.  All maturing believers want to grow in the Word of God and the teaching/preaching ministry is one of the primary spiritual disciplines where this growth takes place.

Yet many believers view preaching as an observational act.  They take the posture of politely and respectfully listening, but not doing much of anything else.  They would all agree that they are there to learn and be challenged in the Word, but in actuality, they are very inactive in the learning process, very passive in the spiritual discipline, and very unengaged while the preacher is preaching.

They leave saying, “I really didn’t get much out of that message.”  While it might be true, it could be avoided.

So how can maturing Christ-followers get more out of the preached Word of God?  How can those in the pews become more intentionally involved, feasting upon the spoken Word, engaging the message actively rather than passively?

Here are some ideas on what you can do to get more out of the sermon?  (These are not new or highly innovative, however, I promise they will help.)

1. Read the passage ahead of time.  Your pastor may send out a weekly email or post something on social media with the sermon text, look it up and read it.  Or when you arrive, find sermon text in the bulletin and read it.  If you have to email your pastor and ask for a preaching plan with sermon texts for the whole month.

Do whatever it takes to get that passage in your mind before the service starts.  If you do, you will notice the worship songs point to the key themes of the passage, maybe even the whole direction of the service.  Plus when the pastor reads the text in the sermon, it will be at least your second time going through it.  The flow, the words, the context will make much more sense to you when you’ve done your homework ahead of time.

2.  Pray before the preaching time starts.  Our church has an offertory time before the sermon, which is usually just the piano playing.  I spend this time to specifically ask the Holy Spirit of God to speak to my heart during the message.

Try to carve out a moment of spiritual space where you directly, humbly, ask God Almighty to speak to your heart.  We call that the “prayer of illumination.”  To be certain, God always desires to speak to His people, but we must tune our hearts and spiritual ears toward Him to hear as He speaks.

3. Open your own Bible and study along.  This seems like a no-brainer, but I am seeing less and less people bring their Bibles to church.  Even less open them during the sermon and keep them open the whole time – start to finish.

This has to be the most passive, unengaged Christian in the pew (and probably the most spiritually immature).  If you come to hear the preached Word of God and leave your Bible at home, you are telling God His Word is not valuable enough to carry a few steps to the car and into the building.

You can’t drive your car without the keys.  You don’t go to the grocery without your wallet.  You don’t go to preaching without your Bible. God’s Word is what is inspired and authoritative, not the preacher and his sermon.  Open it.  Use it.  Engage with it.  Underline, circle, mark it up.  It makes all the difference in the world.

4. Take notes during the message.  Taking notes during the sermon has been around for years, but now with all the technology and visual support, I am seeing less and less people actually bring a journal with them to worship.  They are leaning on sermon notes, bulletin inserts, and the Scripture being shown on-screen.  As a preacher, I provide all those support tools, but as a hearer, I take notes in a journal.

I journal during the sermon because in writing my own thoughts, my own understandings, my own questions, I hear the voice of God more clearly.  I hear what God is saying directly to me, which might be very different than what the preacher is saying to others.

Journaling has other benefits as well.  Later, I can go back and reflect on what God was saying to me months, maybe even years ago.  Secondly, I stay far more engaged if I am listening, writing, reflecting, and interacting with the message.  The more active I become, the less passive I am.

5. Finally, make an effort to hear the Spirit of God.  Pray before the sermon.  Pray while the sermon is being preached.  Pray when the sermon is finished.  You do your part as a growing believer in Christ to hear, receive, reflect and act upon the message God has sent to you through His Word.

Preaching may seem like a monologue, where one person is speaking and everyone else is listening, but it is not.  Preaching is a dialogue.  God is speaking through a vessel and we, His people, are listening, questioning, answering, and turning over God’s Word in our mind actively and rigorously.  You might not raise your hand and ask a question right in the middle of the sermon, but trust me, it’s a two-way street.

God always speaks.  The real question is: will you be ready to hear what He says?

 

Worship Leaders Wanted – The Hardest Find in Church Ministry

helpTeaching pastors are a dime a dozen.  Youth ministers are everywhere.  Children’s ministry leaders are sought after all the time.  But where are the worship pastors?

Where are the music ministers?  Where are the creative-types that lead us each and every Sunday to the throne of grace?  Where are coming from?  Where have they gone?   The answer: no one knows.

As an interim pastor and frequent guest speaker in churches, I serve alongside all sorts of worship leaders.  Very few are full-time staff members; most are part-time, cross-vocational servant-leaders pulling two or three jobs to forge a living.  In smaller churches, you mostly have faithful volunteers with little or no musical training but who have a desire to serve God.

I love them all.  I love their heart.  I love their willingness to get up there and lead people who often look like marble statues with frowny faces :(.  I love when they partner with me as the teacher/preacher to make the entire service meaningful.

But their kind are going extinct.  They are dying away.  And the younger generation are not moving up to fill their spots.  It seems that the younger generation could care less.

Why is this happening?  Let me suggest a few possible reasons.

First, in our day and time theology is king and the teaching/preaching ministry of the church has become exalted as the highest order of church-based ministry.  While there is no doubt theology is critical in our culture with rampant pluralism, relativistic secularization, and a large segment of our population who are biblically illiterate, but does that mean the preaching and teaching ministry must command the majority of our worship time?  I would offer that most of our deeply held theological roots come not from sermons, but from songs.  (I’ve written on when pastors were the hymn writers.)

Another reason is perceived value.  As pastor/theologians view their role as the most essential for church health and spiritual growth, other ministry platforms are viewed as less valuable or subsequently inferior.  I wouldn’t say they are viewed as insufficient, but their value is not essential.   The common notion among many preaching pastors today is that as long as the teaching/preaching ministry is good, strong and biblically faithful, then other sectors of ministry will, by proxy, succeed.  I am not sure I agree with that conclusion.

A third reason is that it hard to find someone who believes God has called them into worship ministry.  You might discover someone with talent in vocal or instrumental music, or in songwriting, or even in leading people in corporate worship, but the last thing they are considering is using these talents for the Lord through local church ministry.  I teach hundreds of young adults preparing for future ministry and rarely do I have any student who believes God has called them to lead worship as their vocation.

Rewind back 25 years.  In those days, the music minister (or music director) was viewed as second most important team member on the church staff, far ahead of youth, children or education.  The role was highly important because of the amount of “face time” they shared with the teaching pastor.  The two-man team was like as Batman and Robin, Jordan and Pippen, Andy and Barney.  They worked as a tag-team planning worship elements, service designs, and ways to incorporate creativity into the plan.  This function is very rare today.

Today, the worship minister is not that important.  Most church leaders view children’s ministry as the #2 most important staff position to fill.  A poor children’s ministry equates to fewer young families and diminished growth potential.  Worship leadership might make it to the third or fourth slot on most church teams.

All these reasons (and many more) lead to lessened interest in exploring God’s call in worship ministry.

Fast forward 25 years.  I anticipate there will be few, if any, young people following God’s call into music ministry.  I believe there will be very few full-time worship pastors, only found on large church staffs with multiple services.  I sense that schools of music at the seminary and Christian college level will no longer prepare students in church music or worship leadership.  Those degrees will go away.

I believe the want ads will be filled with churches desperately looking for someone, anyone, to lead worship at their church, but no one will be applying.

These are just my predictions.  I hope I am utterly wrong, but I don’t believe I am.

 

Beautiful or Wasteful – Church Architecture Around the World

chapel

Church of Assumption on Bled Lake, Slovenia

The USA Today posted a slide show of the 45 most beautiful church buildings on the planet.  From every corner of the globe, some small, some magnanimous, these church buildings, cathedrals, and chapels dazzle the eye and inspire the imagination.

But do they do what they were intended to do: draw people to worship the Creator God and His one and only son Jesus Christ?

I have long struggled with a love/hate relationship with beautiful church architecture.

I love the art of the building, the wide array of shapes, the delicate use of color, the movement of lines, the play of natural light.  I love the sheer size, the views, the integration with the surroundings, the use of natural materials.  I am a fan, like many of millions of people, of the visionary dream of the creators.

But I also despise these places.  I am disgusted for two reasons.  For one, most of these buildings are now no more than glorified museums and have long since stopped being a places of authentic Christian worship.  And two, the creation, namely the building itself, is worshiped far more than the Creator.

Tourist upon tourist (myself included) arrive at these buildings and find themselves awestruck by every nook and cranny of design complexity and leave without one minute of reflection on God Almighty.

There can be crosses every where, ancient frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible, stunning stained-glass images, meticulously sculpted statues all pointing to the Almighty God, but the building itself overshadows everything.

At their core, I do believe these architectural wonders were intended to draw us into connection with God, but I find more often they deter people from worshiping Him and instead make us idolize a builder or an architectural style.

My mind wrestles back and forth with all sorts of questions:

  • What about the money spent vs. the money that could have been given to the poor or missionaries?
  • How should do we balance the pride and arrogance of man in building such things vs. the call to personal humility?
  • What about Jesus?  He was a builder by trade yet we never see Him building such elaborate structures to worship His Father in Heaven.

Since most of these buildings now sit empty, or have barely any worshipers at all, I ask myself about Christian stewardship.  Is it wise and spiritually discerning to keep these monuments up and running if they are not used for worship?  Everyone wants to preserve history, but if they have ceased being active worship centers are we wasting God’s money?  Are we inadvertently causing people to worship idols made by human hands?

The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them. O people of God, bless the LORD!  (Psalm 135:15-19 ESV, emphasis mine)

Again, I could punch-counter punch this issue all day long.  For some reason, church architecture stirs such a battle within my soul, far more than music, visual art, or other creative expressions.  I hope I am never asked to be on a church building committee.  I don’t think I could handle it.