I heartily commend this important, well-written article to Doxology readers. It first appeared over at The Gospel Coalition, and it is well worth your time. I think it could also be called, “Everything Evangelicals Need to Know About Lent to Start Practicing It.” If we’re open to it, Lent can transform our Easter celebration into something much deeper and richer than we thought possible! Here’s to the Lenten journey.
By Chuck Colson
Typically, evangelicals are shy about Lent. The 40 days prior to Easter—Sundays excepted—are known popularly as a season for giving up chocolate or other extras in order to show God how much we love him. With such impoverished notions, it is no wonder that Lent has fallen on hard times.
So should evangelicals bother with Lent? Read more
This valuable article was written by our friend and New Creation co-laborer Karen Burger. For those who are new to using written prayers in worship, this essay will no doubt be a great help. Thanks, Karen!
Teach Me to Pray: The Sincerity of the Written Word
By Karen Burger
The disciples prayed “Lord, teach us to pray.” His response was that when you pray to our Father, who is in heaven, whose name is holy, sacred, and to be respected, pray that his kingdom will come on earth like it is in heaven, and that his will will be done. Pray for your needs. Pray for forgiveness for your sins. And—side thought—after all the forgiving God has done for you, you are forgiving those who have trespassed against you right? And finally, Father, deliver us from evil.
That prayer served as an example to the nascent church and has remained one for its entire history. It stemmed from the basic need: “Lord, teach us to pray.” Read more
“Christianity is the story of how the rightful King has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in His great campaign of sabotage.”
– C.S. Lewis
A few weeks ago I delivered a sermon on Matthew 11:2-11 in which I said that John the Baptist experienced doubt over who Jesus was because what he saw Jesus doing (“the deeds of the Christ”) didn’t line up with what he thought the Coming One would accomplish. It seems that while John’s message was spot on (Repent – the Kingdom is at hand!), his expectations and priorities were not. John, like many first century Jews, expected a mighty warrior to appear who would liberate Israel from its political, social, and economic bondage. Instead, they got Jesus. Jesus befriending tax collectors and sinners – the ones that judgment was supposed to be falling upon! They got Jesus giving sight to the blind, feet to the lame, ears to the deaf, health to the diseased, life to the dead, and good news to the poor! Read more
Artist: Fernando Ortega
Label: Curb Records
By Justin Clemente
“Sing to Jesus
Lord of our shame
Lord of our sinful hearts
He is our great Redeemer
Sing to Jesus
Honor His name
Sing of His faithfulness
Pouring His life out unto death”
I come back to these lines often – they’re worth much more than a once over. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Christ called “Lord of our shame” in any other song. It’s a bit shocking and comforting, all at the same time. “Sing to Jesus” sort of sums up how I feel about this whole album, actually. Read more
*Photo by Cia de Foto
By Justin Clemente
For me, one of the joys of church planting is simply getting to hang out with other pastors in the region. For example, I’m regularly invited to attend regional Clergy Days within the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, and I think I’m probably more excited about them than most of the clergy! Kidding. Let me try to explain what I mean.
Before I started planting New Creation, I led worship at a wonderful non-denominational church. But, in my opinion, the non-denominational default “set up” sometimes creates an unintentional lack in the area of spiritual oversight (to be fair, non-denoms have strengths that lie elsewhere. I’m also so thankful for all experience I gained in my former place of service. I wouldn’t be where I’m at without it!). As an evangelical on the Canterbury Trail, I crave Godly authority and spiritual oversight. I want to be under authority – in fact, I question how it is possible to lead unless you recognize the authority you’re under in the first place. I see the potential for high caliber leadership development in good, historical patterns of leadership and oversight. This is why I so enjoy talking and praying with the team of pastors that makes up the diocese. It really is a family within the family of Christ’s body, and I find that to be very comforting and empowering. In fact, I think this represents the best thing a denomination (tradition) can be – a family within a family. Read more
Looking for some great new worship music? Might I suggest A Thousand Amens, put out by Falls Church Anglican? This is an extraordinary album, full of all the depths of truly Christ-centered and Trinitarian worship. Below, Pastor Sam Horowitz (Christ Our Lord Church) has provided an excellent introduction to the album – read on!
The Falls Church Anglican: A Thousand Amens
Review by Sam Horowitz
In 2012, in between the verdict resulting in the loss of their historic property and their move to a new home, the Fall Church (Anglican) produced an album called A Thousand Amens. A member of our congregation gave me a copy this week and I cannot stop listening to it.
Many of the songs are new to me–because some of them are original to the members of the music/worship team of that congregation. Other were more familiar, and my current favor is the blend of contemporary band with huge pipe organ on Praise my Soul the King of Heaven (one of my favorite hymns…and I’m hugely impressed with the choral descant on the final verse, but I digress).
Anyhow, the album features top-notch performance, recording and production. But those things don’t, in themselves, make for a transcendent experience. Context is everything. What surrounds this worship event from the world’s perspective is failure and loss, yet the message of the album is praise, thanksgiving, adoration…and the word “Yes!” Indeed the word “amen” essentially means “may it be” or “I agree.” The response of God’s people in difficult circumstance should be “amen.” We trust that when we say yes that God will bring us through to the place of his choosing, that when we seek his glory we will never be put to shame in what really matters. I will admit that despite not being the most emotional person, that joining in the worship on this album has moved me to tears occasionally this week. There is something about adding my own “amen”, in declaring to the world that there is no sacrifice or pain greater than the gift of grace we have received, that has brought heaven just a little closer in moment here and there.
What I’m saying is: you should probably buy this album. It’s excellent for what it is, but I’ve found it truly transcendent for all that actually went into it and for what it really says.
I wrote this article a few months ago and decided to repost it. For church planters, I hope it will serve as a catalyst to thinking about the kind of worship culture you want to form in your church. In your worship, what are you saying is most important to you? Think about it.
By Justin Clemente
Content. Structure. Style. In some ways, I think these three words summarize the legacy of Bob Webber, late founder of The Institute for Worship Studies and prolific author and teacher in the field of worship theology. They certainly summarize the impact his books have had on my thought regarding Christian worship. I find these three words to be so important because they sum up what is, in my opinion, a scripture-rooted and God-honoring way to approach corporate worship in the Church. Think about this question: in your church experience, which have you found gets the most attention in worship? Is it laboring over the content of our worship – the words we actually pray, sing, and preach? Is it how the service is structured and which elements, exactly, are essential and timeless in worship? Or, is most of the discussion simply on how we sing what we sing - the style? Well, maybe you know where I’m going with this. Forget the color of the carpet, divisions in the church are far more likely to occur over worship style. The fact that a large percentage of churches have services oriented around a style (e.g. a “traditional” service, a “contemporary” service, etc.) indicates to me that it’s pretty high up on the list for many pastors and worship leaders. In this article I want to discuss each element of the “Content, Structure, Style” approach to worship, discussing the place each element should play in worship, and how that might look in various denominations. Read more