How to do a family devotion

The lost art of the family devotion One of the most important responsibilities for the Christian family is to pass on the faith to the children. But the thought of leading a family devotion sounds about as fun as a root canal. Schedules are busy, kids get antsy and hard to keep still, and  activities pull the family in a hundred different directions. Is it even possible? I believe it is, and its not as hard as you might think. I have four kids. One girl (10 years old), and three boys (ages 8, 6, and 4). Life is chaotic and busy, and yet we’ve been able to find a weekly rhythm where we do a family devotion. It doesn’t need to take a lot of time, the parents don’t need to be theology experts, and the kids will enjoy it more than you may expect. Three ingredients in a…

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Great Sex at Age 60

Ray Ortland, a well respected pastor and teacher, talks about how sex with his wife keeps getting “better and better” even now that they are both sixty years old. He says your sex life as a married couple does not decline after 30 or 40 or 50. He offers four bits of advice for a healthy sex life that is always improving. Read the whole thing here.

When Black People Visit White Churches…

Between Two Worlds has this summary of a blog post by Curtis Allen. Curtis Allen, a black man, offers some of his insights regarding black people visiting mostly white churches. Of particular note are these four challenges to African Americans joining a predominately white congregation. He closes by discussing some things that will be a struggle for most (though not all) black people: 1. Worship style will be a challenge. 2. The expectations of biblical manhood and womanhood. 3. Theological emphases. 4. Over-greeting. From Between Two Worlds… Here’s an outline of part 1: Black people are not monolithic Does your church have the heart that you have for blacks coming into your church? Is your church in proximity to a black community? What sacrifices are you willing to make? So what are some of the sacrifices that may need to be made? And of part 2: Where possible, invite some…

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7 Elements of a Multi-Ethnic Church

George Yancey writes in One Body One Spirit that there are seven characteristics of multi-ethnic churches that are worth noting. Some of these were surprising. 1. Inclusive Worship. Music is so important to people that when they sing to God it needs to take on a form that is culturally meaningful for them. In the Euro-white culture, we have everything from Indie-Rock, to pipe organs, to Coldplay, to acoustic folk in our churches. But others prefer a keyboard and rhythm section driven sound. I suppose in India people would want a Sitar with Ravi Shankar sound. The point is that the musical style of the church must reflect the diversity of the people that come there. 2. Diverse Leadership. Yancey writes, “multiracial leadership is important because members of different racial groups desire to feel represented by the members of the church, especially racial minorities who historically have received a lack…

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Why People Don’t Sing in Church

Jorge Sedaca, who is on staff at the North American Mission Board in church planting, posted an article recently about visiting churches and experiencing some thoughts on why people don’t sing in church. I’ve summarized his thoughts below, but the whole article is worth a read for those of you who are interested in engaging a congregation in corporate worship. It is interesting to note that he likes many of the songs that I can’t stand, but hey, to each his own. Here’s his observations of why people don’t sing in church: 1. The congregation is unfamiliar with the songs being used. 2. The use of too many new songs week after week. 3. The songs selected are not suitable for congregational singing. 4. The overall quality of the songs is very poor. Hey worship leaders, your congregations want to sing. If you ever find yourself looking out at a…

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Five Reasons for Worship Bands to Lower the Volume

John G. Stackhouse, Jr. at Christianity Today has made an interesting comparison. He says that many worship bands in contemporary churches actually have a lot in common with the Catholic church before the Reformation: the music was sung by professionals and the congregants sat and watched but didn’t participate. Luther used tavern melodies to write hymns because they were singable. Contemporary worship bands often “perform” their church music in such a way as to make them unsingable to the everyday person. I have made the same argument here. Good worship songs should be (1) singable, (2) playable by the musicians, and (3) have good content. Stackhouse then argues that the best thing for worship bands to do is to turn the volume down. He offers these five reasons. 1. Cranking up the volume is just a cheap trick to add energy to a room. 2. Turning up the volume on…

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How Fast Can You Write a Cliched Worship Song?

I wrote this in about thirty seconds in response to a comment on a previous post. Seriously, time yourself and see how long it takes you to crank out a stanza of rhymed cliches for a worship song. I feel your presence in this place Come and fill us in this space Surround us with your love and grace Touch us with your warm embrace

Top Ten Ways to NOT Write a Worship Song

Bob Kauflin gives his list (as summarized on Between Two Worlds). 1. Aim to write the next worldwide worship hit. 2. Spend all your time working on the music, not the words. 3. Spend all your time working on the words, not the music. 4. Don’t consider the range and capabilities of the average human voice. 5. Never let anyone alter the way God originally gave your song to you. 6. Make sure the majority of your songs talk about what we do and feel rather than who God is and what he’s done. 7. Try to use as many Scriptural phrases as you can, and don’t worry about how they fit together. 8. Cover as many themes as possible. 9. Use phrases and words that are included in 95% of all worship songs. 10. Forget about Jesus and what he accomplished at the cross.

Why I’m Planting a Racially Diverse Church in Cincinnati

The number one reason why I’m planting a racially diverse church in Cincinnati is simply this: It’s Biblical. I’m not doing this because a focus group survey revealed a “market niche” for a racially diverse church. I’m doing this because I simply cannot escape what the Bible has to say about race. All the way back in the very beginning of things, back when God spoke to Abraham and made a covenant with him, God promised that Abraham would be a blessing to every nation on the earth (Genesis 12). And then God gives us a flash forward glimpse into the future, when Jesus is praised in heaven precisely because he “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” God’s worth is demonstrated by the diversity of His admirers. Between these two major events in the beginning of all things and at the end of…

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Further Up and Further In

My favorite moment in all of the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis is the last part of the final book, The Last Battle. The children enter into the “real Narnia” through a narrow door and find that this new Narnia is even more beautiful and more real than the one they had known. They are constantly invited to come “further up and further in.” At each successive turn, just when they think they had arrived at their destination, they found that something more spectacular was yet beyond and they needed to go even further in to reach it. And so it went, journeying further up and further in, always more elated than the moment before. From the book: For them, it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page;…

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