Missing Rich Mullins

Yesterday was 23 years since the world lost the poetic/prophetic voice and example of Rich Mullins. I somehow missed it in social media yesterday until late, but I’m reflecting on it this morning, so I’m listening to his music on Spotify. His was a voice that if I heard it, I would instantly tune my ears in and before long I would be fighting back tears. I have forgotten how much his music touched me so deeply. There isn’t much music today that does that to me.

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The power of praise

18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 5:18-20)

Some thoughts on the need for praise in music from NT Wright:

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Your worship stinks

Not long after I came to our current church as pastor I had a young man who came to be a part of our church from the local college where I would later teach as an adjunct. I loved that guy. Our services were awful. We didn’t have a solid worship leader at the time and our music was just bad. We had hungry hearts… and bad music.

And that young college student came every service. No matter what the music was like, that guy was having a great time with Jesus. He was lifting his hands, or on his face, but ALWAYS crying out to God.

He represents the BEST of what we don’t have any more in our American worship experience in the evangelical church.

I watch today as people come in, judge the music, and walk out. I watch people stay away from some worship sets because the music is too loud. I watch people do all kinds of things to actually protest not being in the singing part of a service, or be in a church at all just because of the music set. 

We don’t have worshipers any more. We have consumers.

It’s a two-sided problem.

1. As consumers, we want the music to our taste, our volume, our temperature, etc. And if you don’t deliver, I’m outta here.

2. As churches, we’re delivering more and more of a consumer experience. More and more worship is about watching the people on the stage doing phenomenal jobs… but as for falling our faces in worship… not so much.

If it’s a two-sided problem, the solution needs to be a two-way communication. As a church leader, I can’t just tell people, “Grow up.” (Okay… I can. It doesn’t get me far, but I can.)

As a worshiper, I can’t just bail out when I don’t like the worship.

The young college student I had was a worshiper. He would have liked better music, I’m sure. But he was there to seek God and he knew he was free to do it there.

Both sides of the equation need to be worshipers. The music needs to be excellent, to be sure… as much as we can get that under our control. But it needs to be for everyone. Not just the skilled people singing and playing. EVERYONE needs to be in. Our worship has to be for EVERYONE. It means good music people can remember and sing and get a connection to so they can leave the words on the screen from time to time, close their eyes, and go for it in a way THEY want.

For the person in the pew, quit bailing. Stick around. It may be too loud or way out of your range. But stick around. Have conversations. LIKE the worship leader and from time to time start a sentence with, “I like this about your style…” Instead of, “You know what you could do better?”

Let’s get it back to seeking God and get it away from performance. And let’s get away from bailing as consumers. Stick around and be a worshiper. When we all get to the WORSHIP part of “worship”, we may find some good ground to stand on… or kneel.

Meaningful moments, meaningful songs

I was on my way to a pastors’ meeting in 2008. My soul was dying. I was trying to “fix things” in my own way with my church and ministry and while I had the best intentions, it was failing miserably. I was dying inside a little more every day.

I had a Christian station on that morning and this song came on. I sat outside that church and wept like a baby for several minutes.

The Lord knew right where I was.

I am so grateful for those amazing moments of grace. I was thinking of this song just the other day, so I wanted to post it before I forgot it again.


The King is Returning

I am preaching on 1 Thess. 4:13-18. Part of what stirs my heart is singing about the coming of the Lord. Songs that also create longing to simply see Jesus.