An Expanded Vision for Worship


Last week Kevin DeYoung sent out a tweet that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. Most recently it came to mind during worship at church on Sunday. The tweet in question was this:

kevin deyoung tweet


For those that don’t know, I’ve led worship for college ministries for the past six years and worship is a passion of mine. I’ve always tried to pick the songs I led with care and attentiveness to what those in the group might need and where the Holy Spirit might be leading.

This tweet crashed into me like a load of bricks. I was alternating between tearing up at the beautiful picture of praises lifted up in desperate faith around a hospital bed and searching my memory for what songs that I’d led over the years might fit this description to a conviction to lead differently in the future whenever opportunities present themselves.

Because, you see, all leadership involves vision (or a lack thereof).  post-tbird And while leading worship has the big, grand object of leading a people into an encounter with the Almighty God in a specific moment, we shouldn’t neglect practical considerations and vision of teaching and equipping either.

Worship leaders, pastors, parents: are we equipping people to worship alone in the valleys as well as gathered together in the mountaintops? Are we equipping people to encounter and worship God in the quiet, desperate moments beside sick loved ones where there’s no guitar within reach and no powerpoint as well as during loud, full-band celebration services? I pray that we all are and that it starts with me.


What songs that your family or church taught and sings fit this description? Are they all hymns or are there contemporary songs that fit the bill too? Sound off in the comments-I’d love to discuss and develop this more!

4 thoughts on “An Expanded Vision for Worship

  1. Andrew July 29, 2014 / 11:17 am

    I think that’s a good question. My initial response is thinking, “All songs must then fit this bill!” but I don’t think that’s the best response, mainly because it seems like a lot of songs are not easily sung a cappella. Maybe that should be more of a consideration as they are written? I know I’ve been with others when we’re singing songs a cappella and we sing a more contemporary song, and they aren’t as easy to sing in that way, especially if they have a bridge or a change between the chorus and verses: maybe more simply, parts that depend more on musical cues. But I’ve found some contemporary songs are easier to sing than others, like “10,000 Reasons,” or “In Christ Alone” or “How Deep the Father’s Love,” but those last two are hymns, so I think that can make them easier simply by that fact.

    Do you think songs, when written for the purpose of corporate worship, should be more simple over all? I can respect and appreciate that God gives people musical talent, but I don’t think complexity should be at play when others are wanting to sing along (just the other week we sang a hymn at church that had wonderful lyrics, but was next to impossible to sing since I had never heard it nor could I easily pick up the melody as we sang). Maybe there should be a distinction between songs written to sing along with and songs written to contemplate/listen to/etc. What do you think?


    • misterjoshuaray July 29, 2014 / 4:04 pm

      Good thoughts, Andrew. There is certainly an aspect of repetition that contributes to all this-a song can be complex or have a ton of different verses/lyrics if you sing it all the time and people learn it. But simplicity-without being simple, perhaps-seems to be key. Octave jumps and/or large ranges between the highest and lowest notes in a song sound great on a record if you have a full studio band and a voice like Phil Wickham or Chris Tomlin. But most people don’t have both those things.

      Now, that’s not to say that ALL songs need to be like that. But balance is important. If you overemphasize simple songs, there’s an aspect of songwriting and musicianship you can miss. But if it’s ALL about songwriting and musicianship, then you wind up with songs that aren’t “pass-on-able.”

      The songs you mentioned, especially “10,000 Reasons,” are definitely good ones that would work a cappella. I had also thought of “Jesus Paid It All,” “How Great Is Our God,” and “Mighty to Save” (…at least the chorus/bridge), along with old stalwarts like “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art.”


  2. joshferrisblog July 29, 2014 / 5:05 pm

    Good point. I love a good tune, but theology is what builds my faith.


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