Saturday, June 29, 2013

Articles of the Week - Marriage in America

The Supreme Court of the United States released its decisions on two significant cases related to marriage law this past week. The general sentiment from all the responses and commentary I read over the last few days is that "the debate is nowhere near over." A few highlights from my reading:

First, as to summarizing the context and the decisions themselves:

Though I disagree with its sentiments, the Chicago Tribune editorial board had a more or less balanced, fact-based assessment of the decisions. The Economist similarly had a brief, fact-based summary of the same, and The Gospel Coalition had a helpful list of "9 Things You Should Know" about the cases.

Second, to responses and commentary:

On Thursday morning, The Heritage Foundations's "Morning Bell" was part summary, part recap of the more extended immediate commentary from late Wednesday morning. Also on Wednesday, Heritage President Jim DeMint offered his perspective on the active future of the marriage debate.

And from Christianity Today:

I especially commend to you those last three pieces from Christianity Today. All are written thoughtfully and biblically, and I hope they will be helpful to people like me who are committed to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ in this day.

Have you read any good responses to the Supreme Court's decisions? Please post links to articles, blogs, commentary pieces, and editorials in the comments section below!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Articles of the Week - Worship Arts

This has been a very, very good week to be a worship arts professional with access to the Internet. In my online reading these last few days, I have come across so many insightful articles that have given me much food for thought on the discipline that is near and dear to me personally and professionally. A few highlights:

First, from Christianity Today:

Ed Stetzer, a professor, writer, pastor, church planter (etc., etc., etc.), who has a new blog hosted by CT's website, wrote a seven-step, Bible-based test to help service planners determine whether to include a given piece of music in a given corporate worship service. His conclusion contains this pull quote: "God can use any form of music. He has no musical style or preference." That speaks to the truth that music as well as all the other art forms are all vehicles for communicating gospel truths - many of the steps in Stetzer's test help determine whether a given musical vehicle will be an effective communicator. The one point I felt could have been expanded upon was the difference between music that may effectively communicate gospel truth and the more specific category of music that is appropriate for corporate worship - that is, congregational participation and, especially, singing.

Speaking of singing, theologian and author Steven Guthrie wrote a lengthy essay on the spiritual discipline characteristics of singing. It is a bit of a complex piece, drawing largely on the writings of Athanasius, so I am not quite finished reacting to it, but I do know that it makes unique points about what we do when we gather as a local church to sing.

I also discovered a true gem this week - a new blog, TGC Worship, hosted by The Gospel Coalition. It describes its purpose thus:

TGC Worship seeks to promote gospel-centered worship throughout the church by training and equipping leaders in the Word-shaped ministry of singing, songwriting, and service planning. 

Besides its introductory post from this past Tuesday (which itself is worth reading), there have been just three posts to date. Zac Hicks gave a multi-faceted list of "Things That Christian Worship Should Be" (lots of room for discussion about how these points may be manifested in the corporate worship service) and Ron Man, directly in the vein of the blog's overall purpose, writes an excellent outline of the ways the Word should guide our worship services.

I have to admit - I am on a bit of information overload right now with even these few articles! But praise God that, via the Internet, I am able to read the thoughts of more experienced worship arts professionals. As I have stated elsewhere, I never imagined I would be using my professional training in a local church to the extent I am currently, and certainly not at my relatively young age. But it has been a true blessing, and I love being a part of this profession!