Category Archives: Worship

Worshipping without Masks

Although First Central Bible Church has reopened, some people have not returned because they don’t want to wear a mask to church. Having twice worn a mask for eight hours during a recent flight from Boston to Los Angeles as well as on the return trip, I can understand and empathize with their reluctance.

Worship was never designed to be done while wearing a mask. Worship is best done when we are face to face with our Savior.

As the Bible opens, Adam and Eve were in perfect fellowship with their Creator. Genesis 2:25 says that Adam and Eve were “naked and unashamed.” While that certainly describes their physical relationship with each other, I think it aptly describes their relationship with God. It is especially true since Genesis 3:8 explains that they hid from God’s presence after they disobeyed his command and sin entered their lives.

The Bible closes with the statement in Revelation 22:4 that in heaven, our broken relationship with God will be restored. We will see his face, and his name will be on our foreheads.

While we may need to wear a mask to protect against COVID-19, we don’t have to wear a mask when we enter God’s presence. Like Moses, we can speak with God face to face (Exodus 33:11). Hebrews 4:16 tells us that because Jesus removed our sin and cleansed our hearts, we can come into God’s presence with confidence, knowing that we will receive the grace and help we need.

Hebrews 4:16 – Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Take off your mask and enter God’s presence to worship him today.


A worship prayer

Father, what do you want me to learn today? Not my neighbor, but me? How do you want me to respond? Please open my ears and my heart to your word. Amen.

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Posted by on April 20, 2019 in Prayer, Worship


Developing churches with a healthy climate of worship

Book Review: Worship Essentials: Growing a Healthy Worship Ministry without Starting a War! by Mike Harland

How do you change the climate of worship in a church? How do you get beyond the debate over music styles—old versus new, hymns versus praise songs, piano and organ versus guitar and drums? The conviction of Dove Award-winning worship leader and author Mike Harland is that we need to get below the surface issues and address the fundamental issues of worship and ministry.

If the spiritual leaders of a church want to foster a community that reflects the biblical marks of an authentic worship culture, they will have to go beneath the externals and get to the heart of the matter—first, in themselves—and then in the church as a whole.

We have to get to the essentials of worship.

The author identifies four key values of worship—tell the story, make true disciples, engage the body, and aspire with purpose. The book is then divided into four parts where he explains what he means.

Tell the Story. “Churches with healthy worship cultures start right there—with a clear vision of Jesus and songs that teach about him and admonish the church with his Word.” “Healthy worship ministries give testimony to the stories of God’s grace at work in his people, and to the story of grace revealed in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.”

Make true disciples. “Healthy worship cultures understand the role music has in discipleship and orchestrate their ministry to fulfill that mission.” “Leaders are wise to identify just what they are aiming for as they execute their strategy. If they are aiming at music balance—whether through multiple services of varying styles or a blended approach in the same service—they may or may not be contributing to the overall mission of the church, even if they’re hitting the target they’ve set for themselves.”

Engage the body. “Healthy congregational worship ministries place a high value on congregational engagement. When they evaluate the impact of this work, they consider the active involvement of the people in the worship gathering to be one of the key metrics to consider.”

Aspire with purpose. Churches need leaders who “aspire for excellence, but with purpose, and every decision they make is intended to move the body of believers toward the realization of that purpose. Most of all, they aspire for the worship in their church to be focused on much more important things than music styles and song choices.”

I appreciated the book because it focuses on the big picture. It is not about songs, styles, pacing, staging, or any of the other issues we tend to get consumed over. Instead, the book gets back to the foundation of what we do and why we do it. The book is well written, thought provoking, and encouraging.

Disclosure: I received this book free from B&H Publishing through the B&H/Lifeway Bloggers program The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

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Posted by on January 21, 2019 in Books, Church, Quotes, Worship


In praise of effective worship leaders

I am grateful for Dave & Wayne, the worship leaders at our church, First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA. They do a wonderful job in planning and leading our worship services. They work hard at incorporating hymns and praise songs and blending new songs with old ones. They model how to enter God’s presence and worship him. They demonstrate flexibility and openness in allowing me to make suggestions and add new elements to our services. They make it easy for me to preach because they draw people into God’s presence and prepare their hearts to hear from him.

Because of their unique role, they receive as much scrutiny, and sometimes more, as I do for preaching. When we do our jobs well, it often goes unnoticed because people have come to expect high quality. Many times, the only comments we hear are of the complaint variety.

I am grateful for their partnership in ministry.

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Posted by on January 17, 2019 in First Central Bible Church, Worship


A change in our Sunday morning worship schedule

Beginning December 2 as we enter the season of Advent, we will make a change to our Sunday morning schedule at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA. Below is a letter to the congregation explaining the details.

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Posted by on October 18, 2018 in First Central Bible Church, Worship


Sanctuary Rededication Service – photos

Carol was able to take some photos during our Sanctuary Rededication worship service this morning.

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Posted by on September 9, 2018 in First Central Bible Church, Photos, Worship


Sanctuary Rededication Service

On Sunday, September 9, we are holding a special worship service to rededicate our renovated facility. We are holding one service, combining both of our worship teams, involving each one of our elders, and keeping our children in the service rather than having them go to Junior Church. It will be a special time of worship that will end with a call to rededicate our lives to Christ and the ministry of First Central Bible Church.

Here’s the order of service:

Welcome & prayer – Pastor Mark Wheeler

2 songs – led by Wayne Erik Jarvis

  • Days of Elijah
  • He Reigns

Scripture reading – Matthew 28:16-20 (Great Commission) – Joe Martin, Elder

2 songs – led by Dave Krok

  • Build Your Kingdom Here
  • Rescuer

Review of the renovation process – Doug McVeigh, Elder

2 songs – led by Dave Krok

  • Worthy, Worthy
  • Doxology

Scripture reading – Matthew 22:34-40 (Great Commandment) – Doug Dolbow, Elder


2 songs – led by Wayne Erik Jarvis

  • Agnus Dei
  • The Blood of Jesus Speaks for Me

Prayer – Stan Kulig, Elder

Sermon – Matthew 16:13-20 (Becoming an I2(squared) Church: A Church of Irresistible Influence) – Pastor Mark Wheeler

Closing song

  • In Christ Alone

Lunch – in the gym


Worship is a Choice

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Posted by on June 14, 2018 in Quotes, Tim Challies, Worship


Worship Matters

Book Review: The Air I Breathe: Worship as a Way of Life, by Louie Giglio

Far too many people view worship as simply the music portion of a church service. People often limit worship to one hour a week on Sunday. In contrast, pastor and author Louie Giglio believes that every breath we take should be an act of worship. That is the thesis of his latest book, The Air I Breathe: Worship as a Way of Life.

The author begins by explaining that we were created for worship. Worship is what makes us human. We tend to worship what we value the most. For some, that is work, sports, shopping, family, or possessions. While some squander their worship, those who find the wonder-filled life of a relationship with God discover life at its best. When worship becomes as natural as the air we breathe and when our words and actions resonate with God and his purpose, that is we discover the true purpose of life.

While the book does not present anything new about worship, what sets it apart is the passion of the author. It is very evident that the book is written by someone who not only understands true worship, but one who experiences it on a regular basis. The book was originally published in 2003 and is now reprinted in a mass market paperback edition.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Posted by on January 16, 2018 in Books, Worship


The transforming power of congregational singing

Book Review: Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church, by Keith and Kristyn Getty

The Gettys are all about singing. Keith and Kristyn Getty are well known for writing new hymns for the church. They have now turned their attention to talking about singing. “Not about up-front singing, but whole-church singing—congregational singing…. This book is about singing together as the church in a way that impacts all of your life.”

The book has five key aims:

  1. To discover why we sing and the overwhelming joy and holy privilege that comes with singing.
  2. To consider how singing impacts our hearts and minds and all of our lives.
  3. To cultivate a culture of family singing in our daily home life.
  4. To equip our churches for wholeheartedly singing to the Lord and one another as an expression of unity.
  5. To inspire us to see congregational singing as a radical witness to the world.

If you boil the book down into one paragraph, the book

…has a very simple aim: that you would sing truth, and sing it as though it is true. As you wake each day, and as you walk through your day, we pray that the lyrics and melodies of your faith will ring around the spaces where you live your life. As you walk into church next Sunday, we pray that you will be excited about sharing in the privilege of lifting your voice with God’s people, to “sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.” And as you sing, we pray that you would experience the awesome joy of knowing that you are joining in with the great song of praise that resounds through every age, that stretches throughout this world and into every inch of creation, and that is being sung, right now as you read, in the very courts of heaven.

The book itself is very short—only 101 pages. Each chapter also contains discussion questions at the end so that you can think about it personally or discuss it in a small group. The final 40+ pages are written specifically for pastors and elders; worship and song leaders; musicians, choirs, and production; and songwriters and creatives.

Taken to heart, the book will change how you think about singing in general, and especially about singing in the church.

Disclosure: I received this book free from B&H Publishing through the B&H/Lifeway Bloggers program The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

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Posted by on September 12, 2017 in Books, Worship