Now Taking Questions

There is no point in my “rabbiting on” (as my husband would say) about things you care nothing about. Therefore, I would like to start a Q&A series in which I, and others (I won’t claim omniscience for myself), research and answer questions you have about worship (theology, practicalities, ethics, relationships, church, liturgy, music… you name it). So bring on the questions!

Please also consider sharing this post with others who might have questions in this area: those who lead worship at your church, your pastor, a friend who is interested in plumbing the depth of such things. The more questions I get, and the more conversation partners we have, the better this series will be.

Leave your questions in the comment box, and if you want to throw in a few suggestions for other things you’d like to see on this blog, I’ll take those now as well.


  1. Dear Stacey! I am so glad you’re doing this. I’ve been chewing on the idea of Easter spiritual practices that would complement Lenten spiritual practices. If Lent is deconstructive (fasting, penitence, removal of things hindering us from deeper relationship with God), then Easter should be constructive (creative, incarnational, renewing/redemptive, living out and embodying Christ’s resurrection life). Sadly, most churches don’t celebrate Easter for the full season! We’re giving it a go this year, but I’d love to have some conversation about how to develop constructive Easter spiritual practices for both corporate and private worship.


  2. A few questions that were left for me on facebook:

    Michael: Why do we consistently do the “worship” (ie singing) first and then the sermon? Aren’t there times when we should “worship” in response to a message from God’s word?

    Conrad: How do you choose songs/hymns each Sunday? AND Singspiration, song leader, worship leader, and different words. Is it mere semantics or there is a meaning behind them?

    Brittany: How do we create a seamless unity between the songs, prayers, spoken word, etc., during a worship service? As a member of the congregation I often find the various segments to be disjointed and this takes away from my ability to really enter in. I wonder if we need more teaching around the pre-planning and communication process.

    Thanks to these three – and to Tora. Keep the questions coming folks!


  3. 1. Perhaps a post on the embodiment in worship? What postures are conducive to worship? Does sitting automatically lead to passivity and if so, what about those who can’t stand and how can we challenge them to worship God in body?

    2. Lots of talk on worship wars but I just want to know, how do you win?

    3. Maybe a series on worship space. Traditional churches reflected worship and drew people’s focus heavenward in their architecture (i.e. giant oversize crosses, vaulted ceilings, central altar, pulpits). In the age of multi-purpose spaces, how do we craft a space which invites people into an encounter with God?

    4. How can your guitar player look more spiritual during his extended solos?

    5. Maybe a series of posts where secret Jesus visits churches and writes his commentary on the worship experience.

    6. You had a post on Bono as worship leader but what about Obama?

    7. Loving the reflections on liturgy this year you guys are doing? Are there other ancient practices we need to recapture in our worship?

    8. Maybe a series on the sacraments in worship (where they belong).

    9. 10 things that can ruin the worship time for you (and Andrea and Ian should also opine on this).

    10. What are the most awkward worship lyrics you ever heard? Which awkward lyrics do you hear on a regular basis?

    …That’s all I got off the top of my head.


    1. I’m especially looking forward to number 10. I’ve been storing them up for years! My good friend Lincoln Tatem always used to sing: “The bells of hell go ring-a-ling-a-ling for me but not for you….” I guess I’ll have to find my own.


      1. You could go lots of directions with this. There is lyrics full of bad theology, bad poetry/imagery, or just inaccurate descriptions of what we are actually doing. When leading, “I could sing of your love forever,” I used to slip into the bridge, “We will dance with joy like we’re NOT dancing now” because no one dances during that song.


  4. How do we develop our volunteer team of 17 worship leaders (who plan the services — everything but the music — and coordinate with the preacher) and song leaders (who pick the hymns and coordinate with the pianist) in a congregation that is lay-run, all-volunteer? Since we have so many willing to help, each person only leads the service once every three months or so, so there’s not much continuity. We like variety, but we have fallen into a kind of routine order of service because it’s easiest to plan. We don’t ever meet together as a team, so we can’t be developing together in our skills as worship leaders and our theology of worship. I’m the one coordinating the group of worship leaders, but basically all I do is sign people up for a Sunday when they’re available and give them the info about who is preaching that day, etc. I’d love to do more to help us all grow. Any thoughts on spiritual formation of worship leaders? And pastoral care of them, so they don’t burn out, but actually look forward to doing it?


  5. Reflect on silence as worship. Also silence in worship and why we aren’t so good at it.

    And I ditto Brittany’s sentiments about transitions. That’s an amazing rant I could write…in fact thoughtless babbling transitions during worship are what drove me to leave contemporary worship for a traditional sung liturgy for 4 years.

    How to involve the body/movement in worship.


  6. Silence in worship. Silence as worship. Also I ditto Brittany’s comment. Babbling, thoughtless transitions drove me away from contemporary worship to a traditional sung liturgy for 4 years.


  7. I’d love to know how the different Tenebrae traditions (1- Jeremiah’s Lamentations in morning readings in Holy Week, 2- 7 Passion Readings to candles on Good Friday) emerged and basically where they intersect and where they differ (aside from the obvious!)


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