Too often we force ourselves into false dilemmas. Ancient and modern worship are both beautiful and viable expressions of worship. Is it possible that our churches can successfully use AND merge both through the use of modern instrumentation and organ? It seems like I’m not the only one thinking about this. Let’s explore.

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This week’s featured new worship song is “But God” by Michael Bleecker and others from the Village Church. I love that it proclaims our desperate need for a Savior and the richness and celebration of the Gospel all in one song!

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Do you realize that you confess your faith every time you sing together in worship? Found out how and why it’s so important.

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I was able to get an early copy of Vertical Church Band’s “The Rock Won’t Move” and boy, I’m glad I did. This is a solid album with very few flaws. It also came at an opportune time for me as I’m realizing that our church body needs more “celebration” songs and some more energy in our midst.

I’m going to walk through my impressions of the album as a whole and give a summary of my impressions of each song below. Please give the whole thing a read, as you’ll be rewarded with a free download of the title track from the album at the end of the review :-) !

Overall impressions

  • This album is mostly singable. Many new albums of this style tend to not be easily singable, so it’s very refreshing to find an album like this where I can say “Yes, we can sing that in our congregation” to the majority of the songs.
  • Solid teaching. A lot of newer albums are overly emotional or experiential, but for the most part this album’s lyrics are very objective and focus on truths about God rather than feelings about God. While I’m coming to terms with the fact that sometimes “emotional” songs can help balance the weightiness of songs full of truth, I’m glad to see the depth in the lyrics of the album.
  • There is a lot of energy on this album. The songs are songs that make you want to shout-sing at the top of your lungs, not just sing. Even the slower songs have an energy to them.
  • My one complaint: Lead singers – please don’t jump up an octave. I’m very thankful that when this happens on the album there are singers remaining where the melody was in the previous octave, but this can be very taxing on congregations.

Let’s Dig into the Songs

Call on the Name

Very excellent call to worship here, listing many attributes of Christ and then allowing a personal declaration of “I will call on the name, I will call on the name of the Lord” Really love this song and hope to use it soon.

Found in You

Love the energy of this song. I always have an issue with “welcoming” God into the congregation (I understand the intent, but I think we could phrase it better, but more on that another day), this song treats the concept very nicely. Love the chorus “All we want and all we need is found in you, found in you. Jesus, every victory is found in you; found in you.” Another great call to worship, one of the best I’ve found in quite some time.

He Has Won

This is going to be one of my go-to Easter or post-Easter songs. It’s fantastic. The lyrics point people to Jesus and His victory as they deal with the weight of burdens, the question of being loved by the Father, and more. It’s especially a great song for men to sing – you just want to belt this one! I think this is my favorite track on the album.

I Will Follow

This song gets a little high for a typical congregation, but is still fairly singable. It’s a wonderful declaration of faith through various situations the Christian is facing.

I’m Going Free (Jailbreak)

I like this song a lot. I love the “revival” feel in the song. However, I wish a couple things: I wish there were more lyrics like the first verse. That verse includes the powerful ”The judge is my defense; I’m going free” That is a GREAT lyric. I also think the phrase “your love is my jailbreak” is very awkward and wish they would have changed it to something else, especially as part of the title of the song is based on one quick, conceptual line that needs explanation.

Only Jesus Can

GREAT lyrics in here and GREAT groove. The syncopation would get difficult for our multi-generational congregation, and the rhythms on the chorus are tricky to catch at first, but the concept in this song is fantastic. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the rhythms in here (both the verse and the chorus), they just could be tricky to teach. However, this is one of my favorites on the album.

Strong God

It took me a couple listens to this song for this one to “click” for me. While the lyrics are wonderful, I wanted a little more power in the melody and bridge to match the anthem-like feel of the song. But, if this is the weakest song on the album (in my opinion), that’s saying something, as I still think it’s a wonderful song.

Strong to Save

“The Lord our God is mighty in battle. We are not afraid. His hand upholds us through our trials; our God is strong to save.” What a fantastic chorus. I love the bridge as well. I’m going to duck for cover here but I think this is a much stronger take on the concept of God being “mighty (strong) to save” than that other song that’s been popular for awhile :-)

The Rock Won’t Move

The title track is an interesting adaptation of the hymn the “The Solid Rock.” I love the expansion and play on the original lyrics of the hymn. While this song is a powerful anthem, I think the bridge gets hard on the ears and I’m not sure the updates to the hymn lyrics improve them. I know many have done it, but I wish they would have used the existing melody from “The Solid Rock” in the bridge instead of what was used.

Worthy, Worthy

I love the hymn-like feel of this one. It’s very useful to have songs like this, especially for multi-generational congregations like ours. The timeless concept of all of heaven declaring God’s worthiness and holiness will never get old. This song is a helpful addition to congregations like mine who sometimes still use a piano/organ-driven accompaniment. I think this is a song that could work well in that situation as well as led by a full band.

Download “The Rock Won’t Move” MP3 and Lead Sheet for Free!

I really like this album and I think the songs should find their way into many churches. This is one you’ll definitely want to have in your library and I’m going to be keeping an eye on Vertical Church Band in the future.

Use the NoiseTrade widget below to receive a free copy of the title track and the lead sheet from this album.

One of the absolute best parts about working in the church is the anonymous criticism that you get from time to time (see definition: sarcasm).

While these things sting for a while they are usually a few things:

  • Lacking vision
  • Passive aggressive
  • Most of all, incredibly unhelpful

How Anonymous Criticism is Unhelpful

I wanted to focus on the third. This form of criticism is unhelpful in a number of ways:

  • No opportunity to ask, “What do you mean by that?”
  • No opportunity for further learning. If I’m being critiqued by someone, I’d much rather have a dialog about the critique, so that I can learn more about how to remedy the situation or so that I can offer the opposing viewpoint and vision.
  • No opportunity for me to thank the person for expressing their feelings and open dialogue for further growth and discussion for both parties.

Some anonymous notes can be genuine, relevant criticism that needs to be addressed. However, when an anonymous note is left on your office desk, even if it’s valid, it’s very difficult not to take it as a right hook to the face, especially after a season of feeling discouraged.

What saddens me the most about these things is that it seems to happen in churches FAR more often than anywhere else. When I was working in “secular” business, criticism and critique were always directly addressed. Why doesn’t the church, which is supposed to be the leader in conflict resolution, giving preference to others instead of yourself, and compassion for each other know how to handle these things better?

Useful Criticism Is Actually Helpful

I think there are several better ways to offer criticism to church pastors, staff, and leaders:

  • Best: ask to meet together to address concerns. Be open to an opposing viewpoint AND be prepared to offer some encouragement as well (this happened recently, which I’m very thankful for)
  • Good: place a call or send an email with the concerns and allow opportunity for feedback or a follow-up visit
  • Okay: at least sign your name and give some contact information and end the note with “Feel free to follow up if you think I need to understand the situation a little better”

Church pastors, staff and leaders: learn from the anonymous criticism that’s valid. Throw away the rest. Church members and attenders: please don’t offer anonymous criticism. Communicate, learn from each other, grow together, love each other, and celebrate how God has made you united in one body, even despite differences.