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We think it is all about our initiative and our effort, when in fact that is the worst way to live the Christian life.

AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN BRANDON ABOUT THE BOOK LIFEBLOOD article from http://lifebloodinus.com/

Why did you decide to write this book?

I was living in a cabin on a lake, and I had relocated my office to a garage. I was writing a daily column while working in an area surrounded by boxes and fishing gear. One of my columns that summer was about being driven — how it’s important to keep pushing yourself. Since I typically write about leadership and management, it seemed like an interesting topic, because many leaders in business tend to drive forward under their own power. Companies like Facebook or Google initially started because of one or two people promoting a crazy idea.

That got me thinking about Jesus, and about my own Christian life. One thing led to another, and I found myself writing an entire chapter of a book. I wanted to write about how Christians often try to do the same thing as entrepreneurs in business, that we push and push and push. We think it is all about our initiative and our effort, when in fact that is the worst way to live the Christian life. It ends in failure and burnout. I felt a tug on my own heart, that I was the one making all of the decisions in my life about how to be a good Christian. It wasn’t working. So I decided to write about how God has propelled me instead, those Holy Spirit moments when it’s obvious that the only way to “succeed” spiritually is to let God do the driving.

Why did you decide to write about marriage, and friendships, and community?

They say to write about what you know. In my “day job” writing a column for Inc. Magazine and Fox News Network, I tend to cover topics that are well within my own expertise. I was a corporate manager for about a decade, and I write about those experiences often. For many years, I tested products and reviewed them, so I still write about gadgets. But there’s one area where I’m more personally experienced than any other, and it is in living my own Christian life for the past 30 years. I’ve seen how God has worked in my marriage, in friendships, in the workplace — it’s amazing to see his hands of grace guiding me.

Who is your audience?

I’m glad you asked! I do have a reader in mind, and it is someone who is struggling to move forward spiritually. I guess that is all of us, in a way. Even the most spiritually mature person in the world is not always moving forward o finding great spiritual success. We might experience periods of tremendous growth, but then we stall out. We might finally confront an inner demon, only to see another one pop up out of nowhere! I know how this all works. Lifeblood is really intended as a message to struggling Christians, and the main message is to realize that it is the Holy Spirit inside of you who brings about real change and growth. In many ways, the message is to relax. To stop worrying so much. To let God have all of the control.

Why is this book worth reading?

I realize there are many, many books available — most of them are probably more interesting! The one reason to read Lifeblood, though, is to hear a message of hope that you can live victoriously and without the guilt of feeling as though you have to be in charge of your own spiritual destiny. Lifeblood is not intended as a “self help” book but a “Jesus help” book. It’s a total transformation in how we view our Christian lives, how we make decisions and how we advance spiritually. It is not under our own power. It is by him and through him.

 

About John Brandon: John Brandon is a well-known reporter and columnist for Inc. magazine, Fox News Network, Christianity TodayRelevant magazine, and many others. For ten years, he worked as a corporate manager in the Information Technology field. After 9/11, John’s employer (who became nervous about the world economy) fired him. At the advice of his wife, he became a writer and has since published over twelve thousand articles in seventeen years. Over ten million people have read his thought-pieces on leadership, productivity, mentoring, and technology for Inc.com. He lives in Minnesota with his wife, Rebecca, and has four children, two sons-in-law, and three grandchildren. This is his first book.

 

About Lifeblood: Lifeblood is what flows through us when we first find Christ; but as time goes on, we start to grow stale in our spiritual life. Not simply a how-to book, Lifeblood is about getting back to the basics of Christianity and making life-altering communion with Jesus possible every minute of the day. Tapping in to your lifeblood starts with you; but it will flow to your friendships, marriage and family, church, work, and even your community. Lifeblood is available for pre-order https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/lifeblood-tapping-into-jesus-as-the-true-source-of-renewal/

Five Ways Your Church Can Avoid Wallpaper Worship

By Danny Byram, author of Wallpaper Worship: Why Church Music Sounds Better, Fewer Are Singing, and What to Do About It

So, what is wallpaper worship? It is very easy to spot. Just walk into a church, grab a coffee, and find a seat. When the music starts, you are free to sit and sip, stand and watch, roam the sanctuary, find someone to visit with (if the volume allows), or skip it altogether and get a coffee refill in the lobby. Wallpaper worship is the religious equivalent of music in a store or a dentist’s office. It is great music, but it is not designed for participation. Wallpaper worship is meant to simply be listened to or observed as it is performed. Worshippers who come to participate are not actually able to because it sounds so good, so slick, so produced, and so well-performed that you don’t want to mess it up by actually singing along with it. The vibe communicated from the platform is “Just sit back and relax; we’ll do this for you.”

In his classic book Worship is a Verb, Robert E. Webber states, “[Worship] is not something done to us or for us, but by us.” Webber’s view, like the view of so many frustrated worshippers today, was founded upon a principle that was at the heart of the sixteenth-century Reformation. That principle touted a new and radical idea: Believers should be able to express their beliefs and their worship of God freely, openly, and corporately without any priests or clergy doing it for them. Today we are in a pre-Reformation cycle of wallpaper worship. Our ability to perform music and speak publicly has become so formulaic that church has become akin to a museum or concert hall. All you have to do is show up and assume the role of an audience.

Here are five ways your church can avoid the common trap known as wallpaper worship. (Some of what I have written is to leaders and some to those being led. Feel free to pass these five principles along as is appropriate for your situation.)

  1. Cast a vision. Church leaders need to decide what kind of church they will lead. Will yours be a typical wallpaper worship church, or will you make the changes necessary to encourage, facilitate, and promote participation? To simply say the church wants congregants to participate will never accomplish it. Specific changes need to occur from the church leadership in order to bridge the gap between the people and the platform. Many worshippers have experienced the discouragement of trying to articulate to leaders their desire for change, only to be dismissed as out of touch. For instance, one church I know trains their ushers to hand out earplugs if people come to the lobby to complain about the volume of the “show.” One of the leaders of that church made it clear to me that if people don’t like it, they can find the door. Casting a vision for participation involves more than lip service. It takes sincere action to gently bring congregants into the fold of participation. An attitude from leaders of “It’s not our fault if they don’t participate” is a cop-out and a justification for wallpaper worship. If you’re part of a church that refuses to cast a vision for participation, then find one that will.
  2. Use your binoculars. When I was producing and directing the Promise Keepers stadium events for men (events that filled NFL-sized stadiums around the nation in the mid-1990s), it was difficult to know if the attendees in the upper sections at the far end of the stadium were connecting with what was happening on the platform. From the opposite end of the stadium, the platform looked like the size of a postage stamp. I would step out from the stage side producer’s tent and look through binoculars to spot those in the far-off upper section seats to see if they were as engaged as the men sitting in chairs on the field in front of us. If we were losing participants from music or a speaker that was not engaging, we would change what we were doing until we saw 100 percent participation. Only by looking through “binoculars” can one see to what degree a platform is or is not connecting with those it is supposed to be leading. Proverbs 27:23 says, “Know well the condition of your flocks.” Pay attention. If people are not participating, the effectiveness of the leadership is questionable.
  3. Try painting in more than one color. Have you ever been to an art exhibit or a museum where all the paintings are in one color? How tedious would it become to view paintings throughout galleries and hallways that are exclusively in blue? When we plan and execute worship services in one narrow style, we are painting in one color. Try using a capella. Calm down the instruments and let the people sing and hear themselves sing. Try using a responsive reading where people hear their voices reciting Scripture aloud and in unison. Try an unplugged, acoustic set of music once or twice a month. Try using a live, classical, sacred piece somewhere appropriate to your service order or content. Why does everything have to be one style, one sound, one means of expression? Music listeners of all ages today access more styles and cultures of music than ever before through Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube. But in today’s church, only one style seems to be allowed. The colors of the artist’s palette are many. Try painting with more than one.
  4. Earn the trust. I once read on a popular worship blog, “The more they sing with you, the more they will trust you.” My experience with producing large and small worship events for decades is the opposite: The more they trust you, the more they will sing with you. Congregants are conditioned by the culture of the church. If the people in the pews sense the worship service is simply a performance to be observed, they will be reluctant to participate—even if given the chance in an a capella song. Leaders need to earn the trust of those they lead. Trust is earned over time by casting a vision for participation and letting congregants hear themselves; it is even earned in the unplanned ambiguity of following the Spirit’s leading.
  5. Be familiar. There is more worship music being written and released today than ever before. Most of it is unfamiliar, even to the select people who listen to Christian radio stations in their cars every day. Musicians tend to think they need to be teaching or performing all the latest material. This is a ruse and it leads to nonparticipation. The more that is new, the less they will know. Do the new stuff, but also use familiar songs that are dear to congregants young and old—songs and worship elements that have stood the test of time and personal devotion. Most of what is heard today will not be around two years from now. A gracious and trusted shepherd leads the sheep with a familiar rod and staff. Leaders have an obligation not only to lead the sheep beside still waters but to actually let them drink. They will be comforted knowing that their shepherd has their best interests in mind. Trust will result. Participation will follow.

Throughout history, wallpaper worship has cycled in and out. It thrives in times of prosperity but disappears in times of struggle or persecution. Whether you are a leader or a worshipper being led, it is time to bridge the gap between the platform and the people. Worshippers today are frustrated when they are not led in worship and feel they are being used as an audience. But take courage: When the bride is frustrated, the Bridegroom pays attention. “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him” (John 4:23).

Danny Byram teaches a one-day workshop called “Wallpaper Worship Removal: The Tools and Tips for Encouraging a Participating Congregation.” Book a workshop by contacting dbminc1@gmail.com.

 

About Danny Byram Danny Byram is an independent Christian recording artist and worship leader who has performed on five continents. Known by US military chaplains as “The Combat Musician,” Danny has given outreach concerts for the United States military community on over one hundred installations since 1987. He also produced and directed the Promise Keepers stadium events and the FamilyLife marriage arena events. With his breadth of experience in worship, performing arts and leadership, he lectures and conducts workshops on worship in colleges, churches, and military chapels throughout the world. To learn more about Danny, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/authors/daniel-m-byram/

About Wallpaper Worship In Wallpaper Worship, Daniel Byram makes the comparison between today’s church worship and wallpaper—meant to emphasize the design of its surroundings, but not meant to be engaged with. Through an examination of personal worship experiences, the history of worship, and examples of biblical worship, Byram unpacks this analogy. He shares how to awaken our identities as corporate and individual worshippers, and passionately participate in the God-ordained activity of worship.

Wallpaper Worship will be released in Spring 2018. To order a copy of Wallpaper Worship or learn more details, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/wallpaper-worship-why-church-music-sounds-better-fewer-are-singing-and-what-to-do-about-it/

Interview with John Stanley, Author of Surrender

From the Bill Knapik Radio Show

How do you find the time to do what God has called you to do when you have a full schedule?  Where do you find the strength to endure life’s most difficult pain and suffering? Author John Stanley reveals the answers to these challenging questions and more through his personal stories.

Listen to the full interview here:

 

About John Stanley: ​John Stanley serves as a pastor on staff in the worship ministry at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. An internationally recognized composer, arranger, music producer, percussionist, and drummer, he has been part of the professional music scene for over a decade and has worked with multiple award-winning artists, producers, and songwriters​. John desires to connect people to God’s Word through written and spoken truth, while encouraging individuals into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. John and his wife, Sarah, live in Houston with their two children. To learn more about the author, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/authors/john-stanley/

About SurrenderIn Surrender, John Stanley encourages readers in the call upon every Christian’s life to daily die to self and surrender—in salvation and in every single circumstance. Expertly weaving together Scripture, personal anecdotes, and a white-water rafting story, John explores what a truly surrendered life can look like, and how that provides a new outlook on what it means to live a satisfied, joyful life. To learn more about the book and order a copy, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/surrender-learning-to-navigate-lifes-deep-waters-with-christ-as-your-guide/

Real surrender is hard. So to be truthful, I really didn’t love the idea of writing this book.

Question and Answer with Surrender‘s author John Stanley.

John Stanley

John Stanley serves as a pastor on staff in the worship ministry at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. An internationally recognized composer, arranger, music producer, percussionist, and drummer, he has been part of the professional music scene for over a decade and has worked with multiple award-winning artists, producers, and songwriters​. John desires to connect people to God’s Word through written and spoken truth, while encouraging individuals into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. John and his wife, Sarah, live in Houston with their two children.

Q1: Please tell us about yourself.

I’m a PK (pastor’s kid) and a native Texan. I grew up with a passion for soccer, which radically changed to music in my teenage years. I didn’t fully commit to music until I was seventeen years old. I went to college for music but left early to pursue music as a career. Starting as a drummer, that pursuit has taken shape into much more as I’ve developed into a composer, arranger, songwriter, and music producer. I love creating music!

I’m on staff in the music ministry at Second Baptist Church in Houston. This church is where I met and married my wife (I fell up a mountain with her!) and where we are raising our family. I love Second and what God is doing through His people here! It is an amazing community.

My wife is the most remarkable woman on earth to me, and I am definitely that “over-proud” dad! HA!

Interesting Fact: English was one of my worst subjects in school. I expound on this in the book!

 Q2: How did you come to faith?

I came to know Jesus when I was six, when I asked my father to pull over so I could pray and ask Jesus into my heart. From then on, it’s been a wild ride! I couldn’t make it up if I tried. Christ is my foundation and my hope. The different roles He’s called me into as a husband, father, minister, musician, music maker, and author are a product of my relationship with Him. I truly feel His joy in every one of these roles and callings.

Q3: Can you tell us about the experiences and inspirations that led you to write Surrender?

The writing of Surrender has been a long journey and it’s taken about seven years. It all started with a simple divinely planted desire to write a book, but the subject was not clear. However, on the river journey I call life, God has taken me on a course that has been all about surrender. So, once the ideas began to churn within, the direction became clear rather quickly.

Real surrender is hard. So to be truthful, I really didn’t love the idea of writing this book. But I’ve felt deeply compelled to write because I believe that as followers of Jesus, surrender is the greatest strength to our witness. No matter what circumstances lie ahead and no matter what line of work we are in, we can be a witness and a bold light—and surrender opens that door of confidence with strength. If every believer took the calling of surrender with the utmost priority, I sincerely believe we’d see a radical difference in our world by the impact of our influence across every landscape.

This world is calling out for authenticity, for people to be real, but we’ve been deceived to believe something different. Surrender brings us to our most authentic self in Christ and proclaims God’s abundant faithfulness, despite the raging white water that life can bring.

Q4: Can you tell us the story behind the subtitle of your book (Learning to Navigate Life’s Deep Waters with Christ as Your Guide)?

When I was twelve my parents took my brother and me on a white-water rafting trip. They used this adventure to teach us a valuable life lesson: Life is like a river. You’ll have your calm serene moments, and then you’ll have raging white water. As followers of Jesus, we’ve been given Christ as our Guide to navigate us through the waters ahead. We have a choice: Surrender to the commands of the Guide or trek the river on our own. One way will end in catastrophe. The other way will bring life and victory.

Q5: What are some experiences you would like to share with the readers about the process of writing this book?

Through the journey of writing this book, my wife, children, and I have rafted through some terrifying waters. But we’ve also journeyed through some joyous, fruitful waters that got our adrenaline pumping and rejuvenated our outlook on life. As God is our victor and true Guide, He has faithfully led us through every twist and turn. From dealing with chronic pain, the struggle of pregnancy with our firstborn, and painful and devastating family events that could’ve easily brought destruction, to exciting and nerve-racking musical endeavors, enriching and profound ministry opportunities, and wonderful and awe-striking life experiences . . . it’s been a journey!

All these things have led to the inspiration behind the pages of this book. Being a first-time author has been a bit of a “wow” experience for me. Writer’s block is a very real thing! Frustrations can easily get to you. Finding the time to write, and yes, even rewrite, amid a whirlwind schedule was rough. But what God started He has been faithful to move forward and keep alive. Words are not adequate to express my thankfulness to Him for all He has done and will continue to do.

Q6: What are your favorite books or authors you enjoy reading?

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. This is just an amazing, inspiring book. Anyone who is married, engaged, or dating and thinking about marriage needs to read his book. I love the “BE” series by Warren Wiersbe. He is the author who has probably had the most impact on my life. His commentaries are rich in knowledge and wisdom, but easy to understand. I also enjoy the occasional fictional read.

Q7: What are some things that can hinder us from surrendering? What are your words of encouragement to people who are dealing with those things?

I believe the greatest detriments to surrender are fear and lack of commitment (which is attached to idolatry). Fear will stop you dead in your tracks, and you must be prayerful and diligent in your discernment to know if that fear is healthy or unhealthy. Any fear that drives you away from God is unhealthy.

Lack of commitment and idolatry are other hindrances. Many of us are willing to speak the words that sound right. As a PK, I can talk the talk all day long. But when my actions don’t line up with what’s coming out of my mouth, that declares my commitment. I can tell my wife and kids I love them every day but never do anything to show it. What do you think that would say to them?

Commitment is two-part: saying and doing. We all have roadblocks to the priority we should put on our relationship with Christ, and we’ve allowed some of those roadblocks because of idols we hold dear: work schedules, activities, hobbies, “stuff,” laziness, the influence and popularity of our peers (that doesn’t just die when we get out of high school). We can let the culture of our surroundings dictate our behaviors, rather than allow our behaviors and priorities to be governed by our commitment to Christ.

I’ve heard it said many times, “You don’t understand my working environment or who I’m around. I’ll lose relatability. I’ll lose connectivity.” That speaks volumes about where an individual finds their identity, and it also traces itself back to fear. If we were to take a step outside our perceived reality and truthfully look into our earthly relationships, we’d probably see that this is a lie we’ve come to believe. People want us to be real with who we are and the core truth of what and who we value. Authenticity counts big, especially today in a world where so many authoritative public figures are falling away because of lies and immoral behaviors driven by deception.

Do you want to be real and the most authentic you? Then, as a follower of Jesus, dig into the relationship. He’s your Creator, so from that relationship who you really are will emerge. That version of you will be the best version of you. Pursue the kingdom of God and His righteousness (see Matt. 6:33). Let everything else be influenced by that pursuit. Let the cards fall where they may. Be intentional. Be diligent. Influence and inspire.

Q8: Have you had difficult times surrendering? Please share with us your experiences.

Stepping away from college to pursue music as a career was tough indeed. I was taught my whole life that the only way to success is by getting a college degree. When that’s been ingrained in you from childhood, you better believe that when God begins to move you in a different direction, it’s incomprehensibly scary.

My mother is an educator. My father has two master’s degrees. My brother graduated from college and has become a “Top 40 Under 40” influencer in his field. Taking that path of surrender into dark and deep waters was very difficult. I dealt with shame from family and friends. I felt like I was constantly having to prove myself upon any new endeavor. But, God set a destination ahead and began to guide me there.

I had two choices: Obey and follow His lead or go my own way of what I believed to be “right.” I really don’t even want to consider where I may have ended up if I chose my own way. I’ve not yet reached the destination in full either. I see the river of life as an expedition with God, my family, and me, and it will continue until I depart from this earth. However, I’m excited to see what other adventures await and what discoveries we uncover along the way.

Q9: What do you hope for your readers to gain through Surrender?

Life change—seeing life from a different perspective. I want them to see the beauty that comes from surrender through every circumstance; and, I pray this book brings some clarity on what that looks like. I’m hopeful some questions are answered, and I’m hopeful people will say goodbye to fear and feel embraced by God’s rest and peace as they do so. I’m hopeful readers will take the plunge and trek the river wild with true commitment, tear down any idols that could get in the way, and enjoy the ride!

Q10: Any last thoughts to the readers?

One evening at the dinner table, my son looked at me and said, “Okay Dad . . . tell me about life.” My daughter eagerly looked on. My mind scrambled through my thoughts for a quick response, “Life is a gift,” I said. Today, if you were walking around our house, at any random moment of the day you might hear my son say, “You know what you guys? Life is a gift!” It’s a great reminder because it really is.

I pray you’re blessed by this book. Enjoy the adventure of life! Where God leads may not be what you had envisioned, but I promise it will be the perfect fit for how He molded you in your creation so that you may have the greatest impact on those He wants you to influence. Life is like a river, and God is the perfect navigator. Grace and peace to you.

 

 

In Surrender, John Stanley encourages readers in the call upon every Christian’s life to daily die to self and surrender—in salvation and in every single circumstance. Expertly weaving together Scripture, personal anecdotes, and a white-water rafting story, John explores what a truly surrendered life can look like, and how that provides a new outlook on what it means to live a satisfied, joyful life. To learn more about the book and order a copy, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/surrender-learning-to-navigate-lifes-deep-waters-with-christ-as-your-guide/

 

 

About CLC Publications: CLC Publications (formerly Christian Literature Crusade) is the English language publishing house for CLC Ministries International. Headquartered in Fort Washington, PA, CLC has published books for the Deeper Christian Life for over 50 years. Our focus has been to publish books by trusted authors with a clear and timeless message. Some of our better known authors from the past include Watchman NeeCorrie ten BoomAmy CarmichaelAndrew Murray and Roy Hession. As a part of CLC International, our books are sold and distributed in countries all over the world including but not limited to the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, India, the West Indies, and the Philippines. We are committed to being a significant part of fulfilling CLC’s international purpose of making evangelical Christian literature available to all nations so that people may come to faith and maturity in our Lord Jesus Christ.

From the Author: Seven Signs Your Church May Be Covered in Wallpaper Worship

Author of Wallpaper Worship, Daniel Byram shares his insights on church worship.

Wallpaper music—music that is piped into a dentist’s office or a supermarket—is pleasant to the ear but does little for the spirit. Wallpaper worship has taken our churches by storm. On any given Sunday, walk into an evangelical church and watch the congregants observing as opposed to participating. As sincere as the musicians seem and as great as the music sounds, many people in congregations are not connecting to the songs. In fact, the music is so slick and professional that it is designed to be listened to; participation is optional, except for the brave few who might lift their voice. And, house mixes are so loud and overproduced that congregants will not be heard anyway. So why try?

It doesn’t seem to matter to the musicians. Wallpaper worship is like a code language, telling us in the seats, “It isn’t important to us that you participate. We’ll do this for you.” In his classic book Worship Is A Verb, Robert Webber says that worship is not “something done to us or for us, but by us.”

From what I have witnessed as I have traveled the world visiting churches, Christian conference centers, and military chapel services, churchgoers are experiencing wallpaper worship in congregations as large as ten thousand and as small as one hundred.

Many across the landscape of present-day church leadership say that this kind of non-participatory experience is what the current culture demands. As well-meaning as that explanation is, it ignores the bigger picture. The issue is rooted in a fundamental point that what we have been calling worship may not be worship at all. The church has redefined worship to fit a cultural model instead of a biblical one, much to the ignorance of many newly churched believers and to the dismay of mature worshippers who have been around long enough to know the difference.

Finding solutions to the problem of wallpaper worship starts with recognizing that there is a problem. Here are seven signs that your church might be covered in wallpaper worship:

Congregants aren’t participating, they are watching. There are many reasons for this, which I address in my book, but for now it simply needs to be recognized and faced as a reality. The leadership team of pastors at a church I recently visited never knew this was happening. Why didn’t they know? The pastors all sat in the front row and were unaware that when the band started playing, half the congregants (seated behind them out of view) were walking out to the lobby to have coffee and visit. “Know well the condition of your flocks” (Proverbs 27:23).

The musicians are mostly playing songs that congregants don’t know. When this happens, it conveys the message that if you aren’t listening to syndicated Christian radio during the week, you are left out. I know a lot of dedicated Christians who love to sing, but listen to pop, jazz, classical, or talk radio. Too bad for them. There used to be a common body of songs every Protestant church goer knew for generations. Many still do, but if five out of six songs chosen for a worship service were written and released within the last eighteen months, is it any wonder why people aren’t singing?

The “worship leader” (aka the lead singer of the band) never invites anyone to sing along. The title of worship leader has a connotation that the person possessing the title is recognized as a leader because of a body of people following him or her. In many cases, worship leaders are simply leading a band of musicians; the congregation is not following them. The slogan for a military infantry officer who leads a platoon of soldiers is “Follow me.” Leaders have followers.

Congregants are chatting or walking around. It is interesting how this never happens during a sermon but is allowed during a musical segment. It could be that these times are considered optional. Again, this is solved through proper leadership. A football team understands very clearly that their destination is a line at the end of the field called the goal line. If leaders have no idea where the goal line of worship is, it is likely that their followers will never reach it.

Communion is ambiguous. If the elements of Communion and their meaning are never explained, people are left to figure it out on their own. I’ve seen churches where people are given Communion elements with the unspoken option of taking Communion in the privacy of their seat, in the hallway, in the bathroom, or in their car when they are leaving. Another option is for folks to trot over to a section of the sanctuary where Communion is offered while something else is taking place, with no explanation of what is happening “over there.” Ambiguity experienced in something as fundamental as Communion will likely be seen in other matters within the church as well. Ambiguity in worship is a sign of wallpaper worship.

Many congregants arrive after the music. If you are a leader or pastor, try this: Hang out in the foyer of the church for a few months and watch how many congregants arrive late. Then, go a step further and ask them why they are arriving late. If they are honest with you, you may discover what many churchgoers have known for years: Some congregants skip the music portion of the service, feeling frustrated that they are being used simply as an audience for weekend performers. Christian worshippers want to be led to participation, rather than watch others participate in their stead.

Arrogance of Artistry. I have been told stories by congregants who try to convey to a leader their frustrations with worship services that are nothing more than exercises in passive observation, only to be dismissed as out of touch—or worse, misunderstood as trying to insult the leader. When a leader (especially a musician) storms off in a huff, it is simply arrogance of artistry. A well-known Christian hit songwriter friend of mine said to me, “It’s not the style of music we are using, nor is it the quality of performance that offends me. It’s the vibe coming from the platform.” If a worship platform gives out a message of, “Listen to us and look at our gadgets,” you can bet that the worshippers are simply lining the walls to provide a weekly audience for performers who otherwise would not have one. Congregants understand that. And when they are dismissed as being out of touch by those who lead them, it begs the question: Just who is the one who is out of touch? Arrogance is a fruit of wallpaper worship. Wallpaper worship is a fruit of arrogance. The two feed off each other. We may be filing seats and parking lots, but God is actually resisting us (see James 4:6).

If your church experience reflects any of these seven traits, it may be time for some soul searching.

Wallpaper worship doesn’t encourage participation; it isn’t designed to even allow participation. It is unconnected to its heritage and lacks power of the Spirit. It is an imposter of what Jesus describes as worshipping “in spirit and truth.” Wallpaper worship is cyclical. It thrives in times of prosperity but dies in seasons in persecution.

When the hows of worship become more important than the whys of worship, we have missed the point of worship itself. I personally do not think this is what anyone in the body of Christ wants. But history proves it is a common trap that stumbles each generation in the church.

So take heart: Whether you are a leader or a weekly worshipper, you do not have to tolerate wallpaper worship. In John 4:23, Jesus says, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” If our heart’s true desire is to participate corporately—to sing, recite, listen, pray, weep, and seek Him together—then we can be assured we are in step with what the Father seeks, and that’s a good place to be. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:24-25). Worship is together!

 

About Danny Byram Danny Byram is an independent Christian recording artist and worship leader who has performed on five continents. Known by US military chaplains as “The Combat Musician,” Danny has given outreach concerts for the United States military community on over one hundred installations since 1987. He also produced and directed the Promise Keepers stadium events and the FamilyLife marriage arena events. With his breadth of experience in worship, performing arts and leadership, he lectures and conducts workshops on worship in colleges, churches, and military chapels throughout the world. To learn more about Danny, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/authors/daniel-m-byram/

About Wallpaper Worship In Wallpaper Worship, Daniel Byram makes the comparison between today’s church worship and wallpaper—meant to emphasize the design of its surroundings, but not meant to be engaged with. Through an examination of personal worship experiences, the history of worship, and examples of biblical worship, Byram unpacks this analogy. He shares how to awaken our identities as corporate and individual worshippers, and passionately participate in the God-ordained activity of worship.

Grab your copy of Wallpaper Worship today!

“I’ve had a 33-year close relationship with a man I’ve never met.” – The Story Behind the Calvary Road Study Guide

Author of the Calvary Road Study Guide, Stephen McCary Shares his story.

I’ve had a 33-year close relationship with a man I’ve never met. Let me explain.

In the mid-1980s, as a 35-year-old struggling to find joy in the Christian life, my pastor recommended to me The Calvary Road by Roy Hession. It seemed to be perfect timing for this former workaholic who had become a “churchaholic” after salvation. I was so grateful for God’s intervention in my life, and for the restoration of my family, that I wanted to do everything for the Lord. I became a Sunday school teacher, a deacon, a member of the evangelism team . . . you name it, I was willing.

But like an animal caught in quicksand, the more I worked for Jesus the deeper I sank into the fruitlessness of SELF. God met me through the pages of The Calvary Road. I began to realize the difference between obedience and surrender. An obedient heart will not necessarily produce a surrendered heart; it often produces a prideful heart. But, a surrendered heart will most often lead to an obedient heart.

The key element in my understanding came from Roy Hession’s teachings regarding surrender, humility, and transparency. I learned that walking in the light (see 1 John 1:7) appears in the mundane, everyday walk of life. What rest I experienced! This rest was not complacency, but genuine rest in God’s leading me to that which He directed me to do. It was not cultural expectations from man or from church, but a sensitivity to the voice of God through His word. Oh, I didn’t get it overnight, but I was on the road—the Calvary road.

Over the next fifteen years, my copy of the book was so worn and marked up that it was like a personal journal, containing truths I had learned and convictions I had experienced. It became my go-to book when discipling other men. Evidently, and unbeknownst to me, many at our church saw me as an ambassador for Mr. Hession, a man I will only meet one day in heaven. In 1999, a fellow pastor asked me to teach The Calvary Road in a twelve-week format at our church. Upon completion, a ministry assistant suggested that I send the weekly homework to CLC for their consideration as a companion study guide to The Calvary Road.

CLC Publications published the first edition of The Calvary Road Study Guide in 2000, the fiftieth anniversary of the first printing of Mr. Hession’s classic! What an honor to have my name associated with such a life-changing book and with such a humble man of God, Roy Hession. I can’t wait to meet him!

 

About the Calvary Road Study Guide: This study guide by Rev. Stephen McCary is designed to be a chapter-by-chapter open discussion of the biblical truths taught in the 2016 updated edition of Roy Hession’s classic volume on the crucified life, The Calvary Road. Stimulating questions, Scripture readings, and fill-in-the-blank exercises will help you drive the message of The Calvary Road deep into your heart and life. To order your copy please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/the-calvary-road-study-guide/

About the Author: Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Steve McCary was married to Pamela Meyer McCary for forty-five years before her death in 2015. They have two children and four grandchildren. At age thirty Steve surrendered his life to Christ; and, at age forty, he was called to shepherd a local church. He retired in 2017, after twenty-seven years. Today he provides part-time counseling and is an executive coach with WeAlign, LLC. In October 2016, Steve married Gwen Owens McCary, longtime family acquaintance and mother of three. They enjoy spending time with their family and ministering together in the community. To learn more please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/authors/8230/

The Calvary Road: Do you long for revival and power in your life? Learn how Jesus can fill you with His spirit through brokenness, repentance and confession in this updated version of Hession’s classic, The Calvary Road. In the course of eleven chapters, Hession emphasizes the need for personal revival in life with Christ. https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/calvary-road-2016/

About CLC PublicationsCLC Publications (formerly Christian Literature Crusade) is the English language publishing house for CLC Ministries International. Headquartered in Fort Washington, PA, CLC has published books for the Deeper Christian Life for over 50 years. Our focus has been to publish books by trusted authors with a clear and timeless message.  As a part of CLC International, our books are sold and distributed in countries all over the world including but not limited to the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, India, the West Indies, and the Philippines. We are committed to being a significant part of fulfilling CLC’s international purpose of making evangelical Christian literature available to all nations so that people may come to faith and maturity in our Lord Jesus Christ. To learn more please visit: https://www.clcpublications.com/about/

Q&A with Author Danny Byram: “I may really mess up your paradigm of worship.”

Q&A with First-Time Author, Danny Byram

Q1. Who is Danny Byram?

I grew up in a ministry family and a musical family. My dad was a Southern Baptist Air Force chaplain, and my mom was a voice/piano teacher who directed the choir programs wherever we were stationed. Raised in a military family, I had no hometown. We lived all over the US and in Europe. I followed my parents’ examples by attending a Christian university (Oral Roberts University), where I graduated with a bachelor of music in sacred music. So, church life, preaching, ministry, and music were always inseparable to me. I have spent the past thirty years giving concerts, leading worship, and speaking on US military installations around the world. My wife, Angela, and I have three adult children, one grandson, and another on the way!

Q2. Wallpaper Worship is your first book. What inspired you to write Wallpaper Worship?

I have spent decades giving performances and leading worship services in every setting imaginable. In the 1990s and into the 2000s, I directed and produced some of the largest Christian events of our time: Promise Keepers stadium events and FamilyLife arena events. I was asked to teach on the subject of worship at a church leadership conference in Hawaii. This book captures the essence of the curricula I have been developing and teaching around the world since then. Wallpaper Worship addresses the difference between worship that is participatory and that which is simply passive observance, whether contemporary or traditional.

Q3. Can you tell us the story behind the title of the book?

The title Wallpaper Worship is a play on the phrase “wallpaper music.” Wallpaper music is the music we hear in the background in a restaurant, shopping center, or dentist’s office. It’s great music, but it is designed primarily to create an atmosphere and not to be engaged with or participated in. Over the past few decades, music that is used in worship settings has become more and more like wallpaper music—it is performed to congregants who passively hear it, but are increasingly engaging with it less and less. I call that kind of church experience “wallpaper worship”.

Q4.  In this book, what do you want to share with readers about worship?

This book captures over thirty years of experience, not only as a worship leader and planner of worship experiences, but my own experiences as a worshipper. When we define worship as music only, the conversation is very narrow and short-lived. When we talk about worship in its biblical context, the conversation opens up to the vast breadth of God’s heart, and His historic interaction with mankind throughout the ages.

Q5. What are your favorite books or authors you enjoy reading?

My favorite current authors include Philip Yancey, Brennan Manning, and Eric Metaxas. I appreciate Yancey’s perspectives as a writer/journalist, especially his view through a lens of growing up in the church. His writing style is unafraid. Brennan Manning shakes me to the core of my heart regarding my integrity. I mean, what does an admitted alcoholic priest have to teach us? A lot! I am rereading Manning’s ABBA’S CHILD for the third time. I’m also trying to dig into Eric Metaxas’ biography of Martin Luther. (His book on Bonhoeffer was landmark.) Metaxas has a grasp of historical personalities who have had incredible impacts on the church and human history.

Q6. Can you share with us your most inspiring experiences of worship?

I have had many, so I’ll share two. One was the humble posture of over one million men on the National Mall in Washington, DC on October 4, 1997. Promise Keepers hosted a Sacred Assembly; and, seeing that many men—of all races, denominations, and socioeconomic statuses—coming together for a day of fasting, prayer, singing, and repentance will always live in my mind as one of the greatest worship experiences in my lifetime. Though music played a role, the worship experience had little to do with music. The second was in a training field of combat with a small group of soldiers. The chaplain led a service that lasted fifteen minutes. It consisted of singing, prayer, Scripture reading, a sermon, communion, and a benediction. It was the most profound use of fifteen minutes in my life.

Q7. How would you encourage a person who is struggling to worship?

Many believers share with me their struggle to worship. More often than not, those conversations reveal that they really don’t struggle with the act of worship at all. If you are struggling in worship, perhaps the question to ask is: Is my worship being hampered or blocked? If the church’s methods of worship are blocking congregants from actually worshipping, the methods need to change. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” When the Christian’s worship is quenched because of “wallpaper worship,” struggle is the result and a sickness of heart is the fruit. I advise worshippers who struggle to find another church that will lead them beside still waters so they can actually drink. Jesus said that the Father is seeking worshippers who will worship in spirit and truth. I believe He is also seeking leaders who will lead worshippers the same.

Q8. What do you hope for your readers to gain through Wallpaper Worship?

My hope for this book is that it will awaken worshippers and those who lead them to the idea that they don’t have to endure “wallpaper worship.” When I speak on this subject, I always give a disclaimer: I may really mess up your paradigm of worship. In fact, you may wind up leaving the church you are in and seeking another where you can experience true participatory worship, no matter the style. I would give the same disclaimer to those who choose to read Wallpaper Worship.

Q9. Tell us your favorite worship songs or artists.

My favorite worship songs are those that listeners know well and love dearly, and that cause people to enter into a worship experience that is true, real, and corporately participatory—no matter how new or old the song. Once I heard an artist sing two songs that were so real and powerful that the pastor could not even preach his sermon, but simply gave an invitation to prayer at the altar. The altar was swarmed with worshippers on their knees. I don’t remember the artist’s name . . .

Q10. Any last thoughts to the readers?

There is a growing frustration with the current “performance model” of worship. There should be! The bride of Christ knows when it is simply being used as a weekly audience for platform performers. But take heart: When the bride is frustrated, the Groom pays attention.

 

About Danny Byram Danny Byram is an independent Christian recording artist and worship leader who has performed on five continents. Known by US military chaplains as “The Combat Musician,” Danny has given outreach concerts for the United States military community on over one hundred installations since 1987. He also produced and directed the Promise Keepers stadium events and the FamilyLife marriage arena events. With his breadth of experience in worship, performing arts and leadership, he lectures and conducts workshops on worship in colleges, churches, and military chapels throughout the world. To learn more about Danny, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/authors/daniel-m-byram/

About Wallpaper Worship In Wallpaper Worship, Daniel Byram makes the comparison between today’s church worship and wallpaper—meant to emphasize the design of its surroundings, but not meant to be engaged with. Through an examination of personal worship experiences, the history of worship, and examples of biblical worship, Byram unpacks this analogy. He shares how to awaken our identities as corporate and individual worshippers, and passionately participate in the God-ordained activity of worship.

Wallpaper Worship is now available! Get your copy here.

 

 

 

 About CLC Publications CLC Publications is the English language publishing house for CLC Ministries International. Headquartered in Fort Washington, PA, CLC has published books for the Deeper Christian Life for over 50 years. Our focus has been to publish books by trusted authors with a clear and timeless message. Some of our better known authors from the past include Watchman NeeCorrie ten BoomAmy CarmichaelAndrew Murray and Roy Hession. As a part of CLC International, our books are sold and distributed in countries all over the world including but not limited to the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, India, the West Indies, and the Philippines. We are committed to being a significant part of fulfilling CLC’s international purpose of making evangelical Christian literature available to all nations so that people may come to faith and maturity in our Lord Jesus Christ. To learn more, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/about/