Thinking Out Loud

March 19, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Abandoned Church

This long de-commissioned church photo appeared back in October at the Twitter feed of AbandonedPics.

There’s something here for people at every age and every stage, including links to stories of interest to lay people and clergy, liturgists and charismatics. Or at least that’s the theory. 

The link list is now owned and operated by PARSE the blog of Leadership Journal, a division of Christianity Today.  Anything you click below will take you first to them, then you can click the item again.

All I know about this comic below is that I found it on the floor of my office, apparently photocopied from a 2002 book of Christian cartoons by Doug Hall. (Does anyone know the book title?) The sentiment expressed here is still alive and well a dozen years later.

Criticize the Pastor

July 15, 2013

Worship In Another Tongue

Paul Baloche releases second French worship album

Paul BalocheIt’s hard to believe, but in many circles, Paul Baloche is still not exactly a household name, though he is in fact responsible for many of our modern worship songs. So vast is his catalog of compositions, that on a Sunday morning four years ago, we took a 2-hour driving listening to his first French language worship album, knowing the words to all but two of the songs in English.  I reviewed that album here. I wrote:

Aujourd’hui nous avons conduit pendant deux heures pour aller à l’église. Dans la deuxième heure, nous avons écouté le Paul Baloche & Friends; une collection de chansons de culte et louange par Paul Baloche traduit en Français et enregistré au Québec.

Okay, I didn’t write a word of that, I got my son to translate it.  About a year later, we got to get out of the house for the first time in years (literally) and attended one of Paul’s concerts. I reviewed that here.  I wrote:

…Admittedly in the middle of a tour that had left some of the band a bit punchy, he later defined what he was doing as trying to blend the worship into the everyday; something about which he believes strongly. My wife put it this way, “I liked that he didn’t take everything seriously, but he knew what to take seriously.”…

…The worship songs were strong; actually it was a kind of worship “greatest hits” evening, to the point where the projected lyrics were redundant…

…My biggest take-away from the evening is that when you subtract the stories and testimony and some of the lighter moments, just about 100% of what was shared was from the Bible. If you want to make your mark as a worship leader, begin in the Word…

But today’s review of his new album requires one more set-up. It concerns a thought I had watching a video of the worship time at InterVaristy’s Urbana conference, which I wrote about here.

But what if some of the songs we sing in heavenly places are songs that we now know, with each one singing in their own language? Think about it, we’ve increasingly seen some of today’s worship choruses transcend the broadest denominational spectrum. And the internet takes songs around the world instantly.

But what of the people who didn’t live in the 21st century?

What if the saints who have gone before us live out their role as a “great cloud of witnesses” are eavesdropping on our weekend services and learning our songs? Do they sing along on some (not all) of them? What if their greatest delight is to hear sincere praise emanating from our lips as we sing the songs which advance the purposes and power of God in our generation?

What if those people who said after a good worship time, “I believe we’ll be singing those songs in heaven” were partly right? What if those who offered, “I believe that was a taste of heaven” weren’t completely off the mark?

All this to say I’ve had some interesting takeaways listening to music where I didn’t understand a word, at least in the language being spoken.

Glorieux - Paul BalocheWhich brings us to Glorieux, the new album. Paul Baloche is one of the hardest working Christian musicians out there. Anyone who follows Paul on Twitter — where he seems to tweet something new every five seconds — was aware of the number of different people who were involved in putting these songs together and making them sound natural in a second language, recording almost right up to the release date.

In the American Christian music market, the second language is usually Spanish. But in Canada, where French and English are both official languages, worship music en Francais is equally rare. Quebec-based worship usually emphasizes the composition itself and ‘feel’ of the song over enhanced production values.

So…what we have in Glorieux is 14 songs including some you know in English (Glorious, The Same Love, King of Heaven, Today is the Day, and some I should have recognized) and some that are unfamiliar all done with a full studio sound and the aforementioned host of vocal helpers. (The first album had all the exterior packaging in English for some reason, making song recognition easier. This one is mostly French, though the cover art describes Paul Baloche and Friends instead of et amis.)

Christian music reviews are rare in a Christian blogosphere that emphasizes book reviews; and to review an album in a language that few of my mostly American readers speak may seem absolutely pointless.

So here’s the point: It’s a big world out there. The Body of Christ is much larger, so much more varied than what we see from our vantage point sitting in North American weekend services. In fact if you’re not taking that summer trip to Paris this year, maybe you should just buy this and let your mind transport you to another part of the bigger, capital ‘C’ Church that worships God around the world. 

In Canada at least, Glorieux is available as a physical CD. For more info check out the album page at Your Music Zone. Enjoy a sample of the title song on YouTube. (Static image video loads at all connection speeds.)  And if you have a francophone friend, you know what to buy them as a gift.

Glorieux (Glorious)
Tu Nous A Sauvés (You Have Saved Us)
Tout Mon Espoir (My Hope)
Roi Des Cieux (King Of Heaven)
Cet Amour (The Same Love)
Nous Sommes Sauves (We Are Saved)
Par Le Don De La Croix (All Because Of The Cross)
Être Près De Toi (Just To Be With You)
Voici Le Jour (Today Is The Day)
Oh Seigneur (Oh Our Lord)
Vois Donc Le Seigneur (Look Upon The Lord)
Règne En Moi (Reign In Me)
Merci Pour La Croix (Thank You For The Cross)

March 21, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Click the image above for sourcing; meanwhile, here are the rest of this week’s suggested readings:

  • The Economist catches up to the wind of Evangelical and Charismatic Christianity blowing through the church in the UK.  Yeah, really, The Economist. 
  • I was recently scanning the four youth books that deal with cutting, addiction, abuse and food disorders by Nancy Alcorn, and noticed the books are somewhat of a commercial for something called Mercy Ministries. Then I read this report.
  • Last week while we were linklisting here, Pete Wilson posted an article about all the damage being done by Facebook. Except that Facebook isn’t really the culprit
  • At Internet Monk, Denise Spencer, wife of the late Michael Spencer who founded iMonk, shares some insights she discovered after being lost in a forest.
  • Why do so many Christian blogs have Christian book reviews, and so few have Christian music reviews? Amy Sondova at Backseat Writer is the exception with this in-depth CD review of The Same Love by Paul Baloche.
  • Here’s an intriguing idea: What if we read the directives in Paul’s epistles in the first person? This example from Galatians 3 models what could be an instant small group exercise. B. J. Stockman guest posts at Zach’s. (Chapters one and two are also blogged there.)
  • Here’s an opportunity to wear your Spandex to the Red Sea: Stryper frontman Michael Sweet is leading a Holy Land tour.
  • Why Writers Need Editors: A guy we associate with alternative Christian media doesn’t have much use for mainstream Christian media. Maybe too much so.  He apologizes, sort of.
  • Here’s a short story that will rock your world when it comes to how we tend to view who pays for what when it comes to missions. Not everyone gets a 4-star hotel with M&Ms (red ones removed) either.
  • Texas pastor and blogger Trey Morgan was involved in a house giveaway last week that didn’t involve either Habitat for Humanity or Extreme Makeover Home Edition. It’s the second house they’ve given away. (Here’s more about the first one.)
  • If some are chosen, elect or predestined, why evangelize? Here’s a Calvinist with seven Biblical reasons.
  • Wanna go deep? Here’s an article about the concept that worship is a physical act; there isn’t a higher or purer worship to be experienced; not in this life.
  • Author Linda Mintle talks to CBN News about the “Am I Pretty?” YouTube video disturbing teen trend.
  • And here’s another parenting must-read: Brad Whitt’s 20 Ways To Tell Your Child You Love Them
  • Know someone responsible for worship and/or creative arts ministry in your local church? Tell them about Sunday online magazine.
  • Dave Carrol has a great quotation from Randy Bohlender’s new book, Jesus Killed My Church.
  • Speaking of books, Rick Apperson reviews the new Mike Howerton book Glorious Mess which he found literally too funny.
  • Here’s a blog link just for the sisters; but the guys can read it, too. Sometimes parents exasperate their kids because we think that they have to learn to do a task the way we do it.
  • Hometown (sort of) rapper Chris Greenwood aka Manafest, has a new album, Fighter releasing in April. One of the producers worked with Justin Bieber while another produced for The Newsboys.
  • Don’t forget to have your link suggestions in by Monday night.
  • For our closing picture below, we ask the musical question: Why throw out your old car parts when they can be part of the church stage design on Sunday morning? Click the image for the story link.

June 24, 2010

Worship in the United States vs. Worship in the United Kingdom

Two countries.   Much shared history.   A common language.   Similar politics.

But when it comes to church or when it comes to our expression of Christianity, are we in North America more alike our British cousins or are we more unalike?

Living in Canada gives a few of us a unique window on both our neighbours to the south and our friends several thousand miles to the east.   To many of us here, Adrian Plass, Selwyn Hughes, Graham Kendrick, Stuart Townend, etc. are names we have at least heard, if we haven’t also read their books or sung their songs.

What amazes me though is how little my contacts in the U.S. know of Christianity in England.    Where this turns up most is in a cursory examination of worship music in both countries.

Because we’re still a few weeks away from getting the biannual numbers from CCLI — the next six month report comes out in August — we’ll have to settle for a look at the February 2010 stats.

Here’s a look at the Top 25 worship songs in use in the U.K.

Without getting too deep into statistics — we’ll leave that to the sportscasters — you see on this list a couple of Graham Kendrick classics along with the beautiful “I Will Offer Up My Life” by Matt Redman and a number of pieces that follow the ‘hymn style’ of verse/chorus, such as “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us,” “Be the Centre,” and the classic “All Heaven Declares.”   The American #1 most-used chorus, “Mighty to Save” by Hillsong doesn’t even appear on the list.

Here’s the U.S.A. list for the same period:

For some of my American readers, this list seems rather dated, or perhaps even rather tame.  Your church has already moved on to newer songs.   I personally think that the U.S. church has adopted a rather “disposable” attitude toward its worship music in the last five years or so.   Anything before 2006 is considered a “golden oldie.”

That’s rather sad in a way.    The British churches contributing to their list seem to hang on to a good song a little longer.

I also feel bad for American churches who aren’t using “Once Again” by Matt Redman, but also wish that the British list contained at least one song by Paul Baloche.

I think every church service should contain at least a couple of songs from these lists.   This is the worship music that connects us; these songs are being sung across denominational lines.   Too much new and unfamiliar music weakens the worship time.   I also hope your church does at least five or six different worship songs each week.   There’s a trend right now to only doing a couple, but I think it leaves both seasoned worshipers and seekers a little shortchanged.

If you missed it, last week I had another couple of posts on worship music in light of a recent book, and you can read those here (June 11th) and here (June 17th).  (If you think I’ve gone conservative, rest assured that the author of that book wouldn’t have even posted these lists!)

I think it is incumbent on worship leaders to stay aware of what’s happening in worship on a worldwide scale, and know about other material that is available to them.   If you click on the links, you’ll end up at the site which also allows you too look at lists in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Africa.

Brooke Fraser has a total of four songs on the N.Z. list, including #2 and #3, but the Africa list has more familiar songs that you might expect.

If I could only sing 25 songs in the next year, I’d be content to make the Africa list my songbook.

Today’s forum:  What do you think of the song selection at your place of worship?

May 22, 2009

Paul Baloche: A Blend of Worship, Testimony and Humor

If you attended a Christian music concert in Toronto anytime in the 1980’s, I was there.   The reasons were often quite varied:

  • attending to a display of Christian music by other artists  (many times)
  • being the master of ceremonies (at least half a dozen)
  • working with the concert promoter (about a dozen)
  • being the opening act (twice that I can remember)
  • doing sound (once)
  • escorting and assisting a video crew from a local TV station (twice)
  • being part of the counseling team (once or twice)
  • playing keyboard with one of the bands (twice)
  • actually being the concert promoter (once, and only once!)

But when we moved out to the boonies, a lot of concert connection — including the free admission and going out for pizza with the artist after the concert — abruptly ended.   (Although personally, I think my wife once saved a Brian Duncan concert in a nearby town when she had the necessary cough candies in her purse.)

Then the kids came, and nobody wanted to be our regular babysitter, so we just gave up on the ‘date night’ concept and stayed home.   For about twenty years.

Until Wednesday.   Given that one of them is starting university in the fall, we don’t need a babysitter anymore, so I realized we were running out of excuses.   So for her birthday, Mrs. W. got, among other things, tickets for us to go to a “worship concert”  — the woman who took our tickets told us to “enjoy the show” — with songwriter and worship leader Paul Baloche.

Joel AugeListening to open act Joel Augé, who apparently is also known for inventing some game that is part of Facebook, I got this strange feeling — not a deja vu, exactly — that I was doing something I had done in another lifetime, only now the sound and lighting were better.   Although he’s a worship leader at The Meeting House, Canada’s fastest growing church movement, for this night Joel did a short but excellent peformance set including a killer version of James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.”

The remaining 2 1/2 hours — less an intermission and the now obligatory presentation for Compassion, which didn’t exist back in the day — belonged to Paul Baloche.   If you’re still scratching your head wondering what songs he has contributed to the worship genre, check out a post I wrote here several months ago about a rather obscure French worship album that Paul released which lists a few, or a most recent post here about the Compassionart project, to which Paul was a contributor, or just hang on for a few paragraphs.    (The host church, in their newsletter, actually counted the songs their worship team does which Paul authored, and there are twenty-one of them!)

Although some of us were expecting a worship event, and not a concert, while others were expecting a concert and not a worship event, Paul’s treatment of the evening was certainly commendable.    Starting out conversationally, he sought to get to know. and thereby connect with, his audience.  I’ve read more than a few blog posts recently where the opinion is expressed that some worship sets fail because the element of connection between worship leader and congregation is missing.

Admittedly in the middle of a tour that had left some of the band a bit punchy, he later defined what he was doing as trying to blend the worship into the everyday; something about which he believes strongly.   My wife put it this way, “I liked that he didn’t take everything seriously, but he knew what to take seriously.”

Then there were the many, many personal moments in the concert, including introducing people he recognized in the audience, and telling a bit of their story, which a few times intersected with his own.

And then there were the many, many lighter moments.   If you’ve seen the Compassionart DVD, you know that Paul takes life a little less seriously than most.    Around the middle of the evening, I wondered if that would prove a distraction to worship purists, but really, that’s who he is, and it is out of all that his worship songs quite naturally flow.   Throughout the evening he was able to move from rather silly moments to serious worship, and the audience was willing to make the transitions.

The worship songs were strong; actually it was a kind of worship “greatest hits” evening, to the point where the projected lyrics were redundant.   Paul likes to start songs with just the band, but a few times the audience jumped right in.  Although not all these songs were performed that night, consider this is the guy who wrote or cowrote:

  • Paul BalocheA New Hallelujah
  • Above All
  • All the Earth Will Sing Your Praises
  • Arise
  • Because of Your Love
  • I Love to Be In Your Presence
  • Offering
  • Open the Eyes of My Heart
  • Our God Reigns
  • Praise Adonai
  • Revival Fire Fall
  • Today is the Day
  • What Can I Do?
  • You Gave Your Life Away
  • Your Name
  • and the various Compassionart songs
  • and another 120+ worship songs

~source CCLI

I wished that Baloche had done one of the songs from the French album, although Belleville, Ontario, while it’s part of Canada, isn’t exactly a French part of the country.   I also wished that a couple of the songs from Compassionart had been part of the concert, especially with all the airplay they are currently getting, not to mention the natural lead-in they would have been to the Compassion appeal before the intermission.   But with over two hours already accounted for, these aren’t major concerns.

My biggest take-away from the evening is that when you subtract the stories and testimony and some of the lighter moments, just about 100% of what was shared was from the Bible.   If you want to make your mark as a worship leader, begin in the Word.

Given my strong suspicion that no two Paul Baloche events are the same, I would definitely buy a ticket for another concert, now that I’m a Christian concertgoer once again.

Wanna read more about worship?  Check out this post from Ben Cotten at LiveAwake blog. (HT Jeff McQ at Losing My Religion.)

December 14, 2008

Worship in French; Chansons de louange en Français

Filed under: Canada, Christianity, Church, music, worship — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:51 pm

Aujourd’hui nous avons conduit pendant deux heures pour aller à l’église. Dans la deuxième heure, nous avons écouté le Paul Baloche & Friends;  une collection de chansons de culte et louange par Paul Baloche traduit en Français et enregistré au Québec.

paul-baloche-and-friends-cdToday we had a two hour drive to church.  During the last half of the trip, we listened to Paul Baloche and Friends, a collection of some of Paul Baloche’s best known worship songs translated into French and recorded in Quebec.  (For some reason the title on the CD cover is in English, though the album, but for a final bonus cut, is entirely en Français.)

I had two reactions to listening to this.

First was the realization of how much material Baloche has contributed to the worship life of contemporary churches.   Furthermore, this is not just a matter of quantity, but also quality; these are some of our best known, popular worship pieces.   Though I was tempted to sing along in English, I just listened, knowing just enough French to catch the occasional variation in the French translation.

Second was the reminder that the Church (capital ‘C’) is so much larger than we in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Australia or New Zealand consider.   We are part of much larger, must greater body of believers.   Hearing these familiar songs in another language is humbling, especially to those who tend to think that North America is the center of the Christian universe.

Songs on the album include:

  • Hosanna
  • Élève-Toi (Arise)
  • La Terre Entière (All The Earth)
  • Ton Nom (Your Name)
  • Louez Adonaï (Praise Adonai)
  • Offrande (Offering)
  • Jésus Tu Es (Jesus You Are)
  • Ouvre Les Yeux De Mon Coeur (Open the Eyes of My Heart)
  • et cinq plus  (and five more)

Joining Paul on this excellent recording are André Favreau, Joel Augé, Lynne-Marie, Tabitha Lemaire, and Thierry Ostrini.

This recording  (and a fuller story on how the album came to be) is available in the U.S. through Paul’s website,, and the CD is sold in Canada by progressive bookstores like ours and through Distribution ADP.

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