Dan Juster

Restoration From Zion
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"The center of our congregational gathering was the people singing and worshiping, not the performance of the worship group."

By Daniel Juster

My Experience in Corporate Worship

The purpose of a worship team or choir, is to help the entire congregation come into all they can be in expressing themselves to God.

As a teenager in the Reformed Church in America, I was greatly impacted by the congregation's heartfelt singing of hymns. Anchored by the vocalists on the platform, the whole congregation became a choir. Many knew how to sing the parts: soprano, alto, tenor and bass. When I was in high school, I learned to sing bass. "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee." There was power in these great classic hymns. We were "caught up", blending in many voices, joining in one heart.

While at Wheaton College, Patty and I attended a charismatic congregation. Accompanied by a simple piano, the congregation of over 500 sang many of the new songs of that time that were addressed to God. We sang with all our hearts and as loudly as we could. The beauty of our collective voices was raised to a wonderful height. We sang, "Let all that is within me cry: Holy, holy is the Lamb that was slain!"

Later in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, we also experienced for the first time a liturgy sung with power and fervor. It was all connected together, one whole piece like a symphony. Again, what was noteworthy was the quality of the singing of the congregation. We were bringing a sacrifice of praise before God.

When I was called to Jewish ministry and discovered Jewish liturgy (1972-1974) we sought to see hymns and Jewish liturgy offered up in a deep, corporate and connected way, without unnecessary interruption, with one element leading to the next and with all singing and chanting together. At Beth Messiah in Maryland, this came to a very high level of "entering into the Presence," under the worship leadership of Paul Wilbur. The idea was to go from "outer court" worship into the worship of the inner court, and sometimes the worship would be at its deepest in singing quietly.

Since we now had drums, guitars and other instruments, a "law" was instituted: The worship leaders were to moderate their sound to a level whereby we could really hear the congregation singing. The center of our congregational gathering was the people singing and worshiping, not the performance of the worship group. "Turn down the volume!" was my exhortation - so that the worship band would not dominate over the voices of the congregation.

The Trends of the Day and the Loss of Real Corporate Worship

So where are we today? It saddens me that we have lost the emphasis on the congregation as the choir of God. The musicians and singers on the stage drown out the congregants. In some meetings earplugs are even available for those who cannot bear the high noise level. We are told that the young people, who have grown up going to rock concerts, really like it and that anything quieter will not draw them in. Yet I wonder, could we restore worship in which we can actually hear the congregation? Would God perhaps enjoy that more?

I often glance around during worship and sense that although people look at the words on the screen, they are not really participating at a deep level. They mouth the words but do not sing out heartily with their own ability. We need to appeal to the spirit within us and to the Holy Spirit. Attaining great worship sometimes necessitates silencing all the instruments and the sound system for the people just to sing in glorious harmony. I know of many times when such worship led to a sense of the presence of God in the deepest ways. We can do better. Let us do better.

Tikkun International is a family of ministries.

Tikkun (tee-koon) n. [Hebrew] 1 Restoration: bringing back to health, strength; rebuilding 2. Setting in order; making straight 3. World redemption [Jewish tradition] - the final restoration of the world in harmony with God.


Asher Intrater

Revive Israel
"100% of the churches mentioned in the New Covenant were connected to an apostolic team. What about today?"

The idea of the restoration of apostolic ministry teams around the world raises a certain degree of controversy; and even more so Messianic apostolic ministry here in Israel. Consider a few thoughts when approaching the topic:

1. New Testament Churches - 100% of the churches mentioned in the New Covenant were connected to an apostolic team. What about today?

2. Jerusalem - 100% of those apostolic networks were connected to the Messianic Jewish community in Israel and Jerusalem. Why?

3. Kingdom - The apostles in general, and particularly in Israel, maintained the vision for the coming kingdom of God on earth, with its capital in Jerusalem. Without that connection, the churches would have had only a vision for the "Ecclesia" itself, without a clear understanding of the Second Coming and Millennial Kingdom.

4. Warfare - There is intense spiritual warfare connected with Messianic apostolic restoration. The context of Paul's description of spiritual warfare in II Corinthians 10:5 is the general controversy about his apostolic ministry, covering four entire chapters, II Corinthians 10 through 13.

5. Authority - One of the underlying issues is spiritual authority. It might be easier to have congregations with no eldership at all, just a kind of egalitarian fellowship. However the Bible clearly describes the role of elders. Along the same line of reasoning, it might be easier to have just pastor-led congregations with no involvement of apostolic or prophetic ministry. Most congregations in the world are that way today.

6. Teamwork - In order to have teamwork, there must be awareness of different roles for different types of leaders. The Scriptures describe at least 5 functions: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher (Ephesians 4:11). If everyone tries to be a pastor, there will be competition and division; the pastor will have to fulfill all five of the functions himself; and will be tired, lonely and frustrated.

7. Action - Most of the "action" of ministry in the New Covenant came out of apostolic teams: first of Yeshua and His twelve in the gospels; then of Peter and the first congregation in Jerusalem; then of Paul and his church-planting teams. Yeshua is Himself the chief apostle (Hebrews 3:1) and the first one to start an apostolic team (Luke 6:13).

This article was previously published on 04Aug16 here on the Revive Israel website and on 09Aug16 here on Kehila News Israel

By Daniel Juster
Dan Juster is on the board of Tikkun International and oversees the Tikkun America network of congregations. Donate to Restoration from Zion.
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13:44 01Sep16 DB -
Thank you for the interesting article about music and singing. I'm generalizing wildly here, but I get the impression that in the middle class 'evangelical' culture in the UK in which I'm involved is that Christianized popular music ... to some degree 'love songs to Jesus' ... as opposed to love songs to a boy or girl is being used more and more for congregational worship. Consequently there can be a shift in emphasis to rather overblown pseudo-romantic declarations of our feelings about the Almighty rather than His eternal qualities. Together with using loud music which is not really designed for collective singing, as you say, this can lead to a sapping unease which ties people up. Perhaps what would help is a new generation of composers who understand more how to create contemporary congregational music as uplifting as the Wesleys et al .... and maybe a few well timed power cuts?

  -- Dr Juster replies: Excellent response and I think exactly correct as to where music has gone. Yes, the "I love you" song has its place, but the character of worship as centring on God's character and his acts in history and the future is so much deeper. What if we are not having the feelings at the point of these love songs?

19:35 07Sep16 DS -
How timely! Several of us were discussing yesterday just how far our praise and worship has moved from the congregation to concert performance. Thank you for speaking up.

22:54 08Sep16 Joy Burlison -
I think music worship engagement and apostolic understanding are both commensurate with a person's intimacy with all 3 members of the trinity. Unfortunately there is a great deal of resistance to intimacy and also some arrogance. Praying and speaking up does help but it is tedious work that requires immense persistence and heightened levels of intercessory activities.

  -- Dr Juster replies: I agree with you. But I would add it also takes persistence and vigilance from those of us governing. Indeed, we will see that the dominant culture around us always seeks to creep into our communities!

Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Eitan Shishkoff: Closer than a Brother
Leora: True Love
Shavei Tzion: Eagle Project 2016
Asher Intrater: Pronouncing YHVH
Cody Archer and Andrew Ben-Arii: What Millennials Actually Need