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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Benediction Part 2

It my previous post I wrote briefly about the power and purpose of the benediction. In this post, I want to write about some practical suggestions on pronouncing the benediction for greater impact.

Some Brief Tips:
  • Meditate on the benediction before you give it. When you understand the meaning, your blessing will have a greater impact as you pronounce it. Your engagement and immersion into the text will be clearly telegraphed to the congregation.
  • Pause after you say the words, “Receive the benediction.” This will allow people to prepare their hearts through this method of building anticipation.
  • Most ministers who pronounce a benediction lift their hands towards the congregation. This has been a common posture since the Old Testament.  Jesus Himself blessed through the lifting up of his hands. (Lev 9:22, Luke 24:50)
  • Have the congregation bless each other. You may project the benediction on the screen and have the congregation say it together and towards each other. This is a wonderful way to live out the Priesthood of all believers:  (Ex. 19:6; Hos. 14:2; Ps. 50:23; Ps. 51:17-19; Ps. 141:2; 1 Pet. 2:5-9; Heb. 13:10-16) 
  • Invite your congregation to place one hand of the shoulder of the person beside them as the benediction is pronounced either by the minister or by the congregation as an entire body.  Please be aware that there are some settings where this may not be appropriate. Always be sensitive to your setting.
  • Sing the benediction over the people. This can be performed in a canted (chanted) format (possibly with or without a predefined melody) or by members of the worship team through a song of benediction.
  • Consider placing a music bed underneath the benediction in the key that the closing song will be played in. (I will share more on this in a later post on the principle of the unbroken line)
  • Play a benediction video. Many are available online. You can start here.   
  • Bring up a child to pronounce the benediction.
  • Play a short piece of instrumental music as a benediction and invite people to meditate on a meaningful scripture of blessing during this piece of music
  • Recite a poem with deep spiritual blessing.
  • Play a Youtube or Vimeo video of a slam poet. One of my favourite is Mike Young. See his work here and here.

In my next post, I’ll provide many benedictions from the scriptures for you to use in your times of worship. 

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Worship Coach Practical Tips and Tools: The Benediction Part 1

Worship Coach Practical Tips and Tools: The Benediction Part 1: God speaks to us with heavenly realities in spite of our earthy frailty. This awakens within us the affirmation of the Father, th...

The Benediction Part 1

God speaks to us with heavenly realities in spite of our earthy frailty. This awakens within us the affirmation of the Father, the hope for tomorrow and the assurance of God’s presence in our lives.

This is the benediction.

It’s not a “wouldn’t it be nice if . . . “ It’s not a “Have a nice day.” It’s not a “When you wish upon a star.”  It is the truth and power of the Word of God spoken over our lives.

When we choose to believe the solid foundation of the truths of God’s Word over our fickle feelings and corrosive culture, our hearts and lives are transformed.

This is the benediction.

The whisper of God’s Fatherly voice. The resounding thunderous proclamation of the finished work of Christ. The peaceful treasures of the assurance of the Holy Spirit.

This is the benediction.

Our repetition of God’s assuring, affirming, transforming truth upon our people.

This is the benediction.

Throughout history, people have known the power of words to change someone’s destiny for good or evil.

Countless times, cutting words have ruined a person’s life or at least damaged their hearts so deeply that without a miracle they are destined to become the very curse that was placed on their hearts.

However, the opposite is also true.

Words have brought people into the profound hope and potential that God designed for them. Overnight or over time they have been changed into becoming who they were destined to be.

I’ve experienced this. You have as well.

When my wife and I were in Israel, the traditional greeting was Shalom. This term is thought of as simply meaning peace. But, it is so much more. It’s a blessing that God would grant peace, goodwill, good health, prosperity, and well-being.

This is the benediction.

Perhaps the best known benediction heard today is from Numbers 6:24 – 26, “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

This was not just some slap on the back with the words “Good Luck!”  This was life-altering.

In verse 27 it says, “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” (NIV)

As Aaron and his sons proclaimed these words over the Israelites, things began to shift and change. This benediction brought about transformation.

And so it is today as the benediction is proclaimed over God’s people, they are prophetic words of God’s ongoing actions to change our destinies. When the scriptural blessings are spoken over the congregation it is a Shalom that is founded in the ever-changing Word of God.

Perhaps it’s time for us to reclaim the power and promise of the benediction in our services.

My next posting will offer some suggestions for pronouncing the benediction or blessing.

Until then, “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” - 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17: