Mark Driscoll helps put a service’s tone in context for worship leaders:
How many times have you misunderstood a letter, an email, or a text because you misread the intended tone? Whether it was haste perceived as anger, friendship perceived as romance, or sarcasm perceived as sincerity, anyone living in the digital age is sure to have stories of mixed signals.
It all just goes to show the significance of tone in all communication, even communication that comes without facial expressions or vocal inflection. That principle even includes the Bible. To better understand God’s Word, we must not only understand the content on the page but also the emotional context in which it takes place.
IDENTIFY THE TONE
For studying a particular passage of Scripture, I came up with a basic framework that helps me identify the emotional tone, which in turn helps me understand the overall message God is communicating through those specific words.
This approach also helps set up the service order and music for corporate singing. Too often a church service is themed theologically, without consideration for the mood emotionally. But getting the mood right is very important. If you don’t, the sermon and the rest of the service won’t align for a journey, but collide like a car wreck.
Imagine a funeral dirge being played at a wedding, or cheerleaders showing up for a funeral. Some church services are like that: emotionally conflicted, confusing, and chaotic. Too often a church service is themed theologically, without consideration for the mood emotionally.
In general, I tend to think of six kinds of Bible texts that require six emotional varieties of church services:
A wedding is a celebration. Easter Sunday, Christmas Eve, and Ephesians 3:1–14 are sermons that should feel like a wedding.
Many passages in Scripture are cause for a big party. The message is exciting, we’re all celebrating, Jesus is alive, sin is forgiven, and we get to live forever in heaven. The tone is energetic and upbeat.
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