Previous month:
April 2014
Next month:
June 2014

May 2014

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

This is the twelfth in a series of posts about the hymns I've sung in my lifetime.

After Dad died in 1990, when I was sixteen, I took solace in Romans 8:28: 

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

And in the hymn "Great is Thy Faithfulness."

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with thee;
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
As thou hast been thou forever wilt be.

Great is thy faithfulness!  Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed thy hand hath provided;
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!


This hymn is, of course, based upon words written by the prophet Jeremiah in Lamentations, as he viewed the devastation of Jerusalem after the conquest by Babylon.  In the midst of such evil and suffering, it is a profound act of faith and courage.  

And so the hymn worked that way for me.  It became my favourite hymn during adolescence and remained so into my twenties.


I think that about does it for the 1975 Baptist Hymnal.  In the next post, we'll be moving on to my college years and new developments in my hymn-singing.

Praise Choruses

This is the eleventh in a series I'm doing on the hymns I've sung during my lifetime.

So, sometime in the early 1980's a Minister of Music began to introduce praise choruses.  We only sung these on Wednesday nights, generally, though they spread a little over my time there.  We never adopted a "praise and worship" or "contemporary worship" style at First Baptist Miami while I was growing up.  We thought too highly of ourselves to do that (and, yes, that is an accurate reflection of the sentiment, I would say).

We first learned things like:

This is the day, this is the day,
That the Lord has made, that the Lord has made.
I will rejoice, I will rejoice,
And be glad in it, and be glad in it.

This is the day that the Lord has made, 
I will rejoice and be glad in it.



Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within my bless his holy name.

Later in the 1980's Jeff Payne came to town as our Youth Minister.  Jeff was musically gifted and so introduced a whole new realm of music to our youth experiences.  He taught us a bunch of silly songs, including:

I've got a river of life flowing out of me
Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see
Opens prison doors, sets the captives free,
I've got a river of life flowing out of me.

Spring up o well -- goosh, goosh, goosh, goosh (with gestures)
Within my soul.
Spring up o well -- repeat the gooshes
And make me whole
Spring up o well -- again
And give to me, that life, eternally.

Jeff also taught us serious choruses.  One of my favourites was:

I love you Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship you.
O my soul rejoice.

Take joy my king
In what you hear,
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear.

But my very favourite he taught us was a musical setting of the Prayer of St. Francis.  That chorus has stuck with me, helping to shape my practice of the Christian faith.  And it introduced me to an entire realm of rich and lasting Christian spirituality that had not been introduced to me before.

It is in giving that we receive,
And it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
It is in dying that we are born, to eternal life.
Make me an instrument of your peace,
I want to know what it's like to follow you.
When men look at me, 
I want them to see,
The light of the world inside.


Of course praise choruses have become much bigger a part of worship over the years, but that is not a tradition I've been a part of.  I learned more of them, of course, at camps, at college, working in youth ministry in later years.  Some have little musical or theological merit, of course, while others are quite good.

At CoH-OKC we used them effectively as service music to be sung during communion.  Since we took communion every week and did so by intinction, it was effective to sing something that did not require the hymnal.  So, for each season of the Christian year we would pick three choruses (though they were sometimes the refrains of hymns) and would sing those every week of that particular season during communion.  This worked well and is something I would do again in my ministry.

All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name

This is the tenth in a series I'm doing on the hymns I've sung during my lifetime.

One of my favourite hymns growing up was "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name."  And it remained a favourite--it was the opening hymn I selected for most of my installation services over the years.  However, we don't sing it at First Central, and rarely did at CoH.  It may be the hymn I personally miss the most.

In the 1975 Baptist Hymnal there were three settings of the song.  No other lyrics had so many settings.  That alone intrigued me as a child.  One of those, to the tune MILES LANE we almost never sang.  But the other two we sang often.  Both are stirring tunes, but I have a clear favourite.

First is CORONATION.  Here is the first verse as it is set to that tune:

All hail the pow'r of Jesus' name!  Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem, And crown him Lord of all;
Bring forth the royal diadem, And crown him Lord of all.

The second is DIADEM.  Here is the same verse as it is set to this tune:

All hail the pow'r of Jesus' name!
Let angels prostrate fall,
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown------------- him,
crown him, crown him, crown him,
And crown him Lord of all.

The dashes represent how many beats you hold that first crown, that is unless you are singing the male parts which repeat "crown him" four times and then the basses alone hold a long "crown him" during the second set of "crown hims."

This is a setting for parts singing.  For glorious parts singing.  For triumphant, loud, glorious parts singing.  I love it.

I always felt cheated when we sang it to CORONATION.  It was like, "Well, this is okay, but wouldn't DIADEM be so much more fun."

Of course the difficulty this hymn poses for congregations concerned about being welcoming of all genders and sexes is all those masculine pronouns repated over and over again.  The hymnal we had at CoH-OKC (which was the old CoH-Dallas hymnal that they had put together themselves) included only a setting to CORONATION (bummer).  Here is how it solved the pronoun problem:

Bring forth the royal diadem, Proclaim the Christ to all;
Bring forth the royal diadem, Proclaim the Christ to all.

Kinda weak.

One time I did get them to sing it to DIADEM, and they printed the chorus:

Crown Christ,
Crown Christ, crown Christ, crown Christ,
And crown Christ Lord of all.

Now, if you try singing that not only will your tongue stumble over those repated cr sounds, you might even find yourself almost singing "clown Christ."  At least it happened to me.  So, this is unacceptable.

So, how does the UCC's New Century Hymnal solve it?  Unfortunately with only the CORONATION version, of course.  And this still awkward text:

All hail the power of Jesus' name!  Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Christ servant of all.
Attend the Savior's sovereign claim, and crown Christ servant of all.

This is one of the times when they ruined a magnficient hymn.

So, I long for the day when I will once again get to join a large and loud congregation exuberantly singing "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" to DIADEM.  And I'll be the one belting out the male parts and hoping that we sing the song over again.

Presidential powers

One of my fundamental complaints against the Bush administration and one of the reasons I ultimately left the GOP and began in every way I could voting against the administration and its war policy, was the claim of expanded presidential powers.  The general argument from the administration was that the president was using his war powers.  I repeatedly said (and blogged) that even if the things they were claiming were part of the war powers, no war had been declared and that for the president to use those powers a supermajority of the U. S. Congress had to explicitly vote to put the nation at a state of war thereby granting the war powers.  The resolutions authorizing the use of force are not constitutionally sufficient.

And now this.  The Obama administration argued before Congress that those powers do not even need a Congressional authorization, that they are inherent in the executive powers of Article II.

So this is when complete cynicism may finally set in.

Libertarians’ reality problem

In a very thorough article for Salon, Kim Messick examines libertarianism, particularly as it compares to progressive liberalism and communitarianism.  Her philoosphical analysis reveals the internal inconsistency in libertarianism.  

But if we think of it as an attempt to provide a coherent, plausible narrative about morality and politics as human beings have actually experienced them, we must describe it as an abject failure. This estrangement from history lends an air of unreality to libertarian arguments. 

Worth the long read if you are interested in political theory or want arguments to use against that annoyingly libertarian uncle.


Sunday Morning Songs

This is the ninth in a series on the hymns I've sung during my life.

A few weeks ago, early in this series, I made a distinction between Sunday night song and Sunday morning songs: "the heart-tugging, soul-comforting, gospel songs and then the grander hymns that we would have been more likely to sing at the opening of Sunday morning worship."  I pointed out at the time how many of those Sunday morning songs I still sing.  And during this exercise of exploring the 1975 edition of the Baptist Hymnal, I've been surprised how many of the hymns I've enjoyed as an adult actually are in that hymnal.  Some of them we did sing as I was a kid, others we did not, and they have only become familiar to me in recent years.  As I've blogged the last few weeks, I've primarily focused on hymns that uniquely connected to my boyhood worship experiences.  


Today I want to write some about those Sunday morning hymns.  Let me begin with one that I think almost all churches sing, "Christ the Lord is Risen Today."  This is the first verse as it appears in the '75 Baptist Hymnal.

Christ the Lord is ris'n today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heav'ns, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

The reason I post this familiar hymn is because of one of my fourth grade Sunday school teachers.  On Easter Sunday morning, we were in Sunday school and she pointed out how she was looking forward to us singing this hymn in worship that Sunday.  It surprised me that she would be able to anticipate a hymn.  When I asked her about it, she said that we sang it every Easter as the first hymn and that most churches did so.  This was the first moment that I realized (beyond Christmas carols of course) how hymns matched worship themes and especially how certain hymns would reliably appear on certain days.  I guess that this was my first real lesson in hymnody.

Here were some of my favourite "Sunday morning hymns" from my childhood and adolescence.

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, Now to his temple draw near;
Praise him in glad adoration.


O Worship the King, all glorious above, 
And gratefully sing his wonderful love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavillioned in splendor, and girded with praise.


To God be the glory, great things he hath done;
So loved he the world that he gave us his Son,
Who yielded his life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life-gate that all my go in.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, 
Let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, thro' Jesus the Son,
And give him the glory, great things he hath done.

I long for a day when there are more hymns with gender inclusive language and particularly more with feminine imagery to balance the overwhelming masculine imagery of these hymns, because I too sometimes miss singing them as I learned them.  Though other times I do prefer some of the changes, but more on that much later in this series.

The hymn that appeared as number one in the hymnal throughout my youth was "Holy, Holy, Holy," based upon the great scene of worship in Revelation chapter four.  We sang it often.

Holy, holy holy!
Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

I always enjoyed this hymn, including some of its archaic words-- "Who wert, and art, and evermore shalt be."

A funny thing happened, however, when I began to study Trinitarian doctrines in college.  I wasn't sure I agreed with the orthodox notion of three persons, so I began to sing the word "personas" gently under my breath every time we sang this hymn.  "Persona" versus "person" is a heresy, and it was probably the first one I adopted.

Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It

This is the eighth in this blog series on the hymns I've sung during my life, inspired by a recent long drive during which I sang a bunch of these from memory.

True to every Baptist heart are missions and evangelism.  In order to spread the gospel we must bear witness or give testimony.  Therefore, there are many hymns in the Baptist Hymnal which do precisely that.

Redeemed how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed thro' his infinite mercy,
His child and forever I am.


There is sunshine in my soul today, 
More glorious and bright
Than glows in any earthly sky,
For Jesus is my light.

O there's sunshine, blessed sunshine,
When the peaceful, happy moments roll;
When Jesus shows his smiling face,
There is sunshine in my soul.

The only time I ever led worship as a music director, these were two of the hymns we sang.  Harold Ware, who was Minister of Music when I was a teenager, decided to teach a few of us how to plan the music for worship and how to direct it.  It was a fun experience and my first formal lesson in hymnody.

We've a story to tell to the nations,
That shall turn their hearts to the right,
A story of truth and mercy,
A story of peace and light,
A story of peace and light.

For darkness shall turn to dawning,
And the dawning to noonday bright,
And Christ's great kingdom shall come on earth,
The kingdom of love and light.

I'm not sure that you can sing that one if you are deeply interested in interfaith dialogue.

Rescue the perishing,
Care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o'er the erring one,
Lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.

That hymn won't leave you complacent.

Of course it is rather patronizing.

This one is much better:

Share his love by telling what the Lord has done for you,
Share his love by sharing of your faith,
And show the world that Jesus Christ is real to you ev'ry moment, ev'ry day.

That's a sentiment that most progressive Christians could also share, and frankly ought to be much better at, as evangelism is not a strong emphasis in the Mainline churches.  Here's the first verse of this hymn, which is also quite good.

The love of God is broader than earth's vast expanse,
'Tis deeper and wider than the sea.
Love reaches out to all to bring abundant life,
For God so loved the world his only Son he gave.

Then there is the old (meaning 70's) youth camp song that generally was only done on youth Sundays or for the adults to humorously remember their youths.

It only takes a spark to get a fire going,
And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing;
That's how it is with God's love:
Once you've experienced it 
you spread his love to ev'ryone;
You want to pass it on.

That song's tune always reminded me of a 1970's Coca-Cola commercial.

Back to the idea of testimony:

O what a wonderful, wonderful day--
Day I will never forget;
After I'd wandered in darkness away,
Jesus my Savior I met.
O what a tender, compassionate friend--
He met the need of my heart;
Shadows dispelling,
With joy I am telling,
He made all the dakrness depart!

Heaven came down and glory filled my soul,
When at the cross the Savior made me whole;
My sins were washed away--
And my night was turned to day--
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!

There are quite a number of hymns that testify to the change wrought in you by Jesus.  Here are a few lyrics:

There's within my heart a melody;
Jesus whispers sweet and low,
"Fear not I am with thee, peace, be still,"
In all of life's ebb and flow.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Sweetest name I know,
Fill's my ev'ry longing,
Keeps me singing as I go.


I serve a risen Savior, he's in the world today;
I know that he is living, whatever men may say;
I see his hand of mercy, I hear his voice of cheer,
And just the time I need him he's always near.

He lives, he lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way.
He lives, he lives,
salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know he lives:
he lives within my heart.

The basic message of that one is something I can still affirm--the Risen Christ is present in us, the Church.  This next one is treacly, especially the tune.

God sent his Son, they called him Jesus;
He came to love, heal, and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Because he lives I can face tomorrow;
Because he lives all fear is gone;
Because I know-o-o he holds the future, (I added those o's, but that's how it's sung)
And life is worth the living just because he lives.

The second verse is the really treacly one:

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride, and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance,
The child can face uncertain days because he lives.

The final verse is, of course about death.

And then one day I'll cross that river;
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then as death gives way to vict'ry,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know he lives.


How Great Thou Art

This is the seventh post in a series I'm writing on the hymns I've sung during my life.

One of my favourite hymns from my youth was "How Great Thou Art."

O Lord my God!
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made,
I see the stars, 
I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy pow'r thro'-out the universe displayed,

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee;
How great thou art, how great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee:
How great thou art, how great thou art!

This is a rousing hymn that can be sung with great gusto and a variety of emotional tones.  Especially when sung by a soloist, some parts will be softer and some louder, some faster and some slower.  This has always been a fun one to sing in the shower or while driving because it allows for such vocal variation and power.

I remember in adolescence a sudden emphasis upon God's sovereignty that hadn't been there in our church's preaching before.  Though our pastor at the time was not a Calvinist, this emphasis may be partially explained by the incipient re-emergence of Calvinism in the denomination.  This hymn complements that emphasis.

This very week this hymn has generated discussion at First Central.  One of our oldest members died and requested it at her funeral.  She was a lifelong Baptist until 15 years ago when she joined our church.  

Our congregation has two hymnals, one is the New Century Hymnal, the current hymnal of the United Church of Christ.  It's shorthand name is the "Black hymnal."  The other was purchased at the same time as the NCH because some in the congregation wanted more traditional hymns.  We call it the "Red hymnal."  The NCH eliminated many old hymns, included many new ones, and adapted the language of many hymns, with a particular emphasis on gender inclusive language.  I'll be writing more about that hymnal much later in this blog series.

Neither of our hymnals include "How Great Thou Art."  They both, however, do include translations of the original Swedish hymn by Carl Boberg "O Store Gud," just not the popular translation "How Great Thou Art" by Stuart K. Hine.  Our red hymnal, the traditional one, includes a much older and more traditional translation than the Hine one.  Our black hymnal includes a newer translation.  The black hymnal (the NCH) includes this note about the hymn:

Carl Boberg, a popular evangelical minister and teacher in Sweden, wrote his poem "O Store Gud" in the summer of 1885.  Several years later, he was surprised to hear it sung with this old Swedish melody, with which it has been associated ever since.  The first literal English translation by E. Gustav Johnson was published in the United States in 1925.  The hymn also became known in Germany and Russia, where the British missionary Stuart K. Hine was inspired to create his English paraphrase known as "How great thou art."  This translation and arrangement were created for the New Century Hymnal to restore the meaning and flavor of Boberg's original hymn.

Because our denomination has requested more vigilance toward copyright laws, we were in a quandry.  We didn't think we should print the text of a translation of the hymn which is copyrighted and which we have not purchased.  So, the solution was to have the Music Director sing "How Great Thou Art" as a solo for the prelude to the funeral.  Then, as the first congregationally sung hymn we did the version in our black hymnal, "O Mighty God, When I Survey in Wonder."

O mighty God, when I survey in wonder
the world that formed when once the word you said,
The strands of life all woven close together,
the whole creation at your table fed,

My soul cries out in songs of praise to you,
O mighty God!  O mighty God!
My soul cries out in songs of praise to you,
O mighty God!  O mighty God!

The Invitation

This is the sixth post in the series on the hymns I've sung during my lifetime.

One feature of Baptist worship that doesn't exist in all other traditions is the Invitation.  Immediately before the closing hymn the minister gives an "Altar Call" inviting people to come forward and to make decisions--a profession of faith, joining the church, recommitting one's life.  Occasionally someone will use it as a time to come forward and share a burden or a word of testimony.

In some churches this is a rather straightforward affair.  The minister issues a simple call or none at all, but simply stands at the front of the church during the hymn in case anyone comes forward to join the church.  There is usually some procedure with ushers assisting the person in filling out a card.  Then at the end of the hymn the minister announces those folk who are joining and they are immediately accepted as members by acclamation.  Technically, this is a vote, in the very old fashioned tradition of voting on accepting someone into membership.

But the invitation can become far more elaborate, particularly during a revival, and can go on for a while, especially if people are coming forward to make decisions.  Sometimes the minister will pause the singing to add to the altar call, usually while the pianist plays softly in the background.

There are a variety of hymns that function as invitation hymns.  Here was my favourite as a child:

The Savior is waiting to enter your heart,
Why don't you let him come in?
There's nothing in this world to keep you apart,
What is your answer to him?

Time after time he has waited before,
And now he is waiting again
To see if you're willing to open the door,
Oh, how he wants to come in.

And the second verse adds to the appeal:

If you'll take one step t'ward the Savior, my friend,
You'll find his arms open wide;
Receive him, and all of your darkness will end,
Within your heart he'll abide.

There is a powerful emphasis upon making a decision in this and other invitation hymns.  Remember that a core teaching of the Baptists is that adults make a choice about their faith rather than being compelled into it because of what nation or family they are born into.  At least that's the original idea from the  1600's.  

But there is also emotional manipulation in these words and melodies and how they are used within the service.  The most extreme invitation and altar call I ever witnessed was at the Arkansas State Baptist Youth Camp.  Christa Arnold wanted me to see how the other kind of Baptists did youth ministry, shortly after I moved to Fayetteville to be Associate Pastor at Rolling Hills Baptist Church, which was part of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.  That particular invitation was so extreme I called it spiritual abuse, as the minister encouraged the teenagers to find those friends who they weren't sure were saved and if they died would be in heaven and go to them and persuade them to come forward.  I about came out of my seat with the horror of such a manipulative, abusive appeal.  At this extreme it is a quite clear violation of the fundamentals of the Baptist faith.  That minister was arrested a few years later in Oklahoma City for soliciting male prostitutes.

Of course the paradigm example of a Hymn of Invitation is "Just As I Am," popularized by the Billy Graham Crusade.

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidd'st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come!  I come!

"Just As I Am" has a powerful life in queer-affirming congregations who have used it effectively as an affirmation of God's inclusive love.  And that was there in the hymn all along.  For example, here is the sixth verse from the Baptist Hymnal.

Just as I am, thy love uknown
Hath broken ev'ry barrier down;
Now to be thine, yea, thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come!  I come!

Many of these hymns are very effective:

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals he's waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
Ye who are weary come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!


There's room at the cross for you,
There's room at the cross for you;
Tho millions have come
There's still room for one,
Yes, there's room at the cross for you.


O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.


Without him I could do nothing,
Without him I'd surely fail;
Without him I would be drifting
Like a ship without a sail.

Jesus, O Jesus,
Do you know him today?
You can't turn him away.
O Jesus, O Jesus, 
Without him, how lost I would be.

As with that last one, these hymns are also an affirmation for those already professing faith.  They reassure you of God's love and inspire gratitude toward God for the forgiveness of your sins and your welcome home.

Those above were directed toward the person, inviting them.  Some are written from the first person perspective, calling out to God.

Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus, 
Speak that my soul may hear;
Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus,
Calm ev'ry doubt and fear.

Speak to my heart, oh, speak to my heart,
Speak to my heart, I pray;
Yielded and still, seeking thy will,
Oh, speak to my heart today.

I always found that "yielded and still" to be effective in inspiring precisely that.

I am thine, O Lord, 
I have heard thy voice,
And it told thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith,
And be closer drawn to thee.

Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
To the cross where thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
To thy precious, bleeding side.

That one also has the feature of confession, which is common in some of these.  A corporate Prayer of Confession is not a standard part of the Southern Baptist order of worship, though it appeared in other ways.

Have thine own way, Lord!  
Have thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay!
Mold me and make me
After thy will,
While I am waiting,
Yielded and still.

There's that "yielded and still" again.

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
In his presence daily live.

I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

Of course in the United Church of Christ we value making a decision, except we don't include this weekly invitation or have any hymn that serves this particular purpose.  For us the decision is generally focused at confirmation, when adolescents choose to join the church fully and profess their faith.  And that after a time of spiritual formation and Christian education.

William James in The Varieties of Religious Experience wrote that there are two types of conversion--the immediate kind (Paul on the road to Damascus) and the kind that occur over time and are a process (the general spiritual formation and Christian education of the Sunday School).  The truth is that even in Southern Baptist churches the latter happened (that really explains my own journey to the faith) even though the language, the hymns, and the formulas view all professions of faith as the former.

Most of these hymns would serve no function in our UCC order of worship.  Any like this that we sing would usually appear after the sermon, when we are most likely to sing a softer, more emotionally plaintive piece.  Our closing hymns are generally triumphant, leading the people out with joy.  Often they are commitments to some form of service.

Michael Piazza once told me that some former Baptists at the Cathedral of Hope criticized him that he didn't offer an invitation every week.  Michael answered, "But I do offer you an invitation every week.  And it is even an invitation to come forward and accept Jesus.  It is the invitation to communion."