21 Jan

Do I Have to Raise My Hands in Worship?

A fantastic article on expressiveness in worship. (click here to read it)

When we understand the greatness of God, the stability of His character, the perfection of His justice, the depth of His grace, the limitless nature of His love, the wonder of His holiness, and the sacrifice of His Son, it should not be difficult for us to be moved greatly in our desire to worship God, and worship Him passionately.

02 Jan

Band on the Run

This is the single most beneficial video for worship bands.  This video is from the WorshipGod08 conference.  Bob Kauflin is the writer of the Worship Matters blog he is also the author of a book, also titled, Worship Matters.  There are also some powerful worship concepts.  It’s about 75 min long but definitely worth it.  Watch it with your whole team then discuss it together.

 

13 Aug

Eugene Peterson

Here is a bit of some Eugene Peterson I found in Christianity Today…

Life in a Country of Death
Experiencing Christ’s resurrection comes in ordinary moments, like sitting down to a meal.

The psalmist’s phrase “I walk before the Lord in the land of the living” comes out of a context marked by a death: “the snares of death” and “the cords of death.” There are, in fact, 13 references to life-threatening elements in this fairly brief Psalm 116: snares of death, pangs of Sheol, distress, anguish, save my life, brought low, death, tears, stumbling, greatly afflicted, consternation, death of his saints, my bonds. That adds up to a lot of trouble. This is our context. The land of the living is dangerous country. A lot goes wrong. There is a lot of trouble brewing out there and in here. Resurrection takes place in the country of death.

The land of the living is obviously not a vacation paradise. It’s more like a war zone. And that’s where we Christians are stationed to affirm the primacy of life over death, to give a witness to the connectedness and preciousness of all life, to engage in the practice of resurrection.

We do this by gathering in congregations and regular worship before our life-giving God and our death-defeating Christ and our life-abounding Holy Spirit. We do it by reading, pondering, teaching, and preaching the Word of Life as it is revealed in our Scriptures. We do it by baptizing men, women, and children in the name of the Trinity, nurturing them into a resurrection life. We do it by eating the life of Jesus in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. We do it by visiting prisoners, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, healing the sick, working for justice, loving our enemies, raising our children, doing our everyday work to the glory of God.

When I go through a list like that, the first thing that strikes me—and I hope you—is that it’s all pretty ordinary. It doesn’t take a great deal of training or talent to do any of it. Not the training of a brain surgeon, let’s say, or the talent of a concert pianist. Except for the preaching and sacraments part, children can do much of it as well or nearly as well as any of us. But—and here’s the thing—all of it is life-witnessing and life-affirming work. And if the life drains out of it, there is nothing left: It’s just Godtalk.

11 May

A Pair of Service Reviews

So on mothers day I had a rare weekend where I didn’t lead worship somewhere.  Our youth took over the services and they did a great job.  I also crashed the 10:30am service at East Valley Bible Church to see my friend Aaron Bower lead worship, he was absolutely amazing.

Faith Church of the Valley Youth Service:

There were many elements to their service.  The music was done well, the preaching was great (i’ve never heard our youth pastor Greg preach before).  Testimonies…now I know what you are thinking because I was thinking the same thing.  Most of the time when youth give testimonies it’s a ton of ums and not very much content.  The students that shared, shared from their hearts some real tangible and vulnerable things that God was doing in them.  They were all well spoken and presented themselves better than most adults that get up in front of the church to share.  Then the students performed the Lifehouse skit moving and amazing as usual.  Here is a video of the skit with different performers if you haven’t seen it.

East Valley Bible Church:

So I had never seen Aaron lead worship but because of the many conversations I have had with him and hearing his heart I knew he was a great worship leader.  I was not disappointed when I sat under his leading.  I walked in to their worship center to find just a piano on the stage, I said to my wife, “looks like Aaron’s flying solo.”  Now normally when I hear a worship leader on piano they play like the Beatles, think Imagine.  Very chunky, only sound beautiful with singing over it or something else.  Not Aaron, he began playing and I thought to myself that I could just listen to him play all day.  The embellishments he added were beautiful and not distracting to the words we were singing.  He also played with some of the chord progressions, again helping to elevate the song and the lyrics that were being sung.  Not once did he do anything that would distract me from worship aside from being awesome and the fact I was critiquing him. (my own problem)  When he spoke the things he said were well thought out and directed us to Christ.  All in all it was just an amazing time of worship and I can’t wait till I get the opportunity to play and lead worship with him.  Still working on that.

17 May

Worship 5-17

Well today I did something I haven’t yet done at Faith.  Worship today was just me and my guitar.  Interesting that today was also my two year anniversary, wow two years I’ve been doing this.  Vacation was great but it is good to be back.

We changed things up today and had all of the music up front as well as communion.  Yes, communion BEFORE the sermon and this is what my brother in law had to say about it on his twitter.

Communion before the sermon? But now my religious routine has been interrupted. Now i must focus on meaning!

As church leadership we should really find opportunities to change things up so that everything does not just become routine.  When things become routine we tend to forget why we do them.  Breaking routine forces us to think about why we do something.  In the case of communion, our church has ALWAYS done communion after the sermon, not for any particular reason we just have.  The funny thing is we’ll have some people who will have a real problem with how we did it.  Like may things in our (american) church services there are many things that we do that are cultural and not biblical.  Now I’m not saying that we are doing things that are unbiblical, it’s just that there is no mandate at how we should do our services.  No “thou shalt sing for 30 minutes, preach for 45 and have 15 minutes of announcements, also don’t forget to greet one another.”  These are all good things but they tend to be huge issues if changed.

To Church Leaders:  Changing things up is good but be prepared to explain why you did it differently and the benefit you see in changing things up.  And the big things is extend a lot of grace.

To Church Congregations:  Understand and be able to differentiate between things that are biblical and things that are cultural.  Changes from things that are biblical should not be tolerated, changes from things that are simply cultural (although you may not like it) are okay.  And again the biggest thing is to extend a lot of grace to your church leadership.

Song list from today.

Hosanna (Praise is Rising)

We Won’t Stay Silent

Everlasting God

Saviour King

Better is One Day

My Tribute

Mighty to Save

22 Apr

Worship 4-19

Wow it was a rough morning from my point of view…it’s hard to come from such an awesome week like last week.  The devil was really messing with me.  My monitor was all over the map, my video wouldn’t play right, drums weren’t working right and I had to make a monitor request from the stage during worship which I don’t like cause it’s distracting for the congregation.  One of the good things that came out of the morning was our newest team member, singer and guitarist Lynette Gellner, she did a great job.

So that’s the morning I had…Here is what everyone else had to say.

“I just walked in and felt the presence of God in the building”

“It was great to just meet with Jesus”

“I think I just got a taste of heaven”

Ultimately my goal in leading worship is that the things that I do or don’t do help draw people toward Jesus.  And that they experience the presence of God and don’t miss it.  I’m mostly just bummed that I let the devil get to me like he did and I missed the awesome time that everyone else had 🙁

14 Apr

Introducing new songs to the church.

I tend to be on the leading edge of new worship music and so I introduce a lot of new songs to my church.  I have added 47 songs to our repertoire since may of 2007.  One of the main reasons I have introduced so many is because when I was hired there was really only 3 or 4 songs that were under 10 years old.

Q: How often is too often to introduce new songs?

A: That depends of your church, some congregations pick up on new songs really easily.  And if your congregation stays up on current christian music you will find it even easier.  The congregation at my church does neither of these things well as a group. (I’ll explain more in a later question)

Q: Where do you find your music?

A: I have a handful of artists that I follow, Hillsong, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Chris Tomlin, Lincoln Brewster, Israel Houghton.  I watch for new recordings, I follow many of their blogs and just general poking around on worship sites I visit frequently.

Q: Is the radio a good place to get new song?

A: In general…no.  In the music industry there are certain traits that make a song “radio friendly” and sadly for worship leaders these traits rarely translate to “worship (congregational) friendly.”  Some of the great worship song writers never see radio play: Hillsong, Tim Hughes, Paul Baloche, anything Maranatha, Soverign Grace Ministries.  I once saw a quote from Reuben Morgan where he basically said that his song I Give You My Heart he originally wrote as a ballad but to get it radio play he changed it. (Here is the original way he wrote it)

Q: How do you introduce new songs to your congregation?

A: When I am going to introduce a new song I will usually do it 3 weeks in a row so that the congregation really gets used to it.  On the first week I will teach it by playing a verse and the chorus (sometimes the bridge) with just my voice and the acoustic guitar.  This way the congregation really hears the melody and it doesn’t get lost in the harmonies of the other vocalists and the music.  On the second week we’ll just sing it normal in the service.  On the third week you can introduce another new song if you are trying to infuse a lot of new music into you repertoire.  After you have done it 3 weeks in a row you can shelve it for about a month or more so that it doesn’t get old.  Then just do it like you would do any other song.

Ask your questions in the comment area.

12 Apr

Easter 2009

I can’t remember the last time I had as much fun worshipping as I did today.  For those who don’t know we had a 21 voice choir, 13 piece orchestra and the usual band.  Before the services we prayed as a team and I shared this with them (or at least the gist).

We have all spent a lot of time and energy preparing for this moment.  But unless God is totally in this our preparation is all for naught.  God will use our preparation for His glory but if we try to do this in our own strength we’re gonna fall flat on our faces.  So right now we need to put ourselves aside and allow God to take over.  We need to put our strength in Him and allow His glory to shine through us.

Musically the services were wonderful and sounded great.  In the 9am service we probably had over 400 in attendance, the worship center was packed.  Anytime the worship center is packed it elevates the energy in the room.  In the second service as we were singing Happy Day I began to feel what I sensed to be God smiling on us.  We then did Christ the Lord is Risen Today, and holy cow I had so much fun singing it.  I really felt as if the congregation was not only worshipping but having fun worshipping.  So many times we do it (worship) but don’t have fun, I mean really have fun to the point you can’t stop smiling.  That’s where I was at.  We sang the Easter song and it was amazingly clean.  My wife commented that we sounded a bit like Trans-Siberian Orchestra, to which I responded…SWEET!!!  (I love Trans-Siberian Orchestra)  Then came Mighty to Save…

I could not stop smiling, I was filled with a joy unlike anything you can find on earth.  It was a greater high then the adrenaline rush you get from a roller coaster.  I felt that God was completely satisfied and pleased with the offering we had brought to Him.  He was smiling down on us and I truly felt His joy.  I still smile as I think about the services and I probably will for weeks to come.  I can only hope that this was a beginning of God pouring more of His spirit out on our church.  Oh that we could experience that kind of intimacy with God on a weekly basis.

I’ll be editing down the video of the services this week and I hope to have it up online later this week.

27 Mar

A Devotional from Tommy Walker

When the children of Israel were on their journey through the desert to the Promised Land, God provided fresh manna for them every day. There were times when they wanted to hold on to yesterday’s manna, but it would always spoil and make them sick.

The same is true for us in our walk with God today. We many times try to live off of the blessings we received from God yesterday, but they will never do. We need fresh bread every day. Jesus taught us to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.”

We must earnestly seek the Lord for that fresh revelation, touch and blessing that He has for us today!