Red Letter Day

Mars Hill Seattle is a church that knows how to utilize an RSS feed. In fact they have over 20 feeds that you can subscribe to on their website. I personally rock the everything audio feed in my iTunes. I went back a few weeks tonight to look at some older stuff and what I found gave me this gleaming ray of hope. I’ll tell you why.

The Set Up

Yes, as of recent I’ve been 7 shades of dejected. The story’s the same: I’m talking to a ton of amazing churches who are looking for worship pastors, but no one’s hired me yet. It’s not that I have a problem with waiting, it’s that I’m so hungry to serve Jesus. Essentially, I’ve lessened the amount of time I spent serving in order to conduct a full-time worship pastor job search and it’s starting to get to me. With each pastor I talk to I get fired up about what I could be doing in a church. Then I hang up the phone and I have to go back to job hunting instead of worship leading. It’s maddening.

The Rub

To throw some salt in the wound there’s the issue of my voice. Now it’s uncanny how quickly you can improve in any given skill set when you want to. I feel like the progress I’m making is massive on a daily basis. I keep looking at the audio examples I have of my voice and I think, “I don’t sound like that, I’m much better now.” I know, I need to quit my whining and record some new stuff. The fact still remains that my strongest skill set lies outside of my vocal ability. A handicap that no doubt provides a challenge to finding a worship leader job.

The Joy

Enter the Mars Hill Podcast. In August they posted an amazing version of All Creatures of our God and King performed by Red Letter. It’s a raucous blast of indie-driven mayhem. I’m not suggesting you play this one for the old folks, but these guys are definitely pushing the envelope of ancient-future worship. I’ve listened the track about 30 times tonight it rocks so hard.

And the best part?

Joel Brown, the lead singer, has a voice that is well… less than great. At parts he’s way off pitch. So here’s this guy whose an amazing innovator and whose strongest skill set lies outside his vocal ability. (The word around town is that he is not only an imaginative songwriter but also teaches others.)

Of course my thought is, “If Joel can sing vocals at Mars Hill, then there definitely has to be a church out there for me.”

To be fair, Joel does have other days when he’s been more on. (Much like me.) But isn’t it so true that we get inspired by seeing God use imperfect people powerfully?

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5 Responses to “Red Letter Day”


  1. 1 superman1224 September 19, 2007 at 9:36 am

    You know it’s funny you mention voice quality in this post. We just had this discussion last Sunday. Tom the paster at Newsong (Russ’ Dad), was saying that he would take a spirit filled heart for God for a awesome singer any day. The musician in you wants to focus on the musical quality in a service, however God just wants the heart and your ability to lead people into his thrown. Talent is something God gives us and that includes the heart of a Worshiper. Keep that in mind as you continue your search. By the way, what did you do to improve your voice?

  2. 2 Billy Chia September 19, 2007 at 10:33 am

    Jason,
    That’s exactly the point! My gift is more leading worship than performance. My ability is teaching others how to offer a heart of praise along side of increasing their musical skills. It is super cool to hear about your pastor’s priorities.

    My personal voice work out includes running scales everyday:

    http://billychia.com/2007/08/23/magic-techinque-to-increase-your-vocal-range/

    and I’ve found this video to be helpful for tone quality:

  3. 3 WorshipCity September 19, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    Yikes, yeah I couldn’t finish the audio clip. Didn’t do it for me.
    I don’t know if it was the piano, the vocals, or because the Crowder revamp of that song is one of my most favoritest hymn renditions there is (until the new CD drops that is 🙂

    But I agree with your thoughts in your post!

  4. 4 Ben Harrell September 23, 2007 at 11:51 am

    Billy,

    When I first started leading worship, I was a chore to listen to. I played chunky, awkward chords and had a voice that couldn’t find pitch for ANYTHING. You know what helped me a lot? Two things:

    1.) My best friend Clint, one of the most amazing male vocalists of his style would sit with me during tedious, hour-long sessions, and pick apart everything I did, then show me the right way to do it.

    It was invasive, uncomfortable, and I never felt like I was getting better until I came on staff at CRCSSI, did one of my original songs during the offering and the worship pastor, [URL=”http://www.fredmckinnon.com”]this guy[/URL], came up to me and said:

    “Dude…that was amazing. I knew you could play, but I had NO idea you could sing like that.”

    Because Fred’s an accomplished (yet humble) musical genius, that felt REALLY good and really served as a bolster for my confidence, which brings me to…

    2.) Confidence. If you can hear yourself get a song or phrase right, I mean really NAIL the part, then you can pull on the confidence that comes from that like a bank. The more confidence you deposit in your confidence account, the more you can pull from on a song that you know you’re not particularly strong on.

    All of that being said, I feel your pain on the whole job search thing. I searched for six months and was rejected a grand total of seven times by pastors from Canada to Florida, and when I say rejected, I mean told things like:

    “We like you, but you’re much younger than what our ideal person would be.”

    “You’re single and we were really looking for a couple.”

    “I, as a senior pastor, just don’t connect with you.”

    “You wouldn’t be a good fit here.”

    I’m just now beginning to get over all the rejection from those failed interviews. I kept asking myself what I did wrong, but you know what? All that rejection just made it so much sweeter when I finally found a pastor and a church who accepted me, warts and all.

    Keep that faith up. What God has ordained, he will maintain.

  5. 5 Billy Chia September 23, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    Ben,
    Thanks for sharing your story man and for the encouragement.

    I can’t believe I didn’t link it in my above comment but one of the HUGE turning points in my voice was reading a post you did on TWC. I’ve had a million voice lessons but somehow your words made breathing make sense to me.

    As far as confidence

    That’s been a big struggle for me, albeit from a bit of a different angle.

    At times I can be overly-confident. I jump into situations no-holds-barred and I don’t tend to be scared of a lot. That manifests itself in my singing and I’ve been known to attempt vocal runs that I really can’t pull off.

    A musician I greatly respect actually told me, “Billy, it’s cool that you have such confidence, it works when you play guitar. Don’t do that when you sing.”

    Seriously, that advice helped a lot. I just started singing within my range and even started changing the keys of songs to make them fit with my voice.

    One of my goals is to one day have a “great” voice. For now I’m pretty content to be on pitch singing simpler lines.


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