Posts Tagged 'Christian'

March (Holy Week) Maddness

For most of us who work in the church Holy Week can be busy enough to drive you mad. Extra prep for Easter as well as additional services can shoot the stress levels through the roof. It can be maddening to keep up with everything, but by simplifying you can work smarter and not harder to pull off an awesome celebration of our awesome Lord’s resurrection.

Here’s how I’m keeping things simple to lower the stress and maintain the sane for Holy Week:

Ditch the Band: For our Thursday and Friday services this week I’m going acoustic. Thursday will be a solo show, and I’ll have some additional singers for Friday. It’s more work for me but it frees up the band to focus all their time and energy on perfecting the music for Easter rather than dividing their effort across multiple unique services.

Extra Rehearsals: Our team normally holds one rehearsal a week, but this week we are doing two. Again it’s a little more work for everyone involved but extra rehearsal time ensures that we can nail down difficult elements and go into the weekend services feeling confident and stress-free about our leading.

Leverage your team: I schedule the same singers for Good Friday and Easter. We have enough singers that I could’ve put separate vocalists on each service – but more teams equals more separate scheduled rehearsals. Rather than having two rehearsals for two teams we’re doing two rehearsals for one team. It’s fewer people to coordinate and communicate with throughout the week and the end result should be less confusion and a tighter sound.

Leverage your music: We’ll be singing “Were you there” on both Good Friday and Easter. Not only does it fit thematically with the mood and flow we are trying to accomplish for each service (It’ll close Good Friday and open Easter) but it means that time the singers spend practicing this piece gets to pay off double with two opportunities to lead the same song.

Do less music: A standard week around here includes 6 songs. Because I’ll be opening Easter acoustically with 2 songs this leaves 4 songs for the band to learn. 4 songs means more time focused on each song.

Any thoughts? How do you maintain your sanity during Holy Week?

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Palm Sunday Recap

Set List for Chase Valley Church for Sunday, March 16

  • The Happy Song – Martin Smith
  • Hosanna – Paul Baloche
  • Everlasting God – Brenton Brown
  • We Humble Ourselves – Paul Baloche
  • Hosanna – Brooke Fraser
  • Holy is the Lord – Chris Tomlin

Highlights/Lowlights

Singing with the children – for the last 3 weeks I’ve skipped out on the sermon to hang with the kiddos and teach them Hosanna by Paul Baloche. All the kids from k – 5th grade came walked in with palms and then came up front to lead this song. We had them piled on each side of the stage and they did sign language for the chorus. It rocked.

Simple Band – We scaled down to one vocalist (besides me), and only one guitar, bass and drums. It worked AWESOME.  The music was tight and we reached a new level today musically.

My voice didn’t quite “wake up.” It was tough to sing the whole set. We did Holy is the Lord as a response song after the sermon. Then as people are leaving we sing the chorus again. My voice finally felt ready to start as we were singing that final chorus.

2 Hosannas – Yeah it’s Palm Sunday, of course we’re gonna sing multiple versions of “Hosanna in the Highest.” They both went great.

Electric – I played my electric on the Fraser Hosanna. (I played acoustic on everything else.) I wanted to get the delay and cool riffs into the song. The bass carried a lot with out the acoustic so it still sounded pretty good with only one guitar.

Worship: Rock the Choir

Today worship was awesome!

Set List for Chase Valley Church March 9th, 2008

  • No One Like You – David Crowder
  • King of Majesty – Marty Sampson
  • Made to Worship – Chris Tomlin
  • Wholly Yours – David Crowder
  • Hear I am to Worship – Tim Hughes
  • Psalm 103 – Billy and Sarah Chia
  • The Heart of Worship – Matt Redman

We had a lot of music today.

Highlights & Lowlights

  • The hour time difference threw lots of people off. Half the team showed up late. Really late.
  • The Choir sounded phenomenal! (More on that below)
  • The band was super tight. Everyone worked hard on the music this week and it really showed.
  • I put so much into it I was pretty drippy with sweat when I got off stage.
  • No One Like You rocked. This is a brand new song for the congregation. It’s also a tricky one to learn in typical Crowder fashion. We did it pretty close to the CD version so there was a lot of nuances the people had to pick up on. Everyone worked hard and we nailed it.
  • King of Majesty – Not my favorite song, although a lot of people around here like it so we may be doing it again. I’m not a fan of lyrics like “These words are from my heart, these words are not made up.” They’re just a little trite for me, but I know some of the songs I like lyrically are too convoluted for some people. Being a worship pastor is not all about picking only the songs you like.
  • Made to Worship – tough song to sing. I even brought it down to A and it was still hard. I liked being able to play a lead line on this one.
  • Wholly Yours – I totally messed this one up. This song has a progression. The lyrics take you through a story of being broken and then finally giving your all to God. Well I showed up today ready to worship. I didn’t want to wait through the whole song. When we should’ve gone into the bridge with says, “But the harder I try the more clearly can I feel the depth of our fall and the weight of it all.” I shouted out “So here I am” and tried to go into “here I am finally all of me everything!” Apparently I was too excited and didn’t want to have to wade through “depth of the fall” to get to “all of me wholly yours.” Fortunately the choir was rock steady and went the bridge when they were supposed to. I fumbled a few chords and got back on track thanks to the choir.
  • Here I am to Worship – went well the first time.
  • Psalm 103 – I didn’t plan on doing this song. We front loaded a lot of music today and then band sat down and we went into offering. Normally the congregation sings a full song during offering, I haven’t really done “special music.” I came back up and started finger picking to give some back ground music while the offering was being collected. When I looked at my pastor to give him the cue that offering was done and he could come back up, he simply had his head bowed in prayer just vibing a spirit of worship so I started singing. It felt well received.
  • Hear I am to Worship (take 2) – I finished Psalm 103 and Fred gave me the cue to do another song. So we sang another verse and a few choruses of Hear I am to Worship. (The theme for today’s sermon was “Worship.”) I stopped playing guitar, and while the crowd sang acapella I put down my guitar and left the stage then joined the crowd to sing. So we sang with no one on stage but God. I didn’t plan this but I was hoping to underscore the notion that worship is not about the music or the band but it’s all about God.
  • The Heart of Worship. Didn’t quite have the punch I thought it would. Fred told Redman’s story of how worship had gotten stale and routine and that his church stopped using a band for a season to focus on what worship was really supposed to be. During this season Redman wrote Heart of Worship. I thought after the message this would really hit home, but perhaps the fact that this song is so oversung it may have felt like the stale, routine worship that Redman was trying to avoid the first place. (I’m just speculating at this point, really the whole day was amazing and I heard tons of great comments about both the music and the message today. Really every other song went spectacular and this one was not bad, but simply average.)

How to Rock the Choir

We don’t do choir the same old way at Chase Valley. Instead of a feature act, the choir sings once a month as the “back up” singers. They learn all the worship songs that we do for the day and sing on each one. They sing mostly melody but throw in a good mix of harmony as well. It has several benefits:

  • Having 10 – 15 extra people on stage leading really helps to draw people into worship.
  • The sound is really full because we use condenser mics and run them through the mains
  • They stay on track when I don’t!
  • There are tons more that maybe I’ll do a post on in the future.

I love doing Choir this way. It has it’s challenges and perhaps in the future we’ll do some special music but today I was really excited to being doing choir this way.

So there’s a lot there to comment on. Let’s keep a conversation going on this post (or other past ones) next week while I lighten the blogging and celebrate the best 2 years of my life.

Willow Creek Reveal Frenzy

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This past week has seen a blogging frenzy* erupt over Reveal, a spiritual growth conversation headed by Bill Hybels and Greg Hawkins of Willow Creek Community Church. These two leaders have each posted videos on the Reveal website admitting that their previous model of doing local church ministry has flaws. Through the Reveal conversation they are seeking to create a new, more effective ministry model. While some have taken a critical attitude, many have pointed out Hybel’s humility.

The blogosphere began to see posts regarding the Willow Creek’s new direction in August when Hawkins’ book Reveal: Where Are You? was announced during The Leadership Summit. A recent influx of posts has been prompted by Christianity Today’s Out of Ur article. To help sort the mass of information Greg Hawkins has offered some clarifying points on the Reveal Blog.

Personally, I’m very excited to see what will come from this conversation. Willow Creek has always been committed to helping other local churches. They are on the right track with Reveal and I believe the results of their research will produce helpful insights that the whole Church can benefit from.

The Videos

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Hawkins video is candid and earnest. When he speaks of the distraction a church leader feels on Sunday morning I felt as though he was pulling thoughts from my own mind. Skip the short version and watch the 13 minute one. It’s worth it.

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Hybels brought a welcome humor to a serious situation. I laughed out loud several times throughout his presentation.

The Frenzy

*Some of the more content driven posts from this last week include:

The Beginings of a Rockstar

IMG_4966I promised Eve-Marie, my 7-year-old, that I’d start to teach her guitar when she finished her level 1 piano books. The other day she finished one of her books and Sarah bought the next level of piano books for her. So as a reward for learning to ride a bike I busted out my SG and taught Evie how to play Holy is the Lord. It was a glorious moment for me. I’ve given guitar lessons to more kids than I can count and always dreamed of the day I’d teach my own children.

Well it turned out I goofed. Apparently Evie didn’t finish her level 1 piano books, the book she finished is a pre-level book. So the level 1 books are really called “primers” and the level 2 books are called “level 1.” Sound confusing? Alright, it’s not just me then.

Sarah and I both want Evie to stay serious about piano so yesterday I told her that I would give her a guitar lesson only after she’d practiced the piano that day. Most days piano practicing is met with groans and whining but today Evie volunteered to practice with out coaxing. She then reminded me, “As you know, I practiced my piano today and you said you’d give me a guitar lesson when I did.”

At my house getting to practice guitar is a reward for practicing the piano. How do ya like that?

Find New Popular Worship Songs

PW Archive’s Top Songs is a web 2.0 style worship resource that can help worship leaders find out which new songs are popular in other churches. Learning which songs are used in heavy rotation in other churches in the US and around the world has several benefits:

  • Quality: Often songs are popular because they are of high quality both musically and lyrically. This is not always the case and there’s room for personal taste. (I’m not always a fan of what’s most popluar.) However, odds are that if you listen to songs that have popularity you will find several that you believe are also high quality.
  • Community: Singing well-known songs breeds community and connectedness with other Christians around the world. How cool is it to go to a Promise Keepers convention or to visit a church overseas and sing the same songs you do on Sunday morning? You feel instantly connected with those other people becuase you sing the same songs. (Note: Community is not only a reason to sing the newest popular songs, but also to sing the oldest popular hymns. The older the better as you become connected with other Christians not simply across the world but across time as well. )
  • Less Risk: Often times introducing a new song the congregation can be a nerve-wracking experience. There’s doubt involved in whether they will like the new song or connect with it. Knowing that a song has been used effectively in other congregations helps lessen the risk involved in introducing new songs.

Many worship leaders are familiar with CCLI’s Top 25. This resource can be inaccurate towards the end of learning which worship songs are popular. It is based on which songs get reported the most to CCLI, not necessarily which songs are sung the most in churches. (For example Lord I Lift Your Name on High by Rick Founds is Ranked #10 for August 2007 in the United States.) The CCLI Top 25 is probably a better representation an “All Time Greatest Worship Hits.” These are songs that have stood the test of time, but you won’t find a lot of newly popular songs.

PW Archive (Praise/Worship Archive) likewise does not track which songs actually get sung the most. But it does track which chord charts are requested the most often. By design this system has a propensity to highlight songs that are both new and popular. People most likely already have the chord charts for older tunes, but search online to find the chords for new songs.

Top 5 songs for October 2007

  1. Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) – Louie Giglio, Chris Tomlin, John Newton, Edwin O. Excell, John P. Rees – Copyright 2006
  2. From The Inside Out – Joel Houston – Copyright 2005
  3. Hosanna – Brooke Fraser – Copyright 2006
  4. Your Grace Is Enough – Chris Tomlin, Matt Maher – Copyright 2003
  5. Everlasting God – Brenton Brown, Ken Riley – Copyright 2005

As you can see from the copyright date, all of these songs were recently published.

Most of us use PW Archive as a place to get chords charts. It has some nice features, such as the ability to make an instant overhead or format your lead sheet in a variety of ways. However, I find that the chord charts are often wrong. (I personally use these charts more as a starting point to then figure songs our by ear.)

The real power of PW Archive is that it tracks how many times a chord chart get clicked on and then organizes that data. Each month you will find a list of the 50 most popular chord charts.

Take a look at the top 50 for this month. You may find a song on there you weren’t aware of which would be worth looking into. This is a great resource for finding newly popular worship songs.

The Best Evansville Dentist

I had a wisdom tooth pulled today.

To start everything out Dr. Charles Kendall, my dentist, gave me a numbing agent. While we were waiting for it to kick it he wrote me a prescription for Loritab (hydrocodone) saying, “You may or may not need this, you can play it by ear depending on how much it hurts.”

As he began the procedure he informed me that some teeth are easier to extract than others depending on the curvature of the root. Apparently my roots are as twisted as my sense of humor. When he busted out the drill I knew I was giving him a hard time.

He worked diligently and with precision. After removing the final piece a look of accomplishment came over his face like he’d just triumphed over an extreme challenge.

He then frowned sympathetically and advised me, “You’ll definitely want to pick up that pain medication.”

My dentist is a super awesome guy who goes to my church. Knowing my current job situation he gave me a deal. My pastor teaches us to pray, “Thank you God for [some hardship in our lives] because it means [some other blessing].”

Today my prayer is, “Thank you God for this excruciating pain becuase it means I was privileged to be able to go to such a professional like Dr. Kendall.”


 

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