Posts Tagged 'Faith'

I Love My Team

Schedule’s change – it’s unavoidable.

I love when the people on my worship team call or email to let me know if they will be late or if they can’t make it to practice.

Keeping your worship pastor in the loop creates an environment of trust.

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.

Worship Confessional 03.02.08

Set list for Chase Valley Church:

  • O Praise Him – David Crowder
  • Everyday – Joel Houston
  • Famous One – Chris Tomlin
  • Beautiful One – Tim Hughes
  • Be Unto Your Name – Lyn DeShazo and Gary Sadler
  • We Humble Ourselves – Paul Baloche

Worship Text-fessional | 02.24.08

Worship pretty much rocked today.

Worship set list for Chase Valley Church February 24th, 2008:

  • We Humble Ourselves – Paul Baloche
  • Awesome God (Majesty and Mystery) – Vicky Beeching
  • Adonai – Raymond Badham, Mia Fieldes
  • Wholly Yours – David Crowder
  • Mighty to Save – Reuben Morgan, Ben Fielding
  • Open the Eyes of My Heart – Paul Baloche

Highlights/Lowlights

  • This was a great set – the songs worked well in the slot they were in
  • The band sounded great – we had keyboards/synth for the first time since I’ve been on staff and it made a huge difference.
  • Our sound/media tech was on point
  • We Humble Ourselves – This is a new song for the church and people picked up on it really well. The harmonies were stellar on this one.
  • Awesome God (Majesty and Mystery) – One of our female vocalist led this one and nailed it. This is a pretty rocked out tune and we did it pretty low key – without any lead guitar using simply acoustic, bass and synth. It gave a more tender feel to the song – which I felt was more appropriate given the lyrics: “Your arms are, the arms that surround me in a warm embrace.”
  • Adonai – this is a great song. This was our 2nd time doing this one and the congregation has really responded to it. I started jumping during one of the music interludes and my in-ear monitor receiver unclipped from my pocket and fell on the stage. I had to stop playing guitar to get my monitor going again. The same thing actually happened at the same point in the song during sound check. I must need some duct tape or something – this song’s got some great energy.
  • Mighty to Save – everyone started cheering spontaneously after singing “Jesus conquered the grave” in the first chorus. The Spirit was moving today.

Moving Day

Today I’m driving the down to Huntsville to move in a studio apartment I’ll be renting until the house sells. The minivan is stuffed full like a fat guy at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Despite the massive size of the precarious load I’m hauling down I actually feel pretty good the amount of stuff we’ve gotten rid of as a family. Over the last few weeks each garbage day has seen a sizable increase in quantity. Our two meager trash cans, unable to contain the volume, stand as lone towers among a sprawling trashbag city that populates the curb each Monday.

All the good stuff went to Goodwill. In the time it took me to unload 7 other cars had pulled up, dropped thier donations, and departed.

So as pudgy as my van may be, it still feels slim to me.

The Chia family goal is to continue to live on less, hoard less, and live simply. Selling the house has just been a nice catalyst to propel us forward.

I’m going to miss my girls like crazy.

Torn emotions doesn’t begin to describe it.

In regards to starting at Chase Valley I’m crazy excited. Tomorrow, my first day in the office (by my choice) is also my birthday. For a guy who’s been tent-making for too long I couldn’t think of a better present than to be officially back in a church office.

As for missing my girls I can’t even blog about it and I’m thankful that 5 hours is a drivable distance.

Ask Ahead of Time

Dwayne Moore muses in a post entitled How Much Music Is Enough In a Worship Service?

How many songs are “just right” in one worship gathering? Exactly how long should the music portion of the service go?

These are great questions. Rather than prescribing a set number of songs Moore lists a 10 question diagnostic that he personally goes through when deciding how long to play.

When looking at his list I admired that fact that seeking God first is so prevalent. I’m also huge on deferring to the leadership of your Senior Pastor.

Where I disagree is that he seems to be mostly asking, “How long should I go?” in the middle of his set. There’s an emphasis on current moment.

I tend to ask myself these questions during my planing time rather than waiting until I’m on stage to figure it out. For me the number of songs and the length and order of the set should be determined way ahead of time. This doesn’t mean your not open to last minute changes like dropping a song when another aspect of the service goes too long. And it doesn’t mean you close yourself to the leading of the Holy Spirit – it simply means you ask for the Holy Spirit’s leading when you plan the service.

My advice: Don’t wait until your already on stage to ask for the Holy Spirit’s help.

Ask Ahead of Time.

New Churches in Evansville

Matt Brunton put together this compelling fundraising video. He really hits home on the need for new churches along side of the old.

A note of trivia: The bench in the first scene is the same one I’m sitting on in the picture on my about page. Downtown Newburgh is also where we took some fun wedding photos.

I am always inspired to see other local people fighting the good fight.

Some Evansville church plants that I’ve been praying for:

Why I Love Church Work

Yesterday I was reminded of why I love Church work.

As part of everything that was happening on Sunday morning some conflict arose and some people I care about were hurt. I left church with a heavy heart. Often these types of situations can be frustrating and cause us to question the call to ministry.

For  me it was actually an affirmation that I belong working in the church.

Our choir did a song that calls, “Let the Church rise from the ashes.” The implication is that once we were on fire and now that fire has gone out. I love seeing the Church shine. I love when people get saved, grow in their faith and turn back around to serve in their communities. But it’s not always like this. Church work is full of a lot of heartache and criticism. After all the church is a broken place full of broken people just like everywhere else.

I had to ask myself the question, “Do I only want to work in the church when it is burning brightly or do I want to get down into the ashes and love people through their struggles, doubts and frustrations?”

The answer for me is that I want to get dirty in the messiness of the Gospel.

Question Your Faith

I was inspired by these gut-level questions.

Deborah writes in a post entitled, “Your opinion matters…” that these 3 questions were recently asked of her:

  1. Why was little or no faith needed to believe in God during Old Testament times (God appeared to humans regularly) yet today Christians have to rely on 100% faith for their belief?
  2. What is the difference between a dream, or hallucination, and a vision from God?
  3. Why is your God the only valid God?

Often times I find myself asking questions like, “Should I be playing my electric or acoustic guitar in worship?” It’s a good question that seems to cause much controversy among church people, but are we also asking the questions that non-church people ask?

And do we have succinct answers for them?

Share Answered Prayer

How I Pray

I find myself praying all the time for different people, especially when they ask for prayer. When I commit to pray for someone I start praying right there at that very second. That way I don’t forget about it but also it puts the prayer in my head and my heart. The next time something reminds me of that person I find I remember to pray for them again because I already did.

Often I find myself praying,

God help this situation… or is that already taken care of?

Many people ask for prayer, but few seem to get back with you and tell you how God has answered that prayer. I love when people keep me informed with news like,

God said, ‘yes’ here’s what happen…

God said, ‘no’ here’s how I’m dealing…

God is saying, ‘wait’ right now keep praying…

Some Answers

This past week I received several answers from friends that were extremely encouraging. Some were simple “the situation went well” emails but it was so nice to be in the loop instead of still wondering.

I have been praying for one friend who has a very serious medical condition for several weeks. I received multiple email updates as the situation changed and even when it didn’t change. Then yesterday I got an email sharing that amazing recovery had occurred. The doctors described it as “atypical.” One doctor said,

Keep having your congregation and your friends pray, because those prayers are working. [my friend’s] response is unbelievable, and even though I prescribed some medicine, there’s something bigger at work here, and I know that.

In this case the answer was “miraculous healing” which is cool. Although that’s not always the case. I believe all the answers to prayer, even “no” and “wait” are in fact miracles even if they don’t seem that way to us. I love to hear back from people either way.

For those who have been praying over my job search

  • Praise God my voice is improving every day. Pray for healing, my throat is sore from doing some vocal exercises wrong. I think I have it figured out now.
  • Praise God there’s been some exciting developments in my search. Although I’m still in talks and haven’t received a definite “this is the the right place” just yet. I’m still sending out resumes.
  • Thank God for all the awesome people who have been helping me out by pointing churches to my website.

How about you?

Do you like hearing answers to prayer?

Funny Sarcastic Worship Leading Video

I saw this hilarious video over at Doug’s Blog:

10 Ways for Worship Leaders to Hinder the Church

(Direct YouTube video link.)

I love how Doug makes a classy move at the end and gives some encouragement.

I totally agree with the sarcasm of his statements on pushing the limits.

Taking strategic risks is one thing. You need to go out on a limb to get the fruit right? At the same time the guy who always lives on the edge eventually falls off. We need to be compassionate and loving as we encourage people forward in their spiritual walk.

Do you think Doug’s list helps or hinders the church?


 

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