Coming in for a Landing

Oh man it has been a long 6 months at Grace Church.  I remember roughly 6 months ago, sitting on my couch at home and receiving a phone call from a good friend (who was also my Senior Pastor).  He was on his way home from the Nashville airport after a quick trip to Denver Colorado.  Turns out when he mentioned to us that he was heading to the mountains for the weekend he was really heading to a job interview.  We all assumed, living in middle TN, that he was heading towards Gatlinburg for a vacation.  Nope.  It was like a little punch to the gut to find out the guy who gave you your first job in a church was leaving.  But alas God had called him to Denver and there he now resides.

So in the mean time we have had 6 months without a Senior Pastor, a Connecting Pastor who like me is younger and working at his first job in a church, a Youth Pastor who had practically just started, a Children’s Pastor who has been through this before, and me.  So a younger energitic staff but with less experience than desireable to keep a larger church opperating.  And to top it all off the way the Nazarene denomination works is that we all have to officially resign with the Senior Pastor and the Church Board decided whether or not to keep us (really just a beurocratic formality) to which they can only guarentee 90 days of employment after the new pastor is offically hired (it is their perrogative to bring staff with them, keep the current staff, or use the 90 days to determine how things will work).  While I was told I had little to worry about and that it is rarely ever the case for a staff overhaul, it sticks in the back of your mind as a possibility.  Plus we had just bought a house and planted roots.

So we have been opperating in what I called maintenance mode for the interim time.  We have basically been doing everything we can to keep the plane circling until we can bring it in for a landing (a nice safe non-crashed landing).  In times of Senior Leadership change it can become very stressful.  People seize the opportunity to voice oppinions that they would previously have kept to themselves.  People jockey for position and attempt to “right the ship” they way they had always hoped their church could be.  It can get heavy, people leave, rose colored glasses shattered and apparently pestilance, gnashing of teeth and the such.  Or so I am told from other’s who have been through the change before.

I have to say that even though it wasn’t my favorite time of my ministry life, it wasn’t the horror show it could have been.  The people of Grace really rallied together and despite the potential for a hard transition made the time one of spiritual growth rather than stagnation.  And now we sit on the precipice of a new season at Grace Church as well as for each of our lives both personally and professionally.  We have a new Senior Pastor starting this week and a new phase will begin.  I can’t tell you it will continue to be smooth sailing, I can’t know what tomorrow brings, and I can’t predict what is next for Grace Church but I can tell you that it is time to begin again.  We can come in for a landing and remove the scales of the maintenance mode and hit the ground running (wow a whole sentence of cliches and idioms!).  Regardless of the reckless use of bad overused phrases, it’s like my battery is so close to being completely drained and I am ready to get recharged.

So have you ever been through this type of transition before? What was your experience? Please share.

If You Could Only Go to 1 Worship Conference It Would Be…

I don’t know if there is a particular “season” for church conferences let alone worship conferences. It feels like I continually receive advertisement for an upcoming conference featuring the hottest speakers and worship acts and so on and so forth. So my question is, If you could only go to one Worship specific Conference a year (and for a lot of us that is the case) which one would it be? National Worship Leaders Conference, Cre:ate, Refresh, Calvin Institute Symposium, Christ Church, Worship Together , Any Conference in Southern California (because it’s held in Southern California) or another (I realize this list is too long to exhaustively list every major worship conference let alone every worship conference – see this good list here or this one here or this one here)? Why would you choose that one?

As worship leaders we need time to refresh, learn, engage in worship rather than lead, network with other worship leaders, and just plain get away and relax. And generally there is a worship conference near you or relatively near you. But for the sake of the post let’s say it’s a quazi-perfect world without budget restrictions and you could choose just one worship conference, what would it be?

Comment Below and let me know which one and why.

Poll: How Does Your Church Manage Their Bulletins/Worship Folders

Bulletins are pretty much a staple at most every church.  They are the gateway to your church’s information, branding, and so much more.  It is a handheld central hub that your church gives to just about every person that walks through the door.  What you place in their hands says a lot about your church; design, information, quality, and more all represent an impression of who you are, what you believe, and the direction you are heading.  So my question is what does your church do to manage, prepare, print, and so forth your bulletins/worship folders.  I am shocked to see the lack of really good bulletin/worship folder resources online – mostly bad shells, clunky designs and formatting and so on but to have a custom template/shell can turn into a rather hefty price tag.  Fill out the poll if you will and also feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, past experiences in the comments below.  Also if you choose “Other” from the poll please elaborate in the comment box below.

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Easter Production Script: Centurion

We are drawing close to our Easter production: Redemption.  We decided to add in videos telling the story of the crucifixion from different perspectives at the cross.  And as much as we shouldn’t let time be a factor when telling the story of Easter, we had to do our best to limit these video stories to around 2:00 min.  There are many details of the story that are unfortunately lost due to time but we hope to keep the main point and keep the story moving through as we share these powerful stories.

This is one of four scripts we wrote to use: The Centurion.

There was a Centurion present the day of the crucifixion of Jesus.
He was normally one of Caesars elite guards but on this day was to oversee the crucifixion of two common criminals
and Jesus the Nazarene, King of Jews.
The Centurion was close enough that day to hear the sound of the hammer hitting the large square nails that pierced through his hands.
He stood by and watched as the cross was raised and placed into the ground.
He was witness as others took his legs and bent them in such a way so that the nail would pierce through both of his feet.
As he stood by and watched this man gasp for air and struggle to breathe he heard these words uttered “Father forgive them, for they no not what they do.”
Dark clouds began to fill the sky and block out the remaining daylight
and the air grew cold and before the Centurion knew it, it was pitch black… and silent…
Beneath his feet the ground began to shake and heave so much that it knocked him to his knees.
As he crawled in the darkness he found the cross on which Jesus hung and even though the ground everywhere was shaking the ground at the foot of the cross was solid.
He felt the wooden splinters on the side of his face as he looked up and felt drops of blood fall upon him – and he felt safe.
Through the darkness he heard the man cry out: “It is finished”
And at that moment the Centurion who has been part of countless crucifixions before cried out from the foot of the cross:
Surely this man is the Son of God.

How can we help? Ways to Aid the Relief Efforts in Haiti.

With news of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, numerous organizations and individuals are springing into action to help aid and provide relief for the multitude of people in need.  Regardless of religious beliefs or views on why this happened (cough cough pat robertson – check out the real deal with the devil here) we should all do whatever we can to help the earthquake victims.  As Donald Miller reminds us on his blog, our response as Christians should be; “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in..”

If you are not concerned with what is happening in Haiti, that should concern you!

So how can we help?  I have tried to compile a list of ways to help.  This is by no way comprehensive – if you know of some other great ways to help please comment below and add to the list.

How will you help?

Between Yesterday and Tomorrow: Memories and Resolutions

As I sit here watching the “We Need To Sponsor A Bowl Game” Bowl on New Year’s eve, it seems customary to take some time and reflect on the past year as well as look ahead to the year coming. Because an ordered list would mean I think organized thoughts, I will reminisce about the past year in no particular order.

Here are some of my favorite memories of 2009.

  • Celebrating 2 years of marriage to my beautiful wife
  • Graduating (with honors) with a B.A. in “Religion and the Arts” and “Multimedia Productions” from Belmont University. Woop Woop go Honors Program
  • Moving into our very first house
  • Building our very first house (well actually just picking out a few things and letting the contractors build the house – but they finally started on our pool!!!)
  • Rescuing (buying from a rescue agency) our crazy Shih-Tzu Sophie – think a furry Odie
  • Our Unconventional Dinner Theater that fed 150 families in our community a Thanksgiving Dinner.
  • Winning a Baden Acoustic Guitar – no really completely free, it was crazy
  • Being introduced to Settlers of Catan (I know I am a nerd but for real that game is awesome)
  • Moving from Part Time to Full Time at Grace Church of the Nazarene as Director of Creative Arts
  • Seeing a good friend come home Afghanistan (DUUUUUKKKKEEEEE!!!!!)
  • Story Chicago at the Paramount Theater
  • U2 and Muse in Atlanta!!!

Resolutions for 2010

  • Read my Bible more (not putting this on here because I work at a Church, I legitimately need to do better)
  • P90X – (no for real – and not to lose weight but hopefully put a little on)
  • Finding better quiet time
  • Read more (now that I have graduated and am no longer forced to read I can begin on the pile of books I want to read)
  • Take piano lesson (I should have never quit when I was a kid)
  • Take drum lessons
  • Start writing a book
  • Blog better
  • Making year 3 of our marriage better than year 2
  • Start living a better story
  • Move from theory and idea to action
  • Grow our Church Choir
  • Write more music

Reason for the Season

Who’s making a difference this Christmas season? Even though it’s easy to lose sight of the emphasis Jesus placed on helping the fatherless, orphan, widow, and those in need, we must try to remember how blessed we are and how many people are in need. There are many people working to make a difference this year, here are just a few.

Compassion International
Advent Conspiracy
Water 4 Christmas
Gift Card Giver
Blood Water Mission
The Mentoring Project

Carols and Communion by Candlelight

This has become a tradition at Grace Church over the past years.  Our Family Communion Christmas Eve Service.  We gather together sing Christmas Hymns and listen to a reading of the Christmas Story through the evening.  It is a very stripped down evening with no band, no ensemble, no worship leader, and no big production just a simple reading from the Word of God and a real family feel as we corporately sing songs together.  I have come to love these types of services even though I am the type of person who really enjoys the advantages of technology, full blown bands, and high energy.  This evening really focuses the attention on the reason we gather, Christ and shining His light.
Here is this year’s service order.

Continue reading…

Advent – Christ Candle

On the Eve of our Christmas Celebration, the birth of our Savior, we light all of the candles in our Advent wreath. Each week another candle glowed, and our wreath shone more brightly.

First we light the candle for HOPE because Jesus is our hope.
Second, we light the candle for PEACE because Jesus is our hope and peace.
Third, we light the candle for JOY because Jesus brings joy.
Fourth, we light the candle for LOVE because Jesus is love.
Finally we light the center candle. This is the CHRIST candle. Jesus is born. Salvation is here. The time of waiting is over; our Savior is born.
Isaiah spoke of this hope when he wrote: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. And He will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God. Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!’ He will bring justice for the poor, and defend the rights of the helpless.
Now we light the Christ candle to remind us that all of God’s gifts – Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love – are to be found in God’s greatest gift, His Son, Jesus Christ.