Elevate Night of Worship: Set List

I am excited about another Crossing Church night of worship! (Jan 29th @ 6:00pm) The inspiration for this night came from G.K. Chesterton and Brennan Manning as they described the idea of God’s love and longing for us as furious.  Chesterton’s was one of quick mention while manning expounded into definition.  Furious is, rightfully so, associated with anger and rage.  However it is synonymous with ferocity and fierceness.  And as Manning expounds, a growing intensity and emotion.  While this is most definitely not a systematic theology that exhaustively explores the vastness of God’s love and longing for His creation it is one aspect on which we can meditate upon and within find solace.  For ours is not a story of man searching for God rather a story of God searching for His creation that has gone astray.

I like the correlation we find in a God whose longing for union with His creation is compared with the swelling intensity of a raging storm; one that compares with the same passion and ferocity – a Furious Love.

We will be meeting in our gym rather than the comfortable surroundings of our sanctuary.  The thought of hundreds of voices bouncing off the hard surfaces, resonating around the room like the gathering heaviness of clouds about to burst with rain, gives me chills.  It will be a much different night than those in the past as we drive with a very low key set up and acoustic arrangements to let our fierce passion shine.

Sunday January 29th @ 6:pm at The Crossing Church

Furious – Jeremy Riddle
Came To My Rescue – Davies, Joel | Sampson, Marty | Thomas, Dylan
Hallelujah What A Savior – Philip Paul Bliss and Tommy Walker
Take The World But Give Me Jesus – Fanny Jane Crosby and John Robson Sweney
Always – Jason Ingram and Kristian Stanfill
You Never Let Go – Redman, Beth | Redman, Matt
Lead Me To The Cross – Fraser, Brooke
How He Loves – John Mark McMillan
With Everything – Joel Houston

I Am Humbled and Blessed

This past weekend was our Worship Choir presentation of We Have Our Savior (the least Christmasy Christmas project I could find ha ha)  What a tremendous weekend we had 60 choir members singing their hearts out celebrating the God made flesh born to rescue a lost people.  It was a phenomenal weekend and I can’t say enough about how well they did and how great they sounded!  It is truly a blessing to be part of such a great church and a great worship arts department!  And to my surprise they took the time to put together a great poem of thanks and gratitude for me and used it to make fun of me in front of everyone ha ha; it was epic.  I am blessed.  See poem below.

Advent Candles 2011

This year we wanted to represent the advent wreath in a new and different way.  Inspired by all of the coroplast (corrugated plastic) columns that churches used throughout the ChurchStageDesignIdeas website we decided to construct our advent wreath in a similar fashion.  We found a great place with translucent coroplast sheets we could purchase, Piedmont Plastics – they are nation wide for the most part so if you are in the market check them out.

We welded a frame together after figuring out the dimensions and with some recessed can lighting from the big box home improvement stores we were set to build our candles.  To color each vertical column representing the candles we just used lighting gels. The middle candle measure 4 foot tall and each outside candle is about 3 feet – they are quite large. Each week we turn on another “candle.”  This year there won’t be a fear of our joy burning faster than the others, catching our wreath on fire and causing a commotion only rivaled by the Mississippi squirrel revival.

Check out the photos below.

Bent Coloplast

First Candle

Welded Apparatus

Can Light

Lighting Gel

Advent Wreath

Advent Wreath

The Non-Emotional Worship Leader

My closest friends, my family, and my wife all joke with me that I completely lack emotions. That there is a giant void in that part of my soul and being where emotions are manufactured.  It’s true I can hardly remember the last time I cried.  My wife of 4 years would tell you that over the 5 years we dated and the 4 we have been married she has hardly ever seen me get angry or emotional in the least.  But truth be told we all have emotions, we are emotional creatures – yes some to more of an extent than others – and we show the emotions in different ways.

But I get tired of the conversations that end with “I guess I’m just not that emotional of a person” or “I sing and I enjoy it but raising my hands, that’s just not me.” The excuse of that’s just not me when it comes to an emotional and passionate response to our creator and savior is really just that an excuse.  I know, I’ve used it at times.

But what is me? I take the 9 iron out of my golf bag and line up for the shot and watch as it bounces twice before rolling into the hole – I immediately begin yelling, pumping my fist and maybe even doing a little dance. We all have those moments of excitement that emotionally escape in physical manifestations.  Think of that time your favorite team won the game with only seconds left on the clock and you jumped off your couch popcorn flying through the air, high fives being exchanged, and cheers bellowed through the house. We all have moments when our passion drives us to give a fist pump, clap our hands, shake our fist, or do a little happy dance (don’t lie you know you do it when no one is looking). When we are passionate about something we can’t help but let it show, we can’t help but let it escape from our being.

So do we lack emotion or do we lack passion when it comes to worship?

Granted corporate worship can be intimidating, sometimes forced, sometimes different or many other things.  But as we see our passion begin to grow we will see our worship grow as well.  I don’t have an excuse that I’m not an emotional person.  I don’t, I have times where my passion may be lacking, I may have times when I let things get in my way – style, attitude, lack of coffee, a litany of other things, but I don’t lack emotion.

Emotion plays a big role in our worship services, and as worship leaders we plan moments to help encourage emotion.  We plan moments in service where we can allow that passion to well up in us to the point that we begin to move a little, our hands clap together hopefully in rhythm, our faces turn towards heaven, and our being becomes wholly enveloped in that moment.

We gather to sing praise to the God who came down to us, who became part of our story, and placed himself on the cross to cover all us.

We ought to be passionate about that.

Elevate Night of Worship Oct 23 Set List

Our next elevate night of worship is coming up on October 23rd at 6:00pm  if you are near the Denver area you should come check it out it’s going to be a night full of passionate praise to the one who created us all.  This should be a fun evening with a few different setups – full band, acoustic (cello?), and more.  Below is the set list of what we will be singing so you can be as familiar as possible with the songs.  Hope to see you there.

Blessings

SET 1 HOPE
Here For You 

Our God
Forever Reign

SET 2 STILLNESS
Amazing Grace – (original arrangement)
Beautiful Things
Rescue
Nothing But the Blood

SET 3 PROMISE
Never Once
One Thing Remains
Our God Saves
Let the Praises Ring

May We Never Stop Asking Why

I am all for progress in the church. I am all for new. I think that the church needs new and creative ideas to continue to survive. We can’t continue to recycle things that we have done ad nauseum.

We need the new to continue to feed life to the powerful story we are telling.

But we have to remember not to just do new things to do them.  We can’t fall in the trap of trying to stay relevant without asking why.  We can’t continue to move forward with new and creative ideas if we don’t stop to ask why we are doing them.  New ideas are great.  New ideas are cool and they can attract people.  But new ideas played out without any reason behind them quickly become empty.

The new without the why is empty!

So as we plan new ideas, songs, videos, service elements and more let’s remember to stop and take the time to ask why we are doing them.  Let’s ask how they will impact the lives of those who experience them.  Let’s pray about these new ideas; pray that they are filled with God’s Holy Spirit and not our attempts just to do something new.

Cool is great.  Relevant is awesome. But meaningful is powerful.

The Hour Before – Silence, Stress, and Nerves

This post is part of a larger conversation between a number of different worship leaders from around the world.  We all gather each week to help create experiences for our faith families to experience the Love of God.  That hour before the worship service begins is vital to how those services run.  Sometimes it’s the calm before the storm and sometimes the storm before calm.

One hour isn’t enough for the whole of the routine so I am bucking the system here and telling you about my 2 hours before service and how I prepare.

1. Personal Prayer time.  I take time to walk around the sanctuary and pray for the people coming to service that day.  I like to be in the sanctuary, walking around, praying for specific seats (we’re Nazarene so I generally can pray for those seats by name since they are seemingly assigned).

Quiet time in the space where we are hoping to encounter God that week is vital for me.

2. Run down the check list (again).  I want to take the time to make sure the tempo’s are set, backgrounds are correct, stage is clean, lights are programmed right, songs are in order, and the like.  I have already done this prior to this time but its a good way to help utilize the nervous, anxious energy and continued quiet time.

Continue reading…

Don’t Let Your Groove Become Your Rut

rut

We all want to hit that groove in our lives.  You know that perfect place where things are operating like a well oiled machine.  Where you just know how things will work, where even when a curveball comes you know how it will be handled.  Where ideas flourish and creativity is at it’s peak.

It’s tough to get there.  Sometimes it takes months, years, or even decades.  It takes time to get the teams together, to get the processes in place, and to determine the best practices for your particular place.

Isn’t it wonderful to get to that point in your ministry or your career! To just feel so good about how things are working.

It’s also a dangerous place to be.  It’s a place where complacency can set it.  A place where laziness can creep up into the cogs.  A place where creativity begins to whither away.

It’s easy to cruise along in that groove and suddenly look up to find yourself in a rut that is nearly impossible to escape.  So how can we fight this?

1. Keep a list of short-term and long-term goals and continually add to them.  When things move along too smoothly you begin to see that list shrink and an empty list of goals is empty reminder of former progress.

2. Schedule self-evaluations.  Put it on your calendar to take a day, weekend, or week to just stop and look around.  Take time to see where you are heading and how you are getting there.

3. Keep people around you who have the same ideas and ideals.  You can’t do it on your own.  Keep a group of people around that help you stay refreshed, challenged, and motivated.

4. Take time off! Even when things are moving along super smoothly you need to take breaks.  And I’m not talking conferences or places to be fed and refreshed.  I mean complete breaks from your related field.

5. Pray and journal.  It’s never easier to see how far you’ve come or how far you’ve yet to go than by looking back.  We always remember to pray about things when the are not working the way we want them to be but when things start moving along smoothly we begin to neglect them in our prayer life as well.

What’s the Right Key for Worship?

A few months ago I sat through a worship seminar and the topic of key selection came up. It was stated – as it has been many time before – to be smart about your key selection for congregational worship. It was said that certain keys would inhibit worship rather than promote involvement and freedom. The specific comparison to Chris Tomlin was made and it was suggested that while the songs themselves were great, the keys were not congregation friendly.

This made me think, a worship leader who has a range more like that of a castrato than the manly Mac Powell. I have found generally that songs in what would seem to be “congregational friendly” keys tend to be a little low for me to feel comfortable leading.

Now I don’t have the years of experience that this man leading the seminar had but my experience with leading worship in unfriendly keys seems to be pretty good. I rarely change the key on a Tomlin song, I often key up songs, and don’t shy away from falsetto parts. And I have found that the response is just as great as the time we left songs low (to me). The only times I have response to be lacking is when the congregation is unfamiliar with said song.

So does that mean that certain keys are not better than others? Probably not. But I don’t like the idea that we lower our expectations of our congregations. When people are engaged in worship the don’t seem to mind jumping up an octave, down an octave, singing harmony, or even just being silent yet engaged. If Phil Wickham songs are too high for a mass of people to sing then why are so many people at his concerts engaged and singing their hearts out?

Our jobs as worship leaders is to help the congregation engage. If that means lowering or raising the key of a song then do it. But at the same time you have to be able to lead in a range comfortable for you otherwise it won’t be as engaging. Familiarity with a worship song helps. Recently we shifted Shout to the Lord from the key of G to the key of D (better key for me to lead in) and found that the congregation responded just as well even though it was a new arrangement of the song (Lincoln Brewster) that was much higher than the original. They responded great. They were into the song, they allowed themselves to just worship and it was revived from an almost too tired worship chorus to one with new life.

So what do you think? Should we be more conscious of the key for the congregation or more conscious of the familiarity? I believe that you have to sing in a key you are comfortable leading in which for me pushes the range up to places most “professionals” suggest is too high for a congregation.

I don’t think we give the congregation enough credit sometimes.

What Make a Hymn a Hymn?

This conversation was sparked in a former post by trying to figure out the difference between a hymn and a modern hymn. And I’ve been having this conversation with people around me ever since. What defines a hymn? What is it that makes us use the term hymn for some songs and worship song for others? Instrumentation? Meter or style? Year written? Chord progressions? Melody?

Here is what the dictionary says.

hymn |him|
noun
a religious song or poem, typically of praise to God or a god : a Hellenistic hymn to Apollo.
• a formal song sung during Christian worship, typically by the whole congregation.
• a song, text, or other composition praising or celebrating someone or something : a most unusual passage like a hymn to the great outdoors.

With that definition, what’s the difference between a hymn and anything modern worship song we sing? One of the major discussions in a lot of church settings is the use or non-use of hymns in worship? Is there something other than the year a song was written that defines it as a hymn?

What do you think? Is there a difference between hymns and other songs used in worship?