We Are Nashville!

I grew up in a small town in rural Pennsylvania. The thing that I like so much about growing up in a small town was the sense of community that permeated the ethos of that small town. I watched and as the community lived lives together rather than individuals. In times of joy the community was there. In times of sorrow and tragedy the community was there. That same sense of community found in a town of 1500 people can be found exemplified to a wonderful extent in Nashville – the city whose spirit is more like a small town than a cold desensitized city of people living as individuals.

What I have seen and heard take place through this tragedy is nothing less than amazing. People standing hand in hand to help those who were hurt, left with nothing, and rebuild a city where they live and a city they love.

According to Hands on Nashville, volunteers donated approximately 44,710 hours to flood recovery from May 2 to May 11.
We Are Nashville!

Police reported that looting was at a minimum rather people were found roaming the streets asking where they could help.
We Are Nashville!

Artists are feverishly working to design posters, t-shirts, and more all to benefit flood victims.
We Are Nashville!

Musicians giving their time to play benefits, donating money, and garnering support.
We Are Nashville!

Churches sending thousands of people to rescue and rebuild.
We Are Nashville!

Everyone one was affected both rich and poor. Everyone is volunteering to rebuild.
We Are Nashville!

We not only pledge to help those who lost houses, but to also help those who had not house to begin with. Save tent city.
We Are Nashville!

We are a city who will not go quietly into the night. We are a city who will stand waist deep in water to help out our sister and brother. We are a city who will rebuild. The music won’t die, the spirit won’t drown.
We Are Nashville!

Other cities better watch their slogans cause Nashville rocks, it is showing itself to be the city of brotherly love, a city of angels.
It is that small town spirit which makes the city of Nashville so special to everyone who lives there.

We Are Nashville!

Grace Church Set List 5.9.10

I am not normally a fingerpicker. I mean I can do it but I normally stick with the rhythm. We wanted to do something cool for Mother’s Day, so we had a great women’s trio do a bluegrass rendition of I Surrender All (which lends itself nicely to the style). We played in the key of B (I used a capo and played in A). I play my A chord with my index finger bent across all three strings backwards from the normal knuckle bend. We practiced it over and over and over and three services on Sunday left me with a sore pointer finger. Thus the lack of pointing at people since Sunday. Anyway It was a great Sunday, with inspired worship.

Sing Sing Sing – Daniel Carson, Matt Gilder, Travis Nunn, Jesse Reeves, and Chris Tomlin
Let It Rise – Holland Davis (Inspired by Big Daddy Weave)
Mercy and Grace –
Made Me Glad – Miriam Webster
I Surrender All – Judson Wheeler Van DeVenter and Winfield Scott Weeden (Inspired by The Isaacs)

You can check out other setlists from around the country at Sunday Setlists at TheWorshipCommunity.com.

How Did You Hear About the #NashvilleFlood and Extent of Damage

I can’t tell you how many times over the past few days I read; “If it wasn’t for Twitter, I would have had no idea what was happening in Nashville.”  I thought to myself; is that true?  Has user created content become a better outlet for news than the news itself?  So in an online Social Media experiment I want to find out how you heard about the Nashville Flood of 2010.  If you live in Middle TN I ask that you refrain from taking the poll but rather that you tweet, retweet, post and share in as many ways as you can so we can reach as many non middle TN people as possible.  Let’s face it if you live in middle TN and didn’t know what was going on well you may have other problems to address.

The other side of this that is so amazing is how Social media has helped garner tremendous support for the City of Nashville from volunteer recruitment to donations of cash, food, water and supplies.  Through twitter “a small grocery store in Orangeville, Ontario is donating cases of water to help out. It’s not much but it’s a start.”  A grocery store in CANADA! Why? People connected through social media (twitter) and wanted to reach out to help their fellow man.

In my humble opinion this is a triumph of Social Media.  If you still question why people would use Twitter, here is a great example.

Please take just a min to fill out the simple poll below and pass it along to your friends.  My guess is that we will see just how powerful social media is and can be.

What is the Optimum Time for a Worship Service?

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Why the Nation Should Care More About the Flood in Nashville…

I am not normally a soap box guy. And I realize that though this flooding of Nashville (a city near and dear to my heart) is tragic, it pales in comparison to the wake of devastation left in the wake of other natural disasters. (Katrina, Haiti, Tsunami) Nonetheless it is a tragic situation that has left many without homes, power, clean water, and much much more. Yet nationally the coverage of this “500 year flood” was minor in comparison with lesser national disasters. I can’t tell you how many times I read, “If it wasn’t for twitter, I wouldn’t have known anything about it.” Thank you Keith Olberman for pointing out that the national coverage of this event has been less than acceptable.

So why should the nation care that the Cumberland river rose to the second highest recorded level in history (sidebar: in 1929 it was recorded to have reached 56 feet. May 2 2010 it was recorded at just under 53 feet. Now that being said it is my humble opinion that May 2 2010 should be considered the record because the Cheatham Lock and Dam was built in the 1950′s and was the only reason that our water stayed below the record level – it took me a while to make sense of how this was a record rainfall but yet not a record water level, till I did a little digging – sidebar over). Why should everyone outside of middle Tennessee care about this event.

1. Nashville’s central location has made it one of the busiest transportation centers in the Mid-South. Today more than 80 miles of interstate highways weave in and out of the city, making Nashville a vital link to every corner of the region. Millions of tons of goods are moved through the city each year via truck by a multitude of motor freight lines serving the area. Nashville has become a regional headquarters for the trucking industry primarily because of its tight, efficient network of accessible interstate highways, its conveniently centralized location, and the fact that approximately 150 local terminals provide easy break-bulk distribution and specialized services for products such as produce (refrigeration), gasoline, and hazardous waste. If any of the major highways around Nashville were compromised structurally it could cripple a number of different industries that depend on the highways through and the industries based here.

2. Health care is one of Nashville’s top industries; according to the Nashville Health Council, the city is known as the nation’s health care center. Twenty-one healthcare companies are based within the city; in total 350 health care companies have operations here. Many service firms specializing in the industry (including accounting, legal, and others) are based in Nashville, including 12 investment and venture capital companies dealing primarily with health care. Health care services companies based in Nashville control more than 2,400 operations outside the city, as well.

3. Country Music (I know I can’t believe I am even talking about it either) – did you know that number one radio format in the nation is Country Radio! Not R&B, Not top 40 – Country! Nashville has left it’s mark across the entire country and a majority of the population with it’s rich history of Country music. Yeah it’s not going to stop or be affected terribly, but the hardworking people of this city have captured the nations heart with the music – it deserves a little attention for the tragedy. Not to mention the economic benefit other cities see from tours that will inevitably put on hold due to equipment damage, studio damages, and the hinderance in travel.

4. Learn from the event. While this may be a once in a lifetime flood, others can still learn from it. Better road design, water runoff, levees, emergency plans, and so much more. If there is anything positive to ever take from a tragedy it is an opportunity to prevent another one like it.

5. The Volunteer Spirit. The one thing that will probably never be completely covered to the proper extent is the massive response to this situation by the people living here and near here. I never understood what it meant to be the Volunteer State until now. Thousands and thousands of people are pledging help and donations – not just in the short term. There is a spirit about the people of Nashville that is unparalleled anywhere else.

Basically when business is affected in Nashville it’s felt in many ways economically around the nation. Thank goodness for social media such as twitter, facebook, and more to get the word out about how bad the situation really is, and how phenomenal the people here are responding.

Data information taken from city-data.com

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.

Electron Boy Saves the Day

During the worst storms seen in middle Tennessee in many many years, I ran across this video and just had to share it. I am not a highly emotional person – ask my wife – I very rarely tear up let alone cry. This however caught a little part of my heart and it took like 15 minutes to convince my wife I got dust in my eye. Regardless this is a triumphal story of the power of community. The church should take notes – I know I did.
Enjoy and share the story!

Pulling off a wish like this one required a big story, and a lot of heart. And so, with a note of panic in his voice, Spider-Man explained the dilemma: “Dr. Dark” and “Blackout Boy” had imprisoned the Seattle Sounders in a locker room at Qwest Field. Only Electron Boy could free them.

Erik got into his red-and-blue superhero costume, and called on the powers of Moonshine Maid, who owns a DeLorean sports car. For good measure, more than 20 motorcycle officers from the Bellevue Police Department and King County and Snohomish sheriff’s offices escorted Electron Boy to Seattle.

“They shut down 405 — they shut down I-90,” marveled Moonshine Maid, aka Misty Peterson. “I thought it would just be me, in the car.”

At Qwest Field, Electron Boy was directed by frantic fans to the Sounders locker room, where the entire team was shouting for help behind jammed doors. With a little help from Lightning Lad, the alter ego of local actor Rob Burgess, Erik opened the door with his lightning rod. The Sounders cheered.

I’m Not Religious, I’m Not Spiritual, I’m a Christian

I am not a Christian in the sense that it is my ethnicity, in the sense that I was born into it.  I am a Christian because I follow Christ.  Too many people shy away from the label because of the negative connotation that has been brought upon it.  I am a Christian plain and simple because I follow Christ.

Religious enacts dogma, guidelines and rules.
Spiritual engages opinion.
I am a Christian, I follow Christ.

Religious sees image and perception.
Spiritual doesn’t care.
I am a Christian, I follow Christ.

Religious can breed legalism, bureaucracy and red tape.
Spiritual plants shallow roots.
I am a Christian, I follow Christ.

Religious lets history control the present.
Spiritual lets the present control all.
I am a Christian, I follow Christ.

Religious gives us solid ground on which to stand.
Spiritual gives us freedom from which to live
I am a Christian, I follow Christ.

The truth is when I say I am a Christian I am seen as the worst of both Religious and Spiritual.  And though I will never uphold the best of any label given, I am a Christian, I follow Christ.

Caption Please

How long was this guy just sitting there waiting for this picture?  Timing is everything.  Enjoy and as always the winner receives nothing but my respect and laughter – which is still practically worth nothing.

Grace Church Set List 4.25.10

This was the last week for our interim pastor to be with us as we begin the transition of a new Senior Pastor.  We left a little extra time this week knowing that he had been with us for about 5 months and had grown to be a great part of our family.  Goodbyes are alway hard so we left a little extra time.

Floodgate - Paul Colman and Michael Neale
Majestic – Lincoln Brewster
Depth of Mercy – Chad Cates and Tony Wood
Your Name – Paul Baloche and Glenn Packiam

You can check out other setlists from around the country at Sunday Setlists at TheWorshipCommunity.com.

5 Reasons for a Choir in Modern Worship Services

It was about a year ago when I was asked to begin directing our church choir.  At the mention of the idea chills ran up and down my spine as if the company you rented the sound system from messed up the ground loop and your slightly wet lips completed the loop as you begin to sing the first words and strum the first power chord on your electric guitar.  I mean I have sang in a number of choirs through school and church but never had thought I could direct one.  My Original thoughts were honestly that we would slowly begin weening out the choir and favor a more contemporary and modern service.  A majority of the music we received through the major choral music companies was way to over orchestrated and didn’t seem to really fit with the worship band scenario (not all products were like that but you have to look long and hard to find the ones not completely driven by horns and strings).  That being said it has been about a year since I began directing our choir and to be honest, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I have come to love directing our choir and am finding that it fits in so much better with a contemporary and modern music style than I would have thought.  So much so, that I strongly recommend a choir in modern worship and here is why.

1. Visual Energy – I am a big believer in the importance of visual energy.  If the person/people leading worship are visually engaging, (not distracting or for show which can sometimes be a fine line but is better hashed out in length in another post) then it engages the congregation as well.  Basically if you don’t look like you are enjoying worship (ha ha think worship pain face – you know what i’m talking about) or even look as if you are worshipping then how can you expect those you lead to enjoy or worship.  A choir in a modern worship service provides a great visual energy.  Though I have never directed a choir before I was always enthralled with the gospel choir – the energy and engagement they provide just draws you in like a moth to a candle flame.  That is what I am talking about – a large group of people in total worship and engagement breaks down some barriers for those who might be uncomfortable otherwise.

2. Built in Group Who Know New Songs – I witnessed this once on a Hillsong DVD where they were teaching a large group some new songs so that they were able to sing with the band and Joel (grant it, it was because they were recording a live DVD and who wants a crowd who doesn’t know the songs).  But think about it, sometimes as we introduce new songs the congregation can be uncomfortable singing along because they don’t know the lyrics.  And while it may not seem logical that they would magically know the lyrics if a choir happened to be singing as well, I have found better response to brand new songs when we have a choir singing along.  There just seems to be some visual connection when seeing a large group singing to feeling more apt to sing along as well (as long as you actually teach them the song prior to service – sorry those in our choir for forgetting this crucial idea from time to time ha ha).  Plus sonically it’s nice to have the sound of many voices making the unfamiliar familiar.

3. Ministry Involvement – Let’s face it, sometimes it is hard to involve everybody that wants to be involved in the music ministry.  It either becomes a scheduling nightmare which never pleases anyone, or you have to tell someone they can’t serve with their giftings (and full disclosure not to be simon but that still takes place sometimes and I am still not sure if it is for the best or not… again another post).  But what better way to garner, energy, excitement, and involvement from those who want to serve and worship?  I have seen some churches go as far as just creating a worship choir who – for all intensive purposes – are just congregation sitting/standing on or behind stage with no real micing just involvement in worship. No matter how you go about it, it is a great way to connect people to a ministry within the church plain and simple.

4.Vocal Adrenaline - we talked about the visual energy brought through a choir but there is a distinct audio energy that exists with a choir as well.  Simple physics would teach us that the more people you have singing the same thing the more energy produced per note – More people = more loud!!!! (but our choir goes to 11).  For certain modern worship songs this is just a huge plus for the whole feel of the song – I am thinking Fee, Tomlin, and others that create wonderful musical and vocal energy.  There is just something powerful behind a large group of people lifting up the name of Jesus together and in my opinion it provides wonderful worship leading.

5. It is a Blessing – I realize I don’t have a lot of experience as a choir director but let me share how much fun this experience has been.  Yes it has been hard at times, challenging at others, but most of all this has been a huge blessing.  It has grown me spiritually, mentally, musically, and has allowed for musical diversity in our services beyond what we would do without a choir.  You may not choose to go down the road of Choir specials and anything other than modern worship music with a worship band but for us it has allowed us to present worship in many different ways and connect better with those who come to worship with us.  Yes we pull choir music from the most modern music as well as liturgical, hymns, a cappella, southern gospel, and more.  Sometimes we “modernize” the music (a lot of times we use the arrangements for structure and vocal arrangement but band-wise we play like the modern worship recordings which yields pretty cool results) and sometimes we stay traditional.  And we as a church, as a music department, as a band, and as worshippers are better for having our choir being a huge part of who we are.

Yes there are challenges to a choir – stage space, to robe or not to robe debate, micing the choir, rehearsal schedules, more people always means more challenges in keeping the peace.  But in my experience it is so much more of a blessing to join together and worship with a choir than anything else.

Does your church use a choir?  How does it utilize one? Do you see a complementary relationship between a choir and the modern music style?  What are your thoughts?