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.

Sunday Conversation | To Worship Means To ______?

What does it mean to worship?  I am sure there is some definitive theological answer (maybe) for the question.  I am sure there are lots of great saying and phrases we have been taught to regurgitate when asked that question.  But what does it really mean to you?  Is it more than just singing?  Is it more than surrender?  One of the ways I like to view our worship goes back to the Old Testament story of Cain and Able.  You see in that story Able gives God the first fruits of his years crop.  And I see worship as a similar act of giving back our first fruits, giving back our best to God and saying here use this, use me.  So how do you see worship?  What does it mean to you?

Comment below and share if you would like to.

Friday Funny

It may be a day late, but it is certainly not a dollar short. I hope you enjoy these little gems that brought me so much joy this past week.  To start it off let’s explore the depth of T-Pain’s talent.  Auto tuned wolves!

Now pay attention to the man so moved by the spirit he chucks projectiles at the pastor and then baptizes himself.

That's Flipping Sweet!

It's all about marketing yourself correctly

Hmmm at least it comes with dental and a pension.

He's a pretty charismatic guy, what can I say.

Grace Church Set List 5.23.10

Another great Sunday, a little hectic trying to manage two different bands with less then 15 min to switch and get what semblance of a sound check we could. All in all a great day full of great music in every service. And the best news is we are drawing ever closer to the beginning of a new phase of the life of Grace Church as we welcome a new Senior Pastor in two weeks. It has been at times a rather smooth time without a Senior Pastor and other times just plain rough to be honest. But God can move through a bunch of fools just like me as long as we allow it to be.

1st and 2nd Service
Song of Hope (Heaven Come Down) – by Dan Hamilton, Chase Jenkins, Taylor Johnson, Ryan Owens, Robbie Seay, and Tedd Tjornhom
Your Grace Is Enough – by Matt Maher
This Beautiful Place – Mike Hohnholz
Come Thou Fount – Robert Robinson
Jesus Lover Of My Soul – Paul Oakley

Youth Band 3rd Service
Revolution – Starfield
Lead Me To The Cross – Brooke Frasier
From the Inside Out – Joel Houston
With Everything – Joel Houston

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

Sunday Conversation – My Favorite Song I Sing In Church Is ______?

There are thousands upon thousands of songs we sing during church services.  It seems to be a commodity more available than oxygen these days.  So out of the maddening number of Worship songs you’ve heard or have used on Sunday mornings, which one is your current favorite?  My current favorite that we sing is Cielo by Phil Wickham.  It is an absolutely gorgeous and powerful song that I have fallen in love with.  What’s yours?  Comment below with the Title, Author, and why it’s your current favorite.  It could be anything from a traditional hymn to a secular song your church uses in worship (i.e. just about anything by U2 cause it’t the hip thing to do).

Join the Sunday Conversation, share and pass along.

Grace Church Set List 5.16.10

I have fallen in love with the song Cielo by Phil Wickham. I have to admit that at first I wasn’t sure how it would go over, we sampled and played a version of the intro and for us that was a little different than normal but it went great the whole team that was skeptical at first are now belivers. Great song. The day was great and God moved in a great and mighty way.

Glory to God – Vicky Beeching and Steve Fee
Love The Lord – Lincoln Brewster
The Power Of The Cross – Keith Getty and Stuart Townend
Cielo – Phil Wickham
Draw Me Close – Kelly Carpenter

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

I Go/Don’t Go To Church Because _____

I am part of a generation that has seen an exodus from the church.  Or at least the church according to the former paradigm.  So a simple blog post today that I hope you can interact with.  Simply, Why do you go to church? Or the opposite, Why don’t you go to church?  Just comment below, you can stay quasi-anonymous if you would like, and share why you choose to go to church, or why you choose not too.  No answer is more correct or incorrect, this is just a time to share and add to the greater conversations happening around the church today.  Share, Retweet, get more people in on the conversation, It is a great one to have.

discuss and enjoy

The Most Important Part of Worship Band Rehearsal

Obviously the most important things during any worship band rehearsal are prayer and worship.  That should be at the top of any worship band’s list.  That aside, what would you say the most important part of the rehearsal?  For me there is nothing more important for our worship band rehearsals than some jam time.  Plain and simple, unscripted time to just be musicians.  I know, your rehearsal time is tightly scheduled and allowing 10 minutes of seemingly unproductive time is hard to imagine.  But let me give you a few good reasons to allow your band to just jam for a bit next time they get together.

1. The more you play together as a band the more you know each other and how you play, where your going musically, and generally just a better feel for how each other plays and hears the music.  Yes this can be done during regular rehearsals.  But regular rehearsals tend to be too structured to really get a feel for how each musicians plays.  It builds confidence in each other and can lead to better spontaneity in your worship.  The more you play together the more you know where each person is going.

2. It’s fun.  I don’t know if every worship rehearsal runs like ours but at times it can tend to get tedious, repetitious, and just promote a lackluster attitude through the team.  It happens, not often, but it happens.  Taking a few minutes to just play without regard to perfect notes, parts, or timing, can lead to an endorphin charged rehearsal.  It always goes better when people are relaxed and happy.  (if that doesn’t work just give them coffee – that always works for musicians)

3. Jam sessions can lead to new music.  I don’t know if you are a team or worship leader that writes music but if so, this is a great tool to do so.  When I have written in the past, (i am suffering from major writer’s block – need to get over my fear of crappy music) writing during and through jam sessions was my absolute favorite way to write.  You get a great feel for how a song wants to develop when instruments are in.  You hear different harmonics than you would with just a piano or just a guitar.

4. It encourages creativity.  Let’s face it, many worship songs you probably play have very similar chord progressions.  Chances are you will end up jamming on one that is similar to a song you will play during service.  This can lead you to find new ways to treat the chords, arrangements, instrumentation, and so much more.  Let these jam sessions encourage and lead you to find new ways to use your gifts, instruments, and talents (unless this leads you to trying to create a cooler newer arrangement of Lord I Lift Your Name on High – that song did it’s job, had it’s day – now it needs to go away, far, far away).

5. It allows instrumentalists opportunity to flex their skills when they might not normally get a chance too do so.  Nobody needs a guitar player soloing over ever inch of a worship song.  But at the same time it is hard to ask many talented musicians to come in week after week to play power chords and cross pick 4 chords.  Giving them time to show off their chops, get their guitar solo face on, and just let loose is a good thing (be warned that if not contained to a jam session that guitar solo face may rear its head in the middle of a slow worshipful moment).  And you may just find out more about your instrumentalists ability, restraint, and musicality than you knew before.

6. You can worship with no lyrics.  There I said it.  Yep you don’t have to speak or sing to actually worship.  I know crazy eh?  The simplest jam session can turn into a full fledged time of worship before you know it.  To me these are some of the most powerful moments in worship.  Take a moment to read this quote found written on a German Opera House.

“Bach gave us God’s word,
Beethoven gave us God’s fire,
Mozart gave us God’s laughter,
God gave us music so that we may pray without words.”

So don’t be afraid to pencil in some time to just let someone pick a chord progression and go to town as a worship band.  You may be surprised to find out how much it can benefit your worship service.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences with this idea.  Do you have time allowed to just jam as a band?  Has it been beneficial?  Has it been not so great?

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!