Christmas At The Crossing Church 2012

Christmas

Ok so cards on the table, Christmas isn’t my favorite time of the year.  There I said it.  Wheew, what a weight off my shoulders.  We don’t need to get into the details of why but suffice it to say that each Advent season my Grinch mug replaces whatever vessel was in use prior to this season.  That being said, I do realize what an opportunity it is to use creativity, art, music, and more to share the real message of the season.  I am one who believes worship leaders should share as much as possible at all times of the year but especially during the big times like Christmas and Easter.

What you are doing at your church can help inspire others in their efforts in their respective churches.  So that’s why I’m finally blogging again after a long hiatus that was really just due to not making time for it.

First: Advent Devotionals
As a pastoral staff we created an Advent devotional for our Faith Family to share.  Each pastor took 3 readings we had pulled from the Lectionary Year C and wrote a short devotional based on those readings.  We decided to use The Message translation as to make it a very comforting and story like read.  We printed them in house and made them into little booklets whose final size was 8.5″ x 5.5″. I wasn’t sure what the response would be so we printed what we would normally  print for worship folders each week and well we underestimated the interest in them (note: we did not hand them out as people entered but as they left.  we let everyone know they were available if they wanted one – this way we avoided just giving them to every person who walks in that my have a reading plan, or just plain wouldn’t use it.)
Here is a link to our devotional in an easy to print and assemble at home .pdf 

Second: Children’s Program
Our children’s department put on a wonderful weekend of The Secret of Snowflake County. We have them take of the weekend services with a little acoustic worship and message time mixed in.  You can find pictures here on our Facebook Page

Third: “Carols” Production
To be honest, all of the choral products I had received in promotion for what to purchase were a huge let down.  Nothing really struck me as good; at all.  So we decided to arrange our own choral music for this program.  We pulled a lot from the Lifechurch.tv album, Carols.  We also pulled inspiration from Church on the Move (Joy to the World, O Holy Night, Christmas Story), Hillsong, and Others.  We were able to arrange songs that fit us so much better than any other boxed production.  The catch was well I had never arranged and written music like that before so the choir may have received some sheet music only weeks before the event.  I am very glad we decided to do so, however I would have loved to have started much earlier.

Fourth: Christmas Weekend
It has always been my philosophy to present Christmas weekend and Easter Weekend as who you are every other day of the year.  I don’t like to do big productions, extra flashy, or extra traditional things that don’t represent who you are every other weekend.  The thought process there is that those days you are most likely to have more guests than any other time of the year, why present yourself as something you are not?  shouldn’t we try to encourage them to come back with a picture of who we really are?  So this year we are doing basically a normal worship service.  We do have a pretty cool opening version of O Come O Come Emmanuel.  We are using the Future of Forestry version interspersed with some Amena Brown poetry.  Here is an example of that presentation (we obviously played live but for you to get the idea)

Fifth: Christmas Eve
I like that we keep our Christmas Eve services simple and family oriented.  We sing standard carols led from guitar in-between portions of the Christmas Readings from Luke.  There is a moment when the children are invited on stage to hear our Children’s pastor read a story to them (and we put the pictures on the screens for all to follow along with.) We share family communion together – that’s where one person representing the family comes and gets a small plate with enough elements on it for the whole family.  They return and share a time of prayer and communion together as a family.  It is a nice peaceful evening that keeps the focus where it should be.

Sixth: Vacation
I go on vacation ha ha.  Ok not every year but usually I tend to take some time to recharge after what can be a very intense season.

Bonus:
We used this version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen as an opener the first week of Advent this year.  We did slow it down a smidgen and well I actually tuned my guitar… but you get the idea of the Mumford and Sons inspired version.  It was a lot of fun and was received extremely well.

 

I would love to know what you are doing this year!  Share in the comments below.

Heading to the Dominican Republic

As we embark on our work and witness trip to El Rosario Dominican Republic I am thankful for the support and prayer that is covering this trip. The plan is to blog at least daily to keep you updated as to what’s going on during our trip. However with hurricane Sandy passing close enough by to affect the island our plans are always subject to change. Our original plan was to commission a water well, setup and show the Jesus Film, as well as be the hands and feet of Jesus to a community in need. While we are still going through with all we have planned we are listening to see what God has planned for us. The area has been affected enough by the rain and winds such that we may be filling new and different needs.

I will update you soon with more information on how the area was affected and how you can be praying for us and those we will be working with. Thanks for your prayer and support.

Crossing Church Set List July 28-29

Well it’s been quite some time since my last post.  What can I say, life has been really busy lately so at the top of the list of things that got overlooked was the blog…  Anyway here we go again.  We are introducing a new song this week by Hillsong – Cornerstone.  I love this song and can’t wait to sing it.

Our God – Chris Tomlin
One Thing Remains – Bethel Live
The Stand – Hillsong
Cornerstone – Hillsong 

 

Hope to see you this weekend at the Crossing Church!

Resource Guide: Worship Guitar and Beyond

Worship guitar has come a long way from the late 80’s early 90’s style that helped grow modern worship.  It has almost become it’s own style of guitar.  Sounding inspired from the U2, Coldplay, and other more alternative influences, it has become a sound that is almost instantly recognizable to those in the church as well as some outside the church.  A heavy dose of delay, reverb, and just enough effects to achieve the perfect texture for each song, worship guitar has become a passion for many guitar players in churches today.

Because it has sparked such following, many websites have popped up to help you our your team learn the parts from the recordings as well as inspire creativity for guitar players alike to develop their own style and sound.  Here are just a few that I have found recently and have utilized myself to learn a part or to give to my players.  They are tremendous resources for you and your team – not just guitar players.

Guitar Praise – I have been using this one for a while and the team behind it has everything from lessons, to theory, to tone and effects and more.  It is a great place to start for any guitar player who is involved with worship. (FREE)

Worship Tutorials – mainly acoustic driven this site has a good number of songs to choose from. (FREE)

DBWorship.com – Gear talk, loops, tutorials and more.  They are accurate and easy to follow with a good selection to choose from. Site has been really slow as of late hopefully that will get remedied. (FREE)

Guitarmann – Lessons galore, not just teaching you the songs but teaching you guitar! tons of info on this site.  Also check out his YouTube channel for more song lessons. (PARTIAL FREE/SUBSCRIPTION)

FQ Worship – Founded by worship leaders for worship leaders.  This site has charts, lessons, planning resources and just about everything you’ll need as a worship leader to prepare to be your best each week.  Lessons for guitar, piano, drums, equipment and setup and more. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Leadworship.com – Paul Baloche’s site dedicated to helping worship leaders grow.  There are some tutorials, charts and more but is limited to Baloche’s catalog (which is by no means small). (FREE)  You can also check out his DVD series to help the worship guitar player, drummer, bass player and more HERE. (PAY)

WorshipRiffTV – youtube channel dedicated to the Worship Electric Guitar. (FREE)

WorshipArtistry.c0m – the site is still in Beta testing but what you can see from their YouTube Channel is very exciting for what’s to come. (FREE)

Gateway Worship Youtube – it may take a little search through their videos but if you are looking to play their stuff they basically just tell you exactly what they are doing.  Electric, acoustic, drums, bass, keys, and vocals depending on the song  You can also find the videos at PraiseCharts.com for most songs. (FREE)

WorshipTraining.com – the mother load of videos and instruction covering just about everything. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Hillsong Creative – Has every instrumental part from just about every song on the God is Able album. Plus if you search YouTube for Hillsong Guitar tutorial you’ll find a number of videos featuring Hillsong’s Guitar players. (FREE)

RehearsalMix.com – Has just about every part of every song separated out for you to rehearse with. (PURCHASE CREDITS)

Music Academy.com – everything you would ever need for guitar training and much much more (DVD BASED VARIOUS PRICES)

Guitar For Worship.com – no actual song lessons that I have discovered but a tremendous resource on gear.  with great YouTube demos of pedals and more – this is a great site to talk shop.

 

Though this list is quite long, it is by no means extensive.  What resources do you use for guitar or other instruments?

What If I Treated Every Sunday As Easter?

Can I just be honest for a second; I don’t.

I don’t spend the time in preparation for other weekends as I do for Easter.
I don’t put the same energy into the creative planning for a random weekend in August as I do when Easter rolls around.
I don’t approach every weekend service as if it was Easter – a day I know when more people who don’t know Jesus come to church.

But what if I did?  
What if we did?

Any church who keeps attendance records, uses church management software, or tries in any way to track data knows there are better attended Sundays than others.  Historically this coming Sunday, the one following Easter tends to be a lower attended day.  Holidays, School breaks, and more trend lower as well.

Have you ever been guilty of not planning as much for those weekends as you do for others?
I have.

Have you ever held onto creative elements to use for better attended Sundays?
I have.

Have you ever even once scheduled people, band members, tech crews, or others differently because of the projected attendance of a weekend?
I’m not proud of it but I have.

But what if we approached every weekend service like we do Easter?  Or Christmas? Or Canadian Boxing Day? (I assume that’s a big day?)

What if we pushed ourselves to approach those days in the same manner we do the “big days.”  Every weekend we meet there are people that need to experience the powerful Love of God.  There are people who are searching.  There are people who are hurting.  There are people who don’t know what they believe.

What if we challenged ourselves to always push for more. To always be creative.  To always seek to prayerfully consider how we plan our services and service elements – because someones life may depend on it, their hope may depend on it, their peace may depend on it.

I am certain I will be guilty of maybe planning less on a weekend than I could. Or even saving something for a different week because it’s SO GOOD! But my prayer now is that I will start to approach every week as if the people who walk through the doors of the church are lost, hurting, hungry, and just as important as the ones from any other weekend.