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Category Archives: Spiritual Moments

Keep Your Eyes Open

NOW FEb 2014

Read this quote from Lorie King: “Keep your eyes open. Watch the congregation. Shocking, I know. In order to lead well, however, you need to know what’s going on around you. You may notice that people aren’t singing along, but rather look confused or perplexed (or bored). Hmm…maybe they don’t know the song? Maybe they don’t know they’re supposed to be singing? You can invite them to sing with a statement like, “Now that you know it, let’s sing that again together,” or simply “Let’s sing that truth/prayer together again.” You have not only let them know that participation is encouraged and expected, but you’ve pointed them to the content and substance of what is going on.”

I agree – and I mean it literally. Keep your eyes open. If you are leading, it doesn’t mean making music with your eyes closed. It’s not your private time of worship – you are leading, and that means interacting with the people you are leading. It’s easy to hide behind closed eyes – I’ve done it many a time. Every so often it’s appropriate, but not as your norm. And now…stepping down from the soapbox… : )

 

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We’re Not The Only Ones

I’m an evangelist. By that I mean that my passion in the church is reaching out to people who don’t know God yet. It is my driving passion. It is the Great Commission. However, it is not the only purpose of the church – there’s also the second half of the Great Commandment which tells us to love others. Our duty includes caring for those in need. I am laser focused on our weekend services, but I acknowledge the need for our leaders who make our Compassion Ministries happen. Recently, we collected backpacks for kids in the inner city of Indy. It was an incredible thing to see how many people pitched in to help those kids. It took caring people to organize and make it happen. People with THAT as their passion. That’s a reminder to myself – those of us who serve in weekend worship services are important – but we’re not the only ones…

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Transitions

One thing that I learned during my time at Willow Creek was the importance of transitions. It’s very easy to get so focused on the content – the various bits and pieces – of what we’re doing on any given weekend that we neglect look at how they all fit together. You can have a great song, or  moving video, or some other very profound service element – and an awkward transition can drain the impact from the moment, sometimes completely.

We make sure that we do two complete runthoughs each weekend (actually three, since we do an abbreviated one on Sunday morning, as well). The first one has every single service event, in order, with every single element, including announcements. The only thing that we don’t do as part of that is the message. In addition, we run through all of the lighting, where everyone is staring, the lyrics and Scripture verses, etc… each Thursday at 1:30pm.

This takes planning. I do think that our worship leaders have to have a certain amount of freedom to react to the moment. However, I also know that sometimes freedom can be an excuse for laziness. The people of our churches that God has entrusted us to serve deserve the best we can bring, and like anything else in life, planning, practice and preparation help us to be able to bring our very best!DSC_0002-X3

 

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Getting Things In Focus

What are you doing when you’re not singing or playing?

My role these days is usually as the worship service “producer” at Northview. It’s my job to lead the planning process. It’s also my job to make sure that all of the elements are solid, and that they fit together and flow well.

We work on transitions a lot – we don’t just need great worship music, videos, etc… – the service elements all need to flow well and fit together in a way that makes sense. We also take the visual into account. I’m a musician by background, and I know that one of the weaknesses of my kind is that we tend to focus on the music – only. There’s so much of an emphasis on making it sound great, that we completely ignore what it looks like. We lose focus of the fact that a big part of communicating is visual. And that’s our job. To communicate. To communicate God’s love to His people, and to communicate our thanks back to God.

So back to the visual side of things. Keeping the focus where it should be is critical. All it takes is someone messing around with an effects pedal, or scanning the congregation for friends, or – and I’ve seen it happen fairly regularly – scratching themselves, and you’ve just pulled people’s attention away from the elements that you worked so hard to put together in the first place, or – even more seriously – away from focus on God.  Focus on God if it’s a song to God. Focus on the congregation if it’s a song designed to encourage each other in following/serving Him. Between songs, vocalists and band members should be looking at whoever is talking or leading a moment.

More in the days to come on focus..

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More Important Things To Do

It’s been a while since I’ve posted… Long story short, I have a lot of workaholic tendencies, and one day a few weeks ago my body just said enough. I collapsed, and ended up in the hospital for several days. When I was there, they found some nodules on my lungs – looks like a comparatively manageable disease that my mom had, but the C word was being tossed around (and it would be stage 4 cancer). Still not 100% that’s not the case, but no symptoms, and all of the symptoms of the other. Stuff like that makes you focus on the important stuff. Like my family. And their desire for me to get healthy and to get my work-life balance under control.
This blog is not one of those things that’s really important. I like to write (or – more accurately – I like having written). I like being able to share ideas. I’m a former teacher, as was my mom, so the desire to help others grow is hard-wired in me. But it may be awhile between posts for a bit – I have more important things to do…

 

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Uncomfortable

We are in the midst of the longest series (31 weeks) that we have ever attempted in the history of our church. We’re going through many of the major events in the Bible using “The Story.” Week 1 was about creation and the fall of man, so we created a “Garden Of Eden” set on the stage. Usually the message ends our services, but for this service, we ended with the song “Good” from Music Inspired by The Story. It’s an aggressive piece that ends very suddenly and unexpectedly, and we created video support that had Eve’s arm reaching for the apple at the very end. As soon as she touched it, the entire room went black. In a few seconds, the lights came up slowly, and the screen simply said “To Be Continued…” No closing comments. No benediction. No dismissal.
It was a risk, to be sure. A few people didn’t like it. However, the overall feeling was that it was “a moment,” a time when people were (at least momentarily) transported beyond themselves and really engaged with what was happening. Several people said “Whoa!” out loud. It wasn’t spectacle for spectacle’s sake – we really did want people to take what happened very, very seriously. And they did. Not comfortable. But good. And memorable. That moment stuck, and it helped to reshape some thinking about the seriousness of sin. Stuff like that you can only do once in a great while – I think making people uncomfortable just for the sake of it is manipulative – and your Senior Pastor and whole staff team really need to be on board. As long as they are, every once in awhile it’s good to really shake things up…

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I’m Unloveable

“Those who assume God loves them because they are good must continue to be good to be loved.” – William P. Farley
I’m not good. I try to be, from time to time, but I constantly and consistently fail. Look at the photo below. Every person in it constantly and consistently fails. If there is no grace, then not a single person in the photo has any hope. Thankfully, there is grace. Thankfully, there is hope. Very, very, very thankfully, there was a sacrifice that made up for the fact that I’m unlovable.

Just something to remember the next time that you feel unlovable…

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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Spiritual Moments

 

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