Life’s a little crazy right now but one of the things that’s keeping me trucking is the continual discovery of some great new music. Here are some things that are inspiring me for congregational music as I look at the fall.
(click picture for link to the songs)
I’ve been a fan of Dustin Kensrue for a few years. It’s even easier for me to be a fan of his new sound with his worship band, Modern Post, based out of Mars Hill O.C. Check out their brilliant versions of “Before the Throne” and “Amazing Grace”.
I have not heard a song, any song, that has grabbed me like this since I first popped in Jonsi’s album “Go” 2 years ago. Kenosis’ version of “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us” is not necessarily the greatest thing I’ve ever heard, but it’s probably the most exciting hymn rearrangement I’ve ever heard. Love it! Absolutely love it!
The Royal Royal came on the scene last year when they toured the U.S. with Hillsong United. As soon as I heard their song “Praise Him” I was hooked. It was what I wanted to hear from the worship music genre, because it didn’t sound like the genre. And yet, while having a fresh sound that gives some nods to the influence of bands like Passion Pit the songs are still totally congregationally singable. Great stuff.
I haven’t tried incorporating any Bellarive tunes into a worship set yet, but it’s only a matter of time. I love their sound. I’ll never be able to sing as high as this dude but their approach to worship music resonates with me. I’m a fan.
This last one is something a little different, yet totally familiar. Imagine some of the popular worship songs from the last few years…with a Punk Rock sound. That’s what my buddy, Ryan Gartner from my home church has been working on. Because fist pumps and praising Jesus just belong together.
On its own this video is very unremarkable. The frame is all wrong. The quality is poor. I’m filming with the phone sticking out of my shirt pocket as I drive.
A professional or even someone who makes videos as a hobby would have captured, edited, and produced something much better than I did. But if I had contracted someone to make this video then it wouldn’t have been mine. It wouldn’t have been my story.
There will always be someone better than you. Everywhere I go I find better worship leaders, better musicians, and better artists than myself. This isn’t self deprecation, it’s just the truth and I’m ok with it. But imagine if I allowed that to affect me so much that I stopped creating my art? Stopped leading worship? Or stopped telling my story? I would be in danger of hiding God from others. If God’s fingerprints are all over my life (which I believe they are, and yours too) and I neglect to share my story or my art with the world then what witness would I have?
Tell the God story that is in you
Tell it to everyone and anyone that will listen
Tell it with your personality, with your gifts
Tell it through your actions, tell it through your words
Tell it through your songs, your paintings, your photos, your videos, your anything and everything
Because His fingerprints are on you, and He has given you a story to tell
My story that goes along with this video is from August 12, 2012 and I will never forget that night now for as long as I live. My family threw me a belated birthday party. What started out as pulling out photo albums to compare my Dad’s gray hair level to mine at age 27 (I have more gray hair) turned into my brothers, my Dad and I telling our wives the stories that went along with the pictures in those albums.
Pictures of me as a chubby 1 year old in Germany – The story of a young family following the call of God to a country they didn’t know to serve people and tell them the God story.
Pictures of 2 small premature babies in incubators – The story of my twin brothers, clinging to new life, sustained by the one who created them, covered in the prayers of hundreds if not thousands. A new brother reaches in to touch them, the beginning of an amazing friendship. They are the miracle babies. The babies who survived in a body that was simultaneously battling cancer. The babies that gave a stranger, a mother in Sweden, hope for her own unborn twins coming into the world with the same odds against them. They were with me to tell the story.
Pictures of me imitating my Dad as he plays the bass – The story of a boy who would grow up to tell the God story through music. The story of a father who in the midst of the chaos and the uncertainty of a wife with cancer and two premature babies clinging to life took the time to be with his eldest son and share with him a moment of joy. A God moment.
Pictures of a 3 year old me grinning from ear to ear wearing Mom’s wig – The story of a boy who loved his mother with all his heart. The story of a mother who was strong for her family. The story of a God who sustained life in a brittle body for much longer than any doctor would have believed possible so that she could build into her sons what it means to trust God in any circumstance. The story that continues today where Mom is in heaven and I am here with a story to tell.
The video is what I captured on our way home from that night. Lights in the sky. Lights on the road. Lights in the buildings. Lights that to me in that very moment reminded me that the God story is all around us.
God has given you a story to tell. You will be faced with moments in your life when you want to shy away from it. You will feel like you should maybe just leave it to the “professionals” or the “experts”. But it is your story.
There is a God story inside of you that needs to be told.
There’s a tension that I have faced in ministry ever since I started playing on a worship team at age 15. The tension is encompassed in, and sometimes created by the pursuit of excellence.
The word excellence by itself seems like something we would all like to have more of. Think of 3 things you do well. Would you not like to be “excellent” at those things?
I have seen 2 different positions expressed by worship team members surrounding the idea of excellence.
We are doing this for God’s glory. It has to be as prepared, polished, non-distracting, and as perfect sounding as we can possibly make it. Each worship team member is expected to be as prepared as they can possibly be. We work hard, and pray a bit.
We don’t have the ability to change lives, God does the work. People have busy lives, sometimes too busy to practice but what’s important is the heart of the person. We’re just glad they’re serving in spite of the many responsibilities they have to juggle. We pray hard, and work a bit.
You might find yourself on one position or the other. During my time in ministry I have found myself bouncing back and forth between the two positions and hardly ever finding the sweet spot between the two. There are moments when I try to uphold Position 1 but after the 4th band member has shown up 20 minutes late for rehearsal AND only 1 person has practiced their parts that week I can feel myself starting to lose it. In those moments I want to scream Position 1 at them. Am I right to do so?
Other times we start in to practice. Most of the band is prepared and all that’s left is to pull all the musical pieces together. But something feels off and after stopping and asking the team if anyone was feeling “off” that week you find out the bass player is “just not feeling like they’re in a good place spiritually.” Is that the time to get back to practice and not waste everyone’s preparation or is it time to surround that individual and pray for them?
On paper there are some good things and bad things about both of these positions. But the thing you need to remember when you are leading people is that PEOPLE are not PAPER. People have struggles, burdens, short-comings, and inconsistencies. And people can also achieve great things on their own and especially when they are led well. If you are in Christian leadership your primary concern should be helping those you are leading become better disciples of Jesus. Becoming better musicians is secondary.
A disciple who is a musician will view his/her musical abilities as a gift from God that can be used to bring Him glory. They will find joy in doing their best for God. It will become their “spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12) and not just an obligation. Their goal will be to make Jesus famous (John 3:30) and they will prepare their own hearts for that in prayer and eagerly join in as the team prays together and asks God to work.
Don’t be overbearing on your musicians when they aren’t prepared. They will just begin to resent you. Find out what’s on their heart. Point them to God’s truth. Instruct them gently and speak words of encouragement to them.
Don’t ignore the preparation of your team to frequently stop and pray. They will begin to think that their practice time doesn’t matter and they might assume you haven’t practiced or prayed about this at all yourself. Teach them to rely on prayer in their own lives and model for them a desire to ask God to be glorified by everything you do.
Lead the way. Everyone thought John the Baptist was a pretty big deal. Maybe people will think the same of you. But John pointed people to Jesus, and that is our primary responsibility.
Saturday, April 21st, 2012 is going to be an amazing day. It’s the culmination and celebration of something that I never thought I would be a part of. Over the past year I have been part of an idea called Worship Victoria. We are about to release our first album, but it’s so much more than a worship compilation CD. It’s the start of something that I believe will change the face of the local church in Victoria, BC forever.
Today I want to share the story of Worship Victoria with you.
(from the Worship Victoria website)
Worship Victoria was formed out of community, with worship leaders from different churches across our city spending time together. Over hash browns and morning coffee we would chat about our roles, challenges, lives as leaders, and our interests, passions, and discoveries as worshippers and musicians. On one of those mornings, Fraser Campbell brought to the table the idea of a city compilation album. Our churches were already singing original songs, and the prospect of compiling music from worship leaders and writers around Victoria was instantly exciting.
Thus began the long journey of creating a worship album that represented the churches and worship communities of Victoria. From early on in the process it was apparent that a theme was developing – a collection of songs was being formed that, whether through sacred liturgy or charismatic celebration, spoke of our need to see God move in our City. “Kingdom Come” would eventually become the title of the album.
The leaders of the project decided early on that all proceeds from the project should go towards a cause that aids in the advancement of God’s Kingdom. The Church of Victoria has long admired the faithful work of Rob Trepanier and has seen the positive impact of Sanctuary Youth Centre; partnering with Sanctuary was a natural fit for this project. These songs echo the heart of Sanctuary’s ministry: to see the lost found, the hurting healed and the broken restored in Christ. His kingdom come and His will be done on Earth, in our time, and in our city.
This is the prayer of Worship Victoria.
If you’re wondering how you’ll be able to get the CD online it might be a while before we figure out how that will work. Since this is a fundraiser for the Sanctuary Youth Centre we want to try our best to make sure all the funds go directly to them without too much administrative hassle. But if you’d like a CD then leave a comment and we’ll try to figure something out.