Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Words of Worship

Every once in a while I'll get an article or story or something across my desk that just makes me stop and say, "Wow! That nailed it..."
Here's one of those items. It's from William Barclay and his writing on The Revelation of John (Vol. 1)

"The humblest and the most unseen activity in the world can be the true worship of God. Work and worship literally become one. Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever; and man carries out that function when he does what God sent him into the world to do. Work well done rises like a hymn of praise to God. This means that the doctor on his rounds, the scientist in his laboratory, the teacher in the classroom, the musician at their music, the artist at the canvas, the shop assistant at the counter, the typist at their desk, the housewife in her kitchen - all who are doing the work of the world as it should be done are joining in a great act of worship."

Colossians 3:23 - "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."

May our lives reflect the God we serve and live for daily!

See ya in church...

Monday, September 17, 2012

No reason...just fun!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Finding and Recruiting Nuggets

Anyone who leads a worship team, art team or other ministry team in a church setting is almost always on the lookout for new folks to plug into ministry.
The old thinking was announce it from the pulpit...put it in the bulletin...put it on the screen...and the list goes on. Churches tend to get caught up in the same way of doing things and don't always welcome change. This includes plugging people in and helping them find their place of service. As we all know, change, in many churches, is still a sin!

And here's the really sad part about church announcements. They've actually done multiple studies that prove this. It takes, on average, 4-6 weeks for people in church to CONNECT with an idea, a plea, a recruitment in a printed format and/or projected format. 4-6 WEEKS! By then you are well past your need and feeling frustrated, bummed, and even angry. Sadly, I've seen ministry leaders over the years develop an attitude - and not a nice one - toward their own congregation because no one responded to the 'need' that was put forth. Wow - that really honors God.

My belief has been this - the ONLY way to truly recruit the right people is one on one, NOT bulk announcements. Especially when it comes to artists of all types.

Get to know your church, your people. Find out what interests folks have - not necessarily the job they have, but what they have an interest in - and then find a way to connect them to a ministry that they can have a passion to be involved in, a place to call 'home' in the ministry of the church.

If you are a paid leader, like I am, sometimes people shut you out because it's our job to recruit. That's okay. Nothing you can do about it - except send your team members after them! Seriously, the best recruiters for ministry positions are the people who are VOLUNTEERING already in the trenches. They can answer the questions in their sleep, and they can talk about the leaders style, expectation, quirks, goofiness, etc. better than any key leader can. I know. I watch my teams do it all the time!

So stop using old methods to recruit a new generation of servants. Be personal. Be inviting. Be intentional. You'll be amazed at the results!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

View From The Stage...

We have a BIG problem that I would love to see us correct!

For some of you, it may not be that big of a deal. But for ANYONE trying to check out or connect to FBC Poky, we're missing the mark, BIG TIME!

We need to ramp up our game of greeting, meeting and knowing new folks. And I don't just mean at the welcoming time - which I may just stop doing - but I mean from start to finish. We too quickly jump into our circles and ignore - literally - anyone we don't know. We think someone else will catch them, connect with them. We assume that's the greeters job. Wrong assumption.

Our service is about God, for God and to God. But when He brings people in, we are expected to welcome them and do our very best to serve them. That could be as simple as offering a bulletin to them or getting to know them, making them feel welcome, special or important. We too often get concerned with connecting to the people we haven't seen all week, all at the expense of someone that God may have sent to meet a need.

So here's what I'm challenging you to do, starting this Sunday. Wherever you sit, look for people who you don't know. Before the service starts, take 2 minutes to introduce yourself and get to know a little about them. THEN, after the service, follow up with them again. Invite them to grab a cup of coffee and/or a treat in the back of the Worship Center.
In short, be intentional about connecting and making them feel special.

By the way, that first 2 minutes you have with them BEFORE the service - that will really dictate their actions IN worship. 'Do I feel welcome in this place? Is this a safe place to express myself? Is this a safe place to not be expressive?' You'd be surprised at the impact your contact has on people.

And I get to see it, both the good and the bad every week. It's quite the vantage point.

Step up your game this Sunday...make a connection and make a difference!

See ya in church...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Heart Matters

I recently had a team member text me on a Saturday nite to tell me that they wouldn't be able to play the following Sunday. Stuff in their life was a little chaotic and their heart would certainly be divided and not in a 'worshipful' place. I acknowledged the situation and thanked this person for taking this step early and before trying to 'force' something that would not bring worship or honor to God.

It's an understanding that we have as a team. If there is an issue that is going to get in the way of complete and total worship to and for God, then we need to reevaluate whether we should be on stage. If need be, we sit it out. That goes for any one of us that's on. And I can tell you that in the few times that we've had to adjust, the worship has been amazing. I truly believe that God honors this kind of attention to the heart.

Please understand me - I'm not boasting or bragging, unless I'm bragging on God! 

I just personally know that God honors an undivided heart - in worship, in life, in leadership, in service, in following, in parenting - ALL of life. As a leader, it's our job to keep that as our top priority in the arena of worship and to instill that into our teams.

So how's your heart today? Is there something that's dividing your attention, your worship, your devotion to God? Are you being pulled in so many directions you don't know which way to go?

Let me encourage you to find a place TODAY, alone, and spend time in prayer with the Master Day-planner. Give Him your schedule, family, finances, job or need for a job, home, resources - all of it and ask Him for direction and guidance with all of it. How does He want you to live your life? How does He want you to spend your time? Where does He want you to serve? What can He do with your specific situation that you're struggling with? Be open and honest before Him and watch Him bless your life. 

Trust's an amazing ride that I plan to continue enjoying until the day I go home!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What Songs Are Missing?

I am in the process of getting ready to create some new music for the church and was hit with this very stark reality - there are a lot of songs about certain topics missing from our music today.
And I'm not just talking about worship songs. Look in any hymnal and see how many songs there aren't on certain topics. For example, we know that prayer is vital in our relationship with God. And yet, there really aren't that many songs referring to prayer - what it is, how to pray, when to pray, etc.

So I have posed the above question to my worship team and now am posing it to you.

What songs do YOU need? What topic of our Christian walk is not really 'covered' in our worship songs? Besides prayer, what other areas would you like to hear and sing about in order to make worship more personal to you?

Share your ideas, thoughts, etc. here so I can put together a team to help write the songs that the church truly needs to worship with today...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Aiding the Church in Asia - good or bad?

I've been getting some interesting feedback about my helping the church in Asia with learning more about worship - what it is, why it's so important for the church to understand it, how to develop personal skills to better present it and more in the context of that culture. I find it curious, frustrating, encouraging all at the same time.
This group I am working with , who shall remain nameless and non-specific about location, has had some exposure to different musical styles from not only the western world, but their own environment and culture as well. What they are asking is for ways to improve their skill, their passion/drive toward worship. What they are NOT asking for is our music. Period. They have their own music...they have their style...they have their target congregation and understand what they want to worship to. Have I mentioned we're NOT giving them OUR music?

And yet, the debate has begun about whether we should or should not help churches in other countries with regards to worship music. Does us working in another country somehow 'poorly' influence the worship in other places? Can we do more harm than good? Understand me on this - I prefer to encourage any culture to use their indigenous music, instruments, structure, etc. to enhance their own worship experience. I would never impose MY style, MY likes, MY preferences on another culture. To me that's just stupid and selfish.

What is it that God is instructing me/us to share? What is it that THEY specifically are asking for? What can we do to assist THAT request?

And so I have begun the journey of translating some training/teaching tools into another language, looking for other resources to assist them in music skills such as chord charts, keyboard charts, instructions on skill, etc. 
Countless hours have been spent in conversation with the leaders ON THE GROUND, trying to fully understand the what, why and how of this request. I've been very aggressive in asking key questions, posing different scenarios, asking questions in different ways to make sure there is clarity and understanding. This is not something any of my team or the team in country is taking lightly. I believe we fully understand the impact this can have - from both the good and the bad. 

I am curious what some of those who follow this blog think about this endeavor...I won't share my philosophy on this just yet, as I'd really like to hear your take on this kind of ministry. 

Share your thoughts here...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Putting It All Together

I have a lot of conversation with people, almost every week, about what it takes to create a worship service. 
And I'm never surprised that almost everyone - a very large majority - has no clue as to what it takes.
Gone are the days when churches can 'throw' together a song set for church, sometimes on Sunday morning. I've always struggled with that approach. If it's supposed to be creative, if it's supposed to help us connect with God through worship music, if it's supposed to move us to a place where we can hear from God - then how does throwing it together leave room for the Spirit to lead, guide and direct us who have been called to this task?
The answer is short and simple - it doesn't. 
Here's what I've observed about this way of doing worship:
1. The singers are so focused on still learning the music that they don't have the opportunity to freely worship.
2. The instruments are so focused on timing, transitions, fills, modulation, solos - they can't worship. 
In short, everyone that's working on the music is WORKING on the music, not worshiping. 
I had a guitar player years ago who really brought this to light for me. I was introducing new songs each week and trying to bring them the  following Sunday, hoping to keep music fresh. (That's a blog for another day.) I expected that, because he was so good, he would be able to pick it up right away and go with it. 
After a few months of this he finally told me, "Karl, I love that we're trying to introduce new music. But I'm having a hard time worshiping with my guitar because I'm still learning it." DUH!
What we have to realize, leaders, is that the guitar for him IS his worship voice. The keyboard for the keyboardist, the drums for the drummer, the bass for the bassist, the sax for the saxophonist - those instruments are the VOICE of the instrumentalist.
So if we're asking them to just throw together music that is supposed to lead people in worship, when they aren't doing so themselves, it's just practice, not worship.

So all of this to say that we take the time to work on music together well ahead of each weeks service. Sometimes new music doesn't come for weeks, simply because we aren't ready to worship with it together.

It takes time to get the chords, progressions, transitions, key changes, etc. to flow and connect seamlessly. And that's just the instruments. Vocals have to get the lyrics and the meaning, the melody line, add the harmony, intonation, expressions, etc. to communicate it to the body in such a way that they can join in.

Our culture actually lowers their expectations for worship (music). They have come to expect that we don't give it the attention it deserves, and for them that seems to be okay. 
Well not for me or the team.
We take what GOD has called us to very seriously. We understand that we have a responsibility to lead worship first for ourselves, and then for the congregation. We listen for God to lead us in the midst of the service and try to follow as He leads. We come prepared for whatever may be asked of us for the King.

So it takes time, energy, effort and commitment to do it. I believe that God honors that far above just winging it week in and week out. We'll take the time to invest in not only the people that God brings, but more importantly the ministry He calls us to.

We don't always get everything right each week. That's how we learn. And why we keep coming back week after week to try and present worship that honors the King!

See ya in church...

Thursday, May 31, 2012

We Just Don't Get It...

Week in and week out we gather.
Families pile into some places people walk when it's good weather...other places we pile the gang onto the bus or subway so we can get there...
And never once have I heard any government official tell us that it was illegal for us to meet, to get together and 'do church', worship, study scripture, pray. Not once that I've heard of on US soil. 

We've even been referred to as a 'Christian nation', with the majority of Americans claiming to believe in God. 

But I have to tell you - we sure don't act like it's as big of a deal as the numbers say. We've got an almost lethargic, complacent attitude toward our religious freedom, to some extent simply taking it for granted.
It seems that we have lost our passion, our 'first love' of the gospel and its truths, and have traded it for what?

As I've had the genuine privilege to go overseas to other countries and see how they respond to the gospel, I'm sad to say that I'm embarrassed. Me, as one who has complete and free access to anything I need or want for my faith to grow, understand, share - I'm embarrassed. I too, like most of us in the states, have become comfortable with my faith and the freedoms I enjoy here. I'm not as passionate...not as vocal when I need to be...not as sharing when I should be. And I can't tell you why, except that it's just too easy.

When I look at how other countries respond, especially the one I just came back from in March, I am broken and humbled.
There is a passionate pursuit of a Holy God that I used to have...there is a genuine desire to know and understand and memorize God's Word that I used to have...there is a drive and determination to share what God has done in their life with others, so much that it takes precedence over success, prestige, and position - kind of like I used to have.

I am learning a lot about not only myself, but about my approach to the gospel and how/what we communicate each week from the stage. But beyond that, I am looking at my daily live and the encounters I have.
What do my words and my actions say about my commitment and devotion to God? What do my words and actions say about what I BELIEVE about God? Am I passionate for the lost? Am I passionate about my walk with God? Am I passionate about leading my family in God's ways? Is that visible? 

I've learned, from my experience overseas with other Christians, that we just don't get it here like they do there. And that has to change. 

My prayer for us, here at FBC Poky, is that we will regain some of that passion, some of that drive and desire. Our lives, our priorities, our purpose will take on new meaning - like it did when we first came to know Christ as Lord in our lives. 

Join my as I pray for the Church in America to get it once again; to be all that God has intended for her to be and to be a light for a lost, dying world.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Lately this is not something I've had at my disposal. Not like I have had in the past. 
It seems that I am in a season of clarifying, seeking, and waiting - for what I'm not really sure.

But I'm reminded that we - all of us - need to take some time in our daily routines to be still, to know that He is God and He is in control. And to remember that His plan, His will for our lives is SO MUCH BETTER than anything we could ever dream up.

The 'other' Psalm passage that mentions this is Psalm 37:7, "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes."

From the beginning I have issue with this verse - wait patiently? UGH! Anyone who knows me understands that I like to see things happen, to see things get done, most of the time NOW. But rushing can be one of the worst things for creativity. Especially when writing songs, messages, scripts, etc.

If we're truly working to serve God; if we're truly living to serve God with our gifts, talents and abilities - then we'll learn the art of being still AND patient before Him. Out of those moments where we simply wait, that's when the creative juices really get flowing. When we try to rush it, when we try to make something out of nothing, that's when crap flows out of the pen onto the paper. Just because God created the earth in 6 days and then rested doesn't mean I get to create a piece in the same amount of time. We shouldn't expect that of any of the artists we work with (painting, sculpture, drama, reading, music, dance, etc.)

I'm hoping that this will remind us all to take some time to be still and wait on Him. Even if that means getting away out of town to get that time, then we need to do it. The end result will be a closer walk with the Creator who gives us the creativity we need to communicate His truth.

Searching for that special thing with you...