Opening worship was great, even with a post-rehearsal song addition per our pastor's request. A note on that; we have a mutually respectful arrangement in which either of us can push back as hard as we want about song choices or other creative elements. Fortunately, my pastor is wired just a bit like an artist, and he gets it. When we butt heads about creative stuff, it usually results in something good. He called on Thursday (after rehearsal) and asked if we could change the closing song. I was already stressed about how some of the other music would go, but he pushed hard. I always ultimately defer to his judgement, because we've established a level of trust that undergirds our decision-making process - plus I have a great deal of respect for the fact that God has called him to lead the church as a whole. I know he respects the area that I lead. So, it works.
Anyway, the topic this week was 'Do What Matters'; we were addressing the idea of serving God through the local church. Here's the run-down:
Happy Day - Tim Hughes. I stumbled upon this song through somebody else's blog and it is KILLER. For a church like ours, it is a shining example of something that invites the seeker and thrills the believer; it's a high-energy tune, easy to sing, a great example of joy for someone looking in from the outside to witness. For the believer, it's a great opportunity to declare O happy day, happy day/you washed my sin away/O happy day, happy day/I'll never be the same/Forever I am changed. Great opener.
Great Things - Matt Maher. Again, a blogging discovery, and what a great one! I really like Maher's music and this song was an instant hit with our crowd. Even though it was brand new, they were all singing along by the time we hit the second chorus. Excellent worship tune; it goes in the rotation for sure.
That's Why We Praise Him - Tommy Walker. Can't go wrong with this guy...great transition for a baptism day (from a happy day to lots of great things, all of which come together to be the reason we praise Him. Get it?)
During the welcome and comments, we presented gold-plated serving spatulas to four of our high-capacity volunteers (two in each service). We went over the top, making it look like an Oscars presentation (including the beautiful glamour girl trophy presenter, which happened to be one of my daughters...) It was a bit risky, I felt, because it was silly - but the crowd was so with us that they gave the honorees a standing ovation, completely unprovoked, which made it work. Brian said a few nice things about the investment each individual makes to the life of the church (we're talking about 20-30 hours per week volunteers - amazing people).
We commissioned a team of 20 senior high teens who are going on a World Changers mission trip next week, and they helped collect the offering.
Baptism - Randy Travis. This was our nod to the baptism we planned for the afternoon. Our country crew pulled it off beautifully - we have a guy who plays dobro and a killer mandolin player. Along with my buddy Don, they did a great job giving the tune just the right flavor.
During the message, we played a video interview with a fellow who heads up our ushers team. Tom and his wife credit the church and Jesus with saving their marriage after they started attending a few years ago. He was baptized last year, which was unforgettable; Tom is in a wheelchair, and several men of the church carried him into the river to baptize him with his wife. We showed a clip of that with the interview, where he shared about the impact the church had on his life, along with his relationship with Christ, baptism and call to serve. It was cool.
Majesty - Delirious. Wow. Just wow, again. Powerful worship.
Something remarkable is happening in our worship experiences lately. It feels different, as if the spirit of God is moving in a way that is fresh and new for our body. I am remarkably grateful...
We met at the James River later that afternoon and baptized almost 40 people. What can you say about such a thing? It was incredibly powerful. Baptism remains my favorite part of the journey - and to be outside, in the river, surrounded by family, friends (and people just hanging out fishing and drinking beer and lazing in their boats!), hearing the cheers with each individual's rise out of the water into 'new life' - there's nothing better.
It was a good day.
How was yours?