Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Can You Go Shopping For PCC?

We are so excited about having a facility from which we can do ministry in the community. The new Powhatan Campus of PCC is still a work in progress, but it's been great to have a place to gather. We've already helped Powhatan High School host an event (a Winter Guard competition), had three Sunday services and one wedding. The offices are coming together and there's lots of ministry work happening on a day to day basis.

This week we'll celebrate our first Easter in this facility. It ought to be a great day!

There's plenty that still needs to be done; one quick glance down the hallway makes that clear! Bit by bit, we are challenging one another - and YOU - to help pitch in to not only honor our commitments to the building fund (contact the office if you're not participating in the REACH campaign - you need to be part of this!) but also help out in extra ways.

And here's a great opportunity. We're in the process of preparing the kitchen for events that require food. Who doesn't love a chance to eat at church?

Please walk down the main hallway this week and grab a "gift tag" off the door. You can purchase the item on your tag on your next trip to Target, Walmart or Sam's Club; bring it back to the church and know that you've played a part in stocking the kitchen for future fun!

And if you see Cathy Rusch, give her a high five. She's organizing and stocking the kitchen so that she can continue to do amazing things like what she's put together for the past three weeks. Cathy has provided breakfast - including juice, coffee, fresh fruit and hot breakfast food - for the early morning volunteers, many of whom arrive before 7:00 AM and stay until after 1:00. It's a great way to honor the musicians, shuttle drivers, greeters, set up crew, tech team and others who work hard to make Sunday happen. Cathy is AWESOME in our book!

Cathy and her beautiful daughter Katie

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Slow Sensible Talk

Garrison Keillor is one of my all-time favorites. I want to say "favorite author", but it's more than his writing. I could say "favorite entertainer", but that seems so simplistic. After A Prairie Home Companion, I don't feel entertained - I feel at peace.

I'd like to say that he's one of my all-time favorite people, but I don't really know him. So that doesn't seem right.

Regardless, he's special to me. And when I read this today, I paid attention.
Back in the day, you glanced at a couple newspapers and a handful of magazines and that was it, your duty was done, you had the evening free to sit on the porch and jiggle the ice in your glass and talk slow sensible talk with the friends and neighbors. But now, if you dare open your computer and go online, you are swept away into a vortex of surf and whirled around and around and when you finally gather the will to click Disconnect, you find that hours have passed. Weeks, perhaps. And you can't remember a bit of it.
Made me think.

Read his entire article here.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Successful Shopping

Found for my office workspace, via Craigslist.

Hard to believe. It is EXACTLY what I wanted....

Chocolate As A Form Of Deliverance...

While speaking on the phone with my significant other late yesterday afternoon, I mentioned that it would be a good time for him to bring home some chocolate.

Being that it's been a challenging week.

It's the little things that help make the tough times bearable, don't you think?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tangible Proof

I'm making some's been a productive day.

I cleaned toilets - a lot of little tiny toilets, which get just as dirty as big toilets. I found myself wondering why toilets are designed with those swirly parts on the sides that make it so difficult to clean close to the floor.

And why is it that boys - it must be boys because I don't know how a girl could manage it - always seem to leak down the side of the toilet?

I wiped down windows and window sills and watched the rain fall. Thought about how those brightly colored rooms would fill up on Sunday morning with laughter and smiles and happiness. I felt a tinge of grief that my days of mothering small children were gone. It must be really, really cool to bring kids to PCC and see the way the upstairs floor is completely dedicated to what will help them learn to love Jesus. I'm proud of our church and its commitment to kids.

I got to spend a bit of time in my office, doing work and organizing my junk. I have a HUGE pile of stuff for the trash, a box for Goodwill and a neatly organized small bookshelf.

Making sense out of this chaos helped me focus today. I'm grateful.

So here's the top of my little shelf - for now. An Erwin McManus book (that I haven't read), Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down, which I read years ago (this copy belongs to Kevin). the Heart of the Artist, which I believe to be essential for any artist of any type who wants to know more about themselves and their place in the kingdom of God. Walk On - also Kevin's. I've read part of it. The Unexpected Adventure, which was the basis for a pretty cool series we did recently. Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton. Want to get wrecked? Read that book. Take This Bread by Sara Miles - brilliant book. Loved it. Positioning, which belongs to Jeanette Brannan. Great book on branding and marketing. Less Clutter, Less Noise - Kem Meyer, and absolutely essential. Two worship devo books - Your Love Is Amazing and The Air I Breathe. An old copy of The Screwtape Letters. One of my favorite devo books, Mornings With Henri Nouwen.

To the right is a pirated copy of the Baptist Hymnal. I will not admit where it came from, because I am ashamed that I still have it. It got packed in a moving box and never returned.

And the rock? That's from a fun video project I did for a women's retreat a few years ago. That rock got around town a good bit...

Tangible proof that some order came into my life today.

NOTE: Obviously I have stuff on my shelf that belongs to others; this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you've given me a cd or book recently, cruise by and pick it up. I have a lot of things with no traceable connection to the owner. And, by the way, if you're from Chagrin Falls, you can have the hymnal back....
EDITED NOTE: I stand corrected. That is not a BAPTIST hymnal; it is THE hymnal. For Worship and Celebration. Just FYI.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Listened to a great message tonight from my former pastor Jamie Rasmussen.

I base my life on the truth I find in the Bible.

So easily I forget that I can and should trust that truth in all times.

God delivers us from our circumstances.

Or in our circumstances.

Or, at times, even after our circumstances.
"We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. Oh him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us..." 2 Corinthians 1.8-10
Jamie says, "He's always up to something to deliver us. We just have to trust him."

In Search Of Wonder

A photo of my as-yet-unfinished work space at the church. Eventually, I'll get it done...

Here's what's smacking my internal attitude around today - a fascinating and thought-provoking quote from Dan Allender's book Sabbath, via Pete Wilson's blog:

Ambition leads to the demand for the shortest path between points to gain the most in the least amount of time; wonder calls the heart to explore the unexpected, nonlinear paths that often create a new unity that could not be expected when one first began.”

This really resonates with me today. I am struggling to make sense of the details of my life in this season, from the responsibilities and requirements of my job and my home to the emotional challenges of my relationships.

I want an answer. I want to get there. I want things to be right, and to be assured that I am doing things right. I want to know that I'm heading in the right direction, and that we - the "we" that collectively embodies my work, family and friends - are moving forward in grace and wisdom.

I want some answers, and I want things to be not-so-difficult.

I'm leaning hard into ambition and not much into wonder. And I hate that though I know better, I can hardly seem to help myself from getting bound up with anxiety and stress and concern.

It's ridiculous, really, because time and again I have been whacked over the head with the same message.


Trust God.

Let go.

I've heard it from friends, read it in scripture, stumbled upon it in books and articles and know it, deep in the core of my being. And yet I am having a heck of a time living into it these days.

"I cry out to God most high, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly purse me; God sends his love and his faithfulness." - Psalm 57.2

Monday, March 22, 2010


This is so incredibly cool.

Crazy Heart And The Verizon Adventure

The weekend is a blur. We worked hard Saturday morning and then decided to hang out a bit during the afternoon. One of the family phones was dying, so we decided to visit Verizon to explore our options.

Off we went to the Westchester store. We played with phones, talked about new plans, debated Droid vs. Palm, wistfully considered leaving Verizon for the iPhone. We spent three hours working through the phones and comparing features.

We went back home that night, slept on it, made our decision (sadly, passing on the iPhone due to AT&T's inferior coverage west of Richmond) and returned to Verizon Sunday afternoon to talk through a making some changes.

We came out way ahead financially. We essentially got two brand new phones for free, added a fifth line to the family plan (shhh....don't tell Daniel....), set up all the lines with the music business (which gets discounted rates) and made a great friend in the salesman.

It only took FIVE HOURS.

I am not kidding.

At one point, after the store had been officially closed for two hours and we were STILL waiting on the business department to sign off on the deal, Tony literally laid down in the middle of the store - on the floor.

It was very surreal. However, we will simply count it all as loss. At least we were hanging out together. And we chose the Palm Pre phone, which - so far - is pretty cool. And we spent a total of eight hours in one weekend - the equivalent of a work day - in the Verizon store. And we bought our sales guy a coffee from the Starbucks next door, because he was pretty cool.

In the midst of all that and the gorgeous day that was Saturday, we took advantage of two free movie tickets (thanks, John Tiller - you ROCK!) and saw Crazy Heart.

Good movie - not as gripping as I expected, but good - but an incredible performance by Jeff Bridges. He deserved the Oscar.

Great music, too - authentic and impressive because Bridges really inhabited the character enough to sing the songs quite convincingly. And there's T Bone Burnett behind it all, which is fantastic. I loved the music.

Bridges' portrayal of a washed-up, worn out alcoholic at his worst was enlightening. I know some folks who have battled an addiction to alcohol but this was a stark and almost horrifying look at how desolate life can become when it's chained to a bottle. There was a great redemptive aspect to the story, but in terms of the punishing power of alcoholism, I've never seen anything quite like it. I left the movie with a tightness in my gut, thinking about what life must be like for some of the people I see every day who are living with an alcoholic. Or battling the disease themselves.

The movie is worth seeing. I suppose it would hit a tender spot for some. It sure opened my eyes.

So, the point of this post? Threefold:

  • Crazy Heart is worth seeing.
  • Bryant at the Westchester Verizon store is pretty awesome.
  • I like my new Palm Pre.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Family Snapshots

After a most incredible Christmas surprise, the big day finally arrived last weekend. My three girls, my mom and I went to see Wicked, and oh - what a day it was!

We had a wonderful brunch at the Strawberry Street Cafe and then went on to see the show.

Not much good blogging fodder, truth be told; the following content is simply photos of my family, having fun.

It was a wonderful day; the show is incredible. No matter who you are, whether or not you like musical theatre, if you love or hate going to shows - you need to see this musical. Go with The Wizard of Oz in mind, because Wicked gives you the backstory. It is clever, imaginative, emotional, powerful, touching and very, very well-told.

The music is brilliant. The sets are astounding.

Here's some pictures of my family.

Have a great weekend!

Mom and I. Don't ask why I look so astounded. I'm not sure what was going on.

Sarah, looking absolutely gorgeous, as usual...

Shannon, looking absolutely gorgeous, as usual...

Sydni, looking absolutely gorgeous, as usual...

At the cafe. No photo of Sarah, as she's the one always taking the pictures...making us look absolutely gorgeous. As usual...

Just FYI

The sun is shining.

My allergies are coming alive.

But I really don't care.

It's a beautiful day.

And that is all.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pianos And Prayers

We had rehearsal tonight in our new space - our first "regular" Wednesday night rehearsal. Last week was so frenetic and packed with energy that it didn't seem normal.

Tonight was normal. It was be out of the the little trailer, where we all practically stood on top of one another to practice. Now we're on this huge expanse of stage.

We're rehearsing with the Avion in-ear monitors.

We can hear (for the most part).

We're running video to set up songs.

We can leave our gear out.

I don't have to perch the keyboard on the conference table.

The singers don't have to stand in Lori's office because there's no room for them in the main room.

It's "real".

And it feels so funky.

I'm so, so grateful - there are so many things that we'll be able to do in terms of our vision and the mission of our church. Having this building opens up so many possibilities. In the long run, it's going to be terrific.

But these first few initial weeks of change feel a tad bit painful, honestly.

I realized tonight, as we went through "None Like Jesus" (yeah - if you love that song, don't miss this Sunday...), that I was grieving something specific.

I miss the grand piano at the high school.

I've never played at a church that didn't have an acoustic piano as an option. I am, first and foremost, a pianist. My preference is to play the real deal. I love the keyboards we use, and I'm grateful for them. But the sheer pleasure of sitting on the bench and making music on the instrument that I've played for over 30 years now; that's unmatched by anything in my life.

In this building, that option is gone. There's no baby grand hiding in the wings.

It makes me sad. I'm hoping that at some point in the future, we'll be able to get one. Funds are tight right now; although it's part of the big picture in terms of equipment, it's sunk pretty low on the list of priorities. Actually, it's probably not even ON the list any more. There are so many things more necessary right now. Like ceiling tiles and tables. Flooring for the youth room. Asphalt for the parking lot.

So I'm hoping that one day....

Shoot, let's just be honest. I'm hoping that somebody in Powhatan will read this and remember that there's a baby grand sitting at home - preferably a Yamaha - that they would love to donate.

I'll be praying about that....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Movie Review: "I've Loved You So Long"

It took me two days, but I finally finished watching I've Loved You So Long. Let me just give a major shout out to whoever came up with the idea of Netflix Watch Instantly.


Trying to relax a bit while folding clothes, I opened Netflix and found it recommended to me by "them", whoever "they" are. I vaguely remembered hearing something about this being a good film. I clicked play and was immersed in a film I found strangely powerful, if not somewhat voyeuristic.

The story hinges on two sisters: Lea, with an apparently happily married existence with a spouse, good job, cute kids, nice house. The other sister, Juliette, recently released from prison, is brittle and hard, wrapped in layers of grief and sadness. Bit by bit her story unfolds. It is utterly captivating.

I don't recall ever seeing such a stark, silent depiction of suffering. Kristin Scott Thomas is brilliant - no makeup, gaunt, silent, pensive. She so completely inhabits the character and communicates every nuance of her pain through the slightest movements. A small grimace, a brief glance. The wrinkling of her forehead. When the movie moves towards it's climax and the veneer cracks, the physical release is potent.

I was deeply moved by this movie. Often I find myself drawn into films, identifying with the characters and generally pulling out some sort of application. In retrospect, I do think this story is a remarkable demonstration of grace and unconditional love; but my strongest reaction to I've Loved You So Long is to the delicate strength of Juliette. She is absolutely untouchable, until she chooses to move past safety and into acceptance. Her initial steps are small and tentative, reactive to the actions and attitudes of those around her. Eventually the character moves from "there" - a difficult, painful past riddled with guilt and great loss - to "here" - a simple statement of grace.

Good movie. Highly recommended for a rainy afternoon.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Links You'll Love

A little linky love:

Check out my pastor's thoughts about yesterday's worship experience.

Here's a word from one of my favorite people and this year's Teacher of the Year for our county.

Another post from a fellow creative gives a glimpse not only into our planning process, but also into what it feels like to have a church feel like home.

The internet is a great time-sucker, but it does have it's redeeming qualities; this being one. Check 'em out.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Our Building Is Good

What a great day today - the very first Sunday service at PCC's first permanent facility on Anderson Highway.

I was overwhelmed, all day long. There were many, many moments - many firsts. From the opening prayer at 9:05 when the room filled with VOLUNTEERS who were serving all over the building - like 100 of them - it was an amazing day full of surprises and emotion.

At one point, at the end of "He Is Yawheh", I glanced over at Elijah and Marc, who were making incredible rhythmic patterns on the percussion gear, and I thought to myself, "REMEMBER THIS. BE IN THIS MOMENT. THIS IS A MOMENT. BE PRESENT."

After waiting for weeks/months/years and pressing toward this day, hoping to turn a corner and get past this part of our mission, I didn't want to miss anything.

And I think I grasped most of the day. It flew by too quickly but I was there, I remember, and it was GOOD.

Help us out, if you will. If you were with us today, help us evaluate (like Brian mentioned in the message). Let us know two things - you can answer in the comments below:

1. What worked really well today?

2. What would you like to see improved before you invite your friends and neighbors to come?

We appreciate your perspective - we want to honor God with excellence, and that includes celebrating what worked and improving what did not!

Thanks, in advance, for your help!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wicked Excited

I want to write a blog post; I have so much swirling inside of me right now that needs to be released!

But maybe that's just the pizza I ate. (Time for a confession - the "new" Dominos is good. Too good. I ate four pieces. It is disturbing to realize that I ate, basically, half a pizza.)

Lord, help me. It's nervous energy.

Anyway, I want to write all about Wicked, because we saw it today and oh my oh my oh my. What an incredible experience - what a story. I knew all of the music but I have never seen the show, and so all the blanks were filled in and I was stunned at how it unfolded. I found it an incredibly spiritual experience - there was this rich undercurrent of redemption and grace and temptation and greed and good gone bad and was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. The story stands on its own, but the sets and costumes and effects were unbelievable. I cried, more than once.

I would love to go see this show again, on this current run, just to soak it all up again. I just might do that, if $100 drops out of the sky.

I went with my mom and my girls - it was a Christmas gift - and we had a great lunch and enjoyed the show immensely.

And the rest of what is swirling around inside of me (with the pizza) is the undeniable fact that tomorrow morning our church will worship - for the first time - in our own space. We'll be in a building in which we have invested blood, sweat, tears, prayers and financial resources. It is far from perfect but it it gloriously ready for us, and tomorrow we are going to fill it with people and give credit where it is due - "Not to us, but to YOUR name be the glory..."

I can't wrap my brain around it yet. If services tomorrow are anything like rehearsal last night, I'm likely to fall over. Or stomp my foot through the platform. It was just amazing.

I love my church, the people in it, and the God who created us and loves us - oh, how he loves us.

PCC. 4480 Anderson Highway. 9:30 and 11:00 AM Sunday.

It's going to be a great day.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Final Sunday

We sang our songs in the high school today for the last time.

Nothing too remarkable about the set list - most of it wasn't chosen for closure. We did "Let The Praises Ring" and "Friend of God", threw in a 33 Mile tune called "Just One of Those Days" to set up the message and then capped things off with "God of This City", which WAS intended to give us a way to appreciate the end of our time at PHS.

It did.

I love to hear the church sing. I heard you all today, loud and clear. It gave me chills.

My heart cracked a bit as we closed the 11:00 service. I remember arriving in Powhatan, sitting in those seats and crying for weeks on end, broken. I remember sitting behind Mandy and Angie James and their introductions and subsequent love and attention to my girls.

I remember Jaime Lloyd and my first Christmas Eve service, desperately sad, missing my kids. I remember writing a song called "This Is Who I Am" and being invited to sing for the first time - and reluctantly saying, "yes".

I remember faces that have come and gone; messages that have changed my heart. Music we have played, songs we have sung. Things we tried that worked well and others that were not so well-received.

I remember Better Days and hostile, singing Christmas trees. I remember fake weddings and "Live Like You Were Dying" and the day we took Brian shopping for cool clothes. I remember Imagine Christmas and wild percussionists. I remember Finance Man. I remember Bob Pino as Abraham, six weeks in a row. I remember the Unity Service. I remember Brian singing "I Will Worship You" and Mandy dancing. I remember Kevin singing "I Boast No More". I remember Small Group Olympics and laughing like crazy. I remember "Losing My Way" and "Colored People".

There is so much.

I'm trying to appreciate the process here, knowing that we walk away from one place and a certain set of experiences into a new future, brimming with hope and greater things that are yet to come. I know that there is so much still to come.

But today was hard. I am mourning the loss of something that's intangible, a very concrete part of the way God has dealt with me in the past six years. It's not without pain.

And never without promise.

For those of you reading who are at PCC, leave a comment; tell me what you remember. I'd love to know.

"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord... - Jeremiah 29.11

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Nobody Is Spared Difficult Days

Thinking about this while I am folding laundry today:

"...if we think God is going to take away our troubles, we assume there is something wrong with us if He doesn’t. We assume we did something bad, or that God doesn’t like us, or perhaps even that God Himself isn’t good. To be sure, some of the hardships in our lives happen because we made bad decisions, but even in that we are given the grace of a God who is willing to discipline us in love and restore us. A careful understanding of Biblical stories reveals that every hero goes through difficult trouble. Nobody is spared.

In an age where we are taught through commercialism that there should be no struggles in life that the purchasing of a product won’t relieve, the Bible is incompatible. But the age of commercialism has let us down. Many have found their stuff has made life more meaningless. What we’ve forgotten is that every great story has to involve a difficult ambition, and must then travel through the land of conflict. The best stories have their protagonist wondering if they are going to make it. What scripture teaches us, then, is that God will be with us in that place, and will give us the strength to endure a hard thing."

Think about that for a while. Whether you're in the middle of a hard thing, or on either side of one, you can be sure it's coming. None of us are exempt.

And there is help.

Read more here. Thanks to Donald Miller for his wisdom and his writing skills.

Friday, March 5, 2010

My Heart Turned Violently

We got in late last night - like 3:00 AM - from the Unleash conference at NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC. My two previous posts were the raw, unedited notes from the two breakout sessions I attended. We also sat in two main sessions with worship and teaching from Perry Noble.

Between the information shared by NewSpring leaders, the worship and the fun time hanging with the 19 folks from Powhatan, it was an incredible 36-hour experience. It's a whirlwind and it's an exhausting travel schedule, but I think this was one of the most valuable conference experiences I've had in the past few years.

I had the huge privilege of being free to truly worship through the music led by the NewSpring team. Since that's my primary weekly responsibility at the church, it's difficult to ever escape the role of "leader" week to week. Even when I'm not leading from the stage, my heart is still engaged in a leadership role as I worship with our home congregation. I'm grateful - it comes with the territory, and I am not complaining. My daily, personal worship is valuable - but a time of pure, unfettered corporate worship is precious to me.

I got that yesterday, and it was good - freeing, focused and pure. It is an overwhelming gift. It is life-changing.

Yesterday these words reverberated through the room:

oh, how he loves us so
how he loves us
how he loves us so

The rhythmic push disappeared; the instruments pulled back and the gauzy film of worship hung in between God and his people. There was a tangible presence in the room - holy, pure, loving and merciful. Indescribable.

we are his portion and he is our prize
drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes
if grace is an ocean we're all sinking
heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
and my heart turns violently inside of my chest
i don't have time to maintain these regrets
when i think about the way...oh...

I know that everybody walks into a conference like that with a unique set of circumstances. Many folks were wrestling with big issues. We all carry burdens specific to our situation.

Whatever we carry can be radically, supernaturally changed when we open ourselves to complete vulnerability in worship.

I was changed yesterday. I had carried some tension into the room, an underlying issue of estrangement that tinged my comings and goings. Without even seeking it out, God reached into my heart and brought freedom.

I sang with my hands stretched towards heaven, wanting to honor God with my attention and affection. Unexpectedly, I felt a great surge of attention and affection returned back to me. Through these simple lyrics, I was reminded, over and over and over again:

he loves us
oh how he loves us
oh how he loves us
oh how he loves....

All of us. Equally. In light of the cross and the overwhelming, all consuming, unfathomable love of God, our regrets are reduced to simple distractions. My heart was so beautifully broken by grace - a state that offers freedom to seek forgiveness and to embrace reconciliation.

I literally was with Jesus yesterday in a beautifully, heart-wrenching way. I continue to be surprised by the revelation of God. It helps me long for heaven just a bit more each day.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Unleash - Service Planning

Notes from Shane Duffey's session on Creating Services @ NewSpring.

Consistency is king. Create a way to do things that allows freedom.

Our "industry" goal is to create a clear vision of who Jesus is. Create a distraction-free environment to present the message of who Jesus is.

Excellence is removing distractions that prevent people from hearing or seeing truth about Jesus.

Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Planning puts things through our filter before it gets into the house so that people can see Jesus.

2. PREPARE (equip)
3. PRACTICE (nothing happens on Sunday that hasn't been seen)

First, the leadership team maps out Perry's teaching schedule - general teaching ideas (series on marriage in the fall, etc). These meetings happen a few times a year.
Weekly, the creative team gets together to plan a service - usually between 3-5 Sundays away. Creative team works off of Perry's notes, sent to SD. (Meeting is 10 - 12 Wednesday) SD sends notes to 8 - 12 people, who read in advance, then come into meeting to walk through the message with Perry. Creative meeting includes talk-through of upcoming Sunday.
This entire process starts with a pastor who works ahead. PN creates that environment. Every few weeks they discuss "theming" the series.
Assistant to SD makes a list of everything that needs to be done; all those responsible for executing the service report to him. His job is to make sure it all gets done.
8:00 tech run has a HARD START where they run it EXACTLY as it is in the service.
After 9:15 service, if something doesn't work, they drop it.
Multi-site feeds are on a 5 minute delay.
Technical people see technical things; they are often self-correcting. Creative meetings are to evaluate how the people in the seats are experiencing the service.
NewSpring leadership trusts their ability to discern between valid criticism and personal preference. They do not do surveys or seek out third-party opinions. Their primary marker is whether or not people are receiving Christ.
Distractions include bad notes in songs; lagging lyrics; a creative element that has nothing to do with the main point. Distractions capture attention from Jesus.
Know each leader's primary purpose - the senior pastor should typically lead the church and preach the word. Leaders need to be informed but not necessarily involved in everything. Honest communication helps leaders stay balanced. He should never be surprised. He should not dictate.

Primary worship leader leads weekly meeting where set lists are planned that work at each campus. MULTISITE - WE DONT' WANT A BUNCH OF NEWSPRING CHURCHES. WE WANT NEWSPRING IN A BUNCH OF PLACES. There is flexibility; they invite everybody to invest. Don't strangle a campus by forcing a song without personnel to maintain excellence. By inviting everybody into the planning process, you can avoid difficult conflicts.
EX: Kids on stage at one campus, not as many kids at another - add a chorus to a song to stretch it out.
"Need To Know" - 10B4 - great bumper, announcement, etc.

Perry gives basic notes; creative staff can read between the lines as necessary. Scripture, questions, illustrations, stories. Only the senior pastor can create advance prep margin for the creative team.
Everything we do as a staff member or volunteer is holding up the arms of our pastor as he leans into this calling from God to lead the church.
SD (creative arts director) and his assistant are responsible for communicating the changes that come in preparation. You must think of EVERYBODY who will be affected.
In group meetings, the Holy Spirit is in everybody. If you are challenged to decide, if there is a difference of opinion, they either defer to PN or to next week.
At Anderson Campus they have two full-time lighting people.
Band rehearsal is Monday night; it is recorded and the lights are cued in for the show based on the recording. Same for the audio mix - cues from the rehearsal audio. Camera shots, video set up on Sunday AM.
Last minute calls are rare. PN has only done it 3-4 times in the past 10 years. You're asking for trouble in terms of having excellence.

Unleash - Worship Leadership

Notes from Lee McDerment's session on Worship Leadership at Unleash 2010.

Worship leadership begins with worship lifestyle.
  • If you don't tithe, you're not a worship leader.
  • First, you must be transformed by Jesus; your mind must be renewed.
  • Your intimacy with God is the most vital part of your ministry. It is the best work you will do every day.
  • Leadership - of any sort - is as simple as listening to Jesus and doing what He says.
  • Get in the place where you can hear from God clearly so that you can avoid trusting wisdom, common sense, etc. and trust JESUS.
  • Be honest with God so that you can be honest on stage.
  • Your calling is simple: to be with Jesus. It is not to strum a guitar or sing in a microphone - those are steps of obedience.
  • "I'm called to be a worship leader" - can get things sideways. The simple calling is to be with Jesus.
  • As a worship leader here (or at PCC), we never walk in the door alone - we carry our band, our pastor, the staff, JESUS. We are connected, in context, to a whole host of other people. Being a worship leader in a community means you live in a fishbowl. It is accountability and support but also a heavy load at times. You are living as light in a dark world. You never walk in the door alone. You must live authentically in every place in life.
First calling as a ministry to people is to minister to the pastor (NewSpring's DNA).
  • Greatest opportunity for a church split is between worship leader and pastor. Support is essential for unity.
  • The worship leader has the best perspective for understanding a bit of the burden of the senior pastor's burden.
Minister to the people beyond the songs.
  • Your accessibility and availability offstage really affects your impact as a worship leader - empowers your authority onstage.
  • Serving people is always more powerful than a song. We are MINISTERS.
  • You cannot make yourself too small - honor the mandate to consider others better than yourself and Jesus will lift you up. Serve, serve, serve. God will count you faithful. Philippians 2.3-4
  • Leadership responsibilities in the Bible apply to worship leaders.
Build character.
  • Your talent can take you places your character cannot sustain you.
  • Be skillful in playing. God has given you a gift. Play it in His presence.
  • Know your Bible so you don't mess somebody up. If you're going to say something, it needs to be true and accurate.
  • It takes 40 hours to read through the Bible out loud.
  • Romans 11.34. You didn't start your ministry. God began it, He will sustain it and He will finish it.
  • It is better for worship leaders to operate from godliness rather than giftedness.
  • Writing music should be part of the worship leader's job. Seek a new song. Go before God and let the song inside of you come out. Write with your friends.
  • "You won't be judged on one song, but you will be held accountable for your entire body of work."
Responsibilities of NewSpring worship leaders:
  • Worship leadership on Sundays is the most important part of the job for NewSpring worship leaders.
  • Pastor to musicians - they are vital.
  • Pray that God will send you band members more talented than you. Seek them out.
  • Disciple church members and ALSO leaders at other churches.
Excellence at NewSpring:
  1. Priority - begin with the end in mind. Salvation and repentance are the two major indicators of success for the worship music. Life change is what matters.
  2. Process - every service must be carefully planned by the spirit, via the team, in advance. Tech teams must be informed. All information must go out on time. Practice happens at home - rehearsal is what the team does.
  3. Product - Every service must thoughtfully move people towards the message and the movement of God.
The process must be as important as the product.
Know the songs so well that you can talk to Jesus while you're singing it.

Working under authority is a great learning process.

Learn to say, "Yes - here's what it's going to take to pull this off." Lee always says "yes" to Perry; he just gives him all the info and is honest.

"Artistic integrity" may be Satanic.

Managing a band.
  • Email letters to the band - pray up, be prepped, be punctual. Failure to do those things will get you NOT CALLED BACK.
  • NewSpring invests financially into the players, along with counting them as friends.
  • Excellence reflects GOD.
  • Auditions are held with grace and truth. They exalt the nursery and the parking team. Our charge is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. A small handful of people are meant to have stage ministry. Most people who have been told they can sing have not been told the truth.
  • Stage ministry can be toxic to a person's faith and growth.
  • Planning and song prep: style should serve people, repeat songs a lot, pray.
  • Don't play too much new music - let people obey the Biblical command to sing, which they cannot do with too much new music.
  • Pray for every person you need.
  • Why trust your ability to add when God is a multiplier? Keep your needs on a whiteboard and be reminded DAILY to pray for what you need!!!!! I NEED A SOUND GUY. I NEED A GUITAR PLAYER! ETC.
  • Face-to-face communication is essential.
  • Gossip and communication - negativity that goes up is ok, because the leader can do something about it. Sideways negativity is gossip.
  • Expectations: avoid the word "should".
  • You don't have to have a band to have excellent worship.
  • The worship team has the greatest power to encourage the staff. They get to play and have fun and do what they love! Show love to the lowest person on the totem pole.
  • Don't be the guy in the Hawaiian shirt, obviously too old. Lead and develop a younger generation of worship leaders. Pray and ask for God to send them.
  • Challenge the young leaders - have you read the whole Bible? BIBLE FIRST - MUSICAL SKILLS SECOND.
  • Wait for margin to do a new thing (like produce a record).
Theology of songs is important.
NewSpring wants to be peers and move forward together spiritually, which means that they generally do not involve folks who are not following Christ. You need people who are following the same things and ideas.
Don't be afraid to cover a Lady Gaga song with an acoustic guitar and a guy. Keep it fresh and make it excellent.
How to manage external expression (deadness on stage, looking distracted): critique dvds. If you are going bonkers for Jesus inside, don't fake it by being still. Don't keep it inside - let it out! Bring the band to the critique meeting and let them see themselves!
"This is just the way I play" - respectfully disagree. You are in the band - you are a leader. Let it out. Is it that you don't know your music? Are you not prepared?

Set list is planned about six weeks in advance, though sometimes it goes to two weeks. Lots of advance notice helps.

Hard start for rehearsal is 6:30 - get there early. Prayer starts immediately at 6:30. Check monitors. Check ears one person at a time. They start with a familiar song and end with an unfamiliar song. Record every rehearsal to make mp3s available to the band, especially with a new arrangement.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Unleash 2010

I'm in Anderson, South Carolina, for NewSpring Church's Unleash Conference. It's an intense, one-day event crammed full of a NewSpring experience.

I came last year and enjoyed it, although the breakout sessions were hard to appreciate due to cramped rooms and lack of space. But God spoke so loudly to me and others in our group during the main sessions that it was an excellent investment of time and resources.

Half of our staff is here, with a big group of awesome friends who serve in amazing and diverse ways around PCC. The other half of the staff is home, feverishly working on all that's needed to prepare for our first service in our first permanent facility on March 14th.

Crazy times.

Perry Noble leads NewSpring and will be the speaker for both large sessions tomorrow. He sent out instructions to read Genesis 34.1-29 and the first six chapters of Joshua to prepare for tomorrow's first session.

I just finished. You gotta love the Bible - sometimes it's so raw that it's hard to believe that it's the inspired word of God with relevance to our lives. Tonight's reading included rape and lots of circumcision - along with some awesome works of God.

I can't wait for tomorrow; I know God's gonna move. Something's gonna get unleashed...