Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How Well Do You Point?

Recently, I read an article online about some of the “Secrets of Disney World”.  Some of them were pretty interesting.  Like, did you know that children are never reported lost at Disney World?  If a child is separated from their parents it is reported as a “Lost Parent”.  Because how could a child ever be lost at Disney World?  Or did you know that most Cast Members (that’s what employees are called) can tell you where the nearest restroom is in 14 languages?  With as many international visitors as Disney World gets each year, that’s probably the most important information they give out.  But one of the “Disney Secrets” really caught my attention.   When a Cast Member points (for directions, etc…) they always point with two fingers.  Walt Disney thought it was rude to point with one finger, so all Cast Members are taught to point with two.  It’s called the “Disney Point”.

Think about that.  Walt Disney thought it was so important to point the right way that they teach every employee how to do it.  Now, here’s why that is significant to me.  My job is to point.  Not at people or where the restroom is, but to Jesus.  It’s what I do.  And if you are a worship leader, it’s your job too. 

Being on stage in front of hundreds of people playing music is actually pretty cool.  In fact, if you're not careful, it can all go to your head. There are people each week that tell me how well I did, or how good the music was, or how much they enjoyed it.  And all of those things are fine and good.  But, the most important thing is not how well I did, or how good the music was, or even how much people enjoyed it.  The point of being a worship leader is did people have an encounter with Jesus?  Did they get to experience the one who saved their souls and gives them new life?  Did I point them to Jesus?   And if the answer is yes, then I did my job.  

So, how well do you point?  I'm going to keep working on it. I just need to decide if I'm going to use one finger or twoJ.

Worship Big!


Monday, July 20, 2015

Forgive and Forget?

                Forgiveness is something that never ceases to amaze me.  I mean, think about it; is forgiveness really that easy?  Think back to when someone has done something to you.  We’ve all been on both ends. Have you forgiven them?  Are you still holding the grudge?  If you have forgiven, was it easy?  Maybe so, maybe not.   If not, then what’s holding you back?  Even more so, if you’ve forgiven, have you forgotten about it? Do you still think about the offense when you see the person who wronged you?

                How do you think God sees forgiveness?  If you’re a follower of Christ, does it ever seem like  God rolls His eyes or shakes His head at us when we ask forgiveness, especially when it’s something we’ve said “I’m sorry” for time and time again?  But, because we are covered by the blood of Jesus, it’s something He must do..?  I don’t think that at all.  My reasoning for not believing that is simply grace.  Before I continue, let me just say that I’m certainly not a “trust Jesus and everything will be perfect” type of grace person. I love grace because if not for it, I, along with the rest of us, would be hopeless.  Because of grace, we have a chance.  The grace of Jesus has no limits.  We as humans put so many limitations on ourselves that limitless grace is hard to wrap our minds around.  We certainly don’t use that as a license to become complacent but rather as motivation.  Proverbs 24:16 says that a righteous man falls 7 times, but gets up again.  We use that fact to keep getting up.  With that, I think about David.  If ever a man needed forgiveness that the grace of God offers, it was he.  The Bible says that he was a man after Gods own heart, yet he was a lying, narcissistic, adulterous coward.   God still picked him up and found favor in him.  That can be difficult to fathom.

                Romans 5:20 is one of those verses that I can’t ever seem to get over.   It seems fairly simple when reading it, but it’s powerful.  It says “The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase.  But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”  That basically sums it up.  Grace covers it.  There’s nothing you can do to run from God and that includes His grace.  Here is where it gets even better.  It’s forgotten.  Not only is your sin forgiven, it’s forgotten.  That means that your offense can never be the pink elephant in the room.  It won’t come up again.  It’s finished; done.  Think about when Peter denied Jesus after saying that he would be by His side, even to death.  When Jesus showed up on the beach to make breakfast, the denial never came up.  I’m sure it was heavily on Peter’s mind, yet Jesus never brought it up.  It was done.  You see, true forgiveness can never happen without forgetting.  I believe this is why the hardest person to forgive is you.  We so often beat ourselves up for something that God doesn’t remember.  Go and sin no more.  Move on.  Psalm 103:12 rings true when it says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  That’s comforting, is it not?  So yes, forgive AND forget.



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Oh, How They Sing

One of the drawbacks of using IEM’s (In Ear Monitors) is that I can’t hear the congregation.  The choir is close enough that I can still hear them (even through my IEM), but I can’t hear the congregation at all.  I can see lips moving and hands raised, but no sounds at all.  And that’s what makes what happened on Sunday so special.  For the final song on Sunday during our worship time, I took out my earbuds, stepped down from the stage onto the lower platform, and really got to hear our church sing.

If you talk to worship pastors and ministers of music, one of their biggest issues is getting people to participate and sing.  And I’m not going to lie; we struggle with that at Mt. Pleasant as well.  There are times (especially at our 8:30 a.m. service) when I think I see more people yawning than actually singingJ.  But on Sunday at our 11 a.m. service, I was amazed at the overall volume and level of participation of our people.  It wasn’t a tremendously large crowd.  It’s the middle of the summer, so we won’t have really large crowds again until after school starts back.  We weren’t even doing one of the church’s favorite songs.  But, they sang and they sang out.  And if you were there, and you participated, then let me say THANK YOU!!!

It can get extremely discouraging to plan, practice, and prepare and then for no one to participate.  In a couple of months I’ll be going to my yearly worship conference and one of the things they will talk about is how to get people to sing and to participate.  They will have all kinds of tips (like not putting songs in keys that are too high to sing or constantly singing songs that no one knows) and I do my best to follow them and learn from them, but ultimately I believe getting your church to worship is a matter of the heart.  If your people don’t have a heart and a hunger for worship and to experience the presence of God, then those tips won’t make much of a difference. 

So, I’m thankful for the people of Mt. Pleasant.  I’m thankful that we are a worshiping church.  And it’s not because of me.  It’s because of you.

Worship Big!


Monday, July 6, 2015

Getting Older on a Worship Team

Recently I had a band member ask me when I was going to kick the “old guys” out of the band?  I believe he was being somewhat facetious, but I think he was also a little curious about what would happen to some of the older members of the team as new people come along.  I’ll be honest with you.  I hadn’t really thought much about it.
Because when I look at our worship teams (we have 2 Sunday morning teams) and the Worship Choir, I don’t see age.  What I see is what the church is supposed to look like.  Age-wise our worship teams go from 13 years old to some in their early to mid-fifties.  That’s a 40 year gap!  The Worship Choir is even more than that.  It’s about 50 years!  But isn’t that what the church is supposed to look like?  People of all ages working together to serve the Lord.  Shouldn’t that be the model for all ministries?  Having multiple generations of people serving together, locked arm in arm in ministry.

So many times when you look at churches, everything they do is segregated by age.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe a lot of the segregation happens because people feel more comfortable around others their same age.  But there’s something powerful and moving about people of different ages coming together for ministry.  It’s the Titus 2 model of the older teaching the younger.  But along with that, there’s also the element of the younger invigorating the older.  They really do help each other.

So, to answer the original question of kicking the “old guys” out of the band; no, I don’t believe I’ll be doing that.  Once you are in the band, you’re in it until you are ready to step away from it.  And I’ll leave that up to the individual members to recognize when that time comes for them.  Until then I’ll just keep scheduling people the best I can while giving as many people as possible an opportunity to get involved. 

Worship Big!