Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Concert Highlights

This past Sunday morning our worship team had the honor of doing a worship concert for all 3 morning services.  It was a tremendous time of worship and I truly believe that people experienced Jesus and the hope that He has called us to (Ephesians 1:18).  I want to thank everyone who participated (the Praise Team/Band, the Worship Choir, and all of the A/V Team).  Everyone did an OUTSTANDING job!

To watch the entire concert go to:  http://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/d7fmjlx

Or to see some highlights from the concert, click on the video below:


video

Worship Big!

Brad

Thursday, March 23, 2017

What Rehearsals Have Been Missing

It's really easy to go into a weekly rehearsal with blinders on.  In my situation, I'll do something different each week and sometimes even play 2 or 3 different instruments as well as sing in a single night of rehearsals. And I'm not even the only team member who does this. I can't necessarily speak for anyone else, but I'm often just looking to get through the night on Wednesdays come rehearsal time.  However, there was recently an element added to our rehearsals that's beginning to open me up to something else.  Worship within rehearsal.

It seems like a simple thought, doesn't it?  Worship while you rehearse.  But, when your night of rehearsals and practices are jam-packed full of teams of people, instruments, singing and transitions, sometimes it gets easy to push worship to the side.  That's the ugly truth.  Rehearsals should be about more.  I've talked about this before regarding personal practice and preparation time, but this should also carry over to our rehearsals.

Pastor Brad recently started changing the way we do choir practices and I think it works great and people respond really well.  We'll open up by working on parts for new songs as normal, but then we'll go into a group prayer time, then into an acoustic worship set of the songs for the upcoming Sunday.  Do you know what I appreciate most about this time?  The fact that people worship.  We aren't in front of a congregation, under lights or on a stage but people still worship.  That's what I would love to see in our Praise Team rehearsals.  Until recently, I've never thought about the fact that it is indeed okay to worship at rehearsal. Going even further than that, I'll say we should be worshiping at rehearsal.  Isn't worship the point?  If you're a singer and you're good with raising your hands on a Sunday morning, then why isn't that level of worship happening at rehearsal?  Of course this is a time to work on parts and transitions, but aren't we still singing the same songs?  Aren't we still rehearsing for the same reason?  I'm even talking to myself here.

I feel that a stronger sense of worship within rehearsals could not only bring a tighter unity within our worship teams but even give what we're doing on Wednesday nights a stronger meaning and purpose.  Any chance that we have to worship should not be passed up, and you know what?  Worship is fun.  Upbeat songs are just more fun to sing when you lift your hands and enjoy yourself.  Intimate songs are more personal and fulfilling when you mean and feel what you're singing.  Get into the songs you sing and play.  Don't miss another opportunity to worship...even at rehearsal.

Peace,

Justin

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Why is "Worship Music" a thing?

That question bothered me for a long time, and even caused me to ditch Christian music altogether for a few years. My inability to provide a satisfactory answer caused me to question the purpose of what I got up on stage and did every Sunday. When I ultimately lost faith in Christian music and dropped out of the Worship Arts program at Liberty University, I wasn't sure I'd ever play worship music again.
    
My problem was that I just couldn't prove to myself that Christian music is worthwhile. I felt like the worship music industry spends a whole lot of time and money, and doesn't have much to show for it. It seemed to me that we desperately chase after contemporary relevance while rarely achieving anything more than unoriginality that sounds like a generic caricature of last year's pop music. I felt like we were stealing genuine musical styles from genuine musical genres, and repurposing them as neat, little carrying packages for Christian ideology. I kept asking myself why Christian music doesn't have its own sound instead of poorly copying everyone else's. Why is Christian music on the back-end of the music world instead of its cutting edge? We purport to have the answer to all the world's problems, and a personal relationship with the creator of the universe. You'd think our music would be its own type of original, beautiful expression; perhaps even the greatest music in the world.
    
And then I realized that it is.
    
Worship music is truly great music, and truly phenomenal art. Not only is it beautiful, but it is perhaps the greatest art that has ever been created in human history because it isn't only a raw, auditory expression of human experience; it is the raw, auditory expression of humans connecting with their creator. Every type of music expresses a different type of human experience in a unique way. For example, the style and lyrics of bluegrass music express the culture and history of Appalachia. The rock and roll of the 60's and 70's were the life and soul of social change, and expressed a fiery spirit of freedom in a way that nothing else ever has. Christian music is also powerful expression; just in a different way:
    
In its purest form, worship music is the actual experience of worshiping and praising the living God.
    
The answer to the question that bothered me for so long is really that simple. Praise and worship music channels worship; that's its purpose. It is music that is intended to facilitate experience, not just express it. In other words, worship music is an art form that transcends its medium, and is thereby one of the most uniquely gorgeous types of art that has ever existed! What I'm saying is that worship music isn't about music at all! It doesn't matter how good worship music sounds, or whether or not it has its own unique style. Worship music has nothing to do with music! In its truest form, worship music is the expression/facilitation of worship. Its channeling of worship makes it an incredibly powerful and pure form of expression. When we worry about how good it sounds, or concern ourselves with whether or not it achieves contemporary relevance, we not only completely miss the point of worship music, but also stifle its unique beauty. Worship music is not beautiful because of how it sounds. It is beautiful because of what it is: (hint, hint: it's in the name) WORSHIP! That's all it is, all it has ever been, and all it ever can be. It took me so long to fully realize that. At its core, worship music is the beautiful adoration of our loving savior Jesus Christ. Let's appreciate it as such!

Coleman

Thursday, March 9, 2017

King of My Heart

There is a lot of great worship music out there right now.  So much so, that I can't keep up with all of it.  I have people come up to me or email me all the time saying, "You guys should do this song".  And in all honesty, most of the time I haven't even heard the song before.  Like I said, it's hard to keep up with all of the new worship music out there.  Well, with this week's post, I want to be the person to introduce you to a song that you might not have heard before.  Or at the very least, maybe not this particular version.  

The song is "King of My Heart" by Bethel Worship. There's a version of this song that is played on Christian radio by the group Kutless.  It's good, but there's just something about a song being arranged for church worship.  It's like the song "Revelation Song".  Most people know the Phillips, Craig and Dean version that is played on Christian radio.  It's good, but in my opinion, it's nowhere near as powerful as the Gateway Worship version with Kari Jobe leading.  

So, here's Bethel's version of the song.  Enjoy!


video

Worship Big!

Brad

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Balance To Worship

Worship leading can sometimes feel like a juggling act.  It's a fine line between playing or singing the right parts and leading people in worship.  I'm a total music guy and am constantly on the look out of not getting lost in the music, but instead getting lost in Jesus.  I'll be the first to admit that I'm not always great at it.

Since I'm a music person, I look at my personal devotion time like I look at my personal practice time on my instrument.  I practice my instrument so I can play the correct notes while on stage.  In the same sense, I use my devotion and prayer time to draw closer to Jesus so as to reflect Him during our time of worship.  When I'm on stage, I try to think about my instrument as least as possible.  The idea is to be confident in the practice time that I have put in.  While I do want to play the right notes and do things correctly, that's not the overall point.  That's why what we do as worship leaders is so unique.  The idea is to direct attention to someone other than ourselves.  In other words, while execution matters, application matters more.  I'm confident that our teams can and will play and sing things correctly, but I like to look at how we lift our faith in order to lead people.  When we give attention to having a heart for worship and spending time with Jesus, then our application is nourished and has what it needs to effectively lead.  If I practice my guitar and hit every single note and play parts with 100% accuracy, but haven't cracked open a bible in a week, or sought the Lord in any area of my life, what has it been for? 

There's a balance to worship.  While we absolutely want to look and sound the best we can, our service is a matter of our hearts.  Prepare for worship.  Prepare your voice or your instrument, but most importantly prepare your heart.  Don't only sing the right notes or play the right parts.  Worship. Lead people into an atmosphere of worship and ultimately into the presence of Jesus.

Peace,

Justin