Thursday, July 19, 2018

The New Song

Picking out new songs is something that every worship leader is thinking about on a regular basis.  Believe it or not, it can be a pretty daunting task and there's a lot more thought that goes into it than you may realize.  

Every church is different.  Some churches introduce multiple new songs to their congregation every week.  Some churches introduce one new song every week.  For us, things are a little bit different.

The ultimate goal in everything that we do as a worship team is to lead people to a meeting place with Christ.  Our song selections are extremely important in that mission and we plan our worship sets around it. We also want our congregation to participate and enjoy the songs we do.  Here at MPBC, we really try to approach this task with utmost caution.  Why?  Because we give ourselves about 9 shots at this per year.   In my research I've found that is a bit less than other churches.  So, why are we only doing 9 new songs per year?  We introduce 1 new song per month.  With our church and team schedules, we allow 2 months during the summer that we aren't introducing a new song to the congregation, then beginning in December, we're in the thick of Christmas music.  So, that leaves us with 9 opportunities to pick out great songs for our church.  

With only 9 new songs per year, we have to be very intentional about what we're singing.  We want our people to sing.  We want them to be led to Jesus.  We don't want them to be inundated with new songs so often that all they can do is just listen because everything is so unfamiliar.  We want our congregation to really learn the songs we're doing so that they can participate when that song is in the rotation again.  We want the songs we do to mean something to our congregation.  We even want our original songs we write to model this.  We want songs to bless the family that is struggling to make it to church that morning.  We want songs to bless the person who is lonely.  We want songs that bless the broken.  So, we are very intentional when it comes to new songs.  We have found what songs our congregation responds to, so when it comes to picking out new music, we have to ask ourselves if it will truly bless our people and if it will speak to them.  Will they participate?  

Another reason we allow ourselves 9 songs per year is because we really want our band to become great at playing the song.  If we had new songs every week, that means the previous song we learned doesn't get played as much so we don't have the opportunity to really get good at the song.  We strive for excellence on our team and we want to honor the Lord in what we do, so we practice our craft and get good at it.  I feel that it's only responsible of us with what we have been given.  We spend time on the new songs we're learning.  We make sure we have all the stops.  We make sure instruments aren't playing on top of one another.  We make sure that guitar tones and piano sounds are correct and match the song.  We believe that every small detail builds the song.  

We also want to make sure these songs are sound.  We analyze each and every line of the song.  We want to make sure they will connect with our people.  Is it the most popular worship song in the country right now?  That's great!  If our people wouldn't sing it or enjoy it...guess what...we aren't doing it.  One of the things that I love about MPBC is that we know who we are, and we know who we aren't...plain and simple.  We embrace what works...here.

If you're a worship leader in your church and you posses the task in helping pick out new music, then I encourage you to do the same. Find what works. There are a lot of great songs out and I think they will just keep coming.  Figure out what works in your church and maybe what doesn't.  Be intentional about what you sing. Consider your people.  Don't feel like you have to do it because it's the biggest song out right now.  Embrace who you are and what Jesus wants you to be.

Peace,

Justin

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Would You Like to Dance?

Since the beginning of this blog, Brad has asked members of the praise team to write posts, encouraging us to write about the technical side of music, how God is using music in our lives, or even a blog post about one of our favorite songs.  So here it is, my long awaited blog post about one of my favorite songs, “Lord of the Dance”.  For those of you not familiar with this song, please do not automatically start thinking about Michael Flatley dancing around on the stage.  They are two different things with only a title for any type of connection.  

I first heard “Lord of the Dance” when I was in college and thought it had a great tune.  (It’s also the tune of the old Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts”).  However, I think the reason I like the song so much is because it tells a story from beginning to end.  From creation, to the calling of the disciples and the resurrection all poured into one song.  I’m just going to assume that most people have never heard the song (gasp!), so I’ve attached a link to the lyrics so you can see what I’m talking about.


I often take the opportunity to ask (beg) Brad to sing this song and he has promised me that he will sing it one day...at my funeral.  (For those of you who are still around when I am called home, hold him to this promise!)  It has become some sort of joke between us, which has expanded to a joke between me and most of the praise team and choir.  Laugh as they may, it doesn’t change my love of this song.  

A few weeks ago, we were attending services while visiting family in Georgia.  The pastor was preaching from Matthew 8 about Jesus calming the storm and spoke about the often overlooked portion of this scripture where it says Jesus got into the boat and His disciples followed him.  They didn’t ask questions, they just followed His lead.  

At the end of the service, the pastor shared a story about how much he liked to dance and he wanted to teach his daughter how to dance.  As he pointed out, Augusta is one of those towns where you can find resources to teach your kids anything, but he wanted to be the one to teach his daughter, so he rented a space and convinced a few other dads to bring their daughters and he taught them how to shag, foxtrot and waltz.  He said that he told his daughter, “I’ll lead. . . just follow me.”  And then he said it.  He said, “in the same way, Let Jesus be the Lord of the Dance”.  In other words, let Him lead, you just follow.  

I’ve thought about this song and the pastor’s words many times since that day.  How often do I truly let Jesus lead?  Am I allowing Him to lead as I follow in my actions, words, deeds and even (or especially) in my worship?  How often does He lead me to do something and I fail to follow?  Jesus can lead “wherever you may be” in your life if you will just let Him.  So tell me, would you like to dance?

Shelley

Thursday, July 5, 2018

No Longer Slaves

With this week's post I want to share with you the video for a song that many of you will already be familiar with.  The song is "No Longer Slaves" and the video is from Church on the Move (COTM).  The original version of the song is by Bethel Church and is very well known.  But recently, I came across COTM's version of it and I just can't stop listening to it.  


The Worship Pastor at COTM is Andy Chrisman.  For those of you who are a little bit older (like me) you'll recognize him as one of the members of the 1990/2000's group 4Him. They had 27 songs hit # 1 on Christian radio including "The Basics of Life", "Where There is Faith" and "For Future Generations". They were my
favorite Christian group when I was in college. In fact, the very first concert that my wife and I ever attended together
was a 4Him concert.  My oldest son's first concert was also a 4Him concert. They stopped singing together a number of years ago and moved onto other opportunities.  

Two of them are now Worship Pastors.  Andy is at COTM.  It's a massive church in Oklahoma.  Mark Harris is at
Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas.  It's one of the largest churches in the country and we actually do a number of Gateway songs here at MPBC.  It's pretty cool to see how God has continued to use them in ministry. 

Now, out of the 4 guys in 4Him, Andy Chrisman was by far my favorite.  In fact, he's probably my favorite singer of all-time.  When I get to heaven, I hope that God let's me sing like Andy.  So, when I stumbled upon him and his church doing this song, I was hooked. The video is below.  Enjoy!



Worship Big!

Brad