Worship Leader’s Redux: Easter Weekend 2010 Part 2

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In my last post I covered some of the positives I drew from the services over Easter weekend. With time to reflect I’m sharing a few points that I could have done better on:

  • I didn’t write out all my chords for a new song we tried, “Completely Done“. This wasn’t too much of a problem in the end as our pianist carried the correct chords strongly for most of the song. But because I didn’t write the chords down, when I played I ended up confusing rather than leading the instrumental section which needed strong direction due to a trumpet solo line.
  • Quite a number of people noted that the same song was pitched a bit too high for the women in particular, and also featured quite a boring melody in the verse (mostly the same notes in each line). I should have clued in on this earlier as the female vocalists on team needed to drop down to a lower harmony part during the chorus – but maybe there was a bit of pride in not wanting to relent on a song we’d worked hard on. I need to be more flexible in this area and scrutinise new songs not just for its content (which was spot on), but whether the church can sing it!
  • With Ryan, a strong guitarist on team this weekend, I sensed that my own guitar playing was a bit redundant. There’s always a bit of a control (and perhaps pride) issue where one might sometimes feel more in charge, and less exposed, with an instrument strapped across the shoulder. But I know I should be learning how to better lead my team better without depending on guitar strums.
  • On Sunday I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to swap the song order, bringing “Thank You Jesus” further forward in the set list. However I didn’t give enough advance warning and launched straight into the song without checking that lyrics were onscreen, potentially disrupting and distracting the congregation needlessly. While I’m not advocating that worship leaders should never deviate from the script and forgo the prompting of the Holy Spirit, in this instance I could have given the projector operator better direction. Definitely something to work on in future.

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Anyways, I think that’s enough navel-gazing for now. Good and bad points combined, I’m just grateful that God used the imperfect and broken to bring Him glory this weekend!

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– William

Worship Leader’s Redux: Easter Weekend 2010 Part 1

I’m sitting at home enjoying a scoop of cookies and cream ice-cream. Easter Monday is a public holiday in NZ and so I’m savouring this time to unwind and catch up on errands and jobs around the house. But as I sit here I’m reflecting on the Easter Friday and Sunday’s services at Howick Baptist Church.

Here are a number of things that I felt, by God’s grace, went well:

  1. Double-dipped tunes. When choosing songs this Easter, I deliberately kept an eye out for songs that worked thematically on both Friday and Sunday services. We sung “Glories of Calvary” and “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us” in this way: as we had the same music team covering both services, it was therefore easier on them to not have to rehearse two different songs instead. Two things we tried that helped to vary the two versions of each song included, firstly, using a different solo instrument on Sunday vs. Friday (in our case trumpet vs. violin); and secondly, emphasising different parts of a song on different days. For example, on Friday we ended “Glories of Calvary” slightly earlier in the song with the words: “… to sing of Jesus who died for me.” – while on Sunday we took the song to its high-octane, triumphant response of “Oh take me deeper into the glories of Calvary.” Even by varying bits and pieces like this we were able to use the same song but bring out different aspects for the congregation to consider.
  2. Early warning systems. Getting as much of the music out earlier than the Thursday night rehearsal was a definite advantage, especially considering that we tackled two new songs across the weekend. I’m grateful for the dedication of the musicians that made the effort to look at the music beforehand: as a result, the Gethsemane Hymn clicked together very quickly during practice. If there are new songs that I’m planning on using in future, I think it will be much more effective to distribute them (e.g. via email) earlier in the week so it’s not a sight-reading rehearsal come Thursday night, and there’s more time available for fine-tuning rather than learning a piece.
  3. The James 1:19 principle. During the Friday service, I was able to hold my tongue and let most of the songs speak for themselves, and interjecting at a bare minimum. It seemed to cause less distractions that way and the focus was drawn more to the lyrics, in particular for the new songs we tried. You can check out our team’s attempt with “To See the King of Heaven Fall (Gethsemane Hymn)“, by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend in the Youtube video below (if you’re reading this in a feed click through to the site here).

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In the next post I’ll expand on things that could have been improved on to help serve the church better.

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– William

Completely Done

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I woke up this morning humming the words to “Completely Done”, a song from Sovereign Grace Music’s album “Sons and Daughters”.

Completely Done

By Jonathan Baird, Ryan Baird, and Rich Gunderlock
As recorded on Sons & Daughters

Lyrics

What reason have I to doubt
Why would I dwell in fear
When all I have known is grace
My future in Christ is clear

My sins have been paid in full
There’s no condemnation here
I live in the good of this
My Father has brought me near
I’m leaving my fears behind me now

Chorus
The old is gone, the new has come
What You complete is completely done
We’re heirs with Christ, the victory won
What You complete is completely done

I don’t know what lies ahead
What if I fail again
You are my confidence
You’ll keep me to the end
I’m leaving my fears behind me now

© 2009 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)

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You can download it here for free:

http://www.sovereigngracestore.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=M4270-02-51

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-William

Practical art

Most churches with their own building (and some without) will have at least heard of Easyworship, and possibly have it, or an equivalent method for dynamically generating worship lyrics to play on a screen for Sunday services. Whatever version we have - i don't think it's the latest - it's pretty useful. Husband is a worship leader, so I usually worm my way into messing with the layout. But one thing I have found is that the background interface is a bit difficult to use, involving some 200+ images and a very small scrolling selection that returns to the top whenever when you click something. Another concern is that many of the default images are either fairly generic (lots of mountains, clouds, waves and sunsets) or make the text illegible. The latter is usually due to one or more of the following: extreme contrast, overly interesting subject matter, or dappled colouring that, to an elderly eye, apparently imitates text. I think I would like to find the folder and replace the 200+ images with maybe 20 or 30 really useful backgrounds - no extreme contrast, no overly interesting subject matter, and no dappled colouring that imitates text. I hope that my idea is not too focused on the art, and that I will actually be helping out the worship team where they really need it. In the meantime, no worship for me in May. Apparently, I'll be in Sunday School... #ChristosKurios means :iconchristoskurios: They are a new Christian group focused on God's Kingship and the cross of Christ. They have reformed roots but are open to all Bible-centred deviants. soli Deo gloria - Cheryl

Suffering

Our church is currently going through a series on the theology of suffering (and, of course, the sovereignty of God). These lyrics from the sovereign grace CD Come Weary Saints, by Mark Altrogge, come to mind.

As Long As You Are Glorified

Shall I take from Your hand Your blessings
Yet not welcome any pain?
Shall I thank You for days of sunshine,
Yet grumble in days of rain?
Shall I love You in times of plenty,
Then leave You in days of drought?
Shall I trust when I reap a harvest,
But when winter winds blow, then doubt?

CHORUS
Oh let Your will be done in me!
In Your love I will abide,
Oh I long for nothing else as long
As You are glorified!

Are You good only when I prosper,
And true only when I'Â’m filled?
Are You King only when I'Â’m carefree,
And God only when IÂ’'m well?
You are good when IÂ’'m poor and needy,
You are true when IÂ’'m parched and dry,
You still reign in the deepest valley,
YouÂ’'re still God in the darkest night!

BRIDGE
So quiet my restless heart, quiet my restless heart
Quiet my restless heart in You

Perhaps most poignant to me in suffering is a church sister, one of my closer friends, whom I think I mentioned before. Her very young daughter has a life-threatening heart condition, and the medical experts on her case a couple of weeks ago have finally said there is nothing more they can do. Can you watch your child die? Can you bury your own child, who is so vibrant and unique? What did she do to deserve this? God, why are we suffering?

While He creates calamity (Isaiah 45:7) and rains on both the righteous and unrighteous (Matt 5:45), our holy, just, merciful, patient, infinitely loving God does not author sin and suffering. We recall that He also allowed His own Son, whom He loved, to die. He was sinless and therefore least deserving of suffering, but Christ received the greatest suffering of all. So why injustice? Why must my child die? Because of God's purposes, which are higher than ours. In His loving, perfect, compassionate wisdom, He allowed it. Oh, God, you are a wonderful, glorious, mysterious God.

One day all tears will be wiped away, imperfect made perfect, death reversed, and You will be glorified as much as You finally deserve. Til then, we seek Your glory with every stumbling breath we breathe, our continual sins covered by Your blood, and even in the depths of our suffering, we know that You are still God, and You are still good.

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soli Deo gloria
originally posted by Cheryl at soli-deo-gloria.deviantart.com, syndicated to chongsworship.com