Sunday, August 23, 2009

Top 10 Things I Want Most From My Choir Members

This summer, I have had the joy of leading various workshops at different conferences, the most recent of which was targeted specifically to choir members.

So, in my preparation, I came up with my top ten list of what I want most from my choir members.

Nothing original here, but if you lead choirs, or know someone who does, I encourage you to use these as discussion points and/or a source of encouragement!


1. I want my choir members to love being in the choir.

2. I want my choir members to love and serve one another.

3. I want my choir members to pray for me - (because I need it!)

4. I want my choir members to expect my best at all times.

5. I want my choir members to view their involvement in the choir as a calling and a privilege.

6. I want my choir members to put more into the choir than they could ever imagine receiving from it.

7. I want my choir members to love and pray for the people they lead in worship each week.

8. I want my choir members to love and support our senior pastor.

9. I want my choir members to serve the church in at least one other area of ministry.

10. I want my choir members to develop an appreciation for all kinds of music.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back To School

Karla posted some beautifully creative photos on her Facebook page that represent the past years of "first day of school", and our tradition of capturing our kids on the front porch as they venture off for their very first day of school.

What a wonderful tradition. The end of summer. The beginning of yet another school year.

Karla said it well when she said "Ben is the last man standing"

Five days later, Karla had a full day of meetings, so I stayed home to help Matt load the truck with way more stuff than any human being needs in a frat house room as he ventured down I65 back for his sophomore year at Samford University.

My oh my how these kids grow up so quickly!

Here is Seth (with Karla) leaving for his first day of kindergarten!

Savor the moments we have with our kids, and thank God for each first day of school!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

This Is Hilarious

I have read, absorbed, and quoted Louie Giglio for several years now.

He is a gifted communicator, visionary leader of this generation, and now a pastor in Atlanta - (at least I think he is).

This is exactly what I would expect from him, and I find it terribly entertaining!

Enjoy by clicking HERE

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Messy Ministry

Ministry is messy.

You do this long enough, you realize it’s just plain messy.

I am currently experiencing an unusually intense period/season of ministry. Over the years, these periods/seasons have come and gone, but this time I have this fear -
I fear this one is the foundation or prelude for more extended periods/seasons of this very kind of pace/intensity/stress that never seem to wane.

Worse, I fear I will adapt/adjust to this, and become immune to the effect that this kind of pace has on my life, my relationships, my health, and my effectiveness as a child of God, son, husband, father, grandfather and minister.

Expectations, deadlines, goals, budgets, meetings, decisions about the future, decisions about songs for this Sunday, evaluations, assessments, reviews, initiatives, retreats, calendars, rehearsals, charts, PowerPoint slides, arrangements, scheduling of people, video venues, multiple services, assumptions, titles, proposals, templates, summaries, campuses, hand-outs, strategies, objectives, stage sets, monitors, microphones, screens, reports, outlines, agendas, policies, reimbursements, weddings, funerals, relational conflict, leadership styles, simple church, strength-finders, finding your place, model-netics, summits, programming alignment, interviews, reference checks, devotional books, rehearsal CD’s, new anthems, leadership teams, more meetings, ministry to the “least of these”, ministry to the “I have everything I need”, ministry to the “heartbroken and miserable”, partnership ministry, misunderstandings, dependence on technology, e-mail inbox, ………on and on the list goes……

If you are reading this, and you think I am slamming my church or only finding the negative in my current situation - I am not.

I could not believe more in the mission of the church, and I believe wholeheartedly in the mission of my church.

I do believe, but I am very overwhelmed at the moment with the business of ministry - ministry is messy!

So, I remember what God reminds me to remember. I open my Bible, I pray my prayers, I ask my kids and my wife to forgive me for working too many hours, I take my day off, I make myself “lie down in green pastures” knowing that if I don’t, God will. My soul needs restoring.

I love what I do. I want to love who I am while I am doing what I do.

Right now, I’m not so sure.

Rest, perspective, silence, and faith are my best friends.

I often remind colleagues in ministry to “stay the course” - tonight I need to take some of the medicine I have been prescribing…….

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Worship Services In The Summertime

One would think that after planning and leading at least 1,500+ worship services over the past 16 years, there couldn't be anything really that "new" to experience while leading a service. Yes, I know that each service brings a different moving of the Spirit, so that is not necessarily what I am referring to.

For the past 5 Sundays, we have "presented" the worship services at my church in 5 uniquely different ways:

July 5 - String Quartet / Piano
July 12 - a Bluegrass Band
July 19 - our VBS band/team led with the choir loft full of kids
July 26 - an 80-piece orchestra on stage

then, today, we had 4 grand pianos on stage with a person at each piano + a 21-voice choir on choir risers between the pianos.

During sound check/rehearsal, I realized the (at the time painful) reality of what the congregational song set would "feel" like with ONLY? pianos playing as musical support. Well - it was weird! That had nothing to do with our pianists - they were outstanding.

We are just so used/accustomed to having a band/orchestra/drum loop or something else to help us keep time, add textures, sounds, etc... to enhance our worship.

Not today.

I told the 21-voice choir - during the congregational songs, let's make sure God hears our VOICES today!

Well, at one point in the 11:00am service, that is exactly what happened. For the first time in a long time, the wall of sound that usually fills "my space on the stage" was replaced with a wall of sound from the room - I could hear the entire room of people singing!! I know - what a concept.

I don't write this to whine or criticize. We have one of the finest church orchestras anywhere, and I wouldn't trade them for anything, but I was reminded of something very important today - we need to hear people sing their praises to God as much as we need to be accompanied and supported with incredible musicians who are equally offering their praises to God.

So - for those of you who felt awkward this morning or that something "just wasn't right" or "I couldn't feel the beat" - it was more than OK - in fact, it was least for today....

wait til next week!!