Connection in the Digital Age by Leslie Jordan
Every morning, I have my social media routine. Instagram first – it’s my favorite. I open Twitter, check my email and finally Facebook where I mindlessly scroll and swipe, pausing on the stories that I’m most interested in seeing. Sound familiar?
Throughout my day, I would unconsciously open my browser on my phone, type in “f” and hit enter. My phone knows that “f” in the search bar means Facebook. I’ve trained it that well. Then, a month ago I quit Facebook.
To be honest, I was struggling to see the purpose of my scrolling. I would find myself just wasting time and getting lost in the deep abyss of updates, religious rants and cat videos. I would log off and fail to recall seeing anything of value. Yes, it was nice to be “connected.” But the more often I said it, the less I believed it was actually true.
The average American spends 40 minutes a day on Facebook.(1) And among adult users on the social media site, the average number of friends is 338.(2) So if we do the math, we spend roughly 7 seconds per friend (assuming we haven’t blocked half of them because of their political views, baby pictures, or Farmville invitations!)
I suppose this is why I quit. I didn’t need one more excuse to perpetuate false connections with friends. Being a traveling musician, I am learning to value the time spent face-to-face with people. I long for deeper relationships, broader conversations; to know and to be known. It is becoming more and more difficult to cultivate offline relationships in our online world.
Henri Nouwen says this, “What we see, and like to see, is cure and change. But what we do not see and do not want to see is care: the participation in the pain, the solidarity in suffering, the sharing in the experience of brokenness.”(3) Care takes time. True connection takes time and presence – much longer than the 7 seconds we allot while we are online. Brené Brown defines connection “as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”(4) In our ever-present need for social connection, the temptation is to believe that it happens online. That by sharing our opinions, favorite selfies and blogs, we are seen, heard and valued. But we were designed for more. We were designed for an exchange. Jesus’ ministry was not only focused on the masses, but also spent intentionally with his 12 best friends. The night before he was betrayed and murdered, he gave them the greatest charge. “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:34-35) Jesus revealed that connection was an exchange. A receiving of love and a giving of love. Connection is not something we observe, but rather something in which we participate.
Love is cultivated over time. Quitting Facebook didn’t free up a ton of time and I don’t believe it is the solution to our problem with connection. But it is one less distraction I fight against each day. My hope is to be more present in each moment. To love more fully. To care more deeply. To take serious the charge of Jesus, to love the way He has loved me.
(1) Mark Zuckerberg, Q2 earnings call. Reported by nbcnews.com,
(2) Pew Research Center, 6 New Facts about Facebook. Aaron Smith. 2/3/14
(3) Henri JM Nouwen, Out of Solitude
(4) Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection.
Congratulations to our ministry partners ICF Zurich and ICF Worship, whose new album Pouring Love recently hit the No. 5 position on Switzerland’s mainstream music chart! ICF Zurich is part of the International Christian Fellowship of churches, one of the biggest church movements in Europe, with 36 congregations sharing the Good News of the Gospel.
Pastored by Leo and Susanna Bigger, ICF Zurich is a non-denominational church with over 2,800 attendees spread across five different locations within the city and its surroundings. Pouring Love captures the original songs birthed within this church and the larger fellowship.
“So wonderful to see the songs coming from the ICF movement go beyond the four walls of the Church and into the Swiss mainstream… I believe there is a sound arising from Switzerland that will reverberate around Europe and that the songs from ICF are a significant part of that soundtrack.” – Les Moir, Director of Artists and Repertoire for Integrity Music UK.
Fresh from selling over 7500 copies of his last album ‘Nachoonga’ worldwide, internationally celebrated Indian singer-songwriter, musician and producer Sheldon Bangera is back with new album ‘Raaja Hai Mahaan.’
’Raaja Hai Mahaan’ documents both Sheldon’s personal spiritual life and also that of the Indian church in 2015. Sheldon says, “This album is a reflection of many seasons with God, some of them we’ve been singing for the last 5 – 7 years. They mark personal experiences and reflections of what God is doing with the church. They are songs of hope and I feel like the whole aesthetic of it will be a blessing to many, even people who don’t understand or speak Hindi.”
Sonically an “east meets west” vista, blending traditional Indian sounds with a western worship flavor, ’Raaja Hai Mahaan’ is a celebration of cultural diversity at its finest. Inspired by a good friend in England, Sheldon decided to write what he describes as a ‘new part of God’s bigger picture of the east meeting the west in worship.’
Bringing these two worlds together through songs on ’Raaja Hai Mahaan,’ the album has given a western audience the chance to glimpse an interesting and exciting perspective on what God is doing in Sheldon’s native home country, India. He elaborates,“COLOR! It is beautiful. In the middle of the chaos and brokenness, we see the compassion of a great and mighty God. Culturally, there is a fresh wave of Indian-ness and the belongingness and awareness of being Indian is being felt like never before.”
By Kevin Davis – NRT, Staff Reviewer
Australian-based worship band Planetshakers partnered with Grammy nominated producer Ed Cash for Outback Worship Sessions to capture a more acoustic, organic delivery of some of their best-known songs. Known for their high energy sound, this acoustically driven collection also includes the new songs “Spirit of God,” “Father” and “My Soul Longs for Jesus.”
The opening track “Like a Fire” has tender and powerful vocals, taking listeners on an emotional and spiritual journey with every lyric sung about faith in our God Almighty, our Lord and Savior Jesus. The lyrics are very stirring and convicting: “Jesus I’m desperate for You, Jesus I’m hungry for You, Jesus I’m longing for You, Lord You are all I want.”
“Spirit of God” is an emotive song crying out for God’s Presence and for an indwelling of His Holy Spirit. The standout track for me personally is “My Soul Longs for Jesus,” featuring female worship leader Sam Evans. The Ed Cash-penned song is an ethereal vertical worship ballad and modern hymn, sung with a stirring passion and filled with prayerful declarations. This is an incredible song for the Church, and you’ll express your longing for Jesus along with Sam.
Another standout moment is the worshipful prayer-song of adoration, “Leave Me Astounded.” You’ll want to sing these words with fellow believers: “Leave me astounded, leave me amazed, show off Your glory, let heaven invade, we’re waiting with worship, we’re waiting with praise, for the almighty presence of God to invade.”
“Endless Praise” is an example of being obedient to our calling to make God the object of all of our worship. This song is a great answer to that calling. One of the sections that I really enjoy in this song is the bridge: “We lift You up, up, up… We’re giving You our love, love, love for everything You’ve done, done, done.” As the Scripture and famous hymn repeat “Holy, Holy, Holy,” God often speaks to us three times. Biblical scholars consider the number three as something that is used to get our attention, draw emphasis or show completion, as God is Three in One (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Join in with the angels and saints and sing to God “We give You all the praise.”
The beauty and majesty of our King Jesus is reverently captured throughout the album with anthem after anthem, including “Covered,” “Father” and “Made for Worship.” Every single song could be added to your worship set. More importantly, this is an album about submitting to the Lordship of Jesus and declaring that there is no other name under Heaven by which we are saved than Jesus Christ our God.
A sincere desire for the presence of God and to see His Kingdom on earth is found in every song, especially the closing tracks “This is the Day” and “This is Our Time,” which are both instantly singable prayer songs featuring declarations about Jesus, as found in the refrain “This is our time, this is our place, this is our moment to lift Your name.”
One of my favorite aspects of singing a new song to the Lord is the thought of our eternal worship in Heaven, which is an exciting picture for me. We gain glimpses of eternity from this collection of vertical worship songs. Sometimes people think that worship is something they do at an event or at church or only through music. We know from Scripture that worship is what you put your “worth-ship” in, and that a biblical definition of worship is a lifestyle of “Endless Praise.”
There are several instantly singable and worshipful arrangements that you’ll want to add to your Sunday morning set-list. I especially recommend “Like a Fire,” “Spirit of God,” “Leave Me Astounded,” “Father,” “Made for Worship,” “This is Our Time” and one of my top worship songs of the year, “My Soul Longs for Jesus.” I’m really engaged by the emotional vocals and the deep, prayerful lyrics throughout the album. All of the songs are catchy and worshipful. Outback Worship Sessions is a truly anointed set of songs for the Church, expressing a longing for Jesus.
Recording Features Top Planetshakers Songs Re-Imagined By
Grammy-Winning Ed Cash, All Geared For Corporate Worship
Cash Writes/Produces Three New Songs For Album, Two With Planetshakers’ Bj Pridham
Featured At ICRS, National Worship Leader Conference,
Rock the Universe Events, Planetshakers Also Tours S. Africa
The worship team from Planetshakers Church, one of Australia’s fastest growing churches in history, is set to release Outback Worship Sessions globally through Integrity Music May 12, 2015. What started as a project to re-craft Planetshakers’ most-loved worship anthems into a form accessible to worship teams representing the wider church body has since grown into a studio recording that is, as Aristotle might say, “greater than the sum of its parts.”
Known for its cutting-edge, joy-infused sound that is full of energy and that has sparked the young and young at heart around the globe to celebrate in worship, Planetshakers’ recent recording, THIS IS OUR TIME, immediately soared to the top of the overall charts in several countries during its first week at retail. The project, like the Planetshakers ministry, has transcended cultures, languages and geographic boundaries.
“Outback Worship Sessions is about taking our message further, sharing with as many as possible and empowering generations to win generations,” says Planetshakers worship pastor Bj Pridham. “I think as a church, we have organically reached a younger audience. We want to be intentional to reach not just one generation, but all generations.”
For the new album, Planetshakers tapped into the expertise of Grammy Award-winning, four-time Gospel Music Association Dove Award-winning “Producer of the Year,” Ed Cash. Taking Outback Worship Sessions under his wing, and with church worship teams in mind, Cash gave a new, intimate ‘voice’ to Planetshakers’ best-loved anthems. He not only brought out the best in the Planetshakers team, but also produced three brand new songs on the 11-track album.
Co-writing and producing the worldwide church anthem “How Great is Our God” with Chris Tomlin, and recently writing songs featured on albums by Jeremy Camp, Kari Jobe, Crowder, Laura Story, Hillsong and many more, Cash penned “My Soul Longs For Jesus” featured on Outback Worship Sessions. He further co-wrote “Spirit Of God” and “Father” for the album with Pridham, who is one of several featured vocalists from Planetshakers’ worship team on the album.
“The moment I began co-writing with Bj over Skype, I knew that Heaven was going to fall heavy on this project,” says Cash. “It became increasingly clear that the Planetshakers family has habitually drawn near to God, and in His matchless covenant fashion, He has drawn near to them! I pray the presence of the Lord will bless you as richly as you listen as He did me while working on it.”
In addition to the new recording, lead singers featured on Outback Worship Sessions will be in the heart of Australia’s Outback to record the brand new videos “Like A Fire,” “My Soul Longs for Jesus,” “Nothing Is Impossible” and possibly more songs from the new project.
“Set in a small church in the Outback of Australia, the videos will be recorded with a band playing in a very organic, natural setup,” explains Planetshakers Lead Singer and Music Director Joth Hunt. “There will be no flashing lights or big production elements, but we will be utilizing aerial cinematography interspersed throughout the video capturing the spectacular surroundings of the Australian Outback.”
Each of these videos will be offered free as a resource to worship leaders following the May 12 release of the album. Integrity Music will also offer a companion digital songbook for Outback Worship Sessions free of charge through WeAreWorship.com.
The full Outback Worship Sessions track listing follows:
1. Like A Fire
2. Spirit Of God
3. Leave Me Astounded
4. My Soul Longs For Jesus
5. Endless Praise
6. Nothing Is Impossible
9. Made For Worship
10. This Is The Day
11. This Is Our Time
Having led over 200,000 people at a single event in Asia and sharing new music from THIS IS OUR TIME and other favorite Planetshakers worship anthems around the world, Planetshakers will hit Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban on a 10-day tour of South Africa beginning April 24. They will also be the featured worship leader June 28-29 during several events at CBA’s International Christian Retail Show 2015 (ICRS) that will also feature Lee Greenwood, Josh McDowell, Steve Green (Hobby Lobby) and others. Planetshakers will further be featured during the National Worship Leader Conference June 23-25 and headlining along with Casting Crowns and Jesus Culture “Florida’s biggest Christian music festival,” Rock The Universe, Sept. 12.
About Planetshakers Band:
Planetshakers Band is passionate about uniting generations worldwide through worship and is known for favorites like “Like A Fire,” “Endless Praise,” “Nothing Is Impossible,” “This Is Our Time” and “The Anthem.” As Australia’s largest youth/young adult Christian movement, Planetshakers’ goal is to see people encounter God, be transformed by His presence and empowered to make a difference in their world. While they tour internationally, the team remains based out of Planetshakers Church, a multi-campus, 12,000-plus member congregation based in Melbourne, Australia that is pastored by husband and wife, Russell and Sam Evans.
In addition to the music and message, Planetshakers Church is involved in numerous community and charitable causes including prison ministry, school programs, refugee outreach, disaster relief and welfare assistance. It also partners with World Vision to assist in urgent humanitarian crises around the world, and runs Planetshakers College in Melbourne, which equips local and international students to impact their world for Christ.
A church, a movement and a gifted musical ministry, additional information about Planetshakers Church and Planetshakers Band and its touring is available at planetshakers.com, twitter.com/planetshakers and facebook.com/planetshakers, where Planetshakers has over 760,000 likes.
Raucous, award-winning band The City Harmonic, known for its eclectic modern hymns and worship anthems of longing, hope and celebration, will be the featured music guest during “Beyond A.D.”streaming on NBC.com Sunday, May 3. During the episode, The City Harmonic will reveal the title and album cover for their third full-length album, as well as play live the first single from the new recording set to release through Integrity Music September 2015. The album addresses issues of church unity, a topic also covered in this “Beyond A.D” episode by fellow guest, John Gray, Associate Pastor at Houston’s Lakewood Church. Hosted by E! News co-host Jason Kennedy and taped before a live audience at Real Life Church in Santa Clarita, CA, “Beyond A.D” is the companion digital show to NBC’s broadcast series “A.D. The Bible Continues” from executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. “Beyond A.D.” covers the historical and spiritual topics depicted in the broadcast while featuring musical performances by artists, songwriters and ministry partners of Integrity Music. Recent episodes have featured Israel Houghton, Christine D’Clario and Lincoln Brewster, with upcoming episodes to feature All Sons & Daughters, Paul Baloche and NewSong. Weekly installments of “Beyond A.D.,” which follow the 12-week broadcast series that began April 12, will be available Sundays at 9 a.m. on NBC.COM and select NBC station websites and participating NBC station distribution channels. For more show information and to RSVP to attend a taping, visit nbc.com/beyond-ad. Join the social conversation on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram using #ADTheSeries.
The City Harmonic, joined by members of Real Life Church, are pictured during the “Beyond A.D.” taping in Santa Clarita, CA April 28.
About The City Harmonic
Born out of a movement of diverse churches uniting to serve the poor in the blue-collar steel town of Hamilton, Ontario, The City Harmonic formed in 2009, having led students in worship and mission at these inter-denominational events. By 2011, the band had won three Gospel Music Canada Covenant Awards, including one for Modern Worship Song of the Year for the anthem “Manifesto,” a rallying cry for believers around the world. More Covenant Awards, a Juno Award and a Dove Award nomination followed as the band released the critically acclaimed albums I Have A Dream (It Feels Like Home) and Heart introducing the songs “Praise The Lord,” “Holy (Wedding Day),” “Mountaintop” and “A City On A Hill” to churches and radio stations. The City Harmonic is Elias Dummer, Eric Fusilier, Aaron Powell and Josh Vanderlaan… four worshipers from four small churches singing hymns and spiritual songs. All the latest detail on the band, its music and touring can be found at:
Guest blog by Kurtis Parks
Ok, I have a confession to make. There are only two types of TV that I watch – sports, and reality TV. One reality TV show is one of the dumbest concepts out there, but I can’t get enough of it. It’s a show based in a Pawn Shop, that follows four family members as they run the shop and buy/sell random items of memorabilia. Every now and then an item comes in that’s been signed by a famous actor, sports star, or musician. Without fail, the head honcho always calls up one of his trusted friends to come and AUTHENTICATE the signature. It’s amazing how many forged signatures exist out there. If the autographed items are the real deal, they receive a certificate of authenticity and they can become quite valuable. However, if the “John Hancock” turns out to be a fake, the item is not worth much at all. In fact, if an item has a fake signature on it, it actually loses value.
I think you can see where this is heading…
I wonder how many forged copies of true worship exist out there? Are we just imitating others, and skating by on the faith and passion of those we admire, or are we pushing ourselves to the limits of our own faith, and seeking God with OUR whole hearts? Sometimes, as worship leaders, just as in any other occupation, it can be easy to hit “auto-pilot” and cruise through weeks, even months, without anyone outside of ourselves knowing the difference! We can pick the right songs, play the right transitions, and even say the right words in a worship setting (of course, you might have to switch to your “prayer voice,” you know what I’m talkin about). It’s sad, but in most FORGED worship settings, most people would rarely notice that something is off. But the good news is, that’s when the Authenticator comes in. As in the TV show I described, the authenticator puts the signatures under the microscope. They study every curve and nuance of an autograph to tell if it’s real, or fake. Nothing escapes the authenticator’s eyes.
In Luke 8:17 we see a picture of the GREAT AUTHENTICATOR. “For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” God sees all, knows all, and deserves all. Who we are in the unseen places of our lives will say more about us than anything seen on a stage. If you want to live an authentic life, you have to be who you are, wherever you are. If I can only love people and lead them to Christ with a microphone in front of me, I’m living a lie. I’d be committing forgery in my walk with Jesus. I had a conversation with one of our worship leaders, Chris, about this, and he said he was striving to lead worship two hours at home, for every hour he was on stage. I’m sure his wife is loving the at-home concerts!
When we live a life of worship when no one is watching, it comes pretty naturally when everyone is watching. Worship when no one is around. Sing in your car, pray in the mornings, and see a life of authenticity naturally begin to manifest. God values the real deal, and sees when we are faking it. As in the TV show, forgeries are worthless.
Blog by Josh Maze
No matter the guest, they’re the “absolute best” on the “absolute best” TV show or film. Isn’t it amazing that every. single. night… Jimmy’s “favorite” person is on the show… and we believe him? I believe him. I follow him. All the way to the desk where he is absolutely enthralled by the special guest. Completely engaged. As a matter of fact, he’s so engaged – I’m engaged. I’m engaged through him. All the sudden I find myself interested in the guest / the subject / the conversation. Through Jimmy’s excitement & passion, I find myself involved. I never knew that I could become such a fan of some random C-list celebrity… but seeing Jimmy as such a fanatic about this person, here I am. Participating.
Here are 5 things every worship leader in the world should learn from Jimmy Fallon.
1. He’s always smiling.
This may be the most important and underrated aspect of Jimmy’s career. He smiles. A lot. Like… constantly. And that’s really good because, he’s in our living rooms and our bedrooms. And we want happy / positive people in our home. Smiles break down barriers. Smiles invite you in. Every worship leader who doesn’t smile while singing about Love… Grace… Hope… Jesus… is completely missing the mark. If you’re not smiling, you’re not winning. If you’re not smiling, you probably don’t look friendly. You might even be coming across too serious, overly spiritual, or arrogant. Let’s avoid that at all cost.
2. He’s got great energy.
It’s rarely hype. It’s always excitement. He loves what he does, and it’s obvious. But check this out… Jimmy Fallon has bad days too. He’s a human being. But you may never know it. We don’t see it. He presses through and does his job… making us feel at home. People need a confident leader to bring the energy to the room. Energy is contagious. Bad / low energy is contagious. Great / high energy is contagious. Be yourself, yes. Be vulnerable, of course. But get excited about what you’re doing!
3. He’s humble.
I’ve heard a ton of different people make comments about Jimmy. “He’s awesome… He’s the best… I love him… I have a crush on him… He’s literally perfect…” (And those are just from my wife… 😉 But I have never heard anyone say anything about his ego, his pride, or his arrogance. Yet – he’s one of the biggest stars in the world. He’s self-deprecating. He knows his strengths – He knows his weaknesses. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s quick to laugh at himself. That’s endearing. I like being around people like that, don’t you? With his ratings up 27% in the households & up 40% in the 18-49 demographic. Yes. You do. We do.
4. He’s prepared.
Monologues, singing, dancing, bits, sketches, dialogues, interviews… he does it all. And he’s ready. We think we have something to get ready for on Sundays? Once a week? Imagine having to be fresh, funny, smart, & interesting 5 nights a week. He nails it. And yes, he’s got a great team around him that help him prep. What can we learn from this as worship leaders? What can we take away? Very little excellence happens in life without proper preparation and planning. Let’s do our part to prepare, and let God do what only He can do.
5. He’s relevant.
‘Relevant’ isn’t my favorite word ever. But let’s remind ourselves… It’s a real word:
Relevant adjective rel·e·vant \ˈre-lə-vənt\ relating to a subject in an appropriate way
If I tried doing what we do at Highpoint at the big Episcopal church down the street, it wouldn’t work. I’d be dead in the water. You have to speak the language of the people you are speaking to. You have to relate. You have to know who is in the room and have an idea of where they are coming from. Jimmy’s show is so relevant, it’s ridiculous. The monologues are literally centered around the day’s news, the day’s gossip, and even the day’s tragedy. The interviews are centered around the film or TV show that just premiered or is about to premier. Why do so many churches miss this? We at Highpoint have decided to teach timeless truths in a timely way. That’s a Non-negotiable.
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So, all in all, while Jimmy is leading us in the worship of the people he adores – like Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Tom Cruise, Justin Timberlake, or Brad Pitt, we still have a lot to learn. And if we are leading people in the worship of JESUS, how much more then should we be smiling, energetic, humbled, prepared, & relevant? Jimmy, if you’re out there, I for one, am inspired to be a better worship leader. Thank you.
Josh Maze is the Worship Pastor & Creative Director of Highpoint Church in Memphis, TN. Josh grew up as the son of Jackson, Mississippi Church Planters. He’s a husband, a pastor, a songwriter, & a creative who loves old cars, new restaurants, & the Grizzlies. Josh loves God, people, & life.
NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Faithful, the highly-anticipated live worship set from GRAMMY®-nominated NewSong, debuted at #1 on Nielsen SoundScan’s Praise & Worship chart for the week ending March 15. The critically-acclaimed Integrity Music project also landed at #3 on Nielsen SoundScan’s Current Contemporary Christian chart, marking the chart’s highest debut of the week.
NewSong’s first live recording since 2005’s Rescue, Faithful released March 10 and features songwriting credits from such leading artists as Matthew West, Matt Redman, All Sons & Daughters, Elias Dummer (The City Harmonic), and Desperation Band, among others.
CCMmagazine.com says of the project, “This is a perfect variety of songs—well suited to their vocal work, smart musicianship—and proves that even after a decade since their last recorded worship offering, they are, indeed, Faithful.”
The 13-song collection was produced by Nathan Nockels (Chris Tomlin, Passion) and recorded live, in-the-round at NewSong’s home church near Atlanta. Highlighted by the title-cut and debut single, an original co-penned by NewSong’s Russ Lee, All Sons & Daughters’ David Leonard and Leslie Jordan, and Alli Rogers, the album also offers NewSong’s version of the Desperation Band-penned “Make A Way”; the original “Hallelujah (Bride In White),” co-written with The City Harmonic’s Elias Dummer; and “Keep Me Close,” a soaring prayer of surrender co-penned by Matthew West.
Faithful is available as a CD or CD/DVD combo featuring video selections filmed during the live recording, as well as exclusive interviews with members of NewSong. A standard digital album and digital “deluxe” (featuring bonus videos) is also available.
NewSong is currently performing “Faithful” at 47 Winter Jam Tour Spectacular stops around the country. Created and hosted by the band, Winter Jam—which has seen multiple sellouts to date this year—is headlined by GRAMMY® Award-winning rockers Skillet and features 10 of Christian music’s top artists.
With a career spanning more than 30 years, 19 albums, 20 #1 Christian radio singles, a GRAMMY® Award-nomination and induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, among numerous other achievements, NewSong is among the most respected artists and mentors in Christian music today. Their unparalleled ministry has been highlighted by such defining songs as “Arise, My Love,” “The Christmas Shoes” and “Rescue,” while the group’s blockbuster Winter Jam Tour Spectacular has ranked as Pollstar’s #1 first-quarter tour in the world for four consecutive years, providing a powerful platform for the Gospel in major arenas around the country since 1995.
Originally published by Worship Leader magazine.
It is time for your weekly rehearsal again. The music is printed and ready for your instrumentalist to receive. You have studied the music and know the flow and instrumentation of each song. You know exactly how you will lead your music team through the rehearsal. But, have you considered how you will pastor them in your rehearsal?
We must prepare for the music on Sunday morning! It must be excellent, but does our pursuit of musical perfection get in the way of our ability to really care for the souls of those that God has placed on our teams? More often than I care to admit, I have been more concerned about the quality of music that has been produced by those I have lead. A few years ago I knew something needed to change in the way that I was leading rehearsals, but I didn’t want to make changes at the expense of being musically prepared for Sunday. Therefore, I committed to these four practices which have helped our teams be better prepared for Sunday and given me greater opportunity to lead them pastorally during the rehearsal time.
1. Be Prompt
While it seems simple, being on time is a pastoral issue. This is a substantial way that we can communicate to the team that we care about them. Being on time doesn’t mean a leader is simply present when the rehearsal starts; it means he is ready. Nothing is more frustrating for a team or threatens the worship leader’s pastoral integrity like a group of musicians watching him set up his equipment while they are ready to rehearse. Being on time means being ready on time!
2. Be Prepared
No one should be more prepared at a rehearsal than the leader. After all, it is hard to lead a team that is more prepared. Preparation takes time, so we should budget for that in our weekly responsibilities. The more comfortable we get with our team the greater the temptation will be to just “wing-it” in the rehearsal, but we must fight this temptation because our lack of preparation can also communicate a lack of care for our people. If we are prepared and structured with our time, we will allow for more time to address spiritual issues.
3. Be Intentional
One of the most difficult challenges to overcome in pastoring a team during the rehearsal time is budgeting time for pastoral moments (devotion, prayer, etc.) and time for perfecting the music for Sunday morning. However, perhaps we don’t have to separate the two categories as much as we might think. There are many pastoral moments within and around a rehearsal, but we will need our pastoral antennas up to notice them – we must be intentional. Many of these happen before rehearsal begins and after it ends. If you arrive early and stay late you will have many more opportunities to serve your team members. Also, being aware of the lyrical theology in the songs that you are leading can provide an opportunity for saying a brief word about the Gospel truths that the church will be singing on Sunday.
4. Be Authentic
We can lead and serve our teams by living openly before them. They need to know that we are sinners who have been saved by the same grace that they have experienced. This doesn’t mean that we confess a litany of sins to begin each rehearsal, but that we live openly and authentically – with wisdom – before them. It is our human condition to want others to think more highly of us than they ought, but we must fight against this this desire for honor. While we may have more education than many on our team or may be more musically skilled, we are just as sinful and just as saved. We need to believe that and live authentically before them.
It ought not be that we fail in our pastoral responsibilities at the expense of producing good music. Let’s be resolved to serve and lead our people while also producing good music. This investment is sure to produce fruit that extends beyond the rehearsal.
Andrew Lucius is the Associate Pastor of Worship at Throne of Grace Community Church and Instructor of Church Music and Christian Worship at Boyce College of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is married to Rebecca and is the father of Molly (2) and Matthew (9 months).