Saturday, December 29, 2007

the little drummer boy... this Christmas Eve service was my four year-old's debut on the platform playing with the praise band! He was our very own 'little drummer boy' and he had an absolute blast. Take a look!

Sunday, December 23, 2007


It's Sunday morning, 6:47a.m. as I begin typing... the rare occasion of having a 10 or 15 minute surplus before I leave for church is at hand, and I thought I'd take advantage by putting some of my thoughts down here. We're rapidly approaching the day on which we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the words we sang last night--and will again this morning--are resonating in my mind... "It's all about You, Jesus..."

This has become a staple among the myriad of "worship phrases" that we worship leaders, songwriters and pastors will draw from when appropriate--but it struck me differently for the first time last night. The wonder of God has many layers, and perhaps I stumbled onto one I've never really encountered before last night--at least not in this way. See, I've been spending the last several years being cognizant in my writing and in my leading of pointing to Christ and only to Christ--"It's all about You, Jesus... it's not about me, God, it's all about You..." That really must be the heart of our worship to Him, but as I was bathing in that thought last night in a moment of worship, it struck me that the selfless God we serve suffered through Calvary, died a glorious death on the cross, and rose from the dead all for... us. It's not that I'd never come to that realization before, don't get me wrong. Salvation only exists inside that reality. But it's almost as if the God of all creation was singing back to me last night--not worshiping me at all--but rather a musical whisper... a message from the cross: "It's all about you... that's why I did all of this..."

Wow. The gift of baby Jesus in the manger, humbly entering a world which wouldn't accept Him. The miracles, the parables, the scriptures left behind. The death, the resurrection--all that we celebrate in this season and throughout the year--was God selflessly making it all about us... little, pathetic, sinful, undeserving souls like mine. I don't know about you, but that makes it even easier for me to give every effort to make my worship all about Him.

Friday, December 14, 2007

live video from my recent tour!

Ok, so how fun is this? A friend of mine just told me yesterday that there was a video of me from my recent tour on her myspace profile... I hadn't seen any videos floating around, but when I went and checked it out... sure enough. So thanks Lisa, for showing me! And thanks to Heather in Colorado for shooting and posting a little slice of the tour.

Check it out, tell your friends, blog it, post it, repost it, bulletin it (that's almost as poor a verb as 'Photoshop') and put it on all your profiles! :) Enjoy!

Mark Roach in Concert performing As Long As I Have You

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

a great new song...

so... have you ever run across a new song that you were amped about and you just had to tell the world? Worship leaders--you especially? Well, I ran into one such song the other day... it's called "You Gave Your Life Away" by Paul Baloche and Kathryn Scott. Wow.

Now, if you know me at all, you know that I listen and write through a congregational filter of sorts. In other words, I'm constantly looking for--or trying to write--songs that will resonate in a congregational worship setting. So when I stumbled on this song, I was elated to hear each section of the song draw me further into a simple, beautiful moment of worship. We'll be worshiping with this new tune this weekend at MSC, so any of you reading this who will be there will get a chance to enter the throne room with Paul's and Kathryn's words on your lips in our services.

Funny, I was at Saddleback Church this past year at a conference, and I was teaching a session on corporate songwriting. I use Paul's song 'Offering' as an example in my class, because I believe that it's truly an amazing example of artistic worship writing. Anyway, Paul was teaching immediately after me across campus and I wanted to go check out his session--maybe say 'hello' if I could get a chance. He talked about this tune he had just been finishing with Kathryn Scott and sang a bit of the chorus. I loved the little bit that he shared, but had all but forgotten about it until I ran across it the other day.

Paul, if you read this, bro... I want to write with you sometime! You are truly anointed and I'd love to merge our minds and hearts and see if we could come up with a song together that blesses congregations around the world and pleases our Lord and Savior! For now, I thank you--and Kathryn--for coming up with this one!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

...miss me?

well, even if you don't, I've missed blogging--especially after doing so nearly every day while on tour. I'll be back soon, I promise. Meanwhile, remember that you can catch my weekend service reflections on my blog at -- I kinda moved 'em over there instead of here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hey... many of you may have seen that I've been regularly posting a 'weekend services' blog -- a setlist, a run-down of how things went, and maybe some spiritual fodder to go along with...

Well, I'm still doing that, but the long-awaited site is finally up, and I've moved those particular weekly entries to the 'blog' section on my worshipsource site!

Worshipsource is a very cool site, though still in its infancy, so I hope you check it out. Three of my songs are posted up there, all with multi-page chord charts with capo keys (when applicable) and chord diagrams, and a fourth with charts but no audio. Also, the blog that I just mentioned will be up there weekly as well. Stop by and check it out...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

day twelve and out...

Great night to close out a great tour... I ran out of CD's which is good--and also a bummer. We took a group picture of all the guys in Building 429, Aaron Shust and his band, Meredith, myself and the crew... check it out.

The highlight of the night definitely did end up being the pranks... here's a run down:

Meredith went on first. She was nervous through her whole 3-song set, but nothing happened--until she headed off stage and one of the guys from Building poured water on her from the catwalk above the stage... nice.

So I head on, and I'm playing through my set just wondering what's coming. My biggest fears were realized when I heard Jason Roy talking in my in-ear monitors. The first time was between song 2 and 3, and he was just trying to freak me out, so he said "ok, you got the stuff... sweet, let's go get him." Then, as if that wasn't enough to throw my concentration, he actually starts playing puppeteer. Immediately after song 3, Jason speaks again... "Mark, do exactly as I say... put your right hand in the air and don't make a sound." So, fearing consequences--the catwalk was directly over me--I took one step forward, raised my right hand as the applause tailed off and then, after a short pause, began speaking. Now, while I'm speaking, I'm hearing gut-level laughter at my obedience along with one last comment, "nicely done, Mark"... all while I'm trying to talk to the crowd. Yeah, I have no idea what I said, but I give kudos to Jason--well done.

Next was Building 429... they have a section of their show where they play "Sing Like the Saved" and invite kids from the audience up on stage to dance. Well, Meredith had taken Aaron's hat (the bass player) the day before, from bus and she--wearing said hat--and Scottie (Aaron Shust's guitarist) came running on stage with, yep, silly string... made a mess and danced around a bit... more good stuff. The bass player was wearing a 'backup' hat, and I think everyone had a different hat on by the time they were off stage.

Lastly, during one of Aaron's songs, the guys from Building (yeah... they were involved in just about every prank) ran on stage with various and sundry hats they found backstage, and started pulling hats off of Aaron and switching them around, adding hats to people without hats, and generally causing mayhem... it was actually very funny--sounds just like the Meredith trick, but it was to the next level or two... meanwhile, I was hiding behind a small facade wall behind and to the right of the drummer, waiting for some silence. As soon as the song ended, I waited for the most opportune moment and blew an airhorn at him. Kind of inside joke for Josh--he and the bassist Duffy both heard it and had a laugh...

Like I said, good night, good tour... I absolutely can't wait to hug my wife and son in a matter of hours. I'm finally getting used to the road, and I simultaneously want nothing more than the various and sundry blessings and burdens that await me at home. In the words of Michael Bublé:

I've had my run, baby I'm done... and I wanna go home.

With eyes welling up as I type those words, and bitter-sweet goodbyes filling the next few hours, I'm signing off for now... thanks for coming alongside me on the road via the amazing phenomenon of the blog.

Many blessings...


[phil 4.8]

day eleven...

one of our biggest crowds yet at around 1000, Niwot, CO proved to be an awesome penultimate gig... oops, I just used a big word for no reason, didn't I? Ok, I went ahead and made it clickable. Anyway, I've been asking folks just before the last song to come by my table, tell me their stories, you know? Wow... it's been really awesome to hear people's hearts after these shows.

On a complete different note, I'm looking forward to an interesting last show--apparently, tour tradition includes some during-set pranking on the last show. Now, Aaron's band doesn't seem interested as this was such a short little tour, but Building and the crew don't seem so bothered by the brevity. Apparently, tour pranks past have included baby powder all over the snare drum (you can imagine what happens the first time the drummer hits it), taping down the kick drum beater, detuning guitar strings, even silly string attacks and other artists dancing on the stage--uninvited, of course--in a Spiderman costume. My set seems a bit serious for these types of pranks, but we'll see... I'll certainly keep you posted if someone thinks of something.

At any rate, we're heading to Wichita, closer and closer to home. I'll miss the daily blogging, but I'll likely return to a couple times per week once I'm home. Keep in touch for one more tour post, tomorrow night...

Many blessings...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

day ten...

... yesterday was awesome. Albuquerque, NM. I'd never been there, but I'd sure love to go back. Incredible people--not a big crowd, but a very responsive one--I've never run into more people with unique and beautiful names in my life! I'd try to recall (and spell) them for you, but I'd surely butcher one or all of them.

I'm attaching a simple picture taken with my phone from the parking lot of the church... quite a horizon--cooler in person, obviously.

Last night was the 2nd night of shows that were in cities where the radio is playing 'You Are' right now. The most humbling facet of those nights is hearing the stories--one woman divulged that she was home getting ready in the morning the first time she ever heard 'You Are' on the radio and she said her hands went up right then and there... wow. Another woman was encouraged by 'As Long As I Have You' and shared with me that she's the mother of a special-needs child of 8 years... she humbly and sweetly asked for continued prayers saying 'God knows our names... a generic prayer for us would be appreciated.' Yet another, moved by the song 'The Least I Can Do' shared that God saved her daughter's life at a young age--she apparently had cancer, and this mother added that miracle in her own heart to the list of things our Creator has done for us. "The Least I Can Do is worship Him" she commented...

Wow... speechless I head into the final weekend, first Niwot, CO then Wichita, KS. I guess I've all but given away my setlist secret in this post, but that's ok. Two shows left, then I get to see and hold my beautiful wife and son again...

Keep in touch... I'll keep you posted.

Friday, November 16, 2007

day nine...

... so I'm trying to keep up with this blog, but some days are more difficult than others. Not much to say today other than this: I'm having a great time, missing my family like crazy, learning to deal with the road while anxious to sleep in my own bed. I love playing my songs for 600-800 new people every night, but relish the idea of leading worship on my familiar home church platform in just over a week. I'm feeling (and greatly appreciating) all of the prayers, and I meet new people every night who need prayers as well. I'll be keeping an eye on the score of the Blues game tonight, and I'll be home before I know it...

Keep in touch, I'll keep you posted...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

day eight...

Ok, so two things:

First of all, I made the lamest error possible as a Worship Artist tonight on stage... when thanking the crowd for coming to the show I boldly exclaimed, "Thanks for being here this evening, thanks for worshiping me--" AAAAHH! I stopped, laughed, and made sure it was clear that they should never do that--"thanks for worshiping WITH me..." Practically unrecoverable, and I got plenty of flack for it all night while signing CD's. So I take away an object lesson from that, because any artist who claims that they've been up on that platform and not desired--even taken--glory solely for themselves is, in my opinion, struggling with honesty issues. Was my comment Freudian? I sure hope not. But if it helped me realize even for a moment how disastrous an evening of worship can be when I don't make everything all about God, it was worth the embarrassment! :)

Ok, second... I had another opportunity to talk with someone tonight that reminded me why I do what I do. A young woman--probably early 20's--approached me early in the evening, after my set, but before the concert was over. She thanked me for being there, told me that she 'felt' something tonight that she hadn't felt in a long time. "Wow... that's great. What brought you here tonight?" I asked. She shared with me that she had been at a recovery meeting on Monday and someone happened to have an extra ticket--a stranger at that. As we continued to talk, I realized that this was someone who did not frequent Christian concerts... and found out through our conversation that she didn't frequent church, either. Toward the end of the conversation, I felt an awkward pause and saw in her eyes--something... I'm not sure what. I asked her if I could pray for her. The honesty that followed impressed and astounded me... "I don't think I'd be very comfortable with that..." she said. "You know, what? I'll pray for you all by myself tonight... how does that sound?" I asked. Again, her response floored me... "sure. Can I give you some prayer requests?" This young lady burned a few requests on my heart tonight and you can bet I'll be praying fervently for her before I close my eyes tonight. I can only hope that a journey toward salvation started in her heart tonight, and that God will find a way to communicate to her how much he desires a relationship with her.

Let's call her Susan... can you all keep Susan in your prayers tonight? I guarantee it, she could use 'em... seriously, before you forget, can you say a prayer for her? God knows her real name, along with every hurt she feels and need she has, and something--something--happened in her tonight. Thanks in advance, and praise God...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

day six...

Bend, OR - another great church--amazingly cool people, great hospitality, fun concert, right? But tonight, at least for me, the highlight had to have been 'Crazy Tony'... I'd love to say that he heard my music and I somehow was able to change his life with the divine truths contained in the songs that God has giv---yeah, the truth is, God's been working on this guy for a long time and two weeks ago, he gave his life to Christ. wow... if you've forgotten what it's like to be in the presence of an on-fire, brand-new, loving-life-and-his-newfound-salvation believer, meet 'Crazy Tony'...

He comes by my nickname for him easily enough. After feeling like he really wasn't going to be able to pony up $15 for a ticket to the show, someone asked him if he'd like to setup. During setup, someone asked him to be a stagehand. After those two events transpired, Tony was found running around and jumping up and down backstage like we were U2 or something. A signed CD from Building, one from me, some mangled drumsticks that he took around with a Sharpie to everyone backstage he could find--those all excited him to his core, but it was all within the framework of the most exciting thing of all... his recent decision to follow Christ. Amidst the stories of his chest full of tattoos made in prison with guitar strings, the motor of a walkman and soot from candlewax for ink... stories of following his wife to OR after she walked out of a material-filled life with an alcoholic husband who never abused, but somehow always ignored his family... stories of a man who was sent to prison for one, but served five... this man made an impact on me.

He's back with his kids--a stay at home dad, after leaving his 6-figure salary and checking into a rehab. Mom works at Home Depot, and Tony says he's never been poorer, and he's never been happier. This man, draped in the robes of newfound salvation, is primed to begin changing lives of people that I could never even get to look at me, much less listen to one of my songs... The body of Christ is a beautiful thing, my friends, and Crazy Tony is now a proud member! This is why I do what I do... watching what God can do in His people is an amazing, inspiring thing.

random pics from the road...

Jason Roy (Building 429), Me, Meredith, Aaron in Bend, OR

me sound-checking in Tualatin (Portland), OR

Scottie (Guitar), Meredith and me on the bus...

Duffy (Bass), Sara (Aaron's wife), and Josh (Drums) on the bus...

Monday, November 12, 2007

tune therapy

Ok, so I thought I was done posting for the day, but as the first 'day off' of the tour draws to a close, I've found myself sitting calmly on the bus with my in-ear-monitors in my ears reading some blogs and listening to Glen Phillips on my iPod... his voice and songs are like a rare late night conversation with old friend. I miss my family so much it hurts--even after only 5 days on the road--so I wheel over to Michael Buble's 'Home' for some therapy. I listen to 'The Scientist' once or twice to remind myself just how deep a person can dive into a 4-minute song, maybe check out my brother's 'Head High' just for a dose of what I might call high art in rock music--the instrumental outro of that tune is three times as long as the lyric and I could write paragraphs about what I think its saying...

Anyway, music's great, isn't it? nothing else like it. Take some time this week... get a few recordings that push your buttons and join me in some tune therapy.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

day four (& five)...

ok, so the Tualatin (Portland, OR) show was last night... I know I sound like a broken record, but it was a great time. I've included a pic to the right there. From l to r, that's Aaron, Jason Roy (Building), Meredith, Josh, Scottie, Duffy (Aaron's band) and myself. I've gotten the opportunity to sit in and watch the entire sets of both Building 429 & Aaron the past few nights and they've been really compelling. As usual though, the coolest part of last night came behind the scenes...

After the concert was over, a woman came up to me just to say 'thank you'... as she began to speak, her eyes quickly welled up with tears. She shared with me the impact the artists had made on her simply by being 'real'. I think the simple act of walking out to our merch tables afterward and chatting with people communicated a raw authenticity to her that she didn't expect. As we go from city to city, that seems to be a recurring theme that hits my heart. It amazes me the apparent perception--or I may even say fear--that some people have of artists' personalities on the way into these concerts. The legend of the green m&m's seems pervasive--almost accepted--even in Christian circles, and when those stereotypes fall, a sense of relief seems to ensue.

At the end of the day, it makes me more and more aware of the words our church throws around on a daily basis--authentic, transparent, real (Kelley, if you're reading this, I know you're loving it.) It's so important... it's so important. I got the opportunity to pray with the woman I spoke about earlier, and that entire situation--tiny as it was--left a small, though indelible, mark on me.

Today we had the day off... no show tonight. Tomorrow we hit Bend, OR before heading to Fresno. Keep in touch, and I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

day three...

today was Spokane, WA. The venue was called 'The Service Station'--a coffee house & concert venue all wrapped up in one... the room was great, the people were great, and the worship was great. I pray that God was pleased with what happened in Spokane tonight.

You know, it's funny... the first few days of this tour have been tough for me in some ways. I stand up there in front of hundreds every night singing about Psalm 23 and at times I have to look in the mirror and ask myself if I really trust God the way I want to believe I trust God. We all fight this, don't we? Over and over we find ourselves caught in cyclical patterns of doubt, pride, sometimes just spiritual apathy... and even when we begin trying to pray our way out of it, we realize that we're not trusting fully--fully--the kind of trust God deserves (and then some.)

It's not that we don't believe what we're saying when we sing worship songs or pray, it's just that there's more to it than that... belief doesn't require sacrifice, humility, surrender of control--but trust does. It's opens us up as vulnerable beings and is inherently risky. I don't know about you, but I need to learn to worship more sacrificially, putting actions with my words instead of thoughts alone. Can we really act like worship is all about God and not make a concerted effort to parallel that with our lives being all about God? Our decisions? Our very livelihood?

Yeah, I'm working on it... I may never get all the way there, but I hope I'll never stop trying.

Friday, November 9, 2007

day two...

Ok, so I'm quickly getting used to my short-term home (see picture) and the way things are rolling on this tour. We're pretty well under a set schedule of driving/sleeping after midnight, showing up at the next day's venue sometime by early morning. The crew gets up before Aaron, Building, Meredith and myself and the bands... they load up the whole sound system, merch tables, etc. and we stroll into the venue for lunch. Showers are strange, 'cause they're usually mid-day, either at the venue or a quick run to a nearby hotel. We sound check, get ready, grab some dinner, and in and around that we just wait--that's when I'm checking e-mail and trying to grab a little quality phone time with my little man, Conner, at home.

I mentioned in-ear monitors in my first post of the tour--glorified earbud headphones that are molded to the inside of my ears. They're great for hearing yourself, but they kind of exclude the noise of the outside world, so it's harder to hear the congregation sing, etc. Most people are using 'ears' these days, so I've felt like a regular amateur the past few days--but I'm quickly adapting, and I'm confident I'll return to St. Louis wishing I could use them all the time...

Hope you all are doing well... I definitely took your advice on the set list--those of you who voted! Thanks for the input, and hope many of you are able to come out and see a show. Building, Aaron and his band, and Meredith are all awesome, so it's been a great couple nights so far...

We'll catch up later... day three is upon us.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

first day...

Well, first day's behind us... had a great show here in Redmond. Learning to deal with in-ear monitors, soaking in tour-bus etiquette... right now, I'm incredibly tired, so I'm going to bed. I'll keep you all posted.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

November 3 & 4, 2007

Worship Setlist:

Beautiful One (Tim Hughes)
May the Words of My Mouth (Tim Hughes)
Amazing (John Newton, John P. Rees, Mark Roach)

I Stand Amazed (Charles Hutchison Gabriel)
Holy Is The Lord (Chris Tomlin)

Hey all... long weekend for us at MSC--the services on Saturday and Sunday were followed by a baptism service Sunday night @6pm. All I can say is... that's why we do what do... what an awesome thing to witness all of those professions of faith.

Well, I'm off tomorrow a.m. to Washington--first night of the tour with Aaron Shust and Building 429. Meredith Andrews (new Word artist, I believe) will be there, too. If we're in your city, drop by and worship with us, and say 'hey'... regardless, watch the blog, 'cause I'm gonna try to keep you all posted throughout the tour.

Many blessings!


[phil 4.8]

Monday, October 29, 2007


October 27 & 28, 2007

Worship Setlist:

Blessed Be Your Name (Matt Redman, Beth Redman)
All I Can Do is Surrender (M. Roach)
Let My Words Be Few (Matt Redman, Beth Redman)
How Great is Our God (Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, Ed Cash)

The Noise (Ian Eskelin, Scott Davis, Jesse Daniels)

Forever (Chris Tomlin)

yeah... so as I look at the songs we did this week... I guess it was like 'Passion Weekend' with a gratuitous original thrown in, huh? :) Seriously, I do this from time to time, where I'll lay out the setlist just based on that delicate combination of rotation, vibe and transition and then I'll look back and realize that our whole set was written by Chris Tomlin or Matt Redman--or in this case, both of them. Does anyone else do that? Does anyone else care? I know the typical congregation member probably doesn't even notice, but do other worship leaders out there avoid this when possible? yeah... just totally curious.

It was a good set... so I don't really care. :) ... and I tend to think God wasn't disappointed with my lack of numbers in the songwriter column. I hope he was pleased with our offerings to Him this week. Still... I must admit, I may avoid it in the future (if I actually notice it ahead of time :)

Friday, October 26, 2007

help me choose...

Hey all... I just posted a brand new poll--an opportunity for you all to help me decide what tunes I'll play for my upcoming tour! You can vote all the way up until the morning I leave! Please pick four (4) tunes, then head to my myspace page to check out if the tour will hit your city!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

invite me over :)

especially if you're one of the eight of you who have five or more TV's (according to my exceedingly non-scientific poll)

I'll bring chips. :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

he lost.

October 20 & 21, 2007

Worship Setlist:

You Are Good (Israel Houghton)
Indescribable (Laura Story)
You Are (M. Roach)

Adding to the Noise (Switchfoot)

Breathe (Marie Barnett)

Ok, so this weekend, only our second ever with services on Saturday and Sunday, was full of excitement to say the least... We continued a great series called 'Noise' that just deals with the noise and distractions in our lives. This week's emphasis: filters. We discussed some of the most common audio filters and then really honed in on the notch filter--a filter that identifies an offensive band of frequencies and attenuates it (turns it down) in order to hear the rest of audio undisturbed. Well, come on, it works in theory :)

Anyway, the message and premise were great, but we had our share of attacks this weekend: First of all, the virtually complete loss of our Sr. Pastor's voice. I guess that wasn't enough for Saturday and first service Sunday, 'cause then we had enough tech problems to take plenty of the focus off of the rasp-filled message. The highlight (read: lowlight) to me was during the Switchfoot tune--after forgetting to turn my own volume up, delaying the intro a few bars, I started to sing the first line when I looked at our rear screen (yes, I cheat lyrically by using a rear screen) only to gaze into vast blackness... or at least as much blackness as a low-lit white screen can provide. I believe I actually uttered--ok, blurted--the word "wow" within close enough proximity to my mic that all knew that I was taken completely off guard.

So just in case you other worship leaders out there have ever wondered what would happen if something visually catastrophic were to impede your presentation during a service, I could give a little first-hand testimony of just how not fun it is. Good news: we all survived, the message came through in spite of it all, and ultimately, the enemy lost the fight. :)

Monday, October 15, 2007

old school.

ok, so my son has a new favorite cartoon--and when I say new, I'm definitely referring to the favorite, not the cartoon. That's right, Conner's gone old school, and he can't get enough of Tom & Jerry! Oh, and I'm talkin' the vintage episodes, too--not the new stuff.

I'm lovin' it, too, 'cause I grew up on that stuff... those cartoons are great, and they're packed with references to music and the arts and such, you know? There's a whole episode based around a Classical piano piece with Jerry terrorizing Tom while he's trying to perform the piece--and then there's the whole "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby" tune in the one episode. Come on. I know it dates me, but I'm gonna say it: they don't make cartoons like they used to... my boy's got taste! :)

October 13 & 14, 2007

Worship Setlist:

Here For the King (Mark White)
Forever (Chris Tomlin)
Change Me (Gary Shoemaker, Rebecca Shoemaker)
The Heart of Worship (Matt Redman)

Still (Christy Nockels, Nathan Nockels)

Enough (Chris Tomlin)

we had an amazing weekend at MSC this last few days. It started with our first ever Saturday night service--ok, so 4:30pm isn't exactly night, but we all still seem to call it that--and it was packed... a family dinner and "Civic Day" event followed, complete with the firetrucks, ambulance, Sheriff's car, safe house, etc... and a helicopter landing on our parking lot. It wasn't punctual, but it got there. My son Conner freaked out--he loved the whole event--and as odd as it may seem, I'd never seen a helicopter land in front of me before either, so it was really cool.

Sunday morning followed, and we had two full services--a nice break from the one-lightly-populated-followed-by-two-full-service we'd been sustaining for the last several months. It was great for my voice, and we all got another hour and a half of sleep or so... win/win.

The message this weekend was [mute] ... the first in our new series entitled 'noise.' Man, it's a pervasive issue in all of our lives, the idea of noise--distractions, temptations, obstuctions, etc.--in our lives. I think it's going to be a really powerful message series and I'm looking forward to doing some cool tunes for it, too...

Well, until next time...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sunday, Oct. 7th

Worship Setlist:

Everlasting God (Brenton Brown, Ken Riley)
Happy Day (Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon)
You Never Let Go (Matt Redman, Beth Redman)

All Who Are Thirsty (Brenton Brown, Glen Robertson)
Here I Am, Lord (Dan Schutte)

We wrapped up our series called 'Just Walk Across the Room' yesterday with a message entitled 'The Big Fish'... Nothing spectacular happened from a musical standpoint at the service, but it's always awesome to see God show up in spite of ourselves. I haven't been a very good steward of my own ability to sleep lately, especially on Saturday nights, and I was running on fumes. We worship a Creator far more amazing than I have the capacity to understand, and I think that reality is most potent to me after I walk off of that platform--little, flawed, pathetic man that I am--only able to bring anyone into the throne room by His permission and with the help of His grace...

Ok, that's enough :) Anyway, this Saturday marks our first EVER Saturday 4:30pm service, and following it, a more reasonable 7:45am call time on Sunday a.m. and only two services... My vocal chords will undoubtedly thank me.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Sunday, Sept. 30th

Worship Setlist:

A Thousand Hallelujahs (M. Roach)
Sweet Mercies (David Ruis)
Lord On High (Matt Boswell)
How Can I Keep from Singing (Tomlin/Cash/Redman)

Special Music:

Something to Say (Toad the Wet Sprocket)
Next Thing You Know (Matthew West)

yeah, so worship was great this week. We did something we don't do incredibly often, we had two 'special music' tunes... I despise that term--it makes no sense--and yet I constantly use it for lack of a better term. Any ideas? Let me know! :)

Anyway, we continued our 'Just Walk Across the Room' series with a great message from Pastor Keith about molding our own stories in preparation for the moment that God may want to use it. He kinda called us out on the carpet a bit as Christians. Are we just annoying to the secular culture? Do we even know how not to be? We played a couple clips from 'Planes, Trains & Automobiles' and sang the Toad tune 'Something To Say'... kinda tongue-in-cheek way of saying that we need to make sure we're good stewards of words as Christians.

I wonder, does your church do any 'classics' in terms of 'modern worship' tunes? We did 'Sweet Mercies' this week, and I tell ya... that song just slams. I'd probably never record it myself on a CD, but for Sunday morning... whew... We had a couple veteran vocalists up there (my wife being one of them) and we sang that tune like we weren't planning on stopping. And the band? Our drummer was playing his first service ever with us and he dug into that song like he'd been playing it with us for the last 8 years. I'm telling you, I worry a little bit that we're starting to wear out worship tunes like the radio wears out singles, you know? I know that the best of our worship tunes have some staying power... even after 8 years, there are a couple of songs we do that still open the gates. Good stuff. Hope your church doesn't throw away the good ones, either. Keep singing 'em if they keep working in your congregation.

Looking forward to next week, the last week of 3-service Sundays at MSC. On the 13th of October we begin our new Saturday worship service and move to two services on Sunday.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


ok, so it just plain doesn't get any better than this... the other night, my son Conner and I went to his second ever St. Louis Blues game! I've been a Blues fan since before I was his age, and there's nothing better than taking this boy to see our team.

Ryan and his girlfriend Abby invited us--mucho thanks again to them--and little did we know we were going to sit 6 rows from the ice! The seats were incredible! Check out the picture of I took of Conner after the game right by the glass... he's a stud. Anyway, the season is starting officially next week, and I can't wait. No wonder I love Fall!

GO BLUES!!!!!!!

Friday, September 28, 2007


Ok, so I got a question in a blog comment yesterday, and it's actually a question I've gotten several times at conferences and such as well, so I thought it kinda typified blogworthiness. I'm all about the non-words these days, aren't I?

So the question was basically how much do I do my own songs in church--and then how often do I use songs in general... SO... I thought I'd answer that question for any and all who are also curious but also unveil my typical, though inconsistent, strategic, though not always thought through, barely formulaic formulas for worship planning. We all have those, right?

First of all, I share on one condition: if you lead worship or plan worship services and you're reading this, you share, too... in fact, I hope you feel some amount of guilt if you're deciding to read on without any intention of sharing, 'cause that's not part of the deal...

Ok, so I'll start with the two-part question... I usually am pretty intentional about avoiding using more than one of my originals in any given service. I also will frequently have full services without any of my songs--I gots no problems with dat. As for how often I'll use any given song, I think we run about a 10 week rotation in our tunes. Now, we only do 3-4 songs at the beginning of services, and one at the end. The ending tune is usually pulled from the up-tempo portion of a services 2-3 weeks prior, so that tightens the rotation on the fast tunes a bit. Slow tunes really get a long rotation, 'cause we don't do as many in the service. I've been known to go several months without doing a slow tune that is considered in 'regular' rotation. I don't love that, but some tunes just resonate too well to cut, you know? (I'm not talking about mine) :)

When I introduce a brand new tune, I usually try to end the service with it as well, just to really make sure it gets in the ears of the congregation, and then I'll get it back in the rotation sooner, in 4-6 weeks or so... I know some people really hammer new tunes so that the congregation learns them quickly, but I really put the burden on the song selection being incredible congregational. I'm ridiculous about the songs I pick, and I'm just as hard on my own tunes as I am on anyone else's... if they're not really singable, we just plain usually don't do them. Part of that is 'cause we have so many first time visitors every week at our church, too. I want people to be able to sing along in the worship set regardless of whether or not they've heard the songs before.

As for the tunes on Every Reason Why... well, I'll just say that every song on the record has been sung at our church multiple times, including 'Foundations,' which is not a congregational worship tune, but was written for a message of the same title. Not all of the songs are in a current rotation, if you will, but maybe I'll expand on that in another post... this one has become... long.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

first time for everything...

ok, so this week I did something I literally haven't done once in the 8 years I've been leading worship at Morning Star Church... I overslept--not just overslept, like a half hour or something, I have done that before--no, I overslept big. Like the King of Glory was Jesus this Sunday and Mark was the king of oversleptedness. Look that one up.

So, yeah, I woke up 3 minutes before the band call on Sunday. I live almost a half hour away from the church. I usually get there about a half hour before the band call. wow. So I wake up (2 hours late!) and call my brand new Associate Music Director, who of course is already at the church like everyone else, and I explain to him that I'm late... and going to be later... and for some reason (probably because I was still 3/4 asleep) I proceeded to talk to him instead of making a b-line for the shower and getting to the church. At any rate, he covered for me big. He was the king of coveruptedness. Won't find that one either.

Thanks, Ryan. huge.

Anyway, in spite of all that, I actually was able to focus on worshiping--even in first service, though I was a bit glazed over--and we had a good Sunday. The message was awesome. We've just started a series called 'Just Walk Across the Room' from Willow and our Pastor really said some stuff this Sunday that I just think the church needs to hear. My biggest worry on a Sunday like that, though--you know, when it starts that way and I'm kinda under a cloud--is that I won't serve my God properly with my offering of worship. I try to pray through that kinda stuff, but we're only human, right? So, I really felt that by the 2nd service (we have three right now) I was able to really hone in and focus. Lord, I do hope and pray you were pleased by our efforts...

Looking forward to next week. The tunelist over to the left there looks really wimpy, but we've actually got a lot of cool music happening... some Toad the Wet Sprocket, which always make my week brighter, some Matthew West, and a reprise of one of the worship tunes... that's why there's only three tunes listed. Anyway, I guess I'll tell you how it went next week!

p.s. I'm a little offended that no one left any comments about my dog... just a little (and so is J.T. )

Friday, September 21, 2007

Meet J.T.

ok... my wife has been wanting a dog for as long as I've known her. Lately my just-turned-four-year-old son has been itching to get one, too... (really that's been for about... since he could talk.)

The thing is, Carolyn--that's my wife--has never wanted a puppy. Don't get me wrong, she'd LOVE a puppy. But she's always wanted to adopt a stray who needed a home in spite of the fact that he/she wasn't a puppy--nobody wants those dogs, so Carolyn did.

So, last week, Carolyn finally was crowned the victor of our 'should we get a dog' disputes. It's not that I didn't want a dog, I just don't want the work. Not to mention, what do we do when we're on tour together? Well, I am pleased to introduce you all to our newest addition, Taylor. My sister-in-law found him in Columbia, MO and took him in. She named him Taylor, and gave us her blessing to rename if we desired. Conner went back and forth on keeping Taylor or going with Pongo or Luigi. The great news is that my sister-in-law has agreed to watch him again any time we need to go away for a while on tour and such. That's a huge blessing. You can kinda tell in this picture that he has one blue eye and one brown. We think that's really cool.

So Conner eventually decided on Taylor--not that he didn't try to change his mind again, but we still wouldn't have a name if we kept letting him do that indefinitely, and he would. So the name Taylor kept making me think he was a girl, 'cause as you can tell he's kind of a pretty dog, and the with the name Taylor I just kept slipping. So I started to call the dog J.T. 'cause that helped. Conner didn't like that at all. He would say to me, "it's just Taylor..." which in my mind, sealed the deal.

So they call him Taylor... and I call him J.T.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

different perspective...

So this Sunday may have literally been the very first time in eight years that I actually came to my own church for just one service, with my family, mid-morning, parked in the lot while it was full, entered the front doors, etc. It was crazy... crazy cool, though.

I love doing that, to be honest. I love to come to my own church, sit in the congregation and just take it in, you know? It's an entirely different worship experience than the one I have while on the platform myself. different. not better. but I love it. Anyway, nothing else of any major significance happened at the service, so this will pretty much conclude the weekend service blog for me this week. Sorry I missed you all last week, by the way, I just altogether... didn't blog about last week's services. It wasn't that they weren't blog-worthy or anything, I just... didn't. That'll happen from time to time, but I'll try to be consistent with this.

If you comment, that'll really motivate me! :)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

it all started with 'intrinsic'

Ok, so it all started with the word 'intrinsic'... it's found in the song "All I Can Do is Surrender." Questions at church, in e-mails, even on myspace... what's that word 'intrinsic' mean?

Shortly after that came 'manifest'... then 'typify'... I started to get a reputation among some of the band members at Morning Star... if we were doing a new song and there was a 'fancy' word in the lyric, they'd ask me if I wrote it--they were onto me! :)

So a few months ago, I compiled this admittedly ridiculous 'survey' of all of the 'fancy' words from my debut CD Every Reason Why--and I quickly discovered that I'm not near as funny as I like to think I am--and even less so according to my wife! :) Then--and this is where it gets interesting-- I got an e-mail from a worship leader I'd just met down in Dallas at a Conference this July... he told me that after he looked up several of the words found on the CD, he actually started to enjoy it a bit more. I think he was just railing on me a bit, but he validated my bad sense of humor in this video just enough for me to upload it for you all! So here it is...

(push play, video will take a few minutes to buffer)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

ups and downs...

We had kind of a schizophrenic worship set as it turned out this Sunday... little did I know it would work out the way it did.

It's truly amazing--and humbling, to say the least--to see how God works week after week in the midst of our services. I chose our worship setlist for this Sunday several weeks ago, and picked the tunes for my usual various and sundry reasons. When we did run-through today, I realized that I had sandwiched 'The Happy Song' (a hands-down MSC favorite) with 'As Long As I Have You' and 'It Is Well', two songs with a very distinct message of praising through trials... wow. So, as I kicked off the first service, I mentioned that we'd be doing some songs about being on the mountaintops and some songs about being in the valleys. Turns out, the entire message was really planting its feet on that very premise... crazy cool.

Now, just for clarification, yes, we do have a 'worship design team' that meets every week and goes through all of the thematic implications of every service with a fine-tooth comb. But with the summer and vacations and stuff, particularly the Associate Pastor that delivered the message this Sunday being out last week, this one wasn't really 'combed through' if you will. Amazing, once again, how God bridges gaps...

Hey, tell me about your weekend services, can't wait to hear...

Many blessings,


[phil 4.8]

Friday, August 31, 2007

send a net. save a life.

well, it's been over a month now since my CD release concert at Morning Star Church, my home church in St. Louis, MO... the concert was a benefit for an awesome charity called 'Nothing But Nets', a grass-roots malaria prevention charity tackling the staggering disease's death tolls with a simple $10 bed net.

Anyway, at the concert, we raised over $3200 for Jacob's Ladder, a 'netraiser team' formed by Jennifer Long (pictured here with her son Jacob.) She's a long time friend and charter member of MSC, and she actually contracted malaria while on a mission trip for the church. Six months later, she found out she was pregnant and while the malaria had lay dormant in her system, it would soon rear it's ugly head and make 'morning sickness' seem like a headcold for Jennifer... (and she'd had 3 kids already, she knew the difference.) My point is, Jennifer is trying to reach a goal of $30,000 and you won't believe where she came up with that number... read more about Jennifer's netraiser team here.

So, you should know this about me... I am a firm believer that most people--not all, but most--have $10, $100, $500 even $1000 or more that they could give at any given time for the right cause. If you knew that there were a problem out there that you could really impact right now for ten bucks, I think you'd do it. Well, when Jennifer told me more about Nothing But Nets, I gave my entire first night of CD sales...

All I ask is that you check out the video, and consider giving to Jacob's Ladder.

(also, important note I found on the site: The United Nations Foundation is a registered public charity under section 501(c)3 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. 100% of your donation will go to providing nets to children in Africa; no portion of your donation will be diverted for administrative costs.)

Many Blessings,


[phil 4.8]

Monday, August 27, 2007


ok, so all who are reading this... I'll likely be posting a new blog here every Sunday or Monday just reflecting on our weekend services at MSC--you know, just 'cause that's what I do, and I thought maybe some of you would be mildly interested in such a thing. There's a little 'comment' button around here somewhere that you can click if you disagree, I'd love to know! :)

Anyway, so this Sunday we wrapped up a series on the flood called 'The Perfect Storm'... this week's message was about God's promise that He would never again destroy the earth with a flood. We did the song 'Flood' by Jars of Clay--come on, that song is ridiculously fun to play! We introduced 'You Never Let Go' (Redman) for the first time, and it was received really well... definitely a keeper. I think I'm a bit late to that party, actually. Other than that, we did 'Beautiful One,' 'You Are Good,' and 'Breathe.' We had a really cool moment in the middle of 'Breathe' where we just vamped over the last three chords for a few minutes and just worshiped spontaneously... we don't do that kind of very often at all at MSC, but I love those moments. I usually wind up coming up with a little melody and lyric that we all join in on before we head back into the song form. It was completely different at all three services, and I thought it was pretty cool... hopefully, God enjoyed it as well.

I'd love to hear about your weekend services!

Bye for now...


[phil 4.8]

Friday, August 24, 2007

Let The Blogging Begin...

Well, I've decided that I need--at least for now--my own, dedicated blog... so I can better communicate with anyone out there who'd actually enjoy doing so, and so I can post videos of my ridiculously amazing 3-year-old son playing the drums much better than he should be able to...

yeah, so that was really more of a test than anything, but seriously, he's not messin' around, is he?!? Love it.

Well, talk to me out there... ask me questions, tell me what you want to hear about... or just blindly read the nonsense which I will so boldly post here from time to time--that's ok, too. Either way, I declare simply, "Let the blogging begin..."

Many blessings...