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]