Monday, December 29, 2008

celebrate the new year with me and Mandisa!

Hey all, just a quick invite to anyone who hasn't already heard... this Wednesday (New Year's Eve) I'll be opening for Mandisa (of American Idol fame) at a brand-new nightspot in Wentzville, MO called Exodus.

Tickets include the entertainment, food, party favors (not sure what that means, but hey) and a non-alcoholic champagne toast to ring in the new year! Hope to see you all there!

Ticket prices increase at the door, so grab your tickets now at (just type 'Mark Roach' in the search box)

Friday, December 12, 2008

worship confessional (12.07.08)

second weekend of the advent season... I'm probably as excited about the worship sets this Christmas season as I've been in the 9+ years (this is actually the 10th Christmas) I've been leading worship here at MSC. It's kinda funny 'cause I have this odd reputation of hating Christmas music, which couldn't be further from the truth. The thing is, I feel like my job is to help facilitate an atmosphere of authentic communication with our Creator during the first 20 minutes or so of our services. Too often, people long to sing Christmas music for the wrong reasons... to satiate the desire for that warm, fuzzy feeling they get when they sing them, to hold on to memories of childhood and/or fond years past, or even just because they really, really like 'em. I actually LOVE Christmas music for those same reasons... but the truth is, none of those accomplish the objective for which we show up in a worship service: to communicate with our Creator in worship.

This year, I've embraced the idea of interjecting the wonderful Christmas hymns of our faith into compelling worship sets in a way that doesn't compromise the objective of our time together. I think (I sure hope) that people have felt that we've been successful at doing that. We continued what has been our m.o. this year with Christmas sets by inserting a small piece of 'We Three Kings' into the middle of the set... just the 'Star of Wonder' piece. Here's how the setlist looked:

Beautiful One - (Tim Hughes)
Indescribable - (Laura Story)
('Star of Wonder' tag)
Break Through - Tommy Walker
O Come O Come Emmanuel

feature tune: Surrender - Marc James
(w/ chorus of trad. hymn 'I Surrender All')

The set felt really good to me this week. Again, transitions were key, and we really never stopped at all between any of the songs. The trickiest was the transition between the 'Star of Wonder' tag and 'Break Through' as I had to switch from capo 1 / cut capo 3 to open strings, removing both capos... the other instrumentalists walked from the F to an F/A, Bb then landed on C, which is where I started 'Break Through.'

We served communion this weekend, during which we sang a 'Surrender' medley, if you will. Starting with the Marc James tune from Vineyard, we pressed through to a couple big choruses at the end and then the bottom dropped out, leaving only a guitar, piano and Beth, one of our vocalists, taking over with the chorus of 'I Surrender All.' Then I played the melody on the acoustic a few times through, accompanied by the piano, before we began building up to the end of the service. 'I Surrender All' was reprised first, several times, and then we launched back into a full-blown chorus or two of the Marc James tune before our Pastor gave the blessing.

Equally as excited about this weekend, can't wait to tell you how it went...

this post is also a part of Sunday Setlists

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

the perfect tree

yeah... this year was very cool 'cause, while we always go pick out a real tree at a Christmas tree lot, this year we got to pick out a tree at the new Christmas tree lot at our own church! And at the tree lot we're treated to roasted chesnuts, cookies, cocoa and coffee... very cool. so here are the time-lapse photos, from yesterday's arrival into our home to the final touches today... come on, this alone should sell a gazillion trees from our lot!

first the tree (and the stand, of course)

add the lights (and the coolest star ever)

next comes the silver beads

finally, the ornaments and tree skirt... the perfect tree!
(at least to us)

Friday, December 5, 2008

blog brevity?

are blogs supposed to be short? Someone just eluded to that in an e-mail to me. ooops.

then why twitter? :)


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

worship confessional (11.30.08)

This past weekend was one of those odd first-sunday-of-advent weekends to me 'cause it was still November. We had just celebrated Thanksgiving, and we're not even in December yet, but we roll out the Christmas message series and start lacing the worship sets with Christmas tunes... good stuff, though. It was cold and a little bit snowy (not saturday, but it was on sunday) so it was, as they say, 'beginning to look a lot like Christmas.'

I've been working really hard on our transition game... that kinda sounds like something a hockey coach would say... anyway, I've been focusing on really making our worship sets feel like a continuous moment in the presence of God, you know? As far as we've come over nine years in our music ministry, I admittedly have not focused on that near enough. So now I'm really being intentional about that.

This weekend we did a bit more of this new 'bridge-swapping' thing I've been doing... where I'll take bridges and tags of different tunes and throw 'em in the middle of others... it's kinda cool. We only did one Christmas tune this week, although we sang one of my tunes 'The Least I Can Do' which discusses the birth of Jesus in the first verse. I led that song from piano and then went straight into 'O Come All Ye Faithful' ... after we'd done two verses and two choruses, we just vamped on the 'O come let us adore Him' tag several times and the drums entered as we ramped back up into the end of the song. Then we through the very last tag of 'The Least I Can Do' back at the end to wrap up the set. It worked pretty well. Here was our setlist:

You Are Good - (Israel Houghton)
Holy is the Lord - (Tomlin & co.)
The Least I Can Do - (M. Roach)
O Come All Ye Faithful - trad.

feature tune - How to Save a Life - The Fray

I Will Always Love Your Name - Paul Oakley

yeah... I had eluded to it last week on twitter, but that 'How to Save...' tune is all kinds of tough to play and sing at the same time. I love a good challenge, though, and I got through it pretty well all three services. Unfortunately, my best time through the whole song was in run-through on Sunday morning before first service. oh, well :)

Also, at the end of the service we sang 'I Will Always Love Your Name' again (it's a 'thank you' song, and we had it in our set last week) but after the Pastor gave the final blessing at the end, we inserted the 'O come let us adore Him' tag again--different tempo, different key--before we sang the final chorus out. Kinda threaded that tune and sentiment through the service a bit... at least that's what I was trying to do... well, three more ahead before Christmas! stay tuned :)

this post is also a part of Sunday Setlists

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tel me about the Christmas tunes in YOUR worship sets...

ok, so Thanksgiving Day has officially expired and, especially for those of you who are like me, that means that Christmas tunes are now officially part of our worship sets for the next several weeks. Here's what I'm wondering:

Which Christmas tunes have provided particularly special moments at YOUR church?

Monday, November 24, 2008

worship confessional (11.23.08)

Hey... it's been a few weeks, I know. I didn't lead at MSC last week, and the week before, well... I had this 'Wide Open' event and time to blog was way down the priority list apparently :)

This week was interesting to say the least... I've been trying to really improve transitions inside our worship sets. This week I really tackled 'em head on and we went back and forth quite a bit, throwing bridges all over the place from one song into another. It was fun. Here's how the setlist looks on paper, then I'll unpack it a bit:

A Thousand Hallelujahs - (M. Roach)
I Will Always Love Your Name - (Paul Oakley)
Once Again - (Matt Redman)

feature tune: Imagine (Lennon) with modified lyrics :)

Hosanna (Paul Baloche, Brenton Brown)

Ok, so the first two tunes just kinda went back to back... we started 'I Will Always Love...' just on a droning E and I talked for a few seconds before we sang. That's a great oldie, by the way, for congregations. Really simple, but I forget how enjoyable it actually is to sing. As we ended that one, we launched immediately into a driving intro for 'Once Again' and then the bottom sorta fell out as the first verse started. After a few times through the bridge of 'Once Again' I encouraged the congregation to spend some a few moments w/ God in thanks for the gift of Jesus and the Cross. When we started singing again, we sang the bridge of 'Here I Am to Worship' several times while building instrumentally, then returned to another quiet 'Once Again' bridge. My hope is that all of that stuff really helped fuse together a moment in which we could all really dwell on the gravity of the gift that was the cross...

At the end of the service, during 'Hosanna,' we continued the bridge-swapping by inserting the 'Once Again' bridge after the second chorus... new key, new tempo, and with a four-on-the-floor feel this time... it was nice, I think, and tied that moment back into the end of the service a bit. After Pastor Keith's blessing, we launched into the actual bridge of 'Hosanna' and ended on a few choruses...

How was your weekend?

This post is also a part of Sunday Setlists

Friday, November 21, 2008


seriously, seeing this kind of thing is wild to me. Praise God.

Monday, November 3, 2008

worship confessional (11.02.08)

are you kidding me? November? wow.

That said, we had a great weekend at MSC, as I'm hoping you all did as well. Just got some hi-tech sound baffling installed this past week and it totally tweak us out up on stage--in a good way, mostly. We're in a multi-purpose type facility, so our stage is surrounded by painted drywall. Sound (sound = drums for the most part) just bounces all around us and what doesn't keep bouncing around leaps into the congregation. With the new paneling, everything sort of stops after it's played. it's weird. anyway, it definitely helps the room out.

So our setlist was:

All Because of Jesus - (Steve Fee)
Sweet Mercies - (David Ruis)
Holy Lord - (M. Roach)

feature tune: Give Us Clean Hands - (Charlie Hall)

Everlasting God - (Brenton Brown, Ken Riley)

The Fee tune is a great opener... high energy. I usually use my delay and wah on this one in the verses (on my acoustic) so that we kinda get the two electrics vibe going. fun stuff. Sweet Mercies is solid, too... our congregation still really lets go on this one. We came right out of the Fee tune into a driving intro for Sweet Mercies and then completely out as we started the first verse. Holy Lord came after that, a new tune of mine that I lead from the piano. Anyone else ever move from guitar to piano during your worship sets? The transition can be tricky, but I love leading from the piano from time to time. I actually just started doing that--during worship, that is--about a year and a half ago.

Give Us Clean Hands is another classic. Mark Schultz did a version that was on Absolute Modern Worship II a few years back... really cool percussion bed underneath and a full-out choir. I was able to assemble a cool percussion loop, but no choir. :) It was a fun tune, though, we did it during communion, then ended with Everlasting God... good stuff.

this post is also a part of Sunday Setlists


Hey all... wanted to take a moment to let everyone know about an event I'm involved in that's taking place in a few weeks. It's a concert, yes, but it's more than that... in addition to the concert involving myself, Monty Hobson and Christopher Kai, artists Renee Scott, Kathee Biaggne & Bert Vandermark will be joining us as well to add media, photography, and visual art touches.


We believe that art has the ability to fuel conversation. The artists involved in Wide Open want to create events where music, media and art are catalysts for dialogue. What's more, we want to create artistic experiences that inspire our community to serve those in need. For this reason, we've decided to use proceeds from this first Wide Open event to benefit flood relief.

What exactly is Wide Open? Great question. I could pontificate for pages here on this blog or just simply point you all to a site that's way more articulate than I am... check out for more info, samples from artists involved, etc. and you can even buy your tickets online there!

Hope to see every at Morning Star Church on Nov. 14, 2008 @7:30pm!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

worship confessional (10.26.08)

hey all. I'm not even going to mention my lack of punctuality on the confessional front as I know you've all come to expect such behavior from me... crud, I just mentioned it. nevermind.

Let's switch things up and start with the setlist:

Transformed - (M. Roach, Matthew West)
Give It All Away - (Aaron Shust)
Here I Am, Lord - (Dan Schutte)

feature tune - Give Me Your Eyes (Brandon Heath)

How Can I Keep from Singing - (Tomlin & Co.)

yeah, so the first tune is a crazy upbeat tune I wrote with Matthew West a while ago... most of you have never heard it--it's one of those tunes that people in the congregation ask for a decent amount, which always communicates strength in terms of resonance. I'm excited to let the world hear that one on my next release. the shust tune is great, I've recommended it before and will again. there's an adlib-type bridge on the record we don't do, but the tag he adds to the chorus toward the end functions like a bridge in our version. very congregational. Here I am, Lord is an old hymn... we sang it a ton back when I was a kid in Catholic church actually. It's funny, I call it old, but it was actually written in 1981--so it's younger than I am. anyway, we totally twist that one up into a mid-tempo 6/8 groove and it actually works really well. this weekend's message was on missions so the Isaiah 6:8 reference fit perfectly. hmmm... now that I type that, I guess the time signature fits nicely, too. :)

the brandon heath tune was also a perfect fit thematically for our discussion, which was risk-taking mission. the lyrics to this tune are honest and poignant--great first line or two - Looked down from a broken sky traced out by the city lights | My world from a mile high... best seat in the house tonight. yeah, that's good stuff. anyway, I made kind of a break beat loop that we played with, handclaps and all, loop in the verses and real kit in the rest... it was a blast to play. I actually love making loops. I wish I had a way to give 'em to other churches so they could use 'em, too... I've done a ton of 'em. anyway, good weekend, hope you all had the same.

(this post is also a part of Sunday Setlists)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

worship confessional (10.19.08)

man, I'm terrible at getting these written... how do all of you other worship leaders do it? I completely ignored last week--and it was a great service and setlist, too--and now this week, I'm finally getting to it on Thursday night. whew....

ok, so I've been doing these 3 song sets at the beginning of service all through October, right? I've been doing that so I could assure ample time to allow the Spirit to move... to allow room for us to have 'moments' if you will. It's been great so far overall, although on at least one occasion I've felt that it limited our ability to really sink into His presence, you know? It has to be the right 3 songs, that's for sure.

Anyway, this past week, an altogether different blessing came from my prepared 3 song set--a 4th song. I didn't write one, and my pastor or Worship Design Team didn't come up with a last-minute "must-do" worship song... there's this tune by a friend of mine, Gary Durbin that I simply couldn't get out of my head. Literally, for a good straight week it was the only song that would stick in my head morning, noon & night. The song is called Beautiful Scene and it's truly a special tune... honestly, I felt like God was telling me that the congregation needed to hear this song. So, we slid it in to the setlist this week last minute since I had plenty of room for a 4th tune!

Oddly enough (yeah, right... I know better) it fit perfectly within a message about intentional faith development. It's a killer worship song, but it has another layer to it as well... it speaks of how beautiful a scene it is when it's only God and only me... an awesome lyric that doubles as the feeling of intimacy we are able to attain with God in spite of being in a room filled with others communicating with Him at the same time, and also the richness of the time we spend alone with God in prayer and in His Word. Anyway... special tune, people... go check it out.

Setlist went like this:

I Want To Know You (In the Secret) - (Andy Park)
Everlasting God - (Brenton Brown, Ken Riley)
Steps of Faith - (M. Roach)
Beautiful Scene - (Gary Durbin)

feature tune - Deeper (Deliriou5?)

Everyday - (Joel Houston)

this post is also a part of Sunday Setlists

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

worship confessional (10.05.08)

does anyone else feel like the very first service of the weekend comes off as more of a rehearsal than anything? we battled that for the longest time when we were a portable church--sometimes we were still making sure microphones were plugged in when the service was supposed to be starting--but we're battling it again. I think it's 'cause we're coming into church in the middle of the day on a Saturday, half a day of lawn-mowing, mall-walking, kid-feeding, game-playing already under our belts, you know? anyway, we prayed it all out this Saturday and grabbed on tight to our last fiber of focus as we headed out to the platform. Little mistakes everywhere in our polishing time and full run-through, but we pretty well nailed it in the service. love that. I firmly believe that mistakes, missed entrances, wrong notes, etc.--while they all will happen at some point--become obstacles in our worship services. (yeah, I know that conceit, performance, self-righteousness, smoke machines and worship leaders can too, but that's a whole 'nother Oprah) Anyway, it was nice this weekend to feel like we were able to honor God with our song set in equal measure for three services this weekend. My hope is to continue that trend from here on out. I'll keep you posted :)

setlist looked like this:

As Long As I Have You - (M. Roach)
The Wonderful Cross - (Tomlin and Co.)
Cannons - (Phil Wickham)

feature tune - Please Come by Nichole Nordeman

Here With You - (M. Roach)

I decided to take a moment during 'The Wonderful Cross' and talk about paradox. The title of that song has plenty of it, and the lyric follows suit. the hymn's poetry is astounding, especially in the second verse: See from His head, His hands, His feet | Sorrow and love flow mingled down ... come on, that's poetry. love it. anyway, this whole idea of something so horrific as the cross being described as wonderful, the idea of thorns forming so rich a crown as the one on Jesus' brow, the idea of dying that we may truly live, counting our riches gains as but losses... it goes all the way back to the King of Kings lying in a manger, doesn't it? we took some time to ingest that this weekend as we sang that tune. we bookended that one with a tune of mine 'As Long As I Have You', based on the 23rd Psalm, and an amazing tune called 'Cannons' by Phil Wickham. I'll say this again: if you haven't thrown that tune into your worship set, next week isn't early enough. Great song. I'm waiting for it to become a staple so I can play it instead of 'How Great is Our God' when I visit churches and youth groups... (nothing against the Tomlin tune... just sayin')

anyway, we ended with 'Here With You' again--we usually end with a song we sang two or three weeks before and that one fell in that slot. I'm really amped for you all (outside my church, of course) to hear that one. that's all I have for this week, so until the next... blessings!

this post is also a part of sunday setlists

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

worship confessional (9.28.08)

so I made a strange decision last week, after years of pushing for more music up front at our services, always lobbying to maintain our typical 4-song set whenever possible... I decided that I'm going to try something over the next month or so. 3 songs. 3 songs in the 20 minutes or so that I'm allotted in each service. why? well, lately I've felt... I don't know... trapped. constricted. have I really been allowing the Spirit to move in our sets? we've become much more polished in the last several years--especially after moving into our first facility. sure, I've been accused thousands of times of rambling during worship... but it never fails. those are the days when someone comes up to me and thanks me--not for the great music, great words, great band, but for my heart. something that I said, read, suggested, questioned even.

anyway, this past weekend was the first of those 3 song sets, and I did my share of rambling again... spoke a bit about the Trinity. I have a brand new song called 'Holy Lord' (that I'm so amped for all of you to hear, by the way) that focuses on the entities of the Trinity for a verse each. the bridge is one of those one-line repeating worship bridges and the chorus just shouts of the holiness of God. my hope is that I allowed--both musically and with what I said--a moment to happen. a moment where the music would culminate in a change--even ever so slight--in someone's heart, mind, soul...

anyway, I'd love to hear about how you all intentionally leave space for the movement of the Spirit... how many songs up front, etc. songset follows:

Beautiful One - (Tim Hughes)
Indescribable - (Laura Story)
Holy Lord - (M. Roach)

feature tune - Better Is One Day (Matt Redman)

we ended the service (and our entire series on 'Inheritance' actually) by singing 'Better Is One Day' together... I broke out the ol' bible on the platform and just read portions of Psalms 84 and 27, just two of the passages represented in the lyric. we used a loop that I created in the vain of the original Passion version's loop, so that was fun... and we triggered it with Ableton Live and were able to loop the fallout section as our Pastor came up to do the blessing and return to the full loop seemlessly into the end. I love using technology in that transparent sort of way, although we fell just short of mastering it this weekend. it worked out, though.

until next week...

this post is also a part of sunday setlists

Thursday, September 25, 2008

worship confessional (9.21.08)

Wow... it's been a tough several weeks here at MSC as we had another untimely death in our congregation, this time a sister of one of the praise team members. To add to the discomfort, we're right in the middle of series called 'Inheritance' and were all set to discuss whether or not we would recognize our earthly relationships in heaven. Once again, I think we pulled through and honored the departed, her friends and family.... and God. Gotta be honest, though. We're hoping this is the last one for a long time.

We also broke out the whole texting thing again in service... are any of you all doing this? I know they are down at Church at Rock Creek, where I played a few months back, but I'd love to hear about your experiences. We're very new at it at this point, but it's been received well thus far. Basically, we are allowing--encouraging, really--people to text in questions during the message and, after being screened, they are forwarded to a screen in front of our Pastor. He answers those he's able to get to with the time allowed. Like I said, it's been well received by and large, although we did end up causing a bit of a stir online after our local paper published a story about us... hit the front page, too... click here for the article, and feel free to join the conversation!

Here was the setlist:

Filled With Your Glory - (Tim & Jon Neufeld)

Here With You - (M. Roach) - brand new tune, can't wait to play it for all of you!

May the Words of My Mouth - (Rob Hill, Tim Hughes)

feature tune: Tears in Heaven (Clapton)

2nd feature tune: Homesick (MercyMe)

Mighty to Save - (Ben Fielding, Reuben Morgan)

This post is also a part of Sunday Setlists

Saturday, September 20, 2008

worship confessional (9.14.08) - from the road

Hey all... wow, what a week! This is sort of a strange confessional, as it comes from a string of small shows/services I did this week. My week started early on Saturday as I headed out to New Life Fellowship church in Topeka, IN. It's about 7 hours from my house in St. Charles, MO. I, of course, forgot about the 1 hour time difference and did my best to make some time up on the road. The first four hours went by extremely quickly as I listened to the audiobook version of a book I got from Thomas Nelson Publishing at re:create last year. The book is called The Same Kind of Different As Me and is truly inspiring and thought-provoking. What really gets you is when you're done with the book and you take a second look at the authors' names.

Anyway... I headed to the church, not arriving until just after 8pm their time, and we waited for the drummer to arrive so we could rehearse. It's always crazy leading worship with someone else's band entirely, but it was a cool experience as usual. Rehearsal lasted a while, made for an early morning, but all in all... let's just say that God showed up. Very cool. Setlist for the morning:

As Long As I Have You
Blessed Be Your Name (Redmans)
Beautiful One (Hughes)
The Least I Can Do
You Are

Then, after the morning service was over, the pastor told me that the parent church of NLF, called Nappanee Missionary Church, would love it if I'd play for their young adult service that night if I wasn't busy... all I had planned to do was head to Bethel and chill before the morning chapel I was to lead on Monday, so I obliged. It was very cool, had a great cup of coffee, sat and listened to the message... the music was set to end the service. I hadn't planned it, but from how the message wrapped up, I really felt like we needed to sing 'From the Inside Out' so I asked their presentation software guy if he had it in their system. I kinda sang it with my back to them half the time, 'cause I didn't have the words memorized, but it was very cool 'cause it was just the right song to sing right then.

The next morning I lead worship for the Monday morning Chapel service at Bethel College... they were uber flexible with what I wanted to do, so I just sang some songs, told a few stories and encouraged authentic worship in the room. They definitely are worshipers there, their voices were passionate and voluminous even while singing songs they weren't so familiar with. Of course, I try not to get discouraged by lack of participation--I know that God is able to move in enthusiastic and subdued congregations alike--but it sure is nice to hear His people praising Him alongside you...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

worship confessional (9.07.08)

One thing that's been weird the last year or so for me while leading worship at church has been getting used to in-ear monitors. I like 'em a lot for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that (I think) my tuning improves with them as opposed wedges... the biggest flaw I've encountered is the lack of connection with a congregation--and really, I mean an emotional, internal connection rather than an outward, stage presence type connection. I think I've done a fine job in overcoming the awkwardness of in-ears in terms of whether or not the congregation still relates with me. But this week, while we sang 'Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)' at the last service of the weekend, something really cool happened...

I had taken one ear out, as I sometimes do, so that I could get a little more feel of the congregation singing 'Mighty to Save' which was our second tune... the transition came a little quick and when I put my guitar down and headed over to the piano to start 'Amazing Grace,' I didn't have a chance to put my right in-ear back in. As we started singing, I realized two things: first off, people just love to sing Amazing Grace, so I realized that the congregation was at that glorious point of no return in their worship experience, ready to pour out their voices to our Creator. Secondly, I realized that unlike my acoustic--which is panned pretty hard left (so that I can hear it really well even when I remove my right in-ear)--my piano was panned pretty hard right... so I really couldn't hear it all that well. As much as I love to hear the instrument I'm playing, just for tuning and preventing mistakes, etc. I began to hear the swell of voices--400 to 500 strong in our auditorium just filling the place with His praises. I wasn't about to put my right in-ear back in, and I just bathed in the sound of our voices lifted to Him. It was very cool, and I realized once again what I often miss having both of those suckers pluggin' up my ears.

But I digress... it was a great weekend, and our setlist looked like this:

A Thousand Hallelujahs - (M. Roach)
Mighty to Save - (Ben Fielding, Reuben Morgan)
Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) - (Tomlin and Co.)

feature tune - I Can Only Imagine (MercyMe) - acoustic version

Hosanna - (Paul Baloche, Brenton Brown)

this post is also part of Sunday Setlists

Thursday, September 4, 2008

worship confessional (8.31.08)

Man, I'm bad at doing these right after the weekend, huh? Gary Durbin's was practically up before our last service was over... :) oh, well... way to stay on top of things, Gary! :)

This weekend was one of those that started out brutally, but ended well. Ever have those? Well, mine was self-inflicted as I committed the cardinal sin of wireless in-ear usage on Saturday and neglected to change out my batteries before service. No idea where my head was... and I'm pretty sure those batteries were in the wireless pack since our rehearsal on Tuesday. That's right, that's exactly what happened, and it happened in the middle of the 2nd song of a 4 song set. Brutal. I fought through 2 1/2 songs with absolutely nothing in my in-ear monitors. In the spirit of authenticity, I'm pretty sure the first song and a half was spent going over what could have possibly just happened... and when I finally figured it out during the last tune, I was able to worship and pray that our set would somehow still please God and serve His purpose in worship. ouch.

Sunday was much better... we finally pulled out 'Hosanna' by Paul Baloche this past week. I'm behind most on that one, I know. I talked a bit about the intent behind the song as stated by Paul on his WorshipSource profile. Also, we revisited one of my own, 'All I Can Do is Surrender' which was kinda fun. Keep in mind, we'll sing originals of mine for months or years before they land on a record... we hadn't done that one in a while at MSC. Anyway, the setlist was:

You're Worthy of My Praise - David Ruis

Hosanna - Paul Baloche/Brenton Brown

All I Can Do is Surrender - M. Roach

You Gave Your Life Away - Paul Baloche/Kathryn Scott

Feature tune: Add to the Beauty by Sara Groves

Blessed Be Your Name - Matt/Beth Redman

Seriously, if you haven't already introduced 'You Gave...' to your congregation, don't wait any longer, it's truly an unbelievable congregational tune and you won't regret it. I blogged about it a while back as well...

This confessional is also a part of the ever-growing Sunday Setlists. Check out what other worship leaders around the country did this past weekend and/or post your own!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

first time ever riding a bike...

ok, so this happened almost two months ago, so I'm a bit late in blogging about it. That said, I took some pretty funny video that day to go along with the story, and friends and family have been bugging me to get it up online, so...

Here's the thing... my son Conner had been riding this thing called a Rolli-Rider since summer of last year. It's an old-school looking, hand-made bicycle of sorts with no peddles aimed at teaching kids how to balance on two wheels. I didn't realize that the website claimed so plainly that "When old enough to ride a bicycle, training wheels will not be necessary." Anyway, so he'd gotten pretty good at the Rolli-Rider a few months ago when I started talking to him about learning how to ride a bike... "Conner, one of the most important things you need to know about learning to ride a bike is that you're gonna fall down. It's part of the process. You need to be able to pick yourself back up and try again until you learn..." I would say, relishing the life-lesson Daddy moment I was soon to experience and pass on to my son...

Well, in true Conner fashion, and in line with the claims by the Rolli-Rider folks, I was completely robbed of my dad moment with a phone call from my wife exclaiming that he was riding his bike. :) I had gotten home within about a half-hour, our camera being charged the whole time, and took the following footage, laced with my 4-year-olds casual bicycle riding and one-liners. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I'm huge in singapore...

Boy, I wish I were on compilations with this kind of company in America :) ... check out the names here with me on the front cover of this record! (you may have to click on it to see a larger image)

The funniest part? That my name is actually listed before Sarah McLachlan... awesome. :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

worship confessional (8.24.08)

this weekend was one of those crazy weekends for me when I have an engagement out of town on Saturday, but I drive back Saturday night for Sunday a.m. services. Of course, we have Saturday night service as well, so it makes for an odd weekend for the whole team in many ways. Ryan, the Associate Music Director at MSC, takes over as worship leader in my absence. This weekend I was in Urbana, IL (more on that in a later post) and we drove about 3 hours and 15 minutes back to STL, arriving at about 1:00a.m. If you know me at all, you know that even though I get up at about 5:45a.m. on Sundays (and only on Sundays) I am rarely in bed earlier than 1:00a.m. on Saturday nights... so this shouldn't be a big deal. Unfortunately, I had way too much caffeine on the drive home and couldn't get to sleep. So I was running on just under 2 hours of sleep on Sunday after a nice 12-hour excursion to IL for a festival.

That said, it was actually a great morning... especially considering. Wasn't sure my voice was going to come around, but it ended up coming all the way back for worship and it didn't really leave me until Sunday evening and into Monday. It's all good, though, it'll be back again for rehearsal on Tuesday night. Anyway, the setlist was strong this week--in my opinion, anyway--as we closed our 3-part Olympic series with a bang:

Your Grace is Enough - Matt Maher
Give It All Away - Aaron Shust
Holy is the Lord - Tomlin and Co.
Break Through - Tommy Walker

feature tune - Olympic Song by Andy Gullahorn

Happy Day - Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon

I'm gonna re-iterate a couple of things I'm sure I've already said about a few of these tunes... first off, 'Give It All Away' is a great congregational tune if you haven't tried it. The bridge is awkward in terms of being singable and so we just skip it, but the rest of tune is really strong. It's a bit of a departure from a lot of the other worship stuff we do in terms of melody and form, so it feels fresh in our worship sets. 'Break Through' is just plain great... it's an incredible song, and, as I often do, I took a moment during this song to just encourage people to open themselves up to the Holy Spirit. I invited everyone to welcome break through in their hearts--if not theirs, then those who really needed it at that moment--and to really believe that it can happen right there in that moment. So many people going so many different emotional directions right in front of you, you know? I just wanted everyone to pause and contemplate how vast God really is, and that he's capable--even right at that moment--of breaking through addictions, crumbled relationships, financial burdens, pride, arrogance, any of the myriad of trials facing all of us. If you haven't tried this tune in your services, I can't recommend it highly enough. It's a keeper.

Anyway, our feature tune was a tongue-in-cheek musing by songwriter Andy Gullahorn--a genius in terms of songwriting if you ask me. It's a simple little ditty about get so wrapped up in the Olympics that you convince yourself, if only for a day, that you're heading there in four years yourself to conquer the world and get a medal of your own... clever as usual from Andy, and hook-laden. Went over well, I felt. You can check out Andy's stuff on iTunes, and I highly recommend it.

I'm posting this confessional in collaboration with other Worship Leaders as a part of Fred McKinnon's Sunday Setlists

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

worship confessional (8.17.08)

Tough weekend at MSC, as we lost a special young nineteen-year-old girl to a fatal single-car accident on Friday. She was to turn 20 on Saturday, and our church--young as it is--had literally watched her grow up as her and her family have attended for virtually the entire nine-year life of our ministry. Couple that with the elation that comes with the 30+ baptisms we were celebrating at our Saturday services, and you certainly end up with a strange dichotomy of emotions--and maybe the very essence of the Christian walk.

We've been talking about the Olympics, and the feature tune this week was among the toughest we've ever tried to pull off--more on that later. As we began services on Saturday, we knew the weekend was going to be tough, and I really feel as though we did a great job in worshiping right through the emotional duality in the room. We called it out before we even got started. Just before we sang, I just wanted to name the reality that we were facing. We were staring untimely death and undeserved new life in the face simultaneously... wow. And we worshiped. The setlist, solidified and rehearsed long before the tragedy befell us, was eerily poignant:

Forever - Chris Tomlin
Blessed Be Your Name - Matt/Beth Redman
The Least I Can Do - M. Roach

feature tune - Running On Ice (Billy Joel)

I Stand Amazed - Passion arrangement
All Because of Jesus - Steve Fee

'Blessed Be Your Name' is among the most sung modern worship songs in the country, and most of know that it really shines in the face of tragedy. This weekend, the simple repetitive declaration in the bridge absolutely sucker-punched me... You give and take away | You give and take away | my heart will choose to say | Lord, blessed be Your name. When all was said and done, we simply gave God glory and honor as we attempt to do every weekend, and it felt like the absolute appropriate response to both facets of our emotional state. God is good.

As for the feature tune, Billy Joel's 'Running On Ice,' the piano part alone makes it one of the most difficult songs we've ever tackled--especially considering I played it and I'm not really a piano player. I practiced for hours this week, mainly just trying to nail-down the intro and a ridiculous transition into a quick piano interlude. We recorded some little sound nuggets and artifacts as tracks that we played along to which gave it a little bit more flavor of it's 80's origin, then added some filtered video a la A-Ha's famous 'Take On Me' video. It certainly didn't look like animated charcoal drawings in our version, but it was a cool effect. Of course, all of this came crashing down at the 11am Sunday service when a mute was inadvertently pushed on the channel that contained our click-track. The video started--and restarted--several times (without the click in our ears) before we finally decided to jump ship on the video all together and use our regular metronome. This meant we were going to play it w/ no tracks, which wasn't that big of a deal until we realized half way through the first verse that the video was still playing up in the booth, and now the little sound nuggets and artifacts were bursting through the mains at random times with no rhyme or reason... yeah, it pretty well fell apart. But, the tracks were eventually muted when the video eventually stopped, and we somehow pushed our way through the tune and survived the service... with a few compliments on the feature tune, even :) Ah, nobody's perfect... and technology had it's way with us at 11am this Sunday. If nothing else, we learned something.

I'm doing something new this week, and I'm posting this confessional in collaboration with other Worship Leaders as a part of Fred McKinnon's Sunday Setlists

Monday, August 11, 2008

worship confessional (8.10.08)

We got the refreshing opportunity to attend a small start-up church here in Belgrade, MT yesterday. It was called 'Connect Church' and has only been meeting for about 6 months. Solid music, good teaching and a warm, welcoming congregation. Kinda reminded me of our early start-up days back in '99 although their meeting space was quite a bit more intimate than what we had... those were the days!

Heading home to St. Louis tomorrow a.m. early. Look forward to leading on my home turf again for a while! :)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

creation shouting His praise...

wow... a city boy like me spends a couple days at Yellowstone National Park and is left speechless... I've been absolutely overwhelmed by the vastness, mystery and beauty of His creation over the last couple of days. Here's some video I took at the brink of the Upper falls... also check out the photos I posted on my myspace page.

Friday, August 8, 2008

worship confessional (8.3.08) -- from the road

So you may have already seen my post regarding my Alaska trip... as much as I enjoyed the trip, I was actually not even on vacation. I was brought into Cordova by the folks at Cordova Community Baptist Church as the featured guest of a small worship conference. The conference consisted of several evenings of worship, teaching, etc. in addition to some songwriting workshops and culminating in CCBC's usual three Sunday services, all in which I was asked to participate. So this week's confessional is a story of sorts... bear with me, as I feel it's worth telling. :)

Ok, so I arrived in Cordova last Tuesday afternoon, around 1pm, which in my hometown of St. Louis was already 4pm. I had left my house for the airport in St. Louis at roughly 12:15pm the day before, with only a five-hour hotel stay (from midnight to 5am) in Seattle to break-up the five consecutive flights I took to eventually land in Cordova, so needless to say I was tired. As I landed, I quickly discovered just how remote Cordova actually was, as the airport couldn't have been more than 2,000 square feet total and my cell phone, though it said it was roaming, was completely useless. I must confess, as Donald and Gayle picked me up and we headed into town, my smile was a bit painted on and optimism wasn't the first emotion I felt. Boy did God have a lesson to teach me this week... :)

A brief view of my itinerary will communicate the truth that, while I certainly had loads of time to explore Alaska, I was also working a ton. My week basically looked like this:

Tuesday night: arrive (1pm), rehearse with band (evening)
Wednesday night: 7pm - CCBC band kicks off conference, followed by music and testimony (me)
Thursday night: 7pm - lead worship, followed by teaching on worship
Friday: meet with select band members for songwriter workshop
Friday night: 7pm - Concert at CCBC
Saturday: 9:30am - songwriter workshop followed by listening session.
12pm - rehearse with band
3pm - memorial service (I'll discuss in a moment)
Sunday: 9:30am - first service
11am - second service
6pm - rehearse with band
7pm - third service

Ok, so I had a lot planned in the evenings, days basically free. I'm alone in Cordova, AK, a small town of under 2000 or so, and I have no family, no cell phone, no Starbucks, slow-crawling 512K "high-speed internet"... woe is me. It got worse. Gayle sweetly offers me a calling card number so I can try to get a hold of my wife from the hotel room later. My wife is supposed to be calling me to let me know that she got into Montana safely with my 4-year old son and has absolutely no way of getting a hold of me. I find out early the next morning when Carolyn (my wife) returns the message I left on her phone at almost 2a.m. the night before (it wasn't quite midnight in Cordova) that my family's trip to Montana was far less than smoothe, and I had no idea 'cause I wasn't able to check messages. Thankfully, they made it, they were fine, and I just wanted to be with them...

Then God really began to step in. Gayle, Donald, Piper, and everyone else there had already been wonderfully nice and hospitable, and in the process of their tireless efforts to make sure that I saw a bit of Cordova and experienced a taste of life as they knew it, I began to really connect with these people. Add to that the unfortunate--but eerily timed--passing of the long-time Sr. Pastor of CCBC (and father of the current pastor) and now I find myself smack dab in the middle of a grieving community in the Body of Christ. I was asked to attend, and in fact play a small musical role in, the memorial service on Saturday. Afterward, a game night at the Pastor's house ensued and we stayed up until almost 1am, enthralled with one another's company. In five short days, these folks had truly become my friends.

By this time, the reality of the over-the-top hospitality, the continued interest in my life and family, the overwhelming willingness to share their lives with me, and the realization that God had ordained this week of my life far before I walked on this earth really began to tug at my heart. As much as I still wanted to get back to my family, I was truly going to miss these people--and if I didn't screw it up by missing the miracle of this moment--they may miss me, too.

I submit to you all that in that week in Alaska, while a 'worship conference' was held, the Body of Christ shared a victory. We laughed together, cried together, lived together and loved together in a way only God's children could. Without prompting, Gayle bought my son a Cordova coloring book... Pastor John shared with me that one of my songs in particular would likely always remind him of his father's passing--in a good way... Piper and I shared a great talk over a cup of coffee while walking back to the church in the misty Cordova air... Donald and I shared stories over lunch and later, breakfast in a local restaurant... searching for bears at almost 11pm--still dusk in Alaska... roasting hot dogs and marshmallows across from the first glacier I'd ever laid eyes on... the blessings can scarcely be counted.

... and I was paid to come in and bless Cordova. HA... thank You, God. Thank you, Gayle, Donald, Piper, John, and all at CCBC.

The setlists really don't even matter so much, do they? That's what I call a worship conference.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

back in 'the lower 48...'

... that's what they call it in Alaska. The lower 48... makes enough sense, I guess, but I'd admittedly never heard it before. In fact, I've come up with an entire mini-dictionary of terms and phrases--some of them Cordova specific--that I learned for the first time in Alaska. Just to give you a little background, Cordova is remote... far more than I thought it would be when I left St. Louis last Monday. And I'm not just talking no Starbucks remote, I'm talking Fedex NextDay gets there in 4 days remote. No roads lead in or out of Cordova, AK, it's only accessible via ferry or plane. Ok, so here's my mini-dictionary:

Out the road - this refers to a specific road heading out of Cordova, and it basically just means you left Cordova to go to the glacier, hunting, fishing, or whatever else is on the one road that leads out of Cordova (but not actually to anywhere else)

Going outside - yeah, seems simple enough in St. Louis... means outdoors, right? Nope. In Alaska, it means leaving Alaska :)

The lower 48 - I already discussed this one briefly... you can't really refer to us as 'the states' when you're in Alaska, since it's one of 'em. So this makes a lot more sense, especially considering Seattle is virtually 'the South' to them :)

Calving - this is actually a real word that refers to the breaking off of large pieces of ice from a glacier... and the resulting waves can cause a bit of danger on the opposite shore!

Copper River Salmon -
any other salmon is not really worth discussing in Cordova, and you shouldn't be as naive as I was and think that 'Alaskan salmon' is even remotely the same thing.

That's about all I have for now... Gayle, Donald, Piper, John, or any other of my new friends from Cordova, AK, you're more than welcome to add any I've forgotten via a comment!

You can check out quite a few pics from Alaska on my myspace page if you'd like, and I'll surely blog further about my time in Alaska in the next few days, so check back!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

worship confessional (7.27.08)

This past weekend was the 3rd in our 4-part series called "Any Questions?" It's been a great series so far, taking spiritual questions from our congregation and building messages around biblical answers to them. This week our new Youth Pastor, Matthew Skroblus, tackled the oft asked question: Why Do I Still Feel Guilty? He did a great job up there and the Worship Design Team was certainly made aware that we have another option in terms of a teaching pastor once in a while. It's always great to throw someone in their 20's up on the platform, too--someone who loves the Lord and really knows the scripture... that's Matthew.

Anyway, we also introduced my brand new tune "Here With You"... it's the kind of tune that I've been admittedly shying away from writing until now... a simple love song to God. It's not based on any specific scriptures, and it doesn't even have any of our typical worship language--hallelujah, holy, holy, etc. Anyway, I'm currently writing another tune based heavily on scripture and the divine nature of God so I think I felt some freedom to flesh this other one out. I got great feedback on it, and I look forward to getting a demo of it done as well so we can polish it up a bit.

Beyond that, it was a cool setlist that ended with the song "Breathe" ... something about the 4, 6m, 5 section in that tune (which we vamp at the end) just really resonates with me, and I like to just sing over the top of it--and invite the congregation to do the same. In our Worship Design Team we've come to call this a "Breathe Moment" and it's no coincidence. This song seems to beg for them every time we do it. You could definitely feel the spirit in the room during that moment this weekend, and that's always an awesome thing.

So, here was the setlist:

Transformed (M. Roach, Matthew West)
Filled With Your Glory (John & Tim Neufeld)
Here With You (M. Roach)
Breathe (Marie Barnett)

feature tune: Undo (Rush of Fools)

Friday, July 25, 2008

worship confessional (7.19.08) -- from the road

Ok, so last week we set out on a typical Saturday morning... headed to Windsor Christian Church in Windsor, IL. The stuff you hear about from every band that's ever hit the road was about to become our reality... a seemingly harmless blown tire on our trailer started it all...

Come to find out that 12:30pm on a Saturday afternoon is absolutely unheardof in terms of blowing tires--at least according to the myriad of tire shops we tried to call to no avail. We figured out that we were just shy of Greenville on I-70 and were at least able to press on (albeit slowly) because the tire we blew had a brother behind him that was able to bear the load alone for a while.

Armed with the drummer's iPhone and my internet card and laptop, we located, called and /or visited several closed tire shops until finally pressing on again (albeit slowly) toward Vandalia, IL. 10 minutes in the back parking lot of a Wal-Mart was all it took to figure out that they don't even carry trailer tires... but they pointed us toward the consumer vastness that is Rural King ...

The tire--the only one Rural King had--was an astonishing $103 and also put us in quite the pickle in terms of the likelihood we would even receive the blessing of a sound check. We figured out (ok, I didn't figure anything out, the guy installing our new tire figured out) that it was a dry-rotted valve stem that was likely the culprit. After inspecting the others, we had the young man replace another that seemed headed in the same direction. After spending an hour and a half and over a hundred bucks on the problem, we had a brilliant idea:

The story has a crazy happy ending... the worship that night, while virtually void of a sound check, was very special... we arrived safely and worshiped passionately with the warm, friendly folks who had come out to Windsor Christian Church. Immediately after the set, a couple of kids from a youth group who had come to see the show asked if they could have the tire... one of the moms, without flinching, handed me a check that covered the entire amount of the replaced tire. Two others also came forward, expecting nothing in return, with money toward our tire expense and we ended up signing the other half of the tire and giving it to the youth group at the host church, Windsor Christian.

Crazy cool day, we made it home a whole lot quicker than we made it out there... definitely impressed by the touch we felt from the Body of Christ out in the middle of Central Illinois.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

worship confessional (7.6.08)

It was a good weekend overall... must admit, though, I didn't really feel 100% back in the swing of things--two weekends playing out of state, I come back and it's the first weekend of our Lead Pastor's summer vacation (he's basically gone all of July) and on top of that we did this kinda Family Service type of thing. So, I guess it just didn't feel as much like 'home' as it usually does coming back after a few weeks away. That said, there really is something special about coming home and leading with a sense of familiarity. I know we're worshiping the same God no matter what church or state I'm in, but Morning Star is also my family, and there's something awesome about worshiping not only with fellow believers, but with family. Ok, enough of that...

So, we had all of our K-5 kids in worship this weekend. We've received mixed feedback about that--(by the way, do any of you do that quarterly or once a month or something? I'd love to hear about how your congregations feel about that)--but it did make the music a little more interesting. Pastor Keith had told 'em all the week before to stand on their chairs while we sang and they did. They also really did sing out, which was very cool. Ok, setlist:

I'm Not Ashamed (Tommy Walker)

Indescribable (Laura Story)

Once Again (Matt/Beth Redman)

feature tune: Communion (Third Day)

ended with: How Can I Keep From Singing (Tomlin and Co.)

When we have Communion (once a month) we typically will cut a worship song from the front set, so we only do three instead of four. We change up the rhythm of the verse melody quite a bit in the Tommy Walker song and we really don't implement the calypso (if you've heard his, you know what I mean) but it's a high energy tune. Indescribable is still a favorite of mine, and after getting a change to meet Laura Story this past month I think I like it even more. She was just an absolutely awesome person and great to talk with. Real to the core, and I love that. Anyway, then 'Once Again' which is one of those oldie but goodie tunes in my book. I just love singing that song. In church I've been using a wah and a DD-20 delay pedal with my acoustic a lot lately... just to bring some tones to the repetoire other than the simple acoustic. So I used a dotted eighth delay on the verses and bridge (and I essentially use the wah like an envelope filter) and that changed it up a bit.

'Communion' is a great song and we've used it several times over the past few years during Holy Communion. I play electric on it, which always poses a unique challenge getting the transition smoothe into the next tune. We try to go all the way through Communion and Offering, then begin singing again as a congregation before the Pastor comes up and gives the final blessing. This week, I just had the keyboardist tail off the end of 'Communion' (the song) and play the chorus changes with organ only. It sounded cool, and kinda reverent actually, as I changed guitars and then slid into an acoustic version of 'How Can I Keep From Singing.' Once the offering was completed, we started the click and launched a full-on band version of the same tune to send us out. It was a cool Sunday, and I was glad to be back.

More next week!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Worship Confessional (6.29.08) -- from the road

Wow... it's been a while since I've penned one of these, and now I'm a week late on this one. Time just seems to slip through my fingertips. Hey last week we found ourselves in Little Rock, AR at The Church at Rock Creek. Richard Wentz is the worship Pastor over there and we met at this cool conference called re:create that I've been to for a couple years in Nashville. Anyway, the ministry there is quite cool, and we had an absolute blast.

Had some new guys playing with me this past week--Josh Gleave and Keith Harris--not only great players, but great guys. Richard is already doing two of the tunes off of Every Reason Why ('A Thousand Hallelujahs' & 'You Are') in services, so those didn't even have to feel like new tunes to the congregation... I threw 'Amazing' in there as another tune that every finds at least somewhat recognizable and my setlist looked about like this:

As Long As I Have You
A Thousand Hallelujahs
The Least I Can Do (w/ tag of 'Here I Am to Worship')
You Are

The church is very unique in a couple of ways... first of all, the third service on Sunday--called the Rock Creek 30--is a legit, 30-minute service. Two tunes, a 15-minute message, prayer and offering. Sound a little strange? Not when you hear them tell you that they've baptized a half-dozen people in the last few months that started out at that service. Awesome. Also, instead of a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night service, they actually have a Monday night service. Also seems a bit odd 'til you see 600-800 people showing up for it.

Anyway, like I said, we had an unbelievable time, Richard and the entire staff were amazing. If any of you ever find yourself in Little Rock looking for a great, God-centered church to visit, don't even hesitate heading over there. If nothing else, there's a Starbucks inside the bookstore--come on, who can beat that?!? Seriously, though, after a long (my son was especially beat) but wonderful weekend, we headed back to the good ol' STL and look forward to the opportunity of heading back there again sometime soon!

Monday, June 9, 2008

East Coast Worship Summit

I'm headed out to the East Coast Worship Summit right now... in fact, I'm stuck in the airport as a result of a flight delay as I type... no better time to blog! :)

So, I get the distinct honor and privilege of leading the morning worship session on Wednesday at the Summit in addition to teaching several workshops all week. I absolutely love leading fellow worship leaders into the presence of God and I humbly pray that the songs we sing will resonate in the hearts of the body of Christ that's attending, that the leaders present experience renewed passion and enthusiasm about their ministries, and that our time together will glorify our Creator above all else.

If you happen to be headed out to Pennsylvania for the Summit, make sure you flag me down sometime during the week and say 'Hey!'... I absolutely love to connect with fellow worship leaders, songwriters and music lovers alike!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

...can't even imagine

I was horrified to hear the news today. 5-year old Maria Sue Chapman tragically killed yesterday in an unthinkable accident in her own driveway.

I have a 4-year old son myself. He'll be five in September. I can't even articulate how I think I might feel in Steven's shoes right now. If you haven't seen it already, there's a very sweet video of Maria Sue and Steven on her memorial page... click the picture.

Steven, you've touched so many people you've never even met. May you and your family feel the prayers of those and a million more right now...

'inside out' lands on pureNRG's new record...

Ok, so just before I recorded 'Every Reason Why' I sat down with a few other writers to see if we could co-write something for the record. Matthew West and I have been friends since college, and though we hadn't written much together at all, it was a no-brainer to see what would happen if we put our heads together.

The product of that co-write was a tune that you may have heard if you've seen me live, or if you go to church at MSC where I lead worship almost every weekend. It's a song called 'Transformed.'

Here's where it gets fun: the song obviously didn't make 'Every Reason Why' but we had tried to pitch it to a conference as a theme song of sorts. It landed in the hands of the A&R camp for the tween group pureNRG, and they liked it. The words needing some tweaking to fit the demographic, so Matthew got out his hammer and chisel and made that happen. At the end of the day, the 'new' song, now entitled 'Inside Out' was recorded and recently released on pureNRG's newest project. Check out for a listen to how 'Transformed' morphed into pureNRG's 'Inside Out!'

worship confessional (5.18.08)

this past weekend was a crazy one... big weekend in the life of our church, honestly. The numbers came in a few weeks ago regarding the financial commitments for our building initiative Love. Loud. and while it was a lot of money--and represented significant sacrifices from many families in our congregation--it fell substantially short of the figure we needed in order to actually build.

We stood tall, though, and Pastor Mike delivered a powerful, compelling message that reminded us all why we're here... to worship our God without condition. That's what we did. We had started each service with a 3-song set, and after Mike's message we played a video and then launched another 3-song set to close the service. Some people were wrecked by the service as a whole, and I honestly think some people were over it once we hit the first song of the second set. Regardless, I have scarcely been more proud of my church... I'm excited to see--and eventually blog about--the eventual victory God has for this little slice of His church called MSC.

The songset for the weekend was:

Meet With Me - Lamont Hiebert

You Never Let Go - Matt & Beth Redman

We Fall Down - Chris Tomlin

The Least I Can Do - M. Roach

Break Through - Tommy Walker

Everlasting God - Brenton Brown/Ken Riley

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Worship Confessional (5.11.08)

This past weekend was, of course, Mom's Day. Usually, we get a packed house on Mother's Day weekend, but for whatever reason (maybe the ridiculously dismal weather) we were not only light on attendance, but a bit blah as well. Now, my friend Gary Durbin in Florida points out in his most recent WorshipSource confessional the importance of not measuring worship by the congregation's response, but focusing instead on God's pleasure... good reminder for all of us, I'm sure, and so I'll move on. :)

The last few weeks, I've been doing something a bit unorthodox with my acoustic--and I'm actually kinda likin' it. I've been plugging my acoustic into a Line6 floorboard, bypassing everything but the delay, and then using the built-in wah pedal as well. This past week, I used this on 'Welcome Song' by Pocket Full of Rocks. I use the Edge-inspired dotted quarter delay, and it manifests that tight, even sixteenth delay when I play eighths. The wah allows me to shape the sound a bit, like an envelope filter. It's cool stuff. Anyway, I'm in the process of replacing the church's Line6 with 'real gear' that will serve the same purpose--a Cry Baby and a DD-20. I'll keep you posted!

Here was the setlist for this past weekend:

The Welcome Song - Michael Farren

Filled With Your Glory - Jon/Tim Neufeld

How Can I Keep from Singing - Tomlin and Co.

Spirit Song - John Wimber

feature tune: Thank You Mom by Good Charlotte

ended with: As Long As I Have You - M. Roach

The feature tune was a crazy find... a hidden track from a Good Charlotte record that actually talks about his mom singing songs of praise and teaching him how to love God and such... we were just looking for a simple Mom's day tune and I was elated to find something by Good Charlotte instead of having to veer toward Bette Midler. :)

Until next week!

Worship Confessional (5.04.08)

Ok, this one's really late, I know, but I have to mention this... we had Mike Lewis, also known as the Jesus Painter, come and be a part of our Celebration services--the culmination of our Love. Loud. initiative. He is truly an awesome guy, and what he does in worship should be incorporated into every church across America and beyond if you ask me. If your church doesn't incorporate visual art or painting during worship, you should click on the painting to the right and check out what he does. Anyway, the services were jam-packed with songs, paintings, kids, baptisms, confirmations, pledges, thumbprints (kind of a way of every saying "I'm in") ... one of those services that triples the number of elements we include in a normal weekend. Great stuff, though, and Mike Lewis was an awesome addition. The tunes we did during the worship set were perfect for the two paintings he did while we worshiped. Here's the setlist:

The Happy Song - Martin Smith

Beautiful One
- Tim Hughes

You Are
- M. Roach

You Gave Your Life Away
- Paul Baloche/Kathryn Scott

Friday, May 2, 2008

over 15,000 views!

yeah... so he's now 4 years old. The video was shot about a year ago. He likes to tell people about how he's on YouTube. But honestly, 15,000 views! That's awesome. So here's a reprise:

Sunday, April 27, 2008

worship confessional (4.27.08)

Last week, I got the not-as-rare-as-it-used-to-be privilege of coming to my own church as an attender. Ryan, our Associate Music Director, led worship and I was out in the congregation holding my son in my arms and singing to my Creator--my son singing gently in my ear throughout the worship set... it doesn't get a whole lot sweeter than that.

This week was our last weekend of our Love. Loud. initiative-- that is, the last week before the 'celebration' weekend next week, where we bring forth our pledges and finally begin to put flesh to the bone of our last 4 weeks of discussion. We were headed for an uber long service, and so we preemptively cut a tune from the worship set. That always bums me out, but the day felt all kinds of good in spite of that. Here's the setlist we ended up with:

As Long As I Have You - M. Roach
Pleasing - Glenn Packiam
Enough - Tomlin/Giglio
feature tune - Take My Life (a la Passion - Tomlin and Co.)
Love Loud (tag) - by our own Ryan Redding

The set felt pretty good... I hate having to change guitars quickly in transitions, but it actually worked out ok. I lead from an electric on 'As Long As...' and played acoustic on the other two. Originally, when we were planning on doing 4 tunes, we had the welcome/announcement piece between the first two songs, so I would have had plenty of time for the switch. When we cut the last tune, we felt like a two-song set after the announcements just didn't feel right, so that left us with a quick guitar transition. At any rate, our congregation typically applauds after the uptempo stuff in the set (does your church do that? I know, that's another discussion entirely) so I had a few seconds to grab the guitar and get to the mic, and then I spoke briefly before 'Pleasing.' That's a strong tune, by the way, if you don't do it at your church, you should look at it.

We did 'Take My Life' differently on Saturday than on Sunday... Saturday I played my electric so I could put a dotted eighth delay on it and really get some cool build at the end, but without that sparkle and percussive nature an acoustic provides, something was missing. Both would have been ideal, but when I had to pick one, the acoustic won the day and I asked our electric player to beef his part up a bit with delay and such. 'Take My Life' is a great song... really fun to play, but we've never done it in a worship rotation, always as a special.

Ok, my rant is done I think. I often wonder if anyone cares about my weekly (ok, not exactly weekly) muses--but hey, if not, I'm keepin' a good journal, right? At any rate, next week is big. Mike Lewis (the Jesus Painter) is coming to town, baptisms, confirmations, and we find out just how loud our congregation wants to love... see you then.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Worship Confessional (3.30.08)

as posted at

Ok, so it was the weekend after Easter… if your church is anything like our church, the staff is all in recovery mode for most of the week, trying to catch up on sleep, time with family, and anything else that was virtually ignored during the weeks prior to Easter. We were no different, and while Saturday seemed much like a normal service, when we all arrived Sunday morning it was easy to see that we hadn’t quite recovered yet. :) Setlist was as follows:

Filled With Your Glory - Jon Neufeld, Tim Neufeld

Everlasting God - Brenton Brown, Ken Riley

Here I Am, Lord - Dan Schutte

The Least I Can Do - M. Roach

feature tune: The Motions (Matthew West)

You Never Let Go - Matt & Beth Redman

I love ‘Filled With Your Glory’ … I think that’s a sleeper among up-tempo worship tunes. We don’t do the melodic variations on the record in the 2nd verse, just to keep in consistent for congregational purposes… I think it’s a great song. ‘Everlasting God’ has been big for us ever since we started. We do kind of a blend between the Tomlin and the Brenton Brown versions. We do the alt. time signatures in the pre-chorus—I love those. I’d love to hear what version you all lean toward… anyone lean toward the Lincoln Brewster version in church?

‘Here I Am, Lord’ is one of those tunes I grew up with in the Catholic church. Being at a Protestant church, it’s not often I run across older hymns and choruses that I actually know, but this one crossed the divide. Anyway, we change it up quite a bit, put it in 6/8 and change the pronouns so that it’s vertical rather than singing from God’s perspective.

‘The Least I Can Do’ was a fun tune of mine to do on the week after Easter, especially with our theme. The message was called "Now What?" and it dealt with our response to the good news of the Easter story the week before. I led the prayer after the song set, which I don’t do very much any more, and it was an easy transition since the song culminates in a down-verse about the Easter story and really deals itself with the fact that the least we can do is worship. I led the prayer from the piano, right before the tag, and asked God to help us all realize that the least we could do was worship in song right then… then asked if He could help us make that a starting point—that we could follow it with a life of worship from this point forward.

Anyway, it was a strong service overall, except for my brilliant transposing error on Saturday night. I led two songs from the piano, one was The Least I Can Do in the worship set and then Matt West’s tune ‘The Motions’ … well, we had transposed it for my vocal and I was playing it an easier key and forgot to transpose the keyboard before we started. I had one of those fantastic moments where you just stop dead in the middle of an intro and say into the mic, "yeah, I’m gonna need to fix that…" then you fix it and start over. Nothing else I could do, my band doesn’t transpose a half step on the fly. :) I’d love to hear your transpose button / capo-on-the-wrong-fret stories… it’d make me feel better I’m sure!

Many blessings to you all! Until next week…

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

nailed to the cross...

Horatio Spafford articulated it so well in the classic Hymn "It Is Well With My Soul" when he penned the beautiful stream-of-conciousness lyric:

My sin--O the bliss of this glorious thought--my sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more... Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!

At our Good Friday services this past week, those in attendance were invited to put flesh on the bone of that poignant declaration. We were each asked to write a sin on a small piece of paper. Then during a time of worship at the end of the service--which included communion, prayer, singing and the opportunity to give our financial offerings--we were also to come forward and nail our sins to the cross.

We had a large cross--10' x 5'6"--made for the services. Now, we're well aware this wasn't some brilliant idea that no one had ever thought of... we knew it had been done before. In fact, we had done it before. But, for some reason, we'd not realized--at least I'd not realized--the impact it would make... not just on the congregation, but on those presenting as well. During the first service, I was absolutely wrecked by the sound of the hammers. My voice broke along with my heart as I closed my eyes and imagined my Savior on that very cross, having nails driven through him in cacophonous fashion by men, women and children alike. I couldn't help but take some photos afterward, the first of which is the cross from my perspective up on the platform.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

happy birthday to me...

seriously... is there anything in the world cuter than this? Conner's getting pretty good with letters, and that's a balloon in the top right--with a heart on it.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Ok, so I just wanted to remind you all of my profile page on a great new site called It's an awesome site--especially for worship leaders and songwriters--and it's getting better all the time. It's in BETA right now, so they're still adding features and you can help them continue to make the site even cooler. There's already a ton of people on there, so check it out.

One of the reasons I'm reminding you is because there's a blog feature on the site. I have been writing 'Worship Confessionals' -- basically just my thoughts and reflections after each weekend of worship services at my church. I'm making the confessionals exclusive to my WorshipSource blog, so make sure you bookmark it and come check it out every week. Also, for you worship leader types out there, there are instructional videos, chord charts, song stories, streaming tunes, etc. all FREE... it's very cool, and like I said it's growing fast, so it's getting cooler all the time.

So check it out!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Guitar Hero

yeah, so I just played guitar hero (the Wii version) for the first time at a friend's house.

I'm terrible. absolutely terrible.