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!