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!