This was not a Sunday that will go down in the History Books as a defining moment for me as a worshipper.
Sure, I’d like to blame it on some things: A wonderful mixture of Claritin and Zyrtec for my allergies, a near sleepless night as we’ve poorly timed the removal of Cooper’s 3:00 AM feeding the same weekend that he’s teething, and only 2 songs – one of which having an ever-changing form and Worship Leaders playing “Beat-The-Clock”.
But I’m a big boy, so I’ll take the blame. I just didn’t CHOOSE to worship.
And sometimes I think that actually being a “mature” Christian, on staff at a church, and being at least partially responsible for the Service is the biggest hinderance to really entering in and worshipping God.
It’s a whole lot easier to sit back and judge, isn’t it?
Shame on us for when we let that happen.
So for you “Professional Christians” out there, let’s make a Fun Seekers’ oath:
“On Sunday mornings, I promise to be a grown-up Christian first, and a Church Staffer second.
I will not let my job get in the way of my God.”
There – that feels better.
OK, on to what was good.
Kristian Stanfill led in East this week. Now if you’ve ever witnessed Kristian lead worship, you know he’s the real deal, and will lead a group with passion and fervor with a revealing humility and transparency. He leads every service like it’s his last on Earth, which is stinkin’ awesome.
The byproduct of that, however, is sometimes scary as we try out best to synchronize 2 auditoriums. I can honestly say that I was sweating – big time – as he got inspired talking between songs and started the second of our two tunes with only 3:30 left on the countdown clock. And it’s a 5:00 song, plus we planned some tags!
I watched this happen from West (on a little TV screen at Front Of House). Mike Gleason and Company were right on time, so by my calculations, we were getting ready for 2 extra minutes of something – keyboards? Prayer? Verse on screen? Knock-knock jokes?
Well, the West producer and I waited with baited breath to see the progress of the East before we made the call to put a message on the cuer for Mike (the TV screen that prompts the words and has the countdown clock).
Long story short: Mike wrapped up song tags, prayer, and set up baptism right at 0:00 (which is perfect), and Kristian – seeing the clock – skipped a verse and the pre-planned tags, ended the song and quickly set up baptism – at 0:00 !!!! Right on the money!
So here’s what’s cool: no one in the crowd on either side had any clue, and each Worship Leader made it a seamless, intimate, and totally legitimate worship experience, and we’ll give them each a great review tomorrow.
But I’m telling you – these are the types of things that go on behind the scenes that go on every week that no one knows about, but will send us all to an early grave 😉 Sometimes it’s music, sometimes, lights or audio or video or graphics or well – whatever!
I guess the key is to find and use good people in all areas of Sunday AM production that are flexible, not easily flustered, and can solve a myriad of problems on the fly… And then laugh about it in the Green Room!
MOST means MOST – NOT ALL…
This week was interesting on West. I was a bit worried after Wednesday’s rehearsal, but was reminded of the importance of great musicianship after today’s services.
We’ve got a deep pool of great musicians, and most of them have played with each other, and most of them have played most of the tunes we do. So that typically removes most of the learning curve they might encounter here.
Well the chips fell funny in West this week. Most of the guys had played with only one or two other guys on stage – which was rare.
And none of them had ever done one of this week’s tunes, which is also rare – even if it is a new tune. Usually someone’s played it before… But it wasn’t even a new tune!
And one guy had played a bunch at one of our other campuses, but not here.
(You can see where I’m going with all this, can’t you…)
So all that cumulated in one of the weirdest rehearsals we’ve had around here in a while. A stage full of incredible musicians, but no incredible music. Yeah, it was good – but I was expecting more out of these guys. After all, each of them are pretty high up in my books! (And lots of other books, for that matter!!)
I can only imagine that it might have been like the first practice for the US Olympic Basketball “Dream Team”. A world of potential. An engine full of horsepower – but not all cylinders yet running in synch.
Well, kids… Again, this is why we have mid-week rehearsal, as well as record the rehearsals and distribute copies of it to the musicians. So that they may listen back to themselves with a critical ear, and adjust (or woodshed!!) as needed before Sunday.
And that’s exactly what happened.
From the first beat of this morning’s tech rehearsal, the West band went from being a bunch of talented names to a really great band. Guys had gone home and woodshedded parts and tones, and were able to approach the songs with greater command and confidence. It also meant that Mike had a greater freedom to lead without worry.
Sure, each guy brought his own unique style and abilities to the table, but was rehearsed, refined and cohesive. I was really proud of them!
Louie Giglio is speaking for two weeks (today and next week), and always has lots of great, passionate stuff to share. That, plus baptisms, meant that we had the choice of either cramming in 3 short tunes and racing the countdown clock, or doing 2 tunes, with more freedom for tags and some speaking “ministry time” from the Worship Leaders. We opted for the latter, and I think that was the right call.
Although we recorded this (with Kristian leading) for the Louder Than Creation album, we have since revised it to the tempo and version that Steve Fee does on THIS version. We all – including Alex Nifong, the writer – think it adds a greater “singability” and celebration, which better reflects the song’s topic.
Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)
This is the Chris Tomlin version that lots of folks are familiar with. We also tagged it with a chorus of “How Marvelous”, another great hymn, and back into a last “my chains are gone” tag, just vocal and acoustic guitar. I love those moments when you can really hear the crowd sing. Sweet.
East Band – Kristian Stanfill, Scott Meeder, Chris Arias, Earl South, Rosie (Iraheta) Pinkerman, Mike Hines
West Band – Mike Gleason, Dan Hannon, Ede Wright, John Carrozza, Karen Bitzer, Brad Gage, Brad Bretz
What led YOU to worship this week?