Sunday Summary – Music: August 17, 2008

We tried something a little risky this week. Stepped out on a ledge – and probably on a few toes, as well.

We did have three songs on the docket – nothing out of the ordinary. But as we were talking early last week, we – as a Music Department staff – felt this could be a week where the worship leaders were able to take some extra time and explain a bit to the crowd why we get excited when we sing and worship together. On how the “polite golf clap” at the end of songs is really pretty weak, especially when compared to what Christ has done and continues to do for us.

Michael Phelps’ Olympic feats were also fresh on our minds by Sunday AM, and so it seemed to be a great example of how we cheer for people and yell for our country, but can sometimes clam up when it comes to our Saviour, and that we have the greatest thing in the Universe to be excited about – redemption through Christ. And that we have the freedom to exhibit that with our lives, our hands, and with our voices.

Yeah, I know that sounds a bit Charistmatic, especially when dealing with a “seeker-friendly” church like North Point. (By the way, we hate being labeled with those “seeker” cliches, just so you know…)

But ultimately, we, as musicians and – for lack of a better term – “worshippers”, long to convey to both the body of Christ AND first timers / non-Christians that the songs we sing on Sunday mornings are not observatory, but participatory. And that that participation is not hype or guilt, but a natural out-flowing of someone’s relationship with their Saviour.

And let me be clear – participation, at least as I define it, is not necessarily “hands up, eyes closed”, but rather someone’s own, unique way of connecting with their Heavenly Father. That can mean a ton of things, because it really is different for everyone. Your level of spiritual maturity and growth is not based on how loud you sing or how high you can raise your hands. But for many, many people, there comes a point in corporate or private worship when you choose to focus on God, and subsequently your soul connects with the Holy Spirit, and it moves you to an outward display of submission and adoration for your Savior. But all the while, the real connection takes place on the inside of you – in your spirit as you submit your will to God.

Our job as the Leaders and facilitators of these times of worship are to:

Encourage – Encouraging people to connect with God means that sometimes the Worship Leader, and even band and musicians, fill the role of a motivator (or, the dreaded term: cheerleader).

Enable – We give them a vehicle to do so via a well thought-out song set

Enhance – we enhance the corporate worship experience by playing the music WELL, by stimulating their brain and spirit through the best musicianship we are able to offer. You CAN worship with a poorly rehearsed band of hacks and off-pitch screamers – but it ain’t easy!!

Exit – It’s obviously ultimately not about us – the people on stage or running lights or the Front of House mix. It’s our ultimate goal to not be the show, but rather a means through which people are attracted and drawn to Christ. When we receive the glory, whether purposeful or not, then we’ve failed – big time.

Well, there you go. That was pretty deep.

Anyhoo, to help get a tiny portion of that across to the crowd, we opted to cut one of the songs, which allowed Todd Fields and Danny Dukes – two of our best “encouragers” – to “work the crowd” a bit and get them excited about worshipping God, even early on a Sunday morning.


Salvation’s Chorus

– As part of the “cheerleading” section, we actually started with the “Alleluia” echoes before diving into the intro and Rock and Roll Extravaganza. We also included a reprise after the song’s ending, diving back into the Alleluia repeats, starting with a half-time groove, building to the full groove, and ultimately a big trash can ending.

Turned up to 11.

And was it a bit irreverent? Yep.

But the payoff was incredible. We then went straight into Breathe On Me , and the people sang it louder than we’ve ever, ever heard. I mean EVER! It was incredible.

Again, not that loud singing equals a great time of worship, but I think we’ll all agree that it’s a pretty good litmus test…

So when it was all said and done, we were all glad we stepped out on that limb. Yeah, it bowed a lot, but it didn’t break. We all agreed that it made for a great, memorable service – mostly because of how it ended up setting up Breathe On Me so well – such a powerful song, and one of my absolute favorites of all time.

Here’s a couple shots of West, where the incredible Jen Carrozza lead Breathe On Me. It was great to have it in the female key, and Jen sang and lead it to rave reviews.

IMG_0487.JPG IMG_0488.JPG

And here’s East. Yeah, I know it’s hard to tell a difference. The new set for this new series is nearly identical on each side.


– – – – –

East Band – Todd Fields, Steve Thomason, Chris Arias, Rachael Gillis, Ashley Appling, Pat Malone

West Band – Danny Dukes, Jen Carrozza, Brad Long, David Norwood, Trammell Starks, Earl South, Joe Lee

– – – – –

What limb have YOU stepped out on lately?

3 thoughts on “Sunday Summary – Music: August 17, 2008

  1. I think Matt Redman said it best at his song writers conference when he reminded us that worship is a response. A response to what? Well, God, of course. But if you look in Scripture, when we see people respond in worship, it is almost always following revelation — seeing God. There’s a cycle of revelation and response… or seeing and singing… that defines biblical worship.

    That means, as worship leaders, our key job is simply to point people to God — to help them lock their hearts in on who He is and what He’s doing. The response will take care of itself! Help them with the “seeing,” and the “singing” will take care of itself! So while a lot of leaders get tied up trying to increase the “response” (i.e., “Sing it loud! Raise your hands!”), maybe they should instead be focusing on increasing the “revelation.” The heartfelt response will take care of itself.

    That’s why I love Todd’s worship leading so much. He brings such theological depth to the table. And in a very authentic and humble way, he models worship and helps the congregation enter in. That’s what we need more of in the church today — worship leaders who are actually good thinkers, and great students of the Scriptures! Just my thoughts…

  2. I don’t mean to be mean here, but honestly, is that a big risky step for you guys? I was there Sunday (west) and it was not loud at all (the crowd echoing Danny). People don’t sing loud at North Point, it was a cautious hum at best. To be fair, a big part of that is people are nervous for others to hear them sing, and the PA in there is so bad if you sing at a normal level it sounds like a scream. Between the “safe church mix” (can’t hear the drums) and the worn out PA, its not conducive to a great “singing loud” kind of environment.

    Don’t get me wrong, Danny did a great job, and the worship set was ok, but I was shocked to read this as some sort of big step for you guys. I was even more shocked to read how differently you viewed it than I did. I was almost embarrassed for Danny because after this big ramp up into the set and all he got little to no response on the echoing hallelujah part.

  3. I tell you, Joseph, that you’re right in your assessment of the first tune. The part where we really felt they engaged, participated and sang was the second tune. And, we believe, that would not have been as much the case if we hadn’t gotten their blood flowing a little more than usual from the way we treated the first song. Does that make sense?

    Sometimes, in the Foyer environment, that first song ends up being a lost leader – which can be good or bad depending on where and how the Worship Leader takes us…

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