Man, some Sundays are good, some are just so-so, some are actually a no-no, and some – like yesterday – are a real highlight.
Something about it – on both sides – just clicked, from top to bottom. I can’t put my finger on it. I can’t say that it was because of some incredible booking and pairing of musicians on my part. It wasn’t a magic worship set. Neither side was a “set” band that always plays together.
I think it was just a whole lot of stuff coincidentally lining up just right – with a big, giant dose of God.
Now if I really break it down, I could probably analyze the snot out of how and why it worked on both sides (and yes, having a great day on BOTH stages is tough and rare).
My first thought is that we weren’t being asked to cram a whole worship set into a small quantity of time. That ALWAYS helps. I know that’s a bit selfish against some of the other effective elements we often have, like baptism, but hey – we’ll take it when we can get it!
So we had a longer clock – 14:00. Yeah, around here that’s lots! Especially when we don’t do any 5:30 epic tunes!
We also have really been encouraging the Worship Leaders to engage the crowd more up front, and even encouraging more participatory encouragement in the middle of tunes. It’s just a small step in helping the worship time to be less observatory and more participatory.
Chrystina Fincher, who lead in East, told the crowd right at the top how she’d been leading for BigStuf youth camps all summer, and how it’s so awesome to see those teenagers really be excited about God and about worshipping Him. She, in her sweet, charming way and smile, talked about funneling some of that passion and energy here with the adults in “big church”, and that we were going to free ourselves up a bit in order to sing a little bit louder and a little bit stronger than usual.
She then had the line of the day: “Now if you’re here for the first time, or still kinda new at the whole ‘church’ thing – that’s OK – you get a pass this morning. But those of us who love God and have put our faith in Christ are going to sing out to Him. So here we go…”
Addressing the first-timer or non-Christian directly from stage, giving them acknowledgment, as well as some explanation of what we do and why is always fantastic. And giving them an “out”, a pass as Chrystina did, relieves any forced pressure on them. I think this allows the Holy Spirt to soften their hearts. Instead of them building up walls by being forced to sing, or by feeling guilty if they don’t, there comes a sense of comfort, acceptance and respect. I really think that by acknowledging the feelings of the non-Christian allows us as Christians to actually be a better witness. And whether that’s true or not across the board, we have seen countless incredible stories of life change and people putting their faith in Christ. And many, many of those are shared in the main services through Baptism videos of people just telling their story.
So no, we in the Music Department don’t hate Sundays with Baptisms. Because we know that God uses one person’s story to influence another’s – and that that happens with every baptism video. It’s that constant reminder of why we do what we do, and to do it with fervor and passion!
KEEP HIM IN YOUR PRAYERS:
You might have heard Joe Thibodeau play drums. If you have ever seen Kristian Stanfill lead worship on tour, or if you were at Catalyst last year, or even at BigStuf camps over the last few years, you’ve probably heard him. Joe’s a good guy with a heart and passion for worshipping God.
Joe was supposed to play with us on West this past weekend, and was at rehearsal on Wednesday. However, on Friday morning he received word that his elderly, ailing father had taken a serious turn for the worse, and the doctors did not expect him to last through the night.
Joe called to let me know he was booking an immediate flight, and that at this point his ability to make Sunday morning looked slim to none. I told him “no problem – we’ll be praying for you”.
Now I WAS worried, because I already knew a bunch of our regular drummers were out of town for the holiday weekend. But I tried ’em anyway… And, by the grace of God, one of good friends, Brandon Coker, had just come home for the weekend. Brandon usually plays and travels with Steve Fee, so it was terrific that he could come play. I sent him the tracks, he practiced his rear off, and absolutely nailed it Sunday morning. Thanks, Brandon!!
The big news was that Joe’s dad actually did pass on Friday night, and Joe had arrived just in time. He and his mom are at peace now that he’s not suffering any longer, but Joe’s brother, who does not know Christ, is having a difficult time with the situation. So please, if you remember the Thibodeau family this week, pray for continued peace for Joe and his mom, and a life and faith changing experience for his brother.
HEY, I KNOW THAT SONG:
I think another thing that helped this week was doing a couple familiar tunes, along with an oldie-but-goodie. You know – the type of song that has an easy verse and chorus, and that the crowd can actually sing without staring at the words on the screen. (Hmm – what a concept.)
So we did:
All We Need – Charlie Hall
Holy Is The Lord – Chris Tomlin
From The Inside Out – Hillsong United
** You may have read this before, but we do a version of this tune that’s about 4:30 – because that 6:00+ version on the Hillsong record is looooooooong…..
I love when we get to do a great song, with great content, with a great band with great musicianship, with a great singer. And we got to do that this week!
We’re in Andy’s series “5 Things God Uses To Grow Your Faith”, and this week was “Providential Relationships”.
So we batted around a bunch of “friend” type songs, but I had heard a Rascal Flatts tune called “Every Day” on the radio a while back, and stored it up in the old cranial hard drive, knowing I wanted to pitch it for this sermon.
Well, when the dust settled and we looked at who was in the band and who was already booked to sing worship, the writing on the wall was plain as day.
So one of our favorite vocalists, Ryan Stuart, sang the living daylights out of it, along with Chrystina Fincher and Mike Gleason on BGV’s. Man I love it when studio veterans get to really hone and tweak vocal parts! Yummy!
We took the song down to the key of “F”, where an actual tenor could sing it (instead of that freak of nature who sings lead for Rascal Flatts), and it still worked really well. Add to that some killer strings from Pro Tools’ “Structure” plug-in and their stock East/West orchestra samples, and you’ve got the makings of a killer tune.
MIXING WEST VIA VNC:
And here’s something cool: The lines from the East Auditorium (where we do most live specials) are run through our studio and fed as a 2-track to the West Auditorium. The problem with that in the past has been that the actual mixing that is being fed to West is taking place in a controlled studio – not the live Auditorium. BIG DIFFERENCE!! So we’d always have to radio needed changes to the studio, or even run over there in the middle of a song. Not fun. Not effective.
Well, now the boys have it all set up where they can control the studio’s Pro Tools via a VNC server connection on a computer from Front of House in West – literally mixing all individual channels remotely according to the needs of the West Auditorium.
If you’re interested in this type of VNC control, do a Google search for a program called “Chicken of the VNC“. I’ve got it, and have used it to check and tweak levels on our stage Pro Tools computers while sitting at F.O.H.
OK, there you go…
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Mike Gleason and Co. in West:
Mike Gleason, Mike Hines, Mike Bielenberg, (yes, 3 Mikes!!), Jeremy Moyers, Brandon Coker, Richard Meeder, Jordan Watts
Chrystina and the boys in East (yes, this was from the 12:45 service, hence the empty chairs. Word of advice – if you hate clamoring for a seat at 9:00 or 11:00, just come to the 12:45!!!!)
Chrystina Fincher, Ryan Stuart, Danny Howes, Danny Grady, John Carrozza, Scott Meeder, Earl South
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What’s new that YOU’RE excited about using?