Year: 2014

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So good to be home

This is the first time since we’ve been married that I’ve been away from home more than two weeks. It’s been a great 3 months in Crosslake MN. Serving as interim worship pastor for Crosslake Evangelical Free Church was great but now I’m home and looking forward to the next season.

So many great people, so many great takeaways from the last 90 days.

For example:

  • Serving on a ministry staff is hard.
    Implementing change and vision is hard.
    People are our greatest asset and greatest challenge.
    Unity is a key, if not the key, to worshiping in community.
    Leadership is about dying and serving.
    Serving on teams is the best way to do ministry.

Over the next several days I’ll post thoughts about each of these, in the meantime why not schedule a retreat. you can email me here.

Have a great Thanksgiving week. I’ll check in here soon.

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Posted by Gary in Personal, 0 comments

Another Change of Seasons

If you’ve been following this space for very long you have seen this headline many times. Here we are again.

Our calling seems to be a nomadic calling. Though we always plant ourselves and invest where we are God seems to always keep us moving. It’s been an amazing journey. One I wouldn’t have planned but as a result we have great friends all over the place.

This season finds me serving as interim worship pastor at Crosslake Evangelical Free Church (The Log Church) in Crosslake MN.

I am so grateful to Andy Stauffer and Mike Rice for allowing me to serve alongside them at Stauffer and Sons Construction. I have learned so much and it was manna for our family for a year and a half. They were so gracious to me and allowed me to leave well. Thank you Mike and Andy.

Crosslake E-Free is a great church with great leaders. They have their priorities in the right place and are excited about the future. My task is to help lead them through the transition of hiring a new worship pastor. Their previous worship pastor was promoted to Sr. Pastor of a congregation near here. It was a transition done well and I’m excited to help them find the next leader.

Once I’m finished here Kim and I will continue to travel and work with church worship and leadership teams discipling, coaching and encouraging those who build.

Stay tuned, we’re excited about the next season!

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The Sheep Are Not The Problem

Before I get into the purpose of this post I need to clarify a few things.

First of all life for me the past year has been very busy. Learning a new job that requires all of me for at least 45 hours a week leaves me with no bandwidth at all to maintain this site or any of my social media the way I would like so I have been posting articles written by others that I think are interesting. Also I’m sorry for not responding to every comment I wish I could.

The primary purpose of these posts are to start a conversation.

Recently I posted an article entitled “Who Will Lead Through The Church Disaster” by Randy Bohlender. Over the weekend I posted “Are We Headed For A Crash? Reflections On The Current State of Evangelical Worship” and “Why They Don’t Sing On Sunday Anymore“. I’ve also got coming up in my buffer app “Why Men Have Stopped Singing In Church

This morning I was looking through my Facebook news feed and a friend posted something to the effect of “Stop posting negative things about the way we worship”. I’m not assuming he is responding to me specifically because there does seem to be a lot of articles about what is wrong with worship.  Today I got comments on “Why They Don’t Sing On Sunday Anymore” and while looking through my news feed for something else I found “What Is The Real Problem With Todays Evangelical Worship

Looks like I’ve stumbled into a conversation.

Here are my thoughts.

Since 1982 I’ve been in this arena. Reading and searching for wisdom from all kinds of people. When I first started there was very little being written on contemporary worship. Now everywhere I look someone has an opinion on it. Some good; much of it not so good. I’m also a part of several online worship communities from communities like Worship The Rock to groups within LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+. Frankly I’m saddened by the bulk of the questions and answers being posted.

One post asked the question “What do I do with people who complain the songs are too high when they don’t know how to sing?”. Others are talking about “At what point do I have enough musicians on my team?”, or “Our worship team is full how do I tell people no”. I even saw a post by someone who I highly respect. A staff worship pastor, songwriter, teacher, and mentor say. “As I get older I want to be purposeful about raising up the next generation”. I’ve commented on this here so I won’t go over it again. These are just a few of the many threads that break my heart.

Every problem is a leadership problem.

I’m not saying every problem is caused by leadership but I am saying if your people are distracted, not passionate, or don’t understand what you’re doing its your job to lead them and lead them with a pastor’s heart.

I found “Misplacing Charisma: Where Contemporary Worship Lost Its Way” on a Methodist website that is spot on.

Here is the money quote:

What’s missing? The answer is found in looking at what happened when “praise and worship” was adopted by mainline denominations. During the 1990’s many mainline congregations began to import the songs, sounds, and some of the sights (like hand raising and clapping) of the praise and worship style. In many cases, what got lost was the robust pneumatology behind this approach to worship. In other words, many mainline churches brought the form, but didn’t bring the theology of praise and worship into their congregations.

I hope this is not your problem. I hope you understand your role as a prophet, pastor, teacher, and theologian when you stand in front of your congregation. If not get this book.

May I also suggest a few practical solutions.

  1. Have the correct EQ.
  2. Have the correct volume. Sometimes its necessary for people to not hear themselves other times its necessary that they do. It depends on the size of the group.
  3. Have songs in the correct keys. If you’re doing everything in the keys of B and C I wonder if your leading worship.
  4. Leave the lights up so we can see people’s faces and lead them in worship.
  5. Keep your eyes open and connect with people.
  6. Pick songs that are congregational. If every song in your set list is from KLOVE or have octave jumps in them I wonder if your leading worship.

 

Bottom line, stop blaming the congregation for not worshiping. It’s up to us to lead them and teach them. Bring them lovingly into the presence of God. Meet them where they are and take them someplace.

Maybe the reason there are so many articles about what’s wrong with worship is because something is wrong with worship. 10 years ago there was lots of criticism of contemporary worship that was based on style not substance but when the congregation stops participating its time for us to start asking why.

Let the conversation continue.

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Leadership, Pastoral Care, Practical, Worship, 0 comments

Nothing Deep

Just enjoying a cup of coffee and looking out my window at the trees and the mountains thinking about how blessed we are.

In the midst of all the uncertainty and all the trials God is faithful, steady, and ever-present.

My prayer this  morning is one of gratitude.

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Posted by Gary in Personal, Worship, 1 comment

Continuous Worship Conference

Last weekend I attended a conference you should consider attending with your team next year.

The Continuous Worship Conference at Maranatha Bible Camp near North Platte NE. Next years conference will be the weekend before Valentines Day, February 5-7 2015. Make sure you put it on your calendar.

There are so many options when it comes to worship team training.
Why should you attend this conference?

The best reason is the heart of the leaders. They get it. The weekend was a great mixture of “the why” and “the how”. Paul, Phil, and Ty understand if our hearts are not right nothing else matters. They have humble servant hearts with a passion to equip the local church.

The workshops were very practical and very specific. Rather than a workshop for drummers the workshop was titled “mic’ ing the drums”. So drummers, sound techs, or anyone else can determine if its something they should attend based on their skill level or level of interest.

My favorite part was the jam session. They leave time for people to come on stage and put into practice what they’ve learned no matter the skill level.

It’s a lot of fun and will equip your team with the right heart.
See you there in 2015.

Continuous Worship on Twitter
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Continuous Worship Blog

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Posted by Gary in Leadership, Worship, 0 comments

You Are Always Communicating

Everything we do as leaders communicates something. Are you communicating what you want to communicate?

Does everyone on your team have a correct understanding of the culture of your team, ministry, or church? I recently had a marketing person look at all of my web presence. After his review he said “your a musician who wants to sell music.”

I had a lot of fun making a 6 song EP. I hope people will listen to it, buy it, and listen to it again. So making that impression is not a bad thing but it’s not what I want first time visitors to come away with.

Everything you do communicates something.

If the same person is leading worship every week with the same 4 or 5 people on the platform your communicating that there is no place for new people on the platform. Your saying “we have our slots filled. Sorry you got here too late. As soon as someone dies or moves away we’d be happy to audition you or we might just go with 3 backing vocalists not 4.”

Also it may be appropriate, for a season, to have video teaching until you can raise up a team of teachers. While the video teaches you are either telling the teachers in your congregation there’s no place for them or, if you do it right, you could be telling them we desperately need you. Don’t assume people will understand. You have to tell them.

Rule #4: if you don’t give your people a “why” they will come up with their own. And they will often be wrong.

Consider what you’re doing and what it communicates.

Are you saying what you want to say?

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Discipleship, Leadership, 2 comments