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worship leadership

The Lumineers, Chasing Awesome, & Sunday Mornings

The Lumineers, Chasing Awesome, & Sunday Mornings

I haven't seen the Lumineers live...yet.  Mainly cause if I can't sit on the front row I don't wanna go. I'd rather pay hundreds for a good seat, than to sit up stairs looking down at the top of HVAC ducts in an arena, and I don't have hundreds for a good seat.

What a great time to be in your twenties! (those of you who are in your twenties). I watch the Lumineers and I realize rock n roll is now acoustic, authentic, unpretentious, approachable, and it's about fair trade coffee, being vegetarian, and good conversation.

The Rolling Stones were in their early 60's before they valued such things.

Yet some things remain the same when you're in your twenties. I watch the Lumineers (on my TV from home) andI come back to what we all still have in common:

// Gathering
We want to be with a large group for something bigger than ourselves. We have stuff in common. We're going to stand in line, stand in the rain, we won't be denied. When I watch on my TV with my fair-trade-free-range snacks I am at a distance. If I was in the middle of the crowd we would be together and I would belong.

// Anticipation
The lights go down, we stand to our feet and scream.  It's crazy, but it's still universally true. What's going to happen first? What's going to happen next? My daughter told
me about "this and that, how cool, how awesome..." after seeing the Lumineers recently.
She sounded like me and my friends a couple decades ago. 

// Joining
When prompted and led well we join in and sing our guts out. We continue to do this don't we? And honestly here's a thought: the BEST PERFORMING ARTISTS know how to get us to join in. my twenties it was Dave Matthews and Sting, in my thirties it was John Mayer. This might be cheesy, but I'll never forget Prince leading an arena together with the house lights up and only an acoustic guitar. Now it's the Lumineers and there's nothing like it!
// Craft
Stuff done well like the arts, killer audio, great visuals, amazing lighting, musicianship, singing on key, programming that paces well and takes a crowd on a ride, and working at it and thinking it through, practicing til your fingers bleed, writing a great song, decades of preparation,
...and three and a half minutes of payoff where everyone joins in cause this is awesome.

Now...those of you who know me well know that I WILL pay hundreds to sit behind the plate with Kristin and the kids, and sing take me out to the ballgame a bit pitchy (speaking of things that never change).

You also know that this is not a post about a band that I love (although I have listened to Cleopatra often...mainly cause I think my son in law sounds just like them).

Those of you who know me have already filled in the blanks and you know I'm poking at what we seem to have lost on Sunday mornings. We oughta own these things. If it can be better on Sunday morning it ought to be. Look at a peacock, a sunset, and the color of your kids eyes, and then explain why Sunday is lame.

Church guys will say, "people in their twenties aren't drawn to __________ " (fill in the blank of what Church guys don't want to do).

But man, I watch a video of thousands camping out and screaming their guts out to Cleopatra & I wonder if I believe all those blog posts, tweets, and experts who've led us to abandon awesome when Christians get together.

I'm not talking about "entertainment" on Sundays. Those of us that lit the fuse on that stuff back in the early 90's cringe when we look at where it took some of our friends. But a response that just ignores what "normal" is, is just dumb, it's weak, and appears to be just lazy.

Don't do what we did in the 90s. Do what you do today.

I get to be around these awesome college students who are thinking about ministry, and I continue to tell them to work hard, glorify God, have a deep understanding of the Word, love people, Love Jesus, but also do the best you can with your craft and in a phrase...CHASE AWESOME. I can't own this conversation. This is for the twenty somethings on stage Sunday morning. Those of us who are a couple decades ahead should cheer them on, help pay and pave the way, show them the mistakes to avoid, but inspire them to get after it.

Nobody is going to fill an arena to sing their guts out to uninspired and predictable. The Lumineers and their management folks know this.

Nobody is going to fill a church for uninspired and predictable either.

The Perfect Ten

The Perfect Ten

"...and not only be a great singer, but also killer musician, a pastor of people, kind hearted yet excellent, administrative but artistically minded, creative, a songwriter, and put others before themselves, amazingly talented yet humble..."

And so begins another conversation with a church leader looking for the gifted worship leader that they cannot find. 

Every day I'm speaking with leaders who are looking to make a worship leader hire. I do this work with The Slingshot Group, who is a leader in these efforts with churches nationwide.   

Reality is, when looking for talent, we all want "everything." But none of us have that skill set. To help all of us, I developed this worksheet.  It is designed primarily for those in churches smaller than 2,000.  If this is you...take a look and see what you think.  

Let me know how you think it could be better. 



What The Boss Taught me about Worship Leadership Prep

What The Boss Taught me about Worship Leadership Prep

Bruce Springsteen is the type of artist that I might pay good money to go see, but I’ve never really listened to his music. I can hum a few of his songs that are the most popular and certainly appreciate his art. He’s iconic but not a favorite necessarily.

Yet he taught me great lesson in preparation a few years back.

I remember seeing him perform at the Super Bowl halftime show. You can watch it here.  And it was a “normal over the top” Super Bowl show. It was some months later that I was able to see the documentary “behind the scenes” look at what it takes to pull of the show.

I’m sure you’ve seen similar rock n’ roll documentaries, but what stuck out in this one was the length of time and investment that Bruce went through to prepare his spoken word at the beginning of the show.

They showed multiple clips of him working on the words, practicing the timing, and rehearsing the band over and over months in advance.

I was mesmerized as I watched Bruce work diligently on just a couple of sentences, while rehearsing those same 2 or 3 familiar songs over and over. My mind flashed back to how much effort I had not put in to writing transitions between songs or elements on a normal Sunday morning worship set. 

I had forgotten the simple fact that I was preparing for way more than the 100 million viewers for a once-a-year Super Bowl.  I was preparing for the King of the Universe, as well for those believers and unbelievers who were coming to have an experience with Him.

Do you struggle between songs to know what to say? Do you know how to move from one element to the next so that those in attendance can go with you?  Take time to work on these.

Above all, I would argue that preparation is the key. Yes, the spirit is going to move, and you should be ready, but how much work did you put in to the moments that actually facilitate a great worship experience – the moments in between the songs?

My brotha from down undah, Tim Foot, is one of the best at transitions and has written about it here.  Spend time in this area. God deserves it and so does your church.