Europe for me is always a place and a season in our year where I get to be reminded of why we do what we do. This entire ministry came out of a powerful call by God in 2005 in Italy, and in a very strange way I feel like I’m coming home to spiritual roots each year. I wanted to share with you a bit of why we care so much about this area of the world, why we’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars of our own and support pouring into leaders and why I continue to come back. Here are a couple of reasons Europe is so vital to what we do:
1) The Europe Tour is at its Essence a Partnership
Some people see that we go to Europe each year, look at the photos and videos from our tour locations, and assume we’re just traveling Europe having a good time. In all honesty, we have such a blast each year! It really is an incredible time and it’s so freeing to be able to say that we really enjoy the places we visit, the food we eat, and the experiences we have. It really is a fun time!
Our tours in Europe, though, are so important, because they bring us back to the whole reason I started on this journey in 2012 of full-time road ministry: we are better together as we partner in the Kingdom. What really launched this the schedule we’ve had over the past
2) To Nations, for Nations
There’s a unique calling our team has, and it remains one of the primary reasons we spend so much time overseas: we believe God has called us to nations around the world, carrying the testimony of what He is doing in other nations so that we can all benefit together. So many times we’ve been at a church in Europe sharing something about what God is doing in New Zealand or Australia, or in New Zealand something God has shown us through an experience in the States. There is incredible power in delivering the message that God gives, and much of that message for us has been a simple testimony. Europe is integral for this ministry in that global exchange of awakening, and it’s a big part of why we continue to come back—essentially, to be refreshed as we refresh.
3) A Worship Sound
For the greater part of our history in modern worship in many countries, creativity meant simply translating the top 40 most played worship songs in the States | Canada | The UK for the congregation. Worship writing was going on, but the quality in many ways was noticeably below what it was in the global community. This was particularly evident in many countries in Europe; when songs were translated, they often lost some of their meaning. What we’re seeing in recent years is a desire within the church in Europe and around the world to find their own sound; it’s not simply copying something else, but asking the deeper questions of who are we and what is the heart of God in and through us? This is a profound shift, and it’s so exciting to see really amazing worship coming from that place. When we release projects overseas, like we plan to do early this next year with the French EP, we release projects that have been designed specifically for the country we’re releasing them, as opposed to a carbon copy of an English release. The songs take a lot longer, but it’s worth it: the goal is to vision cast for emerging worship artists around the world, affirming the value of their creativity, and recognizing that we can write and create specifically for their nation. It’s incredible seeing hearts waking to the Giver of life, as they see God’s heart for their nation.
I’m always so thankful for the time we get to spend with close friends and family in Europe. 2015 looks to be continuing in this journey, with much of our November|December spent with our friends in England, France, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, and Switzerland. To all of you who write in these countries and so many others around the world: I want you to know that the world needs your music. What you have to offer is unique and different from America or any other country, and you creating it will change the world. I’m reminded of visions in Scripture where the nations are represented, and it’s not each group losing its identity; rather it’s all about each tribe, each tongue, each nation, waking to the Lord and expressing their creative sound to Him.
Keep seeking the Lord for this sound, and keep releasing it to the world.
WelcomeBrian Campbell Music is the worshiping community led by worship artist Brian Campbell. We create music, experiences, training seminars, projects, and events that celebrate the exchange of God meeting with and changing His people. Our hope is that you simply meet with Jesus through this journey.
We’ve all heard (and continue to play back in our heads) the song “Shake It Off.” It’s one of the catchiest pop-songs I’ve heard in a while, and mad props to that baritone sax riff that has tunneled into my brain. Hater or not, it’s a great song.
As much as I love worship music and am very much a worship songwriter, I’m not a huge message guy when it comes to pop music. I’m not looking for it when I listen, I’m much more in tune with the production elements or the chord progression. But the message of this song has dropped a bomb in middle of pop-culture that is shaking things up to the core.
How, you ask? She’s communicating a simple truth that is literally the elixir to our greatest problem as a culture at this moment:
We are offended, offending, overly sensitive, and overly aggravated people and become exponentially moreso in recent decades. Just stand in line at the BMV or post office, and you’ll literally feel the offense the average person carries. I’ve written about it before, but I believe our success in dealing with our issues of entitlement as a people will either propel us into the next season of world history or destroy us as a nation. We need to get this under control, and it runs rampant in our communities, our families, and our relationships. And the primary fruit of entitlement is—you guessed it—offense.
Whether it be because we care so much about what other people think about us or because we feel we’re deserving of the best spot in line, the nicest seat in the restaurant, the undivided attention of the service worker we’re talking to, offense easily creeps into our lives. It actually reveals our own arrogance, that we believe we’re at the center of our own universe and everything else must cater.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re arrogant, entitled people in desperate need of redemption. In the space between our arrogance and true humility, we need a path to forgive and to let go in the meantime.
SHAKE. IT. OFF.
Shake it off.
This simple statement means more to your life and well-being, your joy, your contentedness in life than most. It’s a reboot of your mind, and it’s actually founded in the core of a renewed mind by Christ. Shake. It. Off.
Letting go of our offenses and our qualms is tough, but it’s simple. When we let go, we in a very small way begin to forgive. Every time you forgive you spit in the face of your own pride. Every time you let go you force entitlement a step back. We need this, and we need to learn this to get out of our own tunnel visions and back to a place where we are actually doing something in the world, where Jesus is being shown to people and not just talked about.
I’m probably crazy for writing this, but I think this simple statement is doing more to our hearts and minds in freeing us from the grips of our biggest barriers to belief than most sermons or teachings. Let go, forgive, and move on.
As we enter one of the most stressful seasons for most, where Christ is often forgotten until Dec. 24, choose to surrender, to let go, to shake it off, and to move on to the real things that you’re called to do. Choose forgiveness in those relationships around you instead of holding on to petty offenses. You’ll be so glad you did.
In the meantime, don’t you for a second feel bad about blasting that pop-y goodness from your blown out speakers in your car. Swift-on-repeat.
Want to partner? Go to www.briancampbellmusic.com/give to find out more.
Thanks for your prayers and for supporting us through the last few years of ministry! In 2012, we started asking churches a simple question: how can we work together? The answer to that question has taken us around the world, and the BC Music team is actively doing events in Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South America in 2015. I’ve personally been blown away by the desire churches have for equipping their teams and communities in the areas of worship and creativity. The last 3 years have seen this ministry grow to a full-time global effort, with an impact of over 300 communities and 100,000 hearts waking to the Giver of life: Jesus!
As we prepare to leave for our conference schedule in Europe this November, I’m reminded of how faithful God is in every season and situation. We’ve seen incredible breakthrough this year, more than we’ve ever experienced as a team in areas from personal growth to regional spiritual breakthrough; I’ve also experienced some of the most intense spiritual battles in this past year. Simple lessons like trust and faithfulness, leadership and hope have been the battleground areas for us in this season. Through it all, it seems God is bringing us as a family, as a team, and as a ministry to a simple truth: He’s concerned with who we are becoming more than what we’re doing. The most gracious part is that He chooses to continue to use us as broken and imperfect vessels covered in His grace as He makes us new.
The reason we’re writing you this update is to let you know about an exciting new season we’re entering into as a family and a ministry: this year, I’ve begun working with an organization called The Church Collective (www.thechurchcollective.com), a community designed to equip and empower worship leaders and creatives around the world through training and teaching. The more we’ve worked together this past year, the more it’s become clear that partnering with this incredible organization is something we feel being led into. I’m happy to announce that I’ve come on with The Church Collective as their first artist ambassador!
What does that exactly mean? It means I’ll be working as a missionary through The Church Collective, organizing worship conferences around the world and in partnership with local churches—very similar to what we’ve been doing! The difference is this: this new role allows us as a family to raise missionary support and to be covered by a wonderful organization in The Church Collective. For the past few years, a large part of our family’s support has come from a salary from BC Music based on touring. While God has provided in amazing ways since 2012, this move to a support system allows me personally to focus on our community through BC Music and on the equipping and training end of what we do. We’ve put thousands of dollars of the BC Music team’s resources to missionary projects in the past few years, and because of your continued support and God’s grace, things are self-sustaining in terms of our road ministry. Your support allows us to begin to support our family and our growing ministry efforts in The Church Collective.
What are we looking to do? In terms of support, we’re looking to raise my salary for 2015 of $30,000. Some of you may be looking at that number and thinking that’s a lot to raise! Some of you may be thinking that’s not a lot for a family to live from! The reality is that this is all that we need for the next year to continue in this new ministry effort based on what God has already provided us with. Your gift of support goes towards our cost of traveling to these events and to supporting our family as we engage full-time in this ministry. This salary will free us up to do more of this ministry together, as a family, and to have greater impact from the overflow of what God is doing.
I’m asking you and your family to consider coming on as a monthly or seasonal partner with us through The Church Collective. You can also partner with us through continued prayer support of this ministry. Many of you have been general financial givers in the past, and I’d like to personally invite you to join us again as your gift is now tax deductible.
If you choose to join us as a financial partner, please send the included envelope along with the bottom portion of this update to:
The Church Collective
PO Box 576263
Modesto, CA 95357-6263
Please include BRIAN CAMPBELL MUSIC on the memo line of any checks you send.
You can also give by going to www.briancampbellmusic.com/give and your donation will be tax deductible as an ambassador of The Church Collective.
I’m so honored that you would consider joining us in this exciting new season. Your support is allowing us to continue this exciting journey of seeing lives changed by Christ around the world through worship.
Thanks again and the very best to you from the Campbell Family!
I. LOVE. Thanksgiving. More than any other holiday, I think it is one of the greatest contributions we make as a country to global community: take time to be thankful. That’s a huge statement in a world where entitlement reigns supreme for many and where we are often focused on what we do not have rather than on what we do. Setting aside the time to take inventory of life and what we’ve received I believe is central in reminding our hearts of the goodness of God. And we do it! It’s one of those things I’m truly proud of about America.
This year, as our team has spent much of November outside of the US, we’ve seen Christmas decorations since the beginning of the month. And quite honestly, I have no problem with starting Christmas early in practice: it’s another great season to enjoy and to celebrate. But in principle, for those of us who live in Thanksgiving-keeping countries, I am adamantly for training my heart to practice thanksgiving in this time of year—even if it means cutting in to the Christmas season.
Why is thankfulness so important? A good follow-up question could also be: Why am I talking about thankfulness on a worship blog? For many of us, thankfulness, like our happiness, is an optional afterthought to our life’s activities based on the outcomes of circumstances. It’s easy to look at our circumstances and focus on the disheartening things we’ve seen or the difficult things we’ve experienced. Our minds are actually drawn to those things unless we train ourselves otherwise. The difference in thankfulness, however, is that unlike happiness, which is an almost immediate emotion, thankfulness tends to be a response to cumulative experiences—it very much is a moment to see the big picture of things. More than an emotion, thankfulness is often a discipline, which in turn evokes emotions consistent with it: if you choose to be thankful, you will ultimately be very happy.
Thankfulness is particularly important to us as Americans: in a time of uncertainty and doubt, it’s easy to forget what we have been given individually and corporately. The idea of the American Dream has developed and changed over time, but in the last 15-20 years has taken a very powerful turn: instead of simply being the idea that you could make something of yourself with hard work, it has become a list of goods and ideals that we feel we are entitled to, regardless of our work or circumstances—in a word, entitlement. The perversion of the American dream is a simple and tragic one: somehow along the way, we’ve taken things that we never even knew we wanted and made them needs. At first glance, it doesn’t seem so bad, but at a closer look, we find that this sort of entitlement steals joy, peace, and ultimately, the life that God intended us to live, one of humility and thankfulness.
This is why I’m writing about thankfulness on a worship blog. Thankfulness is essential to worship, because it takes us out of the center seat of honor and back to the place where we’re looking to the One who is truly worthy: Jesus. When I come to a worship service with an attitude of entitlement, I am trying to connect with a God that I am fundamentally disconnected from in my attitude; I’m expecting the God who gave His everything for me to prove to me that He’s worthy of my worship instead of realizing the incredible gift He has given to me in making me a son rather than an enemy. I forget that the things I have been given are things I actually don’t deserve, and in that I expect others to give me more to maintain my joy and happiness. This sort of arrogance kills worship—or rather, it is one of the highest forms of worship of self. It’s a place where God is not invited.
Thankfulness, on the other hand, reminds our hearts of all we have received, not because we deserve it, but rather because God has graciously given it. Thankfulness shifts my heart and mind to remember and actually puts me in a position to receive more: if I am not thankful, no gift will ever be enough to satisfy; if I am thankful, even the smallest form of grace can inspire me to worship.
In the past 3 years, I’ve led over 500 worship events. The greatest indicator of an incredible night together in the Lord consistently is and remains thankfulness. Show me a people who are thankful and we will together see a great and gracious God moving among them in intimacy and power. Show me a people entitled, and we will have a night of some fun songs and good stories. The difference is people inspired to worship in their thankfulness.
As we head into one of the best weekends of our year, choose to take the time to turn from entitlement towards thankfulness. Allow Jesus to remind you again what He has done for you, even allow Him to remind you of the places He has taken you from and carried you to.
Monday night’s event, with a group called IMPACT that meets in Southampton weekly for training and worship, was in Central Hall. It was a culmination of weekend of growing into an incredible community in the south of England: Monday’s event saw friends we had seen through the entire weekend in places like Lee, Portsmouth, Gosport, as well at Southampton. More than just another event, the Monday night sealed a time growing together with a group of people who are passionate about seeking the Lord in and out of season.
The way the Monday night event came about was in itself a bit of providence: it came up as a possibility in a conversation on Friday, but as a small one, as it is not something that would typically be an event for outside groups: IMPACT represents over 15 area churches coming together, and their worship team is amazing. To be asked to come in itself was a huge honor, and for us to actually be invited to lead there on Monday was a testament to the work God was doing in us and in the community around Southampton. Central Hall is the largest Christian gathering center in the region, and its history is one of revival and awakening: started by two evangelists earlier in this century, it was the place where Delirious was born in the early 90s; the song “What a Friend I’ve Found” was actually written right behind this stage moments before it was led for the first time. Tonight, Phil Wickham and Rend Collective will be playing there. Somewhere in the middle, we stand, leading people in worship of a wonderful and gracious God.
In so many ways, I’m blown away by God’s compassion and grace in this season of life: often, I think God saves us from ourselves, from our own misplaced dreams and desires, making something new and good in the midst of our own futile attempts at saving the world… I think all that God desires from us is to know Him, to see Him face to face, and simply do exactly what He tells us to as He takes care of the rest. To simply adore, to simply love, and to simply obey are the elements of a life immersed in Christ.
Jesus, Friend forever
So honored, so humbled, and so thankful for the time here in southern England. As this final week of the #oneworthitall Europe tour 2014 begins today in Bristol, I’m grateful for all I’ve learned here.
If you’re a regular attender at a church, you’ve likely heard the song that makes you cringe in a worship time; maybe there is a lyric in it that just doesn’t sit right in your heart, or you seem you can’t quite find the way to sing it truthfully after weeks of trying. Maybe there was a project you’ve seen released that made you question something in its title or its purpose. Sometimes these questions are good for are hearts, helping us struggle through areas where our lives need to change and our understanding of God needs to grow. But sometimes there is something in it that is, simply put, wrong—in our understanding of God or our understanding of worship.
Good “theology” does not necessarily mean you’ll make incredible worship content. I know many churches, people, and ministries that have all the right things on paper and still miss the mark when it comes to solid worshipful creativity. But good worship always come out of solid theology—an understanding of who God is, of His purpose and plan for the world, and of who He has declared us to be in Him. The fact is this: our understanding of God is essential to creating worshipful music and art.
There is a definitively prophetic element in every songwriter: this forth-telling (sharing and illuminating what God has already done) is really at the heart of worshipful creativity. In fact, that’s actually what we do as songwriters and creatives: we share insight into something that already is in the world, but in a different light. That’s by no means the only element of creativity, but it’s the one I’d like to focus on today: as a worship songwriter, you can’t escape the simple truth that you are creatively expressing a truth that’s already been told (most notably in Jesus) and that is by its very nature prophetic (Revelation 19:10).
What I think many songwriters struggle with is exactly how to merge creativity and truth in a way that is both accurate and relevant. We want to share something that is timely in its delivery. We want to share something that is eternal in its significance. How do we do this?
I see a couple of pitfalls many of us have inevitably fallen in to as members of the creative church: first, some of us have pursued creativity as an end in itself: we’ve seen the vehicle of the song as the end for all purpose and encounter with the God of the universe where lives will be changed. We forget that there is one Giver of life and that He is the one who is using our songs to change lives. There is incredible power in music—but music and creativity ultimately point us to a person—Jesus—and inspire us to walk in relationship with Him. That’s the end of worship music: to inspire us to live as changed people.
A second pitfall I see is that we’ve neglected excellence in creativity in the church. We’ve said since God is the focus at the end anyway, creativity doesn’t matter and our songs are just covered by God’s grace and the heart of the creator is all that matters. This is a lie and a tragic waste of God-given skills. If we as creatives fail to pursue excellence in our craft, we will leave observers, worshipers, and disciples stagnating in their spiritual conditions. If we choose to neglect our own development of our craft, it shows our communities that mediocrity is acceptable to God: in our moral conditions, in our work ethics, and in our discipleship.
A final pitfall is that we’ve seen creativity and music as tools to merely enhance other gifts. I read an article by a south-African pastor a few weeks ago that essentially said that worship music existed in the church to support the pastor’s sermon. If this is the end of our creative efforts, we will lead cultures that are progressively less inspired and increasingly stifled in terms of our imagination and vision—essential elements of Godly living. Pastors: I challenge you to shepherd cultures in your churches where people are encouraged to imagine the greatness of God. Inspired individuals will create beautiful, life-changing, and world-changing art in your community when you encourage imagination with focus. Christian meditation is the simple discipline of focusing on the God of the universe and letting our minds rest on His aspects. Encourage your people to meditate on a big God.
As songwriters, artists, poets, and other creatives, our crafts are uniquely tied to truth. We have a subject that inspires us to create, and then we creatively express that subject as it has affected us (or how we imagine it affecting someone else). If the subject is gone, what we are left with is an ever-decreasing body of content that centers on our own personal experience. It’s a nebulous pit when we make ourselves the center of creativity.
Not so when God is at the center. We find inspiration in the person of God, in our experience with Him, in light of how things could be, in light of how things are intended to be. We become increasingly inspired people. We actually sing back to God the truth of His heart in worship—literally forth-telling. This is why theology is so critical to our expression of worship: if we fail to know God for who He is and what He has done, we create from a place where our inspiration is lacking. How much worse when we create from bad theology! When our inspiration is skewed through misunderstandings of God or through our lack of scriptural knowledge, we can actually be inspired by things contradictory to who God is. Hence that off feeling when you hear those certain words in an otherwise great song.
Songwriters: our theology matters. Creatives: your understanding of God as laid out in scripture will be the wellspring of creativity, and your degree of tapping in to this will determine your effectiveness as a worship artist. Drink deeply of the truth of God. Know Him personally and let His song rise up in you.
Let’s be artists who create not merely from our own abilities but from the inspiration of the Giver of creativity as He leads us every single step.
Since my first time to France in 2007, I’ve fallen more and more in love with this nation every time we’ve returned: the cities, the people, the vibrancy of life all point to a culture and a world very much alive. The tenor of ministry in Europe has for the last decade been that this is a people and a nation very much lost in spiritual darkness; people lost in either the fog of existentialism or in dead religious systems.
I would say that this has begun to change.
There has always been a heaviness for me when I’d come to Europe through the early 2000s. It was like you could almost touch the spiritual heaviness and oppression, and you could feel it in the people you talked to. I came to recognize it and expect it with our ministry in Europe. But I remember getting of the plane in Munich in 2012 and feeling a space I had never felt before in the spiritual; it was almost as if a weight had been lifted off of the entire continent and a new season was beginning. I wrote about it in updates during that time, that I felt that something unique and new was starting. It wasn’t a massive awakening of people, but it was definitely a taking away of all the distractions so that a coming awakening could be possible—where people would have the freedom to choose Christ.
Two years later, I’m convinced more than ever that the season is being prepared for awakening for the people of Europe—and specifically France. We have for years as a nation in America been vitally connected to this wonderful country. For better or worse, we’ve often carried the flag of freedom and liberty through varying seasons of worldwide change and upheaval. Now more than ever, I believe France and America are being brought into a season of collaboration and partnership in the Kingdom through the people of God. There are things going on here in France that the global church needs. There are things in America going on that we need to work together with the church in France to see manifested in fullness. Simply, we need each other.
The feeling as I leave France after a full week of ministry is that I can’t wait to come back, to see more of what this adventure holds, and to see hearts continue to wake here—in this amazing country—to the Giver of life.
Thank you, France. May you be ever waking to your destiny in Jesus.
Of all the things I see happening in worshiping communities around the world, few things encourage me more than the mass move of churches around the world towards songwriting for their communities. There is something unique and beautiful and good in a group of people honestly and creatively expressing what God is doing through and among them, and it’s nothing short of thrilling to see communities catch that vision.
Many, however, struggle with taking the next steps into a studio project. The wheels often come off when they start to ask the question of where do I begin? Artists and bands struggle with much of the same: many a band has entered a studio having paid hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars for a day’s time and leave with very little because of a simple fact: pre-production is often overlooked—and it matters. A producer can’t and shouldn’t write your songs for you the day you enter a studio. As an artist (and if your church team is entering the studio together, you are the artist), it’s your responsibility to be the creative energy behind a project: that is much more about the way you communicate your ideas than the volume of those ideas. If you think a project is just going to happen as a result of you being in the studio, it likely will happen in some form, but it will be much more costly and much less worthwhile than had you taken the time to plan out things ahead of time.
And so we arrive at pre-production :)
When we are talking about pre-production for a song, we are talking about the foundational elements that make that song unique. But we’re also talking about the elements that make that song a song—BPMs, chord structures, builds, crashes, breakdowns, should all be included here. When you do pre-production well, you have a map of a song that (a) you can record to in the studio with a similar vibe and energy to the finished song, (b) will allow your team and musicians to practice to before everyone hits the studio, and a song that (c) will allow your engineer to hit the ground running and maximize your precious studio time. Choose to make pre-production a priority and you’ll have much more time to creatively explore the songs in a studio space; fail to make pre-production a priority and you’ll be paying $1000 a day for songwriting.
As an artist going into the studio, there are many ways you can best utilize your pre-production time and energy so that you can hit the ground running. Here are a couple things to consider adding into your creative flow:
1) Create a creative flow. Find a method that works for you to bring your song ideas consistently to recorded works. Put parameters in place to gauge the value of a song to you as an artist and filters to sift through finished songs before they go into the studio. This is foundational, and if you don’t have it, you’ll be in that time and energy wasting space.
2) Build a demo. For me, I make a demo of every song I write in a co-write as a reference in terms of meter, structure, strum patterns, and general energy. You can make a rough demo with the voice recorder on your smartphone—and you should. If you have access to a studio or recording facilities, add in that drum beat or that synth lead that makes the song. Many times the demos are actually what you use to build the track when you go into the studio. We’ve used demos as the foundation for studio tracks built the first day in a co-write.
3) Cast the vision. Pre-production should cast a vision for what you’d like the song to be. Is there a breakdown in the song where everything drops out except for the vocals? Is there a building section that empties in to a full chorus? Build these into your pre-productions of the songs and then build the instruments around them. Your artistic vision can be shown in post-production choices, but it’s the pre-production choices that give them the parameters to work from. Spending the time doing this first step well gives you so much more time for the often more enjoyable parts of song creating.
4) Get a producer. Producers don’t just sit back and “watch the magic happen.” These are guys who are experienced in creating projects and will help you through the process flow in a way where you best utilize your time, energy, and resources. A good producer is worth much more than what they ask because they’re the one championing your project and helping you navigate the details in the studio you simply cannot do well as the artist.
In either case, pre-production will dramatically improve your studio experience. You’ll find the studio being much more of what you’ve always dreamed it could be.
We met these incredible people this summer at #sonshinefest, and on our way back from South Dakota we stopped by for one of the most unexpectedly wonderful nights of the tour. Underneath a church in Menomonie, WI resides #blindmunchies, a coffee house with those #americanpicker sort of signs everywhere. Tom and Becky run the place, and their heart is for college students at the university in town. We were absolutely floored by the turnout and the participation: what we thought would be a chill worship night with 15 or 20 turned into a full on worship singalong with almost 100 that packed the place out.
Finishing up the American tour this week, I’m reminded of those unexpected moments that go so far beyond your expectations. I’ve learned on this 6 week journey through America to enjoy the ride more than I have ever done before. I’ve become more thankful for surprises—good and bad—learning to simply receive them as part of the adventure and value them for what they are.
Again, it all comes down to character I guess… God doing something in us that is good and makes us more at ease in His love for us and our love for both Him and others. Grateful for wonderful nights like this Monday in Menomonie that restore my soul.
#worshipis #mondayfunday #oneworthitall
In Lindstrom, MN tonight at a church we were at this summer following #sonshinefest. Weekends like these are some of my favorite: 2 solid days with a church and the team where we talk worship, life, and ministry. These usually finish off with a night of worship.
In planning our sets, I think many of us as worship leaders can easily handle a 3 or 5 song set: opener. 3-song set [2 up, 1 down]. offering. closing response. Easy.
But I think we often struggle to communicate worship well on a “worship Sunday,” where music is the main element of content in this special service. We get glimpses at holidays and the like, but it really comes out when our pastors ask us to lead a full service. Maybe you’ve even wanted to do that, and your church leadership has said yes, and now you’re planning for it, and you’re feeling overwhelmed. There are definitely elements that make it a unique animal in itself.
To encourage you, you’re not alone; for us as a team, this area of “special service” is the world that we live in. There are a ton of ways you can go with it, but I think there are some core ideas that may help in planning these special services:
1) Think stations, experiences, and environments. Much like a sermon or a teaching should be designed to engage people in different ways and with regard to different learning styles, 45-60 minutes of music should be dynamic. Think if you have a message where someone preaches at monotone voice from notes for an hour: they’ve lost half their audience in the first 7 minute and will lose another 40 % in the next 5 according to the experts. It’s the same with music to a strong degree: if you play the same thing for 30 minutes, people are not going to be engaged, and as a worship leader, your primary responsibility to the people is to provide an environment where engagement happens, where we individually and corporately can connect with God and be changed. Instead of thinking of an hour of music I have to fill, ask: how can I create experiences and environments where people can uniquely connect with God—both individually and corporately—through the elements of a service? Liturgy helps here. Look at different liturgies and maybe create unique experiences in light of them.
2) Be open to other ways if communicating worship. Adding scripture reading, a testimony, a story, a video, a different leader for a song, can really help to “reset” the attention of people as you’re going through your service. On extended Sundays, these can help provide a buffer between times, transition from praise or higher energy moments to worshipful or more reflective moments—or back.
3) Ask yourself: what am I trying to communicate? I believe that the Holy Spirit will often use things even when we haven’t planned for them. But I also believe that a chief way the Holy Spirit works in many of our services is through our prayerful planning. Take the time to seek The Lord on his purpose for this special service; catch the vision and communicate it through well thought out and executed creative elements.
One final thought: on these special Sundays, we are essentially doing mini worship services back to back. Look at each on as part of the greater whole, but don’t feel like you have to communicate everything in each of these mini-services. Maybe it’s taking a larger point (God Loves You) and defining it through the elements (1. God is holy and merciful. 2. Forgiveness is found in Jesus 3. Jesus gave it all so you could live. 4. We have full access to a loving God)
These special services can really be defining moments for your community, and it’s worth the time you invest in planning and preparation. Bring team members into the process with you, and have fun with it!
#worshipsets #worshipsunday #worshipsethowto