I shared a couple of days ago on our HHICC blog about changes in my ministry life. Honestly, the last two years have been an intense time of soul-searching, frustration, reflection, and wondering, "What is up with me?"
I took a sabbatical in January 2013 fully expecting that at the end of that 5 weeks that God was going to release me from worship ministry. I was exhausted, depleted, felt old and tired, not effective...fill in the blank. To my surprise, he didn't release me. Instead, he "tweaked" my calling in a way that gave me a renewed passion. He showed me how much I love process. He showed me how much I love every aspect of the worship experience on Sundays from video to lighting to music to the high schooler playing guitar to the message to the temperature of our room to the social media and web presence that brought people there for the first time. I had no idea how passionate I was about all that until that time. I have always led that effort for our team out of necessity but I had no idea how much that was "my thing."
I had the privilege of coordinating the IF: LOCAL Gathering at our church in February and had scheduled a different team from our ministry to lead on Sunday since I knew I would be pretty exhausted. The IF: Gathering was a life-changing experience for me. That Sunday, as I worshipped NEXT to my husband (yeah, that never happens) in the congregation, I truly sensed the Holy Spirit saying, "You don't have to be up there every week anymore." I felt such a release from that part of my ministry immediately. Not because I initiated it. Because God said I was done.
I shared this with Todd and he has been so supportive about what God has been doing in my life in this area. For us personally, with the "unique" relationship we have as husband and wife and Lead Pastor and Worship Leader, he has seen how God has brought new people into our team to make this change a possibility. I'm not a clique person, but this has been so true. "God does not guide where He does not provide."
I am re-tooling. For many of our church family, they may not even notice a significant change. But for me, it is completely different in the way I am organizing my life, my time, my responsibilities, and my focus. I start in a couple of weeks leading a mentoring group of worship leaders in our church from age 16 to well...I will be sharing a lot of what we talk about here at cheval glass.
Philippians 1:6 says ,"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (ESV) So here's to the "new" good work ahead and learning how to use these different tools in my toolbox.
I'm not an "event" person. Frankly, because I have been a part of the behind-the-scenes of putting on events for more years than I can count, I'm kind of a cynic. There is so much work involved and a lot of people don't want to commit the time to do what it takes to do an event with excellence. Right out of the gate, the prep of doing the IF:Gathering was VERY enticing to me. Not too much prep...Graphics and slides pre-made...(great looking stuff!) Event materials...pre-done.
Our team went into the weekend with NO one worn out or over worked. We were able to all play to our strengths with not a lot on one person. The communication from IF:Gathering BEFORE the event was outstanding. The Tumblr page, the FB page...all of it. The forums to ask questions...awesome.
So for this cynic, I already started ahead of where I usually am with events. A lot of prayer went into the tech because of the internet thing - we did everything we could on our end, and thank God, it worked great. So then, I got to be a part of the event...
I showed up at this event very desperate. 2014 was not the greatest year for me personally or my family. I showed up very empty and really had no idea what to expect from this experience. I've been a Christ-follower for many years, but I was showing up pretty tired, hurt, hopeless about certain things in my life, wondering if I REALLY was going to be able to make it...seriously make it...
From the first sessions, I realized that this was NOT like any event I had ever been a part of before. It was not about personalties, it was well done but not slick, it was honest and transparent, and it was not pulling any punches. They didn't waste my time. They got right to it (thank you for that.)
As Friday night and Saturday unfolded, there was a peace that overwhelmed me in my spirit that I cannot explain other than "God is real, He loves me, and I can trust Him" being presented by women that actually believed that. I appreciated the realness and the respect that each presenter had for us as women. We needed time to process, to worship God freely through music, to talk with each other, to confess, to just be...they gave us plenty of time for ALL of that. My soul needed that desperately.
There wasn't one thing about the IF:Gathering...one presenter...one element. It was the whole thing that filled me with a freshness and awakening that I needed in every area of my life. I left the weekend experience with specific things that I need to deal with in my life. I left with specific areas that I know I need to trust God. I left with new friendships that would never have happened without that experience. I left knowing and feeling God's love me and that he has not abandoned me. I am embarrassed to say I thought that in some areas of my life.
It wasn't an event...it was move of God through the best use of technology I have ever seen. To do something in one place and create it in such a way that a room of 25 women over 1100 miles away felt connected and a part of something greater? To still have the elements of what is happening in our room, in our church, and in our community as much a part of the experience?
To give women the opportunity to face whether we believe God is real and if He is, can we trust Him? If we trust Him, what are we gonna do in our lives to life that out? A clear message yet so much room for God to work individually in the hearts and minds of women. That is next step. I CANNOT wait to see what God does in my life and the lives of HHICC women as a result of the movement of the IF:Gathering...get ready.
The verses that keep coming to mind as we walk this unbelieveable path of faith are ones that confirm God's promises to to provide.
"Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this." - Psalm 37:5 (NIV)
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart...in all your ways acknowledge Him and HE will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5 a,6 (NIV)
My faith as a Christ-follower has increased in ways I have never experienced. I truly believe God is guiding and leading in ways that only HE can make a way. It will not be in any human strength. His power alone...and this is a GREAT place to be!
This was my third time attending Unleash and in my opinion, it was the best! I was able to take my WAM Staff with me and we had an unbelieveable 48 hours together - dreaming, sharing, and getting to know one another. Here were some highlights:
Five things to get our vision right - Perry Noble - from Matthew 25
1. We must make Jesus the END GOAL of all that we do.
2. We must be more concerned with the outsider than the insider.
My favorite statement of the day...
"We must not organize ourselves around the preferences of the already convinced."
3. We must help people establish a new identity.
4. We must be patient with people.
5. We must make it our mission to proclaim freedom in Jesus Christ.
1 Samuel 14 - Every leader faces fear - Perry Noble
I loved this story of Jonathan and his armor bearer from 1 Sam 14:1-23. Go read it here. Perry started with John 14:12 and Christ's promise that we would do "greater things." He gave three stages of a leader being able to do greater things:
1.Preparation - vv. 1-4 -God has not called us to play it safe.
2. "Perhaps" - v.6- Perry said that everytime he reads the Bible, he sees that it is perfectly normal to not know what happens next. As Jonathan said, "Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf..."
3. Partnershp - v.7 -You can always submit to godly authority and trust God for the outcome. As Jonathan's armor bearer said "Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul."
Shane Duffey - Creative Arts Pastor - In his breakout session, I love what he said about creativity...
"We must be committed to process and product but married to the vision."
The worship was terrific...Lee and the team led with such authenticity and energy. I was so encouraged! It is such a treat to be led in worship. I just took it all in!
Thanks to ALL the team at NewSpring for their fabulous volunteers and a great day of encouragement!
I'm reading "Teaching Kids Authentic Worship" by Kathleen Chapman and I couldn't wait to do a book review on this. There are WAY too many nuggets as I am reading that I have to share!
She talks in the first couple of chapters about how the post modern world is "indoctrinating our children into believing everything is about them." As a parent, I confess that there are times that I contribute to this problem. In my attempt as a parent to "connect" to my children with their unique personalities and passions, I go overboard at times. It's very important to be in tune with our kids, but at the same time, we have to help them understand that the entire world does not revolve around their happiness, life being fair, or getting everything they desire.
In context to worship, we have to teach our kids that worship is about God and not about them. "Worship is one-directional. Worship is focusing on God and giving all glory to Him only, alone, singulary, totally - just Him," she writes. Even as an adult, there are time that I forget that when I worship, I am focusing my heart and mind on God and Him alone...not what I need or want...just Him. To really teach our kids to worship God, it has to start with them understanding it is not about them.
Kathleen quotes Ken Hughes, Senior Pastor at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois saying...
"The unspoken but increasingly common assumption of today's Christendom is that worship is primarily for us - to meet our needs. Such worship services are entertainment-focused, and the worshipers are uncommitted spectators who silently grade the performance...Taken to the nth degree,this instills a tragic self-centerdness."
Wow. That hit me. How many times do we do this? We rate our corporate worship experience on how much WE liked the worship leader, the song choices, the message...the stuff. Our kids are listening and learning what worship is by the way we talk about it. Are we teaching them that we worship because worship is really about them? or about God?
More to come...
I read this recent article in Parade. Here is the main paragraph that stuck out to me...
"As a concrete measure of religious commitment, nothing beats counting how many bodies show up
to worship every week. So how often do Americans attend religious services? Thirty percent said
they attend once or more in a given week. But keep in mind that academic researchers who actually
count the number of participants believe that only up to one-half of those who claim to be in their
houses of worship are actually there.
Twenty percent of respondents said they go to services anywhere from once a month to a few times a year. Combine them with the 50% who rarely or never attend, and an interesting contrast appears. Although 45% of respondents considered themselves religious, 70% of them said they participate in organized religion sporadically or not at all. That means one-third of the people who identified themselves as religious were only minimally connected to traditional worship. "
Let me get this straight...70 percent attend church at maybe Easter, Christmas, or not at all. Let me catch my breath.
Here are some questions for you to ponder. Do I invite my friends to church? Do I feel my church offers something for my unchurched friends that would be worth their time? Do I consider regular church attendance (2-4 times per month) a vital part of my spiritual journey? If I knew that NO ONE would ever ask or care if I went to church, would I keep going? What keeps me from going to church every week?
I would love to hear your comments. As a church leader, if I am creating a worship experience that is not engaging, not relevant to unchurched people, not encouraging you in your spiritual journey, and frankly just a waste of your time, please tell me. I would really like to know.
Todd (my hubby) and I have finished the first five (of many more, I'm sure) weeks of planning services together. I am happy to report we are still married and we still like each other :) Honestly, it has gone very well making this move to live teaching...better than I thought. Todd and Pastor Jeff work on their messages together and then share the same outline. The service planning has been fun for me to see this side of my husband and the inner "creative" coming out of him. Emily, our Worship Arts Intern, has done at great job of choosing worship songs for our services and creatively contributing to the team with other elements. She is taking the reins on her own for a couple of Sundays coming up here soon. We had a new bass player, Sam, start with us this week (he is also our viola player) Not bad for a kid! (he's in high school) His good friend, Rob, is our cellist, so I just told them to work out the rotation (cello one week--bass guitar one week) and let me know. I think they liked that :) It was cool to see Rob sitting in the congregation this week just worshiping and cheering on Sam. I am so blown away at the community that we have on our team with each other. Bryan, one of our audio guys, made a GREAT call in between the services on a stage volume issue we were having. Man, it made a huge difference! I love the ownership that our team takes with executing services. I love it that they want it to be THE BEST it can be for God. I feel really blessed to be where I am. Here was our setlist:
"Trading My Sorrows"
"All Because of Jesus" - Fee
Desert Song - Hillsongs
"Still" - Hillsongs
"Your Name" - Baloche
Our Time of Response was really worshipful...people REALLY sang out on "Your Name." It has kind of become the culture here that people just stand or sit on their own during the response time to sing. As a worship leader, it is SO meaningful to just lead people and not tell them that they should stand now, sit now, do this, do that. Our people have really learned to respond during that time as they feel led. The whole room doesn't stand every week... it's a personal response and I love that and will always encourage that. BTW, I took my ears out to listen to them sing...yeah, I just about lost it. It was such a great day.
Look for some upcoming posts about what I think are THE MOST Important tools you need as a Worship Arts Leader in church planting.
I was so struck today by Acts 13. Hear are verses 1-3. "Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”"Go to" Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas[b]), and Saul. 2
One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy
Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which
I have called them.” 3 So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way."
They were already fasting and praying. You can read on and see that they were going to a TOUGH place to minister. This required MORE fasting and praying. Are we doing that in the face of churches declining at an alarming rate? Are we doing MORE fasting and praying or are we coming up with a "new strategy" in our staff meetings? I am all for "If you are riding a dead horse, dismount." However, the Holy Spirit told them to fast and pray more for the challenge ahead. This hit me square between the eyes. This is what I need to be doing for the challenges ahead...more fasting and praying...and less planning.
What do you think?