I never imagined when I decided in the Fall of 2009 to do a Christmas concert with some desserts that it would become an annual event on Hilton Head Island. I had only lived here for a couple of years and had just started to meet some musicians and thought, "Hey, this could be fun! Let's perform some great Christmas classics and have some dessert for an hour!" The response the first year was overwhelming and has been every year. Every show has been different but the core of the team of artists that began together to do this show has remained unchanged. That blows we away!
We sold out of both shows a week before the event this year. First time ever. The work it takes for this team of artists to gather together each year to make this happen is amazing. None of us have time to do this show. We try to fit rehearsals in as best we can but really don't have enough time to work everything out...yet, somehow, we pull it together at the show! Everyone does what they have to do to make this a part of their year each year. I am so grateful for the artists who give so much, who enjoy the process almost more than the product, and for the relationships that have developed and been brought back together again...because of a little, simple, Christmas concert.
Now in its 7th year, we have an entire team of event directors, dessert coordinators, cookie and dessert bakers, and an ARMY of adult and student volunteers who serve at the concerts each year. I am so thankful for this team and how they come together once a year to create such a magical night for our Islanders and their families.
We have had Buddy the Elf (really!), ballet, "Grandma Getting Run over by Reindeer", and "Carol of the Bells "(like no other) to name a few elements. I am so excited about Sunday night because of what it has represented through the years AND the new artists that have joined this event this year...some of our school music teachers and professionals singers on the Island.
Never underestimate the power of a musical community coming together to be a part of something greater than anything they could ever do on their own. I know I never will. Here's an audio sample of some great performances through the years...
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.
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!
...and I've found a new team mate! We hired Eric Abney today to join my Worship Arts Staff @ LCC. Eric currently lives in Kennesaw, GA (my old hometown) and has served as a Worship Leader at Eagle Point Church and at NorthStar Church (where I served for almost nine years). He has worked with some of my favorite Worship people in the world (you know who you are!) He brings such a passion for worship and a genuine love for developing younger musicians at LCC. Eric is engaged to Kaylie (pictured above). They are getting married in late May.
Eric will be leading worship a couple of times this month here at LCC and then permanately moving here the first of March. Eric and I will rotate leading worship at both campuses starting in March.
I cannot express the excitement and joy that I feel tonight! It has been a very difficult year managing both campuses alone and I am overjoyed about the fact that I now have a great teammate to serve with here on a full-time basis at LCC. The time was right for all of us to make this step forward and I am very thankful for our Lead Pastor, Jeff, our Exec Pastor, Jason, and our Board of Elders for their support with this new addition to my team.
I'm beaming...oh, yes, I am.... :)
We don't have pews at either campus of LCC, but it was a catchy title...
I had the opportunity to attend worship services at both campuses of LCC this past Sunday. I sat in the service "like a normal person!" I was so encouraged by our Worship Leaders at both campuses. They brought such an authenticity to the worship experience. I'm one of those (like most of you Worship Leaders) that struggle with not hearing or seeing things that need to be "tweaked" while you are sitting. I was so grateful for their preparation and execution of the musical elements of the worship experience. The way they led us drew me right in so I was not distracted. Thank you, Johnny, Debbie, Brandon, and Kim for allowing me to worship so freely in corporate worship! Band guys - you brought such a musical tapestry to the worship experience. Thank you for sharing your amazing giftedness through worship.
This also means I heard two messages yesterday. My hubby Todd did a fabulous job of kicking off the New Year with a personal message for Islanders as we embark on a New Year as a campus. CLICK HERE to listen. I'm so excited about what God has laid on his heart for the future of the Island Campus. It' s a tall order, but as Nehemiah learned - God is faithful! It was also a privilege to receive commuion and pray with him during the Time of Response at the end of the service.
Pastor Jeff shared with us the importance of the time we have been given on earth and not waisting it. I was so convicted about the things I waste my time doing that have no eternal value. I want to do a better job making the most of my time in 2011 and making better choices every day.
I'm so thankful for my church. As I headed to lunch, my heart was so full with overwhelming gratitude that I have the privilege to lead musically, create artistically, and participate corporately at LCC. I encourage ALL worship leaders out there to spend the money and give yourself the opportunity to partcipate in corporate worship at the churches you are serving as worship leader. It is an experience that I need more often, but was definitely a spiritual highlight of my Christmas season.
This post is a part of the Worship Community Sunday Recaps!
As I reflect on this New Year's Eve on the past year, I have several things that I learned that I think are worth sharing here at cheval glass. I know that we all look at the beginning of a new year as the opportunity for a fresh start and new challenges. But I think there is a lot to be learned by reflecting on the past - good and bad - and taking those lessons into your future. As Socrates said, " The unexamined life is not worth living." So with that, here we go..
1. Time is the greatest healer...the more time that passes from hurtful circumstances and situations that have occured in my life, I truly feel healing and restoration growing in my heart and mind. The memory is there, the scar may always be visible, the wound closes as time passes. I am thankful for what I am forgetting now more than ever!
2. I control my time and priorities...I allow things to "take over" and consume me - no one else does this to me - it is my decision what I allow to be the priorities in my life everyday. It's my choice.
3. Who I am in Christ will always be the measurement of my worth. The longer I am in full-time ministry (16 years so far!), the more I find peace and affirmation in my heart from this and this alone. As a worship leader, people like the songs I choose or people don't like the songs I choose. They have strong feelings about which campus I lead worship each week ( it's very sweet when I am missed...thank you!) I change my hair and people like or don't like that I changed my hair. I gain weight, I lose weight...all of this is SO unpredictable - it never lands anywhere. I am SO thankful that my God never changes and my worth to Him is not wrapped up in song selections, hair color, weight gain or loss, or meeting expectations. I am HIS child and that's where I am safe and secure.
4. There is nothing better than a good night's sleep. I have struggled with panic anxiety disorder for years and sleeping through the night is a luxury in different seasons of my life. I have had four or five great nights of sleep this past week on vacation and I feel like a new person! I need to do less in the evenings so that I can wind down sooner...that definitely made a difference this week!
5. Treasure every moment with those that mean the most to you. I have watched my sister and her family battle cancer with my brother-in-law and she has done this to the best of her ability. I have watched her make the most of moments at cancer treatments in NYC with her children and with her husband. It has made me more grateful and appreciative of those I love.
6. Have fun even if you don't have time. I took a few trips with my sister, family and friends at different times this year and I am so glad that I did. It was difficult with my job and the responsibilities I have, but I am glad I didn't allow that to keep me from being with them and making some great memories.
7. I love to blog and I'm ready to jump back in this year. I started blogging in 2006 and I have had good years and not so good years. This was one of those years that I let it sit on the back burner for a number of reasons, but the bottom line is that I love doing it. I have truly missed sharing moments of my life here. Honestly, some of it was intentional because I truly needed a year to be unplugged. Some of it was just not making it a priority. However, I know that this is vital part of my journey and a discipline that I need to embrace again in 2011.
8. Watching my children grow up is the greatest gift to me as a mother. Sean was riding his brand new bike this afternoon and I can't believe he will be four in a few weeks. I am so thankful that I have the privilege to remember giving birth to him and now watch him ride a bike. Sydney has been journaling so much the past couple of months. I am so thankful I have the privilege of remembering when she couldn't write her name and now she is writing pages and pages of her thoughts. Some moms and dads do not have the privilege to see it happen. I am so thankful that I can.
9. It takes two, baby. Marvin Gaye was right. My life does not work without Todd. We are a team in every aspect of the word. For those of us parents that both work outside the home, it's the only way to survive. We each have our strengths and weaknesses that we bring to our relationship, but we are truly confident in what we bring to our marriage and to our family. It works for us and I am so thankful for the partner that God sent me 15 years ago. We are not the typical family with typical roles. We are different and I am so thankful that God chose the perfect man to live with me! One of my favorite memories this year is when I picked Sydney up from school on a Monday (as that is one of my days to pick up) and three cars behind me was Todd...to pick up Sydney...yeah, he thought he told me he was getting her that day "to help me out." But it all works out...I'm sure there will be a day that neither of us picks her up...thank goodnes for Amy Cunningham who helps us out!
Well that's about it. I don't want to ramble. I hope your 2010 has taught you some things that you can take with you into 2011. I leave with you a quote from one of my favorite authors as you leave this year behind and embrace the future.
"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”
- C.S. Lewis
In 2004, I got pregnant with our 1st child, Sydney. I was working full-time at NorthStar Church as the Programming Director and had grown with that ministry since it's first few months of existence in 1996-97. By then, I had been blessed with a great volunteer team of worship leaders (2 of the 6 were paid - I was one of them) and a great staff (part-time media director and a full-time administrator). But the true test was coming. I would take my maternity leave and I really didn't know how this was going to go with being gone for 6-8 weeks and then moving back into that role as a new mom. I prepared my team, delegated, planned, and then Sydney came 4 weeks earlier than she was due. I will never forget what a volunteer in my ministry told me when I returned. "Have you really been gone for six weeks? I don't want to hurt your feelings, Cynthia, but it didn't even seem like you were gone." It was the greatest complement that I could have ever received as a leader. In the early days of church planting, there is a lot YOU have to do. It has taken me two years with this church plant to be ready to hand off big things with a qualified team. I handed off a huge programming piece to my programming leadership team last week. What exactly? Every aspect of the programming elements of our student program on Wednesday nights called VIBE . Todd came home last night and said, (because he knows it makes me feel good) "Your team did great. You weren't even missed." I'm just a musician in the band on Wednesdays now (as needed). You may be thinking., "I don't know where to start to give leadership away?" Here are some thoughts that have worked for me. If you are not a leader who likes other people being able to do your job, you should stop reading this now.
1. Everything in your job could be done by someone else. If you are the only one that can do your job at your organization, you are crippling the future of your ministry and the overall organization.
2. There is a HUGE difference between empowering a leader and abandoning a leader. Empowering means that you walk the ropes with them. You do it together for awhile. You discuss the 40,000 foot view of why, how, when, and where of all of it. You give them the opportunity to do it with you, but you are still there. You let them ask every dumb question. You are patient. You let them make choices different than what you would have done and you stand by their choices. Abandoning a leader? well, it's the opposite of everything I just mentioned.
3. Affirm, affirm, affirm. They need to know that you approve. Debrief after big things. Ask them how they felt it went. What went well? What didn't go well? What do they need from me moving forward? Are you having a good time?
4. Be ready when they quit or can't do the job. Not every leader is able to rise to the occasion after the baton has been passed. It's ok. Love them through it and help them refocus. They feel worse about it than you could ever imagine.
5. Other people won't like it that you are not leading everything. Every time I hand off something to a another team or leader, people assume something is wrong. I've had perfectly wonderful church members tell me that they didn't give their tithe money to hear "other people" sing. They came to hear me. Yeah, I had to count to 10 to respond to that one.
None of this is possible if you as a leader are so consumed in the fact that you have earned the right to do this. I take what I do very seriously, but I know that it is God's grace that I have the privilege to be leading anything. Great leaders in my life (who were probably a little crazy) thought it was worth their time and frustration to let a 13-year-old lead a vocal group, a 19-year-old lead a entire rhythm section, and a 26-year-old lead an entire Worship Ministry at a church of 1500 people. Working myself out of my job is my goal. I love being a part of a team and giving away opportunity to others so they can do things they never dreamed they could do. So tell me you don't miss me when I'm not around...that makes me really happy.
As a leader of artists in my church, I deeply desire that all of us pursue a fully devoted life to Jesus Christ. We all love our music, art, and creative outlets, but IS our desire toward God first and foremost and serving others? We have great conversation about God and our spiritual journey (I love having multiple services because of the "chat" time) but are we "working it out?" God has been answering me very specifically that my "job" is to model it, talk about it, pray for them to do it, and give HUGE kudos when I see is happening. My cellist, Rob Rechey, is a Senior in High School. In the last 2 years, God has done some really cool things in his life (through the ministry of our AMAZING High School pastor, Rob Jacobs) and by being a part of our worship team. He is leaving in 2 months to return to Mexico and attend college (his parents live here.) Rob showed up at 9 AM this morning to translate all our announcements into Spanish today for our Easter Egg Hunt. I just wanted to give him the biggest bear hug when I saw him today. He was simply serving. I can't help but smile :) and I know My Father is smiling, too.
My husband Todd and I know that we are a little different. Most people would say planting a church with your husband could be a really, really dumb idea...especially if you are both staff members. I don't care how many years you have been doing ministry on a church staff...church planting is a different ball game. I'm not going deny that this experience has not had some really tough days. We are constantly learning how to keep margins in our life with ministry, people,and our family. BUT, as only God can do, we are surrounded with the most loving people in our church, leaders who are so willing to give, and a Lead Pastor who is the real deal. Our family is thriving here on the Island. We are "finding our groove" with our 2 preschoolers and having a blast in the process. With Sean and Sydney playing around us, Todd and I spent the afternoon identifying new leaders in our church for new levels of ministry. Here are some questions we asked ourselves...
What are you asking about your job, family, or ministry? Share some of it here.