Tag Archives: music

Church Media (Part 2) – For Worship Pastors

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I had a friend joke several years ago that it was “time to praise the screens.” I shot him a puzzled look, and he nodded towards everyone who was standing for worship service. As the music started, hands were lifted, eyes were turned upward, and lyrics were sung with passion — all towards the projector screens.

It’s humorous (and perhaps slightly sad), but considering that decades ago, our faces were turned downward to page 142 in a battered hymnal, it’s hard to be critical. Would you rather crane your neck slightly upward to read the lyrics from the screens, or emphasize your double chin by looking down at a weathered book? You get my point.

Regardless, it’s nice that even with our new songs, we can still sing alone fairly well because of the accessibility of the lyrics to the entire church. This is probably the greatest benefit to having projectors set up in your church, but for it to run optimally, we’ll need your help, worship pastors.

Note: if you read my last post, some of this will be slightly redundant.

1. SUBMIT YOUR LYRICS EARLIER

Our worship pastor, Brad Crow, Emails new lyrics to the entire media team, usually at least a day before we sing them for the very first time. I cannot emphasize how helpful this is to all of us who run the screens. He also gives us the worship sets for both AM and PM services the day before. I don’t have to ask him for a set list or bug him for lyrics — he’s already on top of it.

Keying in lyrics takes time. An average song at our church consists of at least two verses, a chorus, and a bridge. This might not seem like a lot, but when you also have to select backgrounds for each song, ensure formatting is correct, make sure all announcements are up to date, and other small items on the checklist, throwing a new song on a media operator ten minutes before service can cause a minor emotional breakdown.

Preparation is absolutely essential. Getting new songs to the media team at least 30 minutes before service is the minimum amount of time you should allow. It’s even better if you submit them a day before.

2. DON’T TELL THE MEDIA OPERATOR TO “GET THE LYRICS ONLINE”

Do you ever read Facebook and wonder if there’s anyone left in this world who remembers any of their second-grade spelling lessons? Have you noticed that no one understands when to use a comma, what to capitalize, or the difference between “they’re” and “their”?

These same people are often the ones responsible for entering lyrics on these “song lyrics” web-sites.

If you don’t care about your worship lyrics being correct on the screens, then by all means, send your media operator to that lyrics database web-site with inappropriate banner ads. However, if you want it done right, then type out the lyrics yourself, or at least check them for accuracy before printing them off and handing them to a media operator.

3. HAND SIGNALS: MAKE THEM EARLY, MAKE THEM VISIBLE

If you have a responsible media operator, they should be watching you like a hawk to see whether you’re going back into the second verse or the bridge. Don’t just assume they know the song as well as you or have some kind of telepathic superpower — give them hand signals that they can clearly see, and give them 2 or 3 seconds in advance. Obviously, you need to give the hand signals to your musicians first, but don’t forget the media operator!

DO NOT:

  • Point the hand signal at them like a gun. Your singers/musicians to your right and left can see it, but for your media operator, it looks like an indiscernable, mangled nub of human flesh.
  • Assume that a centimeter-wide separation between your index and middle fingers constitutes a clearly-visible distinction between “verse 2” and “unison.” You’d better make it look more like this.
  • Make your hand signals behind your back. This isn’t 1972, your torso isn’t transparent, and your media operators don’t have Superman’s x-ray vision.

4. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ADDRESS WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED

If you see room for improvement, communicate it to the team. If the lyrics aren’t formatted correctly for a particular song, shoot the media team an Email and let them know that it’s confusing for the worship team.

If the media operators aren’t getting the lyrics onto the screens quickly enough (especially if you have a rear-wall screen set up for your singers), tell them to put them up in advance (much more on this on the next post).

Whatever issues you might have, talk them over with the media team with confidence and clarity. We’re all working for the same team, and the ultimate goal is that media provides a service that basically disappears into a person’s consciousness. The goal of media operators everywhere should be to run church media in such a way that is always a subtle help, but NEVER a distraction. Help them accomplish this goal by communicating often.

IN CONCLUSION:

I can honestly say that we have almost no problems with our entire worship team here at POBC. They all have a tremendous grasp on what they’re doing. Our pastoral staff and worship leaders are exceptional in the areas that I’ve addressed in the first two blog posts.

When a guest attends your worship service and a horribly misspelled word or grammatical error pops onto the screen, it’s not just embarrassing — it’s distracting. Being concerned with ensuring quality presentation of the worship lyrics on your church’s screens isn’t being overly-concerned with your image. On the contrary, it’s making sure that image is never a concern one way or the other.

I’ll say again: MEDIA SHOULD DISAPPEAR. All sloppy spelling and grammar does is draw attention to what should be ninja-like in its application. Make sure you’re doing what you can to help.

Next: Church Media (Part 3) – For Media Operators.

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The Half-Hearted Church

Psalm 22:3 (KJV)
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Every preacher, worship leader, musician, and/or singer has felt it before: a church that has collectively checked out of a service. Those in platform ministry can exhaust themselves, raise their voices, sing until their vocal cords can’t take it anymore, and yet nothing works — every member of the congregation seems content to follows the pattern:

  1. Walks in 1-5 minutes before/after service starts.
  2. Claps their hands lethargically during worship.
  3. Refuses to alter their expression.
  4. Sits through the preaching with an invisible force field surrounding.
  5. Stands when the preacher says stand.
  6. Offers obligatory 3-minute prayer at altar call.
  7. Rushes to a local eatery.

The Word of God asks us to not “forsake the assembling of ourselves together,” but merely attending church is not the point. We are to worship together, to learn together, to pray together, and grow together. How can this be accomplished if, through their body language and actions, much of the membership shows itself to be bored with church itself?

As Pastor Dean has often stated: WE DO NOT TAKE CHURCH SERVICES OFF!

Attend service with this understanding: in all likelihood, someone is experiencing your church for the very first time. I know at POBC, we have first-time guests each Sunday morning. Are we letting them down? Do they walk in expecting an apostolic, power-packed environment, but leaving feeling underwhelmed?

If we believe God’s Word, and that He “inhabits the praises of His people,” then our WORSHIP and INVOLVEMENT during a church service is crucial to creating an atmosphere in which God’s presence can work at maximum effectiveness.

Is God dependent upon us to move? No.
Are the emotions and desires of man affected by his environment? Yes!

If it was your sibling, your parent, your friend, or your co-worker who was attending church as your guest for the first time, would you worship differently? Would you hope that everyone else worships, investing their whole heart into THAT particular service? Would you do everything within your power to create fertile ground for the seed of God’s Word and Spirit? Would you walk to the altar with purpose, or would you linger back, just hoping that the service comes to an end in time to beat the other churches to your favorite restaurant?

Each service is just that opportunity for someone. Each song is a chance for the church to lift up holy hands in adoration of God. Each sermon could be the Word that someone’s guest needs desperately to hear. And each altar call could be the defining moment where someone finds God and is filled with the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

I understand that worshipping God isn’t a scheme to trick anyone into following Him, and I know that even pop artists can send chills up your spine and bring tears to your eyes with a powerful song. But imagine we worship God with absolute sincerity, He inhabits our praises, His Spirit covers the room, and suddenly the atmosphere goes from “just another Sunday” to the Sunday that no one will ever forget. That’s what is at stake each and every week.

So my question is this:
DURING YOUR CHURCH’S LAST SERVICE, DID YOU WORSHIP LIKE SOMEONE’S SOUL DEPENDED ON IT?

Revelation 3:14-16 (ESV)
And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

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Worship Cleaning (and Album Recommendations)

If you or a member of your household feels spiritually weighed down, depressed, stressed out, hopeless, guilty, or even lethargic, then I would recommend a healthy worship cleaning of your home. Here’s how it works:

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1. Create a worship playlist in iTunes consisting of all of your favorite worship albums.

I would recommend including as many songs as you can, so that you don’t hear many repeated songs during the worship cleaning process. I currently have 18 albums in my own list. It is also a good idea to not shuffle the songs — you don’t want awkward gaps in crowd noise or song transitions to cause anyone to turn their heads.

2. Place the computer (if it’s a laptop) in a central location and press play.

On iTunes, make sure the “continuous play” button is selected — it’s near the bottom-left. Let the music play for days at a time. If you or your family finds it difficult to sleep with the music playing at night, turn it down low and place it in another room, but do not turn it off.

3. Make this a habit every few weeks or months.

All Christian music is not created equal. I love nearly every style (although I must confess I’m not a fan of most of what KLUV plays), but worship music is something entirely different.

If you see a scene in a movie where a car crashes, the music selected to fill the moment can completely change the emotional effect. If you play a classical piece and slow the action down, the crash will have a tragic feel. If you play heavy metal music and cut the angles quickly, it feels more like a demolition derby good time.

Likewise, the music you select to play is the soundtrack to your own life. If you fill your life with depressing music, you’re cultivating a depressive personality. If you fill your life with angry metal, you’re cultivating a life of anger. If you fill your life with sensual R&B, then you’re cultivating yourself for a life of lust.

IF YOU FILLL YOUR LIFE WITH WORSHIP MUSIC, YOU’RE CULTIVATING A LIFE OF WORSHIP AND DEDICATION TO GOD.

Worship cleaning helps to lift spiritual weights that have accumulated in our homes. Even if we don’t allow the wrong movies or music into our homes, nearly all of us face stress and common problems that threaten to derail us. Worship music helps to negate the effects of a complicated culture that pushes us to our limits.

Album Recommendations:

In my own worship playlist, I steer away from studio worship albums with only one exception. Studio albums seem so focused on polish that they feel directed less toward deep worship and more toward production. Live worship albums are recorded in places where the singers, musicians, and audience are all focused on truly worshiping more than just attending a concert. That being said, here are a few albums I hope everyone tries out…

(note) – click the links to be directed to the album’s iTunes page

Jesus Culture – Come Away (Deluxe Edition)

It’s become a running joke in Current Worship (our student ministry’s band) that when a new Kim Walker album is out, we’re about to learn a ton of new songs in practice. Another running joke: Kim’s “ha-ha” sound that she makes while she sings…a lot (trust me, it becomes kind of endearing pretty quickly).

Kim and Chris Quilala are currently my two favorite mainstream worship leaders, and this album is probably my favorite they have released thus far. There’s not a single song that I skip over, but “My Soul Longs for You,” “Freedom Reigns,” and “Mighty Breath of God” are definitely my three most-preferred songs.

Hillsong Chapel – Yahweh (Deluxe Edition)

Recent years have given way to somewhat of a backlash against Hillsong, I’m guessing because they’ve been on the scene for so long. In my humble opinion, I think they’re just as relevant and inspirational today as they’ve ever been. Don’t be hatin’!

This album is basically Hillsong: Unplugged. This is acoustic-driven, and was recorded in front of 300 worshipers at Hillsong Chapel. The track list was selected from HIllsong’s vast collection of popular worship songs, resulting in a laid-back and calming album that makes for a great prayer playlist.

Favorites from the album: “Yahweh,” “Came to My Rescue,” and “You Hold Me Now.”

Leeland – Sound of Melodies

I like Leeland’s second album and really like their third, but it was their debut that has kept me coming back since 2006. Three of my favorite 25 songs of all-time are from this album, including the one that became my absolute favorite after hearing it live, “Carried to the Table.”

Leeland’s albums aren’t recorded live, nor would they be considered “worship” music exactly, but they still have a strong worship-driven spirit that you can just feel while listening to them. Lead singer Leeland Mooring is only 22, and I’ll always look forward to whatever he decides to release. The guy could put out gangster rap album and I’d listen to it.

“Yes You Have” and “Tears of the Saints” are two unbelievable songs, but the aforementioned “Carried to the Table” recounts and analogizes the biblical story of Mephibosheth, the crippled son of Jonathan, King Saul’s son. Re-read the story in 2 Samuel 9, and then listen to the song. Compare David’s mercy towards him, and compare it to God’s grace shown to you. I’ve been brought to tears more times that I could count by this song, and I never grow tired of it.

I sincerely hope this blog post helps someone. God bless!

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