Archive | November, 2012

The Power of the Gospel

29 Nov
Romans 1:16-17
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.[g] 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”[h]
I think we will find that we must make a choice to either believe in the Word of God or to just believe in its moral teachings. It is a step of faith to fully trust the Bible as God’s authoritative Word and it’s not going to be because we will individually completely prove its authenticity. It is difficult to believe a gospel that we do not speak and put into action; the power of which we are unfamiliar with. It is easy to fall into a state of faithlessness about the gospel when we do not share it. The gospel on a shelf just seems like any other religious claim. There is nothing substantially different about it in syntax than any other belief system. Yes, it’s about God who came to earth to sacrifice His life for ours and He rose again to conquer death, but it is easy to see this as some story of ancient folklore. It could be no more important than some Greek or Roman story about a mythological titan coming down to earth. If it stays on the pages of our Bible, then it’s just a heart-warming tale of good versus evil; no different from any other religion.
But, when we speak the gospel, when we receive it into our own lives, something happens. It begins to bring people to life. Wherever this good news collides with darkness in people’s lives, it explodes with brightness. On the shelf, it looks merely like any other religious book, but in action it is “the power of God unto salvation!” It brings hope to hopeless situations. It resurrects the dead. It gives us a new name and a new identity. It overwhelms us with grace that we cannot refuse. As someone’s eyes are opened to its truth, it lifts off the page and mounts up into a tidal wave in their life. We cannot run away from its power. Once it has set its sights on us, we will be drowned in its truth and we will come up out of the water eternally changed.
It’s like a stick of dynamite sitting dormant on our shelf. It’s like a chunk of sulfur laying around in an arid place, but once it comes in contact with water, it explodes. The heart that is ready to receive the Gospel will come alive with its power. Their life will never be the same.

But unless we see this in action. Unless we take the Gospel off the shelf and let it affect our lives and the lives of those around us, then it is just another religious story.



Spontanious Planning

13 Nov
In my experience growing up, the mark of a great worship leader was his or her ability to “hear the Holy Spirit’s voice” in spontaneous and unplanned moments of worship.  Although these spontaneous moments were unplanned in rehearsal, you could always plan that there would be an unplanned moment in the service.  I remember having the desire as a young worship leader to be better at spontaneous moments as I led, even if it meant personally rehearsing for the spontaneous moments.  This is madness!  Please do not hear me wrong, I strongly believe that the Holy Spirit moves in spontaneous ways as we worship Him, communicate with Him, and serve Him.  However, why is His spontaneity limited to the short amount of time that we stand in front of the church in our weekend service?
My encouragement is for spontaneous planning!  As I said before, I believe that God moves in spontaneous and unexpected ways as we worship Him, communicate with Him, and serve Him everyday on and off the stage.  When I say spontaneous planning, I mean three things:
1) Our planning is covered in prayer
For any worship leader that has been leading worship for a good amount of time, you are probably able to plan a worship service in around 15.6 seconds.  You need a fast song, check.  You need a medium song, check.  You need a slow song, check.  Now a bridge to bring it home, check.  Done.  And in 15.6 seconds, you have a worship service.  Where is prayer?  If this is the manner of our planning, is there any wonder why we feel the tendency to be spontaneous in our services?  I am calling for planning that is covered in prayer.  I am calling for our planning time to be rich and fresh, and often time-consuming.
2) Our planning is worship
Planning is not the stuff that we have to get through in order to worship on the weekend.  No! Our planning is worship!  Our planning is the time that we are in prayer, that we are in His Word, and that we are in His presence.  Our planning is worship, and our weekends are an overflow and outpouring of the worship that takes place during our planning.
3) Our planning is the most important part of our service to the church
For those whom God has blessed with unbelievable talent, there is a tendency to simply rely upon ourselves and upon our own ability to conjure up a great weekend experience.  We must fight this tendency if we are to be the worship leaders that God has called us to be, and planning is the way that we fight!  Fight for fresh, God honoring, and unique moments that point the church to Christ.  In other words, plan for fresh, God honoring, and unique moments that point the church to Christ!
I believe that spontaneous planning honors God and honors His church.  So, plan!!!

Studying the Art of the Worship Genre

1 Nov

I have come to the conclusion that “worship” music shouldn’t be just one genre. The times are changing in the music scene day by day. I think that it is imperative that we should be on that same page. I’m trying to change my whole mindset on this as I write songs. I’m not a big song writer but when I do write a song, I tend to be stuck on one sound and I wanna get something out there that will make people say… “hey, this is different and I like it!” I promise you it wouldn’t be for bragging rights but the people of this world need to be attracted to worship music. People are so into music like Coldplay, Katy Perry, Usher, Maroon 5, Adele… you name it! Now, I’m not saying worship music should sound like “Teenage Dream” but if that kind of music really influences people then what if worship music had a fresh new sound year after year like todays pop hits? People say they are just bored with christian music these days… And this mainly comes from christian people! We need a makeover with our creativity. Let’s find a new sound… something fresh that attract people who aren’t christians yet… Let’s add some cool riffs to what we write, let’s add an instrument that seems to be dead and make it shine! I don’t know if you keep up with today’s mainstream radio stuff but people are adding stuff like the accordion to make their music different from other artists out there. And it works!! The bible says it… Psalm 33:3, sing a new song of praise to him; play skillfully… Maybe singing a new song means of course “sing a new song” but, it could also mean a different sound, a unique approach to something new sounding. So if today’s radio hits are really influencing people and are just driving them to where they can’t wait for the next hit by “Fun”, then what if our outlook of worship music was like that? The major difference would be obvious… People would be singing songs of hope, loving others, surrendering to God, and worship to our Savior but with a cool new sound! Don’t get me wrong, songs like Blessed Be The Name, Mighty To Save, Holy Is The Lord are all incredible songs that speak the truth of who are God is. I love those songs! I still rock out to what I call “old school worship”. These songs will forever be sung to our Lord. But we gotta get with the program. The music scene is changing. People are tired of the same ole same ole. So how do we make this happen? Easy… just kidding, it will take time, hard work, long writing sessions, creative brainstorming, etc. This will not happen over night. But down the road I think we will all put our creative minds together when it comes to writing songs, choosing set lists, and making fun new sounds. I believe this is happening right here at Hope. We have an incredible team and some outstanding song writers. Our worship pastor, Aubrey McGowan gets it! He’s putting out some really cool and different sounding stuff. He wrote a song a few months ago called “A Turn Around” and it was so different from what Hope was use too, but they got it! The song spoke to our people and we definitely took a step forward from there. We are always listening for the “new” sounding stuff out there. We’ve done songs earlier this year where I was like seriously?? Are our people gonna get this? And they did! Sometimes we gotta take a risk. If it fails, then hey… we tried. Off to the next set of ideas. If its a success to where our people hunger for God then yes!! Let’s stay on this plan and keep our creative juices flowing. You get the point(hopefully). We are all longing for something different when it comes to the sound of worship music. We all have different opinions. Sometimes a group of people might not enjoy a certain song while others are so into it! Then the group that didn’t enjoy that song love the next song! We can’t please everyone but what we can do is make progress. My prayer is that God will make our talents go above and beyond, and to get out of the ordinary rut. I can’t wait to hear and see what the future holds for Hope Fellowship’s worship department. It’s gonna be huge!

Here are some worship artists and teams who are taking this approach to a new sound of worship. You can listen to any of these bands on Spotify and iTunes. Check em out!
All Sons and Daughters
The Brilliance
The Michael Gungor Band
Hillsong United (Aftermath album)
Elevation Worship
The Life Church (We Will album)