Please pray for Sharon!

As some of you know, my sister Sharon is in the hospital fighting for her life as we speak.  She had her second bone marrow transplant recently, and has developed Graft Versus Host Disease. On top of that, she also now has pneumonia, which is complicating matters. We had the chance to go visit her at the hospital in Minnesota recently, and when we asked her if there was anything we could do for her, she said “Pray!”  Today, when the doctors gave her some pretty dire news about her condition, she responded with “Fight, fight fight!” She isn’t able to say many words, but from those two responses we can get a sense of where she’s at. She has not given up, she is still fighting, and we will continue to pray and plead for God to heal her. She is 49 years old, married and has a 10 year old daughter. I would appreciate your prayers for her in this critical time.

If you’d like to follow updates about her status, you can subscribe to her Caring Bridge site. She is not able to make her own entries right now, but our sister Sandy regularly updates how things are going.  Please spread the word and let’s add to our already huge army of people praying for Sharon!

Sharon and Roberto
Sharon and Jillian

Prayer Warriors! Sharon

After the good news from yesterday, Sharon is in need of your prayers. The successful treatment for GVHD left Sharon very vulnerable for infection, since they had to suppress her Immune system to fight the GVHD. The doctors are now very concerned because they think she has developed pneumonia, with a very weak immune system.

Please pray for God’s healing hand to touch Sharon once again and take away this infection and strengthen her immune system. Her body is so weak, completely spent.

Thank you for your prayers!

“The Servant Worship Leader” article on All About Worship

I recently had the opportunity to write a short devotional for the All About Worship website called “The Servant Worship Leader”. Here’s just a short excerpt…

“Matthew 20:26 says “But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,” and again in Matthew 23:11 He says “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.” What does it look like to a worship leader who is a servant? It needs to be lived out in all areas of your ministry, but let’s take a look at just a few – being a servant to your pastor, the team you lead and to your congregation.”

You can go to the All About Worship website to read the full article.

Sunday Recap – May 20, 2012

Contemporary Service

  • “We Are Saved” (Paul Baloche, Ben Fielding, Reuben Morgan)
    • This was a new song we introduced today, from Paul Baloche’s new CD. We’ve done quite a few songs from that album. At first, I actually wasn’t sure if this one would work, since the verses aren’t that easy to sing, in my opinion. Today we did the song as a special at the start of the service, so we’ll see how it works next week when we add the congregation. As I worked on the song, though, throughout the week, I really started to like it! It says what the church should want to say!
  • “Salvation is Here” (Joel Houston)
  • “One Thing Remains” (Christa Black, Brian Johnson, Jeremy Riddle)
    • Week 2 for this song here, and already people seemed to really be connecting with it. Great song!
  • “Promises” (Jared Anderson)
    • A great way to end our service, after a message on God’s grace and the promises of God.

I had a couple firsts today! I recently purchased an iPad for use at church, and today was the first day I put it to use on a Sunday morning. I used the Music Stand app from Planning Center Online today, replacing my book filled with sheet music.  It automatically pulled up the sheet music for each song linked to my plan for today in Planning Center. The only problem I had with it is that it was so small! I messed up a few times because I couldn’t see the words and chords. But, overall, it worked great!

Today was also the first day that we used You Version Live!  I’ve been playing around with it this week, trying to figure out how to use it on a Sunday morning.  More and more people are using their phone or tablet during the message, so this program really adds a lot to their experience! I just tried it as a test run with a couple people besides me. I set up the program Saturday night, based off of Pastor Tim’s message transcript, including all the Scripture references, main points, and even a poll question.  It was so slick! As PT gave his message, we could just follow along and all of those elements were right there. You could also take notes, and since it’s linked to your account, you can go online to see them anytime, or email them to yourself.

You can see the video and Planning Center details for this service.

Zack on the electric, with Elias on drums
Bekah, Brenda and Rick on vocals, with Dennis on Bass
Barry on keys with Zack on electric
The whole team!

Cafe Connection Service

 I had the chance to lead in the Cafe this morning, along with a great team of people! It was bittersweet though, because Bruce and Georgine, a couple who has served on the worship ministry for many years, are moving away, and this was their last week on the team. You can see the Planning Center details for this service.
Georgine on her last day in the Cafe, with Denise
Bruce on his last day on Easy Worship, and Curt on sound
The Cafe Service singing “Never Once”
Aaron on guitar in the Cafe

Traditional Service

  • Praise Him! Praise Him!
  • My Hope is in the Lord
  • And Can It Be?
  • O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
  • Standing On the Promises
Since I was leading in the Cafe, Rick led the Traditional Service this morning, along with another great team! It was so nice to have Dee back on the piano!  You can watch the video of this service and see the Planning Center details.
Rick leading worship
Paul and Annette, husband and wife, singing a duet
Dee on piano

This post is part of the Sunday Setlists blog at The Worship Community, where worship leaders share recaps and setlists from today. This is a special week at TWC, as they celebrate the 200th consecutive week of Sunday Setlists!  As a special way to celebrate, they asked us to include pictures of today’s services. Hopefully you enjoy seeing pics from each our services above. Hope you all had a great Sunday!

Sunday Recap – May 13, 2012

Contemporary Services

We had a very full morning with our four services, Mother’s Day, Worship Choir and everything else, but it was a very good morning!  “All My Fountains” is so much easier to play now that we’ve added the click track!  “Bless the Lord” is a great upbeat song of praise from Jared Anderson and New Life Worship.  This was our first time using “One Thing Remains”, from Bethel Live, and based on the response from the congregation today, it’s one that will catch on. We also used a very cute Mother’s Day video from Steelhouse Media Group called “A Very Special Mommy”. It was a big hit with the moms!  Pastor Tim continues his series on Galatians from chapter 4, which deals with two mothers – Hagar and Sarah. You can watch the video of this service and see the Planning Center details.

Cafe Connection Service

Zack led the team in the Cafe today. The team did a super job (minus one with a sick child). It’s so good to continue to see new young families and others come to this service.  You can see the Planning Center details for this service.

Traditional Service

  • “The Church’s One Foundation”
  • “Praise The Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him”
  • “He Leadeth Me”
  • “His Eye Is On the Sparrow”
  • “Mother’s Day Hymn”
  • “Take the Name of Jesus With You”

It was nice to sing some hymns we haven’t used in a while. We’ve used the “Mothers Day Hymn” for the past few years now, and it is one that always seems to be appropriate, although different verses are more appropriate as time goes by. You can watch the video of this service and see the Planning Center details.

This post is part of the Sunday Setlists blog at The Worship Community, where worship leaders share service recaps and setlists from today’s services.  Thanks for reading. Happy Mother’s Day!

Sunday Recap – May 6, 2012

Contemporary Services

Once again, God was gracious, and we had a wonderful morning of worship today at Bethel! The only hiccup was that my voice almost gave out in the middle of the second service, but I believe God answered the prayers of the team between services and sustained my voice through the morning.  I loved using “The Same Love” again; it was the second time we’ve used it, but the first time with the congregation.  We used it right after the message before communion.  You can watch the video of this service and see the Planning Center details.

Cafe Connection Service

Marv led the team in the Cafe this morning, and they did a super job! It was a full team, which was great to hear! Special shout-out to Chris and Makenzie who had a very early morning on sound and Easy Worship after spending last night at the prom! What dedication!  You can see the Planning Center details for this service.

Traditional Service

  • “Come Thou Almighty King”
  • “I Will Sing the Wondrous Story”
  • “At Calvary”
  • “Jesus Paid it All”
  • “Lamb of God” (Twila Paris)

The Traditional Service team did a great job as well today in their service. You can watch the video and see the Planning Center details for this service.

This post is part of the Sunday Setlists area at The Worship Community, where worship leaders share recaps and setlists from this weekend’s worship services. Thanks for reading, and I hope you had a wonderful morning of worship as well!

Sunday Recap – April 29, 2012

Contemporary Services

I had the privilege of attending the Song Discovery Creative Conference last week in Nashville, which was excellent! (If you’d like read more about my experience there, you can read my recent blog post about it) So, since I was gone all week, Zack led the team for me, and he really did an excellent job! I was there on Sunday, and it was so fun just to sit back and watch him lead the team, and see what a great job the entire team did!  Zack led from the electric guitar for the first time, instead of the acoustic, and it really sounded nice.  You can watch the video of this service and see the Planning Center details.

Cafe Connection Service

Zack led the team in this service as well. I enjoyed attending this service today, and seeing all of the healthy fellowship taking place, especially in our connecting time. So many young families with kids there, at 8:00 am; and yet also a wide range of other ages were there as well. Loved it! You can see the Planning Center details.

Traditional Service

  • Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
  • The Love of God
  • Trust and Obey
  • In the Garden
  • He Touched Me

Paul Miller led the team this morning, and he also did super, along with Janet on the piano and the rest of the team.  I heard many comments following the service about how much they appreciated his leading.  You can see the video of this service and the Planning Center details.

This post is part of the Sunday Setlist blog at The Worship Community, where worship leaders share their setlists and recaps from services this weekend.

Song Discovery Creative Conference – “God Still Speaks”

This past week, I attended the Song Discovery Creative Conference in Nashville, put on the by the good folks at Worship Leader Magazine.  This is the first time they have held this type of conference, expanding the Song Discovery in the Round conference to include tracks for authors and visual artists the year. Since I’ve been writing more CD reviews and articles recently, I focused on the track for authors, although some of my workshops were from the songwriting and visual artist track.  I found this conference to be very  purposeful, worthwhile and real. Here’s just a few of the highlights.

Thursday Morning Worship and General Session

Darrell Harris – The conference started in a way I didn’t expect, although was a welcome change. Instead of starting with an upbeat song or video, Darrell started off with a short devotional on how we are to imitate Christ in our imagining and creating.

Cindy Morgan – Cindy led us in a time of worship with her band, which consisted of Cindy on keys/guitar, along with percussion, mandolin, violin, and banjouke (I think that’s what she called it!)

Chuck Fromm – Chuck is on staff at Worship Leader, and introduced the theme for the conference, which is “God Still Speaks”, which you can see in the banner on top!

Ian Morgan Cron – Ian is an Episcopal priest and author, and his talk was definitely “interesting”.  He started by taking us through a prayer of sound and silence, chanting “Shalom” in unison, then harmony, then silence.  It was quite awkward, and not my favorite part of the conference. But, I understood what he was trying to do.  He talked about how God speaks to us in the silence, and the importance of going deeper with our relationship with the Lord by listening to Him in the silence to discover our real selves. If we want to create good art, it needs to come out of that place of silence with the Lord, and not out of all the noise around us.

Thursday General Author Session

Pete Wilson – Pete is the pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, and spoke to the authors about some things he’s learned in his experience as an author.

  • If you have writer’s block, think of it more as being “empty” than being “blocked”
    • Find things that fill you up (movies, playing with kids, etc) and do that, then go back and try again
  • Write in such a way that opens closed doors
  • Write in community
    • God uses community to push us
  • Don’t write for the critics
    • Don’t confuse who you are with what you create
    • Don’t look to your accomplishments to get your self-worth
    • Our value is not based on performance, and doesn’t decline as we fail
    • To protect against that, visualize the people you are writing for and write for them
  • Create for His glory, not your approval
    • Our writing is an act of worship, not something we do to gain approval

Thursday Afternoon Workshops

“Above the Fold – Writing for Mass Media”Jeremy Armstrong
Jeremy is the managing editor for Worship Leader Magazine, and in this workshop he talked about writing for magazines. He gave tips, as an editor, about how to increase the chances of having your submission considered, and not just deleted from the inbox.

  • Things to avoid
    • Cutesy, too eloquent
    • Insporational pieces, over-personalized stories, poorly crafted blog entries, scholarly pieces, sloppy work
  • What to submit
    • The word “submission” in the subject line
    • Articles that are exclusive to you that would be helpful to others
    • How-to articles
    • Check his editorial schedule, and submit things on a topic of an upcoming article

“Inspiring Creativity” – Jennie Lee Riddle

Songwriter Jennie Lee Riddle shared some of her thoughts with other songwriters on how to inspire your creativity. Some interesting things she mentioned:

  • She rarely listens to music.  To avoid the chance of copying someone else, she rarely listens to music in her genre.
  • Push yourself, write lyrics outside your genre, work on your craft, practice and write with metronome
  • People inspire her – she writes about what and who God directs her to see with her eyes.
  • Our creativity should be a servant for the church, not for ourselves

Thursday evening Night of Worship
Definitely another highlight of the conference, the Worship Night on Thursday was a wonderful time of celebration and praise.  Michael W. Smith hosted the evening with performances by Michael Farren, Jennie Lee Riddle, All Sons & Daughters, Meredith Andrews, Tommy Walker and more.

Revelation Song
Jennie Lee Riddle singing "Revelation Song" with Michael Farren on guitar and Michael W. Smith on piano

Friday Morning General Session

Steve McPherson – Steve is the head of the publishing department at Hillsong Church.  He had a fascinating story of how he got involved with the worship department at Hillsong.

  • Power of knowing the purpose of your art
    • “Art is to make clear the beautiful” – to bring the beauty of God into clear view for people to see and worship
  • Power of knowing the direction of your art
    • We are uniquely gifted to write songs for our church at this time.
    • If we’re going to write songs for the church, we need to direct our art with the church in mind. Know who God has called you to serve
  • Power of surrendering your art
    • Our desire for Him needs to be greater than our desire for art
    • Serve your local church without thinking of career path
    • Your lifestyle offstage is more important to your relevancy than what you wear on stage
  • Power of combining your art
    • Bring your unique voice and art and combine it with others at your church for greater impact
  • The Stewardship of our Art
  • Mentoring

Friday Afternoon Workshops

“Improving Your Voice”Chance Scoggins – Chance is a vocal instructor and professional singer in Nashville, and he gave a very helpful workshop on how a good singer can become a great singer.

  • A good singer knows his voice; a great singer will take the opportunity to take his voice and stretch it
    • Find the brightest part of your voice, and the darkest part of your voice; where does your voice sound best?
    • Smile when you sing – it will immediately make your voice sound better
    • Find the most important word in each phrase, and emphasize it
  • A good singer sings with phrases; a great singer intentionally starts and ends phrases
    • Don’t sing the chorus, then the verse, etc..; sing this word, then the next word, then the next…
  • A good singer expresses the heart of the lyric; a great singer expresses the lyrics from their own heart
  • A good singer communicates with their voice; a great singer communicates with their voice, mind and body
  • A good singer conveys confidence; a great singer is confident
    • Be confident in your calling
  • A good singer does their very best; a great singer understands that it will take work to be excellent

“Writing for the Web” – Jeremy Armstrong
In this session, Jeremy focused on writing for the web, instead of in magazines.

  • Decide your strategy – will your site by a dynamic place of action, or an online brochure for events
  • Understand the goal of online reader – to find useful information as quick as possible
  • Highlighted words, different size fonts, action-oriented, meaningful headings and sub-headings, bulleted lists, 1 idea per paragraph

Friday Afternoon Closing Session

Israel Houghton – Israel Houghton closed out the conference with an encouraging talk to us as creatives. A few key points:

  • Good production is not worship
  • If a cake is really, really good, you don’t even need the icing. Cameras, lights, etc… are icing. It’s not about the icing.
  • The more time we spend worshipping alone off the stage, the better we will be as worshippers on the stage
  • We always should remember we “get to” lead worship, not “got to”.
  • Keep our focus on pleasing the King, not the people

Overall, this was an excellent conference! It was great to see so many people that I’ve met either online or at previous conferences. It’s always good to be challenged, stretched, renewed and reminded of why we do what we do.  Thanks to Suzie and all the others who worked so hard to organize it!

Song Discovery Creative Conference

This week, I’m headed to Nashville for the Song Discovery Creative Conference!  We take a team each year from our church to the National Worship Leader Conference, but I also try to get to one conference a year just by myself, for a time of renewal, refreshing and challenge.  In the past this conference has focused mostly on songwriters, so I haven’t really considered attending this one. But, this year they expanded it to include tracks for authors and visual artists.

I’ve never really considered myself an author, but recently I’ve found myself writing a lot more. I write CD reviews, articles and devotionals for All About Worship, and I’m part of the CD review team for Worship Leader magazine.  Since I am writing more, I thought this conference would be a great way to stretch myself and learn more about the craft.  Of course I have  much to learn about songwriting and the visual arts as well, so it should be a great conference!

Many people have asked me to share what I learn, so I’ll try to add to this blog as the week goes on.

If you’re familiar with Nashville, I will have one night free there, so I’d love some ideas on what I could do on a Friday night in Nashville! I’m sure the possibilities are endless!

Sunday Recap – April 22, 2012

Contemporary Services

  • “You Are Holy (Prince of Peace)” (Mark Imboden and Tammi Rhoton)
    • It’s been a long time since we’ve done this song, but I like to pull it out from time to time. Nice song to open with.
  • “Where The Spirit of the Lord Is” (Christy Nockels, Nathan Nockels, Chris Tomlin)
    • I pulled this song out since it fit so well with our theme. I like the song, but I’m not sure it’s the best one for congregational use. I remember that now from when we introduced it a while back. It seems like it should be an easy song for people to sing, but for some reason, people have not engaged with the song any time we’ve done it.
  • “Victory” (Cody Carnes)
    • This is a great song from Gateway Worship! Again, it fit with our theme of freedom in Christ, and so fun to play and sing!
  • “I Am Free”(Jon Egan)
    • I know this isn’t a new song, by any means, but it was the first time we’ve done the song at Bethel.  With the click track from Praise Charts, this was a great way to end the service! I was a bit worried about the high range of the song, but doing it in C helped.  The only tricky part was coordinating the vamp section with the click.

What a great morning! We’re going through a series on Galatians, and we focused this morning on freedom in Christ.  We also had a baptism service at the end and 6 people were baptized! Elisha’s testimony was so powerful, and truly an example of how God changes lives.

Linked Files
Planning Center details


Cafe Connection Service

Zack led the team in the Cafe this week and picked out some great songs.

Linked Files
Planning Center Details


Traditional Service

  • O Worship The King
  • His Name Is Wonderful
  • There’s Something About That Name
  • Blessed Be The Name
  • I Will Sing of My Redeemer

Linked Files
Planning Center Details


This post is part of the Sunday Setlist at The Worship Community, where worship leaders share recaps and setlists from this past weekend.  I’m heading to the Song Discovery Creative Conference this week, so Zack will be leading the teams this next week! Hope you had a great week!