Man, I do love Louie!  His preaching is passionate, God-centered, & Biblically solid, and his vision is HUGE!  For those of you who agree, I really do suggest watching this official video from the Buckhead (Northpoint) Church blog.  May God inspire you to deeper faith (and acts of faith) as watching this did in me!

Before I post my final review, I’d love to point out a few of my friend’s takes on the event:
Nate Fancher on REDISCOVERING THE PSALMS
Brad Loser’s WORSHIPGOD08 DEBRIEF
and conference host/speaker/dude, Bob Kauflin’s overviews of Craig & Thabiti’s talks, and Mark & David’s.
I think you’ll find we were in significant agreement about the conference.

If the other electives available were even half as helpful/enjoyable/awesome as those I signed up for, then this may have been the greatest conference in history.

My first elective was THE TASK OF THE WORSHIP LEADER led by none other that Bob Kauflin himself.  And our task?  To be diligent in connecting individuals, where they are, to WHO HE IS, not to encourage people’s faith to be placed in a song, an emotion, or even a worship leader, but in Christ, as revealed in His Word.  He encouraged all of us worship leaders to:
1.) value the content of a worship song more than it’s hook,
2.) adjust our arrangements & volumes to serve & showcase the lyrical content of worship songs, &
3.) use instrumental solos wisely, in order to be careful to not turn ‘worship’ into mere performance.
 
Yes – it was challenging AND convicting.  His closing statement challenged us to “never settle for having a good meeting”, because meeting with God should be far more than that.  Amen.

My second elective was WRITING SONGS PEOPLE WILL WANT TO SING by Craig Dunnagan.  Craig is an old friend of our Worship Director, Fred McKinnon, and I can see why – they have historically shared a common vision, and interests.  This was, according to Craig, the first time he’s taught specifically on this issue – I wouldn’t have known.  He shared on the priestly, pastoral, and practical heart of Psalmists, told fascinating stories about other songs & artists we’re all familiar with, and best of all encouraged us in writing corporate worship songs that are both theologically correct AND accessible.  My favorite quote from his session: “a great worship song sounds like ANYBODY COULD have written it, but only one person DID.”  O, Holy Spirit, birth at least one of those songs in me.

Next I sat in on a mass guitar lesson with Drew Shirley of Switchfoot, who is a member at a Sovereign Grace church in Cali.  He was humble, approachable, and hardly – if it weren’t for his clothes – would strike you as a rock-star at all.  Sadly, he had JUST arrived as the session began, and was a bit scattered, actually hooking up equipment WHILE teaching.  He gave some fairly simple tips, likely more helpful to the beginning guitarist than the more experienced.  I, personally, was far more blessed by his presence and his heart than by his actual lessons.  That says a lot, I think.  

Next was the most horrifying session of the whole conference: the SONG EVALUATION led by experienced successful worship songwriter, Mark Altrogge.  I entered the room to see my own song, All in All, front & center, loaded up in iTunes and projected onto the screen in the front of the whole room, which was A PACKED HOUSE! Ack!  Even with Brad & Lowell behind me cheering me on, I felt my stomach in my throat, expected it to be shredded.  Thankfully, it wasn’t – in fact, the critique was overall very positive.  Whew!

Sadly, I only attended the first part of Todd Twining’s excellent VOCAL BLENDING elective.  The content was fabulous, but I couldn’t stay awake – coffee couldn’t do a thing…I simply needed a nap.  That said, I stayed for 3/4s of the session, and took a lot home, but it would be hard to share in a blog – very practical stuff.

Lastly, the only session I found somewhat disappointing was TRAINING UP THE NEXT GENERATION OF WORSHIP LEADERS.  I suspect that was because it really was different than I suspected, and they were following so many days of great material.  One thing that struck me was something they said that echoed one of my own beliefs: “encourage all guitarist TO SING”, that way they not only are able to demonstrate worship on stage, but they are able to engage with God through the content and not simply perform, which is the temptation.

Overall, they were some excellent sessions.  Honestly, I’d love to attend another Sovereign Grace conference someday.  Kudos to them for making this one so impactful.

As it won’t be long before this blog moves over to SaintLewisMusic.com (in development), I thought I’d do a quick overview of some of the more popular, and more important blogs I’ve posted here over the past couple of years. Dig around, comment, link, and just have an all-around great time. Unquestionably, my number one blog has consistently been the text of a sermon I preached last year at our Youth Group, Inside Out. It’s called A GOD WORTHY OF WORSHIP, which has now been shortened into an article called WORTHY, featured at TheWorshipCommunity.com. More recently, I have added to this ‘series’ of worship sermons; WORSHIP [IS NOT ABOUT SINGING] part 1, & WORSHIP [IS ALL ABOUT SINGING] part 2.

My second most popular post here is related to the first – another message to Inside Out. It’s called THE MEANING OF LIFE, and is a teaching on our created-in-the-image-of-God-ness. Yes, that’s a word – I just said it, so it has to be!

Next in line were a few posts that are also some of my personal favorites. MISSING THE MARK addresses how one’s spiritual gifts can change the way in which they fulfill certain ministry responsibilities, in particular how one event re-shaped how I think of my own. LOOKING FOR POTENTIAL is a reminder to keep an open eye for certain signs of giftedness within your circles of ministry, and to encourage those gifts. Lastly, a few posts which, though they are not yet in the ‘top 5′ as far as popularity goes, mean a great deal to me. A FEW LESSONS LEARNED is a collection of things I’ve learned about leading worship over the past few years. DOING WHAT I WAS MADE TO DO is my reflection on a nearly perfect day. Lastly, ON BEING A WORSHIP CRITIC touches upon the temptation to trash those who don’t do it the way we do. In short, we should avoid that temptation. In long…well, you should read the blog! I also did a series on Apologetics as Worship, which began with UNBELIEF: ROADBLOCK TO TRUE WORSHIP. I address the faux CHRISTIAN VS. SECULAR MUSIC distinction, a phrase I find heartbreaking (THAT’S NOT WORSHIP), and EXCELLENCE & CREATIVITY.  Some more recent favorites include WELCOMED INTO HIS JOY, FINDING YOUR VOICE, and THE MAN BORN BLIND: GOD, EVIL & SUFFERING, which seems a very appropriate read, given recent events.

If you’ve missed any of those, be encouraged to play catch up, and jump in on the discussions – comments are still open. Let’s sharpen one another.

So be it!

What can I say?  I’ve been busy, and many of my favorite worship bloggers have gone post happy, and most of it contains GREAT content!

For instance, Milestone Worship brought us an excellent series called THE REDEMPTIVE WORK OF WORSHIP PART 1, PART 2, & PART 3, as well as another thought provoking addition to the SONGWRITING FOR WORSHIP series.

I am an Offering brought us a 2 parter on worship production that I found interesting; THE IMPORTANCE OF A PRODUCER, & PRODUCING FOR THE LOCAL CHURCH.  They also added another post in the PRACTICAL MUSIC THEORY series, which I’ve found very helpful in the past few months.  Lastly, they recently reviewed a book which I am currently reading, and encourage you all to pick up as well: WORSHIP GOD.

Rich Kirkpatrick just added two more to his Worship Mythbusters series, which I read faithfully; THE ROLE OF THE WORSHIP LEADER, & EXPRESSIVENESS IN WORSHIP VERSES LEGALISM.  Both of these really challenged me.

Adrian Warnock posted some interesting content from a multi-part interview with Phatfish’s Nathan Fellingham; THE THEOLOGY OF WORSHIP SONGS, & WRITING SONGS FOR WORSHIP.

And lastly (I warned you that there was a LOT, didn’t I?!), a whole slew of other excellent blogs and resources I’ve come across since my last ‘blog-love’ post:
BETRAYING GOD IN WORSHIP
FREE SOFTWARE FOR SONGWRITERS
A FEW THOUGHTS FOR THE WORSHIP LEADER
MUSICAL QUALITY IN WORSHIP SETTINGS
and an ONLINE SONGWRITING COURSE FROM VINEYARD UK.

That’s about it for now.  I hope these encourage, challenge, and build you up!

So be it!

Let me start by saying – I LOVE MY CHURCH! I am happy and proud to be plugged into a church body that is Christ-Centered, Gospel-Driven, Grace-Filled, & Doctrinally Sound, with relevant teaching, wonderful times of corporate worship, and friendly people. Maybe that is why is saddens me to see so-called ‘Christians’ who are, as Josh Harris says, “dating the church”, rather than plugged in somewhere, serving and fellowshipping, committed first & foremost to one local body. Just this week Tim Challies wrote an excellent, powerful, and encouraging post called THEY WENT TO THEIR OWN about his commitment to a local body of believers. Adrian Warnock commented on Challies’ post in LOVE YOUR LOCAL CHURCH. One of my current favorite Worship songwriters, Stephen Altrogge, posted an very humorous excerpt of one of Josh Harris’ sermons, and the full sermon by Harris is available here: COMMITMENT TO THE CHURCH.

In other great church news, apparently there are many signs of revival occurring at Mars Hill Church in Seattle.   200 baptisms in ONE DAY alone!  God is on the move!

As it relates to music, Wisdom Moon posted a great new music theory resource, Milestone Worship added another helpful blog on Worship Songwriting, and a challenging post on SKILL LIDS was blogged over at I am an Offering.

And lastly, back to my church, Fred McKinnon, our music director, posted his thoughts on our Easter Service this past Sunday.

Blessings, and have a GREAT weekend!

Man, what a GREAT last couple weeks for blogging!

First, Sovereign Grace Music has announced their newest c.d., COME WEARY SAINTS.  They’ve put complete audio online to sample, and though it’s quite a bit darker than most of their material (the theme of the c.d. relates to God being sovereign in our adversity), I am particularly excited about the new songs “Every Day” & “You have always been Faithful”.

Milestone Worship has added two more installments in their Songwriting for Worship series: Reci-Tativ & Aria, & The Singability Quotient.

In a similar vein, I was excited to find an entire teaching series on Worship Songwriting from the IWarSchool.  There’s definitely some good stuff there.

Rich Kirkpatrick dispels the common myth that “Worship with hymns is more theologically rich than with modern music” as part of his excellent WORSHIP MYTHBUSTERS series.

Speaking of hymns, Tim Challies reviewed a number of great new resources for those worship leaders looking for a fresh take on hymnody.

And lastly – entirely off the subject of music/corporate worship (though the author of this blog is an EXCELLENT songwriter, himself) – Stephen Altrogge posted a very convicting blog called WHAT ARE WE REALLY TALKING ABOUT? – it’s all about calling sin ‘sin’, and not candy coating it and making it sound acceptable.  Good stuff.

Amen.

Mid-March Blog Love

March 12, 2008

There have been some goodies as of late!

First, my “superior” Fred McKinnon posted a CONVICTING leadership nugget on “Vision Casting”.  As I told him at lunch on Monday – guilty as charged!  It’s a healthy reminder of the need to be pro-active in making sure your team is on the same team.  Read it and weep.

Chris (from Canada) posted a very helpful brainstorming tool which could be helpful in songwriting – at least I’ve often approached songwriting this way.  Be sure to check out his post New Online Brainstorming Tool.

Milestone Worship has recently posted a few helpful tips on Songwriting for Worship.

My friend, David Herndon, was interviewed by ABOUT CHRISTIAN MUSIC regarding his new c.d., Out of Danger/Into Rescue.  Not only is it a good disc, and an interesting interview, but David’s band, and I, will be playing at our church on Friday, March 21st at 8 PM.  Free Show.  More info forthcoming.

Lastly, most anyone who knows me or reads anything I write knows how influencial John Piper’s writing has been on my life.  Well, John has recently put his Kingdom-of-God-centered “God is the Gospel” ONLINE in it’s entirety!  Yes, it’s a hard read in places, but it will probably change your life.  Make sure you have enough paper in your printer, and get to reading!

Amen.

Blog Love Quickie

March 4, 2008

First, more on the opening of our new Church facility from Travis, Chris, & Justin.

In other news:
Stuart Townend on  How to Write Hymns
Bob Kauflin responds in For Music

Lastly…I’ve been doing a LOT of songwriting recently.  In fact, it is my goal this year to finish writing at least 12 new corporate worship songs this year – given that I’ve finished one so far, and have at least 3 more started, I think I’ll meet my ‘quota’.  Well, while rehearsing for this Wednesday’s INSIDE OUT meeting, we were going to play “Meant to Live” by Switchfoot as our walk-in music – a song many of us like.  Right as we began to rehearse, the whole band basically mass-vetoed the song, and suggested playing my newest, “Call me to Life“, instead.  THAT made my day!   Hopefully I can get a live-recording of it soon and pop it up online.

Thank you, Jesus.

Amen.

Friday Blog Love

February 22, 2008

Happy Friday! Just thought I’d spread some blog-love around before the weekend.

My friend (and one of my ‘bosses’, though that sounds so harsh & authoritarian), Fred McKinnon, has posted a pic of our new auditorium. It doesn’t represent the full room, but you can get a feel for it. I’m EXCITED!

I just discovered a very cool older post over at Fundamentally Reformed called THE RISE OF THE MODERN HYMN MOVEMENT, as well as a newer follow up post; MODERN HYMN WRITERS. Mandy, you should enjoy this. Being in a songwriting kick, myself, I found it fascinating.

One of my few living heroes, Tim Keller, has finished his new book THE REASON FOR GOD. Along with N.T. Wright‘s SIMPLY CHRISTIAN, this may be one of the best apologetics for the Biblical faith for post-moderns written to date. Good stuff.

Rich Kirkpatrick recently posted a very though provoking blog in his ‘Worship Mythbusters’ series entitled WORSHIP IS NOT ENTERTAINMENT.

I’ll be taking a much-needed blogging break until March 3rd.  Until we meet again!

Amen…and OUT.

Welcome Justin!

February 18, 2008

Justin, one of my favorite people, and a fellow staff-member at St. Simons Community Church, just began his own blog called IN THE RAW.  He’s just beginning to roll, but already you’ll find some good stuff there.  Drop by and show him some love!

Friday Blog Love

February 15, 2008

There have been so many good blogs and new resources published this week that I can hardly keep up!

First, Mark Altrogge over at The Blazing Center posted Hope for the Sin-Stained Worshiper. Though I’m sure no worship leaders that read this blog have EVER got into a fight with their wife on the way to church (at least I NEVER do that – um, right honey?), you may still benefit from this.

Jared Wilson at Gospel-Driven Church gives a helpful critique of the idea that ‘God shows up’ in the musical aspect of a worship service in a blog worth thinking considering: Call & Response.

Jordan at Worship Trench shares some helpful thoughts that are very relevant if you are, like us, in the process of moving into a new facility, and find your congregation in the midst of great change. Check out Walking the Tightrope for his thoughts.

Lastly, we’ve really been emphasizing, among our student leaders in particular, the importance of daily Bible study and quiet time – growing really familiar with God through his self-revelation in the Word. With that in mind, it is very important to consider what translation we are using and why. In light of that, I present Tim Challies’ The Beauty of a Good Translation and Adrian Warnock’s The ESV: a Bible translation for Everyone? Both give good reason why I choose the ESV over all the other options.

Have a blessed weekend!

Amen.

First and foremost, get yourself over to 9Marks and read Greg Gilbert’s post criticizing ‘Worship Music’ and Bob Kauflin’s excellent response. It’s a worthy discussion to enter into.

Also be sure to sign up for a free account and check out CCLITV, a showcase for new, independent worship artists and songs, as well as articles and other helpful information. A good sample of the sort of new songs you might find are this one, which I enjoyed.

And here’s an older THOUGHT FOR SONGWRITERS from Matt Redman, which has been convicting me as of late, particularly after the vision God gave me this weekend at Brian Johnson‘s conference locally at Bethel. Maybe I’ll post more on that later.

And lastly, this is one KILLER rendition of “Smoke on the Water” – seriously, it’s pretty amazing:

  Smoke on the Water Everyone`s heard the Deep Purple rock classic, but have you heard it played by a full Japanese orchestra?

Hold on for your life…here’s some blog love so vast that few can withstand its…well…okay, here are a bunch of blog posts from last year that I never reposted but should have.  So, without detailed descriptions, or much fluff, here they are.  Really, there is some great content here.  Be blessed!

What do you do when you are no longer the “focus” of your church’s programming? from Rich Kirkpatrick

Getting more Volunteers from Behind the Leaf

Ruined for Anything Else from Challies.com

 All-Time Favorite Story from Vince Antonuccio

Worship: it’s really all about us? from Sign of Jonah

Real Suffering & Songwriting from Milestone Worship

and lastly, a bit of humor from the Internet Monk – Proverbs for Angry Old (and Young) Men.

So there, my folder has been cleared.  Enjoy!

Music Theory…

January 2, 2008

Chris from Canada was nice to draw our attention to Ryan Egan’s blog, which has contains many helpful music theory tips. I’ve found these helpful, so maybe you will too. Click any of the following for the links:

  1. Basic Triads
  2. Inversions
  3. Weird Chord Suffixes
  4. Relative Minor Chord

Our pastor, David Yarborough, hit a home-run today with his blog PLEASE JESUS. A little hint: it’s all about a bumper sticker that I almost purchased myself once when I was in college.

Our Worship Director here at St. Simons Community Church, Fred McKinnon, posted a humorous poke at our Youth Pastor, Jon Blankenship. Jon apparently worked with Fred on re-recording “I will Survive” for our KidJam ministry…as a sheep. You will most likely die laughing at this, so prepare yourself: go ahead and call 911 BEFORE listening.

Heather, wife of the fore-mentioned Youth Pastor, and our ‘Vocal Coordinator’ at INSIDE OUT, posted this excellent blog about Biblical humility she titled Broken Things, which is closely related to my last Worship Textfessional. Very challenging, and worth a read.

If I don’t post again soon, I pray you have a great weekend!

Discipleship (part 1)

December 10, 2007

Having read Chris Moncus‘ excellent blog on Volunteers Reproducing Themselves, I was inspired to post an edited version of an essay I wrote in 2005 on Small Group Ministry and Discipleship, as I think it captures the heart of what Chris was talking about. May this continue to happen at our church!

________________________________________________________________________________

“Three men digging a ditch on a scorching summer afternoon were approached by a friend who asked, ‘What are you guys doing?’ The first, already weary from exertion, responded impatiently, ‘What does it look like? We’re digging a hole!’

The second, sensing that the question was not meant to be rhetorical, added, ‘We’re laying a foundation pad. It’s going to be filled with concrete.’

The third man, who had been whistling happily while he labored, laid his shovel aside, wiped his forehead, and began to describe in great detail how this particular hole was strategic for the placement of one of the massive ‘flying buttresses’ that would support an entire wall of stained glass windows for a new cathedral. After describing in great detail the plans and procedures for completion Christmas Eve five years from now, my family and I will worship together at the altar where that rubbish pile is now located.’”

– from Bob DukesA Model for Strategic Disciple Building

Discipleship is the most important ministry in the church – in fact, it IS the ministry of the Church It’s a radical thing to say, but I stand behind it. I’m convinced of it from both Scripture and experience. In the Old Testament, according to God himself in Deuteronomy 6:1-9, Discipleship was teaching the faith, practicing the faith, relationships of faith, and day-to-day walking it out in faith – all were to take place. Who would know better than God the best environments and models for discipleship? Then Jesus, in Mark 13:13-15, called the disciples out, challenged them, raised them up, and even appointed them to positions of authority, ultimately sending them out to do likewise. Discipleship is the primary purpose of the Church, and the problem is not that we don’t try to do it – the problem is that we try, but do not have a vision as to what end we do it, and how to get there. This is where our ditch-digger comes in. Read the rest of this entry »

Friday Blog-love

December 7, 2007

A few important blogs (et etc.) you should check out over the weekend…

Fred McKinnon, the Worship Director at our church, is having a SUPER-SALE on the Worship Under the Stars CDs & DVDs (which I sang tenor on) – most definitely worth the price of $5 (!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING, FRED?!!!!). How’s that for a stocking-stuffer?!

Bethlehem Baptist, John Piper‘s Church, has opened a “Worship Pastor” track apprenticeship program at their training institute.

And lastly, why not pop over and watch the Narnia: Prince Caspian trailer?

Have a wonderful weekend!