A New Place to Hang My Hat

I agreed to take a position today as the part-time Music DIrector at St. Marys First Baptist Church. There will be some adjustments to make.

I’m looking forward to getting in there and meeting all the new people and finding out what they can do and how we’ll be able to work together to lead in worship and do what God wants us to do. I’m also very nervous about it, but God is in control.

I have spent the last seven months working as an interim Minister of Music at a church where it was all praise band led. I led with my guitar, and the music was primarily contemporary praise. I did blend the service somewhat, and I am sure there are many who lead very contemporary services that would say I didn’t really lead in contemporary worship because it was blended.

As I looked around the sanctuary when I first started there, I noticed that the congregation was a bit older than it had been before the split, and the addition of a few choruses from the 80s and 90s confirmed that they were very receptive to music they knew. I knew that going with all current songs would leave them where they were when I started: coming to hear a band, not participate in worship. Compared to many of the churches espousing blended worship services here, we were still far more contemporary than most, but mainstream contemporary.

Now I am moving to a church that has very traditional roots, but would like to make a move toward being a tad more contemporary. I believe God has prepared me for this position by having me spend a year as the interim at Kingsland FBC (another primarily traditional church) and then seven months at Victory Baptist where most of our songs were in the CCLI’s top 25 worship songs, and some were too new for that. I believe I have a good handle on how to design a blended worship service that will appeal to many and lead them to prepare their hearts and minds for the teaching of the Word.

I am not one who thinks the singing is the worship portion of the service. The singing unites us in corporate worship and helps to focus our minds and hearts in preparation for teaching and the message from God’s Word. But it’s all worship – the music, the teaching and preaching – as we come to discover what God is saying to us. Worship is not something reserved for Sunday only, or Sunday and Wednesday, but is something we should do daily from the minute we wake up until the moment we go to sleep. Every minute is a gift from Him, and we need to keep our minds stayed on Him and our hearts in worship as we pray without ceasing.

It is an incredible responsibility which has been given to me, and one which I have never taken lightly. It is extremely humbling to be used by the Creator of the Universe.

I will be in charge of many musical groups I will not be directing, and I pray that the Lord will give me wisdom and patience and insight to keep all those plates spinning and that he will give me good people who are dedicated to serving Him to help me. There is no way I could ever do it on my own. Many wonderful people have stepped up to help out since the end of December, and I hope they continue to serve, and to do so cheerfully and from a humble servant heart. I look forward to meeting them and working with them.

As I make my way along this new path, I will be posting our weekly song lists here and provide some feedback in how God is leading us. I hope you’ll come back to check it out, and I hope you’ll pray for me and all those I work with that God’s will be done and Jesus’ name be lifted high.


All good things …

It was a difficult morning for me at Victory Baptist today, because it was my last Sunday there. I have been the interim MInister of Music since the beginning of July, and while it has had its ups and downs, it has been really up for me the last several months. The praise team had settled in and we were really coming together as a cohesive group. But that is what interims do, and it means that when Zane comes this week he’ll have a group that has learned that there is more than one to skin a cat and more than one way to lead worship and more than one key to do a song in.

As for me, I’ll be moving on to my next worship leading job in the near future, but I don’t know what the Lord has in store, yet. There is one church I have talked with, but we’ve not met on a price for services rendered, yet. Meanwhile, I have my resumé out at the four Baptist associations near here, and I know of at least four churches looking for interims or part time worship leaders. I also have a lot of people at my home church I’d like to see and worship with and enjoy some fellowship with for a couple of weeks – to kind of recharge my batteries before going back out and having to charge other people’s batteries. (Oh, and I continue to slog away at college, finishing that thing I started over 30 years ago. I’ll have my Associate’s at the end of 2009 and then will continue on to my bachelor’s immediately after. I kick myself often for not sticking it out the first time. Thankfully, we have a God of second chances!)

Now on to what we did this morning at Victory, as well as a list of what’s happening tonight.

Opening: Your Grace is Enough (G)
John 6:63-69 “‘The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.’ From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. ‘Will you leave me also?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.’”
Baptism(s) / Welcome __________
Chorus: Come, Now is the Time to Worship (D)
Offering: Bro. Ed
Chorus: God of Wonders (G)
Hymn: # 411 Tis So Sweet (G)
(My arrangement)
Who can you trust nowadays? It’s a big issue. People say “Trust me” all the time, and then let you down. Even people who have never let you down before may disappoint you when you least expect it. But a quick check through the Bible tells us who we can always trust. Psalms 20:7 “Some men trust in chariots, some men trust in horses but we will trust in the name of the Lord.” Psalms 56:11 “…in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere human beings do to me?” Actually, the entire book of Psalms is full of references to why we can trust God. Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” In John 14, Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”

Special – Mike Zimmerli – Rescue (Jared Anderson wrote it, but this was the Don Moen version – split trax)
I took the opportunity to tell the congregation what a privilege it has been to worship with them and get to them, and that regardless of where God calls me, I have said, “I will follow You, Lord.”

Sermon: Keeping Your Head in the Game (James 5:7-20) ……. Bro. Ed
Invitation Hymn # 450 I Need Thee Every Hour (Ab)

And then we had a great potluck! I was quite humbled by the outpouring of affection by the members, some that I have never really met but who are very sincere in how much it has meant to them for me to be there, standing in the gap for them. Carrot soufflé, pineapple au gratin casserole and sweet potato soufflé are all healthy for you, right?

On board for tonight:
Opening: I’ll Fly Away (E)
Welcome: ___________
Chorus: Jesus Messiah (G)
Hymn # 261 Wonderful Words of Life (F)
(My arrangement)
Offering: Bro. Ed
Chorus: Lord Reign in Me (C)
Chorus: The Heart of Worship (D)
Chorus: I Give You My Heart (G)

Vanuatu Mission Report

That was our Sunday. This post is part of the fun over at Fred McKinnon’s. Check it out to see what other churches are doing.

Your Body’s Fancy

We had a good crowd in service Sunday morning despite a few spaces caused by sickness and travel. It is a Baptist church, though, so you always know who’s missing because they’re not in their “assigned” seats. It’s always the funniest thing to look out from the stage and see the holes; it’s as though there is a force field around those seats, preventing others from moving over and filing them in.

The praise team was down a few, including one guitar and the regular pianist, but there were still two other guitarists besides me, and the keyboard player simply slid over and took over the piano duties and she did a great job.

This being Sanctity Sunday I opened the service with the beautiful words from Psalm 139: 13-16 that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, or as Mister Rogers said, “Your body’s fancy and so is mine.”

Sunday Morning Service • 10:50 A.M.

Opening: Awesome is the Lord (G) [CCLI #4674159] This was new last week, and so we did it again today. More people singing with more enthusiasm.

Welcome: Bro. Ed
Chorus: Your Grace is Enough (G) [CCLI #4477026] This was new today, and was well received. We’ll do it again next week, probably for the opener.

Chorus: Forever (G) [CCLI #3148428] Like the previous two songs, this song addresses God’s unending, never-failing love and mercy to us. It’s also another song with a Tomlin touch. (I just realized that Chris Tomlin either had a write-credit or a recording on the first four songs we did. It’s hard not to do. Chris Tomlin and Paul Baloche are just so prolific and so congregationally friendly in their writing.)

Offering: Bro. Ed
Hymn: # 547 I Stand Amazed (G) [CCLI #4718008]

Chorus: Above All (G) [CCLI #2672885] Paul Baloche has a write-credit on this Lenny LeBlanc classic. I intro’d with Philippians 4: 5-11, which includes this section: “6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; 7 rather, He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a human being, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”

Special: Set the World on Fire ……… Kathryn Flora/Youth Praise Band
Kathryn did a great job on this, just like I knew she would, and I told her so. I’ve been working with the youth praise band since I came in July, and we’ve done this song a couple of times this fall, so I knew it would go well. She got a standing O at the end. I wanted the congregation to get a taste of what we do musically on Wednesday nights.
(Dismiss Children’s Church)

Sermon: A Celebration of Life (Sanctity Sunday) ………………….. Bro. Ed
Invitation Hymn # 407 Because He Lives (Ab) [CCLI #16880]

Sunday Evening Service • 6:00 P.M.

Opening: Forever (G) [CCLI #3148428]
Hymn #29 How Majestic is Your Name (C) [CCLI #26007]
Chorus: Thy Word (G) [CCLI #14301]
Offering: Bro. Ed
Chorus: Enough (G) [CCLI #3599479]
Chorus: Above All (G) [CCLI #2672885]
Chorus: Jesus, All for Jesus (D) [CCLI #879168] Robin Marks. I really enjoy doing this with a violin and acoustic guitar intro.

(Dismiss Children)
Sermon: Youth Evangelism Conference Report
Our youth leaders took about a dozen teens to Macon over the Christmas break from school for this. There were between 12- and 16-thousand kids there, praising God. About 600 decisions of some kind made (first time or re-dedication) and one of the youth we took received Christ.

Closing Hymn #330 Amazing Grace (G) [CCLI #2762836]

That’s what was happening at Victory Baptist this week. What did you do? To find out what others did, from all over the world, check out the Sunday Setlists at Fred McKinnon’s site.

On the job training

Being an interim worship leader is an “interesting” job, especially if you do it more than once, like I have. Each assignment is different, and not always good in the traditional sense of the word. But each time is a learning experience and faith-building experience.

As an interim you are often a scapegoat/catchall for the things the previous Music Minister did wrong or did badly, or are taken to task because you don’t do things the exact same way the old person did. What almost makes the situation comical is when the previous Music Minister left under bad conditions or because he split the church or wouldn’t/couldn’t/didn’t work with the pastor, and people STILL castigate you for not doing things the way he did. He could have had cloven hoofs, a forked tail and horns and people would still want what they had before.

The only thing I can compare it to is when a woman has been abused repeatedly, until she finally escapes from the relationship, and the first thing she does is hook up with another abuser. It’s all she knows. As bad as it was, it’s what she is comfortable with on some level. I have been in churches where this has been the situation.

Members of the praise team will rail against the previous Music Minister, but when you do anything different – change a key, change a chord, double or eliminate a chorus or bridge – they get their back up because that’s “not how we do it.”

I have come in after a Music Minister has abused the praise team by directly or indirectly telling them that unless they perform the music exactly as it sounds on a specific recording, they are doing it wrong and they are not worshiping. I have told them that no matter how we do it, we are doing it right when we play and sing from our hearts in worship of our Creator.

You give your heart to a congregation, knowing that you won’t be staying there forever, and often for ridiculously low pay. That’s something I would really like to see changed in churches: you have budgeted for the Music Minister’s salary, so why not give it to the interim who is working really hard to keep your programs together and even grow them?

You pay the “real” Minister of Music $45-$60K a year, but you pay the interim $300 a week. I worked a year at that pay, and I never missed a Sunday morning, a Sunday night or a Wednesday choir rehearsal. The new Minister of Music came in at $72K a year and practically the first thing he did was take a vacation.

I know, it’s petty and small to make money an issue, but I did not take a vow of poverty when I answered the call to enter church music full time. I have bills, and I have school to pay for, and I have insurance to pay for out of my own pocket, and I have a retirement fund I would love to have someone else put money into.

Churches: when you hire an interim, pay them what they are worth! When they work full time, pay them for it. Don’t decide that it’s the perfect time to use that money that you’re not paying the Music Minister to do some renovations or upgrades. Pay the man – or woman – who is giving their all to keep your programs afloat. Would your senior pastor or your education minister or your youth minister work for $300 a week? Then why should I? The average unemployment insurance benefit is $292 a week according to the Department of Labor. I have also done some short fill-in stints for as little as $100 a week when I only had to be there on Sunday, but even then a chunk was eaten up by gasoline for the 100-mile round trip drive.

I love what I do, and I know I am called to it, and interim work is a great way to gain experience and let the Lord and other pastors teach you, but it can also harden your heart if you’re not careful. Whether it’s a good experience or a bad experience, it is on the job training, and it is definitely an education in and of itself.

Money Flies

Having been a longtime reader of the Sunday Setlists at Fred McKinnon’s site, I decided it was time to add our setlists from our worship services at Victory Baptist Church in St. Marys, GA. It’s a bit late to be coming to the table, since I have been the interim since the beginning of July and the new, permanent Minister of Music & Youth will be coming in February. But better late than never. And since I hope to be on staff at another area church soon after leaving Victory, I will be able to continue to post setlists regardless of where I am.

Here’s what we did this morning:

Opening: Blessed Be Your Name (A) – I used to do this one in C, and I love to do it in C because it’s perfect for my voice range as a tenor, but the congregation and the girls in the praise team are screeching on some of the phrases, so I dropped it down about a month ago. The girls are able to really sing out now, and the congregation doesn’t struggle, either. It’s always a tough thing to gauge: whether to do a song in the right range for the congregation or in the right range for you. Often what’s right for you as the song leader is not right for the congregation. But since we are there to lead the people in worship and not there to put on a performance, I have to put the congregation’s needs ahead of my own preferences. Either way, I love this song, and the people really connect with it. In the good times or when the darkness closes in, God is still sovereign and is glorified when we – like Job – say, the Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

Welcome to regulars and visitors: Bro. Pat

Chorus: Awesome is the Lord Most High (G) – This was new this week. We’re doing it Jon Abel style instead of ala Chris Tomlin. Jon’s version is geared more to a praise team.

Chorus: Ancient of Days (C)

Missions video and Offering: Bro. Ed. We are in the process of putting together a team for a mission trip to Morocco in late spring, and the video was about international missions.

Chorus: Better is One Day/I Could Sing of Your Love Forever medley (E) This is my own pairing of the two songs, and it just happened one day when I was singing Better is One Day and got to the end of a chorus started the chorus of I Could Sing of Your Love and I liked it so I brought it to the praise team. It’s a natural when you think about being in His presence, and how a single day with Him is better than thousands anywhere else and to just make it a vertical song of praise and adoration by continuing the thought: I could Sing of Your Love Forever.

Chorus: Thank You Lord (F) The Don Moen/Paul Baloche classic praise song of thanksgiving for all He does for us. There’s an old hymn that goes “Count your blessings, name them one by one. 
Count your blessings, see what God hath done.” When you look at what He has done for you, when you stop and count the blessings, you find that you just keep going and going because He keeps giving and giving.

Chorus: You Are My All in All (F). Dennis Jernigan’s timeless classic. We slipped into some beautiful harmony as we worshiped.

Sermon: A Fool and His Time (James 4:13-17) …………… Bro. Ed

I. It’s foolish to plan without regard to God (v. 13)

II. It’s foolish to assume without regard to God (v. 14-15)

III. It’s foolish to boast without regard to God (v. 16)

IV. It’s foolish to procrastinate without regard to God (v.17)

Invitation Hymn:  My Jesus I Love Thee (F)

Here’s the lineup from Sunday night. Sometimes we do about half the songs from morning again, but this time the setlist came out more independent.

It’s interesting that Pastor Ed used both time and money topics. Time flies, and time is money, so: money flies. Boy, does it ever!

Opening: Holy is the Lord (G)


Chorus: You are God Alone (C)


Chorus: Ancient of Days (C)

Hymn: Sweet, Sweet Spirit (G)

Chorus: Breathe (A)

Chorus: You Are My King (Amazing Love) (E)

Sermon: A Fool and His Money  (Luke 12:13-21) ………………. Bro. Ed

Invitation Hymn: I Know Whom I Have Believed (D)

That’s our Sunday. How was yours?