Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Solid Family Church

They say that everything rises and falls around leadership... that people will only rise as far as their leader is capable of going... that a Church will be passionate about what it's Pastor is passionate about. Well I think it's safe to say that our Pastor (among other things) is passionate about family. And this is evidenced by the number of killer families we have serving @ Chorus Church, including his own.

If you've frequented this blog at all over the last year or so, you've probably noticed that Pastor Dave has been playing in the band a lot more lately. What you might not know is that his son Daniel plays guitar quite often as well. I have to say that it's pretty cool when they play together like they did this weekend. But it doesn't stop there. His son Grant plays percussion in our Jr. High Band, his other son Dean is an up and coming drummer (kids got it!), his wife Elena is on staff and can be seen designing bulletins, emails & flyers. She helps with setup, teardown and our Sunday morning welcome (amongst a gazillion other things). It's a lot of work for their family, but I have to say that something special happens when people see them all serving like they were this weekend.

You may have also noticed from our Worship Confessionals that Bradley and Andi are on Tech almost every weekend. But what you probably don't know is that they're husband and wife and have recently stepped up to provide oversight to everything tech @ Chorus. What a blessing they are, and not to mention their 2 adorable daughters who make me smile every weekend when they cuddle up next to me during prayer time.

And lastly, Kevin and his son Brandon blow my mind. There's something cool about family members playing instruments together, not to mention a drummer and a bass player. I think there's some kind of family connection that helps them lock in better than most. ANd when Kevin's not playing bass, he's making us sound good back at the sound board. What you might not know is that Kevin's wife Terri helps setup outside almost every week as well.

There are just a ton of families that serve week in and week out @ Chorus. In fact, there's too many to list. So many in fact that it leads me to believe that our Pastor values family... and our Church is all about family and family is all about our Church.

What about your Church and/or Pastor? What makes them unique?

Worship Confessional - Arrangements

This week was pretty cool. We were able to do a couple of my favorite worship songs, "Face Down" being one of them. They just seemed to fit with the message (The Transfiguration, matt. 17).

Things went pretty well. We had a little trouble with some arrangements that we did. Brandon our drummer was really excited about playing a couple of the songs just like the CD, but as you know, that doesn't always work on a Sunday morning; so we had to adjust. He did a great job holding back.

So here's a couple of questions that I have for you.

1. How often do you re-arrange songs and how often do you use an arrangement as is from the album.

2. How do you usually re-arrange the songs (tempo, verse/chorus/bridge structures, keys, etc.)

3. Why do you re-arrange the songs (unsingable key, lack of musicians, too long, too fast/slow, etc.)

I'm really interested to see what your responses will be.

Here was our setup for the week...


Bradley - Lights
Andi - Pro-Presenter (Gotta love a girl who will serve on her birthday weekend!)
AJ - Audio (his dad was supposed to do it, but he stepped up and nailed it!)
Cindy - Audio

Band (Father/Son Crew this week!):

me - agtr/vox
Dave R. - keys/vox
Daniel R. - egtr
Kevin S. - bass
Brandon S. - drums


Oh Praise Him - Crowder
Marvelous Light - Hall
God Almighty - Tomlin (off his new album "Hello Love")
Face Down - Redman
Jesus Paid it All - Stanfill

Monday, November 17, 2008

John Mayer... Songwriter, Musician, Philosopher???

I took this quote from one of John Mayer's latest posts in regards to the pressure that he's feeling from the paparazzi and everyone else at this stage in his career. I had to pass it along...

All I can do is concentrate on keeping my heart and soul correct and then redecorate around it.
Man, whether you agree with his personal beliefs/philosophies or not, you've got to admit that if we could grab a hold of that idea as Christians, this world would be a different place.

In essence I believe that what he is saying is, if I quit blaming everyone else in the world for my problems, trials and insecurities I might actually accomplish something significant this year... and I believe that if we as Christians were to embrace this idea we'd put a huge smile on the face of Jesus by actually becoming salt and light instead of just talking/arguing about it all the time.

I tell my son almost everyday, "You worry about you and let everyone else worry about everyone else." I think I need to hear that myself every once in a while.

By the way, he's a pretty great songwriter/musician as well. Check out his latest live album "where the light is" My favorite song is "stop this train". It's pretty amazing! Oh yeah... and he plays a Martin. ;)

John Mayer, songwriter, musician, philosopher?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Worship Confessional

Well, we're finishing up our Fear Knot series. We've got one week left. Pastor Dave and I have been working hard to tighten things up as far as the band goes and I think it's working. They sounded great this week... And they did 3 songs they'd never heard before.

I think God was really doing something this week, as evidenced by the trials/struggles that we encountered during first service. Here are some of the obstacles that were overcome...

We got a late start (we still got setup before 8:00am!)
There was a weird white noise coming from the bass channel (padded the direct box and it went away)
Crawford broke a bass string during sound check (Kevin's wife brought his for Crawford to play)
The Master EQ was all messed up for the 2nd week in a row!!??? (Enrique noticed it and dialed it in)
We did 3 new songs (I think we nailed them)
Mike's girlfriend fainted during the first service (Thank God for Sue Bushrow our resident Paramedic and Children's Director)
Dave's Mic was giving us all kinds of crazy popping/static (Enrique dialed it in)

Wow!!! What a great team we have. God really allowed us to be tested today and I think the team came through with flying colors!

Here's what the team looked like:


Enrique - Lead Audio
Paul - Audio
Kevin - Audio Setup
Andi - ProPresenter
Chris - Lights
Bradley - I'm not really sure what Bradley was doing... (Just kidding) ;)


Me - agtr/vox
Dave - keys/vox
Crawford - bass
Dalton - egtr
Brandon - drums


All Because of Jesus (Fee)
Let the Praises Ring (Brewster)
What if I Stumble (DC Talk)
Never Let Go (Redman)
Walk by Faith (Jeremy Camp)

Check out some audio clips here.

Thanks again team for all of your hard work and dedication!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chris Tomlin Does It Again

Every time Chris Tomlin comes out with a new album I determine not to buy it. I'm so tired of hearing about this guy and his music. I think every Church in the world is playing his stuff. And every time I determine not to buy it, I end up buying it... And worse yet, I end up loving it! What is it about this guy that makes him such a good song writer? (can you tell I'm a little jealous?)

I've been listening to "Hello Love" for the last couple of weeks and it amazes me how incredibly perfect it is for today's Church (any Church!). It's almost like he could write a song about how Mark ran through the streets naked (Mark 14:51-52) and it would be a hit. The more I listen to the album the more I want to do every song this Sunday. It's like the perfect worship set. So here's my setlist for this week...

Sing, Sing, Sing (Tomlin)
Jesus Messiah (Tomlin)
You Lifted Me Out (Tomlin)
God Of This City (Tomlin)
I Will Rise (Tomlin)
Love (Tomlin)
Praise The Father, Praise The Son (Tomlin)
My Deliverer (Tomlin)
With Me (Tomlin)
Exalted (Tomlin)
God Almighty (Tomlin)
All The Way My Savior Leads Me (Tomlin)
My Beloved (Tomlin)

(Obviously he didn't write every song on the album, but you get the picture)

Could you imagine having this guy as the Worship Leader at your church (check it out)? I can just see him and Giglio now...

Giglio: "Hey Chris, I'm going to be teaching on how Mark ran through the streets naked, can you put together a song that drives the message home?"
Tomlin: "Sure thing Louie, just give me a few minutes would you?"
Giglio: "Hmmm... I'm not sure we've got a few minutes, the service starts in 2 minutes!"
Tomlin: "Oh, really, well then I'll just wing it."
Giglio: "Sounds good..."
5 minutes go by...
Tomlin (speaking to the congregation): "So Louie and I were talking about how Mark ran through the streets naked in Mark chapter 14... yeah I know, but I'm working on this song and I thought I'd share it with you guys."

One year later

"And the award for best new Christian album goes to Chris Tomlin for "Naked Worship"!"

You have to admit, as tired as you are of hearing about Chris Tomlin, the guy is amazing! He's like Bono and U2, they just can't write a bad song. Are you with me Karl?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Worship Confessional

I'll keep this short and sweet (okay, so not really). From what I've heard and what I experienced myself, this was one of our best worship services in a long time in regards to worship. Probably somewhat due to my new Martin (just kidding... kind of), but also due to some fine tuning that Pastor Dave and I have been working on. Here's what we've been working on.


I'm praying more, Dave's praying more, the team's praying more. Enough said!

Tighten up the teams...

We're trying to keep the teams together so that they get used to playing with each other. We went from a fairly random scheduling system to something a little more structured. I'm trying to schedule teams instead of players. I also schedule them 2 weeks in a row. So the team will play for 2 weeks and then have some time off. Then they play for 2 weeks again.

Changing the sheet music...

I'm not a big fan of sheet music, but sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do. For a while I've been using sheet music that's based on patterns instead of the straight ahead chord over the word style. For example, instead of writing the chords over each word, I write "VERSE 1 (Em - C - D)". The purpose of this is to help people memorize songs quickly, thus eliminating sheet music. This worked great when we had one band that played together all the time, but with multiple bands and a lot of new music... not so much. So I'm back to putting the chords over the words (kind of). I think it helps...

Click Track...

While we don't always stay on the click track, it at least gets us started on the right track (get it?) and eliminates the whole tempo discussion. I think it's a must for every team. We use the Yamaha Click Station.

Setlist Scheduling...

We're trying to schedule our set lists a few weeks out now. While I'm not super stoked on being locked into certain songs, I do like giving the team a few extra days to work on the songs. The Planning Center Online is a huge help with this.

Sound Check...

While we're stoked to have so many different sound guys (I think there's like 5) it does have it's setbacks. Each person has a different feel and a different level of knowledge in regards to the board and mixing. We're going to be doing some training this Spring to help everyone get on the same page, but until then we're taking a more pro-active approach to our sound checks. Dan suggested we keep track of the settings for each instrument/player so that they're always the same. Also, I'm going to make an effort to listen more. In fact, I pretty much went the whole service this week without my ears. I'm contemplating not using them at all so that I can hear what's going on in the room and get a better feel for the mix. I'm sure my vocals will suffer some, but in the long run it's probably worth it. This week Pastor Dave was able to help Kevin dial in the Mix pretty well.

Here's the band we had this week:

backing vox - Lynette
agtr/vox - Me
bass/vox - Dan
keys/vox - Dave
egtr - Daniel
drums - Ross

Tech Team:

Lead audio - Kevin
Audio - Charlie
Pro Presenter - Andi
Lights - Bradley
Lighting setup - Crawford


Marvelous Light (Hall)
King of Majesty (United)
Everlasting God (Brenton Brown)
-bumper video-
I Can Only Imagine (Mercy Me)
I Will Rise (Tomlin)

I think one of the highlights of the morning was when we broke into an acappella, 4 part harmony of the bridge on "I will rise"... Good stuff and perfectly placed. Especially when Pastor Dave had just taught on not fearing death.

How was your week? What pro-active things are you doing to tighten things up in your area of ministry?

Gibson, Martin or Taylor?

For a few years now I've been playing a 1956 Gibson LG1. I love the way the low-end fills the room when I'm doing an acoustic set. It feels amazing and it looks even cooler. The L.R. Baggs pickup accentuates the lows like no other and one of the coolest things is that I sold my Taylor 310 for $1,000 and picked up the Gibby for $400 on ebay. Needless to say the Gibson sounds 10 times better than that Taylor ever did.

But here's the deal. I just don't do acoustic sets very often. And... well... the old Gibson just doesn't cut through the mix very well. When you've got drums, bass, keys & an electric guitar, there's very little room (or need) for such a full bodied instrument. Not to mention every time I use a capo I have to re-tune because it's so old.

So Pastor Dave has been encouraging me to pick up a new guitar for a while now. You don't even know how cool it is to have a Pastor that cares so much about your tone! Or maybe it was just the tuning during his prayer time...? Either way, it's pretty cool!

So obviously I had to make a decision. What kind of guitar should I get? I've owned a few in my short time as a musician. A Harmony (classic!), a Takamini, a Taylor and a Gibson. And of course I've played a million over the years. So I did some research and narrowed it down to 2 guitars that have decent reputations, will cut through the mix and sell for under $1000. Here they are...

The Taylor 214CE

The Martin DM

Needless to say, due to my past experiences with Taylor and the tone I so often hear from the guitar of choice for worship leaders I went with the Martin. In fact, I went with Martin despite the fact that the Taylor came with a pickup already installed. I went with the Martin even though the Taylor is a little prettier. I went with the Martin when every worship leader I know was urging me to get the Taylor (not really, but I'm sure they would of had I asked). Yes, I went with the Martin for a few very distinct reasons... Dreadnought, Tone and Reputation. Not to mention my good friend Kreg is a Martin man.

A few other selling factors were that it came with a hard case, new strings and a strap. And with the "Church Discount" I got them to throw in the Fishman Rare-Earth pickup (one of the best out there) all for a smokin' deal! My dad always taught me not to take "no" for an answer. ;)

So far, it's my favorite guitar of all time... even if it doesn't have those sweet Gibson lows.

What's your favorite guitar of all time?

Worship Confessional Links from Youtube