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03 August 2008

Leading "Worship"

If you don't read my longer posts, please read this one anyhoo. If you aways read my posts, don't make an exception. If you've never read a post here, read this one. Even if you don't "get it," read it all. I realized this morning that this may be my very first whiny post! And I'm leaving it here.

I spoke with a very good friend the other day who attended a church fellowship that was pretty "traditional." She noted that, among other things, they didn't have an overhead screen, they didn't have a microphone on the grand piano, no one wore a headset mic, they sang everything in its original key, and everything they sang was right out of the hymnal.

At my church fellowship, we have an overhead screen, a mic on the grand piano, I wear a headset mic, we raise or lower the key depending upon the surrounding songs, and we sing things that aren't in the hymnal. In spite of those differences, I get along remarkably well with the aforementioned friend.

The following will surely seem unrelated, but it's really not. It's about prayer.

There are some people on my morning prayer list that aren't on my "Close Personal Friends" list. Pretty regularly, I contact many of the people on my prayer list to see how they're doing and to see how God has been moving (or sometimes apparently not been moving) regarding their prayers. Through this, I've formed a bond with them. It's odd, but this kind of bond sometimes seems stronger than the "Close Personal Friend" bond that I have with my close personal friends. Very weird.

Back to the original post topic...

Billy Chia recently posted a phenomenal musing about the fact that everyone can lead worship better than I (please don't get into semantics about "lead worship"). I have discovered that there are many armchair Music Minister/Worship Leaders out there. You can all probably do it better than I can.

Here I am... My title is "Worship Pastor." What do I do?

I just listened to 'Be Unto Your Name' a number of times and decided that its theme, tempo, and Scriptural content are perfect for this coming Sunday, but I decided that we shouldn't do the key change that Robin Mark wrote into the song -- it's too high for typical congregational singing -- nor do we need to repeat, "Be unto Your name" so many times at the end. It's not right for our body of believers.

I also had to think about the key in which we'll be doing it (the original key is C) and then factor in our musicians' ability to play and worship with their playing. The fingers of a trained keyboardist do certain things naturally, and the fingers of a trained guitarist do certain other natural things, and playing an F chord is not terribly natural for a guitarist. So I had to decide whether to move the song UP a step (to D, which would be too high for the congregation), to move it DOWN to the next logical key (B, which is horrible for a guitarist, Bb, likewise or A, which typically winds up being too low for congregational singing), or to keep it in its original key. So I kept it in its origial key, without the key change.

Bear in mind that this was for one song.

All the time, I had to keep in mind -- first and foremost -- what was going to be the most beneficial thing for the body of Christ. That's not easy. In many cases I've had to can a song because I don't feel that it's right, even though I love it. I ask God for knowledge and wisdom where this is concerned. God has given me knowledge, mostly via experience, and I need wisdom to know how to use that knowledge.

My experience tonight is probably not much different from your life every day. You have a particular skill set -- a special expertise. No one but you does your job. You might be a kid who's 13 years old. God has given you a special thing to do. You might be 72-year-old guy. God has given you a special thing to do. You might be somewhere in the middle, wondering what in the world God wants of you. Here's a start: pray for the 13-year-old kid. Pray for the 71-year-old man. Do this all the time. Be concerned about them. Put others before yourself.

I guarantee that God wants you to do that.

When we do this, we may still retain our concerns about what those people are doing, but it's likely that we'll begin to understand more about them and why they do what they do. This doesn't mean we'll change our personal opinions and preferences, but it's safe to say we'll understand the people around us a little better.

Do me a large favor. Pray for me. But don't pray for me alone. Pray for Jan, for Rex, for Eric, for Billy, for Rich, for Mandy, for John, for Angela, for Susan, for Dwaine, for Brandon, for Brian, for Mark, etc.

And when you're prone to criticize from your armchair, don't.


Jan said...

While I hope I do lead worship on any given Sunday morning with a certain amount of skill, I hope more than anything that I minister. To God, to others. I hope I am a caring individual who is concerned for others.

About the time I think I am it is tested....severely.

God help me to always lead worship.

Billy Chia said...

Dean - long post, long comments :)

"armchair worship leader" - that's hilarious. I wonder sometimes why people seem to have frequent suggestions for the worship leader, but when they go to the doctor for heart surgery they don't have too many suggestions. I suppose in some ways being a worship pastor is a lot more like being a quarterback than a heart surgeon.

'Be Unto Your Name' - LOVE this song. Yes, it's too high. Key change? Are you kidding me, I'm a guitar guy - we never do key changes. We repeat "be unto your name about 8 times."

"The fingers of a trained keyboardist do certain things naturally, and the fingers of a trained guitarist do certain other natural things" - you are AWESOME for recognizing this. Not all key guys do and it can be extremely frustrating.

Some suggestions: Have your acoustic guitar guys use a capo and play in the key G. (Capo 5 for C, I think we tend to Capo 4 and do this song in Bb.)

It also works well when playing songs in the key of E and F to capo 2 or 3 and play in D.

Thanks for praying!

Christy said...

Dean, the changes I've seen God do in your life are constantly encouraging and inspiring to me. I do pray for you daily, as well as Callie. You two are so dear to me. (OK enough of the mushy stuff). As far as what you do to prepare each week, I can't begin to imagine the amount of work and prayer you put into it, simply because I know what a perfectionist you are, how gifted you are and how sincerely you wish to please your God and everyone else. God really is doing a great work in and through you, so you are doing something right. When I 'criticize' I hope you know it's just having fun at your expense. Does that make it any better? LOL! You are my fearless leader and I will follow you even onto the ole' Gospel Ship! :0)

Dean Lusk said...

Didn't know Billy was a "guitar guy" until this comment, although I should have realized it from looking at yesterday's song list (for which I'd like to have been present -- I don't know that we could do "One Way" at a typical service).

I lead with a guitar these days, but I've been a pianist for a very long time. Sometimes I wonder if that dual perspective is helpful or limiting. I capo at the fifth fret for "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?" among others, and have a dickens of a time with intonation.

I actually find "criticism" to be helpful most of the time, if not all the time, and I'm afraid that I sounded contrariwise in my post.

Yours Truly,



You set my feet a-dancing
And my heart rejoicing
And my mouth singing out Your praise...
Your praise.

Jeff said...

Don't be too hard on yourself. You use your gifts well, it seems, and so long as your not "burying those talents, but doubling them" I personally think you've earned a "well done, good and faithful servant."
P.s. Do arm-chair worship leaders have cup-holders in their seats for communion, or do they have to use one of those funny hats with the two straws that come down to you mouth?

...just wanted you to know how much I appreciated this blog.
grace and peace...

Billy Chia said...

Yeah - I think cross pollinating is helpful. I play keys, but I only know chords. I don't read music really well.

I always forget about intonation. I have a cheap Ibanez that drives me nuts with fret buzz, but I do have to say it stays in tune and intonates pretty well - I'm a capo junky.

Leroy said...

I didn't know we would need to know how to read "Greek" for today's blog! :)

Dean, I agree with Christy on the "watching you change" part. It's been pretty cool to watch you come out of your comfort zone. Now if we can get you out of the house on a Saturday night. :D

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