All Posts in Acts 29

September 4, 2013 - No Comments!

Worship Resources Pt 5: Music Theory




Music Theory Lessons for Volunteers

Communicating at your mid-week rehearsal can sometimes feel like you are building the Tower of Babel.  Somewhere between avoiding the key your piano player hates and Nashville numbers, you can feel like everyone is on a different page.

Thankfully "music" is a language that can learned by any musician.  Many people who serve faithfully in the church have no formal music background which can make it hard to talk to them about things such as how capos work, or transpose a song on the fly.  These two theory lessons will help define common musical terms such as whole steps, half steps, major scale, minor scale, using capos, transposing for capos, and common chords in every key.

Our lessons below show how to use "Nashville Numbers" which is very helpful when a a capo-ed guitarist is talking to the rest of the band about what chord he/she is playing or when learning how to transpose.

If someone in your band or team does have formal musical training, encourage them to pass it on in ways that are helpful, not condescending.  Ask for referrals to music teachers in your community that understand the worship environment of a typical church.

You can download for free some of the lessons we use below.  These are targeted to help new musicians understand basic concepts and help you find the short cuts in the musical language without having everyone take a year long college theory class.

Lesson 1: Steps and Scales

Lesson 2: Minor Scales, Chords, Nashville Numbers, and Transposing

If you'd like more lessons, let us know in the comments below!

August 28, 2013 - No Comments!

Worship Resources Pt 4: Developing A New Band




Band Development Process

Many people have asked me what it looks like to "build a band".

I should preface that at Living Stones Churches, we use the band model at some of our locations, and the team model at others.  Neither is "better" but they both have pros and cons.

When we build a band, we're looking for someone theologically grounded, musically gifted, and spiritually submited to lead it.  I detail that a bit in this piece for the Resurgence.  But building a band is more than just raising up (or finding) a great band leader.  That's why we have a development process.

The process addresses the logistical needs of an efficient practice, establishes their song catalog to ensure theological depth, thematic diversity, and congregational familiarity. 

Download our "Band Development Process" for free here.

If you use part or all this, be sure to comment below with your thoughts.

August 21, 2013 - No Comments!

Worship Resources Pt 3: Feedback Loops

Feedback Form for Bands/Teams/Leaders

Anyone who has read a leadership book published in the last 50 years knows that feedback loops are essential.  The people you lead need to know what the "win" is.  If you don't define what the "win" is, you can't measure it.

Sadly, most churches only have a vague collection of ideas for what a "win" is on Sunday.  Very few have spelled it out in a way that can be assessed and measured.  We're quick to spiritualize this, and while I agree that no man can know the full extent of what God is doing in the room, there are certainly things we can watch for and assess for growing in our efficacy, leadership, and faithfulness.

Sometimes a worship leader is a little off, and you don't know how to nail down what it is.  Maybe you are the worship leader and you want to get honest feedback from your peers or your lead pastor. 

Asking questions like, "How can I lead better on Sundays?" or "Is there anything I do on stage you wish I would stop doing?" are great discussion starters.  Now, I only recommend these conversations if you actually believe that Jesus loves you, has saved you, and won't let go of know like the songs you sing?  Otherwise any critical feedback will likely send you into a shame spiral.

A good feedback loop that includes critique and praise can be life giving and a way to avoid plateauing in your leadership.

Our "Feedback" document includes forms for band/team leaders as well as the band/team as a whole and is available for free here.

If the feedback document is helpful to you, comment below. 

August 14, 2013 - 2 comments

Worship Resources Pt 2: Application

Worship Application

You know the guy.

He approaches you after a Sunday service and starts talking about how he used to lead worship at a huge church, and he grew up down the street from Switchfoot, and he has a bunch of gear he wants you to know about.

Also, he wants to join your worship ministry.

Where do you start?  What action step do you point to so that he knows what is expected?  We use a printed application as a starting point.  We have them on hand at the church info counter at all times.  Of course we want to really get to know anyone that comes into the worship ministry, both because of it's biblical importance, and the visible nature of anyone serving on stage.  You don't get to know someone filling out a form.

That said, the simple application, actually weeds out some of the folks that might be toxic for the ministry, while getting the folks you want to join a way to think through what they are walking into.  It serves as the first step in the process of getting involved.  It's designed to be just that: a first step.  Not bulletproof, but a helpful tool.

If you find the document useful, be sure to comment below.

Download the "Worship Application" for free here.

August 7, 2013 - 1 comment.

Worship Resources Pt 1: Auditions

Worship Band/Team Audition Kit

I know you probably have more worship leaders and volunteers than you know what to do with.

But most churches I know are struggling to get worship leaders and volunteers identified, recruited, trained, and discipled.  Worship team member recruiting is tough.  It's demanding in terms of time and specific in terms of gifting…and that's not even considering the expectations on a music leader.  In many ways, we are asked to be a theologically trained, public speaking, musically inclined entrepreneur. 

At Living Stones Churches, through years of experimenting and making mistakes left and right, we have a pretty robust and thorough process of getting new worship volunteers and leaders on board and on stage.  We'll be posting several documents we use to train leaders and build bands.  None of this is a replacement for relational discipleship, but it's a good system to get you rolling on developing and assessing what you have now, and clarifying what you want for the future.  They are living documents for sure...they are changing all the time.

If you find this helpful, be sure to leave a comment!

Download the "Worship Band/Team Audition Kit" for no charge here.

July 3, 2013 - No Comments!

Q&A Series: Part 2 – How to Lead

How do you actively encourage your congregation to sing?
BIG IDEA:  Show how beautiful/awesome/worthy Jesus is.

The call of a worship leader is a tall order.  As a broken vessel yourself, you stand in front of your local church, a mix of godly, confused, thriving and discouraged people and try to lead them in something they don't do anywhere else; corporately sing together.

That said, I am often surprised at how often I hear it spoken about as though it is a burden.  Many worship leaders speak as though it is their responsibility to prove Jesus is a person worthy of song.  This is only partially true.  Your job is to point to what is already beautiful and glorious, not make it so.  This only works if you yourself are spending time with Jesus, enjoying him.  Not just searching the scripture for a song lyric.  Not just whizzing over a few verses to lead bible study.  Worship him with your heart before you pick up an instrument.

For the burdened worship guy, I have some good news: you're not the mediator.  You don't stand between Jesus and the people.  You are the people.  Enjoy him and sing to him in a way that is mindful of the musical talents and literacy of the room.  Sing songs that you're Dad can sing.  Balance the celebratory and the contemplative. 

Sing things that are true and helpful.  Indicate who Jesus is and what he has done, before you expect them to respond.  Remind the people of the gospel.  We are all forgetful of the great things He has done.  Almost no one shows up on Sunday ready to worship in spirit and truth.

Be Prepared
One of those most distracting things in worship is lack of preparation.  Keller has said "horizontal sloppiness distracts from vertical worship".  Quality matters, but is never a substitute for your need of the Spirit.  You can nail the transitions, build the bridge up higher than the ceiling, and weep/sweat uncontrollably, but if the Spirit isn't isn't involved you just participated in an over-produced gym workout.  Prepare as though you're about to encounter the king of the universe.  Pray as though the Kingdom won't move forward an inch without the 3rd person of the Trinity.

Practice until you can't get it wrong, not until you get it right.  Pray for your preparation time, not just Sunday morning.  Give space for people to confess sin and remember the gospel before you step on stage.  Know your transitions between songs and other liturgical elements.

Teach With Intentionality 
Whether it's physical expression or simply singing aloud, it's your job to show/teach/exemplify that corporate worship is biblical, historical, and helpful.  Singing with God's people is normative.  Use scripture to lovingly encourage your people.  Don't be a bully.  Don't scold them for not doing something you want them to do...that just means you haven't led them there.

Meet with your lead pastor and discuss what specific area you'd like the congregation to grow in.  Plan transitions and song content around that discussion.  Ask if your teaching guy would be willing to address corporate worship issues on occasion from the pulpit.

Long Haul
Many of the observations visitors make about our community during worship have been the result of my last 10 years leading people I love and pray for.  I've tried things that have failed miserably.  There is much I would do differently.  But it takes many small victories to see traction in the worship culture of your church.  Don't expect a major shift because you spoke for two minutes between songs.  It's a long process, and we should be as gracious with our people as God has been with us.

June 16, 2013 - No Comments!

Q&A Series: Part 1 – Songwriting

Over the past few years, I have been honored to connect with worship leaders all over and hear about their challenges and hopes for the future.  Most often, these conversations happen i the context of a coaching call.  Plenty of great worship blogs exist but I thought since I hear very similar questions consistently, it would be worth it to post some of the conversations here, stripped down, summarized, and aggregated for easy digestion.  My hope is that this might help someone in similar trenches.

What has most helpful in writing songs for your local church?
BIG IDEA:  Songwriting is a discipline.

I was watching Bruce Springsteen on Storytellers recently, and he spoke about how you never know when creativity will "pass through" so it's your job to be ready when it does.  I think there is something profound about being ready for the Spirit of God to move, rather than attempting to force Him into your calendar.  To be ready, you have to see writing as a discipline, not just a whim, or a day that you feel like it with a little space on the schedule.  Do it when you feel like it.  Definitely do it when you don't.  See it as brushing your teeth, not visiting the dentist.

Vary your inspiration.  Don't listen to the same two records 24-7 when writing or your stuff will
always sound like someone else's stuff.  Inspiration is necessary, imitation is nugatory.  What are you trying to say?  What is God doing in and around you?

Find a location and time that stir you.  It's hard to pick out melody at the local coffee shop, but that might be a great place for lyrics.  If you're a zombie before 10:00am, don't slate that time as "creative outpouring".  Some write better with others and some by themselves.  Do both.

Know the channel.  Are you writing this for yourself?  Your family?  Is this song meant for the Sunday stage?  I would argue there are going to be slightly different criteria depending on the format you plan to deliver the song.  I strongly discourage trying to write for the global church unless that platform has been given to you by God (and confirmed by those around you), but there is a whole generation of worship leaders trying to be the next _______.  Faithfulness is what we are called to, not influence.

Lastly, present your song with printed lyrics to a few people in your life that are theologically astute.  It's even better if they aren't artists (although anyone who crafts sermons is doing artistry).  Receive what they have to say with humility.  If your song is for the church, clarity matters.  We should strive to say timeless truths in a fresh way, but we can confuse people while trying to capture mystery.  Songwriting for the church is a delicate dance.

This quote list from the world's best songwriters is worth a read.

Recommended resources:
Bob Kauklin's "Worship Matters"
Paul Zollo's "Songwriters on Songwriting"

June 14, 2011 - No Comments!

Acts 29 Bay Area Bootcamp

A few pictures from the last 2 weeks. I took these on my D-90. I don't know anything about photography, as is evident below.

Scott Thomas (president of Acts 29) and Zimmerman.

Scott Thomas preaching at the Acts 29 Bay Area Bootcamp.

Q&A session with Scott Thomas, D.A. Carson, and Mark Driscoll.

Jeff Vanderstelt preaching at the Acts 29 Bay Area Bootcamp.

Mark Driscoll preaching at the Acts 29 Bay Area Bootcamp.

Matt Chandler preaching at the Acts 29 Bay Area Bootcamp.

D.A. Carson preaching at the Acts 29 Bay Area Bootcamp.