Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Eve Worship Gathering

We're using the 5 videos found Here, with a song in between each video (including three with our worship choir) and communion to finish the evening.

What are you doing for Christmas Eve?

Nate

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Inclusivity

Why is it that so many worship leaders and pastors believe that it's only a successful worship service if every person is able to sing with every note of every song?

I used to fall into this trap as well, believing that it was my job to make sure that everyone attending was able to participate in everything we did on Sunday mornings, but I now realize that it's an impossible expectation that forces way too many church leaders to experience way too much frustration.

What say ye?

More to come on this subject.

Nate

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ministry

We were shaped to serve God...and we serve God best by serving others.


Nate

The Good Stuff

Our past few Sundays have been some of our best ever...there is nothing like hearing from people in the church (people other than the pastors) about how their lives are being changed by God's Word. Not that our pastors' sermons aren't always good, but I wouldn't mind hearing from Joe Churchmember more often.

Nate

Monday, November 24, 2008

Repertoire

How many songs does you church band have in their repertoire?

When I arrived at my first full-time church position, one of the very first things I took a look at was the worship band's "repertoire" (list of songs that they had available for their worship gatherings). I was amusingly shocked to find that they listed over 250 songs...and most of those songs were well over 10 years old. I doubt I need to tell you that I quickly made a change, literally cutting that list to around 25 songs and slowly building it back up again to around 40.

Although the list wasn't nearly as long at NHC when I arrived here, it was out of date...the band admitted to me that they hadn't learned any new songs in over a year, that they actually hadn't used many of the songs on the list, and they were getting tired with most of the songs that they were using. Once again, the first thing we did was trim the list down to 15 songs that the band wanted to continue using until while we brought our list back up to 50.

At NHC, we are very purposeful about selecting the songs we use for corporate worship. We currently have a list of about 50 songs (actually, it's closer to 60, which means it's time to cut a few), and every song has been chosen for a very specific purpose. Here are a few of the reasons why our repertoire is the way it is...

1) We want to do everything as best we can.

We believe that each person in our church has been gifted to do at least one ministry (often more than one ministry) incredibly well. We also believe that God will provide qualified people to serve on our ministry teams. It isn't possible for our band to consistently be at their best if we've got a list of hundreds of song and if we have songs on our list that are only played once a year. Basically, we'd rather do 50 songs incredibly well than 100 songs well, than 200 songs ok.

Everyone in the band but me is a volunteer, and even though they each spend an average of 5-7 hours per week in practice and "performance", and even though most of them have been with us for 2+ years, and even though I would consider each of them to be an incredibly solid musician/vocalist, quality trumps quantity on our priority list. Even most pro bands who have been around for many years (and play on tour night after night) usually only have about 20-40 of their own songs that they choose to do on a daily basis (without having to remember and spend time practicing).

2. We want our corporate worship to be impacting.

As a church body, we only get about 30 minutes per week for corporate, musical worship. We want to spend most of that time using songs that are both fresh and familiar...that's not possible if most people only hear most of the songs we use once or twice a year (which is how it would work with a list of hundreds). And, because we average around a 50/50 split between regular attenders and guests (who often don't know any of our songs), it's even more important to us that we use songs that our people are familiar with.

3. We want all of our songs to have meaning and importance to our church.

To be honest, I don't think I could find more than about 75 songs that we would even want to use in our church (either because of the lyrics or musical style)...having a small list means that we get to choose the cream of the crop. We don't have any "fillers" (not that having a large list means you have fillers), nor do we keep any songs that have outlived their usefulness for us.

Have you ever thought about your band's repertoire? Have you ever considered that the number of songs can either help or hurt your ability to give you best to God and lead others in worship?

Nate

Friday, November 21, 2008

Disassociation

I've officially asked that the editors at worship.com remove my name from their list of contributors on their blog.

I have observed several posts recently that have little to nothing to do with the purpose of worship.com, which I find confusing but inconsequential. But, This Post is what has really made me think long and hard about my association with worship.com, and I have decided that I no longer wish to be associated with an organization that deems that post suitable content (which basically means, I find that post, among others, to be incredibly off-base and completely contradictory to many things that I believe fundamental to true, Biblical worship).

I only post this because I have mentioned my involvement with worship.com on this blog, and I don't want anyone to continue to believe that I endorse everything that is communicated at worship.com.

Thanks...back to your regularly scheduled program.

Nate

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

National Organ Donor Sabbath


This Sunday, November 16, 2008 Nags Head Church will be participating in National Donor Sabbath.

In the US, the weekend of November 14-16, 2008 will be observed as an interfaith celebration of the gifts of hope provided through organ and tissue donation and transplantation. We will be encouraging those who are members and attenders at NHC to consider becoming organ and tissue donors for the first time.

Please, consider talking with your church leaders about participating in this life-changing event. For more info (including how to receive a box of info to help people in your church/religious organization become organ donors), visit the link below.

Organ Donor.gov

An organ donor gave my wife the gift of life less than a year ago, and I would appreciate your help in spreading the word about this event. Thank you!

Nate

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Went To High School With This Kid



This song is pretty mild for what this kid can do. I remember seeing him in a high school talent show...he blew us all away...that was almost ten years ago. Too bad none of his talent rubbed of on me as we passed in the halls...

Nate

The 2-1-1

How do you introduce new songs?

Here's how we do it at NHC:

First, we've developed a culture of change at our church. People who attend our church quickly realize that very little stays the same for very long, and nothing but our God and His message is sacred. Rarely do we keep a song in our repertoire for more than a few years, and, more than likely, you might hear us play/sing the same song more than one way if you stick around for more than a few weeks. We believe that tradition and ritual can often (not always) breed a sense of contentment (as in, "I feel like I've arrived") and entitlement (as in, "I deserve to know what to expect") in our faith and worship...but, because we're always changing, our people are always excited to learn new songs.

That culture of change is also foundational for our band. The MilePost13 Band is sharp...nobody considers themselves to be professionals, but they're solid, dedicated and confident in what they do, and they pick up new things very quickly. Most of us have been playing/singing together now for several years, which means our chemistry is also really fluid. Yet, along with those consistant characteristics, we also highly value the ability and freedom to "sing a new song". When I (or somebody else) brings a new song to the table, whether it's a challenging song or not, everyone is excited to learn and grow and experience something new and fresh.

The band will usually spend two to three weeks working on a song before we feel ready to use it. Because we don't often pick a new song to use on a specific date (ie. to go along with a specific message), we have the freedom and flexibility to take extra time if a song proves to be more challenging than normal or to use a song on week one if we feel confident enough.

Our church has a specific target (group of people) who we believe God has called us to serve. Because of that, we also have a very specific target when it comes to our musical style(s). This allows us to not only more easily identify songs that fit who we are, but also to learn those songs more quickly (than if we were to choose songs from a very broad musical style spectrum). Of course, this also means that our musical style(s) are also always (usually slowly) progressing with the culture around us...five years from now, we won't be playing the same music we're playing now.

When we introduce a song on Sunday for the first time, it's usually preceeded by a quick statement like, "Hey, we're going to teach you a new song!" We don't make a big deal about it, nor do we apologize if it's a song nobody has heard before. Again, our people are excited to learn new stuff, which means they tend to jump in on the first go.

I've discovered that (and again, this will come back to the culture of your church) people here tend to become comfortable and familiar enough with a song after hearing it just two to three times, IF those two to three times happen within a matter of a few weeks. So, typically, we'll use a song two Sundays in a row, not use it the third Sunday, and then use it again the fourth Sunday. It's what I call "The 2-1-1 (two one one)".

Rarely do we introduce a song that flops...the demographics of our band is a good representation of the demographics of our target, which means, if we love a song (musicall and lyrically), we can almost be certain that the rest of the people in our culture will enjoy it as well. Once we've determined that the song is a keeper, it goes into our repertoire (about 50 songs), which means we'll use it an average of once every two months.

A few more quick tips about introducing new songs:

> Don't introduce a new song at the beginning or end of a worship service. We almost always start our worship gatherings with a familiar, high energy song, which always helps people to engage with what we're doing. People will be much more apt to jump in with a new song if they've already engaged with the music/worship.
> Consider encouraging people to take the time (the first time) to listen (and read if you display the lyrics) to the song so that they can understand what the song is all about. It amazes me how many people sing a song with all they're worth but don't fully understand what they're singing.
> If the band is working on a new song, consider using it as a lead-in before the service as people are still coming in. We often do this (just the music, without singing/lyrics) with our new, high energy songs...it gives us extra time to practice it, some fun time to jam and maybe discover a new direction for the song, and an opportunity to allow our people to (perhaps, subconsciously) become familiar with the music before we actually introduce it.

So, how do you introduce new songs? Is it a strategic thing for you and your church?

Nate

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Marketing

What if Starbucks marketed like your church? Would it look something like this?



To be honest, I see bits and pieces of our church in this video...

Thanks to ChrisFromCanada for the video.

Nate

The Annual Christmas Music Post

Christianity Today just reviewed 20 new Christmas albums releases (Christmas Music Wrap-Up 2008). I scanned it over, and while I doubt I'll purchase any of the full albums, I may be checking out a few of the individual songs they mentioned.

Anyway, I figured, this was a good time to get the Christmas posts up and rolling again..

Once again, I can't encourage you strongly enough to purchase MercyMe's "The Christmas Sessions" (especially since it's only $7.99 on iTunes). By far, the best Christmas album produced in a long time (Click Here to read what I had to say about the album last year).

We've been doing most of the same Christmas music for the past few years (which is mostly fine with us, since it's only for about 5 weeks every year), and we're looking for some new fresh stuff to add to what we've already got. I'm searching for either new arangements of old favorites or new Christmas songs. My wife was hunting on iTunes for me this past week, looking for something new...do you have any suggestions?

I'll be sure to post about anything new (and good) that I find. And, look for some bumped Christmas posts from last year...looking back, I must say, I had a lot of interesting things to say and post about this time last year.

Thanks!

Nate

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

New TRUNKorTREAT Commercial!



5 Days and counting!

Nate

Thursday, October 23, 2008

(Bump) ZAP!

The video was pulled from the original site, but I just found it on youtube and thought it deserved a bump!



Where to begin...you really have to wonder if this was a serious thing or meant to be a complete farce.

Nate

Friday, October 17, 2008

NHC's TRUNKorTREAT Makes National News!


It's kinda funny, because we're only mentioned in one line, but considering the MSN article is short, it's pretty sweet that we were pointed out as one of the premiere OBX Halloween events!

Click Here to read the article.

Nate

Friday, October 10, 2008

40 Days of Purpose

Kick-Off Tomorrow! This will be the second time NHC has gone through these 40 days (first time in 2003)...we have so many new people who haven't experienced 40DoP before (and not-new people who could use it again, including me), we felt it was important to do it again! We're stoked, coming out of our 40 Days of Prayer, to see what God is going to do!

Nate

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

"Hosanna"



Nate

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Worship Choir! (Part 2)

"On Our Side" with MP13!



Nate

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Choir Robes

Looking for some cheap choir robes?



Haha!

Nate

Worship Choir!

The NHC Worship Choir is back and better than ever! Here we are singing "God You Reign" with MP13!



Nate

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sorry, Andy

For Our Youth Pastor, Andy...



HAHA!

Nate

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

F1RST Wednesday Tonight!

Tonight, we kick off our new F1RST Wednesday worship gathering. We're stoked!

Nate

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

NHC News

A new feature at our F1RST Wednesday worship gatherings (which kicks off tomorrow night) is NHC News. We're starting out simple and plan on making future segments more fun and creative (which will probably involve me getting my hands on a better video editing software.



Nate

Saturday, September 27, 2008

TRUNKorTREAT Commercial - "Pedro"

We went with the Sonic spoof last year (Click Here to view our three commercials from '07)...this year, we decided on the Geico spoof...



...more to come soon!

Nate

NHC This Sunday


Nate

Thursday, September 25, 2008

(Bump) Album Review: Lincoln Brewster's "Today Is The Day"

I'm bumping this because the album was publicly released in the US this week...

So, because I'm such a good looking guy, Integrity Music decided to send me a copy of Lincoln Brewster's new album, Today Is The Day more than a month ahead of it's street release (9.23.08)! Actually, it had nothing to do with my good looks...I just said that to make myself feel good.

Anyway, I have been anticipating this album for a while. Considering the fact that our church has used no less than seven songs from LB's All To You...Live album, I was very hopeful that there would be a lot of great new stuff for us to use with this new album. For good or bad, I can't help but listen to new music with my worship leader filter, looking for new stuff to use for corporate worship.

The bad news...having listened to the album for a few weeks now, there are only three songs that we may use for congregational worship. Yes, three songs from one album is a great find, but not quite as great as what I had (of course, unfairly) expected from LB.

The good news...this is a great album. All To You was a decidedly "rock" album. Today Is The Day is much more musically diverse, featuring LB's song-writing and guitar-playing skills in a much broader way. Here's a track by track review...

"Today Is The Day", the title track (the only single currently available on iTunes), opens the album with LB's familiar pop/rock style. This is one that we will probably be using (pay attention MP13!). A fun, high energy song about living today for God.

"Everywhere I Go" is another song that sounds very much like it could belong with LB's las album. Although I'm tempted to give this one a shot at church, it's a little to wordy in the chorus for many people to keep up with.

"Give Him Praise" features Israel Houghton. Great, tight song with a black gospel feel. I wish Israel's voice and crazy bass skills were more utilized, but LB did not ask me to produce this one...

"God You Reign" is one of the other songs that I think we'll be using. A low key and fairly simple song about the creative wonders of God. Our worship choir could make this one sound most excellent.

"The Arms Of My Savior" is one of the more bluesy songs on the album, both lyrically and musically. Probably one of my least favorites...it sounds more like a "filler" than anything else.

"This Love" totally sounds like a John Mayer song from beginning to end. A simple song about the love of God, this would be a cool song to try sometime, but not something that we'll probably do.

"The Power Of Your Name" is a very strong song featuring Darlene Zschech. This one probably has more depth than any other song on the album, as it addresses social issues. There's a good chance that we'll use this song at some point as well.

"The Love Of God" sounds like another filler to me. The only solid acoustic song on the album, while it is a very pretty song to listen to, it just doesn't do it for me lyrically.

"Salvation Is Here" is a cover of the Hillsong United song made famous a few years ago. One thing LB does well is high energy, electric guitar driven covers, and this is no exception. A great song in it's own write, LB takes it up a notch with his great electric riffs.

"Let Your Glory Shine" is definitely the most interesting song on the album. Not much there as far as lyrics, it's mostly just a good opportunity for LB to showcase his guitar skills (which is cool with me). This would be a fun song to play sometime, but maybe nothing more than that.

My only wish is that Lincoln would right, lyrically, with a little more substance. Many of LB's songs are very similar, lyrically, and there are only a few songs here that really set themselves apart from the rest of the worship album genre.

But, all in all, I am happy with the album. It's got enough of what you'd expect from LB, while offering some different stuff as well to keep it interesting.

Nate

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

One of Those Things I'll Never Understand...

Oceanfront Preachers Deliver with an Attitude (newspaper article from VA Beach, VA)

Nate

Album Review: "Hello Love" by Chris Tomlin


I may be one of the biggest Chris Tomlin fans out there. I've met the guy a few times, and while I appreciate Chris as a person, it's his music that really draws me in. And, it's not so much that I think he's the greatest song-writer ever, or that he has an incredible voice, or that his band is all that and a bag of chips.

The reason I love CT so much is the simple fact that, in my humble opinion, he gets it when it comes to writing songs for congregational worship...in fact, I'd go so far to say he's the most prolific song writer the English-speaking church (not counting how much of his music has been translated around the world) has seen in a very long time. Now, I realize that opinions about music are almost completely subjective, but it's hard to argue when you take a look at how much his music has impacted masses.

All this to say, whenever I hear of a new CT album being released, I become very excited. From his last album, "See The Morning" alone, our church has used no less than six songs in congregational worship over the past few years. Needless to say, we've been anticipating the release of "Hello Love" for several months now.

Having said that, I will also say that, I was disappointed upon hearing, a few months ago, "Jesus Messiah", the first radio single from this new album. I was hoping that this one song was not a reflection of the entire album...

I, admittedly, typically need a few weeks with an album to really warm up to the new stuff. And, after a few weeks, I'm happy to say that I'm very excited about this album. The overall sound is definitely different from CT's past few albums, but I believe it will be no less impacting.

"Hello Love" appears to be a more mellow and personal album for Chris than his past few offerings. Not to say that any of his music isn't written with a sincere outflow of Chris's personality and gifts, but my guess is that this album isn't going to see as much radio play as the past few and that, perhaps, that was a purposeful thing.

This album also has a bit of a throwback feel to it. Great use of a full choir in a few places, and a few songs that feel like they belong in the early 90's. You may also notice more than a few choruses and bridges that seem to be pulled straight from a the pages of Isaiah and Revelation, all of which gives the album a bit of a big, anthemic feel.

Yet, for me, there are a few songs that seem to be "fillers". "I Will Rise", "Love", "With Me" and the aforementioned "Jesus Messiah" still, after a few weeks, are songs that I'd just as soon skip than listen to. "Love" and "With Me" come across as very generic and especially feel like they were simply after-thoughts to help fill the album out to a nice dozen (plus the "bonus track"). But, as I said before, I don't believe Chris writes anything half-heartedly, and my guess is, that "Jesus Messiah" and "I Will Rise" may take on a new meaning for me in the future.

"God Of This City" really feels like the anthem that pulls this album together. CT certainly is not done having an impact on the modern church, yet, and I can really hear him making this song a very personal anthem for his own life and for this album. I do have to say, I much prefer the live version of this song from Passion's "God Of This City" album to the studio version on this album. The chord progression in the verses and lead guitar in the interludes are a big departure from what you'll hear on the live version, and I really think that they completely change the feel and emotion of the song for the worse. But, it's still a great song either way, and one that our church has already begun to sing with passion.

Other highlights on the album include:

"Praise The Father, Praise The Son" has been labeled as a "hymn" by Louie Giglio, and I would have to agree. The meter, melody and lyrics remind me of something written 75 years ago. The bridge (which is one of CT's strengths, IMO) is one of the best on the album, giving the song enough of a modern feel to give it some good grit.

"My Beloved" is probably not a song that I'll ever use on Sunday morning (as we try to stay away from singing too many romantic, "I love you" songs to Jesus), but it's one of my favorites to listen to. Another song that will remind you of an older hymn or maybe even a negro spiritual, I love the organ and the gospel choir swells that move in and out.

"Exalted (Yahweh)" is, perhaps, the strangest song on the album. The verses immediately take me back to the days when Maranatha ruled the "contemporary" worship music scene. But, the chorus and bridges and the way the song builds into using a full choir is very powerful. This is definitely one that we'll be teaching to our worship choir.

"You Lifted Me Out", not surprisingly (to those who know me) is perhaps my favorite song on this album. One of just two songs that has a "modern rock" feel (which is what I like), this song is vintage (if you consider the past 5-10 years vintage) Chris Tomlin. A song of celebration and energy, this is definitely the first song we'll be learning at our church. I especially love the bridge which, with it's scattered drum hits and Kean-esque piano, is very different from anything else on the album.

This album definitely took longer than normal to grow on me, and there isn't as much usable material for me as a worship leader than what I can normally find on a Chris Tomlin album. But, it's still well worth the purchase, especially for those who have found a lot of personal and/or professional use from CT's music in the past.

Nate

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Comfortable

At the prayer conference we hosted this past weekend, one of the speakers made the comment that, the vast majority of the time, we modern-day Christians pray for things that will make us (and those we're praying for) comfortable. I've spent the past few days listening to the prayer requests of others, and being more conscious than usual of the things that I spend praying for.

So true.

Yet, it's almost always the uncomfortable that moves us toward the life that God wants for us...a life of radical generosity. If that's true, shouldn't we be spending more time praying for the uncomfortable things of life, knowing that God will always provide what we need to keep us in the middle of His will and purpose for our lives?

Nate

Monday, September 22, 2008

NHC Cribs

Yesterday, we talked about stuff...as Americans (and probably anyone who is able to read this as well), we have a lot of stuff. We decided to show some of our pastor's stuff...if you're culturally with it, you should especially enjoy this one.



Nate

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fire the Worship Leader!

I've been thinking about firing myself lately (not that I'm sure that's possible). I just don't want to be a worship leader anymore...seriously!

Well, maybe I should explain. I actually don't have a concrete title here at Nags Head Church...when I came, I was looking for something other than "Worship Leader", but we never really settled on anything. Most people in our church would call me "worship leader" if you asked them who I was, and I typically tell people that "I'm in charge of worship and the creative arts" when they ask what my title is.

But, while I'm not crazy about the title, I have always seen myself as a worship leader...somebody who helps to lead the worship (musical and other). But, lately, I've been thinking that this description really doesn't fly with me. Here's why:

To be a leader of people, one must have followers.

A follower is basically somebody who waits to do anything until they're told how, what, when, etc. to do it. At NHC, we do our best to free people from tradition and ritual so that they can truly worship God as freely as they are willing and able. To call myself (or anyone else) a worship leader is to perpetuate the idea that worship happens when and how I say it happens...that's not what we want.

We believe that God desires NHC to be a church full of leaders...worship leaders, ministry leaders, giving leaders, mercy leaders, community leaders, etc. Of course, there are healthy, Biblical parameters that guide how and when and where we do things as believers in Christ, but we want to equip and release people to be free and creative to take responsibility (with God in control) of their own lives.

I should be constantly reminding our band, through what I say and how I "lead" that, not only on the stage, but every time they find themselves in any kind of group situation, they have the potential to be a worship leader. And, it doesn't have to be musical worship...anything we think, say or do that brings glory to God can and should be an act of worship.

My vision for our congregational worship is to see each person bringing their own personal worship to our corporate gatherings, adding their individual voice to the song, and then, turning around and taking the worship they experienced during our time together back out into their day-to-day lives. Can you imagine what it might be like if this took place every week at your church? I can tell you one thing...my job as a worship leader would become a whole lot easier (and maybe even pointless).

My goal on Sunday morning, as I explain to our band and our attenders on a regular basis, is to simply get the ball rolling and then step out of the way. There is nothing more exciting for me, as a person helping to lead corporate worship, to see people off the stage taking the step, whether consciously or not, to be worship leaders. It's a powerful thing to watch one undignified worshipper change the atmosphere of a worship gathering by, without any prompting from me, standing, kneeling, clapping, shouting, singing, lifting their hands, or closing their eyes...they're never left alone for long, as others see their example and join them.

So, what do you think? Have you ever considered what your roll as a "worship leader" is really all about, and if that title is really the best description? Have you ever thought that you might be trying to teach people to worship one way while subliminally communicating something else by the lingo you use?

Nate


If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to read the other posts in the Rethinking "Worship" series:

Gag The Worship Leader!

Terminate the Worship Team!

Death to the Worship Service!

Burn the Sanctuary!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sensation

First, watch the video below...


Now, let's pretend that this situation played itself out in your church. Either you had asked somebody to sing a "special" or this person was actually a permanent part of your worship team, and they bombed a song like Kat DeLuna (yeah, I didn't know who she is either...for good reason, obviously) bombed this. What would you say to this person?

Here are three of my initial thoughts:

1. It's about the song, NOT about you. The national anthem is much like the songs we should be singing in church...it's about something much bigger than me. The song Kat sang is supposed to be about remembering freedom, sacrifice, soldiers, war, and all the things that make our country such an awesome place to live. If I sang "How Great Is Our God" with all of the vocal and physical animation that Kat used with her song, what would be the message I'd be communicating to God and to those who were singing with me?

2. Let me offer you some vocal lessons (and, yes, I've read Kat's bio and know that she supposedly received some very good training...). Seriously...when you expend so much energy and volume on your first note of a song like this, you've got nowhere to go but down, which is where Kat went (and fast). There's a reason the melody of "The Star-Spangled Banner" moves up an entire octave from beginning to end...

3. Understand who you are, where you are and why you're singing this song. A foreign-raised, 20 year old "pop sensation" (not my words) is not the best pick to be singing the national anthem of the US under the brightest lights at the stadium of "America's Team" (also, most definitely, not my words). I know this might sound small-minded of me, but let me explain.

Most foreigners (and too many of us who were born and raised here, as well) do not have a great understanding of and appreciation for our country's national anthem. The same can be said for most 20 year olds. And, most "pop sensations" are only singing for one thing...to make themselves appear more sensational.

When I was 20, I sang in a band that was managed by my university. I was given "All Along The Way" by Larnelle Harris to sing. Not only was it an outdated song by that point (2001), but I immediately recognized that I simply could not relate to this song (make sure you click the link and read the lyrics). I felt like a foreign, 20 year old pop sensation, being asked to sing a song that I knew nothing about. Although I tried to make the best of it, it was bad...so bad that, after the first few weeks, the song somehow disappeared from our set-list (which was totally cool with me).

When we sing songs at church, one of the things I am very conscious about is not asking our lead vocalists to sing songs that they can't personally relate to. I also only introduce songs that I know many (if not most) who attend our gatherings will be able to relate to. Singing a song that has no meaning to you is never a good thing...and, much like Kat, it can often be a really, really bad thing. Maybe Kat is a great vocalist, but if so, she needs to stick with songs that work for a foreign, 20 year old pop sensation.

What do you think? If Kat had been singing a churchy song in your church the way she sang the national anthem last night, what would you say to her?

Nate

God You Reign

It's my turn to lead our devotion in our staff meeting today, so I thought I'd share it with you. It's short and simple, but something I need to be reminded of.

"God Your Reign" by Lincoln Brewster

You paint the night
You count the stars and You call them by name
The skies proclaim, God You reign
Your glory shines
You teach the sun when to bring a new day
Creations sings, God You reign

God You reign
God You reign
Forever and ever
God You reign

You part the seas
You move the mountains with the words that You say
My song remains, God You reign
You hold my life
You know my heart and You call me by name
I live to say, God You reign

I appreciate the last last three lines of the song above the most. It's easy for me, as a God follower, to proclaim that God reigns over this world and creation and nations, etc. It's often hard for me to proclaim that He reigns over me. My life would be so much easier if He would just stick to reigning over all that other stuff and let me do my own thing for the most part. But, that's not the way He created me to live.

Psalm 47:8
God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne.

Psalm 146:10
The LORD reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD.

Isaiah 52:7
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

Nate

Friday, September 12, 2008

More Cowbell

The MilePost13 Band and NHC Worship Choir are learning Lincoln Brewster's "God You Reign". But, I've been thinking, it's been missing something...


Make your own at MoreCowbell.dj


Nate

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sunday Blitz

> Introduced "All Because Of Jesus" (the Fee version)...great song that grew on me the more I listened to it. I think our church was digging it!

> The first Sunday of the month is always the most draining for me, as we remember Communion the first Sunday night of the month. I love leading worship, and especially enjoy the more intimate time of worship that usually happens on Sunday nights (and last night was most excellent), but it's just really tiring. But, Sunday nights are no more (for the time being) as we'll be launching First Wednesday next month.

> Our first Worship Choir practice in a year happens this Wednesday night! I'm super excited about introducing two new songs to the church with the help of the choir..."God You Reign" (which I'm listening to right now) and "Today Is The Day" by Lincoln Brewster! We picked up about five new members, which rocks!

> The New Chris Tomlin CD is out, and I'm fairly satisfied (not that CT cares much about my satisfaction level). Look for my review later this week.

> 40 Days of Prayer is going great, with well over 75% of our church body praying for at least 15 minutes every day! I'm expecting great things to come from these 40 days, especially as we prepare for 40 Days of Purpose beginning in October.

> Although I hate the end of summer (because I HATE winter), it was nice to watch some football this weekend.

> I'm also stoked about our new Sunday Series, "Radical Generosity". I'm specifically praying for God to open up at least two opportunities for my family to show some radical generosity to others this month.

> Very thankful that Hanna did not 'cause any issues for our community this weekend. Praying hardcore for those who have been and will be affected by Ike...

That's all for now!

Nate

Saturday, September 6, 2008

NHC This Sunday


Nate

Friday, September 5, 2008

First Wednesday: An Open Letter to the Early Adopters of Nags Head Church

I have some exciting news to share with you! Starting Wednesday, October 1st, we’ll be embarking on another NHC “experiment” by offering a once-a-month worship gathering on the First Wednesday of every month, tentatively scheduled for 6:30pm.
Our Sunday morning gatherings are organized with the unchurched people who visit us on a weekly basis in mind, which, along with our need to contain everything in a 1 hour and 15 minute window, tends to limit our expressions and depth of worship. We (NHC elders and other church leaders) have, for a while now, felt the need to offer believers an opportunity for a deeper and more intimate time of worship. We have also felt that, as a church, we should be spending more time together focusing on the vision that God has called us to.

We have also noted that, while our church partnership and attendance continues to grow, our Sunday evening Communion Gathering is not growing. We believe that this is probably mostly due to space issues, and, because we believe that our Communion Gatherings are one of the most important things we do together as a church body, we have felt a need for a change here as well.

First Wednesday gives us an incredible opportunity to engage these issues head-on in a creative way. This is something that we have spent several months discussing and praying about, and we are certain that this is the direction God is leading us in. Just like every other new change we make at NHC, we’re calling this an experiment, giving us both the expectation for great things and the opportunity to tweak and continue to change things as needed.

While many of the specifics are still being worked out, I can tell you that this means a few big changes are on their way:

> Our monthly Sunday evening communion gathering will be integrated into First Wednesday, meaning we’ll no longer meet on the first Sunday evening of each month. First Wednesday “may” also include a family oriented meal about an hour before the gathering begins to allow for some fellowship time as well as give those who may be crunched for time an opportunity to grab something to eat.

> First Wednesday will be an opportunity for our partners and regular attenders to engage in a deeper and more intimate time of corporate worship (than what we normally experience on Sunday mornings). This will probably mean more music, time spent in prayer, and more time spent focusing on how God is wanting to use us as a church family in the future to reach people to discover life in Christ.

> We will be offering child care, coffee, and other things similar to Sunday mornings, which means that there will still be plenty of opportunities to serve (again, much like Sunday mornings). We’ll plan on utilizing a full band, tech teams, worship choir, nursery and children’s ministry teams, ushers and greeters, etc. This means that, we’ll be asking for another level of commitment from those who are involved in these ministries and offering new opportunities for those who are not yet involved in serving.

I can’t tell you how excited I am for First Wednesday! I envision an incredible time of worship and prayer and hearing from God. But, in order for First Wednesday to be a success, our entire church body must be willing to go with us on this adventure, anticipating great things. Change is never easy, and we believe that, for change to truly be successful, it must start from the top and trickle down. Because of your attitude and sacrifice in serving so consistently, others in the church look to you for a positive example in times of change, and we believe that your willingness to become excited about First Wednesday and influence others holds the key for seeing God do some amazing things through this new opportunity.

We’ll be sharing more about First Wednesday with the entire church family during our worship gatherings this Sunday morning and at our Communion Gathering this Sunday night! If you have any questions about this transition, please, let me know. Thanks so much for all that you do!

Nate

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Radical Generosity

We're starting a new Sunday Morning Series at NHC this Sunday. I'm very excited about this one!

Nate

Sunday, August 31, 2008

No Laughing Matter

Former DNC Chair, Don Fowler making light of Gustav...



I don't like commenting on politics, but this makes me want to vomit.

Nate

40 Days of Prayer Begins Tonight!

Or is it this morning...or tomorrow morning? Too confusing. I do know it's a little over 7 hours away. I'll be up every day at 2:30am for 15 minutes over the next 40 days, which is not much different than the last 80+ days for me (with a newborn at home), except, now, I'll be spending that time in prayer.

Nate

Saturday, August 30, 2008

NHC This Sunday


Next Sunday begins a new series called "Radical Generosity".

Nate

Friday, August 29, 2008

Coming October First


Don't know what First Wednesday is? Stay tuned for more...

Nate

Album Review: Meredith Andrews "The Invitation"


This isn't a full album review like I normally do, and, honestly, my opinion about this album is biased, but I wanted to direct your attention to Meredith Andrews' debut album, The Invitation.

Meredith and I sang together in a group while we were students at Liberty University. Yes, I have sung a duet with Meredith (if you can consider two lines of a song a "duet"). :)

Anyway, Mer is one of those few people you meet in life and know instantly that God has great things in store for them. Anyone who knows her would probably tell you the same. It was just a matter of time until I knew I'd see her name popping up all over the place...

The Invitation is a superbly produced album, showcasing Meredith's songwriting, piano and vocal skills, as well as her heart for God and leading others in worship. You can find the album on iTunes (and it comes with a bonus video of the single "You're Not Alone").

A few highlights include "Life Up Your Head", "Show Me What It Means", and my personal favorite, "The River".

If you dig old school Cindy Morgan and the recent offerings from the likes of Nichole Nordeman, check it out!

Very proud of you, Mer!

Nate

Here's the "You're Not Alone" music video...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Blitz

This past week was busy for me, and, it's not over until after a youth event tonight, so I'm going to keep this short...

> This morning, we asked the question, "What in the World are You Doing?" The following are two videos that we showed.





Nate

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sick People

Having dealt with this exact same issue (played out in a very different way) just this past week in blog land, I hope that THIS isn't true (although, it completely appears that it is). If it is, I am, once again, disgusted that people could do this type of thing.

My wife is dealing with cancer (along with several other very real, and very life-threatening health issues). Stories like Michael Guglielmucci (author of the song "Healer") are amazing, which is why, if it turns out to all be a lie, they're incredibly detrimental.

I first heard of his song "Healer" probably 6 months ago while my wife and daughter were both in the hospital. Several people sent me links to the lyrics and/or recording, thinking that I would find something special about it. I admit, it's a good song, but, for whatever reason, I never really gave it much notice. Maybe it's just my personality, or maybe it was God trying to protect me from even greater disappointment. Either way, I'm thankful that, other than being frustrated at what this guy has done in the Christian and Cancer communities, I have no real personal investment in this.

Unfortunately, thousands of believers do (have a personal investment), and I pray that Michael's confession of his lies will not cause those who found great comfort and strength through his song to doubt God or those of us who are affected by cancer...

Nate

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Operation Backpack

Here's a video of our first Operation Backpack, giving free school supplies to the elementary school students/families in our community...



Nate

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Set List Example

So, we're playing at the Watermelon Festival tomorrow. It's a community event, put on by a local business. I haven't been before, but it's supposed to be a pretty big and fun deal. Anyway, our set list is made up, entirely (except for a few church songs that we're rocking without the lyrics), of the "secular" music that we've performed in church over the past few years, and I thought I'd share the simple but effective way that I put a set list like this together...

Selecting the songs for this even was easy...because this is a community event, and we were asked to come as a band (and not a "church" band), I just pulled all of the secular stuff that we've played at different times over the past few years. Ten secular songs, three "church" songs without any vocals, thirteen songs altogether.

There are a five parameters that I consider as I'm putting together a set list this big:

1) The key of the song...I actually take a look at the key as well as the last chord of a song.

2) The tempo and energy of the song...is it fast or slow, hard or soft?

3) The dynamics of the song...what are the lead instruments, who are the lead vocals, is anyone going to need a break after this song?

4) The "Big Idea" of the event/worship gathering...is there a "theme", one Big Idea that we're trying to communicate, and how does every element of the event/gathering flow together to communicate that Big Idea (not every song will fit...my goal isn't to fit every song perfectly with the Big Idea)?

5) The message of each individual song...are there songs that seem to naturally fit together (within the Big Idea) because of what they're communicating, are there songs that would clash because of what their communicating?

Knowing these five things helps me to figure out what my order is going to be. Knowing the Big Idea is usually most important to me, followed by key tempo, dynamics and message.

Knowing the keys of the songs, as well as the final chord, helps me figure out which songs will flow more naturally from one to another. Our flow style lands somewhere between the "stop and go" and the "anti-climax" (Read Here for more about flow styles). Knowing the tempo and energy level of the songs helps me figure the order out as well...are there any songs that share the same time/tempo, are there songs that would cause a little roller-coaster feeling if played one after another?

With a long set, like what we're doing on Thursday (we normally play for about 25 minutes on Sunday, usually no more than two-three songs in a row), it will be important to evenly spread the workload out among everyone playing and singing. I don't want to sing lead for 30 straight minutes...neither do I want our drummer to play two incredibly difficult songs in a row and get too tired. And, I don't want to do all of our electric guitar driven stuff up front, or all of our piano driven stuff at the end...an even set just works and sounds better.

And, because we're using secular songs, it's important to us to make sure that the message of the songs comes across in a relevant and clearly organized way. Also, because this event is a family-oriented fund-raiser, we want to make sure that the overall theme of our setlist fits with this events Big Idea. And, of course, you want to start the set well and end the set well.

So, first, I wrote out all of the songs in our set in alphabetical order, noting their keys and final chords...


Then, I created another visual that grouped the songs together by their keys. This allowed me to see, very easily, which songs could work together or flow into the next naturally. I know the basic tempo and energy level of every song in my head without writing it down, and that is something else I was considering during this step.


I then began putting a list together, not so much worried about my last two parameters until I had the set together. After I had a list together that flowed well with keys, tempos and energy, I checked it to see if the dynamics and message all fit nicely as well, which it did. Below became our final set list that we'll be playing tomorrow (I've added some notes to help you see how my process all came together)...

Meant To Live (D-Em) Electric driven, female vocal lead, familiar song that most will recognize

My Hero (G-C) Same time as last song and begins with heavy drums which means a fast and clean transition, female vocal lead


All To You (D-G) "Church" song that we'll jam to and use to introduce ourselves, more laid-back energy than the first two songs, no vocals


Beautiful Day (D-G) Nearly same time and chord progression as last song, difficult electric and bass line, male and female vocal lead

How To Save A Life (Bb) Softer, Piano driven song that will give everyone else a break to loosen up and tune up if needed, male vocal lead

I’m Free (E) Hard, electric driven song that will bring the energy back up, male vocal lead

You Are Good (E) Another "church" song to jam to and give our vocals a break, no vocals

You Are Loved (D-G) Very mellow song, piano driven, male vocal lead

Hanging By A Moment (E) Very familiar song, a little higher energy than the last song, guitar driven, female vocal lead

Best Of You (C#m-E) Highest energy song of the set, female vocal lead

Everything You Want (G-C) Very "groove" song to relax after the last song, great message to follow the message of the last song, male vocal lead

Everlasting God (B) Last "church" song to jam with, high energy, great electric guitar lead stuff, no vocals

Home (F#) Last song, power chords, very familiar, male vocal lead

Anyway, that's how it works for me. It's somewhat different on Sundays, mainly due to the fact that our set is much shorter.

How do you organize your set lists?

Nate

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sunday Blitz

> Worship was incredible this Sunday, especially during the first gathering. Normally, the worship is usually at it's peak near the end of the gathering, but this Sunday, especially at 9, we were peaking during the third song about 20 minutes in and kept it going through the message and into the last few songs. I didn't even really sing much there for a while, I was so caught up in the moment and in awe of being a part of a church who gets IT!

> It's also great to be a part of a band of musicians who can "hit a curve ball", as our pastor described it. One of our lead vocalists decided, without realizing it, to reverse the order of two of our songs during the second gathering...fortunately, we were playing the songs back to back without any break, and both were in the same time and key...we adjusted without a hitch (giving the band leader a mic that only the band can hear so you can tell them how to adjust doesn't hurt), and nobody but us and our pastor realized what was going on.

> Started a new, 3-week series to gear up for our upcoming 40 Days Of Prayer. If you're a partner or attender of NHC, check out The Blog and jump in on the upcoming discussions!


> The Willow Creek Leadership Summit was incredibly good this past week! I had to miss the final two sessions of day two, and there were two sessions that just didn't do anything for me, but overall it was a great experience and something that I hope the lay leaders we took can use to improve themselves and the teams they lead. When I get some time (maybe IF), I'll post some of my notes/highlights from the conference.


> We're stoked about playing at the Watermelon Festival this Thursday! I'll be posting more about this later, but please, pray with us that the weather is as nice then as it is today...breeze off the ocean and partly cloudy. Playing outside is only fun if you're not melting or freezing.

> Operation Backpack was totally sweet! From what I remember, we had 40 people show up to help out, and we served nearly 40 local families (about 125 kids) as well as about 140 kids in Helene Honduras (sending supplies there in a few weeks). We also had a ton of stuff left over that is going to Social Services tomorrow for those who weren't even fortunate enough to have a vehicle to ride to our church on Saturday. Another example of people getting IT!

> Our biggest crowd of the summer this past Sunday, and we're expecting the same this Sunday...it seems a lot of families like to take their beach vacations just before school begins, which is totally cool with us. It's a great way to end the summer with a bang!


>
You were almost in the minority on stage this Sunday if you had hair on the top of your head. Buddy (above left) is always hairless, and Rich (right) and I joined him (in support of My Wife who is undergoing chemo and losing her hair).

> Speaking of Rich...it was his last Sunday with us as he (and several other students) heads to college this week. He's getting married next spring, and he says he'll be too busy to play much with us after this, but we'll see...

> We miss you, Chad H.!

Have a great week!

Nate

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sunday Blitz

> Finished up our "What If?" series with a great message about loving the world. If it were up to me, we'd preach that same message (or something like it) just about every Sunday (and we still wouldn't completely get it)...

> This was Chad H's last Sunday with us (starting his first of Law School at LU). He joined the band a little over a year ago and has been singing and playing the acoustic with us just about every Sunday since. It's always a little scary adding new people to the band, because you never know exactly how it will work out, but Chad was a great addition and will be hugely missed.

> Speaking of which, we've had a lot of interest from new people in joining the band, and I have had and will be having a few auditions this summer. It's exciting that people want to use their gifts in this leadership role, and also a little scary when you have to say "no".

> August is going to be my busiest month of the year. Lots going on, and lots to plan and prepare for coming up in the next few months. I'll definitely earn my keep this month... :)

> Just a few more weeks of huge crowds and then we're back to "normal". We love the summer and the rush and craziness it brings...keeps us on our toes. But, the end of August come just in time to help us keep our sanity.

> We're super stoked about Operation Backpack this Saturday!!! We've been collecting school supplies all summer, and this Saturday morning, we'll be turning our church auditorium into a distribution center, welcome local families to swing by and pick up whatever they need to help their kids in the coming school year.

> If you missed it, the Washington Redskins proved again why they are the most valuable and loved team in the NFL this past weekend by having three former players/coaches inducted into the Hall of Fame before defeating the Colts in the Hall of Fame Game (the traditional opening game of the NFL pre-season). And, it looks like we may have a bit of a quarterback competition, which is exciting...

> Me and four of our pastors and a few others from the church (yeah, I know it's bad grammar) will be hanging out in VA Beach later this week, attending Willow Creek's Leadership Summit via a satellite site at Spring Branch Community Church. Having attended the Summit a few years ago, I'm looking forward to an awesome few days of vision-casting.

That's all for now!

Nate

Thursday, July 31, 2008

NHC This Sunday

We're wrapping up our "What If?" series this Sunday.

Next week begins a 3-week series that gears us up for our 40 Days of Prayer (which begins in Sept.).

Nate

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Connect

Ever been to one of those churches that has a special "meet and greet" time built into their service...a time for people to step out of their pew and spend a few moments meeting somebody new or catching up with an old friend? Ever wonder why church do this?

I've been to a bunch of churches that do this, and most of the time, it seems to me to be either a forced thing, an unnatural thing, a traditional thing, an interrupting thing, etc. I've seen churches that only have a few guests attending, and every member immediately moves toward those few guests, making them feel uncomfortable. I've seen churches that only have a few guests, and every member ignores them, which also makes them feel uncomfortable. I've seen churches that spend five minutes or more greeting each other, and it feels like it takes another 10 minutes to get back into the flow of worship.

Well, Nags Head Church does this, or, at least, something similar to this. The difference, I believe, between the "meet/greet time" in our church (we don't call it that...we actually don't call it anything) and in some other church is that we've decided we're only going to do it if it helps us fulfill our purpose in an effective and fun way.

Here's how we do it at NHC...

We always do it in the middle (usually instrumental bridge) of a high energy song near the beginning of our gatherings. I (or whomever is leading worship) say something like, "Find somebody you've never met before, shake their hand and welcome them to Nags Head Church." And, we always do it in every gathering.

On average, about 50% of people attending are guests, either from out of town (we're in a resort community) or from our community (we aim at reaching the OBX), and about half of those people have never been to our church before, which means that, nobody is more than a few seats from somebody they don't know.

We've discovered that, these few seconds of giving people an opportunity to reach out to others accomplishes a few things:

1) We call it "corporate" worship for a reason...by taking time during a song (especially if the song is a "horizontal" song) to focus on each other, we're reinforcing the idea that, while God may be our primary focus, we've gathered "together" to worship with each other. We need to be aware of each other (and the opportunity to serve) as we're worshipping God.

2) Because the band is still playing music (and we play fairly loud), people really can't do much more than say "hi", introduce themselves and shake a few hands (which is all that is needed to accomplish the next few points).

3) Because we do it in the middle of a song, it usually doesn't last for more than 20-30 seconds, and then, we pull them back in by finishing the song (singing).

4) It gives our members/regular attenders a chance to make a connection with a guest, which is always a great thing. Because everyone's doing it, and because it's so short and simple, nobody really feels awkward about it.

5) It pulls our guests into what we're doing. Many guests (especially first-timers and the "unchurched") are timid about jumping in and participating in the worship, yet, somehow, by taking those few seconds to allow people to move and speak and smile, it breaks the ice for many of them, and the participation and energy levels usually get bumped up a few notches.

I agree that, in most churches, this meet/greet thing totally detracts from worship. But, just like everything, if it has a purpose and fits in with the big picture strategy, it can add to the worship.

Here are a few things that I suggest if your church wants to have a purposeful meet/greet time (unless you really like to make people feel uncomfortable):

1) Don't open this time up by dividing your guests from your members by asking one or the other to stand or by asking your members to only find somebody that looks like a guest.

2) Don't spend much more than 30 seconds with this...unless it's for a very specific reason. You want to give people enough time to make that easy connection without getting to the awkward, "we've run out of things to talk about" stage. And, you don't want people to get so caught up in other conversational stuff that the focus moves away from whatever is going on in the service.

3) Have some kind of music going...whether it's the band or a CD. Silence is the killer of all things fun.

4) Develop a culture in which people come to church early and stay late to hang out and meet new people (see my last paragraph below). At NHC, we built a HUGE lobby, offer food and drinks, and are constantly telling people to come early and stay late, just to hang out. You wouldn't believe the difference it makes on every aspect of your church's life.

5) Find a strategic place to incorporate this time into the flow of your service. Even if it's perfect in every other way, if you do it at the wrong time, you'll have a big mess on your hands.

6) Imagine yourself as a guest who knew nobody, or better yet, as a guest who hadn't been to church in years...how would this time make you feel welcome and comfortable?

One more thought...if your church isn't being friendly to each other, and especially to guests, outside of this meet/greet time, it will totally come off as forced and fake. But, if your church has already shown to people, before they reach their seats, that you are a friendly and welcoming church, this meet/greet time can very strongly reinforce that perception, or you may not need it at all.

So, what does your church do? Are you so friendly that you don't need this time of connection during the service? Are you so cold that people would freak out if you tried to do this during a service?

Nate

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

MilePost13.com

I've finally had time and energy to finish revamping our band's website, MilePost13.com. It's been dormant for about 9 months, so we're excited to have it back up. It's not completed yet, and there's one big piece to add which should be coming soon, but it's good enough to make public.

Nate

Example

I've led worship, now, for several youth events. One day events, week-long camps, weekly youth group, and lots of stuff in between. Youthy people are complex creatures, and I'll be the first to say that it can be incredibly frustrating to "lead" them in musical worship. I have had a few great experiences, but most of the time, most youth just come across as disengaged and almost completely uninterested.

This week, our Contagious Youth are participating a four-day mission event called Impact Outerbanx. The MilePost13 Band was invited to lead worship each morning, as several youth groups in our area gather together for worship at our church building before dispersing into our community to serve. I'm actually fairly impressed with how many kids are participating in this event (about 80 by my guesstimate), and it seems most of them are, at least, somewhat interested in being involved in the worship.

But, one of my biggest youth-worship pet peeves took place on day one...and is has nothing to do with the kids.

It drives me crazy when the youth leaders think it's OK to stand/sit separate from the youth during music worship, which is what happened on Monday. Actually, this happens at nearly every youth event I've ever led worship for, and I just can't figure out why. And the worst thing about it is, often the adults aren't just hanging with the youth, they're spending the time talking and doing just about anything else than engaging in the worship (I understand that, sometimes, there are important things to be done during the worship, but most of the time...).

Here's why this bugs me so much...

It sets a poor example by saying to the youth (even if the leaders don't mean to):

> I have more important things to do than worshiping God.
> I don't want to spend this time with you.
> I don't have to worship God the same way you're being asked to worship God.
> I don't have to be engaged in what's going on.
> I can stand off to the side and hope that nobody hears my voice or sees me worshipping.
> I don't like this kind of "youth" music.


I've actually, when I've had the opportunity to, spent the time to gather youth leaders together before an even begins to encourage them to hang with their youth during the entire even (unless there's a specific reason not to). Up on the stage, you can see the difference it makes when both the youth and adults are worshipping together in one space.

And, it's not that the kids need some chaperoning and guidance. As I said, the youth that are coming this week seem to be engaged, and, if nothing else, they're not sitting on their butts and talking and texting and disrupting (we turn the music up too loud to make that much of an option anyway). It's simply that, when one commits to being a "youth leader" (whether full-time vocational or pert-time volunteer), they've already acknowledged the fact that they're going to be an example for these kids, through their words and actions, of what a true worshipper can look like. It makes perfect sense to me that being an example is just as important during a worship gathering as any other time.

And, having said that, it's not, either, that these kids need somebody to show them how to sing loud, and clap their hands, and close their eyes at the right time...that might be the last thing they need.

What they need is for their leaders to say (through their worship):

> I'm here to worship God.
> I'm here to worship with you.
> We're equals before the throne of God.
> I'm serious about all of that God stuff that comes out of my mouth when I talk to you.
> I don't care how I sound or look as long as God is pleased with my worship.
> I don't care what the music sounds like, what the worship leader looks like, what the room feels like...I just want to worship.


More than likely, most youth aren't going to notice when their leaders are standing off to the side, appearing to be disengaged with the worship. But, I guarantee, they do notice when their leaders are engaged. Lead by example...all of the time. You'll make my job as "worship leader" so much easier.

Nate

Music Chat

I am downloading the new Third Day album, "Revelation" as I write this (listening to track 2)...look for my review later in the week. My favorite Christian band, 3D will be on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno tonight (probably on air around 11:30pm EST).

Chris Tomlin's new album, "Hello Love" is scheduled to come on 9.2.08. Because we use a ton of CT's stuff here at NHC, we're very excited that we'll be learning some great new stuff this fall!

Lincoln Brewster's "Today Is The Day" should be hitting the shelves on 9.23.08. We also use a lot of LB's stuff from his "All To You...Live" album, so we're anticipating some more great, new stuff to sample at church.

Listening to track 3 of the 3D album, now, and it sounds just like what we've come to expect from them...which is a good thing.

Nate

Friday, July 25, 2008

NHC This Sunday

This Sunday is a great follow up to This Post about connecting with a local church body...


Nate

Monday, July 21, 2008

The First Two Minutes

I've discovered that, the vast majority of the time, the first two minutes of our worship gatherings set the tone for the rest of the 1 hour 15 minutes we spend together. No matter what we do for the next 1:13, those first two minutes seems to control the atmosphere, energy and mood of the remaining time.

If we open with a prayer, the entire gathering tends to slow down and take on a more contemplative feel.

If we open with a silly video, the entire gathering tends to feel much more loose and casual.

If we open with a high-energy song, the entire gathering tends to feel charged and emotional.

If we open with a technical problem, the entire gathering seems to fall apart.

Of course, we realize that, God is more than capable of throwing our plans out the door and doing whatever He wants to. But, we also recognize that we have a huge responsibility during those first few minutes to help point everyone in the direction we believe God has led us to go. At Nags Head Church, we believe that every part of our worship gatherings should be connected with every other part in a seemless act of worship. The offering, the songs we sing, the prayers, the message...it should all just be the next natural step in our worship journey each Sunday morning.

How do you set the tone for your worship services? Do you recognize the huge responsibility you have in those first few minutes to set the course? Do you even care?

Nate

NHC This Sunday

> Sunday mornings are always draining for me, as I guess they are for most people in church leadership (and, having said that, I'm glad I'm not a pastor/preacher). My day begins at 6am, and I'm usually out of the church building by 12:45. But, it's always a good kind of draining. I love getting to the church building on Sunday, knowing what lies ahead, and I love leaving the church building on Sunday, knowing that (usually), I have nothing important to do for the rest of the day.

> The energy that seemed lacking from last week was back again this morning. The more I do this worship leading thing, the more I discover that the atmosphere for the entire worship gathering seems to be set within the first minute or two. I think I may blog more about this later...

> So, there was supposedly this tropical storm named Cristobal aimed right for our little stretch of islands yesterday evening...we never saw it. The youth group even met at the church building last night instead of their normal spot on the beach because of the forecast, but it was basically the prettiest evening weather we've had here in a long time... Not that tropical storms are anything like full-blown hurricanes, but once again, God protected us (we haven't had many direct hits in the past several years, which is a blessing).

> Next week is "Backpack Sunday"! Yesterday, we challenged all of our folks to wear a backpack to church this coming Sunday to help us create a buzz for Operation Backpack, which is coming up in just a few weeks. We've even got some sweet prizes to give away to the people who show up with the coolest backpack. Don't know what Operation Backpack is? Stayed tuned for more!

> It still cracks me up to hear the kids in Kidmo screaming at the top of their lungs during our worship gatherings. When they're loud enough, we can hear them through the walls, which is awesome! Our Kid's Church Team rocks (as do all of our teams, me thinks).

> A friend of mine brought a coworker with him yesterday. She's from the Ukraine, here for the summer working and experiencing our culture. I met her after the second gathering, and asked her what she thought about our church. "This is a lot of fun...church in the Ukraine is never any fun." It's these kinds of comments (not that church is fun, but that this person, who maybe doesn't have a relationship with God, thinks church is fun) that really make it worth while for us. And, in between the fun stuff, she heard a powerful message about God's desire for her to know and live for Him (not that our sermons aren't any fun).

> We've got two new people who are in the auditioning process with the band. We haven't brought anyone new on in a while, so it's exciting to see the possibility of growing.

> One of the coolest parts of the summer for us is, every week, seeing familiar faces who vacation down here the same time every year. We only see them once a year, but the fact that they choose to continually worship with us on their vacation is cool. And, every now and then, a connection is made that will last a lifetime.

Nate