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