Sunday, November 30, 2008


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


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.


Monday, November 24, 2008


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Although the list wasn't nearly as long at NHC when I arrived here, it was out of date...the band admitted to me that they hadn't learned any new songs in over a year, that they actually hadn't used many of the songs on the list, and they were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?


Friday, November 21, 2008


I've officially asked that the editors at 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, which I find confusing but inconsequential. But, This Post is what has really made me think long and hard about my association with, 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 on this blog, and I don't want anyone to continue to believe that I endorse everything that is communicated at

Thanks...back to your regularly scheduled program.


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.


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!


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...


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 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?


Thursday, November 6, 2008


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.


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 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.



Wednesday, November 5, 2008