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Notes from Boot Camp | Visual Media

To those who attended my breakout session on visual media at the BCMD Worship Team Boot Camp on Feb. 25, thank you so much for attending! I hope the day was as much a blessing for you as it was for me. As promised, here are my notes from the session.

  1. Role of technology/Visual Media in a worship setting
    1. To create an environment
      1. Visual Worship Leaders
      2. What is a worship leader?
        1. A worship leader can’t make people worship, and it’s not our responsibility
        2. Two things we can do:
          1. We can and should respond to God with worship.
          2. We can and should speak, sing, play, create, and use technology in such a way that the people we hope to lead receive every opportunity to respond to God with worship.
      3. What is a Visual Worship Leader?
        1. Oversees, curates, prepares the visuals
        2. In a very real sense you shape the direction of the service
        3. It’s your job to help everyone know where they should be:
          1. Congregation: What words am I supposed to sing right now?
          2. Band: What words am I supposed to sing next?
          3. If you don’t go at the appropriate time, you can cause a bit of chaos
        4. At times, you have a greater influence on the environment of worship than anyone else
        5. Choices you make impact the flow and experience of the service in significant ways
        6. Be vigilant, always listening, always watching, always learning
    1. To serve the Word
      1. Four load-bearing walls of Worship Service (Constance Cherry)
        1. Gathering
        2. Word
        3. Table/Response
        4. Sending
      2. The Word is the focus – everything points to it
        1. Message over media
          1. Don’t do something just because it looks cool – does it serve the message?
          2. Example: structure visuals around the sermon
            1. We create graphics for sermon series
            2. Those inform our visuals throughout
    2. Band and pastor can’t do their job without you
    3. Not a job you can do without preparation
  2. General Pointers
    1. Backgrounds
      1. Not too many colors
      2. Not too much motion
      3. You’ve got to be willing to delete stuff that looks cool
      4. Not too many changes
        1. Every song doesn’t have to have a different background
        2. Same goes for slides in the sermon presentation.
          1. Keep the background and use foreground images
    2. Text
      1. legible
        1. common font and size for songs
        2. slightly smaller font size for message
        3. create a style that you think looks good, stand at the back and make sure you can read it.
      2. comprehensible
        1. how much is too much at one time?
          1. less is more
          2. the great serif debate (serif or sans serif)
            1. sans serif all the way baby! (it’s less cluttered and therefore easier to read in a worship setting)
          3. concise idea onscreen – not multiple ideas – specifically in the worship context
            1. I usually shoot for no more than 2-4 lines per slide in a song
            2. 4-6 lines per slide in a sermon presentation
        2. care for orphans and widows (in text)
        3. Punctuation & Phrasing
          1. relax, it’s just poetry
            1. rules of sentence structure don’t necessarily apply
            2. commas and line breaks dictate phrasing (but you don’t have to SHOW the commas)
            3. I don’t include punctuation at the end of a line except for quotes and questions
      3.  Lighting
        1. Use light to define spaces
          1. Example:
            1. Smaller lit area during preaching
            2. Larger one during music
        2. Be conscious of the emotional impact of color and light
          1. DO NOT USE RED
          2. Think about your house lights
            1. Up or down?
        3. Don’t be afraid to go black
  3.  Resources
    1.  Books
      1. An Hour on Sunday: Creating Moments of Transformation and Wonder by Nancy Beach
      2. The Worship Architect: A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services by Constance Cherry
    2.  Websites
      1. visualworshiper.com – blog
      2. http://www.sundaymag.tv/lighting-color-theory/ – great article by Camron Ware about the emotional impact of color
      3. lukemcelroy.com – articles
      4. judkossum.wordpress.com – my blog
      5. Visual Media
        1. shiftworship.com
        2. twotp.com

Well, there you have it! If you have any questions, feel free to comment here.

Cling to His Word

Your statutes are my songs In the house of my pilgrimage.
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:54‬ ‭NASB‬‬

God’s Law is a great source of delight and deep joy in this transitory life.

God Himself is the source of hope. His word renews us, gives us life and strength. His word is worth holding on to through trials. His word brings comfort. His word brings delight. In this life, trust in God – obedience to His word – is the one thing we possess that has true value.

Hope, comfort, joy, delight are available to us in the word of God, in obedience to Him, because His word is His revelation of Himself. We must cling to it in suffering and happiness. We must remember Him and His word no matter our circumstance. He will sustain us.

Remember Him. Cling to His word in through good and bad. He will sustain us.

This life is transitory, temporary, and we too often cling to transitory, temporary things rather than the eternal God and His eternal word. We find delight in things that are not worth finding delight in. We look for delight, comfort, hope, renewal, strength in things that just can’t offer it. Instead, we should cling to God, obey and delight in His word.

We need the hope, comfort, renewal, strength, delight, sustenance, stability that only come from God. We need His grace to change our hearts so that we trust in Him, obey His word, find our delight in Him.

If we allow this truth to bloom and live in us, we won’t be so attached to things. We will have more faith, true faith. We will lead our families and ministries, live our lives from a foundation of true, eternal wisdom rather than the transitory wisdom of the world.

What Makes Prayer Powerful

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.
James 5:17

We must pray because the prayers of righteous people, by the grace of God, have power to accomplish things. Elijah is our example: he was a man like us, and when he prayed that it would not rain, it didn’t rain for 3 and a half years! Then he prayed again, and it rained.

God is the power behind our prayers. Therefore, rightness with Him is a requirement. He wants us to pray. (It is commanded, expected here.) He wants to do things for us – to grant our requests, to heal us, to forgive us, to restore us – in the context of a right relationship with Him.

If we truly seek to follow Christ, our prayers will have power. Righteousness – rightness with God – ensures that when we pray, we are asking for what God wills. Elijah asked for something outrageous and got it because his will – his request – was aligned with God’s will. This is what makes prayer powerful.

God will answer the prayers of those who are right with Him. He will answer prayers in dramatic ways when those prayers – when those praying – are aligned with His will.

He heals. He forgives. He restores.

Have you lacked faith in God’s answering of prayers? Maybe you haven’t always asked in line with His will. Maybe you have not been righteous. Maybe you have not prayed faithfully as we are commanded and expected by God to do.

He does not answer prayers that are prayed from a place of unrighteousness – when we are not right with Him, when our prayers are not aligned with His will.

We need to pray faithfully and expectantly from a place of rightness with Him.

Ask God to make you righteous, to make you one whose prayers hold power like Elijah’s.

It’s by His grace that He answers prayer at all, for none of us is righteous on his or her own, but only by His grace. Therefore, the power of a righteous man’s prayer ultimately comes from God by His grace.

To be a righteous man, to be a man whose prayers hold power, I need Christ’s grace.

The Least of These

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭25:40‬ ‭NASB
‬‬

When we believers care for the poor, the sick, the hungry, the thirsty, the prisoner – all those in need – it is as though we are doing these things for Jesus. We show that we are believers, that our faith is real. Those who live this way are true Christ followers. Those who don’t are not.He cares for the needy. He cares about our physical needs. He cares for the physical needs of His creatures because He loves them. He expects us to reflect His character by loving and caring for the physical needs of others as well. These are the works of true faith.

Do you reflect God’s love like this? Do you have time for the needy? Do you want to?

When we serve others, sacrifice for others, love others, we serve and sacrifice for and love Jesus.

We become comfortable and content with our self-centeredness. We so often live lives of isolation that are focused entirely on “me and mine,” but our lives should not be this way. We desperately need to care for the material and physical needs of others as outward evidence of a real faith.

Pray something like this:

God, I know that I need to change. I know that I need to release this self-centeredness and live outside myself. I have told You honestly that I want to be more like Christ. But in this way, honestly, I don’t, and I don’t know how to be different. God, I need You just to give me the desire to care for the needy, for anyone outside my immediate, close circle.

 

Without His grace, this cannot happen in us, but He wants to transform us.

Worship=Life Podcast

I want to invite you to subscribe to my brand new Worship=Life podcast. Each episode, we’ll explore the nuts and bolts of worship ministry in today’s church – the technological, the visual, the musical, and the spiritual.

My goal is to help worship leaders develop their ministries, their leaders, their teams, their environments to provide the best possible opportunities for God-honoring worship in their churches. I’ll share what I’ve learned over the years, as well as what I’m in the process of learning. I’ll bring in experts to share their wisdom with you as well.

In the first episode, I begin a series on ministry structure, starting with the values our ministries embrace. Check the episode out at the link above. I’d love to get your feedback!

My Favorite Christmas Albums – 2016

Back in 2010, I wrote about my favorite Christmas songs and albums. (You can check it out here.)

Six years is long enough! So, today, I’m updating you on some of my favorite Christmas albums. I’d love to hear what your favorites are, so leave some comments! And even better, I put together a Spotify playlist so you can enjoy them too.

  1. Christmas… From the Realms of Glory by Bebo Norman – Bebo Norman may be retired, but he remains one of the absolute best songwriters in CCM (just give a listen to the cut “Deeper Still” from his album Ten Thousand Days). If you listened to Bebo back in his indie days, you may understand this: Christmas… From the Realms of Glory sounds like it came from his heart more than anything else I’ve heard from him.  With simple instrumentation – acoustic guitar, piano, melodica, hammer dulcimer – the record is a masterpiece of warm, introspective, Americana pop. Highlights: “Born to Die,” “Come and Worship,” “The Rebel Jesus”
  2. Behold the Lamb of God by Andrew Peterson – Being in ministry can get tough sometimes. The stress can be overwhelming, especially at Christmas time. A few years ago, I hit one of those walls, and this album got me through it. Peterson and his collaborators – among them Jill Phillips, Andrew Osenga, and Ben Shive – weave a folk-pop tapestry that brings the story of Scripture to life – from creation to Christmas. From the beautiful “Labor of Love” to the silly “Matthew’s Begats,” this is a special album. Highlights: “Labor of Love,” “Deliver Us,” “Matthew’s Begats”
  3. Advent Christmas EP, Vol. 2 by Future of Forestry – So you’re probably noticing a theme among my favorite Christmas albums – serenity. I love the mellow, organic, ambient sounds and Eric Owyoung’s honest voice. Those are the things that make this EP one of the best. Highlight: “The Earth Stood Still”
  4. Silver City by Falling Up – If you remember Falling Up from their early days, you might think, “That doesn’t really sound like Jud’s kind of band.” And you’d be right. But over the years their sound evolved into something more experimental and ambient. That led to their 2013 album Silver City, a collection of inventively arranged Christmas songs and a few originals. There’s energy, contemplation, cool melodies, Jesus, and little bit of sci-fi. Highlights: “Emanuel,” “Sugar Plum Fairy,” “The Little Robot”
  5. Christmas by Michael W. Smith – High-church, classical Christmas album with classic Smitty touches, and it’s pretty flippin’ amazing. Still one of my favorites. Highlights: “First Snowfall,” “All Is Well,” “Gloria”

Christmas album honorable mention: Christmastime by Michael W. Smith, Music of Christmas by Steven Curtis Chapman, Home for Christmas by Amy Grant

The absolute worst Christmas song ever: still “Grown Up Christmas List.”

Christ’s True Greatness

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:25-28

If we seek greatness in the body of Christ, we must be servants just as He was. Though He was and is the Lord of all and could rightfully expect to be served, He came into this world instead to serve His Father and humanity by giving His life to redeem us. Greatness in God’s kingdom is the exact opposite of greatness in this world. He proves His own greatness by making the ultimate sacrifice for our deepest need.

Jesus is humble. He loves us, which He showed by putting our greatest need before His own comfort, before even His own rights. He expects the same, love, humility, service from His children.

Like the sons of Zebedee (v. 20-23), our natural inclination is to put self first. I may not seek a position of power or authority quite like they did, but I still put myself first in many other ways. My mindset must be changed to that of Christ: my purpose – the purpose of all followers of Christ – is to serve, to submit, to love God and others.

We are called to follow the ultimate example: Christ Himself. He committed the ultimate act of service on the cross, thus proving His greatness.

He commands us to serve just as He did, and we to often don’t, putting ourselves first.

When we forget what true greatness is – the greatness Jesus showed us – the result is pride, self-centeredness, clinging to our “rights.”

But we needed to be saved, and Christ committed the ultimate act of service for us to save us. We need to follow His example. We need to count Him and others as more important than ourselves. We need to serve, to submit to, to love God and our brothers and sisters.

Join me in praying that God will take away our pride, that He give us His humility, a heart to serve others and not just please ourselves.

We’re not capable of being completely selfless, of always submitting, of always serving and loving others – or even God Himself. Our nature must be changed. We must be transformed into the image of Christ, and only He can do this in us.

Your life and mine would then be lives of greatness as God defines it, not as man does.