Tag Archives: worship

Prayer for Independence Day

God our Father,



By Your providence You have formed this, and all nations, intended as instruments of Your common grace.

With humble gratitude, we thank You.

For the freedom to gather as Your people, and openly worship together,
We give You thanks.

For the freedom to speak the truth in Your name, without fear or hesitation,
We give You thanks.

For the men and women who, for the sake of liberty and justice, stand willingly in harms way,
We give You thanks.

When we have failed to live out the high calling of our founding principles,
Grant us mercy, O God.

As our leaders guide this nation in the course ahead, may they be held true by the law that You have written on the hearts of all people;
Grant us wisdom, O God.

Though the injustice of this world may, at times, compel us to take up arms, may we ever be slow to anger and guided by justice, looking forward always to that coming day when You shall end all wars;
Grant us peace, O God.

Holy God, You are the source of every blessing that flows from free and prosperous lives, sustained by the imperfect virtues of this great nation.

May our strength be guided by justice,
May our justice be guided by compassion,
May our compassion be rooted in love,
May our love be the fruit of our freedom,
And may our freedom be yielded to you.

May Your strong right arm

So order all things

Amen

Transition

Earlier today, Gretchen and I stood up in front of the church and announced that I would be stepping down from my position as Worship Leader at Christ Community Church.

A Little History

About 9 years ago, I was the worship leader for a small church plant in the Inland Empire. It was not a good experience. The leadership was not supportive, our relationship with the pastor was demeaning, and when we left we shook the dust off our feet. I had no place to go, no obvious means of income, but we had to get gone.

We bounced around for a few months, moved to Burbank, and then out of nowhere I got an email from Doug Scholten, the pastor at CCC. Their worship leader had left with two weeks notice, and Doug was scrambling to find an interim who could hold down the gig for a month or so while they looked for someone to take the position. We met, it went well, and I agreed to cover the gap. Mother’s Day of 2003 was my first Sunday at the church.

As they looked at candidates for the position, they asked me if I was interested. I kept saying no – I wasn’t interested in a church gig, I didn’t want to get back into that mess.

After 6 months, Gretchen and I realized that we did, actually, really want to be there. The people were warm and welcoming, the position was well-defined and well-suited to my abilities. More than that, Doug was the kind of pastor that all church musicians hope for. He respected music and the arts, was willing to try new things, and was able to step back and allow me to do my job. I submitted my resume, and they hired me as the Worship Leader.

Some Highlights

In my first year at CCC, Doug asked me to preach. It was the first time I had been asked to preach anywhere. It was an overwhelming and awe-filling experience, and one that I came to both dread and relish.

We have a seasonal choir at CCC, but most of the choir lit wasn’t appropriate for our group. I started writing and arranging music for our choir, and as I’m sitting here looking at my scores folder, over 8 years I’ve written or arranged 30 pieces of choral music for this choir. There’s nothing quite like the relentless necessity of Christmas and Easter to force you to build a catalog of work!

Good Friday has become a tradition of experiential risk-taking for us. One year we created an immersive environment with 30 laptops projecting photos and videos, and live-blogging stations for people to record their reactions. Last year we booked a string quartet to play a meditative concert of challenging contemporary music. The path from “What if we …” to “Let’s try it!” was well-worn.

A few years ago, we added a Classic service at 8am on Sunday mornings. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea initially, but it has become the perfect way to start the out the Sunday haul. Instead of jumping right in to running charts, setting tech, rehearsing the band, I get to start the day by sitting quietly and playing through two hymns with a small congregation. It’s a brief meditation for me, and has become one of my favorite things.

In the time I’ve been at CCC, we’ve had about 12 students from APU come through and play with the team, sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes for much longer. It’s been a place where some of the things we talk about in class can be worked out very practically, like a “lab” extension to the lectures.

Both of our children were born and then dedicated at CCC. I love that we gather around and lay hands on new parents, commissioning them to the ministry of parenthood.

The Transition

In the last few years, Gretchen and I have been feeling a strong pull to find a local church. We love many things about CCC, but the drive is 45 minutes on Sunday morning, and an hour and a half during rush hour. The time and distance mean that we can’t be part of the community of Christ Community Church. Our kids can’t be in the children’s choir, Gretchen and I can’t be in small groups or make it out to social functions.

We believe in the mission of the church. We believe that it has the power to change lives and communities. That power, though, is worked out through the relationships within the church, and between the church and those in the community around it. If you’re only present for Sunday morning, if you are forced by time and distance to stand one step removed from the other people in the congregation, then you might be “going” to church, but it is impossible to participate in the transforming power of church. You can’t serve the mission. You can’t be served by the mission.

So, we starting praying and looking for a chance to make the transition to a local church.

The Road Ahead

February 27th will be our last Sunday, after which I will step down from my position as worship leader. March 6th I’ll begin leading a small early morning chapel service at a large church in the Irvine area. It’s a traditional music service, with piano and organ, along with the occasional string quartet and guest soloists. It’s early in the morning, and so I’ll be home in time for us to find a 10:30 service at a local church, where we can attend together as a family.

There are many things we will miss from the last 8 years, but there are also some things we’re looking forward to.

We’re looking forward to sitting together during a worship service.

We’re looking forward to attending a small group or bible study together.

I’m looking forward to being that guy every worship leader dreams of, who walks up after the service and says “Hey, I’d love to sub on the worship team sometime if you need someone to cover keyboards,” and then can actually play!

I’m looking forward to a smaller scope of responsibility, to a simpler service. I’m looking forward to Easter and Christmas being seasons of joy, instead of dread.

The seed that was planted with the hymn service at our church has blossomed. I’m looking forward to playing music from the deep and rich tradition of the church.

I’m looking forward to volunteering for things … or, saying “no” to things!

Leaving Well

There are so few times in Church when we are able to leave well. It seems like most transitions happen because the church is unhappy, or there is conflict with the leadership, or character issues, or because someone leaves for a better gig, or more money, or … anyway, we as a church have a bad history of ending ministries well.

This is a good transition. Hard, but good. We are leaving a healthy ministry behind, we are leaving with the blessing and goodwill of the congregation, and we are leaving for the best of reasons.

This is a good thing.

Wanted: Tech Director who will do what I’m thinking but forget to tell them.

Hey, so, our church is hiring a sound guy .. I mean, a tech director. We had one candidate that was very close, but at that last minute withdrew himself from consideration. So, I’m kicking this out to you all. Do you know anyone who might be a good fit? Here’s the job description I posted on Craigslist:

Christ Community Church in Buena Park is searching for a qualified technical director. The primary responsibilities are running sound for two contemporary Sunday Morning worship services, setting up slides (sermon powerpoint and song lyrics) in Media Shout software for the service, some website content updating, and managing a team of technical volunteers in supporting roles.

This position requires about 10 hours of work per week, most of which occurs on Sunday morning. Compensation is fixed at $150 per week. Candidate must be a practicing Christian of any denomination, with experience in mixing live sound for contemporary bands.

A full job description is available at the following link:

http://cccbpmusic.com/tech-director.doc

Interested candidates should send a brief email describing how your experience fits the job description.

If you know anyone who might be right for this, have them drop me an email, michael [at] addisonrd [dot] com. We have an interim helping us out, but he leaves in about 3 weeks, so time is short. Any and all help is appreciated.

An Oasis

It’s been a long time since I’ve been a worshiper while leading worship. It’s been a desert. This morning was an oasis, though. It was alive, responsive, passionate, and the words I was leading were true for me too. Songs that had been clunky and awkward in previous weeks just soared.

What a blessing.

Groupthink: Send the Songs, My People!

sheetmusic back bOK, kids … everybody know what time it is? That’s right, it’s time for you to help Mr. Michael Lee do his work! For free!

Settle down, kids. No, there are no snacks. No, Timmy, I will not cut you in for points on the backend … Timmy, where did you learn about that kind of thing anyway? Oh, your last name is Mottola. Well, that explains a lot, Timmy.

For the rest of you, here’s the assignment. I need you to help Mr. Lee think of songs for his little singing group to perform. Think big guitars, drums, a very cool band, and 6-part vocal harmony tight enough to peel the lipstick off a pig. No, Timmy, I wasn’t making a joke about your daddy’s ex-wife.

So, if you had that kind of group, heading out on the road to perform concerts for medium-size churches, and also doing some stints as a high-school camp worship band, what kind of rep would you throw at them?

Anything. Anything at all. It doesn’t have to already be arranged for that kind of band + vocals, it can be a song that you think could be arranged well for the lineup.

The floor is open. Hit me.

On Participation

Kyrie Yeshua

300 strong we lift this cup
And cry the “Hallelujah”
And sing

I arrive, and am at once a harried messenger of grace
Procuring and delivering the dispensations
Removed from the penitent throng

But when we lift this cup
300 strong and I
We cry the “Hallelujah”
and sing

I am not a people set adrift

Bored with …

Can someone please write some new worship songs? Please? I’m tired of looking at the same 12 songs, all written with the same 4 chords.

New Rule – before you secure funding to release your world-famous worship record, you have to write 3 original tunes that sound nothing like Chris Tomlin or Tommy Walker. Or Hillsongs. Trust me, those guys already do their thing much better than you will do it.

Phil, where’s the portfolio of Copland-esque worship tunes? Chad, how about you take that mid-fi sound and bang me out something? Stick, why aren’t you writing me some slick, pop production, delayed guitar, loopy …. oh wait.

All this to say, the fact that I’m bored with the repertoire of worship says to me that something is a bit off. I just can’t quite figure out what it is.