Cloak Words

 

“Worship is simplicity”

“I’m just here to serve”

“The band should just fade away”

“It’s not a rock show”

“That’s not worshipful”

“We are just being lead by the Spirit”

Cloak Words

Cloak words. You’ve heard them, whether you realize it or not. You may have said them, whether you meant to or not. They are words and phrases that are part of the “christianese” lexicon that we use to cover our real meaning or justify our actions. They sound nice. Maybe true in certain circumstances. But right here and right now they are being used and a disguise to hide our true meaning.

Continue reading “Cloak Words”

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Saturday Night Musings.

It’s Saturday night.

I’ll be leading worship at church tomorrow before making the 2hr drive to my parents to celebrate Father’s Day. My Dad Jim passed away when I was 13 but left a legacy of faith in Jesus, love for my mom and us boys, and desire to be a man of God. My mom remarried, and I’ve never called my Dad Brian ‘step-anthing”. He was the man God raised up to stand in the gap and love a a hurting wife and 3 sons. We never felt like we were anything less than his boys, and never felt like he was doing anything less than trying to honor the legacy of Jim.

Now I’m a dad. My own son was born 7 weeks ago tomorrow. Will I leave the same legacy both my dad’s have given me? My mother doesn’t even know her father’s name. It makes me think about how many kids are born without fathers. How many fathers leave and abandon their family and their vows made before God and man. How many father’s are there physically but checked out emotionally. How many fathers make the games and birthdays but have no relationship or destroy what little relationship they have in their wrath and anger.

I’ve been very blessed. i hope to give the same blessings to my son. I hope to be part of calling men in my church to do the same.

Something to think about. The statistics vary but something like 90% of the time, the whole family will follow Jesus if the father does, compared to 20-30% of the time if the mother is leading the home spiritually. The least likely guy to go to church is a guy in his 20’s. This guy (and this is just my experience, no stats) is also the most likely to have a father like the ones I described above: Checked out or never there.

Something to think about when we decide what songs and style of music to do in our worship expression.

The Electric: Getting “That Sound”

Each Week I’ll try and address different aspects of the practical side of playing electric guitar in church music.

This week we’ll talk about getting “That Sound”

 

Have you ever wondered how your favorite guitarist or band gets “that sound”? Maybe you’ve looked up all their gear on the internet. Then maybe you’ve done the math and realized that their gear would cost you what you make in a 5 year period or more. Can you get “that sound” as a normal guy trying to put a rig together on a budget?

What Do You Want?

If you just bought a Boss Metal Zone distortion but want to do country you may be on the wrong track. Define the sound or sounds you want. What do you like? What does your church band play? Do you play other stuff outside of church? My rig has purposely been set up for country (Buddy Miller, Johnny Cash, Ryan Adams), U2/Coldplay (which means i can do any Christian worship band that rips off those bands cough. cough. Hillsong. cough.), and  rock (Death Cab For Cutie, Arcade Fire, Daniel Lanois) and REM (I rip off Peter Buck a lot)

Do Your Homework

There is no way around it. You have to do the research to know what you want, what musical and technical terms mean, and what gear is right for you.

Let’s say you’re an acoustic guitar player who wants to branch out. You’ve had an old Stratocaster lying around and you’ve decided to play more. Start with something as simple as reading the Wikipedia page on Effects Pedals. Learn the difference.

After you’ve learned what kinds of pedals there are and what they do, you’ll have to figure out what you need. Read up. If you like a certain style of music and you find that a lot of the bands you like use the same pedals (Boss DD-3 Delay or Line 6 DL4 Delay for examples) then that would be a starting place.

Versatility

Let’s say you love August Burns Red and Metallica before the Black album and love to jam at home to those riffs, but the church band you play with wants really bad to sound like David Crowder band. A “metal zone” or similar pedal will pretty much only get you one sound. A Tube Screamer into a tube amp that’s cranked on the “hot” channel with it’s Mids scooped will give you Metallica’s Ride the Lightening, and then if you set the amp to clean it can give you 20 other bands from U2 to Stevie Ray Vaughn. Metallica, U2, SRV all use some version of the Ibanez tube screamer. 1 pedal 3 sounds is a much better value than a single genre pedal.

Most of us are on a budget. Putting a rig together will take time. If you can buy 1 pedal to do the job of two or three then you’ll be better off 9 times out of 10.

Boutique is Not Always Better

Speaking of the Ibanez Tube Screamer. Everyone has one. Brad Paisley, the Edge, SRV. Another pedal that I constantly read about on pro guitar players boards is the Boss DD-3 (or DD-5,6, or 7) or the Boss RV-5 reverb. What I’m saying is that if you read gear forums or blogs or talk to the guy in the Guitar Center trying to upsell you, they’ll for the best sound you really need this [insert more expensive pedal here]. The reality is that a stock TS9 and a lower end TC Electronics Reverb are my go to pedals.

It’s Not Always Pedals.

I was talking to a guy who was asking me how to get the sound and tone from some Hillsong guitar player. I jokingly told him to just rip off the Edge 🙂 But then I looked at the Youtube clip he had sent. The reality was that for all the different pedals he had at his disposal 80% of what was going on was because he was playing through a nice Amp. U2 uses VOX AC-30’s. Coldplay uses Fender Deville’s. Brad Paisley uses Dr. Z. Buddy Miller uses Swart. Metallica used Marshalls and later Messa Boogie’s. The point is that if you have an electric guitar and you have money you’ve saved up you would often be better off getting a good amp than a bunch of effects pedals.

What’s the Point?

It’s worship all about Jesus and not about gear? Yes. but if you look at your pastor’s office you’ll probably find a lot of books (commentaries, maps, histories, dictionaries). Maybe he has a computer with bible software or an ipad with all his notes. These are all tools to preach the gospel and teach the bible. Musical gear are tools make music to praise Jesus, serve His church, and share the gospel or respond to Bible teaching in song. Just as a pastor needs to learn to put a message together, musical servants in the church need to learn how to put a song together. All for the Glory of Jesus.

Don’t Be Afraid To Change The Song

Ever tried to learn a song and thought “this is way too high or way too low for me to sing?” Or “there are way too many chord changes for me” or something like that?

Change The Key

I’m always surprised how many worship leaders feel locked into the “original key” or the charts they got from another worship leader or Internet site.

I’m a baritone, the worship leaders at the church I grew up in were all tenors. The chords I got from them and that make up the base of my chord files are all for their range.

All songs have keys. The Majority of church songs are in G, D, E, or C. A song may be written in Bb for a singer with a high range (Phil Wickham) but most of us would need to drop it down to something singable. Also, women and men have different ranges. If you have chords from a guy worship leader and you’re a lady, you may find that a lot of the “standards” don’t work with your voice, that’s ok, just find the key that works for you. I’ve found that a lot of the songs in G that are two high for me work well in F.

Change The Chords

A lot of the older hymns or Christmas carols were written for pianos or organs with chords and chord changes that don’t work well for guitars or guitar music. Don’t be afraid to figure out what works for you and your band.

When we planted Calvary:Arlington we only had two guitar players to start. But our chords and arrangements were often for full bands from our sending church. So for a few of the songs I had to go in and change the chords and arrangements to work for something different, and as we’ve established a fuller band we’ve had to change other songs from simpler arrangements to ones that work for a larger group.

It Won’t Happen Overnight

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Getting your songs set up to work for you and your band will take time but it’s worth it in the long run. As for Christmas songs, I’m about to go start working on them in the summer so I’m not scrambling come the holidays.

The main thing is not to get locked into what worked for someone else. Be Biblical. Be Authentic. Be yourself

Store Up The Good Times

Today I was watching a video from The Gospel Coalition Website of Jason Meyer and John Piper talking about the transition of leadership at Bethlehem Baptist Church. It’s an interesting video to see how a complex church in another ‘tribe’ handles change and transitions. In the middle of the video Jason talks about a conversation with his wife and how they need to store up the good times. They were going through a season of joy, blessing and clear direction. But he knew the hard times would come and they would need to remember these good days.

How was you last time leading worship? Have you ever had a Sunday when you wanted to pack it in? We need to store up these good times for the times when we get down, or criticized or make a mistake.

Jason’s comments can be found around the 17:20 mark.

Random Thoughts

-If people come to hear the pastor preach, then what’s wrong with them coming to hear the band play?

-How many sermons have been preached about what “worship music is” by preachers who don’t know anything about music and who come in after the song worship is done?

-When you get up instead of sleeping in on Sunday: That is worship

-My pastor asked me to do a song I wouldn’t have picked. He doesn’t do it often and i really hated it he’d listen to my reasons, but it’s good for me to submit, especially this week where I’m feeling feisty.

-Its good to do songs you don’t like sometimes if it serves the people of God
-When you put the cash in the offering box that is often a greater acting of worship then any song you’ll sing that morning.

-Someone asked me once if the band Kutless was punk rock… They aren’t.

-We worship God with our minds when we listen to a sermon and with our whole strength when we choose to follow what the bible says.

-Read Revelation 5 as a worship service. It’s been heavy on my mind the last few days.

-if you’re the music director do you have a “direction” or just a vision for the status quo.

-I love reverb. More reverb.