If you read these each week, you’re probably thinking, “Okay, Todd, we get it. Every Sunday is crazy!”

I promise some of these post won’t need a lot of setup one day.

But yesterday wasn’t one of those days. It was wild! But good! Here’s what we did.

This is a tune from Kristian Stanfill’s latest project. We used it as our “closer” last week as people left, so Sunday was our chance to see if it seeped into enough people to work as a corporate song. The tempo is slower than what we normally do to start the service, but this one has a ton of power! Having Tim back on organ really made this one sing! Congregation was engaged. It didn’t hurt that our second service had one section of college-aged folks who obviously knew the tune. That made a difference!

Welcome / Call To Worship
This is normal for us, but during this break, I mentioned to folks that our service was going to run a little differently. At Bethel, we don’t spend too much on “surprise.” We place a real high priority on leading our people clearly through each phase of the service. After saying that, I read this “Call To Worship”:
We believe that no one is here by chance because God has a plan for everyone.
Since the beginning of time, God designed a plan to redeem and save His people.
We gather to renew our faith in His promises and worship Him, because He first loved us.

We’ve been doing this great Indelible Grace tune for over a year now. It’s musically captivating and such a beautiful lyric. Our drummer and bass player did such a good job on this one – they laid out early and slowly built in. Loved it! It also helps that this song has lots of energy…good for crowd participation!

Normally, this would be our standard welcome from Ross, but not today! Before the song, I gave them a little more info by telling them that we would be hearing from Eric Barton, the pastor of Arbor Bible Fellowship, the church we’re prayerfully considering merging with. I mentioned that we learned this song right when this whole process started, so that it was good for us to sing it again. I’m not always crazy about lead breaks, but the instrumental section of this tune is so much fun.

Ross interviews Eric
At this time, Ross came to the stage with Eric Barton and interviewed Eric about why Arbor would want to be a part of the merge. Eric did a great job. He was honest, funny and very clear about who Arbor is as a church and how the fit the Bethel identity.

Ross wanted us to still have a “greeting” time to transition out of the interview, so we encouraged folks to shake hands, hug necks and greet each other for a bit. We launched into this Redman tune which is one of our favorite songs to sing. Our keyboardists and organist both did a fantastic job on this one. Like a lot of Redman tunes, it’s slow, but driving and Karen and Tim did a great job providing the drive.

Romans 3:1-5
In preparation for the next tune, I read this scripture.
O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. But you, O LORD, are a shieldabout me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill. I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.

A month ago, I had this song suggested twice in one day by two different people. That sort of thing doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, I try to give the song a shot. Since I’m in a Kristian Stanfill phase, I was happy to try this one out. I wanted to be careful with the song, though. Songs like this – if we’re not careful – can come across as ill-fated bravado. Songs about God’s deliverance can sometimes lead us to acting as if God’s going to fix every problem right here right now before the song is over. God can do that, but as pastors, we want to make sure that our people have an honest view of God and not some genie-in-a-bottle approach. The lyrics of this tune are great, and I knew our folks would dig it, but I tried to pray afterward and just remind us that God’s end goal is always the glorification of Himself. I thanked God for keeping His promises and for always being the victor. The song itself went great. Since the melody is a bit low for me, I had Kristen (my wife) sing the verses. She killed it!

Second week to try the “new closer” idea. I love this Matthew Smith hymn and I’m excited to see how it works when we’re all singing. Musically, it’s a challenge for the band. There’s some really inventive rhythmic stuff that’s good for us to work on!


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