Sunday was National “Orphan Sunday” so our service had a unique flavor. In our Elemental series, we were teaching about the Gospel so I tried to find songs that would express both things clearly – how the Gospel encompasses all that we are AND drives to real, practical action.
I’m not sure if we pulled that off, but the set went good and the service seemed to communicate clearly. For such a busy day, we made good time, even though I had to race a little bit during first service to make sure we didn’t overplay our welcome. In fact, during our crowd greeting, I leaned over to ask Ross if he wanted me to cut a song. He looked at the clock and said, “No. But don’t linger.”
No pressure, right?
WHEN I THINK ABOUT THE LORD (G)
I’ve heard this song in a lot of different formats, but when I heard my friends at First Methodist Lufkin do this Shane & Shane version, I was impressed. I thought it was a nice, simple arrangement that was easy for a congregation to sing along. (As long as you don’t do Shane’s vocal acrobatics.) The band did a great job – it’s a harder song than I originally thought, because it moves from a very straight, driving rock feel to a much more funky verse section. My drummer and bass player were especially on point here and made the song work.
THE FATHER’S LOVE (G-A)
I wanted to put this song in G when we first learned it, but it was too low for me. So for the past year, we’ve done it in G# and modulated to A#. I decided to knock to G because . . . well, why would you do a song in G#, right? I thought I could carry the verses, but they were just too low. I asked my wife, Kristen, to sing it instead. She did great, but wasn’t terribly comfortable doing it. It went pretty high and she nailed it, but she didn’t enjoy it! It sounds silly, but I missed the G# version. Doing it lower felt a little tame and hollow. I think it was better for our crowd, but after doing it so long in the original key, this new one felt weird! My intro of the song was better in the second service – I talked about our status as spiritual orphans and how God’s great adoption moves us into action.
Our Family Pastor, Mark Kuykendall, welcomed everybody and brought Tim Clark to the stage. Tim is with an orphan ministry and was being interviewed as a part of Orphan Sunday. The interview was great. The second service interview was longer than the first, but as I mentioned earlier, we were on time in both services!
THIS IS HOW WE KNOW (B)
I’m always surprised how well this song works earlier in the set. While “big” in performance, it’s a pretty slow song that still somehow manages to sit well in the higher energy section of most setlists. Personally, I love the payoff in the closing tag of the song – capturing that our love for God is in response to His for us…yes!
Earlier in the week, I was trying to come up with an application or story to segue into the next song. We taught it a few weeks earlier and people seemed to enjoy it. As I looked at the lyrics, I realized that the song wasn’t necessarily about ‘saving’ mercy alone. In fact, two of the verses were centered on God’s abiding presence and peace in our lives when we can’t see Him or feel joyous. To make that transition, I told a story about my children being afraid and how sometimes they just want to know I’m there. I tried to make that spiritual application and read from Deuteronomy 31:8. I think it went okay – I got good feedback on it, but didn’t feel like I landed it, you know?
THE GREATNESS OF HIS MERCY (B)
Second time to do this song and it went great. There is a great electric guitar part in this song, but every time I hear it, I realize how important a strong piano section can be! In the fourth verses, the song drops to an acoustic/piano vocal and for this week, I altered my strum pattern to accentuate Karen’s keyboard part. When we hit the last verse, I went to a soft downstrum focused on the higher strings. It added some rhythm but still brought the intensity down. This week, I realize how LONG the song is! Not complaining, and it probably seemed that way since I was under a time crunch.
I prayed that God would teach us from His Word how the Gospel should lead us and be our foundation. The final song started with keyboard and synth, so we devised a nice intro for the song. Kinda.
REIGN IN US (B)
I’ve been doing this Starfield song in our youth services for a month or so, but it actually was request last year by a few folks on my team. During the song in youth gave me a chance to find a good arrangement and to see how it played. The band LOVED this song. I guess it’s hard not to love such a massive, rock ballad. Here was our plan for an intro:
The song starts with a drum loop and a plinky chord pattern for 8 beats before the full band comes in. I had Karen, our keyboardist, find a huge synth patch and asked Tim, or B3 player, to find a good, large piano patch on our Alesis keyboard. TWO KEYBOARDS! BOOM! I didn’t want them to have to try to read the end of my prayer, so the plan was that as soon as I said “Amen,” our drummer would turn the click on in our ears. After four clicks, Tim and Karen would start the intro. The song went perfectly in both services, but during the first, I realized that once I said “amen” and Dale hit the click track, our congregants were experiencing a pretty long silence before the intro started. Silence isn’t the enemy, but sometimes too long of a break in a set can confuse your crowd. For our people, a long silence that either means we’re about to play a video or somebody forgot to do something. Since we try to limit distractions as best we can, I made a change after the first set, asking our drummer to play on closed hat for those 4 beats. This was strictly for the congregation – that they would know a song was coming. Felt much more natural and less ‘showy’ doing it that way.