Loops for A Beautiful Exchange by Hillsong — some of my favorite songs right now

The recent album by Hillsong has some great songs on it. I have to think God smiles when music for worship is written like these. We will be teaching some of these song in the near future at our church. And finding loops and click tracks that go with new music can be difficult — but mymusicwriter.com has 6 of the songs off the album posted (here). I’m excited for these fresh batch of new songs that Hillsong is cranking out. These were very fun to work on. It’s easy to create stuff for songs that are clear cut awesomeness.

Baby’s first audition [video]

Never too early to start.

Worship…Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes « Vertical Resonator

At Topeka Bible Church, we are worshipping with fewer prompts from the stage (let’s stand together, let’s sing together) and giving worshippers more space (time) to respond to God in worship.

We we publish the following in the bulletin this week…

Worship is simply a response to God — giving Him the worth He’s due. While there are many expressions of worship in the Bible (singing, bowing down, standing, clapping, lifting hands, being still), we invite you to worship how you are wired or simply observe if this if your first time with us.

Which reminded me of a post from back in 2006 on this blog…

Consider the following. Which ones are accepted in your church? Which ones do you feel comfortable doing? Which ones would you not be caught doing?! Why or why not?

Our Voice

1. Speaking – Psalm 34:1 says, “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”

2. Shouting – Psalm 27:6 says, “Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.”

3. Singing – Psalm 47:6 says, “Sing praises to God, sing praises to our King, sing praises.”

Our Posture

1. Bowing – Psalm 95:6 says, “Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”

2. Standing – Psalm 119:120 says, “My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws.”

3. Dancing – Psalm 149:3 says, “Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.”

Our Hands

1. Playing Instruments – Psalm 33:2, 3 says, “Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.”

2. Clapping – Psalm 47:1 says, “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.”

3. Lifting Hands – Psalm 63:4 says, “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.”

[Content taken from “Nine Ways to Worship” by Stephen M. Newman]

God help me to express Your worthiness like David did. I don’t want to be concerned about what others think of me as I worship You. I want You to be concerned with how I worship You. God, there are times I don’t fully express how I love you because of what others think of me. Forgive me for putting others before You when it comes to how I worship You.

via Worship…Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes « Vertical Resonator.

Your children would rather go to T-Rex than church

Last weekend, my family and I visited another semi-local church since I had off from our own church. It was about an hour away — so my local other church ministry friends who are reading this don’t have to worry.  Here were some of our take aways.


  1. Their website really helped us in advance.  We were able to figure out where the church was and even look at where to drop off our kids.  It explained in detail what a walk through would be like.  Several places the church said to arrive 15 minutes in advance…and I’m glad they did.  It made me (the husband) look pretty good in the morning and lowered the stress level.
  2. It was easy to find the church.  The church was off a main road with a large sign to identify where to pull in and park.
  3. Parking and access to where we needed to go was inviting and easy.  The walk to the building wasn’t too long, which I was thankful for since it was cold and windy.  It’s amazing how much this makes a difference when you have kids in tow.
  4. We didn’t appear like newbies — and I liked that fact.  Because the website told us where to drop off our kids, we knew exactly where to go once we entered the building.  This was great because I really dislike going to someone I don’t know (or worse a volunteer staff) and saying, “Um, we are new — so you can you just run us through your embarrassing process.”
  5. Their children’s pastor made an effort to connect with our kids.  When we arrived at the check-in station, they alerted their children’s paster that we were new.  He came over, gave a quick introduction to us as parents (10 seconds), and then began to interact with our two oldest kids.  They both seemed to connect with him.  That was a plus.

Improvements Needed

  1. The sermon had great points — but was too long.  While I loved the points the sermon had, the communicator keep attention.  I found myself and others around me looking at their watches.  The one speaking that morning wasn’t their lead pastor, although their lead pastor was there that morning and spoke briefly at the end (which I was thankful for because it gave us a chance to hear him).  Again, great point, not great execution.
  2. The kid check-in process was OK, but not stellar.  They didn’t ask for our mobile phone # or let us know how they might alert us if there was a problem with our youngest.  Not good.  I need trust right away — that people would have thought it through and tell me who they’d contact me if my child was choking and an ambulance had been called.
  3. The music was fairly decent — but sound didn’t rock my world.  The music was good…well done, thought out — yet the audio didn’t feel dialed in to me.  It sound got better as the morning went on — but it almost sounded as if they were sound-checking (dialing in the mix) as it was happening.  I appreciated it was getting better — but I went in hoping it was dialed in right away and nailed on the first song (so I could turn off that part of my brain).
  4. They didn’t have a class for kids on this particular weekend due to New Year’s weekend.  This made listening to the sermon a challenge — as the people behind us were receiving a lesson from us in how (not) to rear your children during a church gathering.  I’m glad they didn’t select “How parents can and should train their children in the Lord” for the morning’s message.


The Most Frightening Aspect

Then there was something that was alarming more than anything. Following the morning at this church, we decided to surprise our kids with a visit to T-Rex Cafe at Legends. If you’ve never been there before, it’s a place kids love.  The food price is high, it’s out of your way — but they love the experience.  Not only do they love the experience, but they WANT and ASK to return.  The sad part is — we are willing to pay the prices and go our of our way.

Frankly, our kids would rather go back to the restaurant we went to than the church. What’s frightening is that our kids drive our decisions (not every, but a lot of them right now).  This means what clicks and connects with them…works for us as parents too.  If my kids end up leaving a church and the experience they had has them WANTING more and ASKING for a return…we’d most likely do it — especially if our kids were learning spiritually while they had a good experience.

Hit a home run with the Nelson kids in the experience department + show mom and dad they learned something spiritual that will influence their lives = return visit from the Nelson family.  That’s the sad reality.

Unfortunately, our kids will ask for us to return to T-Rex Cafe instead of the church. It’s going to cost us financially and time-wise to make that happen again.  It’s not easy to get to and the prices aren’t fair.  Yet, I wonder if our kids would have had a similar experience at church — maybe, just maybe, they would be asking for a return there.  Heck, I might even give them what I would have given T-Rex as a visitor in their church in the offering plate.

So lies the debate…

  • Where do parents draw the line at kids influencing their decisions (gifts, restaurants, church, etc.)?  You can’t argue that kids do not influence decision — because they do.  But there’s a line there.  And it’s different for every family.  The trick is figuring out what God’s Word says the line of influence should be.
  • Should churches attempt to compete with other kid experiences like T-Rex Cafe?  Think about it — T-Rex is in it to make money, a church is in it to win souls — so which which experience ought to win?
  • Are parents overly concerned over experience in other ways at churches (similar to children)?  If so, in what ways?  Things such as — the music has to be ‘such and such,’ the preaching needs to be ‘fill in the blank,’ the people that attend this church ought be ‘fill in preference,’ my first 2-3 experiences should include ‘this and that,’ and the list might continue.

How about you or your kids?  Where would you rather be than church?  Why?  And what should the church do about it?

Number crunching the unchurched matters – Light Show Report 2010

We count people because people count to God. If you spend $1 a person to gain an opportunity to present the gospel — that’s great IF the people you present to don’t already believe the gospel.  So the question becomes, how much do you spend on what in order to reach what kind of people.

Effective Outreach

Spend the most efficient amount + reaching the right people = WIN

Topeka Bible Church does an annual 15-minute drive-in light show synchronized to live music in a 3-story building. We’ve done the light show for 4 years. Each year we poll those who come to find out whether or not the light show is reaching people it’s designed to reach. So keep the following in mind…

The light show is designed to present the gospel through the Christmas story to those who do not yet have a relationship with Jesus Christ. There are lots of side-missions and bi-products that the light show creates, this this foundational mission of the gospel is central and crucial to it continuing.

With that mission in mind, it’s important we evaluate whether or not it’s accomplishing it’s mission. The minute is doesn’t achieve this mission…we need to reinvent it or kill it. So here are the quick evaluation points.

  1. 34.7% of those polled said this was their first year to the light show.  This means new people are still coming to the light show – allowing us to connect with first time light show attenders.
  2. The number of people we are reached is about the same number as we did last year. Last year we had an additional night…and we drew in 219 more people last year. This year, we did one less evening — and the numbers kept up with last year.
  3. Percentage-wise, fewer people from TBC are attending the light show. This is a good thing in our book.
  4. No one knew about the automated light shows. This means we lost an opportunity for people to return and invite others between 12/14 and 1/1. For 2011 we will make a big push to make this clear.
  5. The percentage of those without a church home (compared to church attenders) is increasing.  Those who attend church (either TBC or another church) are decreasing.  This is what we want to happen over time.  This could be due to the 2,500 parade flyers we handed out and emailing an invite to past light show attenders.
  6. We budget $6,000 for the light show.  This means this year we spent about $1 for every person who came to the light show.  But if you look at what it cost to reach just the un-churched…the ratio was about $5.41 per un-churched person.  That’s the number that makes the difference whether or not we are being effective or not.

Here are some of the charts that spell out the numbers.


The ultimate question is — is it worth $5.41 for each of the 1110 un-churched people who come? What better method could we use?


[VIDEO] Talent brokers look beyond the obvious

If you are a talent broker, look beyond the surface. There’s a lesson in judging by looks alone. Remember, God cares about the unseen inside/heart.

What are you caring about?

Dear church, be proactively intentional for Christ’s sake — forethought always wins

Dear church, be intentional for Christ’s sake. There’s too much at stake to be caught off guard and surprised — or worse — to move along with dead weight and ineffectiveness.

As we make plans for 2011, we will be setting up a plan that will change because we can’t predict the future. 2010 held some surprises for us — and 2011 won’t be any different.  God is about the only One not surprised.  Yet, if we don’t account for the limited time/people/communication/energy/financial resources, it’s a sure way to set one’s self up for failure.

One smart way to lay out plans for a new year is to role play the “down times”. Doesn’t sound fun, does it?  Sure, it might not sound like a great staff meeting — and it certainly should be the basis of every or even the majority of decisions, however it does bring about proactivity instead of a more reactive approach.  Allow me to explore this concept…

Let’s face it — there will be times momentum is on your side, and times it’s certainly not. When momentum drops, we have a tendency to be reactive.  Being reactive it’s bad, but being proactive is even better.  When hard times hit (and they will), it creates a new opportunity.  Usually an opportunity to cut back, to streamline, or to revisit why we do what we do.  It’s a no brainer these opportunities bring about a forced change.

The greater question is why did we wait until hard times to take the opportunity to change? The answer to that question is the key to being more efficient and effective when times are, shall we say, easier.

For example, look at some interesting insights from Sam Chand on Church Trends.  (Head over to Tony Morgan’s site to see some more of Sam’s thoughts.)

Staffing — Churches are reducing paid staff and increasing unpaid staff. Many if not most churches became overstaffed in better financial times. Churches are redefining “volunteerism” as to how they are “recruited” with intentionality and the very caliber of the recruit is vetted carefully along with fulfilling assignments—usually short-term.

Development vs. Training — Training is about a task whereas development is about a person. Churches are realizing they have highly trained and poorly developed leaders with built in low ceiling and capacity.

Pastor’s Family Time — Boomers didn’t pay as much attention to their families as the younger pastors are thus skewing the expectations of church boards who still remain predominantly boomers.

Graying of America — The number of people older than 65 in the U.S. will continue to increase creating a larger gulf in how church is processed.

via Church Trends with Sam Chand | TonyMorganLive.com.

Why do we wait until the present to make the tough decisions? Why not “role play” those hard times in advance in order to discover how we might play that “low momentum” period of time?  This means taking valuable time to talk about and act on those “low mo” times.  Maybe even chart out the priorities in the organization as they exist today.  Please understand this shouldn’t be the

Ask the question, if we had to cut back 1/3 of what we do…what would we do?  What about 1/2 of what we do?

Two things would happen.  First, the church might identify “fat” or inefficiencies in how it currently operated towards the mission God set out for it.  Secondly, it would have the forethought to be a little more proactive for hard times (who’s on payroll, why, what areas to cut first, how to streamline).  According to Sam, churches are being more intentional.

There’s more at stake in the local church’s mission than in most other organizations. So let’s be intentional for Christ’s sake. The church’s sole purpose is a soul purpose.  So let’s trim our waist line.  Let’s be careful to developing people — not just train training them.  Let’s figure out how the upcoming generation of leaders tick — to give them a proactive chance at one of those fluid baton handoffs.  And let’s teach them to have forethought — both for when times seem effortless and times when it takes all the effort.

“In life, as in chess, forethought wins.”  Charles Buxton

The key to recruiting volunteers « Leadership Freak

Non-profits run on volunteer juice. If it weren’t for volunteers (unpaid staff) — many churches and other organizations would collapse.  That’s why as a “talent broker” in a local church — I’m really interested in what makes volunteers sign up, do a phenominal job, and then stay signed up for the long haul.

A surprising insight by Dan Rockwell reveals volunteers sign up for personal reasons…not for reasons for the organization.  Dan says…

People volunteer for personal reasons, not organizational reasons. — If you work in the nonprofit sector, you might want to read that again. — Successful recruiting efforts focus first on the motivations and talents of potential volunteers and then on organizational mission and vision.

First, talk to them about them, and then talk to them about you. Your goal is finding alignment between personal and organizational values, mission, and vision.

via The key to recruiting volunteers « Leadership Freak.

That’s serious rethinking when it comes to recruiting volunteers.

If you volunteer, you might be slightly offended by Dan’s statement.  It could be a downer to think that we volunteer for our own personal reasons.

He simply is saying that YOU make YOU tick more than the organization makes you tick. Rarely do volunteers sign up and say, “Wow, I want to make that organization successful.”  He is saying that there’s usually an internal motivator that causes a volunteer to sign up (how it makes them feel, a personal conviction, a desire to give back, etc.).

If you volunteer — what’s your motivation for stepping up without pay?

If you are a talent broker — do you focus on what makes the talent tick?

[VIDEO] Social Network Christmas – from Topeka Bible Church’s Christmas Eve services

Thanks to Igniter Media for producing this great video we used at TBC this Christmas.

[VIDEO] Why you don’t bring a camel to Christmas Eve church with you

Don’t worry…we won’t have camels tonight at Topeka Bible Church for any of our three Christmas Eve services. Your family is free to come at 3:30, 4:45, 6:00pm. Directions to 11th and Mulvane in Topeka, KS.