I set out at the beginning of 2013 with three pretty significant blog goals – something I’ve never done before. I love writing this blog as a way to serve worship leaders, to help you find resources and tools to help you lead worship better and more effectively. Serving more worship leaders and sharing more resources and tools is definitely the big goal for 2013 and I’ve broken those down in to three smaller targets.
First, I looked at my stats from the last few years, thought about some new things I wanted to try this year and decided that my target would be to see 100,000 visitors to the blog in 2013.
For some of you, 100,000 is chump change. For others, 100,000 is stratospheric. That’s not the point. The point is that I wanted to be able to serve a significantly higher number of people this year through my blog and that’s the number I landed on.
So.. how did we do in January?
Number of visitors in January 2013: 6,870
One month’s target to reach 100,000 visitors in year: 8,333
Over/under that target number in January: Under by 1,463
So while I didn’t hit the one month visitor target in January to get me on pace for 100,000 visitors in 2013 there are some bright spots here:
There were more visitors to my blog in January 2013 than in all but one month in 2012
The daily average for visitors is the third highest of any months since I began my blog in 2007
Second, I told you that I would write and release three ebooks this year. Two of those are in production and will be available soon. I have an idea for the third one but I haven’t started it yet.
At the very least, I’m glad to be back on the regular blog posting bandwagon and have really enjoyed writing these posts this month. The response from you and others have been fantastic and I’m so thankful that you are finding this blog helpful to you as you think about leading worship and how you can do that better.
Worship leaders – what books are you reading this year?
I’ve been asking friends and worship leaders on social media to find out what books they are reading right now and I’d love to have you join in the conversation.
Tweet this post with the #WLbooks hashtag to have
more worship leaders join in the conversation.
I’m a big fan of the “leaders are readers” mantra and there is nothing like spending good time with a book to challenge, inspire and expand your horizons. Books have this beautiful way of confronting things we already believe to be true, inspiring us to tackle new ideas and push in areas we need to grow.
So, worship leaders, what books are on your reading list this year?
I told you that I had some big goals and new ideas for the blog in 2013 and today is the first instalment of one of those. I’ve invited 12 guest posters to come and be a part of a Final Friday Guest Post series here and I’m happy to have the first one go live today.
The first Final Friday Guest Post comes from Daniel Bashta, a songwriter/artist/missionary whose new album “The Invisible” arrives February 5 from Integrity Music. If you have had the opportunity to see and hear Daniel live, you know that passion is a word which easily describes who he is, what he does and what he is hoping to see in others.
You can find out more about Daniel Bashta and his new album “The Invisible” at www.danielbashtainvisible.com. Hear the songs, download chord charts handwritten by Daniel see “behind the song” videos and read through some devotionals Daniel has written on some of the topics he covers in the songs.
Thanks Daniel for writing this month’s Final Friday Guest Post! I hope you guys enjoy this.
Awaken Dreamers, And Let Hope In Daniel Bashta
There is a growing population of what I call “the exiles”… artists who are full of hurt because somewhere in their journey, the dreamer inside was killed. I know because it happened to me. A person in leadership once told me that I was not “called” to be a worship leader and that I needed to stick to being a number in the system. I have a real problem with that because I believe God is in the business of creating, NOT duplicating.
But sometimes in an over zealous attempt to build our trendy empires, we can bulldoze over the not-so-put-together, the very raw, quite passionate artists because they are uncontrollable and radical.
A leader can either embrace the artist-dreamer and try to be a father to help steer his or her wild nature… Or, they can manipulate and handcuff the dreamer because it is too outside the lines of the empire.
Not long ago, my wife and I were speeding through our story. Our belief in God was stronger then ever, but our belief in the system was completely destroyed. I actually started working on a song, and wrote the line “my faith is dead, I need a resurrection somehow.”
Along the way, I met a “father” who is now my pastor and a community of people who are now our church family. It’s as if God saw what was happening in our lives and created a custom package just for us. Now almost 2 years into it, an awakening has taken place in our hearts. I have learned that when unexplainable miracles take place, life oozes out into every dry place and that new life begins to form and things begin to happen!
If you are a hurting artist, or if you are surrounded by radical dreamers, here are few practical nuggets I picked up over my time of healing. Maybe they can help.
LEADERS – If you are leader, be a father. Fathers are a dying breed in our generation. Everyone likes the spotlight; very few pioneers will be around to help clean up the filth. Stop manipulating and trying to control the coloring outside of the lines… maybe the beauty starts when we get outside of our borders. Be so committed to your artists that they know how much you love and support them. Your goal should not be to contain, it should be to compel.
DREAMERS - If you are a dreamer, what is your mission? Along my journey, I figured out that my mission has not changed, but my identity has become clearer. If you are a creative type, you must have a mission and you must know without any doubt what you are called to do. Your mission should boil in your soul to the extent that if dream killers attack, you are secure in what God has created you for. Stop trying to replicate, and begin to pioneer. God does not need another Chris Tomlin, He already has an incredibly talented one. God needs you and what He has breathed inside your veins.
Find a father that you can submit your life to. Be willing to accept the wisdom spoken in this covering. Do not try to be so different that it borders on being rebellious. I’ve heard it said that the most radical people are not known by what they look like, but what they do. Having a father in your life will bring such healing and strength, knowing that you have someone applauding you no matter what stage of life you are going through. This has to be a two-way relationship in order for it to succeed. Communication is key and love is mandatory.
Be healed and DREAM! The local church should be the hope of the world. It should be a place of spectacular healing, restoration, and creating. We should be so stunning in our display of who we worship, that all eyes become fixated on this uncontrollable, invisible force.
We need the dreamers of this generation to stand up and be counted. Very few wounded soldiers ever get back into the battle because of how jaded and weary they have become in the process. My prayer is that we will see an awakening happen in the exiled outcasts of our churches so that we will see revival erupt.
I was honoured to be asked by my friend Chad Jarnagin and the crew over at Luminous if I would participate in their blog tour to help promote their conference. I was more than happy to say yes! You can also read my post from the Luminous 2012 blog tour Space for Love.
“Here’s all the information, details and objectives – just do something creative!”
Ever heard that before?
If you’re involved in ministry or any field where your creativity and artistic ability are valued (whether or not that value comes through as an actual paycheck) you’ve probably been asked instructed to just “do something creative.” Sounds easy enough!
The request comes from a good place and we shouldn’t fault people who expect and hope that we can be creative producers when it comes to planning church services, designing graphics, publishing articles or promoting events. Hopefully everyone who is part of an organization has the same desires and objectives – some of those people are good at assembling details and objectives, some of those people are good at creatively turning those details and objectives into a format which can be digested and experienced by the participants.
You are not a creativity machine
As someone who makes a living as one of these “creative producers” (I’ve been on staff as the director of worship at Compass Community Church since 2005 and have been leading worship as my main thing since the mid-90′s) I have had the opportunity to learn some things about how I as a creative leader am able to manage, understand and execute these requests.
So, for the sake of those of you who may be feeling restrained, hindered and suffocating within the creative limits and expectations of what you are being asked to do, let me give you three guidelines which can help every creative leader produce their work at the highest level of their capability.
1. Create space for creativity
I’m busy. You’re busy. We’re all busy. We get it. Busy is the buzzword of our culture and we wear it like a golden badge of honour. Get over it. You’re as busy as you want to be. Want to be less busy? Say no. Want to be more effective?
Create space for creativity.
Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly – you must create space within your calendar for creativity.
Daily? Take a long hot shower where you can just let your mind daydream and go places it won’t while you’re sitting at your desk. To accomplish this you might need to get up 15 minutes early.
Weekly? Rest. Sabbath. Unplug if you have to. Create space one day a week where you stop doing the things you normally do. Be amazed at how a change of pace sends your creativity into overdrive.
Monthly? Take a day away where you look back and look ahead. How have you spent your time? your money? your creative energy? How do you want to spend it this month? Is there a big project coming up that you are feeling anxious about? Lay out some action steps you can take to help you cut that big project down into smaller pieces.
Yearly? Schedule a retreat or getaway where you can be on your own for a couple of days. You don’t need to be a hermit but maybe you do. Take a journal, your guitar, your canvas, whatever it is and get back to the love of the art which you may have lost in a year of demands and pressure.
2. Ask for space for creativity
Of course these may sound like great ideas to you but you have other people in your life who need to be on board with this – your spouse, your family, your boss, your co-workers. Ask for space. Be honest with your need for margin so that your creative production can go to the next level.
Asking for space also means being clear with people who are presenting requests to you that you need to work with details in a certain timeline. If this project needs to be done tomorrow it’s not a good thing for you to receive the information and instructions today. Be clear with expectations of timeline and ask others to work within the space that is needed.
3. Honour the space for creativity
Once you’ve created the space, asked for the space and the space has been given do not screw this up. Don’t waste the gift. Use it wisely. Honour the space for creativity by doing what you said you would do. Creating space and asking for space will produce no tangible result if all you do on your yearly creative retreat is play Xbox and eat Cheetos. Don’t be that guy.
Honour the space for creativity by working hard at stretching your creative muscle. If you said you’re going to sabbath weekly by doing things differently that day then do what you said you’d do. Take a real day off. Write a song just for the sake of writing a song. Paint a landscape because it’s beautiful. Design a CD cover for your imaginary debut album.
Not exactly but you get the idea.
All of us have high demands on our life and producing creative results is no exception. The tools, software and resources we have at our fingertips means we can produce more with less cost, less time, less talent but we still need to be refilling our creative tank so that what we are producing achieves the objectives we’ve all set out to accomplish together.
Place these three guidelines in your life – create space for creativity, ask for space for creativity, honour space for creativity – and I promise that you will be able to produce your creative work at the highest level of your capability.
This post was inspired by the Luminous Project. Luminous is a creative spiritual event in Nashville May 1-3, 2013. To find out more, check out luminousproject.com. You can use the promo code ‘BRINGitHERE‘ to get 35% off the registration price.
Meredith Andrews (web|twitter|facebook), a talented worship leader from Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, is releasing her third studio album “Worth It All” on Tuesday, January 22. Full of songs which feature Meredith’s voice and her songwriting ability, this album has several songs which worship leaders will want to use in their churches and others which will definitely find themselves at home on Christian radio.
Thanks to the fine people at Word Worship I’ve had the opportunity to listen to this CD for the past couple of weeks and it got my attention right away with Meredith’s versions of “Open up the Heavens” and “Not for a Moment” from the Vertical Church Band album. I have made no secret of the fact that Vertical Church was my favourite CD of the year and “Open up the Heavens” has been one of the top songs at our church this year. Meredith’s version takes a great song and makes it even more accessible with a new rhythmic groove underneath. Worship leaders – these are songs that your church will sing!
Over the course of the 11 songs on “Worth It All” it becomes clear again that Meredith is the kind of artist who is at home equally in the world of leading worship as well as performing. Her heart is for the church, her writing is accessible for most congregations and the lyrical direction is nothing but Christ-focused and God-exalting. Her voice is top-notch, the production on this album is fantastic and whether or not all of these songs are accessible for congregational worship, this album is worth being part of your music library.
Chris Vacher Married to Sonya, dad to Avery, Emmy, Isabelle and Anderson. Director of Worship at Compass Community Church near Toronto. Founder of WorshipRises and doing my best to follow Jesus in the midst of it all.