Recommended Resources IV: Logic Pro X

I just upgraded to Logic Pro X. It is my go-to DAW(Digital Audio Workstation).  I’m still amazed at all the functionality you can get for just $199 at the App Store.  I use it just for songwriting and for making demo recordings.  I suppose if I were choosing a DAW for professional music production I’d go with Pro Tools, but for my needs, Logic is the best choice.

One new feature that blows me away on Logic Pro X is the new virtual drummer module. Logic comes with a stable of 16 different drummers.  You choose one that fits the genre of your song.  Find a pre-set that and then begin tailoring the “loudness” and “complexity” of their playing to your arrangement.  You can even ask the virtual drummer to follow another track, such as the bass.  I can’t get some real drummers to follow the bass player!  As someone who doesn’t play drums or have the skill to program drums, this module alone is worth the price of the whole package.

Reharmonizing Mighty to Save

Here’s my reharmonization of Mighty to Save.

Here are the chords:

Verse:

Dmaj7, Amaj7, F#m7, E (repeat)

Bm7 C#m7, Dmaj7,

Chorus:

A, C#m7, Bm7, Amaj7, F#m7, Gmaj7 (repeat)

Bridge:

Dmaj7, C#m7, Bm7, C#m7 (repeat)

 Enjoy!

Reccomended Resources III: ProPresenter

I began leading worship in the 1990′s.  I would conduct with my right hand and flip acetate sheets on the overhead projector with my left hand.  Every Sunday I would have to prepare my transparencies.  I’d take my songlist to a rusty old filing cabinet and pull out the overhead sheets for each song. I’d then carefully stack them together, in order, careful that none of them were backwards or upside down.  Once I had my folder full of slides I’d guard them with my life.  My greatest fear was that they would get mixed up and I wouldn’t discover it until verse 2 of “Shine Jesus Shine” turned out to be a backwards lyrics to “Jehovah Jireh.”

These days I have no such anxiety. The overhead projector has been replaced by a Hi Def LCD projector (or is it a DLP projector? I’m not even sure). I have a projectionist sitting at a computer running lyrics through a program called ProPresenter.  There are several different lyric projection products on the market, but when we we were upgrading our video systems we found that ProPresenter was the  most reliable and easiest to use.  It interfaces very well with CCLI, Planning Center and plays most video formats without much trouble.  It can handle the PowerPoint presentation that the guest speaker shows up with 10 minutes before the service as well. If you’re still using PowerPoint, you simply must upgrade to ProPresenter, EasyWorship or any of the other programs designed to project lyrics for congregational singing.

And another fun fact about ProPresenter: it was used to manage the video screens at several venues during the 2012 London Olympics.  These days technology usually comes from the entertainment world into the church, but in this case it was the opposite.  ProPresenter was developed originally for Louie Giglio’s Passion conferences – and now it used around the world in churches and other venues that need real-time control of multiple video sources onto one or more video screens.

It sure beats flippin’ overheads.

Recommended Resources II: planningcenteronline.com

How on earth did I ever run a worship ministry without planningcenteronline.com? Planning Center is one stop shopping for all your worship ministry management needs.  It does everything you need to keep your worship ministry organized: scheduling volunteers, planning and distributing your orders of service and keeping your music library organized.  It really does it all.  And it provides one-stop-shopping for your volunteers to get all the info they need.

Back in the 90′s when I tried to organize my worship ministry by emailing out spreadsheets of volunteer schedules and word documents with song numbers from the ubiquitous “purple book.” In those days I dreamed about something like Planning Center.  Well, I had to wait a few years, but finally my dreams have come true.

Spontaneous Baptisms

There has been lots of chatter about spontaneous baptisms over the last few months. Steven Furtick’s Elevation Church produced a riveting video of spontaneous baptisms.  Christianity Today has weighed in.

I lean toward giving people every opportunity to obey Jesus and be baptized.  I also think it is a good thing to provide people an opportunity to learn what baptism means, and to carefully plan the event so that friends and family can be there to celebrate with them.  I don’t think spontaneous invitations to be baptized undermine offering baptism classes.  After all, we offer Christianity Explored classes, as well as spontaneous invitations to become a Christian.

One of the objections to spontaneous baptisms is that someone without genuine faith will decide to get baptized based on emotion or to just follow the crowd.  As long as the meaning of baptism is clearly explained I don’t worry about this.  To paraphrase a famous saying: Kill Baptize ‘em all.  Let God sort ‘em out.

 

Recommended Resources I: macprovideo.com

A couple of years ago I was interested in improving some of my technical skills.  I took an online course from the Berklee College of Music on Desktop Music Publishing.  The course was great.  I learned a lot.  But it was expensive.

I was looking for a cheaper alternative to improve my skills so I started searching youtube for free tutorial videos.  There is lots of good stuff, but you have spend a lot of time sifting through some pretty dodgy things as well.

Eventually I decided to subscribe to macprovideo.com.  And it’s been great.  There are hundreds of courses on every major music production software, taught by industry pros.  And I have full access to the online catalog of courses for a full year for $200, instead of over $1200 for just one course from Berklee.  For someone like me who just wants to learn specific things at my own pace, macprovideo is a much better deal.  It lacks the instructor and class interaction that a formal online course offers, but when you weigh in the price differential, macprovideo.com is a much better deal.  And there are lots of other websites like it (such as lynda.com) that offer online training in whatever you need to figure out.

It has never been easier or cheaper to pump up those tech skills.

Post-Easter Depression

It’s always tough to follow up Easter Sunday for those of us in worship ministry.  We’re exhausted after pulling out all the stops on Easter sunday.  The emotional tank is also empty.  But it is still an important Sunday.  We really are hoping that visitors who checked us out on Easter will come back the next week.  We don’t want them to feel like we’re pulling a bait-and-switch by letting them down on the Sunday after Easter.  So what to do?  Bob Kauflin over at worshipmatters.com has an excellent post on what to do the Sunday after Easter.

Worship Leaders are not Pop Stars

Last week Leonard Sweet tweeted a link to an article by Phil Cooke entitled “WHAT KATY PERRY AND TAYLOR SWIFT CAN TEACH CHURCH WORSHIP LEADERS”.  OK.. I bit and read the article.  To summarize, Phil Cooke thinks that worship leaders need to encourage participation and engage the audience the way Taylor Swift and <insert random pop artist> do.  He also contrasts the contemporary worship leader with with what goes on in the traditional worship service, where “everyone sings along”.  Well, I can attest to the fact that not everyone sings along in all traditional worship services.  I think Phil doesn’t understand the difference between the pop concert and a worship service.  Here are some differences:

  • At a pop concert the audience is there because they want to be there.  Everyone at a Taylor Swift concert is into Taylor Swift.  Not everyone at a church likes the style of music being played during the worship time.  Big difference there.  Here’s a thought experiment – how would Katy Perry do performing in front of the people who attend a traditional worship service?
  • Pop stars are in complete control of the experience.  Lighting, Set Design, Makeup, Wardrobe, Sound, etc… all are manipulated to create an experience tailored for the concert-goer.  Not so at church… we just don’t have the budget.
  • Pop stars have world class talent (Taylor Swift haters…. bear with me).  They at least have some kind of magnetic charisma.  Most of us worship leaders are not world class talents.  We are simply doing our best with whatever gifts God has given us.
  • Pop stars are the focus of the show.  They pander to their audience.  They give them what they want.  Worship leaders are trying to put the focus on Jesus – which goes against our natural carnal desires.  It’s easier to get people to engage if you give them what they want.  Harder to give them what they need.

I agree that worship leaders must engage the audience like any good performer does, but I find it more dangerous that a worship leader might think that he or she is a pop star.  That’s the real danger.

There are lots of articles written about what worship leaders can learn from Taylor Swift, or U2, or Mick Jagger.  It’s kind of like writing an article on what spinach can learn from cotton candy.