Why sing secular Christmas songs at your church carols night?

We’ve just had our Carols night and it was great! The team putting together the song list did a great job of mixing traditional carols, new Christmas songs… and they even included some “fun” Christmas songs… like Jingle Bell Rock, Little Drummer Boy, 12 days of Christmas, etc… (see the Carols booklet here).

Now, I have to admit, when I first saw the song list, I put my grinch on and thought, “Why on earth would we waste time singing Christmas songs that have nothing to do with Jesus!?! We’ve got this great opportunity to tell people about Jesus and we’re singing secular Christmas songs?! Bah-humbug!”

But there’s a very good reason for it… in fact, its the very reason I initially thought we shouldn’t do it. Because yes, we want to tell people about Jesus… but even more than that, we want people to listen and hear the message about Jesus!

Can you see the difference? It’s the same reason you play games at youth group. You need to give people breaks, they need interludes, they need breathers and rests and time to warm up to hear the thing you really want them to hear.

It’s the same reason you don’t preach for 2 hours at a time. People just can’t deal with intense ideas for that long. In fact, it’s not loving to subject them to that.

So, use the fun, secular songs to your advantage… give people interludes and be intentional as you try and focus them towards the really important stuff.

Why your MC should have more authority than the pastor…

At least for that time they lead and love the Sunday gathering, your MC should have the authority to make the calls they think need to be made… cut a song, do an extra prayer, cut and ad, change the song order mid-service, even tell the preacher they’ll need to rush through their talk (although I imagine something would have had to have gone seriously wrong for that – but the principle still holds).

See, if you’re going to hold them responsible for the meeting being an encouragement to those there, you need to give them the reigns. From 10mins before the meeting starts to the moment the meeting ends, for everything to do with the meeting, the MC should have the right to make the call he thinks is best. Even if the Pastor thinks its the wrong call at the time, that’s usually something that can be discussed later.

Being out-the-front puts on 10% more “boring”

They say the TV camera puts on 10pounds… As thin as you might look in person, it never gets fully captured on TV.
Being out-the-front at church does something similar… But not to your weight (no one would care anyway… Right!?). Rather, being out-the-front makes you slightly more uninteresting, slightly more boring, slightly more one-dimensional.
Partly it’s just the room and the dynamics of trying to hold the attention of 100 people. They all have their own little voice going on inside their head, their own little mind buzzing on their own things. It’s not a face-to-face conversation, and it’s socially acceptable to pay less attention.
The good thing is, unlike TV, being out-the-front can work fine as long as you invest 10% more energy into speaking than you would face-to-face. It needs to be slightly louder, slightly more vibrant, slightly more exciting… Not to be more vibrant or exciting, just to be normal.

Conference ideas from #oxygen14

For many people missing out on a conference, it’s not just the preaching and encouragement they miss out on, but it’s also observing the well-run machine of a big conference so they can take and apply the ideas in their own conferences, camps etc. So here’s a few…

Question time questions, not by SMS, but by app. A sure fire way to get loads of people to download the KCC app (it worked for me)!

Choose a location that has intrigue. The Australian Tech park is pretty cool, and adds an exciting element to the conf. As always, while dealing with humans, you need to have an eye to how I and are affected by locations.

Limit information. I know things sounds weird (and I don’t know how intentional it is) but there’s something to be said about keeping back some key information from your participants. It’s day 2 and I still don’t know which of the key speakers is speaking tonight. I don’t even know where my next seminar location is. There’s some workshops happening this arvo… I’m not sure what they are or who’s running them. But, the opt out level will be much lower, because I don’t know what I’m opting out of. Very gen y.

Two tier seating tickets. Yep, despite James 2:1-4, there are two seating areas… The up front, close to the action seats (zone 1 – blue) and there’s the up the back, participate through the video relay seats (zone 2 – yellow). Though I can imagine this working in America, I can’t hep but wonder if the cheaper tickets are zone 1, so those people have to fill the front section as a punishment ;)
It is a good way to fill from the front… A perennial problem in Australia.

Are your songs articulating your God?

The other day I heard this phrase on Triple J, “the more songs we hear, the more we will be able to articulate our culture”. And I began to think about the phrase, not in regards to culture, but in regards to music and God.

What if we changed the phrase above to, “the more biblical church songs we sing, the more we will be able to articulate our God”? If you look at most old hymn books, you’ll see church songs listed in a huge range of categories and themes about the attributes of God, his world and his church.

In your church or at home, what do you spend most your time singing about? Is it biblical? Is it just focused on God’s love, justice or the cross? Maybe you don’t sing about God. You spend more time singing about yourself? If you spend most your time singing about God’s love, you will think God is only about love. It’s like those guys who go to the gym and just work the right bicep. They’re lopsided.

As Christians we want to keep asking ourselves the question, whether involved in music ministry in church or not… “what are we saying (or not saying) about God in the songs we sing in church?”

A microphone doesn’t mean you can use your normal voice

Your normal voice is the voice you use in normal situations… and preaching/mcing is not a normal situation. It’s a very strange situation. You’re infront of hundreds of people. How would you speak if you didn’t have a microphone? Loud? Overly animated? Slower? Yes! That’s your normal voice… for that situation.

So why have a microphone? A microphone now gives you more ranges, volumes, options. Now the situation is: In front of a large crowd, with a microphone. So speak as the situation requires.

Speaking out the front requires more animated, energised vocals and attitude. The microphone doesn’t amplify your personality, just your sound waves.

As you walk into church on Sunday, never forget…

Every Christian in that room is a “convert”.

They may not be your convert (but who cares). They may have converted years ago (but again.. so what?!). They may have converted as a child in a family that never knew a day when they weren’t a convert (praise Jesus!). But they are all converts. Every soul in that room is someone who God, my the majesty of his Holy Spirit has chosen before the beginning of time to drag into his love in Christ.

We need to keep preaching the gospel to ourselves and remember this, so that we don’t loose heart. So that we don’t fall into the trap of thinking that God saves this nice bunch of people because they turn up every few weeks or so.

Rather, we need to remind ourselves, and our congregations, “If God saved me, the wretch I am, he can save others.”