- We are starting a Choir.
- We will have regular Practice.
- Our Choir will perform and enhance our weekend services regularly.
- We are staffing and resourcing it for excellence.
Here is my heart on it . . .
I’m partial to loud electric guitars. It’s true. I’ve said many times before if young shepherd David had known about a Marshall half stack and Les Paul, he would have chosen that over a harp and who knows just how awesome his Harp would have been!
Music in response to and responding to God clearly plays a role in all of God’s Word being threaded throughout our experiences with Him. But I can’t deny the special place that the human voice has over all other responses in the Bible. All of the decisions we make should be grounded in God’s timeless Word! Please take some time to read the biblical foundation for a choir that I have laid out with our creative art team’s help. Also, engage in the conversation about culture, art and the influence that we aim to have for Christ through this initiative moving forward!
I have a personal belief in the role of voices in our response to God. My wife and I talk about our ‘Response' to God's Word so often that she is actually made it her word for 2019 (Shout out to Christy Cass & Thank you)
Jen is teaching our Spring UNwavered event on this theme from God's Word. FEB 10!! Don't Miss it! Singing is one of our main Bible examples of responding to God. How can we more clearly do this in our services? I realize we are all singing, but something happens when we model things on stage for everyone to unmistakably understand our intentional response to Christ's gift of grace.
The place of the voice in scripture begins as early as the first chapter of Genesis. It was the Word of God that spoke the earth into existence. The instances of God’s people being called upon to respond to His Word is a constant theme in the Bible.
There are over 400 references to signing and 50 direct commands to sing.
It's not an Old Testament thing that we can walk away from either; it's commanded in Ephesians 5:19 and Psalm 47:6. Jesus himself sang Hymns with the disciples (Mark 14), God Sings over us in Zephaniah 3:17 and when we are filled with the Spirit as described in Ephesians 5 we get connected to singing as new believers. Our three in one God of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all lead us to sing. We can't help but imitate our God!
I love our instrumentalists who volunteer and play so skillfully! It strikes me that we all come to the gathering with an instrument - our voice! We need more voices leading skillfully to help us engage in meaningful ways during our corporate worship times. If you want to sign up for any instrumentalist position, click here.
Why I think our church NEEDS this right now . . .
Singing is really praying!
Many of the songs in scripture are simply people talking or praying to God. Mary sings a prayer upon hearing about her miracle conception. Moses and Miriam sing a song in Exodus 15. It is all over God's Word. The best words to pray back to God are those from his Word, and we find the example in scripture of people praying many times through song.
Singing is obedience!
God’s Word instructs us to get together and have worship with music in community! That should be exemplified clearly for everyone to see! Specifically, having a choir accomplishes this task. We say that our audience is Christ and we are worshiping Him, yet we have a stage with only a few people on it playing instruments in many corporate worship settings. By having a vibrant, growing and expressive choir join our musicians, we are helping everyone connect with the object of our worship in a less distracting way. A multitude is what is described in Heaven worshiping Christ. We are trying to replicate what we know to be true in our hearts. Our combined artistic expression of worship in corporate sessions needs to match the reality of heaven as much as possible! It is difficult for a few singers and few band members to match the intensity and power of a multitude on stage reminding us visually of what is happening in Heaven!
- Colossians 3:16
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
- Ephesians 5:18-19
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,...
God gave us the very breath in our lungs and by singing; we are declaring His place in our hearts by offering that breath back to him in thankfulness and worship.
Singing memorizes God’s word
Rabbis have learned massive amounts of the Old Testament by singing it. This was also the case when Christ himself was alive. Have you ever thought of the repetitive nature of some of the Psalms? Much of the scripture I know in my life is memorized through song.
Singing Is Evangelistic
When you read scripture take note of what happened to the individuals who had a genuine encounter with God. Moses was wondering the desert, a murderer, and after meeting with the Lord, he was the leader of a nation. When people encountered Jesus, the sick were healed, the deaf could hear, the blind could see, the lame could walk, and the dead were raised to life! When one encounters the Lord, they will not leave the same! Scripture tells us that The Lord inhabits the praise of his people (Psalm 22:3) so when we worship, the Lord is present. There is no greater way for someone to experience the Lord, than in a gathering of believers worshiping the living God!
Singing battles against spiritual realms
Look at this example of singing as spiritual warfare against the enemy in 2 Chronicles 20:22, As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. Anything that God has done before He can do again! He desires to see victory in our lives and our praises lead the way. This means our corporate times of praise MUST have boldness and confidence as described in Hebrews 4:16, Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Our confidence in God going before us in spiritual battle is appropriate! So we need to visually set up what is actually happening spiritually. In these corporate worship moments, our hearts are being strengthened!
Singing blazes a trail for inner Joy
Despite our circumstances, our praise is the pathway to joy! Psalm 57:7 links the idea of inner peace and singing, My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make music. Of all the songs in the Bible, the starkest contrast of circumstance and joy might be Paul in Silas singing while in prison. In Acts 16:25 it says, About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
There is a crowd of people gathering weekly at our church. In that number are believers who are burdened, and non-believers who are seeking something of substance. Our best testimony is in the changed lives of those who have been redeemed! Let the redeemed of the Lord tell what Jesus has done! (Psalm 107:2) There is power in our stories. (1 Thessalonians 1:5) When a crowd of redeemed people stand on stage and testify to what God has done Jesus is lifted up! (John 12:32)
This is a Bible idea. This is the picture of New Testament worship!
Singing Unifies The Church
Singing unifies the church in worship in a way that NOTHING else can do. I am reminded about the unity of our minds (and heart rates) by this passage:
- Romans 15: 5-6 says, May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Singing is our destination
The end of the New Testament is really a hymnal! There are 27 Songs recorded in the book of Revelation: Songs on God’s Holiness, Worthy is the Redeemer, Worthy is the Lamb, Salvation belongs to the Lamb and many others!
Our services are to be a reflection of Heaven. We are called to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth Now! One significant way we do that is we mimic as best we can the reality of the Throne Room! This includes excellent choirs and songs! If we are calling people to know God and see Him for who He is we need to worship now in the way we will worship for eternity!
What does OUR Choir look like?
Psalm 133:1 (NLT)
How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! Music is what brings us together, but it is more than a choir. Harmony is a community! Some translations substitute the word "live" for "dwell." Yes, we will rehearse the music for the weekends, but we will also create opportunities for fellowship, (go bowling together or have cookouts, etc.) service opportunities (saved people serve people) and other chances to do life and grow together in the Lord. It is an on-ramp for service in Worship Ministry. It is also a chance for lay leaders to exercise ministry gifts in leadership (more sheep require more shepherds).
- Our Choir experience will be an opportunity to invite people to the team who want to use their musical gifts without the commitment level that is required of other positions on the worship team. It will also serve as an introduction to the worship team for vocalists, with possible potential to serve on a deeper level of commitment and service.
- Our Choir will be a multi-generational worship choir that seeks to worship authentically in a way that examples and encourages congregants to fully engage with singing to the Lord during the weekend experience.
- Our choir will NOT be a show choir, a "special numbers" choir, a "Pageant" choir and so on. Because we value congregational singing, these types of songs do no typically foster congregational singing. We will not do performance pieces unless they are strategic and intentional.
- Our Choir will be open to middle schoolers up through adults. No audition will be necessary. Harmony will be an expectation of our current worship team vocalists who will have an opportunity to grow as they assist in shepherding those that God calls to this ministry. The current vocal team members will be the heart of the choir, providing core musical, spiritual and relational leadership.
On the dates that our Choir is scheduled to sing, and the 2 weeks prior, we will rehearse on Thursday night from 6:30PM - 8:30PM to prepare for services. Every service opportunity will have at least 2 rehearsals. The songs will be distributed well in advance via the quarterly songbook or at the first rehearsal for each scheduled date. These songs will be available through Planning Center Online where everyone can access the material to look at, listen to and learn the songs. The rehearsals will not be primarily music teaching times, they will be a time to put together what has been previously prepared at home. Our first practice will be Thursday, April 4.
SIGN UP HERE.
It's multi-generational. It is intentionally blended in message and art to enhance our experience around God's word. It is relevant culturally. It is a tool for the Holy Spirit to speak to people. It is evangelistic. It is a Grow Group experience. It is pastored by shepherds who know and care for their sheep.
An attempt to paint a more vivid picture of our choir . . .
I actually showed a clip from the movie "The Greatest Showman" about a year ago in a sermon. The sermon was technically about being careful to messages that you hear. The dominant context of the song I showed I cautioned people against. It was straight humanism. But through the lens of Christ and just a few words added, it could be a powerful worship song. Unfortunately, they are worshiping the human Spirit and Not the God who gave us life.
The moment is not really from the film. Many who have seen the movie and then watch this clip agree that the first time they ever practiced this for studio executives was perhaps their most raw and striking performance. All piano players need to take note of the energy and dynamics from the guy featured in this clip! If you check out the link, you will see the story behind this pre-filming clip. I am compelled to put this clip into this blog because the energy, zeal, and grit displayed by the choir in this short song hit the bullseye for what I would want to our choir to look and feel like. There is no instrument as accessible, energizing, captivating as the human voice! Blended with other musicians, the mix and melody of this moment capture the potential of what our Praise to a Living God looks like unleashed. When the young man stands up and takes the second verse or when the music all stops the heroine walks over to Hugh, and he responds with a laugh of almost unbelief I am reminded that the instrument we all bring is our soul in obedience, crying out to an awesome God. May they be expressive. May they be skillful. May our voices blended in unity bring Glory to a Deserving Savior!
Greatest Showman Choir
I continue to come back to the tool of a choir and their place because of my experience in leading people in worship as a band member. It is just hard to sing and play guitar. It's hard to do both well and have the expression you want on your face technically. You desire to LOOK like a person who is welcoming, inviting, and kind. When you are reaching for a chord or trying to remember a piece of music, your face usually looks confused, hurt or afraid! Ha! I have so many awkward photographs of my face on a screen, and I am communicating precisely what I DON'T want to convey. Oh, how I wish I could have traveled with a large choir of welcoming faces who were intentionally expressing love with their countenance! People see what they feel long before they hear what they feel!
And yes, I listened to this song on repeat while writing this blog.
Here are some of the members of our Creative Arts Team that lead on stage and behind the scenes to help us ‘Respond’ every weekend! We have some folks that work full-time throughout the week to help prepare and some who come on the weekends only! God continues to knit together an incredible group of talented hearts who understand worship. Here they are:
Seth Ulrich - Pastor of Creative Arts
“We live in an intricate, beautifully designed world. I genuinely believe our creativity is a direct reflection of our Father, the ultimate Creator. When we use our God-given gifts, and talents to further his Kingdom, we are living in His design for our lives. I spent 9 years with Christ In Youth learning how technology and production could create, not only an environment of worship but also motivate the next generation to become Kingdom workers. I then felt called to the local church, and I accepted a job at a church in Orlando. I spent 4 years there, training up a production team to know and use their abilities to serve God and serve His church. Last year, I was offered the role of Creative Arts Pastor at Generations Christian Church, shepherding and overseeing all technology, production, and worship at GCC and felt completely called to this new role by God for my life. It's a blessing to serve Him and the family of GCC”
Zack Moslander - Associate Pastor of Creative Arts
Zack has been leading worship weekly with GCC at the Spring Hill Campus. Zack has made the full time move down to GCC Trinity and will be participating weekly in our services.
“I believe we were created for an intimate, close and worshipful relationship with our God. My desire leading worship is to create an environment where we can get a glimpse of the all-powerful, all-consuming God who holds the universe in the palm of His hand. Once we get a glimpse of this loving, merciful, and great God that we were created for, our response is simply to worship and praise. I have been leading worship in the local church since 2006 when I was in high school. I've spent time in ministry, leading worship, and on a church staff in Montana and Colorado. In May of 2017, my wife and I felt the call to leave our home in Montana to join Generations Christian Church. During this time, I also received a ministry degree from Lee University. I am excited about the future of GCC as we continue to pursue Jesus, the one whom we were created to worship. Colossians 1:16 states “…all things were created BY him [Jesus], and FOR him. We were created to worship!”
Rebecca grew up around North Tampa and is no stranger to GCC. Before spending time recording and building a performance career in Nashville and LA, Rebecca was working in North Tampa churches as a young teen. We are blessed to have her most weekends! Rebecca is a full-time Kindergarten teacher locally and has an evident passion for leading God's people in authentic worship.
Charles will be appearing on many select weekends throughout 2019. GCC is super blessed to have Charles and his worship leadership experience. Charles has been involved in music ministry leadership since age 9. In his formative years, he would begin discovering his purpose, and the mission of his gifts as he explains is, "to become a bridge between generations & cultures; unifying The Church & expanding God's Kingdom".
Zack Moody – Associate Pastor of Next Generation Worship
“Worship has always been a part of my life. Most of my childhood was spent driving around the country doing worship with my family. Seeing my dad lead thousands in worship, and sacrifice to bring people to praise at the feet of Jesus inspired me to give my life to full-time ministry. While I attended and for a few years after I graduated, Ozark Christian College, I lead worship with Christ in Youth. This experience gave me a heart for teaching the next generation how to surrender while worshiping our King Jesus completely. I served at a local church for 4 years, learning even more about how worship can impact a church body. These experiences equipped and prepared me to lead Next Gen worship here at Generations. I've seen God do so much in peoples lives through worship as they are ushered into the Throne Room of Jesus and it gives us so much hope as believers to what heaven will look like.”