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Everything listed under: Lead Pastor

  • What I'm REALLY Thinking...

    And asking you to think about. 

    I’ve really been struggling with something. You actually know it and can feel it I think. It’s evident in some things we are trying together recently. I even mentioned the genesis of this recent angst a few weeks ago in a sermon. I believe we are being called to intentionally shift towards culture, not in our message, but in our strategy, to keep on mission. Some of those shifts will impact your comfort and the short version is I’m asking all of us to prayerfully consider what Jesus is asking us to yield to in order that He might be lifted up. You can skip here and get the cliff notes/bottom line/ new things that might impact you.

    I put a quote on the screens about the failure of most churches in America. The reality has hit home hard and I’ve been asking so many questions about who God is calling GCC to be after reading that quote. You might remember it better if I remind you that I had a deck of cards in my hand to help illustrate the point It came from Jim Putnam’s book, “Church is a team sport”. The staggering quote was,

    “Only 15% of churches in America are growing, of those, only 3% are growing with new people. That means that most church ‘growth’ is just reshuffling the same 52 cards in the deck in a different order.”

    This snapshot of the American church has been on my mind and so I’ve been reading, visiting with other pastors around the country who are in the 3% that are growing, listening to you, working with consultants (Thanks for taking the survey) and praying. I’ve uncovered some insights and formed, with some great help a complex answer to that question. BUT, I have boiled it down to the a more simple basic answer I want to put in front of us. Many churches are not connecting people to Jesus because . . . they don’t want to. Sound harsh? It’s not that people don’t want others to know about Jesus?, they just want other things more. Not a lot more, it only takes a little bit more desire for something to see our main goal snuffed out. The hardest thing about this contemplative journey I’ve been on is that I’ve discovered I’m the worst! Okay, it’s confession time, here are the things I’ve done that hurt our main goal:

    • Announcements that non-believers don’t care about
    • Talking insider language (things that make people feel uninvited or on the outside)
    • Asking people to make a decision to connect to Jesus but not making time for them to process it and take a first step

    I believe in the importance of the gathering of believers for edification, the communion meal and fellowship. We all get to enjoy our corporate times of worship together but a tension does exist on what we do and how. What normally gets hurt as we accommodate our personal preferences is the mission. There is a clear New Testament practice of non-believers in the midst of the gathering and Jesus, Acts 2:47 “praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” How can we get closer to that description of the church?

    If you are new to Generations Christian Church you might not know some of the history. In fact, Generations has a long history of being the church for people who are unchurched, hurt by church or against church in general. Former GCC pastor Greg Johnson has regularly said to me, ‘there are plenty of churches for people who believe already, I wanted to be a church for those farthest from Jesus.” Thankfully, GCC has been ‘connecting people to Jesus’ with that mindset for a long time. How can we continue this and be more effective?

    Bring A Friend Weekend

    The ‘Bring A Friend Weekend’ tactic is an effort to help all of us take a step towards being in the 3%. Remember the startling quote about failing churches? There are churches that are growing by connecting new people to Jesus, people who are new cards in the deck! This is exciting to experience and it’s happening right here at our church. Let’s all be working towards the same goal! Does inviting someone to church mean we are connecting them to Christ? Not always, but, Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Our commitment is to clearly tell people about Jesus and let them make a decision to connect to Him that weekend. What a great step towards being in the 3%.

    • Optimal times
    • If one third of us who attend 2nd and 3rd service invite a friend we will be out of seats. Will some of you plan to attend and bring someone on Saturday Night or Sunday and let us know! We don’t want Sunday services empty; but we want visitors to have a great experience too. Help out the process by thinking about attending a less prime time service.
    • Optimal Length. We always need a few extra minutes to process what God is doing in our midst and just be in His presence. Because we believe that we should have communion every weekend in our service our one hour box can get a bit tight and we don’t want to rush any important element of our worship.
    • Grab some of our small invite square cards and pass them out/ they are no good after BAFW because the times are special!
    • No OFFERING: We are not going to pass for an offering on Bring A Friend Weekend (November 23-24th). We are going to talk about our mission and the things we do with Kingdom resources! We just are not going to ask your friends to give.
    • The bags are usually empty because many of us give online. Some get the impression that we all are not “in” on the mission or that the church has nobody giving at all. Neither is true. Over 50% of those who consistently tithe give on-line automatically. May we all give generously online this week and show your support for our decision to not pass the offering bags on this weekend. Here’s how you can give online:
    • http://www.generationscc.com/give Click on “Give Here”
    • Underneath is even a video to show you how to set it up if you need help. Text to give: 84321

     Here’s How You Can Choose Adventure

    We have to point our hearts where we want them to go. If we don’t, our own desires will, by default, lead us to selfishness. Jesus came to serve. He is our ultimate example. It is at times like these that those who are most mature in Christ have the opportunity to truly lead by serving. Sometimes we don’t need another class or bible study, we need something to do for somebody else. Transformation comes through putting our Bible knowledge into actions and here are two things we can all DO to be on the adventure together:

    PRAYER: Let’s all Join together Tuesday Night at 7pm for a dedicated service of prayer and worship for Bring A Friend Weekend. We will be handing out shirts to everyone who signs up to serve in an area on Bring A Friend Weekend. We will be doing baptisms and have brand new baptism shirts for people!

    SERVE: Okay, here’s the truth. We don’t NEED another volunteer to pull this off. Seriously. Have you ever heard a church say that? We don’t need another car parker or kids worker to pull it off. The same people who always do it will do it. But it won’t have the excellence and impact it could have. Imagine a team of people cheering kids and helping parents fill out paperwork! Imagine more car attendants than we really need, all wearing new GCC shirts and greeting people over and over again as they walk in. THIS IS WHAT makes people start to believe that Jesus really can help them with their “This Is Your Time” moment.

     

    Cliff Notes

    • We are trying some different service times.
    • We are not collecting offering that weekend. We are giving online and crushing our weekly budgetary need cheerfully.
    • We are doing spontaneous baptisms that weekend.
    • Prayer/Worship Service 11/19 7PM / Volunteer T-shirt handout.
    • We don’t need any more servers in any area . . . unless they want to party! 
  • 2019 Core 52 Sermon Series

    I’ve announced a few times earlier this year about the exciting 2019 Core 52 sermon series plan. I am personally excited because I have the opportunity to partner with a dear friend on this project and the experience we are having on the weekends is awesome. Here is what we are working on in 2019:

    Core 52 is a content road map for the weekend corporate teaching. Mark Moore is the developer and author of a book called Core 52. Mark has also custom designed a road map just for GCC, connecting the top 52 essential verses in God's Word with the top 52 ‘can't miss’ narrative texts! Now, I have to give this sidebar real quick, this isn’t legalistic folks! We know there isn’t a passage that says, "here are the most important verses." (besides when Jesus said this is the GREATEST COMMANDMENT OF ALL in Matthew 22!) However, after years of study and teaching at the collegiate level, Mark has zeroed in on what he believes are the most important texts to build on. If we start with these 52 verses and 52 narrative texts, the base knowledge in both testaments and primary historical contexts will prove to be a firm bible foundation. This is one of the significant things that we are all called to do, ‘teach and closely watch out for sound doctrine’ in 1Timothy 4:16.

    Perhaps you haven’t noticed that we are in a long 52 week series. That is because our creative arts team has broken the larger series into smaller mini-series with compelling theming (Thanks to our team!). We are super thankful for the road map that Mark has created. We would encourage you to grab his book too! Don’t worry, this won’t spoil the GCC weekend experience! God’s Word is deep and wide! Sometimes we have tracked just with the main memory verse and haven’t had time to use the narrative text as the means to explain or teach the memory verse. There’s nothing wrong with this! We can’t go wrong when we are opening God’s Word and digging in. Some of the themes will line up for sure with Mark’s book, but our custom GCC mini-series and weekly snapshots are tailor-made for what we are experiencing here at GCC!

    Here is the win for our church and how you can participate:

    • Join us in memorizing these 52 verses here!
    • Join us in taking a quantum leap in understanding God's Word in a deeper way!
    • Pray for God to help you understand His Word in a deeper way.
    • Invite anyone who doesn’t understand God’s plan for their life to join us on this journey at GCC.
    • Watch this video HERE

    This is Your Time . . . to Dive Deeper!


  • Special ingredients for our season . . .

    If we were to look at the necessary ingredient list for our new choir initiative, it would read like the labels we see in stores on ordinary products we buy every day. I never looked at ingredient labels until we had kids. I soon came to find out that my favorite items had the first, and thus largest volume, an ingredient of ‘high fructose corn syrup.' Come to find out, all of my favorite foods, that I thought were different, were actually just different textures and colors of the same main ingredient- corn syrup.

    Ingredients matter and so have been prayerfully considering the elements that we add to our new Choir initiative. I imagine you are thinking now about the correct first and most important ingredient. This is a metaphor so don't blow a fuse thinking and overthinking this theologically. The environment we are making our Choir in has some given elements that are foundational and not considered ingredients. These things would include the Holy Spirit, Faith, and Unity in Christ. These things are so elementary to what we do that they are as Paul described in Acts 17:28 how we, "...live and move and have our being."

    Here are our ingredients: Leadership and Songs!

    We invite you to welcome both and get to know them!

    Ingredient #1 Leadership

    Jonathan Wimp is a worship leader and music Director that I have known since college. We both attended Cincinnati Christian University around the same time and traveled together leading worship when Matchbox 20 was a popular band.

     

     “I grew up in a small but strong church in the southern Indiana town of Scottsburg, where the Lord called me to Himself and eventually into ministry. Following His call has taken my family and me all over the country where I have served in local churches over the last 23 years. 

     My wife, Julia (who is Russian) and I met in Moscow, Russia in 2003 and in February we will celebrate our 12th anniversary. We have three little girls: Nelly (9 years old), Mila (5 years old), and Amily (like Emily but with an "Ah" sound, 2 years old) who are teaching us daily about the love of God.

    I have dedicated my life to the service of the Lord and am excited to partner with and lead those the Lord has and will call to service through Worship Ministry. I can't wait to meet, grow with, worship with, and serve you! Be Blessed!”

    A Word From Jonathan

    Ingredient #2 Songs

    "Raise a Hallelujah"

    "Great Things"

    "It is Finished" - Passion

    If you missed some of my previous thoughts on starting a GCC Choir I would ask you to take a look at the first blog I wrote a few months ago and see the heart behind the vision:

    Choir Blog

  • Leaked Internal Email from GCC Leadership

    I wanted to inform the church, as soon as possible, that I have identified a mole in the organization that has been leaking intentions, motives, and strategies to anyone who will ask. Some of the leaks are even documents that have secret plans on them. It seemed most prudent to have everyone find out about this situation at the same exact moment in fairness everyone involved. We are all aware of how fast news like this spreads. The best way to handle a predicament like this is to just let the facts speak for themselves so here is the deal:

    I am the mole, and I even have proof.

    Let's all just be honest right now and admit that is one eye-catching and juicy lead line! Don't be disappointed and stop reading! I really have some proof you need to see and even an internal document from the last 48 hours that was circulated in the leadership of GCC that you need to read! I have made no edits to this document. Nothing is blacked out. We are going to put the entire thing right here in this post so everyone can read it!

    I have been meeting with people talking about the things that God is stirring in the heart of His church. It has been exciting. I want to share a story about it with you to let you peek into the heart of what we are aiming for, and then I'll ask you to read the internal document we are sharing.

    I met with one gentleman recently and answered some questions he had on a variety of topics. It’s usual for me to ask for advice and be transparent about the decisions leadership prayerfully makes. When you don’t have an answer to a problem, the best thing to do is just say so. A few days later my wife ran into the wife of this gentleman. They exchanged greetings, and then this lady expressed to my wife that it seems like we are simply "over our heads." Please don't think that this is crazy for me to ‘out’ a single person in this way. It wasn’t the first time that Jen and I have heard this in the past 22 years of following the call to proclaim Christ crucified. It hasn’t been a single person nor would we ever receive such a word about our ability from a person without following Christ’s instructions to ‘take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ’ (2 Cor 10:5).

    So I have been taking . . . And retaking that comment captive over a few weeks. As I strive to make all thoughts obedient to Christ, I am reminded of His Word to me in so many beautiful ways.

    • God didn’t call Moses because he was capable. God was capable, and Moses was obedient.
    • Paul rejoiced in his inadequacies. Paul rejoiced in his weakness. As a matter of fact, that is how Jesus gets more glory! He writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9b-10, Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

    You have got to know these stories.
    You have got to know these scriptures.

    How can you make thoughts obedient to Christ if you don’t know what His metrics are? What are His teachings that would guide how you should be classifying thoughts? How are you going to know when to throw an idea out or keep it and build your life on it. One wrong decision could drastically alter your life course. It’s imperative that you know how to make thoughts captive!

    What is being put in front of you right now? What is going on in your life that you need help deciding? We all have messages sent our way. One of the hardest skill-sets to acquire is the ability to discern. Life experience is helpful. But nothing will ever be able to compete with the potency of knowing the entire counsel of God’s Word to guide and direct your life.

    When we come together on the weekends as a church, we are exercising muscles to help us cope and maneuver through the difficult messages sent our way. We are going to exercise proclamation this week. As a body, we need to:

    • Testify to one another the goodness of our God.
    • Boast in our weaknesses and God’s ability to overcome.
    • Share our burdens with one another.
    • Proclaim God’s healing victory in our lives.
    • Witness to people who are in our midst and lost that Jesus is REAL.
    • Encourage one another in love and good deeds.

    We need a warm-up exercise. If you want to get the most out of a workout, you don’t just jump right in. There are steps. Knowledge deepens the experience. I am compelled to share this recently declassified internal document to help us in preparing our hearts for the weekend!


    To,

    The Staff, Elders, and Key Leaders:

    I want to invite you into the prayer, planning, and leadership of a special element during this weekend's services. Our Theme song during this "For You" Series is “Welcome the Healer” and the message and words of this song have helped craft this element. This email is intended to join us together in unity for a specific moment as a church in response to God’s Word.

    What is it?

    We are inviting people in the audience to come and Finish the sentence: “I welcome the Healer ______________”. This will happen at the end of the message during a planned response time. We are crying out to Jesus to come and heal us as a single entity and as individual members. People will be directed to go to the center cross aisle in the sanctuary where a few key leaders will have the public address microphones.

    Some great examples of what would be edifying and appropriate to the body would be:

    We welcome the Healer . . . 
    ...Into my unbelief 
    ...to bring unity
    ...Into my addiction 
    ...to our church
    ...Into my Anger 
    ...to our sadness
    ...Into my brokenness 
    ...to the division 
    ...Into my depression 
    ...to our fear
    ...Into guarding my heart and mind 
    ...into my Dr. report
    ...Into what I will wear 
    ...into my secret life
    ...Into what others think about me 
    ...into my insecurities
    ...Into my thoughts about suicide 
    ...into my priorities 
    ...Into my past 
    ...into my work

    Why Should we Do this?

    It is Biblical. God's Word demands a response. The New Testament letters were written to believers. They were written to the church to encourage, continue in our equipping and to assure us of the hope that we have. Our weekend gatherings need to incorporate our testimony to who God is and what He is doing NOW in our lives. As believers, we have not arrived. We are in progress, being sanctified. It is messy and yet beautiful. The more honest we are about that process, the more attractive the Gospel is! When people see us inviting a real living Spirit into our lives, into our brokenness, we DEMOLISH (2 Cor. 10:5) every argument against the Gospel! Let these verses pour over your heart as God prepares us for this weekend!!

    Psalm 107:2 Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story-- those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,...

    1 Peter 3:15b Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for hope that you have.

    Matthew 10:32 "Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven."

    Luke 8:39 ESV "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you."  And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. 

    Mark 5:19b "Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how had mercy on you."

    Acts 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has comes on you, and you shall be My witnesses..."

    Declaring our need for the Healer is Biblical. Praising Him immediately for the help He brings is Biblical. This practice is intended to be a part of our corporate worship times! 

    What is my role?

    • Stand and be counted. Levites are WARRIOR Priests who were positioned first in battle. I am asking the WARRIOR Priests of GCC to prayerfully consider how you would invite the Healer into our Church and your life.
      • Let your words and attitude reflect the words in Philippians 4:8 ESV, “...whatever is true, whatever is honorable whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
      • May the way you invite the Spirit into our Church edify the Body of Christ.
    • Listen to this song over the next 48 hours.
      • Pray it. Learn it.
      • Sync up with the sentiment and message.
    • Ask for the outpouring of God on our Church this weekend.
    • Forward this email to people on your team, call people, ask them to be prepared to Testify, respond, witness, confess, on Sunday. I am thinking of so many people who need to get a phone call or be specifically asked. I won't take that from you. It would not be Biblical. Jethro told Moses to delegate! It has been said that it takes 400 people to make a weekend happen at GCC, then 400 people should get this email or a phone call in the next 48 hours from church leadership. If a person serves in your area, then please forward to them with a personal invitation to participate in this weekend's services.
    • Reflect on what God is doing at GCC and your part in it.
      • Isaiah 43:19a, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” God is doing a NEW THING at our church! What a great thing to be a part of. Embrace this fully. It is FOR all of us. He is genuinely leading our experience.
      • Acts 5:39 “But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."

    It’s not my thing!

    I get it. Public speaking is NOT a requirement for following Christ or being an active Kingdom worker. We can't have every staff member, elder, small group leader in every service take up all the available time we have. The body NEEDS to participate in this moment. Paul has guidance for us here:

    Ephesians 4:11-12, So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and teachers,  to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up...

    Fill your role as led by the Holy Spirit! I am trusting that God will guide this coming weekend. He has been leading in the song, the message, even in the obstacles. God ADVANCES before the Bride in Spiritual Warfare. Here’s the last scripture😊. I hope you are still reading! We DESPERATELY NEED TO KNOW THIS Word from God. Paul is instructing the church in Corinth:

    1 Corinthians 11:17-19, I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse.  For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

    As individuals, we are all in constant need of the Healer. Let us come together for the better! I need the Healer (Jesus) in EVERY WAY. You need a continuous ‘Healer’ encounter. Our church also needs healing in many ways. May John 17 Unity abound. May the storehouse of the Lord be made full in obedience during this season at our church. May the people see the new thing that God is doing and give to the continued work of the Lord at GCC. May the eldership and staff continue to be knit together in Biblical Unity that the body perceives and rejoices in!

    Let’s welcome the Healer in this place!

    Johnny


  • Choir

    A Choir:

    • 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).

    Some specifics:

    • 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.  

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    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 Chase

    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 King

    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.”

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