Goal Setting (3.15)

Many people use the beginning of a new year to set goals for the upcoming year.  Notice I don’t say “resolutions” because, in all frankness, most of the time resolutions are simply made to be broken!  But goals, if set correctly, can lead to real changes in our lives.  In order to set a goal you need to have a picture of where you want to be – and then determine how it is you’re going to get there.  And make sure that goal is measurable (meaning you can tell if you made it or not).  For example, a goal of “I’m going to exercise more” is pretty vague, but a goal of “I’m going to go for an early morning run three days a week” is much easier to know whether you meet it or not.  And when you can measure you’re goal it’s much more motivating to keep it (and reach it!).

Chris Goins, a pastor whom I enjoy listening to and reading, suggests asking yourself the question,  “Am I closer to God today than I was on January 1, 2010?”

While I’ll post more information and links on the blog (so you’ll definitely want to check this one out online), here are some places to start as you set your goals for the coming year.  Spend some time reflecting on and answering these questions, and I believe you’ll find 2011 could be one of your best yet!  These are borrowed from Chris’ blog

My Spiritual Life

  • What practices, ‘disciplines,’ or spiritual ‘graces’ will I build into my life in 2011 that will give me an opportunity to grow and become more like Jesus?
  • What small group will I be a part of?
  • Will I honor the “Sabbath” and regularly set aside a day for resting my body, recharging my emotions and refocusing my spirit?
  • Will I become an active part of a life-giving local church and invest my time, energy and resources into accomplishing the mission Jesus has established for the local church?

My Emotional Life

  • Is there someone I need to seek forgiveness from?
  • Is there someone I need to forgive?
  • Will I become an active part of a small group in order to fill my world with life-giving relationships?
  • Where is there “clutter” in my life that can be eliminated? My garage, attic, storage space, home closet(s), desk, filing cabinet, computer, car, truck, etc.? (Go ahead! Clean it out today!)

My Relational World

  • On a scale of 1 – 10 (“1” being “in the Intensive Care Unit and in desperate need of resuscitation” and “10” being “hitting on all cylinders / totally awesome”), how would I rate my marriage?
  • What practices will I build into my marriage in 2011 to increase intimacy and fulfillment?
  • What books will me and my spouse read or what marriage conferences will we attend in order to build intimacy and fulfillment into our marriage in 2011?
  • On a scale of 1 – 10 (use the same pattern mentioned above), how am I doing as a parent? How would I rate the relationship I have with my kids? How would my kids rate the relationship we have?
  • What practices will I build into my family in 2011 to bring our family closer together and move our family closer to Christ?
  • Have I scheduled a date night with my spouse for the month of January? When? What will we do? Why not?

My Physical World

  • How much do I weigh? For my body type, is that amount of weight okay?
  • Am I honoring God with my body?
  • Do I have a complete physical scheduled between now and October 31?  If not, schedule one!
  • Do I need to change my eating habits? What healthy eating plan can I build into my life in 2011?
  • Do I exercise? What exercise plan will I adopt in 2011 in order to honor God with the body He has given to me?

My Financial World

  • Are my finances in order? Is personal debt strangling the life out of me?
  • Do I have a written budget? Have my spouse and I reviewed this budget and agreed upon it?
  • Do I have personal debt other than a reasonable mortgage? Is being debt free in 2011 a possible goal? What will we do to get there?

My Intellectual World

  • What books am I going to read in 2011? (Biography, Spiritual Formation, Classics, Fiction, Business)
  • What is my reading goal for 2011? How many books will I read each week / each month? How many hours will I read each day / week / month?
  • What seminars / classes will I attend in 2011 to continue honoring God with my mind by using my intellect?

My Personal Calling

  • What do I do best and how can I do more of it in 2011?
  • What is my calling? What is my mission? Am I pursuing it? Why not?
  • Who do I know or who could I know in a similar field that God might use as a mentor in my life?
  • What caused me the greatest amount of stress in 2010? What am I going to do to fix it?

Extra links (not included in the printed devotional) – also borrowed from Chris’ Blog:

Lifeway Spiritual Growth Inventory

Bible Reading Plans from YouVersion

Your Spiritual Growth Plan (article in Christianity Today written by John Ortberg)


LWLC – Final Reflection & Review

Wow.  That’s about all I can say.  Wow!  Whenever I travel (which isn’t that very often anymore) I have what I call “Wow” moments – moments when something happens or something is seen and all I can say is “Wow.”  Like when I rode my bike through the Tetons, hiked the Alps in Switzerland or the Cascades in Washington, or kayaked off the glaciers in Alaska.  Sometimes I’d turn and all I would stand in awe and the word “Wow” would come out without even a conscious thought.

This week was a spiritual “Wow” moment.  I find myself looking back over the past five days and all I can do is sit here and say “Wow”.

I figure I should start my reflection by going all the way back to the beginning of the week.  I wrote the following on the first day at Ridgecrest:

In addition to attending conference sessions, I have a few goals for the week:

1) Plan worship services for at least July, August, November, and December;
2) Plan the Christmas cantata rehearsal schedule;
3) Spend time in reflection, prayer, and personal study and communion with God;
4) Network with other music and worship leaders from other churches around the country;
5) Do some journaling and blogging.

Let’s see how I did…  In regards to worship service planning, I have some pretty concrete plans well into August and then rough drafts and outlines for September, October, November, and December.  Overall I didn’t get done quite as much as I hoped in some respects, but a lot more in others.

In regards to looking at the Christmas cantata rehearsal, okay, I didn’t do this at all, except to get the date picked….

However, number 3 on the list, spending time in reflection, prayer, and personal study and communion with God was a HUGE part of this week.  The worship services were outstanding, and my time outdoors was a wonderful opportunity to listen to him and talk to him.  I can honestly say that this week has been a defining moment in how I am viewing m y ministry.

Number four dealt with networking with other musicians and leaders, and I feel as if I made some good contacts from various parts of the country.  I met a lot of people, but spent time with only a few, but that time spent, and those conversations shared, were very inspiring and encouraging, and I found some people that I hope I can continue to converse with.

Finally, I hoped to do some journaling and blogging.  I think that speaks for itself – every post this week was incredibly long, and I didn’t even post everything I wrote!  This has definitely been a great week for getting some thoughts on paper and some others out on the blog.

So where does this leave me – or take me?  I suppose that’s the question I need to ask and answer as I end the week.  Melissa even asked me this morning on the way back from Asheville, “So how is what you learned going to change how you plan worship services?”  While it is going to take a long time to fully process everything that happened this week, one thing is very obvious – this week has renewed my passions for pointing people to Jesus.  As I wrote in yesterday’s blog, I believe I lost sight of the focus of worship and began looking more at how to do worship, but God used these last several days to jerk me back to where he wants me to be.  I’m redoing how I look at worship planning and design, and to start with I’m going to ask myself the question, “What is it I want people to see about Jesus?” as I plan every service.  And everything that is planned is going to have an align with the answer to that question.  But the focus will be on Jesus.

This month marks the beginning of my third year at my current church.   My first year was focused on building relationships and just letting people get to know me and getting to know people.  My second year I focused primarily on musical selection and stretching in the AM worship services.  Now as I embark on the third year of my ministry my focus is going to be on fully transitioning my choir from a performance based group to a worshiping choir, as well as doing some major emphasis on our Sunday PM worship service.  There are so many ideas I picked up this week – some philosophical and some very practical – and so my biggest struggle is deciding which ones to use!  But this much is certain – I will use some 🙂

While this post marks the last “official” post on the Lifeway Worship Leadership Conference, future posts will be heavily influenced by all that God has done in my life at the conference.  Hopefully I’ll be able to return another year to attend again, but even if I never set foot back at Ridgecrest for another LWLC Conference I have left there a changed person and a changed leader from when I first arrived.  God is a gracious, good, and wonderful God, and he deserves my highest praise.

Lifeway Worship Leadership Conference – Day 1 Overview

So here’s the run down from the day…  Melissa and I left this morning to drive to Ridgecrest and stopped at a fantastic Greek restaurant for lunch in Asheville named the Apollo Flame Bistro.  This was one of the best Greek places I have been to in a very long time, and easily in my top 3 favorites for Greek restaurants we’ve been to…  If you’re ever in the Asheville area you need to visit this place – fast and friendly service, decent prices, and fabulous food!

Now that that’s out of the way….

Melissa dropped me off at the conference center about 1:45, which gave me some time to go through the conference schedule and make a rough plan for my time here.  They have many sessions to attend, all figured into about five different tracks for learning.  My focus for the sessions will mainly be in three areas:

1) Choral music – attending reading sessions for various publishers in the hopes of finding some new, great choral literature for this year; I have purposefully maintained a healthy amount of choir budget for the year so that I can purchase music based on what I find here;

2) Worship leading – I’ll be focusing specifically on styles and culture in worship (for both congregational musical style and worship leading style)

3) Worship planning – with a focus on team building, team growth and development, and the use of long-term planning tools.

Because today was only a partial day I only attended two sessions – one reading session with music by multiple publishers and one choral rehearsal.  Every day we will have worship services, and the volunteer choir will be assisting in leading.  I wanted to attend the first rehearsal to see if it is something I wanted to participate in.  I have not completely decided yet whether I will go back or not.  I enjoyed the rehearsal, and really enjoyed the director, but part of my reason for coming here is for renewal and I’m not sure participating in the choir will re-energize me as much as being a congregational member in the services (it’s nice to not be on stage every now and then, considering I am up there every week, not to mention it rehearses in addition to the regular conference sessions).

Two things I did particularly enjoy about the rehearsal, though.  One was just seeing how another director conducts rehearsals, which is always a great experience.  If for no other reason I may sit in on a rehearsal or two so that I can just pick up some pointers and techniques.  The other was being reminded of what it’s like to sit in the choir instead of stand in front of it.  I’m not sure of the musical training of everyone in the room, but I got the feeling many were trained musicians like myself.  We learned music very quickly, yet there were still spots we had to focus on and rehearse multiple times.  Once or twice I even found myself struggling as we sight-read through sections; I reflected on the fact that my choir members must feel the same way on certain weeks!  It was a good reminder to me that I can’t assume everyone gets things on the first go-around and we will sometimes need to stop and go over sections multiple times for mastery – and I can’t get frustrated when that happens!

For dinner I sat with three people from Tennessee – two music directors, and one of them was with his wife.  As we talked I learned that one of the music directors was also a part-time director and had been at his current church about 9 months less than I have been at my church.  I also had a fantastic conversation with the other gentleman’s wife, who was an elementary music teacher.  I shared my history of teaching music in the public schools (a total of 7.5 years), and we discovered we had many of the same views and philosophies on how music should be taught to kids and of its importance in childrens’ development.  We shared stories of various programs and initiatives we have done (and she is currently doing), and I even found out she has a school administration degree as well!  It was a nice time of getting to know some people with similar interests and responsibilities as me.

Since I didn’t get to go for my morning walk when I woke up today I decided to venture out after dinner and a Skype with Melissa and the girls (isn’t it amazing that not only can I talk to Melissa and the girls but I can also see them when I’m away!?!?!).    I began by walking to the prayer chapel and prayer gardens, which was a fairly easy stroll down the paved road.  Let me just say that the prayer gardens are absolutely gorgeous – I may spend some time there with a hymnal, my Bible, and my iPad doing some planning!  Perhaps the most beautiful prayer gardens I’ve ever seen (sorry, I don’t have a camera with me, so I can’t take pictures, otherwise I would).  After that I decided to walk the wooded trail up to the lake and back, and then I just walked a little around the campus to get somewhat familiar with it.  All in all, it was a little less than 2.75 miles, which was a good workout for the evening.  One thing that probably isn’t a good thing, though, is that I discovered the ice cream shop is actually just outside my the door – perhaps only about 100 feet away!  I resisted the urge to stop by tonight, but I’m sure I’ll have to make a visit later in the week (perhaps even tomorrow! :))

I ended by slipping into the back of the PM concert to hear the end of the Tennessee Ladies Chorus and Tennessee Mens Chorale.  They sang two songs that got to me.  One was Come Thou Fount, which reminded me of the depth of God’s grace (I’ll blog more on this tomorrow or the next day).  The second was a song entitled Let it Be Said Of Us by Steve Fry.  I was not familiar with song, but I have already purchased a congregational copy and orchestrations so I can teach it to my congregation!  I hope they find it’s text and tune as meaningful as I do.

I’ll close this rather lengthy post with the words to this beautiful song (which are Copyright 1994 Maranatha! Music (ASCAP) / Word Music, LLC.):

Let it be said of us that the Lord was our passion
That with gladness we bore ev’ry cross we were given
That we fought the good fight that we finished the course
Knowing within us the pow’r of the risen Lord

Let it be said of us we were marked by forgiveness
We were known by our love and delighted in meekness
We were ruled by His peace heeding unity’s call
Joined as one body that Christ would be seen by all

Let the cross be our glory and the Lord be our song
By mercy made holy by the Spirit made strong
Let the cross be our glory and the Lord be our song
’Til the likeness of Jesus be through us made known

Lifeway Worship Leadership Conference Arrival

I have just arrived at the Ridgecrest Conference Center outside Asheville, NC for the 2010 Lifeway Worship Leadership Conference. Over the next several days I am going to post daily updates on what I’m doing and learning. In addition to attending conference sessions, I have a few goals for the week:

1) Plan worship services for at least July, August, November, and December;
2) Plan the Christmas cantata rehearsal schedule;
3) Spend time in reflection, prayer, and personal study and communion with God;
4) Network with other music and worship leaders from other churches around the country;
5) Do some journaling and blogging.

I guess that’s a pretty tall order for a four day conference! My first session starts today in about 5 minutes, and then it’s pretty steady through Thursday evening. Please keep me in your prayers, as well as my wife and daughters since they are not here with me. I will try to get at least one more blog post done tonight after my sessions this evening and before I go to bed.

A Year in Review (Issue 1.31)

Originally Written for 6/14/09

As this is the last newsletter for a couple of months, I want to share my thoughts on the past 11 months serving here at LBC.

Let me begin by saying it has been such a blessing to be your director, and I hope that you have enjoyed this past year in choir.  I have tried to stretch you in many ways, and I believe you’ve made some great strides in your musical skills.  Some key things we’ve focused on this year have been vowel formation, cut-offs, and phrasing in the music.  As I look back I see how much you’ve grown – this morning’s anthem was a great testimony to the work you’ve done.  Thank you for your had work and dedication.

We’ve also learned a lot of new music – from the Christmas cantata, to the Easter anthem with orchestra, to the numerous new anthems you’ve learned through the year.  As we enter the summer months some of those anthems may return (like this morning); we’ll also continue to pull out stuff from prior to my start here.

I’ve also worked to build a spiritual component into choir, and I hope you have found that.  These weekly devotionals are part of that, as is praying together as a group.  It is my goal and hope that you see the choir as  spiritual family of sorts.

As I look forward to the next choir year I have additional goals and ides to implement, and I hope you’ll be here to participate in those.  Know that I respect and value each of you, and I hope that you find the time absent from rehearsals refreshing, but also that it begins to build anticipation for returning together in the fall.  A date has not yet been set, but once it has we’ll make sure to announce it.

And when we do, please remember to invite others to join us.  I look forward to this time every week – it’s worshipful and fun.  And I want to share it with as many people who are willing to receive it.

Have a great summer.