Thursday, October 2, 2014

Rock And Roll Church: Thoughts On Lighting A Worship Service

Rock & Roll Church

That is what I have sometimes jokingly called churches that use smoke and cool lights on stage and turn the house lights way down or off the congregation during the worship songs.

I enjoy almost every part of what we think of as "modern" worship; The songs, the musical style, the video screens, the bands, etc. The only part of it I've never embraced is the lighting. I've had a few opportunities to lead worship in a set up like this and as a worship leader I was uncomfortable not being able to see the audience well. I've always liked to see the audience so I could judge if I should end a song of praise shorter than originally planned or if should I extend it. (I'm aware you can't really judge if someone is worshiping by their outward appearance, but you CAN tell if people are completely disengaged.)  So for years, I've been an "all lights on" kind of worship leader.

Recently however, I've been questioning my stance on this.

I was fortunate to be able to go to FUGE with our Student ministry back in June. I saw our kids worship there with a freedom I hadn't seen from them prior to that. After worship one night, I had the following conversation with a student...

Student: "I wish we could worship like that at Northside."
Me: "YOU CAN! We sing the same songs, our volume is just not as loud and our lighting isn't the same."
Student: "I just feel like everyone would be watching me."

Her reply has stuck with me.

Later, an adult told me the same thing. She wished she could feel more free to worship outwardly with hands raised, but she felt like everyone would be looking at her. I reminded her that raised hands is a biblical expression of our worship. I also explained that if God were leading her to do that, I think she'd be blessed if she followed His direction in spite of what anyone around her was doing. (Of course, everyone is free to worship as they feel led at our church, but as of this writing, I'd say less than 10% of our worshipers at Northside choose to worship in this way on any given Sunday.)

Back to the lighting...
I heard a pastor recently explain why his church turns the house lighting down during the worship. His church does it to make people feel more comfortable. When the lights are low, you feel like you can't be seen as well, because... well... you can't be seen as well.

I think Don Chapman explains what I'm talking about well in his article on
Here's an excerpt...
"The church I’m attending dims their lights during worship as most contemporary churches do. Then one Sunday, the lights were up during the music. I immediately noticed and felt… weird. I felt oddly exposed and unfocused. I realized the effect the dimmed lights had on me and how it enhanced my worship time – I somehow felt more comfortable to worship and could better concentrate on the songs. The dimmed lights took away distractions."

So my question to you (worshipers and worship leaders) is this...

Do you prefer lit congregation or dim lighting on the congregation?

To my Northside family, don't freak out. I'm not saying we will or won't make any lighting changes. I just think it's wise for me to examine my own opinions on such matters from time to time. If my preference of having a fully lit room is hindering anyone from worshiping more freely, I know I need to change...
 because it's not about me.

Friday, July 25, 2014

How I'm Going To Be A Millionaire

Disclaimer: I wrote this at almost midnight on Thursday. I might have been a little delusional.

If today were a normal day, I'd begin this blog entry by making up some excuse about why I haven't blogged in almost 6 months. But today is no normal day. Today will go down in history as the day millionaire tycoon Shawn Stinson came up with the idea that changed his life and the lives of all his family forever. So, no, I will not apologize for not blogging since February. Instead I'll begin this blog by saying this....

If you need me, I'll be at the beach thinking of ways to spend my new fortune.

Oh wait, I guess you probably want to hear my idea.
OK. Fine.
Here it is.

As I packed clothes into a suitcase tonight for a trip I'm going on, I thought "Wouldn't it be great if we didn't have to pack for vacation." Then it hit me...
Rental Clothes.
Yep, that right. Clothes you can rent.

Going to the beach?
Got a couple cool kids who like sporty comfortable clothes?
Got a lovely young wife who likes to dress fashionably?
Got a dad who's on the hefty side and prefers comfort over style?
Most of all, are you tired of packing the car, unpacking at the condo, then repacking just days later to head home. Of course you are.
Don't fret. Call BeachWear. 
For only $250 a week you can rent clothes for your entire family for the week.

Just log into our website, let us know all about your trip destination, your family's sizes and styles, then you can arrive at your destination and find clothes there waiting on you. When your trip is over, just leave them. Well pick them up.
For a nominal additional fee, we can also include toiletries, beach toys, other related supplies.

Once we have offices on every popular beach, we'll expand to MountainWear then SkiWear.

Man, how has no one thought of this before?!?  

It's a genius idea, right?

Yep, I thought so.
I know I'd pay anything right know to keep from having to finish this packing.

Well, It's been nice knowing all of you.
Thanks to this great idea, I might not see you again.
I'm moving on up.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hey, You! Get Into My Choir! (Sunday Setlist 02-02-14)

The stage at Northside Baptist Church's building (without the worshipers.) 

As I write this, it is Wednesday night and I'm still smiling thinking about this past Sunday.
You see, we did something a little different than the norm.

I forced some people to sing in the church choir Sunday morning.

Well, maybe not forced, but pressured them into it for sure.
I'd done this a few years ago at my former church and it went well, so I tried it again.

Wednesday night in choir rehearsal, I explained to the choir what we'd be doing.  I told them that, Sunday, everyone would just sit with their families, then during the fellowship portion of the service, they were to each bring someone into the choir loft with them. I knew this would cause people to laugh and cut up and have conversations like:

Congregant : "I'm not going up there!"
Choir member: "Why not? Do you not love Jesus?"

Once we were all in place, I'd take a few minutes to discuss worship and how important it is that we smile and worship with more than just our words...

If we are just singing the words on the screen, that's not worship. That's just singing.
Worship has to start with our heart,
that overflows into our thoughts,
then that overflows into our facial expressions and voices.

Sunday, when our impromptu choir began singing "Shout To The Lord" (a song I felt confident everyone would be familiar with), I was blown away by the volume and by the great sound the choir had. Many of our choir members chose people to bring up that had been in the choir before or who they knew could sing well.
It sounded great! I was blown away by both the beautiful harmonies and the expressions of worship in smiles, raised hands, etc. It was a day of worship I won't soon forget.

Big thanks to Tonya Rice for posting the video to facebook.

There were other great moments in the service too.
Here's a full list of what we did Sunday...
click the song title to go to lifeway and hear the exact version we did.
Sunday School Report/Announcements - John                                                                       
Sing To The King                                                           
Come Christians, Join to Sing     (An updated arrangement of a good old hymn)
Welcome / Prayer / Kids Message - David                                                       
Lord, Reign In Me                                                                                   
Choir Special - Shout To The Lord                                                                  
The Wonderful Cross                                                               
Offertory Prayer                                                                                                    
Offertory Interlude                                                                                               
Message - David

Closing Prayer

Looking back on this, I see that I was very 1990's in my song choices.
But that's ok with me. I wanted to stick with songs most people would be familiar with.
It was a good day worshiping God with my church family.

How would you react if someone forced you onstage on Sunday morning?

This post is part of the blog carnival at You can go here to see what other churches are doing in their services around the world.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Day 2014 - A Video

I considered sitting on my rear all day today and watching the "website I've never heard of" sponsored "bowl game that doesn't matter."

Instead, I decided to join the kids in the yard for a lot of fast and furious fun. I chose wisely.

I hope you enjoy this recap as much as we did filming it.