The Courage to Be Vulnerable

To get out there and sing or play in front of the church takes great courage when you are starting out. Anyone in front of people as often as you are will make mistakes.

You might have to hang up your super hero cape.

Photo Credit: Stocksnap.io | Wil Stewart

Photo Credit: Stocksnap.io | Wil Stewart

 

Because leading worship takes the courage to be vulnerable.

You aren’t sure of yourself.  You feel you didn’t practice enough.  You’re afraid you will mess up, and you’ll be stuck there with nothing to say.

Or, you are confident in your abilities, but embarrassing moments have a way sneaking in.

Leading worship takes the courage to be vulnerable.

There have been times I have messed up royally.

And yet, God seems to use it anyway, maybe even more so in my weakness.

Read More

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Church Music Talks – Episode 1 – Video Interview with James Koerts

I’m excited to share with you our first interview with effective music pastors!  In this first episode, I was privileged to have James Koerts join me for a great discussion about church music ministry!

photo credit: bigstockphoto.com

photo credit: bigstockphoto.com

James is fun to get to know.  He is music pastor at Mikado Baptist in Macon, Ga.  He has written and arranged for numerous publishers, and runs an online music store.  He is a gracious man who is generous in passing along what God has taught him through the years.

In this episode, we talked about “rebooting” the music ministry with a music ministry kickoff, keys to starting an orchestra, and finding time to write and arrange music.  A little eclectic, but good.

So, set aside the piles of music on your desk, grab your coffee, and join us for a talk with James Koerts.

Read More

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Silent Wonder – SATB

Silent Wonder is a simple, yet profound choral anthem that will lead your musicians and congregation in a prayer for God to teach them “Silent Wonder.”

Silent Wonder is about recapturing the wonder of the nativity scene.  Christ, the God of heaven, became a babe, and yet we are not silent enough to be awed by His coming.

The text paints a portrait of the nativity scene, then reminds us that this baby will one day pay for our sins.  “Gentle Babe with head now resting, hands there by His side, One day by thorns and rough nails piercing will pay for all my pride.”

The chorus is a prayer for God to reveal to us the “Silent Wonder” of Christ’s birth.

Accessible for any choir. Medium Easy. (sheet music preview below)

SATB (digital download)

Instrumental parts (available upon request): Flute, Clarinet, Horn, Trombone/Baritone, Strings Reduction.  $40

It appears you don’t have a PDF plugin for this browser. No problem!… you can click here to download the sample PDF. 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Interview with James Koerts

On Friday, I’m starting a new video interview series.

My heart for this website is that it will be a help to church musicians and music directors by passing along what God has taught me.

But I’m still learning, and I don’t have all the answers.

So, to be the most help to you (and to get some help myself), I’m going to bring in the voices of church musicians who are being effective in their ministries.

We will shooting video interviews and posting them here at markjmartin.com.

I’m excited about this opportunity!

And I’m looking forward to kicking this off Friday with an interview with James Koerts, worship pastor at Mikado Baptist Church in Macon, GA.

James has been gracious to help me along the way in my music ministry.  Our ministry has gained immense help from the thoughts and suggestions he has given me.

Here’s where you come in.  I want this interview to give you the most value, so I want to include some of your questions in the interview.

Click the comment link at the bottom of this post to give me your questions about general music ministry planning, Christmas planning, finding time for writing and arranging.

What we talk about will largely depend on what questions you ask.

I will be interviewing him Thursday and posting Friday.  Please send me your questions by Noon Wednesday.

So, let me know what questions do you have for James about church music ministry.  Comment here.

James has an online music store at koertsmusic.com where you can find fresh piano arrangements of hymns and some great piano recordings.  After commenting, head on over to his site to check out his music.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

What Tony Dungy’s Coaching Has to Do with Disorganized Music Ministries

Photo Credit: stocksnap.io | Skitter Photo

Photo Credit: stocksnap.io | Skitter Photo

In Boundaries for Leaders, Henry Cloud recounts the story of Tony Dungy turning the Tampa Bay Buccaneers around in the mid-90s.  He writes:

When he arrived, he heard lots of explanations for the team’s dismal record. Some said it was because the stadium was old and the facilities were poor.  Others blamed it on low ticket sales, which meant the team couldn’t afford to hire the players that they needed to win. Others said that cold weather kept them from winning, as they never won games when the temperature was less than forty degrees.  And then the kicker: Some fans mentioned the so-called Doug Williams Curse.  Supposedly, some voodoo-practicing woman who loved Doug Williams, the former quarterback, had put a curse on the team when he left, and the team could not become a winner again until that curse was lifted.

As Dungy reviewed this list of obstacles, he realized something important: the entire list was outside of his or his players’ control.

He then describes how Dungy refocused the organization:

He immediately went to work analyzing the statistics of the winning teams.  He discovered that thy shared three characteristics.  They had lower turnovers (fumbles and interceptions), fewer penalties, and high-performing special teams (kickoffs, punts, punt returns).   …Dungy’s strategy for winning boiled down to focusing on these three factors, all three of them totally within his and his players’ control.  He led them to a turnaround, and then he carried that thinking on to the Indianapolis Colts, whom he led to the championship in Super Bowl XLI.

If you are facing very difficult odds in your ministry – few volunteers, small choir, not enough money – what would happen if you keyed in on a few critical actions that, if done consistently and well, could refresh and revive the morale in your people? Put another way, what two or three consistent actions should you focus on this year?

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

What You MUST Do Before You Plan the First Song

There I was, leading a song about God’s greatness, and all I was thinking about was, “Man, I probably look awesome up here, leading this song.”

photo credit: bigstockphoto.com | master1305

photo credit: bigstockphoto.com | master1305

You ever been there?

We’re so broken, that even when we are singing words about our great God, we can be totally consumed with ourselves.

And, unfortunately, we can lead our entire music ministries from that selfish heart.

Our last post looked at the need for a music ministry kickoff.  I hope you are planning even a very simple event, even if it’s during a regular rehearsal time, to kick off the coming months for the music ministry.

But we aren’t quite ready to dive into the nuts and bolts of kicking things into gear for the coming year.

Before we look at that, this post is going to briefly cover a few mindsets you and I need to review.

Read More

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

How to Stop Summer’s Revolving Door

Do you remember as a kid? You went into a revolving door with your dad and wanted to keep going around?

photo credit: bistockphoto | @chuyu

photo credit: bistockphoto | @chuyu

What was fun as a kid isn’t so much fun as a music director.

For the last two months, I would guess that your music ministry has felt a bit like a revolving door.  One choir this week.  A different group of people the next.

Everyone welcomes the break that the summer months give to families.  But it can take its toll on a church choir or praise team.  If you’ve continued the rehearsals through the summer, much needed vacations and camps have taken your people out of town.

What can you do to rally everyone to the well-oiled machine you had going by the end of last year?  Or, if last year’s ministry left a lot to be desired, how can you be sure that this year starts off on the right foot?

Read More

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

“I Can Go In” by Abigail Miller

Sunday morning, I sang “I Can Go In” by Abigail Miller in church, and, just like the last time, I couldn’t make it through without choking up.  Poor church had listen to me blubber through one of the verses.

Needless to say, it’s a great song about how we get to heaven.  I encourage you to check out the CD here or the individual mp3s here
or you can look her up on iTunes.  She has a lot of other music at abigailmiller.com.  I particularly appreciate the stories she has put to music, like “I Can Go In” or “He Did Not Cast a Stone.”

And, yes, some of the links are affiliate links.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

The Space Between the Songs

There’s nothing like escaping to a beautiful mountain stream when life is busy.  I recently went fishing early in the morning with my brother.  He was fishing up stream a bit, and I was downstream just taking in the serene setting.

photo credit: stocksnap.io | Boriskin Vladislav

photo credit: stocksnap.io | Boriskin Vladislav

It was spectacular.  Mist rising off the stream. The chill of the morning. It was crazy peaceful.

Now, this didn’t happen, but imagine whatever peaceful escape you like to go to.  You’re there enjoying the stillness, then a helicopter flies by.  All the stillness is interrupted by the loud chopper!  Moment over.

Music can have the same calming impact on a person’s spirit as a mountain stream.  But, as leaders, we can interrupt it because of poor planning.  Awkward transitions chop up the service like a helicopter flying over a mountain stream.

Read More

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Why You Should Kill the Nagging Insecurities

I entered college with too many interests but no clear direction. I began as a music major, then changed majors several times. Meanwhile, I felt the call to serve in a preaching capacity.

I chose a major that would allow me to finish quickly and still get training in preaching.

My wife and I were married one month after graduation. We worked for two years to pay off school debt. During that time, I helped in the youth ministry of our church leading the singing and organizing the youth choir.

Then God allowed me the opportunity to move to Tennessee to serve in a church as music director and office manager.

All along the way I was gaining invaluable experience in church music and Bible teaching.

But there was a nagging insecurity because I had transferred out of a music major in college but ended up working in music for my career. It affected how I interacted with other musicians in the church. It impacted my confidence as I led or played.

photo credit: stocksnap.io | Joshua Earle

photo credit: stocksnap.io | Joshua Earle

I was always comparing myself to other people in the field who had a degree. I was allowing some of those early decisions to define me for years. I was telling myself that I wasn’t qualified as a musician because I didn’t have a degree, but ignoring what I had gained during my time in the program, what I had achieved and the experience I was gaining.

I was somehow less than what God wanted me to be.  Or so I thought.

Read More

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail