We're in the midst of preparations for the play UNDER THE SYCAMORE TREE at The Ritz Theater here in our town. This will be my first production to direct here.

Here are some of the scenes from rehearsals and painting that has gone on. I will try to update you soon on the set as it is built.

National Worship Leaders Conference--Kansas 09

For the last two years I've had the joy of attending the NATIONAL WORSHIP LEADERS Conference (in Austin). This year they've returned with Dorothy to Kanasas (July 20-25).

NWL has been a wonderful training time for me and my team. We had great worship experiences together and then went to all of the workshops offered that pertained to our team and situation.

We even met Fred McKinnon there last year, along with Russ Hutto and Shaun Groves. It's been a great way to meet and network with other ministers.
I won't be going this year (unless Fred picks me)--but I've urged others to go. It's a can't miss situation.

Have you been to National Worship Leaders Conference?

SWINE FLU VIDEOS (circa 1976). Run Them Again

Perhaps we need to run these campy videos again. Looks like they were are foreteller of our current situation.

The Prompter President

This clip is making it's way across the net and is topic number 1 this morning on the talk shows.

Is there not a hard copy of the speech on the platform? Can he not ever so often look down at the written portion to see where he's at?

I just know from personal experience that no matter how familiar I am with the topic that I'm speaking, I never go to the podium without an outline or a prepared speech (just in case). I'm afraid we're in for more of the same for the next 4 years.

The Bull In The China Shop (uh..)The Grocery Store

You've heard about the bull in the china shop, this Irish grocery store got the full meaning of the terror that this bovine brought as it wandered down the aisles.

It's a sign of the end times!

Under The Sycamore Tree--The Work Begins

The work has begun on The Ritz Theater production of UNDER THE SYCAMORE TREE. You'll see updated post through out the next month about rehearsals and preparations.

I was reminded tonight as we read through the script how important theater is to our culture. In a visual society, perhaps we've become too dependent on the electronic, televised and over-produced segments to give us the arts. Maybe we've forgotten the thrill of the live visual event that calls for us to engage with the artists on stage and think as we see.

Live theater does that. It draws you in and asks you to think as you see. That's something that's rare today.

The cast is varied. Some have been on the stage recently and some haven't seen the footlights in a while. I think that will be good as we each challenge each other to rise to our best for this effort.

Were you involved in theater?

Dad, What's A Revival?

Driving down the road on Sunday evening, I made mention that our local Methodist church was having a spring revival. That prompted a remark from my 8th grader, "Dad, what's a Revival?"

I thought to myself "that's a comment worthy of a blog"-so here it is.

I grew up in a minister's home and thus Revival meetings were frequent and seemed to come more often than I care to remember. The extended services of the church called for morning, noon and evening meetings, always with a covered lunch or meal. Being a minister's kid it also meant some type of after meeting with the revival team.

Included in these meetings were special times for groups of the church together. Who can forget Men's night or Sunday school night or the infamous YOUTH night with the predictable Pizza suppers. And after Wednesday evening the church went back to being the church.

Nowadays you don't see many revival services in the church. They come rarely and I personally haven't led a revival service in 8 years. Perhaps we don't see them as often because the church continues to go on being the church and we don't see the real fruit and evidence of revival.

Do we need revival? Absolutely. If ever there was a time for a fresh wind and fresh fire to blow through the Body of Christ--it's now. Does it need to be like it has been in the past? Not necessarily.

What do you think?

Worship Confessional, April 26, 2009

This post is part of Sunday Set Lists over on Fred McKinnon's Blog.

Today's Songs

We're Marching To Zion (Contemporary Hymns-Brentwood Benson)
Hallelujah! Your Love Is Amazing
Father Spirit Jesus
Made To Worship (Tomlin)
Here I Am To Worship

Short and sweet on the music today. Everything went well. The back half-songs were high. Reminder to me to always check the keys before the music is printed. Only Chris Tomlin can sing in the upper ranges of "C" major. Oh well.

How was your worship today?

Water Cooler Wednesday-30 Years of Worship Leadership (Repost)

This post is a "repost" by request of some of my Ministry buddies who got a chuckle out of it.

This post is part of Water Cooler Wednesdays over on Randy Elrod's blog, Ethos. Check out what other creatives are talking about each Wednesday.

I've been thinking about this post a long time. It has been rolling around in my head over and over again. I would start to write it, and then think about it some more; only to let it sit a little bit longer.

All of it was inspired by the news that a friend of mine, Ty Morris Jr., is retiring from Music Ministry at the end of June after 34 years at the same church. That is amazing! If you'd like to send Ty a congratulation note, you can do that here.

That means that Ty came to this church in his 30's and in the mid '70's. Boy, has he seen a change in the landscape of worship and music ministry in those 34 years. It got me to thinking about this.
The 1970's Worship Leadership:
Title: Minister of Music, Music Director, Song Leader (that's it-nothing else)
Job Description: Handle the music (that's it)
Resources: The Hymnal (that's it!) and Sing and Celebrate (remember that?)
Instrumentation: Piano/Organ (is there anything else?)
Guitar--only played by the youth minister and only at retreats
Groups: Sanctuary Choir--The jewel of the ministry; with robes
Youth Choir--where 75% of the youth group was participants
Handbells- Youth and Adults
Children's Choirs (with Auto harps) and him directing
Performances: Christmas "Cantata" (by John W. Peterson)
Easter "Cantata" (by John W. Peterson)
Choir Festivals/Piano Festivals-yeah, people played piano back then
Services: Sunday AM & PM/ Wed.Prayer meeting to lead a song
Nursing Home service once a month-Sun. afternoon (nap time)
Sound: Depending on size of church--he ran the sound under the pulpit(don't laugh--I was doing this in the early 90's)
Media: Slides-only slides; reel to reel tapes; no performace trax
Drama: Youth Only--then they were called skits and only for missions
Training: Seminary trained--had to be! (unless you were an evangelist coming off the road--then that counted as experience)
Clothing: Coat and Tie--of course!

Compare that with the Music leadership of 2008
I'm wearing this on Sunday--you like?
Worship Leadership in 2008
Title: Creative Arts Pastor, Pastor of Worship, Imagineer
Job Description: Handle it (everything!)
Resources: The Internet, Hillsong, Willowcreek, NorthPoint, Crowder, Tomlin, Praisecharts, etc, etc (what's a hymnal?)-or make your own charts with FINALE
Instrumentation: Anything but Piano/Organ (full blown band) and anything that a computer can recreate (Ableton Live!); Guitar is welcome here not only on retreats; leader needs to lead from an instrument
Groups: Praise Team/Praise Band
Seasonal Choirs
Special groups-Jazz, Blues,
Performances: What? (every Sunday is an Experience!) Christmas/Easter worship experiences.
Services: Sunday AM (that's all folks)
Sound: Run by a team (but Minister must be able to speak their language--levels, db's, inputs/outputs, gain, amplifiers)
Media: Video, Computer Generated (must be fluent in AVI, MPEG 1-4) able to download from the net; also able to edit video too (AVID, FINAL CUT); Photoshop....; mp3s, DVD's, Ipods; TV broadcast lingo and Radio too; Streaming web services; webcams; Media Shout or Pro-Presenter; know what a BNC cable is; understand compression of audio files
Technology: Must know computers--RAM, GIGS, CPUS, Monitor resolutions; be able to fix the projectors and any other broken technology in any other areas of the church.
Drama: Not just for yutes anymore---he/she must be equal to a Broadway producer; forget Cecile B DeMille--we want Steven Spielberg!
Stage Design: know how to create environments; lighting-knowing the difference be tween a par and an elipsoidal and moving lights!;calculate DMX capacity; fabrics, scrims, props, trusses, cycs
Designer: know trends in culture, colors and all things APPLE!
Publications: differences in CMYK and RGB; print scales and modes, paper finishes; large scale printing for advertisment/promotion; type setting, fonts, Adobe C3
Public Relations/Communication: Web presence and e-communications
Training: Seminary not required--on the job more valued (farm leagues)
Clothing: Casual ( that is usally user defined)

Any one of these could be a single job by themselves!

I wonder what the next 30 plus years will look like? What will the next generation of worship leadership have to know and master? Any ideas?

That's all I can think of now. I'd like to hear from some of my pastor friends who read this blog (you know who you are) how communication (preaching) has changed in the last 30 years and the role of the Sr. Pastor has emerged. I'm sure this will cause some stir as you read through these, but I think I'm pretty close to target range on these. It's the reality I'm living in today.

Special thanks to my friend, Randall Hall for the brainstorming on this post.
Trackback: Lifeway Worship


It's two days away from auditions for UNDER THE SYCAMORE TREE at The Ritz Theater. I've been working hard the last couple of days on set design, sound, light plots, making phone calls to people, working on publicity and posters. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes of a play production. I've yet to make contact with the Costume designer (she's busy with One Act play this week, or the set builder).

Here are some of the sketches for the set. It's all prelim--but it's suppose to look like the inside of an ant hill. What do you think?

You're Never Too Old To Sing

We spent the day in Lubbock at the State Senior Adult Choir Festival. This is our 3rd year to attend and by the looks of it--Sr. Adult Choirs are growing ( is it any surprise since the Baby Boomers are aging?). There were some 600 there today and we heard some great choirs.

The format for the day is a mix of choirs singing for each other ( usually 2 songs) and then all of the choirs working together on 5-6 songs, mixed with some hymn singing and food (we're Baptist ok--we've got to eat).

I heard some great singers today and it reminded me that you're never too old to sing. The majority of singing comes from the attitude of the mind and also taking care of your body. One lady hit a high C on a song ( way to go girl) and they all enjoyed it.

So--do you sing? Will you be singing when your 64, 74, 84, 94?

Worship Confessional, April 19, 2009

This post is part of Sunday Set List over on Fred McKinnon's Blog.

It was a good day today.. simple, but good. Maybe we carried that same theme over from last week. We did an extremely accoustic feel today--piano/and gymbae (?) because bass and accoustic were out. I was bothered at first by the thin sound, but then I thought "let the people sing and hear themselves today. So we did that. It was powerful and the recording sounds great.

O Worship The King (Tomlin)
Famous One (Tomlin) Both of these together were a great opening.
Welcome/Announcements/ Offering
Perfect Peace (Laura Story)-- If you haven't heard this song--go listen to it here!
Mighty To Save/Shout To The Lord--An new one with an old one--works everytime.
Video--Putting Off (SermonSpice)
Susan Boyle Video--we used the Susan Boyle video that is the sensation this week. Russell tied it into the part of Ephesians 4 where it says to use our words to build up and not to corrupt. This was powerful too. And I snuck my Les Misreables book in and played I DREAMED A DREAM as they were going out.
You Are God Alone Revelation Song--Great worship at the end. How was your day?

Stepping Out--Directing At The Ritz

I'm stepping out and doing something I've never done outside the church. I'm directing a production of UNDER THE SYCAMORE TREE at The Ritz Theater (our local community theater) in May. Auditions are next week and it's been a whirlwind trying to get things together (costumes, set, publicity, contacting actors). Whew! I just thought I wanted to do this.

Seriously, it will be fun. It's a Fable play--meaning it contains more story underneath the surface. It's the story of a colony of Ants and how they learn what humans have learned about love, war, peace, feelings and communication. Should be fun.

If you are in the Snyder area...come on over Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 PM

Twitter and Twisters

My introduction to Twitter began in February 2008 as we were at the Recreate Conference in Nashville. That Tuesday night we were at The Factory in Franklin and in the midst of the concert with Paul Baloche, we hear tornado sirens.

All the Twittering (and the itch to Twitter) began that night was we bantered about while awaiting instructions what to do.

Last night we were warned there were 2 tornadoes in the area. In West Texas that means finding the middle of the house (our hallway) and sitting there with pillows. Our 11 year old was most adamant that we get in the hall. So what did I do? I twittered! Here are some of the Tweets.
fbcjdrake: Radio just said 2 go to our church 4 shelter uh im not there about 8 hours ago from txt
fbcjdrake: Last Will_done family together_check hold on about 8 hours ago from txt
fbcjdrake: So whats up family ? As we are gathered in the hall about 8 hours ago from txt

fbcjdrake: We are in hall way tornado warning for scurry county about 8 hours ago from txt

I talked to @jake1977 who was downtown at the Manhattan (our coffee house) and we had a great time bantering about. I remarked to him "Twittering and Tornadoes are fun!"

What did we do before Twitter?

Other Posts: Auntie Em Auntie Em

Sweet 16---Happy Birthday Taylor

Sixteen years ago today a big bundle of energy entered our lives. I guess that's why I awoke early this morning... remembering back how she kept us up all night of the 15th and into the morning of the 16th.
She came into the world with her eyes wide open and ready to see everything. She hasn't changed much--she wants to see and do everything.

It's hard to look at her now and realize that bundle of joy is almost through with High school and is learning to drive (boy are we learning).
Anyway, Happy Birthday Taylor. We love you and want you to have a special day today. You're only 16 once.

Tax Day Blues

Well, it's TAX DAY and we all have the blues. We're ending up paying (again this year) and we thought we were going to be ok. Turns out that if you make just a little more this year than last you get bumped into a whole new realm where the government digs a little more out of you.

We are not even"rich" middle class--we're just plain old middle class and we're paying through the nose this year (thanks to being classified as Self-Employed).

Where's the tax relief we're always promised in November? Where's the accountability for the BILLIONS we already send to Washington?

No wonder there are TEA parties taking place today all over the US. People are fed up with paying more and seeing the government spend even more. Enough is enough.

Maybe this makes me a Right Wing Activist according to Homeland Security--but we're fed up with this!

Lego Jesus

My good friend, Dan Perkins, posted this over on his blog about a group who constructed Jesus out of Legos.

Having purchased Legos for a congregational "creative element" a couple of weeks ago, I can just imagine how expensive this is. I thought Legos would be a cheap material ( it was when I was a kid), but the 220 piece box was $15 and there weren't many large pieces in the set. I was kind of disappointed.

It's interesting to me how they can sculpt Legos into a portrayal of Christ. Dan made the observation that Jesus said that "in three days he would remake this temple"--I don't think he meant with Legos.

Did you play with Legos?

Other Lego Posts: Legos Are The Best

Easter Pictures

We haven't been very good at taking family pictures. However, the holidays are great times to do that. We put the camera on the mailbox and did a self timer thing.

We don't realize how big the kids are getting until we take their picture. Bubba is quickly outpacing his sisters. I tell them to be kind to him because he's gonna be bigger than them. All of them had new Easter they look presentable.

Do you take family photos?

Worship Confessional, April 12, 2009

This post is part of Sunday Set List over on Fred Mc Kinnon's blog

Well, Easter 2009 is done and in the books! It all began on Thursday with our prayer stations ( you can read about that here) and then our Maundy Thursday service. That service was very powerful (just scripture, song and communion). Sometimes the most powerful things are the simplest.

Today began cool and wet (from the rains overnight). We had two services as usual. Our early service was down (some of our regulars were travelers this year. Second service was full and we kept it really accessible this year (not a lot of new songs--in fact NO NEW SONGS) and mostly arrangements of familiar Easter music. Although I was jealous of so many others doing the new Tomlin songs, I think it was the right thing for us this year. Just a simple service with not a lot of fanfare. I'm afraid that too many times on these special events we try to knock it out of the park for the sake of effect and when people return the next week they find it to be a very different place. It was just a good day of worship.

Set List
Alive Forever Amen (Cottrell)--this one rocked with a great track by David Trevey. "Worthy is the lamb, worthy of our praise,worthy is the one who has overcome the grave"
Christ The Lord Is Risen (G3 Worship) new arrangement-really fresh with a great new bridge.
Turn /Greet
"The Journey of A Shoe"--the video led into our promotion about Shoes For Orphan Souls (We wiped out the local Walmart this week). We're collecting 600 pair of shoes.
Are You Washed/Lamb of God (Cottrell arr from LION OF JUDAH-CALVARY'S LAMB)
Scripture Reading (1 Cor. 15)
Glorious Day (Bleeker)--we did this during December and brought it back for Easter Sunday
Morning Message--Taking Off/ Putting On--our continuing series in Ephesians
Jesus Paid It All (Stanfill)--great closer!

How was your Easter day?

Good Friday

(Photo by @loswhit)

Mark 15:33-36
When the sixth hour came there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
When some of those who stood by heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling on Elijah.’
Someone ran and soaked a sponge in vinegar and, putting it on a reed, gave it to him to drink saying, ‘Wait! And see if Elijah will come to take him down.’ NJB

Why It's Called Good Friday

Creative fuZion- Stations

We've just finished our 4th year of prayer stations. We began @ 7 AM this morning and concluded just before our Maundy Thursday service.

Our notes are posted here. There were many comments from people that made it all worth the effort. Some people had a hard time signing the death warrant; some had a hard time pounding the nails; some had a hard time writing an expression on the wall after the experience. It was amazing.

I'll be processing this day more in the coming days. I wanted to get these pics up for Dorothy's Creative Fuzion.

What's Up With Twit?

I'm a Twitterer-can I just say that. Unashamedly I join with several people a day to start conversations and learn things from people all across the world.

Just last night I:
  • Connected with another worship leader on a song-sharing a backing trax for it that I had.
  • Attended a rehearsal for Easter--in Nashville
  • Made some new connections in worship leadership?
  • Made some comments about American Idol
Twitter is growing at a frantic pace. Everyday there are new applications that you can use with Twitter. Just look at the diagram below and see the unique visitors and total visitors for January. Read this article.
How do you see Twitter as part of your life?

I Am An "I"---and I'm proud of it!

We took a personality profile in staff meeting yesterday. The DISC test is a nationally known instrument which gives an indication of whether you are D-Directive, I-Influencer, S-Steady or C-Compliant. I'm an "I"--I know I'm an I because each time I take the test that's the way it comes out. I-and then S.

I'm proud that I'm an I---it's who I am and I will not shrink from that. I could wish that I had more D or more C, but "I' is who God made me to be.
Here are some characteristics of an I. I got this from a site (and pardon me, I forgot to copy the link)

The "I" Personality Type
Influence, Image, Enthusiasm

The DISC Behavioral model describes four basic patterns, none of which is better or worse than any of the others.
Very few people are purely one type. (Most of us are a combination of types.) This description is of someone who is almost completely an I. See if it describes you or someone you know. (Again, remember it describes an extreme form of a behavior that is often much more nuanced.)

If you are an I personality type, you are concerned about COMMUNICATION and PEOPLE.

You are optimistic, charming, and outgoing.
You are a "people person."
You genuinely like people, and you want them to like you.
You trust people and enjoy bringing out their best.
You are a consummate communicator. You enjoy telling stories and you tend to exaggerate.
You enjoy meeting new people, working with others, and networking.
You tend to ignore the rules (since you don't think they really apply to you).
You are energized by working with people and you energize any group you work with.
You see the "big picture" and you can be inspirational.
You dislike details and you can be scattered.

You are energized by...

Working with people in a fast-paced, varied environment
Being in the spotlight (not necessarily being in charge)
Tackling new projects and learning new things
Gaining public recognition
Initiating change and being able to be creative

You lose energy by...

Being around negative, cold, or pessimistic people
Performing routine, detailed tasks
Being held to rigid schedules
Working alone
Feeling left out
Being criticized in public
At your best you can...

Communicate a vision, mission, or goal in a way that inspires others to adopt it and work toward achieving it.
Be enthusiastic and creative.
See the best in others and you help them believe in their abilities.
You can be a visionary, a motivator, a catalyst.

When you are stressed out, you can...

Shirk your homework, relying on your ability to talk your way out of any trouble.
Lack follow — through, rarely finishing what you begin. You can overpromise and underdeliver.
Be superficial and glib.
At your worst, you can be a gossip, a blow hard, a light weight.

To be your best...

Develop time management skills.
Listen. Question. Pause. Consider.
Be more discriminating. Learn how to appraise people more realistically.
Resist the urge to do something new. Rein in your impulsiveness.
Cultivate perseverance. Become more reflective.

How to RECOGNIZE an I personality type...

They tend to be extroverted, friendly, and charming.
They speak with animation (using gestures and facial expressions), tell stories, and laugh.
They like to make gatherings (meetings, sales presentations, etc.) into social events.
They enjoy working with people, often trying to include others in their projects.

How to WORK with an I personality type...

Be friendly. Start your conversation in a personable way before getting down to business.
Help them set clear, realistic goals. Develop timetables and check back with them frequently.
Maintain an open door policy with them. Make them feel included.
Set clear objectives and time frames for any major task.
Look for ways to make the best use of their verbal skills.
What NOT to do around an I personality type...

Bore them with details.
Freeze them out. Exclude them. Make them feel like an outsider.
Ignore their ideas.
Expect them to cope well with bureaucracy.


This is an open letter to a Christian brother here in my town (he'll probably never see it)

Dear Brother:

As the morning light was breaking over our town and I was heading to my church, you passed me with such speed that I thought at first you were some emergency vehichle. When you went by and had no marking on your car I just thought you were in a hurry.

It's the next thing that you did that caught me off guard. You blew right through that stop sign at the intersection of 37th and El Paso and whipped into the parking lot of the church nearby. You were obviously late for the Men's Bible Study that had started minutes before.

I thought " well, that's a great witness for Christ!" We have to always be aware of what we do and how it reflects on the church. I was thinking--"What if an unbeliever had seen you do that? Break the law and run into church with your bible would certainly be an contradiction"

Then it got me to thinking--what do I do in public that brings shame and reproach for the name of Christ. And then I felt guilty for thinking such things of you.

So dear christian brother, whoever you are, I'll pray for you and you pray for me that we will always be aware of what we do for the namesake of Christ.

Worship Confessional, April 5, 2009

This post is part of Sunday Set List over on Fred Mc Kinnon's blog

Today was a good day. It began on my way to church as I heard my friend, Jeff Berry, on the radio singing HIS BANNER OVER ME. It took me back to some great times I shared with Jeff when he was in Abilene. He and I shared some Twitter banter about it this morning.

Palm Sunday--not much to do with the actual Palm Sunday literature--but it was a good to day to celebrate as we kick off the Easter week.

Prepare The Way (Naizum)--we did this song through Christmas and brought it back for the Easter season--great tie in to scripture as we prepare our hearts for his coming.
All The Earth Will Sing Your Praises (Baloche)--we did the Travis Cottrell arrangement.
Video--Shoes For Orphan Souls
Blessed Be Your Name (Redman)--always a favorite and David's trax just put it over the top
Your Name (Baloche)-ditto
Please Forgive Me (Travis Cottrell)-- a great trio song about forgiveness and how we take what the Lord has done for granted.
Morning Sermon
Creative Element--We used Lego's to illustrate the different gifts that God has given the church (he gave some to Apostle, Prophets, Evangelist and Pastor/Teachers). Not everyone has been given the same gift. We filled to clear vases with Legos and asked people to come and get one at the commitment time of the service.
Here I Am To Worship (Tim Hughes)

We had a good day and spent about 3 hours today setting up our Prayer Stations-We're about 90% done on that which is a big help. We usually put this up the day before, but since we're taking over the third floor of our building, we can do it early! Yea!

How was your day?

Twitter Makes You A Better Writer?

I have a reader who just loves this Twitter bird--this is for you!

I found this article today about how Twitter makes you a better writer. Let me highlight some of the points for those of you who may not make the journey to the article.

1. Twitter forces you to be concise
With only 140 characters given you in Twitter-you can't say everything and so you keep it short and simple. I 've noticed that it has influenced my posts (yeah, this one is going to be over 140) but most of my posts have been getting shorter.

2.Twitter forces you to use the dictionary
Being forced to used on 140 characters, you have to find shorter words with the same meaning. (I don't know about this one--my vocabulary is about the same and I find that reading books increases my vocabulary better than Twitter)

3. Twitter forces you to hone your editing skills
You'll look and look back through your words and eliminate the flowery language and give
only the important details.

Article by Jennifer Blanchard
Does Twitter make you a better writer?

What's The World Coming To?

It's about this time of year that I spend some extra time in our school systems helping them get ready for music competition.

Every year I'm shocked to see the level of disrespect that our teachers have to endure from students. Rudeness, disobedience and ugly behavior were never part of my school experience apart from one or two "thugs" whom the school swiftly punished or banned from the school system.

I encountered one student yesterday who wasn't afraid of the devil himself. It was a showdown of will as I tried to help instruct them on something musical. The general attitude of "I don't care" just runs all over me and well, it ended with me telling the whole class that these lessons they learn in school are preparing them for life and jobs and responsibility. With this kid's attitude I told them that they are destined to fail at the endeavor as a team

We've so emphasized "individuality" (what I want, what I like, what I do or don't do) that we've lost the concept of working together and adding all of our parts to achieve a goal. Perhaps that is why we are in the mess we are in as a nation. We've become a nation of individuals--we're not A NATION ( a collective group of people).

All I know is I'm concerned at what is coming! Not all of them are bad, but its worse every time I enter into the educational system. I just say PRAY FOR OUR TEACHERS!

Prayer Stations (Part 2) (Repost)

Prayer Stations (Part 2)

This is the second part of my posts on Prayer Stations. We just completed our third year of prayer stations on Maundy Thursday.

We had our most participants this year as I believe this has become kind of new tradition for us at Easter. We got great coverage from the local newspaper (front page the day of and a photo piece on Good Friday). This year's stations conincided with our sermon series on the Miracles of The Crucifixion--The Ninth Hour Sermon Series. You can listen to the sermons here. You can also download the handout that went along with each station here. I'll try to briefly describe each station. I'll be glad to send to anyone the details from each station and any accompanying materials I had for this.

Preparation: We had a little sitting area just before you entered to the stations. This was a time for reflection and settling your heart. I had printed large pictures of Christ on our large scale printer. They looked like painted portraits. Thanks JVO for the info on the light styrofoam insulation from LOWES-worked great.

At this station we had them read the scriptures and contemplate the darkness that fell over the land. This was in a small hall way that led to the Library. We darkened all of the windows. The only light (had to be) was the exit sign just over their shoulder--but they got the point.

Station 2: The Torn Veil
Pilgrims sat at a table filled with purple, red and blue fabric (the colors described in scripture) and sat before an open curtain symbolizing our access to God.

Station 3: The Earthquake
This one was difficult. How do you represent an Earthquake? We chose to make large slabs from styrofoam. There were rocks for the pilgrims to take when they left this station

Station 4: The Open Graves
I thought this one was the most effective and the most emotional. I asked the local cemetery if I could borrow a small headstone. They said yes. In fact they told me that I could write on the stone. So we had each pilgrim write something on the stone with a sharpie pen.

Station 5: Salvation

This was my favorite station. We had several crosses on this table and they were all set upon a piece of sheet metal. We had purchased two boxes of Christiam Magnet Poetry ( and had each pilgrim make a sentence or phrase as their response to the cross.

Station 6: It Is Finished
This one ended in our Garden Room. We had the fountain going so it was relaxing and cool in here. I had Matt Maher singing "Empty and Beautiful"on the cd player. At the end of this station the pilgrim took a sugar cube and placed it in Red water to symbolize the payment for their sin.

Station 7: Communion
As we had done in years past, we held off on taking communion until the evening when we gathered back for the Maundy Thursday service. This will probably change next year as we'll off the chance for them to take or not take communion. Several said after the experience they were ready to take it.

That's it for this year. We evaluated this yesterday and will make some changes next year.
This post is part of Creative Chaos.

Prayer Stations (Part 1) (Repost)

This is part 1 of a two part post on Prayer Stations, specifically the prayer stations that we have done the last 2 years for Easter. We'll do that again tomorrow with a whole new set of stations. You can download the pdf of the walking guide here.

Each of the stations are self-guided and self-paced. We set this up in our Library/Media Center which has two entrances. We take them down the hall and enter through the East door. They make their way through the stations in the Media Center and end up in a small room just off the media center for the final station-the cross.

Here are the stations:
Preparation--a time for the pilgrim to breathe out the world, and breathe in Christ.
1. Pieces of Silver--station where the pilgrim considers the cost of betrayal. They pick up the silver coin and bag.
2. His Cross--where the pilgrim faces the cross(es) and considers the cost of the price paid. I know the first year that we did this, we set this room up just in front of the wall that backed up to the last station (see later). When I heard the nails being nailed into the cross in the next room, I was holding the cross in my hands--it sent chills down my spine.
3. Oil and Spices--this station was set up with torn pieces of cloth coming out of a big just and we had heavily doused the material with Frankincense and Myrrh spices. Pilgrims were to pick up the cloth and smell the spices.
4. Our cross--this station is where the pilgrim had to write down a burden that they were carrying (then take this to the last station)
5. The Veil--the pilgrim entered into another area which was represented by pole and drape just parted. This signified the veil. A small stool was set up in front of it for the pilgrim to look at the veil. They then entered into the veil which took them to the last station.
6. Spike and Mallet--this station was where the pilgrim was to bring their card with a burden on it and nail it to the cross. This was the center section of a cross we had built, and it would later be brought into the Maundy Thursday service with all of the burdens on it and affixed to the cross. Quiet a sight to see when all of those cards fill up the beam.
7. The Lord's Supper--we chose to do this together at night-but I think it would be appropriate to have a Lord's supper station here if you were not going to gather together again for worship.

I first experienced this Prayer Station set up at FBC Lewisville (Texas). It was the most moving thing. I went early in the morning to go through the stations and then I spent the day doing some other things--when I came back for worship that night I had saturated myself the whole day in the idea of Christ's death and resurrection. I can only tell you that at worship that night I was profoundly moved.

Feel free to use and adapt as needed. Next week I'll post what we did this year with pictures.

This post is part of Water Cooler Wednesday where creatives meet every week to talk about culture, creativity and the Creator.

Angel In My Pocket (Part 7)

In this episode, Griffith faces the wrath of the board after his two congregants see him get the organ from the burlesque and playing for the performer.

Do you ask permission or ask forgiveness?

Griffith's intentions were noble and well conceived to get the church a new organ, and rather than ask permission (which is indeed the mode of getting things done around his church) he goes ahead an secures the organ, intending to tell them later.

It's a tricky situation. Some churches are permission givers and some are permission seekers. I've served both kinds. The ones where permission is given usually function better with an understanding between the "powers that be" and the ones who need to execute some decisions as to what is permissible. There is just no way a committee can make every decision that needs to be made for church to function daily. We were talking today about limits that we had encountered in ministry. I functioned for years under the $25 dollar rule (anything above $25 had to be approved by the finance team 1 month in advance). It was extremely hard to do ministry there.

There are also those churches that want to know everything and make a decision on everything. I had a pastor once who had that philosophy ("Let the church be the church" was his saying which sounds good but that also meant that dumb decisions were their fault too-like ignoring the shifting population trends and refusing to move to where the church could be a more visible force in the community). This was a hard situation too.

Sometimes it's best to ask forgiveness for a decision--but you only get one or two of these and then you're done. I think we're beginning to see the beginning of the end for Griffith's ministry in this small Kansas town and it's a shame. It didn't have to be this way.