Why Do We Sing at Church? Pt. 1

Posted in Audio, Church, Creating, Leading, Music, Songs, Sound, Sunday, Uncategorized, Worship on September 7, 2011 by mattywayne1

Church music is a really a fascinating and peculiar thing. It’s such a broad subject that I have a hard time wrapping my head around it most days. On one hand, church music is the heart-felt cry of generations of congregations connecting to and glorifying God, and on the other it’s a hundred million dollar industry that lives in some pretty shady areas and carries the potential to split churches right down the aisle.

It might seem simple, but church music takes a ton of work. Before a single note is played in an auditorium somebody has to sit down and decide among hundreds of song options, and every time a choice is made a potential attendee is alienated. Traditional or contemporary? Choir or band? Guitars or pianos? Hymnals or Keynote? Worship leader or minister of music? Jeans or suits? If we do rock n’ roll style music will we need a bigger sound system? Where do we get the money for the bigger sound system? Do we pay the musicians? Do we pay the musicians but not the singers or pay the singers and not the musicians? Do we pay the sound people? How loud is it supposed to be? What’s a decibel? Can somebody please turn the drums down? How do we decide which songs to sing? Do we play Hillsong or North Point songs? Israel or John Mark? How many songs should we sing each week? How often can we do new songs? and so on and so on…

And even after you prayerfully decide all of that, people are still gonna hate the music. Very rarely will someone go to church because they love the music and patiently bide their time during the teaching, but every Sunday plenty of people “suffer” through music they hate and that’s too loud to get to the preaching that they love – and guess what? I totally get that.

Maybe it’s just because we do church in Music City U.S.A. where every other guy in the pew could probably outplay everybody on stage, but I think we’d be hard pressed to find a large majority of attendees that genuinely “love” the music (volume, style, duration, etc). I’ve even got guys that play on the music team that don’t love the style of music we do.

So here’s the question, if church music is so stinking polarizing, why do we spend almost half of our 1 hour program doing it? What intrinsic value does music have that makes it worth all of the effort? Why go to all of the trouble?

I’ll let you know what I think in part 2, but for now – what do you think?

Why do we sing at church?


Drill down

Posted in Uncategorized on August 25, 2011 by mattywayne1

I have always loved having options. My wife would probably call it lack of commitment, but honestly it’s just a realization that being flexible provides a bigger pallet of choices. Options typically provide freedom and opportunity and that has always felt better than a lack of choices. I usually fear pursuing any “one” thing because of the opportunity cost associated with the pursuit.

I had lunch with one of the smartest guys I know yesterday and it really helped solidify a gut feeling I’ve had lately. He used a football analogy. He said “Peyton Manning will go down as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, maybe even THE best. He never worked on catching the ball, he didn’t want to be a wide receiver. He never spent time practicing his punting, he never wanted to keep his options open to the kicking game. He never spent time working on tackling, he didn’t want to have a defensive position as a fall back plan. He pursued one thing – being a great quarterback. He drilled down.

If I’m ever going to grow in life I have to give up some things I might be good at so I can drill down at something I might be great at, and it totally goes against my “keep my options open” philosophy. It’s incredibly tough handing off something you like doing (and are probably good at), but chances are there are other people in your world that could do those things as good or better than you and nothing else but clearing your plate can give you the opportunity to focus on what you’re great at.

What tasks could you give up to gain “drill down” focus? What’s the one thing you’re going to drill down?

How much can you handle?

Posted in Church, Creating, Leading, Process, Uncategorized on August 23, 2011 by mattywayne1

I love the word capacity.

ca·pac·i·ty noun

1. the ability to receive or contain: This hotel has a large capacity.
2. the maximum amount or number that can be received or contained: The inn is filled to capacity. The gasoline tank has a capacity of 20 gallons.
3. power of receiving impressions, knowledge, etc.; mental ability: the capacity to learn calculus.
4. actual or potential ability to perform, yield, or withstand:
I think #4 is my favorite. I’ve always wanted my work identity to reflect a capacity for capacity (a #1 for #4!). I always want my plate to be full.
Our culture is currently fascinated with the word hustle, and I get it – as a rule exceptionally hard work pays off.  But personally, as I seek out new projects and more responsibility I’m impressed with the feeling that now is a great moment to slow down and learn something about the character of God.
I hear people frequently talk about their dependence on God in difficult or challenging moments and it’s always been hard to relate. Frankly, I’ve always been dependent on Matt. In arrogance I’ve decided that my capacity for “more” is a result of my own doing, and if/when I reach the end of that capacity I’ll  lean on God, but until that day comes – I got this.
This is such a dangerous inclination, and I’m ready for a shift.
I want to start and conclude every day knowing that anything good (or bad) that happens in, around, or through me is only a result of what God has orchestrated. This is my new prayer: “Increase my dependence on You and decrease my dependence on self.”
For all of you hustlers out there with a crazy capacity to work, take a minute and thank God for the ability to do so.

I compare

Posted in Uncategorized on June 2, 2011 by mattywayne1

Gonna be honest here. I struggle like crazy with comparison.

There are two things that frequently remind me how I don’t measure up. One thing is the Dave Ramsey’s show. If you don’t know Dave Ramsey, he helps people gain control over their finances and get out of debt. Dave asks every caller how much money they make (so invasive, right?) Whether they’re calling to scream that they’re debt free or to ask for help getting out of money trouble, it feels like everyone is more successful than I am.

The other thing is driving through more established neighborhoods in town. I look around at the amazing homes and wonder what all of these people do for a living? Again, I feel like everyone is so much further ahead in the game of life.

Most of the time I’ll try to excuse their success. It goes like this –

“Somebody in their family probably got them their job.”

“They just got “in” at the right time.”

“They just got lucky.”

Being in Music City, USA – I feel the tension from a completely different angle. “Why did that artist make it?” “How did that song become a hit?” “Why did they get a pub deal?” “Who did they sleep with to get a record deal?”

I’ll totally admit that I’m not a journey guy – I’m all about destination. The bottom line is that I spend way too much of my time comparing and trying to figure out where I’m trying to go professionally, personally, and financially, and not enough time enjoying my current rung on the ladder. There’s an amount of planning and dreaming for the future that is healthy, but living in a state of constant discontent and comparison is bad for the soul and it steals your joy.

I constantly need to be reminded that what others do and have is none of my freekin business and to put my nose to the grindstone and handle what’s right in front of me.

Dear comparison, I hate you!


Steering boats

Posted in Church, Creating, Guitar, Music, Musicians, Process, Songs, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2011 by mattywayne1

Anybody can steer a ship in open water. It’s only when docks and shorelines loom that driving the boat becomes challenging. Parameters and boundaries inevitably change your reality.

Almost a year ago I had a haunting conversation with a Cross Point member who happens to be an exceptionally successful writer/producer. He asked a simple question, “Why isn’t there one church in Nashville (Music City USA) that has a voice in the world wide conversation on corporate worship?”

After months of dreaming and planning, today marks a huge step in finding that voice. Today 20 songwriters from multiple Cross Point campuses are picking up guitars and pens to write songs for our church! At first I thought through a list of rules for everyone to play by: Write corporate songs (easily singable), write in keys that guys and girls can both sing, write songs that are less than five minutes long, etc…

But, I’ve decided to throw all of the rules out the window. If the boat is easier to steer in open water then I want to wipe away all of the shorelines and every last dock to clear the way for  hearts and minds to dream up something great.  Many projects benefit from clear expectations and boundaries, but raw creativity can only be hindered by rules and regulations.

This creative gathering is gonna be a blast!

Greatness doesn’t have to apologize

Posted in Creating, Leading, Process, Songs, Sound, Sound engineer, Team with tags , , , on May 4, 2011 by mattywayne1

Frequently I find my self qualifying or even apologizing for the work I produce. It goes something like this:

“Hey, check out this recording, but just so you know it’s not mastered yet.”

“Hey, listen to this song, but just so you know it’s just a guitar/vocal rough.”

“Hey, just so you know I don’t have my A team available this Sunday so things might not go smoothly.”

“Hey, just so you know we don’t have the budget to make things sound as great as that conference (or that church).”

A really close friend of mine tours with a group of amazing musicians and production professionals. He was telling me how their production manager tends to be a big fat know-it-all. This production manager walks into the clubs and concert venues they play and immediately tells the owners how bad their sound system sounds and how poorly it’s wired. He then proceeds to gut their wiring and reconfigure their equipment (usually without permission). I know this boils the club owners’ blood. BUT – This particular manager is a significantly talented engineer and has an amazing ear for sound. When he finishes reworking their system the owners almost always say, “Wow! It has never sounded this good before.” The production manager never apologizes.

Here’s the deal, I’m not telling you to be a jerk when you work, but when the work you do speaks for itself, you’ll never have to qualify or apologize for the way you do it.

Finish the work you start. Don’t turn in your work with a side order of excuses – Just turn in something amazing. Don’t expect people to see the diamonds in the rough – Just be a diamond. Don’t let people say you have potential – go ahead and realize it. Don’t just “get by,” HUSTLE!

Do great work.

Easter check list

Posted in Uncategorized on April 21, 2011 by mattywayne1

Here’s what’s running through my mind right now…

Absolute must. Make sure all my campuses have batteries.

Foamies! Make sure the campus bands have enough in-ear foams sleeves.

New drum heads – seated and tuned!

Get Blake Bergstrom a ballin’ new headset mic so he can be as cool as Pete Wilson.

Verify the bands are ready to rawk at all campuses!

Verify everyone involved knows all the call times for bands and production…

Double check the audio feed to the satellite campuses.

Verify that numbers charts line up with click tracks and count ins.

Change strings

Find time to sit down and actually practice the songs for the Easter set.

This list should definitely include…

Prayers for Sunday. Prayers for Pete, for worship leaders, band leaders, drummers, keyboard dudes, guitar guys, singers, bass players, sound guys, and every last person involved in the program.

Prayers for every person that walks in the door, every person who hesitantly decides to visit, that they will actually see and hear the inspired story of God’s love that can make a difference right now in this very moment of their lives.

If you’re helping out at church this Easter in any capacity, what do you have left to do?