Archive for the 'General' Category

05
Jan
12

Fix Your Eyes on Jesus

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!  –Isaiah 26:3, NLT

Everyday, every minute is an opportunity to fix our eyes on Jesus!  Do we struggle with this fixation?  Did we go all day shopping for Christmas and never ask God for help?  Do we go thru the day at work and never talk to God about blessing others, healing others, needing patience to deal with others, needing guidance on a particular task, wanting direction for a need, asking for blessings on those who are angry?

Fix our eyes on Jesus.  An idea that may help with “fixing our eyes” is to focus on a verse for the day or/and a song for the day. Make the words to a song personal – a prayer – just between me and our Savior:

Joy To The World the Lord is come,

Let me receive you as king.

Let my tiny heart

make room for You,

and heav’n and my heart sing,

and heav’n and my heart praise,

and heav’n and heav’n and insert your name sing.

Post by Valerie Johnson, CBC Choral Librarian & Amplify Band Admin.

28
Jul
10

Operation: Organization

It’s a whirlwind of a summer. We’ve just finished a wonderfully successful VBS and are currently knee-deep in Kids Choir registration. With 169 kids age 4-12 currently signed up, we are about 25% of the way toward our totals from last year. It is amazing and humbling to realize that 169 people gathering to worship is a CHURCH and not a children’s program in so many places. It truly is such a blessing to be a part of training and molding the next generation of worshippers.

At this point, we have essentially turned our back on the summer and are in full-on preparation for the fall. For me, that means operating in two modes – creative and logistical. I used up most of my time for creativity early this summer while creating curriculum, choosing songs & t-shirt designs, and generally developing the year for the first & second grade choir. I have moments of that now in tweaking what’s been done; but primarily, my focus is hammering out the twelve million details that arise in the course of preparing for a new Kids Choir year. And as tedious as some of those first-step, organizational tasks may be, it is the backbone for creating an effective and growing program. When parents are confused and frustrated, you may never see their children again.

Here are a few day-to-day practical tips that allow functionality:

1. Take advantage of technology. A few years ago, we moved our registration process online. I had to learn the rather persnickety details of our database (we use Fellowship One). It was not always easy, it does not always serve every purpose we’d like it to. But I keep at it and keep learning so that we can take advantage of what is a huge time-saver in the long run. From that one form, they are automatically given a class assignment and added to the overall roster. We’ve collected their t-shirt size, found out about their interest in auditioning for solos or dance, received their parent’s consent to photograph them, AND collected the registration payment. And I can run a spreadsheet with a few simple clicks to sort through all of those categories. It’s amazing and I love it. And yes, you will run into opposition by those who remember the way “you’ve always done things.” Yes, you will have to sometimes figuratively walk through the steps with a parent over the phone, or literally as you stand behind them at a church computer. But they will adapt and you will save time and energy. Don’t have a similarly equipped database? No worries – there are so many advances in technology now. Reach out and grab them. Challenge yourself to learn one new thing this year, even if it’s as simple as how to promote your group on Facebook or Twitter.

2. Separate those creative and logistical days out. As a friend and I recently discussed, it is a misguided notion that multi-tasking is necessary to get work done. My brain works so much better when focused on a task until completion. I have creative days and task-centric days. Do I work on a lot of things throughout the day – sometimes simultaneously? Absolutely. But I balance my workload so I can focus on similar things at the same time. Know yourself and your abilities.

3. Be personal. When I have 15-20 emails every day wanting to know what week night we meet, it is easy to respond with WEDNESDAY and let that be it.  Remind yourself to treat the fiftieth person in the same way you treated the first. This might just be the first contact that they’ve had not only with your ministry, but with the entire church body. Make a good first impression, even through email…it will last.

4. Be prompt. Remember when I said I separate my days? Regardless of how I spend the rest of it, I make sure I spend time answering questions and following through on things I’ve said I would do in a timely manner.

5. Delegate. The only way I can possibly attempt to get everything done (and on time) is by knowing when to pass the task on. And then the hard part: not worrying about it anymore. Likewise, delegate your time. As many of you know (or have guessed), I am the sort of person who doesn’t like to say no. And sometimes I don’t have the option to do so. But one thing I’ve learned is this: be up-front with your expectations about how and when you can do whatever new thing is being thrown your way. There is no shame in saying, “yes! I’d love to take that on! It looks like I’m slamming busy for the next two weeks, but I’ll be happy to devote my full attention to XYZ the week of Septober the 45th.” It gives you the advantage of not overwhelming yourself in the immediate and the other person the courtesy of knowing when their request will be completed.

Hint: know your audience…not all tasks can be delayed. Sometimes simply saying, “sounds great – when do you anticipate getting XYZ accomplished?” will work to the same advantages.

Balance yourself and take it one task at a time.

m

10
Jul
10

Getting It Together

So many times, working in a church means that your job title describes just a fraction of what you really do. It’s the same around here. Officially, I direct the first & second grade choir and coordinate the background logistics for all three kids choirs. I also schedule the weekend praise team for adults, am the department consultant for our church database, and have recently jumped headfirst into corporate Facebook & blog design. Jack-of-all-trades. Master of some. Add to that two children and plenty of volunteer jobs, and you can just about envision the flurry of my life. Luckily, there are a few things that keep my job running smoothly and me in good mental health.

Prayer – our pastor encourages us to pray in the Spirit and I find myself in a running dialogue with God all day. And I try hard never to take for granted that I am in a position that not just allows, but encourages prayer breaks. What a blessing.

Relationship – with Christ, my family, my supervisor, my coworkers, my choir kids, and their parents. I have a driven personality and get a lot of work done when I can shut my door and push on through. But that is a lonely existence indeed. Taking the time to create relationship with those around me adds enrichment to my life and to my work. If you’re writing curriculum for seven year-olds, you’ve got to know a few personally.

Timelines – I keep several calendars. My little black book that tracks my life as a whole – t-shirt ordering to weekend service notes to PTA meetings. My Outlook calendar, which is tied to my phone and keeps me on time for meetings. And in those busy seasons, I have my task calendar in which I break down the upcoming events into manageable jobs. It may seem silly to designate a day to make a singer schedule or write three session’s worth of lesson plans, but when you get down to kick-off week and have all the little nuts and bolts ready to assemble, it leaves time for the myriad of problems that usually pop-up at the last minute.

Priorities – when you are responsible for a lot, it can be overwhelming. After you’ve handled a few seasons, you know those things that are vital to accomplish, but if you are new or at a loss about what to do first, ASK. I guarantee those few extra minutes of clarification are worth it. You don’t waste time worrying about your decision and the really important things won’t fall through the cracks.

These are a few of the self-imposed basics that keep me chugging along. I hope that in the future I can share some specific things that make the logistical and organizational parts of my job(s) even easier – especially as we all head into that busy season that we call the fall semester.

Happy planning!

06
Jul
10

Thoughts On Worship

This is a long overdue heartfelt statement on worship in the church that has been brewing in my heart for some time now. As most of you know, we spend a great deal of our time teaching, leading, writing music, and preparing for worship. God began a new work of worship in me some 26 years ago and it has been a work in progress since that day. In the beginning, people around me thought it was a stage I was going through. Now, they are probably saying that I’m just a slow learner. The truth is that I have just begun to scratch the surface of this issue and I am learning daily that it is the lifeline for every believer.

Often when this subject comes up in conversations with other pastors or worship leaders, the bulk of the verbiage is focused on the method, or the style, or the form of worship. The real issue is, and always has been, the heart of worship. When I read about worship experiences in Scripture, the issue is passion for God. I don’t see discussion about singing hymns vs. choruses. I don’t see hip praise teams with words flashed up on a screen or pipe organs and liturgy (not that either of these forms is wrong). It is amazing to me how confused we have become when the real issue of corporate worship should be: “did we meet with God or not?” Although we should strive for excellence, God is not impressed with our talent. He is only looking at our heart.

I am grateful for the new work of worship that has occurred in the modern church but I am grieved that it seems to have become an art form. When the church is judged on the slickness of their presentation and not the content of its message, we are in trouble. When worship has become a package or program and not a heartfelt, passionate pursuit of the presence of God, we have missed the point. I get calls almost every week from churches that are seeking worship leaders. After most of these conversations, I am convinced that what people are looking for is not someone who will expend themselves to bring people into the presence of God but rather a person that will bring updated worship music into their church. They have either read or have been told that growing churches have praise music, so that is what they are going to do. We have replaced the concept of seeking God and reverencing Him with great musical performance. Even if we sing the most current music, use computer generated graphics, have a great sound system, and a hot praise band we are not automatically a worshipping congregation.

A friend of mine once wrote, after a wonderful worship experience that we had both been a part of: “as we were worshipping I could not help but notice that many of the folks in the back of the room were sitting down and not even attempting to participate. When are people going to get it?”

What this person was trying to say is not, why don’t people act like I do in worship but rather why don’t people care?

This is probably preaching to the choir, but maybe it will serve as a wake-up call for those who do “get it “.

“The time is coming when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, and that time is here already. You see, the Father too is actively seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit and those who worship Him, must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

Blessings, Ray Jones

17
Jun
10

CBC Music Enters the Blogosphere

Welcome to the Community Bible Church music staff blog. We are based from San Antonio, with church plants around the South Texas area and missions all over the world. Over the last twenty years, our music department has grown in all areas and become a nationally known name in modern church music. Our sincere hope is to reach out and connect with other music leaders. We want to create a place where you can find out what is going on here in the CBC music department, and more importantly, how we are doing it. Stay tuned as we build something amazing here.




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