Archives For Andrew Stanley

Part 3 of 3 in the series Freedom Within Structure

Blueprint Blog

Finally, let’s get into the details of how I find freedom within structure.

I had this conversation with my band at rehearsal on Tuesday: “So, this Sunday is communion Sunday. We normally have a little bit of flexibility within our service times (our lead pastor and I give and take time from each other every week), but when it comes to communion, we pretty much need to be scheduled to the second.

Do you remember me talking about that church in Texas that schedules their services so tightly because every minute they go over affects the whole city? Well, every minute I go over with my music set on communion Sunday is a minute less the tear down teams have to clear out at the end of the service; it’s a minute closer to the time that movies start in those same theatres. We need to hit our times and it needs to be precise.

So, how do I take my 9 minutes, ensure I land the set to the second (or close to it), and yet still make it feel like we’re not rushing through to a clock?  Continue Reading…

Part 2 of 3 in the series Freedom Within Structure

Forest

You’ve heard it said, “you can never lead someone somewhere that you’re not going yourself.”

Let me paint you a picture.
Imagine with me for a minute that you were out for a walk one day. You saw beauty in creation that you had never seen before. God was showing you life in things you had never seen – things you had never known about Himself! Colour was bursting to life right before your eyes! Really, imagine yourself in that moment of awe with me for a minute.

You would head back home and you would be a changed person! You would live life differently and you would be in awe of even the smallest things around you through the rest of your day or week.

Chances are, at some point you would be so excited about this experience that you wouldn’t be able to keep it to yourself. You would want to bring some friends on this walk with you. So, you all strap up your hiking boots and you’re off to show your friends the beauty and glory of God that you had just experienced.

You head back into the woods with your friends and God’s beauty is overwhelming you once again. In your excitement and passion you dive into an even deeper place of awe between you and God! Eventually, you get back home again and turn around to discover that your friends aren’t arriving home with you. In fact, your friends had lost you long ago when you were deep in your own experience back in the woods. Continue Reading…

Part 1 of 3 in the series Freedom Within Structure

Timing

I have found that there is a spectrum of stylistic approaches to worship leading between two polar opposite ideas:

(1) “I don’t know how we’re going to do each song, I don’t even know what songs we’re going to sing, but I do know that when I get on stage, the Spirit will lead us. It’ll be awesome and God will be glorified!”

(2) “I know the songs we’re singing, I can tell you exactly how we’re going to do them, I could even tell you (to the second) how long the entire set is going to be. It’ll be awesome and God will be glorified!”

I haven’t met many people that solely live on one pole or the other.  I would also say that many of us wouldn’t find ourselves at the same point along the spectrum every single Sunday. Sometimes, our sets feel like they’ve locked into a groove and we feel GREAT about knowing exactly where we’re going to go. But the very next week, we could find ourselves hitting a wall within our planning and we come to a place where we know we just have to read the moment when the moment comes and move forward with flexibility.

I’ll be honest, I am one that leans more towards knowing where things are going to go over starting a set unsure where we’re going to finish. In fact, the unknown freaks me out so much that I don’t sleep on Saturday night if I have a set that lies more in the unknown than the planned and practiced.

We’re starting a series that is going to talk about finding freedom within structure. Continue Reading…

10 Things

When I’m up on stage, there are a few things that I wish I could just stop and say … but have never had the guts to:

10 – I’m probably going to forget the words at times … To “cover it up”, I’ll sometimes just make random vowel sounds until I realize what I’m supposed to be singing again.

9 – We’re probably not going to sound like those guys that you were listening to in your car on the way to church You’ll have to wait till that band tours through town to hear them.  But even then, you’re listening to a produced album (even if the album is “live”), we’re giving you the “non-overdubbed, not singing to tracks” version of these songs.

8 – When I back away from the microphone, sometimes its because I’m leaving a space for everyone to sing together … Other times its because I have to burp and I don’t want to rip it into the microphone.

7 – I know it’s the weekend and I know it’s morning, but chances are, I was up earlier than you today, so let’s all try to wake up a bit. I think we should all agree right now that what we’re doing is more important than the coffee you’re holding.

6 – There’s more to what we’re singing than just a list of songs. Have you ever realized that the songs we sing are actually thematically building on one another?  That maybe there’s a reason why we had everyone shouting out “How Great Thou Art!” only AFTER we sang about God as the creator of the universe?  When you tune out for a minute during the musical worship set, you might miss out on a truth about God that we’re going to be responding to in a couple minutes.

5 – I’m not here to perform for you.  I’m here to sing WITH you.  We don’t need the show to worship our God together in this way!  (If you’ve missed the conversations over production levels during weekend services, you can check it out here)

4 – I’m not intentionally doing “those things” so that I can receive “those e-mails” on Sunday afternoon (If you’ve been in ministry long enough, you know what I mean). We’re likely trying to accomplish the same goal. We might just be taking a different approach towards that destination.  We’re on the same team.

3 – Even though we can’t make you show up on time, musical worship is not viewed as optional around here.  For those who prefer the teaching over the music, hopefully you realize that there is the huge potential for teaching moments within the music set and the songs we’re singing. You may not feel comfortable joining in this way that may seem weird by our culture’s standards, but really, we’re declaring with our voices, out loud, that we are not God, He is Great, and we submit to His leadership today and forever.  Of COURSE it’s uncomfortable …

2 – When you’re walking in late, talking with others, or even just reading your program, you’re distracting more people than just yourself.  Those who are trying to engage might be pulled out of the moment by hearing your conversation or seeing you walk across the front of the room.

1 – It’s not my job to prepare your heart.  I’ve heard and have even agreed in the past with the statement that Sunday mornings are a glass of fresh water to take in to refresh you and energize you for a week.  Then we come back again the next Sunday to be filled up to be sent out again.  I don’t necessarily agree with this statement anymore.  Instead, I would be in the camp that says our hearts should be so full of joy and excitement for what God did in, through and around us all throughout the week that our Sunday mornings are a community celebration of joy over the goodness of God!  If you haven’t thought twice about what God is up to in your own life before walking in on Sunday morning, than chances are, you might not “feel” it by the end of the 15-20 minutes that I’ve got with you.

Continue Reading…

July 7 Header

As I’ve mentioned recently, one of the most common conversations I have with other leaders is on the topic of transitions and flow through worship sets. I’ve written to this topic a couple times, but thought that perhaps just walking through my train of thought behind a set list that I’ve led could be a practical application for what I’ve been writing about.

Sunday, July 7th (2013):
How Great Thou Art (B) – Paul Baloche verison
King of Wonders (B) – Matt Redman, and about 30 others …
I Will Exalt You (B) – Brooke Ligertwood
In Christ Alone (E) – Kristian Stanfill arrangement

I started off the set with a very quick ‘Good morning’.  I try to give a brief explanation every Sunday about what we’re doing and why — we have visitors that come through every week and we want them to understand why we’re doing something that may seem so strange. And let’s be honest, even those of us who have been involved in worship services for years need that kick in the butt on a regular basis. I believe our worship is completely out of a response to a revelation of God, so what I say needs to point people in the direction of a revelation that they’re responding to.

I believe our worship is completely out of a response to a revelation of God …

This particular week, I knew that Isaiah 40 said what I wanted to say much better than I could have ever said it, so I read that as the band started to build into the first song. I’ve said it before — if scripture can say what you’re trying to say, 10 times out of 10 it’s better to stop talking yourself and just read scripture!!

Continue Reading…

Transitions, Flow & U2

Andrew Stanley —  June 20, 2013 — 1 Comment

bono header

Their main set was over.  Any one of the over 50,000 people in the Rogers Center would have said they got their money’s worth.  But the show went on … 1st encore, expected … 2nd encore, wow! … 3rd encore, only U2!

And for those of you expecting me to say I was at the Taylor Swift concert the other night, you’re way off.

Anyways, my point … the band walks out for one of the encores to the voice of Desmond Tutu preaching about love and unity, and Bono begins to belt out Amazing Grace.  Just him and a guitar.  Sure enough, in a matter of seconds the entire stadium has joined in. Who knew this many people knew the words to Amazing Grace!? Who knew people could sing this loud!? (no reference to Sunday mornings intended …) Continue Reading…

Just Header

I just want to just post just on a specific just aspect of just speaking normally just while just on stage.

There is an epidemic that has swept through the church and it has found a home in those who speak into microphones – typically in those who pray into microphones. Since when did the word “just” become so common in our everyday language?  Have you noticed this?

I know I have been in services where I didn’t have enough fingers to count the number of times the word “just” was said by the person upfront (I have been guilty of this too …).

The grammatically correct folk are thinking, “What he said didn’t make sense.”
The rest are thinking, “Wow, he said that word a lot …”

In either case, no one was listening to what you were trying to say.  They were distracted by the way you said it.

Stop overusing the word “Just”.
In fact, try to avoid it all together.

Hey, let’s just stand up.” — Really?  Is that all you’re asking them to do?
Let’s just take a second and pray.” — There’s power in prayer. I wouldn’t say it’s “just” praying.
Let’s just sing that one more time.” — “Let’s sing that one more time,” works well instead.

If you spend the time planning what you’re going to say and practice it as much as you practice the music (if not more), the word “just” won’t creep into your sentences so much.  To me, the number of times the word “just” is used in one’s speaking often reflects the amount of time they spent preparing what they were going to say.

Listen for it the next time you’re speaking in public — you might be surprised at how often you’re actually using that 4-letter word.

SIDE NOTE: Don’t get me started on overusing the name of God in prayers. I might post about that one day, but until then, watch out for that too. You don’t have to say His name 10 times in one sentence – He already knows you’re talking to Him.

Blog Header - Lights Out

Date: Sunday, May 12, 2013
Location: Oakville Site at The Meeting House
Time: 9:30am service

One of the most common conversations I have with worship leaders across our sites is how to eliminate as many distractions as possible to allow for a clear opportunity for people to worship our God together in community.  Sometimes, the “distractions” come whether we like it or not.

We kicked off the 2nd service on a fairly energetic note — full band dropped in at 0:00 on the clock leaving me no time to say anything but, “Hey, let’s stand up and sing together” … and we’re off.

I immediately regretted this “strategic planning decision” to start without saying anything because I couldn’t shake the feeling that this group needed a bit of refocusing to get into the zone.  As I’m leading through the first song, the back of my mind is fast forwarding through the planned-to-the-second set, trying to find a window of opportunity to say something that might bring us all onto the same page … I couldn’t find it.

We had transitions planned that flowed seamlessly, so without pulling the plug on the whole thing and throwing my team for a loop I decided it was best to play this one out, lead well, drop a little prayer between the first couple of songs and see what God does through it.

Three songs in, the “refocusing” came in the form of a loud pop through the sound system, projectors going black, the house and stage lights going black and the emergency lights turning on … the power to the whole building cut out.

… I guess we’re now going acoustic! Continue Reading…

Flow Header

A Set List …
It can flow places you never thought it would go.
It can be just as much of a teaching moment as the message or sermon.
It can grab the attention of even the hardest of hearts.
It can determine what people are thinking about when they leave their seat.
It can make or break the flow in the service.
It can be a determining factor of whether or not someone comes back next week.

Am I putting too much emphasis on the proper development of a set list? I don’t think so.
Even the best leadership of a bad set can leave a mediocre impression.

We need to be intentional when we’re planning sets. Sometimes, they come together with ease. Sometimes, you may feel like you could have grabbed two random songs with your eyes closed, bashed them together and it would have flowed better than what you had spent two weeks planning.

I think one of the most important approaches to choosing a set list is to determine a common theme throughout the entire set. I know this may sound obvious, but we all need the reminder. Continue Reading…

Palm 71 Header

(This is just a quick update on where I’ve been and some thoughts that you can be expecting from me over the next little while)

It’s been a few weeks since I have contributed anything on here. I’ve actually been out of the office to be with my family as we said our final goodbyes to my dad who has been on a journey through cancer for the past number of years.

I had lots of time to think. Lots of time to consider what it means to worship as we sang together by his bed. I’m wrestling with the reality of the separation of our souls from our physical bodies, and what that means now for a man who loves God and is able to worship Him in his actual presence.

I believe the foundation of my understanding of worship has been shaken and strengthened in this season. I’m excited to be in dialogue about this with you all as we press on to worship our God as best we can in our physical bodies.