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Your Grace is Enough-old

Yes, it's really that easy!

 

Song credits

Sung by: Catherine Claret Harry

Written by: Gangai Victor

Composed by: Gangai Victor & Robert Martin

Music direction, arrangements, mixing and mastering: Gerard Joseph

Hope the song helps you in your worship, let me know what you think in the comments.

Free Worship Song: Your Grace is Enough

By Gangai Victor →

worship-songwriting

For a worship songwriter, few things are more frightening than playing a song publicly... for the first time.

"What if it crash lands the worship?", "what if they hate it?", "what if they don't sing along?", "what if..." are only some of the inner questions that we struggle with, right?

Trust me, introducing a song before it's fully ready is quite the heartbreaking mistake!

Developing a very thick skin to withstand the holes that others could poke into our works of art is essential for any creative artist. That apart, here are some effective measures to get our songs 'public worship' ready before introducing them on stage.

5 Surefire Steps to Safely Introduce Your Own Worship Songs

 

Step 1: Be sure of the song's purpose

Is the song a secret prayer to the Lord? Is it meant to be sung in public at all? I mean, not all worship songs are strictly public church songs, right? If it's not meant for a congregation and it's written solely to express your heart personally to the Lord, the song has already achieved its purpose.

Step 2: The personal test

If you're sure the song is meant for congregational worship, create a rough recording of it. Hook a mic to your PC and record it with a piano or acoustic guitar. If that's too complex for you, use any voice recording app on your smartphone.

Listen to the mock recording yourself. No matter how good you think the song is, hearing a recording of it always helps to notice flaws and tweaks that we otherwise tend to miss.

Now, give it a break and listen to it again on a weekly or fortnightly basis. Do this 3 or 4 times and make those adjustments that you identify.

If you still like the song, you're ready for the next step. Else, go back to the drawing board, and rewrite and/or recompose!

Step 3: The peer group test

Play your song to a trusted group of friends who understand your art—people who are worship leaders, songwriters or musicians themselves and ask for their honest feedback. Oh and be sure to put on the armor of thick skin before you ask them!

Listen to their views impassively—while you don't have to agree with everything they say—listen carefully—you will get useful points of improvement. Also, pay attention to a suggestion, especially if it comes from more than one person.

Make changes to your song if required and repeat steps 2 and 3 until there is some kind of a consensus that the song is a good one.

Step 4: The non-musician test

By now, you should have sorted out any musical and technical flaws at least, which is great but still not enough.

It's also important to estimate what someone in the congregation would think of your song.  So play it for a non-musician friend to get what I call "qualitative" feedback—you know, things like "It doesn't speak to my heart" or "I don't get it, what's it about again?" and so on.

If the song makes a positive impression on the non-musician, you're on to something!

Else, the song is probably still not ready and needs more work. 

Step 5: Playing it live

Now it's time to include your song in your next worship set-list and see how it goes in the real world of congregational worship.

If you've followed the previous 4 steps diligently, your song should work out well with your congregation. You would also be a lot more convinced about the song yourself and be confident of playing it live. Take time to teach it, reprise it at the end of the meeting/service, use it again in the next few weeks and then gauge its effectiveness in church worship.

What's next

All of the above steps are useful to get your song truly ready, if you're planning to record a proper demo of your song too. Otherwise you might end up burning the song and your money!

If you're an independent artist, a song that's come through these steps would be a great choice for your next recording project. If you hold a recording contract, then your publisher would also be happier with songs that have been tested and found effective.

As a songwriter, don't rush this process and kill your song—patience always leads to better songs!

Hope you found these tips useful. How have you introduced yours songs to your congregation? Why not share your top tips in the comments?

Image: http://pixabay.com/

5 Foolproof Steps to Introduce Your Own Worship Songs to the World

By Gangai Victor →

conflict-votivepraise

The best worship teams don’t need to have the best musical or vocal talent.

But they undoubtedly need to have the best of relationships within.

Anointed worship teams are more often than not made up of people who genuinely like each other, regard each other positively, encourage each other, and treat each other fairly. It’s not too difficult to understand that it’s probably because in God’s eyes, it’s wonderful and beautiful “when brothers and sisters get along!” (Psalm 133:1, MSG).

In fact, God loves it so much when His people get along that He “commands the blessing” (Psalm 133:3 MSG) when we manage to!

One of the best things we can do as a worship team, when there are struggles to get along with each other is to check our attitudes—most of the time, that’s where the challenge lies!

So let’s look at some attitudes that we need to be avoiding to build, and maintain excellent worship teams

4 Harmful Attitudes That Spoil Relationships in a Team

 

I am the best

Musically, maybe that’s true—in any team, some musicians will of course possess greater skills than others. But, that’s no reason to rub it in all the time sporting an I-am-better-than-you attitude.

And, it need not be confined to musical skills alone. We can also express things like “I pray longer, so I am more spiritual”, “I can quote more scripture, so I am holier”, “I am a full-time worship leader, you’re not, so I am more anointed”, and so on.

Remember the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14? At times, we can tend to be like that Pharisee putting others down, and raising ourselves up. God didn’t like it then and hasn’t changed His opinion since.

You need to change, not me

Remember those times when we listened to a sermon thinking, “I hope _______ (insert team member name) is listening to this point and understands it’s for him/her!”

We love to see others change, but we just cannot see it as easily when we need to. “It applies to others, not me” is not an attitude that helps the team in any way! Many a time, we need to be the change to bring about transformation in our ministry.

I am never wrong

It’s impossible for anyone to be right… all of the time! Though we know that no one is perfect, we find it so hard to acknowledge to others when we are wrong, right?

But guess what, the people in any team who command more respect, are those who are willing to admit it when they are in the wrong.

I don’t need you

“For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn't be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, "Get lost; I don't need you "? Or, Head telling Foot," You're fired; your job has been phased out "?” (1 Corinthians 12:21-24 MSG)

Need I say more? This is a brilliant Bible verse to apply to our worship teams! Let’s remember that none of us have the right to say to a person in our team that he/she is not needed—it’s probably one of the worst attitudes that we can carry!

So let’s stop grousing that our guitarist is not like Lincoln Brewster; or our drummer is not like Carl Albrecht. Instead, let’s aspire for contentment with those that we have been blessed with, and joyfully look forward to growing together in unity and harmony.

When there is mutual respect and bonding within the team, the payoff for everyone including our church is multi-dimensional—we will be well able to tune into the heart of our God; our rehearsals will be pleasant, and productive; our ministering will be blessed; our congregations will better connect through our authenticity; our relationships will be deeper than just a “ministry colleagues” level; and more!

Mother Teresa once said that a family that prays together stays together—it’s no different for a worship team! Let’s worship together, stay together, and edify the Body of Christ.

While some of these are picked up from personal experience, I’ve learnt more by listening to others—so I am keen on hearing from you. Do you agree that better relationships lead to better ministry among other things? From your experiences, can you share what else can negatively affect relationships in a worship band?

Image: http://pixabay.com/

4 Attitudes That Mess Up Team Spirit and Ruin Relationships

By Gangai Victor →

vickybeeching

Celebrity controversies are all over the Christian Fifth estate, right?

While Gungor's view on the Bible is an opinion and Driscoll's issues will go down as one man's craziness, Vicky Beeching's coming out story is different—it's a controversy on steroids and is more likely to affect the church at large (if it already hasn't that is!).

In fact, her saga has somewhat been akin to the recent Miley Cyrus circus with more or less similar results: intensely polarized reactions and opinions accompanied by truckloads of publicity. If Vicky writes a book now, I bet it will be a New York Times bestseller!

So Why is This Topic Catching Fire?

Maybe because it rocks the very concept of 'family'. Since it's family that shapes 'community' and the church is basically a community of worshipers, a shift in how we define family is bound to affect our worship.

And btw, this isn’t a post about whether Vicky Beeching is prophetic or heretic—I continue to respect her as a person, Christian and artist.

I'm posting my 2 cents 'cos I believe this topic is worth discussing. Though the challenge is in taking it on without judging/hurting/offending anyone, I'm going to try here.

How Did We Get Here?

The more I think about it, the more I believe that we have changed the way we accept scripture. Instead of studying it to understand what it teaches, we'd rather feel/believe something first and then look for verses to convince ourselves that that's what the Bible really says. Our fancy is more in what Scripture means to us than in what it actually means.

This self-centered approach is a clear and present danger to any Christian belief because ultimately, what's socially popular becomes truth. Instead of the church evangelizing society, the opposite is becoming the norm—society is deciding and lobbying for what Christianity should believe and teach... and successfully too in many cases, this subject being a prime example!

While a largely anti-Christian media and a confident pro-LGBT lobby are exploiting each other for their respective agendas, the collective voice of regular churches is being grossly undermined. We’re at a point where traditional Christians are facing an ultimatum of sorts: accept LGBT marriage or endure a variety of labels—like Obsolete. Judgmental. Uncharitable. Loveless. Graceless. Bigot.

But Why Can't the Bible Settle it?

'Cos appeals to Bible verses on this topic  lead to predictable debates like this:

  • Traditional Christian: See? In Romans 1:24-32, Paul has clearly taught that this is a grave sin!
  • Pro LGBT Christian: Of course not! If you see the context of those verses, you'll understand Paul was condemning idolatry, not homosexuality!
  • Traditional Christian: Really? Then let's apply the same context to the entire set of verses and declare wickedness, evil, greed, gossip, slanderer, hating God, etc. as also not sin. You can't have it both ways!
  • Pro LGBT Christian:  No, can't you understand that David was a man after God's heart, but was in a same-gender relationship with Jonathan?
  • Traditional Christian:  Oh yeah? David was gay? How do you explain Bathsheba...

...and so on! The absence of an acceptable authority (I mean in the non-Catholic world) to decide who is right/wrong ensures the Bible is effectively rendered inconclusive and powerless.

The Slippery Slope

A typical 'coming out' story of a Christian goes something like this:

  • I realized I was different when I was 'x' years old
  • Traditional Christian teaching made me feel awful and ashamed about myself
  • I sought help and no prayer changed me
  • God must have made me this way, therefore I am normal
  • Why can't the church just accept me as I am and love me (love = accepting same-sex marriage)

But, same-sex attraction is not the only variation in human sexuality, right? A pedophile could also 'come out' with the exact same story. Ditto for a zoophile. Pedophilia is not mentioned directly in the Bible while zoophilia is not touched upon in the New Testament. So logically we could (not saying we should) make a stronger case for them than LGBT marriage.

If the church is to love all non-straight people just like how it's being compelled to love LGBTs, won't we go down a very slippery slope? Like child marriage with an adult? Or humans with animals? Not to mention others with a bone in this fight—polygamy anyone?

While the can of worms is well and truly open, it's likely that heterosexuality vs. homosexuality discussions are just the tip of a massive iceberg. In time, the ring will probably widen to lobby for all other kinds of sexual relationship preferences. You think that's impossible? Well, 50 years ago, people thought so about same-sex relationships and yet here we are!

Should/will we ever draw a line? If yes, where? And who decides?

The Way Forward

Please, let's not hate, judge and cloud ourselves with intolerance—we already have too many walls! Disagreeing people need not be enemies. See the example of Pope Francis apologizing to the World Evangelical Alliance and its return apology by Rev. Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe. That's a great example of how we should be behaving.

Let's put on the mind of Christ, talk, discuss, exchange thoughts, reach out and pray for God's Kingdom and His will.

  • To the shocked and the outraged: calm down, the church has seen far worse—Christ will always see us through
  • To the angry and the disgusted : please show respect for people with differing thoughts/beliefs/struggles—hear them out and reach out with love
  • To the disappointed and the sad: please make Christ your role model/hero and you won't be
  • To everyone: Let's pray for each other that the Holy Spirit may lead us to His Truth and His light
 
So how has this topic made you feel and think? How can we handle controversial subjects like same-gender relationships in a Christ-like manner without causing hurt and offense? Will this impact our worship? Why don't you leave a comment and share your thoughts?

The Challenge of Vicky Beeching and Diverse Sexual Preferences

By Gangai Victor →

worship-questions

Experience teaches us loads of stuff that can rarely be learnt from any other source. However, experience also brings with it the curse of going through the motions.

I mean, we've led worship so many times that now, we are able to do it with our eyes closed (pun intended!) now, right?

Have you been there? If you have, then you know the fallout of reaching this point: stale worship that bores us and the congregation!

In this post, let's look at 3 questions, which I believe could help refresh us and gain new focus in our worship.

3 Questions for Reflection That Could Transform How You Lead Worship

 

1. Are You self-indulgent?

Check the content of what you're speaking—is it full of 'I-me-myself' stuff? If it is, you're turning people off more than you realize!

Here's the thing about effecting pastoring: If we want people to be interested in us and our ministry, we need to be interested in the Lord and His people first.

Speak about the Lord and His works more and you will see people responding better. Be a caring pastor who exalts the Lord and engages His people than a self-indulgent bore who punctuates every word and sentence with the "I" pronoun.

2. Are You a Clone?

Don't get me wrong, imitation is a good thing—though it depends on who we are imitating!

But, maybe you're attending way too many conferences and trying to implement everyone else's methods but yours... maybe you're spending disproportionate amount of time with your guitar than with the Lord... maybe you hero-worship Redman, Baloche, Tomlin, Brewster, Houghton and want to be like them so much that you've become a clone of them and lost yourself in the process.

The Lord wants YOU leading worship the way YOU lead worship just as much as he prefers Redman leading worship like Redman.

So, if you've been over-influenced by someone else, turn around now and be your unique self—even while implementing the good things we learn from others.

3. How Deep Are You?

Do you pray daily? Read/study the Bible, spiritual books regularly? Invest in training yourself and your team?

Or are you one of those mediocre worship leaders happily swimming in shallow waters? Do you pick songs that have solid meat to feed your congregation or are you satisfied with any catchy tune out there?

In the long run, people always respect and connect better with depth—not superficiality.

Do you agree? How else do you think we can maintain a God-focused worship ministry? Feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Image: http://pixabay.com/

3 Critical Questions That Could Change the Way You Lead Worship

By Gangai Victor →