Daylight saving time is about to end. I know. I know. It’s a bit sad. The days are going to be shorter. We’ll be driving home from work in the dark. It can be a bit of a bummer if we let it. But I refuse to get down over setting our clocks back an hour. I refuse to hang my head and let my shoulders droop because the days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder, and the sun just isn’t staying out as long. I ask you to stand with me and look at the bright side. By turning our clocks back an hour, we are another day closer to springing them ahead. That’s right, we’ve got to think of the long game here. It’s not that we’re losing daylight. It’s that we are getting closer to the spring and summer when the days get longer and weather gets warmer. So no more slouching. Let’s get out there and use this media with passion and announce to our church that though Daylight Saving time may be ending, we are getting closer to that day when we can spring ahead again!
The pressure to be a worship leader today is intense! If someone who does not go to church started looking around at worship gatherings today, I think a general statement they could make would be that worship leaders are rock stars. I think that’s an easy assumption to make because I could make the same statement as well! But is that the goal? Is being a worship leader equal to being a rock star? I sure hope not. And Zac Hicks has a few things to say about this topic.
In Zac’s book, The Worship Pastor, Zac challenges this notion by sharing his own personal journey in this area and by digging into the Scriptures to give us a solid, biblical picture of what it means to be a worship leader. In this brief excerpt, Zac gives us a glimpse into where we should begin in our new venture into understanding what it means to be a worship leader.
Failure as the Starting Place for Worship
For the same reason, failure is the great and perpetual starting place for worship too. The worship of God begins only when the worship of ourselves ends, and acknowledgment of our failure hastens that ending. I imagine this is why hymn writer Joseph Hart (1712–68) included this verse in one of my favorite call to worship songs:
Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
is to feel your need of Him.4
What does God require of His worshipers? What is our entry ticket into wor- ship? What’s the password? It’s “I need you, God.” As C. FitzSimons Allison said, “Restlessness, uneasiness, and dissatisfaction with ourselves is the only qualifica- tion for worship.”5 We can properly look up only when we are flat on our backs. Failure leads to a life-giving shift in posture, a change from looking downward and inward to looking outward and upward. And then the very hill that we know we can’t ascend becomes the mountain on which our hope lies:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord.
– Psalm 121:1-2
It is atop that same mountain that the angel took a despondent apostle John when he was weeping over the unworthiness of the whole world. And as their eyes ascended the hill, an elder cried, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able.” And John turned, lifting up his eyes to the mountains, and saw “a Lamb, looking as though it had been slain” (Rev. 5:5–6). Atop the hill we could never ascend, the hill of Calvary, hangs the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world—the One with clean hands and a pure heart.
Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? The Lamb answers, “I.”
And suddenly, our failure is swallowed up in worship.
4. Joseph Hart, “Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy” (1759). Public Domain.
5. FitzSimons Allison, Fear, Love, and Worship (New York: Seabury, 1962), 27.
Taken from The Worship Pastor by Zac Hicks. Copyright © 2016 by Zachary M. Hicks. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.
You can get this book from Zondervan and Amazon:
Zac Hicks is Canon for Worship and Liturgy at Cathedral Church of the Advent (Birmingham, Alabama).
Using media in your service does many things. For one it can help create atmosphere’s in which we worship God. Media can also help tie thematic elements of your service together in one cohesive bundle; and that in turn helps the message stick with your congregation throughout the week. In today’s culture, what language do most people speak? To answer this question, just look around and see what people are doing. They are looking at their phone, their computer screen, movies, TV’s, etc. Our culture understands imagery, color, and motion. Good or bad is not the discussion here. We are simply trying to speak the language of the people. So whether you use this FREE media or not, I encourage you to prayerfully choose what media you can use to help solidify the point you are trying to make this weekend.
Jesus our savior, gave his life in place of ours, so that we could have a purpose in life.
We all like to have control, to be our own master, but the truth of the matter is our control only leads to death. But Jesus graciously fixed that and gives us the victory if we hand control of our lives over to Him. This thought provoking mini-movie asks the question who is in control of your life, you or God?
An interactive, crazy take on the Rock, Paper, Scissors game. Kids compete against their neighbors to try and be the last kid standing. Game starts out spoofing a yoga video and then breaks into some loud, crazy music. Game has 3 questions.
Does what we say really influence others to make a decision to follow Christ? We may never know how long it will take for our words to impact others lives. What we do know is that every conversation matters. Even those casual chats that seem to be about nothing, they matter! Every conversation you have about Jesus is important.
This motion features a beautiful orange sky with rolling clouds slowly drifting across the background. The faint glow of the sun highlights the center of the clouds. The warm hues help set a peaceful serene feeling. This is a gorgeous background to help set a calm meditative mood for any setting and is a great background for any time of the year! The Passing Clouds 7 Motion Background is part of the Passing Clouds Collection.
Austin Stone Worship, a ministry of The Austin Stone Community Church, releases its first studio album and eighth recording overall, Everflow, Nov. 17 through The Fuel Music. The 13-track album is available for pre-order beginning today at iTunes, Amazon Music and other digital retailers globally while the first single from the recording, “Singing In Victory,” will release Oct. 20.
Dedicated to serving and equipping the Church in Austin, TX and around the world with content rich in theology, mission and expression, Austin Stone Worship’s Everflow was crafted by the group’s 200-plus songwriters, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, designers and storytellers in response to themes of the book of 1 Peter.
“1 Peter is powerful and timely for today’s culture. It deals with suffering, enduring in the faith, and persevering no matter the cost,” says Austin Stone Worship Pastor Aaron Ivey. “It helps answer this question: How do we live in a world that is not our home?
“Scripture often uses the sea as an illustration of two dichotomous things: the perils of suffering, and the redeeming work of Jesus,” continues Ivey. “Both are true for believers. We may feel lost in a raging sea, but we know that God uses it to save us.”
Aiming to point listeners to the supremacy of Jesus in all things: through suffering and through redemption, Everflow intersperses instrumental “Selahs,” short pauses amidst the lyrical songs to give the listener a moment to reflect on the truths expressed in the lyrics.
For each of these instrumental pieces, Austin Stone Worship also offers poetry inspired by 1 Peter in a companion Everflow devotional to allow for reflection on who God is and what he has done. The devotional further explores the richness of the theology in each song and is meant to help worshipers understand what they are singing and why. The group’s desire with this new project is to exalt God and to be people who worship in spirit and truth.
“My hope is that Everflow will encourage believers to look to Christ through their suffering, trusting that though they are exiles in the world, they belong to Jesus and are His,” says the project’s producer, Kyle Lent. “Working on this record has forced me to look at the difficult circumstances of my life and see the movement of God even through, and perhaps especially through, those times. It’s encouraged me to see and experience the unity of the Church: that Peter’s words 2000-years-ago are still relevant and true for believers today.”
Along with the album and devotional, other practical resources for churches, such as chord charts, instructional videos and a curriculum, can be found at everflowalbum.com.
The full Everflow track listing follows:
02) Singing In The Victory
03) The Center Of It All
04) Selah: The Desert
05) Jesus Lifted High
06) All Because Of Christ
07) Selah: The Sea
08) Your Mercy
09) You Can’t Be Praised Enough
10) Selah: The Air
11) Emmanuel God With Us
12) Jesus Is Better [Studio Version]
About The Austin Stone Community Church:
The Austin Stone Community Church was established in 2002 and has grown from a small gathering of 100 to nearly 8,000 weekly attendees. The mission of the church is to exalt the name of Christ in Austin, the US and around the world, aiming to be a community who gives glory to Christ above all things and welcomes all people to join us in worshipping Him. Twelve Sunday services are held weekly at five different locations in Austin. For more information, visit www.austinstone.org.
About Austin Stone Worship:
Austin Stone Worship is a collection of worship leaders, musicians, songwriters, storytellers, and artists serving and equipping the church with content rich in theology, mission and expression. It exists to exalt the name of Jesus Christ here and now, always and forever. As a ministry of The Austin Stone Community Church, ASW is dedicated to proclaiming the beautiful gospel of Christ in their city and to the world, while challenging believers to live a fully devoted life to Jesus. They train worship leaders and artists, developing them in strong theology as well as practical skills through two-year worship leader residencies, internships, worship pastor intensives and online worship leader development. For more information, visit www.austinstoneworship.com.
About The Fuel Music:
Established in 2008, The Fuel Music & Management, LLC, is a leading artist management and artist solutions company that independently distributes music internationally. Based in Nashville, TN, the Fuel team brings nearly 70 years of combined music industry experience in record label operations, major label distribution and marketing, and artist management for artists ranging from upstart bands to GRAMMY Award nominated, multi-platinum artists. More information on the company can be found at www.thefuelmusic.com.
Over the past 20 years, Brock Gill has astounded audiences around the world with his edgy, daring, unique performances as one of this generation’s leading illusionists.
From a prime spot on Winter Jam–one of the world’s largest touring stages—to appearances on such high-profile platforms as America’s Got Talent, Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends show, the GMA Dove Awards, outreaches led by Franklin Graham and Luis Palau, and the three-hour Discovery Channel special, The Miracles of Jesus, which took him to Malta and Israel as the lead investigator of Christ’s signs and wonders, Gill has entertained the masses while sharing his passion for the gospel.
It’s been a wild ride so far, but while Gill is fulfilled by the past two decades, he’s not by any means satisfied.
“I think that it’s easy to get comfortable in life, and you can get in a rut quickly,” Gill says. “I don’t ever want to be in a rut. I’m a risk taker; I’m an adventurist. I love adventure and I love new territory and pioneering new things that have never been done before.”
This fall, he brings that pioneering spirit as the main speaker, sharing the message of salvation–as well as some mind-blowing illusions–to the first-annual Big Church Night Out Tour, an experience designed to be like a big arena church service and also featuring Newsboys, Sidewalk Prophets and more of Christian music’s top artists.
He’s also heading into new territory with the release of his first book, Feed the Dog–a devotional that reflects Gill’s strong desire to build disciples of Jesus Christ.
“A man had two dogs; the one he fed grew the biggest,” Gill says. “We have the spirit and the flesh. The one we feed is going to win, so we need to starve the flesh and feed the spirit.”
Releasing in LifeWay stores Oct. 2, Feed the Dog includes a devotional, leader’s guide and video series (complete with illusions) to take readers through seven disciplines to feed the spirit: prayer, scripture reading, fasting, solitude, worship, ministry and community.
“These disciplines have become so important to me on a personal level,” Gill said. “I realized that these are basic things that a lot of people in our culture are missing out on. I wrote it for students, but it’s really for everybody. I knew I had to get this message out there.”
Getting the message of Jesus out has been the goal from day one.
“Since I started doing this at age 22, the vision was to share the gospel in a way that would be new and fresh,” he said. “It’s always been about making the gospel known and making it clear.”
After being wowed in college by an illusionist, Gill wanted to evoke that awe in others. Over the years, his self-taught pastime of performing illusions evolved into an exciting, interactive stage show.
“The energy of the live show is electric,” Gill said. “I can see it on their faces when their eyes light up, when they experience that moment of mystery, when their mind is kind of blown. I just love that. I get chills as I watch them react.”
From grand illusions meant for arena-sized audiences like his Water Coffin escape to sleight-of-hand tricks–like pulling cards out of thin air, sleeveless–shooting arrows from the audience onto the stage to find a selected card, riding a motorcycle blindfolded, pouring endless amounts of water from jars, and transporting objects from his hands to the hands of unwitting participants from the audience — all serve as the backdrop for sharing the gospel and giving people a chance to respond.
Constant evolution and customization has been the hallmark of a Brock Gill show.
“One week I’m at a chapel service at a college, the next I’m in Haiti, and the next week I’m on tour with the Newsboys,” he said. “Every time you see my show, wherever I am, something about it is going to be unique, because we’re tailor making the material. The show is special every single time, which is one reason I never get tired of performing it.”
Gill also has tailor made his performances for a social media audience by sharing weekly illusions and devotional moments with online audiences–another new opportunity, he says, to share his methods and his message with people who’d otherwise never encounter them.
“People watch the videos and then share them with their friends, and so a lot of people who have never been to church–or would never go to church–get to see these videos,” he said. “It’s created conversations between believers and their non-believing friends about spiritual topics.”
Gill has watched as God has gradually given him a global platform, taking him and his wife, Auny, to places like Egypt, Greece, Australia, Honduras and the Dominican Republic, among others. With his nonprofit organization, Caliber Outreach, Gill has performed for Muslim refugees as well as for prisoners and the impoverished in Nicaragua.
Fresh in his mind was a recent trip to a Nicaraguan prison, which had a large number of convicted murderers. It was a dark place, he said–both spiritually and literally–as his skeptical, stone-faced audience sat silently, arms crossed. Gill scrambled to set up his show quickly.
“After one trick, immediately the atmosphere changed,” he said. “They were smiling and laughing–maybe for the first time in years. These were people at the bottom of their lives in the worst conditions possible, and the place was roaring with laughter.”
That laughter, he said, turned to tears as Gill shared a message of hope, forgiveness and grace.
“I saw these big, grown men start to cry, and they wanted to follow Jesus,” he said.
All of the successful milestones of his career pale in comparison to these kinds of eternity-shaking moments–moments he’s driven to experience over and over again.
“Nothing excites me more than seeing people come to Christ,” he said. “I love being able to tell people about Jesus this way, and I just can’t wait to see what He’s going to do next.”