This weekend was beautiful. We implemented a few new things, and their benefit was felt immediately. We also had some late-notice band cancellations, but we had people step up and help out. We expected some difficulties, and there were very few to speak of. Beyond that, Joe’s message was on our blessed hope of eternity with God through Jesus Christ. It was a beautiful thing.

Here’s our set from this weekend:

“I’ll Fly Away” (G) [Albert E. Brumley]
Call to Worship – Psalm 98:1-2
“Glory to God Forever” (A) [Steve Fee and Vicky Beeching]
Welcome/Announcements/Offering/Greeting
“Forever Reign” (Ab) [Jason Ingram and Reuben Morgan]
“Jesus Messiah” (Ab) [Daniel Carson, Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, and Jesse Reeves]
Message – “I Believe: God Restores” [Joe Hishmeh]
Communion Song – “Beautiful” (D) [Phil Wickham]
Closing Song – “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” (Eb) [John Newton, Chris Tomlin, and Louie Giglio]

The main new implementation this weekend was the Aviom in-ear monitoring (IEM) system. It was something I was very familiar with in other situations, but was completely new to most of our team here at Fellowship. Setup was relatively painless, and we were done with rehearsal much earlier than we thought we would be. Everybody got the hang of it pretty quickly, and were hearing the things they wanted to hear (with a small exception – the keys which put out a very low-gain signal). My in-ears were much clearer because of the Avioms, and it was easier for me to hear some instruments that I hadn’t been able to hear clearly without dominating the rest of the in-ear mix, such as the bass guitar. It made this weekend particularly enjoyable.

Another new implementation was the click-track. I hadn’t planned on using it in the services–only for rehearsal to start getting used to the idea–but our drummer, Aaron, went for it, and we were so much tighter because of it. Click-track is one quick way to tighten your band up, because everyone is working from the same point of reference, and it removes tempo battles or the feeling that anyone has of carrying the rhythm and pace of the song. The problem many have with it is that it can dominate your thinking and you feel like a slave to the click. That is why I planned on using it for rehearsal, but not for the services. I didn’t want it to affect the services negatively. Over time, the click becomes less of a driving force, and more of a reference in your ears. It is interesting how it fades into the background over time, and you listen past it, in a way. We got to that point quicker than I expected, and I loved it. We have an awesome team here at Fellowship, and they step up to challenges in a major way.

This was the first time we tried Brumley’s “I’ll Fly Away,” which was fitting for the message this week. It was a fun way to begin the service. Our bassist this week, Ben, learned a great deal early in his playing from a mariachi musician, so he was right at home with the walking bass lines (a little-known bit of trivia there). Our electric guitarist was playing a Line 6 Variax, and switched it to a banjo setting, and it was pretty convincing. In all, I think it was a win, and we had fun doing it. I don’t imagine it was what anyone expected as they walked in this week…

After the call to worship, we went to “Glory to God Forever,” which is a really solid declaration of worship, and has a great statement of commitment to the Lord: “Take my life and let it be/ All for You and for Your glory/ Take my life and let it be Yours.” Instead of returning to the chorus at the end of the song, we return to this bridge, because this is the thought I want us to take away from this song. May we all lay our lives down for God’s glory and for His kingdom, no matter the cost. The only thing I would have changed would have been the tempo of the song, for which we set the click a little slower, and felt like it could have been faster. We changed it for the last service, and it made a big difference.

After the greeting time, we moved to “Forever Reign” and “Jesus Messiah.” “Forever Reign” is a song that Fellowship has done for a while, but it is new to me, as I mentioned last week. Jason Ingram and Reuben Morgan, two fantastic songwriters, co-wrote, and it does a great job of pairing our present hope in Christ for this life with our future hope of His eternal reign. I love how it ties it all together in a simple, singable way. I especially love the bridge: “My heart will sing/ No other name/ Jesus, Jesus.” This is another song we ended up increasing tempo on in the last service, which I wish we would have done earlier.

We wrapped the message with a time of communion, where we sang Phil Wickham’s Beautiful.” I do not know of many songs that tie creation, Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, and eternity in heaven together like this song does. The last verse sings, “When we arrive at eternity’s shore/ Where death is just a memory and tears are no more/ We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring/ Your bride will come together and we’ll sing/ You’re beautiful.” This verse helps us set our minds on heaven and gives us hope. I never get tired of singing this song. Our treatment of the song was a little more reflective than what is normal for me because of the communion time. I liked how it linked the time of communion with the message on eternity, just as Paul pointed out when he taught about the Lord’s Supper: “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26).

We then closed with “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone),” which was a fitting finish to the service, as we celebrated our redemption in Christ, and the promise that we have in Him of life together forever. The last verse sings, “The earth shall soon dissolve like snow/ The sun forbear to shine/ But God, who called me here below,/ Will be forever mine.” This is one of Newton’s original verses, which were later changed to those that are more well-known. I think the original does a better job of relating our redemption to our hope in Jesus Christ, and it worked really well to set our eyes heavenward while remembering our redemption in Jesus, as we set out into our world.

It was a really enjoyable weekend, and I was on a high throughout. The combination of the message of eternal hope and the musical worship successes were really encouraging, and I am more excited than ever about where we are heading as a church, generally, and as a worship team, specifically. God is so good.

I hope you had a great time of worship wherever you were. Check out The Worship Community’s Sunday Set Lists to see what other leaders and churches experienced this week in worship.

In the Son,

Bill

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