Psalm 100 with “This Is A Good Day” by Gary Rea

We invite you to put on your headphones and press play on the video above and then spend time meditating with the words of the Psalm below. You may want to read the Psalm through at least twice to help let the Word of God sink deeply in. 

Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Interview with Elevation Worship

Elevation Worship2

1. Elevation church is one of the fastest growing in the country, with over 12,000 members in 7 different NC locations and multiple extension sites in North America.  Tell us your part of the story in the growth and establishment of this worship community.
I can’t believe all the things we have seen God do in our church over the last 7 years. My family came to Charlotte 5 and half years ago to be a part of Elevation and every weekend we see God move in a new and fresh way.  I am so honored to serve as the Worship Pastor of the church under the leadership of Pastor Steven Furtick. That means I oversee the teams that make the weekend worship experience happen – all the way from programming to execution. I feel like I have the best job in the world because our worship and production teams are made up of amazing people who love Jesus and love the church.  I also serve on the leadership team of the church and get to lead worship on most weekends.  It really is everything I have always prayed to be a part of, and I am extremely grateful.

2. How did Elevation Worship come together?
Ultimately, Elevation Worship is the weekly worship ministry of our church that consists of 7 staff worship leaders and over 70 vocalists and instrumentalists. Going back to the beginning though, Pastor Steven led worship and preached for the first year of the church. Myself, Mack Brock and Chris Brown all knew Pastor Steven before he started Elevation, and had each come up to lead worship on various weekends but were all headed in different directions – I was considering planting a church in Columbia, Chris was headed to Nashville and Mack was moving to LA. One day Pastor Steven was making a chord chart when he needed to be working on a sermon instead, and he got frustrated and decided to go to a lake house to pray. While praying, he felt like God said to hire me, Chris and Mack to build the worship ministry of the church. So the next day he called us all to dinner and cast the vision. We couldn’t stop thinking about what he said, and within a couple of weeks we had all changed our plans and were moving to Charlotte to become a part of the church!

3.Over your 7 years as a church, you have separated into 7 campuses. What is the purpose of spreading out to different campuses as opposed to one larger one?
We have found that as of now, this is the best way for us to reach the most people with the gospel of Jesus. That strategy could always change, but our vision is fixed, which is to see people far from God raised to life in Christ. There are challenges to any approach, but we are so grateful for the doors God has opened to open locations all over our city and now even outside of Charlotte.

4. What is the process you go through on a weekly basis to make the service happen?
Our Pastor preaches in sermon series, so we begin planning a series with him about 14 weeks out from the series. Our creative team sits down with him and asks questions to download as much as we can about all that God has placed on his heart concerning the teaching of the series. From there, we go through a couple weeks of brainstorming and eventually bring the full series programming back to our weekly meeting with Pastor Steven to get everything approved. In this process, he gives us very clear direction, but also so much creative freedom to design each worship experience in a way that not only supports the message but also speaks to the person who is far from God. We plan the worship sets as part of this process as well. Two weeks out from a weekend, all creative elements and videos are finalized and presented in that weekly meeting with Pastor Steven. Then the week before the worship experience we actually do a full run-through of the worship experience for our creative, worship and campus staff leaders so everyone can give feedback and feel fully prepared headed into the weekend.

5. Elevation church pastor Steven Furtick’s book Greater was a main influence for Elevation Worship’s new record, Nothing Is Wasted. What is your process of getting on the same page with your pastor each week for the overall direction of a service of worship?
Our worship leaders have an incredible relationship with our Pastor and feel so blessed to be under his leadership. The songs of this album were written based on his latest book, and in general, all the songs that we write are in response to what God is teaching us every single weekend through our church. One of the practical ways we get on the same page is our weekly meeting with Pastor Steven called Preview where several worship and creative staff walk through the weekend worship experience.

6. What advice would you give to those seeking closer interplay in their relationship with their pastor?
A big part of our heart as Elevation Worship is to see worship leaders embrace what God wants to do through the local church – to find a church and submit yourself to the vision of your Pastor. We believe anointing and blessing flow when we submit ourselves to spiritual authority, and that God honors those who serve joyfully in His House. So we encourage worship leaders to take the vision God has given your pastor and do everything you can to run with it and make it the best it can be. Even if you don’t like that song he wants you to do, take it and do a killer arrangement of it and sing it with a smile on your face. And don’t complain about it afterwards. Definitely find the appropriate avenues to express your opinion on how to move things forward, but when your Pastor sees you have a heart for the House, you will find that not only will you relationship grow but you will gain new freedom as well.

7. Nothing Is Wasted is an album complete of original songs that “reflect the journey, experiences, and needs of your church.”  Why is it important that local songwriters write the musical prayers of their community?
Right now we have an unofficial 50% rule. This may change at some point, but we believe there is power in leading songs written out of what God is doing in our church, and then there are great songs written outside of our local church that our people need to be exposed to and sing as well. We have found that our original songs connect in a special way when someone in our church relates the song or a lyric back to what God spoke to them during one of our sermon series. The song gives them a way to respond to something the entire church is walking through together, and helps them put words to something God may be doing in their heart but they don’t know how to express.

8. What are some tips you have for songwriters who are looking to write congregational worship songs for their communities?
One of the best things for us has been co-writing. When we first started, we would all bring in complete songs. What we quickly learned, though, is that a song is much better when we embrace the power of writing as a team. Being vulnerable enough to present an idea and then let someone else make it better is a huge step towards writing congregational songs. I feel like we are constantly learning in this area, and each album feels more unified as speak more with the voice of our church rather than the voice of an individual writer.

One additional thing would be to find ways to test out your song before you introduce it to your church. We have introduced songs before they were ready and ended up going back to do several re-writes. By the time it was done, the church was confused because they had sung 3 different versions of the song. We quickly realized it wasn’t fair to the church to be our guinea pigs and felt a greater responsibility to do the work and finish the song before we put it in the set list. 

How Lighting Can Enhance Your Place of Worship

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By Tom Murphy

A church should be a well-lit place for its worshippers. Good church lighting only enhances the environment as it is essential for different places within the building. There are three main areas that church lighting can be utilized at its best.

Where church lighting works best:
Main Stage – You more than likely have been to a concert before, even if it was held at your church. The way technicians light a concert is the same as they do for some church services. The idea is to use stage lighting to highlight areas of the stage that are used the most. When the term church lighting is used, you can identify it with other types as well such as concert and event lighting.

Choir – The choir is an area that you will see church lighting being utilized the most because the choir seems to be the main focus of any service. In order to light members, a spotlight is utilized to present them to the congregation. This light is normally placed directly overhead or on the left and right sides of them. When done correctly, the members will be the main center of focus.

Congregation – Many times the congregation requires direct church lighting. This is done through the use of recessed lighting. This lighting is unlike stage lighting and event lighting because it presents more of a softer focus onto the congregation. The reason soft lighting is utilized is so members are able to read their hymnals and able to observe the speaker when presenting the service.

A church has always been known as a center for worship, but modern day constructs of it have allowed for an expansion of the traditional type and permit for a more updated appeal with such additions as event lighting and stage lighting. This is something that is mostly overlooked by the congregation and best left to the technicians who do this type of electrical work.

With stage lighting and event lighting a church is able to do several things, such as brighten up an area for the special events that it puts on. Special event lighting adds to the environment as it creates more of a natural setting, one that members are used to. There are many things to consider when lighting these areas, such as the lighting levels that will be required and the types of fixtures needed. 

Lighting fixtures – There are only two main ways to light a church, direct and reflector flood bulbs. Direct is for areas of the church that are dark. High ceilings play a major role for direct lighting as it is used overhead to light these areas.  There are also indirect fixtures that work well off of different ceilings such as white and wood. They also feed off of low ceilings and perform the same objective as it does for high ceilings. Many times direct and indirect are used in a church for effects that balance each other.

Lighting levels - Lighting levels depend on several things, one of them being the congregation. It is ultimately up to a lighting technician to decide how it will work best. The lower the lighting the more the atmosphere is going to feel comfortable as brighter lighting is made to focus on a subject. The central focus for balancing light is to rid any part of it from shadows. Many churches are equipped with dimmers, which allow for the manipulation of light. Dimmer controls are made available in theatrical and general types.

In order to have the most suitable lighting fixtures for church, there are several factors to consider such as what types of lighting will be needed and where. Stage lighting is great for concerts and other events, but event lighting is good for brightening up the choir. Both are utilized in most churches but for different things. Stage lighting and event lighting are only two ways in which light can help as there are many other types that can be used. No matter what your lighting needs are, make sure you make the effort to shed some extra light on your church.

 

Founded in 1978, Vincent Lighting Systems provides theatrical, film/video and architectural lighting for a wide range of businesses, including performing arts centers, educational and religious organizations, corporations and special events. Their event lights will make any occasion memorable. Whether you need to purchase, rent, install or repair a lighting system, Vincent Lighting is always ready to help.

Interview with Esterlyn

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Questions answered by lead singer Luke Caldwell

Since your debut album release in 2010, what has your journey been like as a band?
Honestly it has been amazing! There is nothing better than serving our Creator. I know that can sound cliché, but really, to have the honor to lead people into Gods presence and serve Him each and everyday through our lives and through the songs He has put in our hearts is truly a blessing. Our desire for Esterlyn has always been to allow God to be the head of this band. It has never been about building the brand, money or prestige. At the end of the day none of that matters and it’s a empty pit. There is so much freedom in simply waking up each day with a smile knowing this is where God has us today…what we can do to love others and serve the people in our path. So thankful for the journey He has us on. 

What sorts of things are you anticipating with the release of your latest album, Woven?
This album really has been an offering to the Lord. Our prayer was first and foremost that it would please Him.  As we crafted the songs music and lyrics our desire was to honor the One that we worship with our lives.

Secondly we continue to pray that whoever does listen to these songs or leads them in congregations that they will ultimately lead people to our Savior. That Gods name would be lifted on high. This albums purpose is truly to remind us and renew us in our Gods great love!

What is the meaning behind your album title, Woven?
Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” God has created us as individuals He has put time and effort into every part of His creation. Just like when we as a band write a song we think about it and we craft it to have a purpose and to have an end result, and ultimately to accomplish something. The same is true with God. He really does have a specific plan and purpose for every single life that He has made. We meet a lot of people night after night as we travel. Many who we pray for tell us how they just don’t understand what God is doing in their life. They feel they lack direction or simply are discouraged. I believe this verse gives us hope to know that God is weaving a plan for His glory. I often think about Joseph. Take a moment to put yourself into his world and how he must have felt when his brothers sold him and when he was wrongly accused and thrown into jail, how discouraging! How easy would it be to say ‘God do you care about me?’ Do you even love me? What is going on with my life? God had a plan! God made it all work together for good for His glory and for His purpose. The same is true with you and I. You can look at the back of a tapestry and it might look like a big mess but when you turn it around we can see that the artist is crafting something beautiful. What a hope we have in allowing God to be the one to make beauty out of our lives.

Your music is not traditional congregational music, but is adaptable to be used in that setting.  What is your main focus or goal for the music that you write? Is its use in the church one of them?
I think our main focus is that when people listen to these songs whether it be in their quiet time or in a church setting that ultimately it would draw them to God. The songs can definitely be used in a variety of ways. Our label has sent them to radio and that has been having a lot of success and I know there are a lot of churches that have added many of the songs into their worship services. I wrote all of the songs first with just my guitar so they can all be simplified and fairly easy to sing and play.

When you are writing, what do you keep in mind in terms of its worship leading purposes? What are the most important aspects a songwriter writing songs for worship should remember and practice?
First and foremost does the song lead me into the presence of God? Is my heart drawn to the character and nature of my Savior. Personally I like to use a lot of scripture when I write worship songs. The Bible is inspired and written by the Holy Spirit. We are told to worship in Spirit and Truth. To me thats God’s word. As I reflect or remember or proclaim God’s truth through songs I am built up spiritually and renewed in the inner man. That’s why I think it is so important to always be singing a new song to the Lord. I think as a worship leader it is important to be in Gods word and to be in prayer and fellowship with God. The best songs I have ever written come when I am seeking His face, not “trying” to write a worship song.

Something unique about your album is that you have instrumental “selah” moments that provide verses to meditate over in the lyric booklet. How do you communicate worship instrumentally, without words? 
Music is powerful. Sometimes we write pieces musically that don’t necessarily fit in a song setting but we really love the feel and the presence that it creates. That is where those songs were birthed out of.

Shawn wrote both of the musical interludes and really wrote those as a form of worship and an offering to the Lord.

Is there a particular song on the album that you believe encapsulates the vision you had for Woven? What is the story behind this song?
The overall theme was to illuminate God’s character and nature. A lot of times in my life I can easily forget who God is and what His Kingdom represents in my personal life on a daily basis. We really desired  to identify some of the key aspects of God’s name.  The majority of the songs are proclaiming who God is and what He does. For us to continue to meditate on those truths it deeply builds our faith in God and His purpose for our existence. If I had to nail it down to one song I would probably pick the simplest one. I am a simple person and “You Are The Way” really speaks to me. The lyrics are this

You are the Way
You are the Truth
You are the Life
I will worship You

Super simple but more profound then I will ever be able to truly grasp.

What is in store for you and your band in the near future?
Well as a band we are continuing to tour the country full-time leading worship at conferences, camps and church services sharing what God has put in our hearts. Our desire is to serve the church- to encourage, exhort, and serve wherever God leads us. On a personal level my wife and I are adopting a little boy from China this summer.. We are so excited to bring him into our family. You can read his story at www.beautyfromtheashes.com

Thanks for letting us share our hearts and hopefully you get a chance to listen to the songs. We pray that God uses them in your life to reveal Himself and His love for you.

We love you,
Esterlyn
Luke, Shawn, and Myca

2 Chronicles 16:9