Have you ever had a conversation with a four year old? If you have you know how fascinating it can be, if not, let me give you a little insight. It might go something like this:

“Hi my name is Thatcher! What's your name?”
“Do you like Legos? I have a lot of Star Wars Legos.”
“You know what? I have a dog! Her name is BoomBoom.”
“My mommy is going to get me some ice cream! Do you know my mommy?”
“My favorite is chocolate with sprinkles!”
“Uh, What's your name again?”
“Hey! Look what I can do!”
“BoomBoom likes ice cream, too. Sometimes she licks it off my hands.”
“I have a big box of toys at my house. Wanna come over and play with me?”
“Oh, I gotta go now. Will you be here tomorrow? I'll bring my Legos so we can play! Ok, bye!”

By the end of the “conversation” you are exhausted, know more than you want to know about Thatcher and need to go sit somewhere in silence and decompress.

Sometimes I think that is what it feels like in our worship services. Sure, you have put in good rehearsal time with your team and feel like you are really tight musically, but your songs have no common thread or theme that tie them together or to the rest of the service. It is very easy to want to play your favorite songs all the time, but when we do that our services can feel a little like the conversation with Thatcher. Random, scattered and leaving the congregation with nothing more than a "Best Of" collection of Top 40 worship songs.

I want to encourage you to give a little more thought to your worship set than “What are my favorite songs this week?” One easy way to give the whole service a common thread is to find out what the message is about or what scripture is being used that week. That way you can find songs that complement, enhance or even give a different perspective to what the pastor is speaking on. The congregation may or may not be aware that everything that morning had a common theme, but that's ok, that is where we leave it up to the Holy Spirit! I'll bet, though, that sometime later that week someone will start singing a song you played on Sunday morning and be reminded of one of the points from the message. It's cool how God works that way!

Now, I know that not all pastors plan out their messages far enough in advance to give you time to plan a set that coincides with his message. (I have worked with many pastors that never knew what they were speaking on until the night before!) That does not, however, give you an excuse to not plan a cohesive song set. You can put together a set that talks about God's love, or trusting in Him, or different postures of worship or anything you feel God putting on your heart that week. Many times God has a way of tying things together anyway! (He is pretty cool like that!)

If you have any questions or need help putting together set lists with a common theme or topic, or just want someone to talk to about leading worship, please let me know I am here to help! You can contact me by email justin@justingravesband.com
Ok, I'm going to go have ice cream with Thatcher and BoomBoom now!

Each year Michelle and I try to take a few days just for us. We take a trip just for fun. No work, all play! This year we chose to go to the beautiful city of Chicago. We got to play tourist, visit all the incredible sights and eat delicous local food! While we were there we had the opportunity to go to the Art Institute of Chicago. I love art and I can spend days in a museum, but I had no idea the treasures that were waiting for us inside. 

As we made our way around the MASSIVE building we saw history right before our eyes. We saw some things that were intriguing, some that were beautiful and some that made us scratch our head and say "Hmmmm." It made me realize that there is a wide interpretation of what we call art. Art in some peoples opinion looks like this...  

Classic, historic works of art. Beautiful works that represent life, look realistic but show someones view and interpretation of life at the time. For others art looks something like this...

Abstract, modern and unusual. The first is one persons view of the New Mexico landscape. The second is a Picasso sculpture of a womans face, and the third is the HUMOUNGOUS silver bean in the middle of the city. When you look at these works it makes you wonder what the inspiration was behind each piece, what the artist thought about while they worked on it and how they felt when it was completed. 

Walking through and seeing the drastic difference in style and what is considered art, this made me think about the different ways we worship God. Some like the more traditional style, more formal and structured. Others lean more toward the more abstract, no boundries, free form style. Some land somewhere in the middle. As I think about our amazing creator and the incredible art He has created all around us I am struck with the thought that there is no "right" or "wrong" way to worship God. He created us all different, with different likes and dislikes and He loves us all! What is art to one may be garbage to another, what is a worship to some may look strange and bizare to another. It doesn't mean that one is better than the other. All that God looks at is the heart. As we worship God He alows us to be as creative or conservitive as we want, all He wants is us to worship Him!  

So this week worship as you like...just be sure the focus of your worship is our amazing, creative and loving God!

These are my thoughts...I'd love to hear yours! Feel free to leave a comment here or on our Facebook page. www.facebook.com/JustinGravesBand