Hey Guys & Gals!
I can’t believe that a year has passed since my family and I arrived at North Side. It was a major life transition for us, but this church family has welcomed, loved, and cared for my family so well. We have grown significantly in our love for Jesus and others. I have personally learned so much about servanthood and leadership by walking alongside you.
Thank you for opening your lives and hearts to us! Because you choose to show up, use your gifts, and be a part of this church family – many others (including myself) are challenged to pursue Jesus in all areas of life! I’m so thankful for each of you and your flexibility, consistency, and humor as we serve together and build up our church through our gifts of music and tech.
Now, for some updates!
Back in October, we established two goals for our team:
Teach and encourage the people of North Side to sing loud and sing often
Give our people Biblical language (through song) that represents and speaks to every season of life
The Holy Spirit is definitely doing this in our church as we are faithful to these Biblical commands! Our people ARE singing loud and more often! I’ve noticed a significant increase in our congregational singing and participation from a year ago. It almost takes my breath away – the beautiful sound of God’s people singing together and lifting Him up! What an encouragement for us and for our church family!
I think about conversations I’ve had with our people; like Linda Zigos, who has approached me multiple times to say she was encouraged by the songs we sang. Or Sonny Younce, who told me that he had grown up in a different denomination and was never much for church music. But, our approach and song language has changed his views and opened his eyes to the Biblical story. The Holy Spirit uses our gifts to build up the whole body!
We also established five values that will guide our approach:
The Word (trust God’s Word to shape our songs and leadership)
Engagement (demonstrate and declare Biblical worship)
Excellence (know your part and seek musical clarity)
Togetherness (seek unity, be involved in a small group)
Development (improve your craft, learn new things, add new members)
Below is a quick overview of how we are staying true to these values.
We’ve sifted through our song list to identify songs that: are theologically-rich, singable for a congregation, and give us language that represents the breadth of the Christian life.
Song selection is like a nutritional diet. In the same way that our nutritional diet dictates healthy body function, a balanced, Biblically-sound song diet contributes to the overall health and function of the church body.
As an elder and pastor, I’m responsible for “feeding” our sheep (congregation) with the Word of God – like a Biblical dietician. We sing upbeat, happy, and victorious songs that celebrate who God is and what He has done, but we also sing songs in which we confess our sinfulness and lament that the world is pretty messed up. We sing in major keys that point us to hopefulness and minor keys that may sometimes feel like a drag – but like eating our vegetables, this is the Biblical rhythm that keeps us keenly aware God’s holiness, our own sinfulness, the graciousness of Christ, and the commission for His people to live holy lives and make disciples (i.e. a balanced diet). Our church body can function in a healthy way because we preach and sing a true picture of reality painted by the Word of God.
These songs are now our included in our North Side digital “songbook.” We are currently singing 36 different songs, which you can see below:
A Mighty Fortress
All Creatures of Our God and King
All I Have is Christ
All My Ways Are Known to You
Be Thou My Vision
Before the Throne
Build My Life
Christ Be All Around Me
Christ is Risen
Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery
Give Us Clean Hands
Great Are You Lord
Great is Thy Faithfulness
Hallelujah for the Cross
He Will Hold Me Fast
His Mercy is More
Holy, Holy, Holy
How Deep the Father's Love
How Great is Your Love
How Great Thou Art
In Christ Alone
It is Well (Through the Storm)
Jesus is Better
Lion and the Lamb
Lord, I Need You
Nothing But the Blood
O Come to the Altar
Praise to the Lord Almighty
Sing to the King
There is a Fountain
We Look to You
This digital songbook is available to our congregation on the North Side app, our website, YouTube, Spotify, and Amazon Music.
Above is our song breakdown. You can see that we strive to provide a balanced diet – both in theology and variety. Because we repeat songs often – the congregation is more comfortable and familiar with them! This gives them the confidence to sing out on Sunday and make these songs a part of their lives during the week.
How we introduce “new” songs to the congregation largely depends on this big picture, and we ask questions like: what are we currently singing? where are the gaps in our theology/Biblical language? what new words do we need to communicate timeless truths? what is the spiritual climate of our church family and what should we sing right now?
At our current rate, we are introducing a “new” song to our congregation every 4-6 weeks. This keeps our repertoire fresh and fluid, while maintaining steadiness and familiarity for our congregation.
*Because we’ve significantly downsized our song list, you may get “tired” of singing these songs before the congregation will. But, don’t be discouraged! This is part of our role as the music team – we invest significant time and energy into knowing these songs so that we can lead them confidently and with excellence.
North Side is blessed with musically-gifted people who want to glorify God and encourage others to do the same. Because we have a large worship team, two potential challenges are scheduling and defining roles. Here are some points to remember:
We have more musicians & vocalists than there are weekly positions of opportunity
Each person has varying musical skills and strengths
Each person has different expectations regarding how often they are scheduled
We have to be flexible and make room for new team members
With these points in mind, I “roster” the band each month so that everyone can play to their strengths and help the band sound best! Doing this takes away confusion and distraction on stage and helps people focus on worshiping.
Because we value Godly excellence and team development, we:
use click tracks to keep us in time with each other
use song maps to arrange parts so we’re not clashing rhythmically or in frequency
clearly define musical roles, when to play or not play, and pay attention to musical dynamics
These elements have helped us sound tighter and “gel” as a band! And because we’re rotating less songs, we’re giving ourselves room to know the songs really well and adapt arrangements when needed – without the pressure of learning new songs week to week.
You all have done a great job paying attention to the song maps and coming to rehearsal knowing your roles! I realize that my arranging parts has been a transition for everyone, including vocalists. Let me be clear: I want everyone to sing all the time – even if you are off-mic! But a singer with a mic becomes an amplified instrument, and instruments need to be arranged to sound best.
I also want to encourage you as we physically engage the congregation in worship each Sunday. Our role as on-stage prompters requires us to lead visually - whether singing or playing, on mic, or off-mic. Our facial expressions, postures, and body language model for the congregation how to respond to God in worship. We can either communicate boredom or we can communicate joy and submission to Jesus by how we posture ourselves! So, even if your instrument is out for a verse or you aren’t singing into the mic – be challenged that you are still modeling an attitude and posture of worship for our people.
Watching us grow musically and enjoy this gift together has encouraged me so much! It’s possible to melt faces and glorify God at the same time! :)
Since we are a covenant membership, we want to display a “togetherness” and unity in our attitudes.
Many of you have been at North Side for years; you’ve been through transitions in ministry philosophy and leadership; you’ve played together for a long time. Know that I appreciate how all of you have followed our church leadership and display unity and humility within the group. Your bond has made it easy for me to transition into my role as an elder and pastor. Your love for each other is evident, and I want us to continue seeking it!
We read Scripture together and take prayer requests at rehearsal because it’s a valuable and intentional time set aside for us to hear God’s truth – and share our good days, bad days, highlight reels, bloopers, burdens, heartaches, praises, and joy! Part of our growth together as Christ-followers stems from our choosing to be honest with each other – not painting a false picture of our reality. We are the church and have a Biblical responsibility to and for each other’s well-being! So, thank you all for sharing your lives with me and each other. It’s deeply beautiful to see how God is faithful in the lives of his people.
Last October, I strongly encouraged all of you to be involved in a small group. I want to reiterate that point – it is an expectation of our covenant membership that everyone in our church family be actively involved in one of our small group. You grow in Christ by being actively involved in the lives of fellow Believers. We will continue learning this as we study through 1 Corinthians. If you are not currently involved in a small group, please let me know and I can help you find one (or use button below)!
By now, I’m sure you’ve noticed our significant technology upgrades, including:
New high-def projectors in the worship center (all were replaced)
High-def camera feeds for the livestream
New high-def video switcher
Audio enhancement for the livestream (room mix)
Simplified tech setup (ProPresenter now operates from balcony booth for both band & congregation)
These upgrades have allowed us clearer, more vibrant, high-def picture on the screens and better livestream viewing. They’ve also reduced the volunteer load each Sunday.
Tech folks, I appreciate your consistency each week! You all do an excellent job of making our Sundays seamless and distraction-free! Often, techs tend to get all of the complaints and none of the praise – but know that you are appreciated and valued for using your gifts to serve our church family.
Side note: we’ve also made our North Side App more functional. You can now:
give financially through the app
view weekly announcements
access our North Side Songbook
connect with us if you’re new to North Side
find a place to serve our church
access the North Side calendar (and add our events to your iCal or similar)
watch stories of people within our church family
and of course, you can still access sermons and equip classes.
Check it out!
Thank you for taking the time to read through this update. I hope that you enjoy being a part of this team as much as I enjoy serving with you! Let’s keep pressing forward in excellence as we engage our people to worship our good and gracious King!