Longings & Liturgies

I’ve got a new album in the works. I’ve written lots more about it on my kickstarter page, so instead of rehashing everything there I thought I’d give you some other thoughts.

A quick overview: The core of this album will be seven songs that will make up my final project for my MA at Regent College, and I’ve chosen to give myself some boundaries, which I’ve found can often lead to some really creative writing. I’m going to write seven songs reflecting seven moments in the church calendar (Advent, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday). I’m also hoping to sprinkle in a few more songs to reflect the ‘ordinary time’ that we live in for much of the year. These songs will be written to be sung by the church, to help congregations know who our God is, and in singing them to be shaped to place our lives in his story and turn from the other stories and idols that we’re often caught in. If you’ve read any of my other stuff, you can guess that I believe that what we sing shapes us profoundly and is really important – my classic question is “In the last year, how many sermon points can you remember and how many songs can you sing?” What we sing is important!

Why the church calendar?

I grew up in churches that followed some of the church calendar, as most evangelical churches do. Christmas, Easter and Good Friday were things for sure, with some talk of Palm Sunday, Advent and Lent. It was great – I’m thankful for the churches I was raised in and the ways that they told the story well and helped me grow in my understanding and love for the church.

In the past few years, I’ve found a richness in the historical church calendar and the way that it calls believers to mark their lives by a different kind of time. Though our society still celebrates holidays like Christmas and Easter, most often our calendars are marked with Hallmark holidays that push us towards consumerism. There’s a richness to the church calendar and regularly entering into the story of Jesus in a disciplined way. As a worship leader, I’ve found myself wanting more fresh songs that closely tie with these moments and bring our attention and affections more in line with the specifics of this story instead of generic truths. So I’m attempting to write those songs – songs that I would use throughout the year to highlight the big story that we live into every week, but would also speak really well in these specific moments of the church calendar. I’m going to do a series of blog posts in the coming weeks looking at the seven moments I’ve chosen and why I think they’re great.

What is Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding website where creators share their project (whether it be a new tech product, an album, indie film, book or any number of other things) and backers can pledge to help make these projects happen. Creators set up funding goals – a baseline they need to make the project happen – and people come along and say “yes, I think this should happen!” by giving their money towards it. Think of it a bit like pre-ordering something, but also helping to fund a startup and helping creators avoid big loans and some of the risk involved. If a project hits the goal (or goes over it), people will get charged at the end of the project for the amount they’ve pledged and the creator is expected to fulfil what they said they would give in return (the rewards). If not enough people back something, no one gets charged and the creator has to go back to the drawing board. If you want more general info, here’s a great history of kickstarter video.

I like this model. I like how it is more relationally driven and moves people from simply consumers to patrons. As a backer to other kickstarter projects, I’ve loved the personal connection, the opportunity to give feedback and ability to help share things that I believe in. As a creator, it’s offered lots of challenges as to how to get the word out and find people who would appreciate and enjoy what I’m doing, but it’s so encouraging when those people come along and back me.

We’re off to a great start thanks to some generous early backers – help me reach and exceed the goal!

Why do I need your help?

As the project says, albums are expensive. I believe that what I’m doing can serve the church well in a way that really matters: what we sing together. There’s TONS of worship music being written and recorded these days, with much of it coming from big churches or full time touring artists. It’s not always easy for smaller churches working in the realities of their technical abilities and the people God has given them to serve in music to be able to play and lead some of these songs that work well in high-production settings.

We need more songs that can be sung across the generations in churches of 100 people. We need to be aware of range, difficulty of melody, theological accuracy (seems somewhat important…) and the ways that our songs call out the idols of our cultures that we turn to instead of the Triune God. The songs we sing should be compelling in ways that grab our whole beings, full of the range of emotions that we experience from sorrow to joy. Engaging the story of the Gospel in songs revolving around these moments in the church calendar is really hard, but something worth pursuing.

I need your help to do this. I need your prayers and conversations, and I need the funding to record it in a way that will best serve the church. I need your help finding others who think this is a worthwhile endeavor and I need you to encourage them to help. I know many people who have really valid critiques of what a lot of churches are singing these days, and we need to respond with trying to do things better, not just talking about what’s wrong.

This project is going to cost me money. I’ve set a goal of $7000, but that won’t actually pay for this recording – I expect I’ll have to pay for much of it out of pocket. If we can raise more than that, I’d love to add things to the recording (strings? other fun instruments?) and provide the backers with other great stuff (vinyl? some professionally produced videos?). I want to reach lots of people with this project both because I believe it can serve the church, and because I would love to raise enough to do this record really well. I know only so many people, and I’m trying not to annoy them to death with constant posting. Backing this project early helps to encourage others to do so by building momentum.

Will you help me? Pledge $10 and you’ll get a digital copy, or pledge more and get hard copies and other great things. Share it with your friends – a personal touch means a lot in this oversaturated social media world we’re in, so tell people why you think this was worth backing or send a personal note to someone who you think would really appreciate it.  Thanks for entering this journey with me, and I’m so looking forward to sharing these songs with you!

(follow along on Facebook, instagram, twitter and youtube for updates, clips of songs, and other fun stuff)