Going black


In a matter of moments, Sarah and I will be hoping in the car and driving to New York for a week of vacation. I'm very glad to be getting some time to relax, and to take care of myself, but as I mentioned previously, I'll be going completely black. No twitter. No facebook. No blog. No work e-mail. A complete digital withdrawal.

This is going to be tough for me, but I really want to make sure I do this. One of the talks from the conference that shaped this for me was Leonard Sweet's "Be There" talk. If my wife is going to go through the trouble of a 6 hour drive to New York with me, and choose to spend her time with me, then I owe her my best. I need to "be there", not in cyberspace somewhere. So I'm out everybody. I'll be back next week, when we gear up for Veritas. I'll blog all about the new sound system's installation. I'll tweet annoying things like "check out these pancakes". But until then, my attention will be undivided...

Till then,


What we learned: National Worship Leader's Convention


Hello friends!
I did not do an update from day four, because by the time the evening had arrived, I was too tired to keep myself in the very uncomfortable office chair at the Comfort Inn of Overland Park. The bed was far too inviting, and I needed me sleep. So allow me a moment here to take a look back at the whole of the National Worship Leader's Conference 2009.

Overall I thought it was a great conference. One of my bigger disappointments was the lack of people around my age. There were a few of us, but you could absolutely see the disparity between "contemporary" worship and "modern" worship. People just didn't know what to do with bands like David Crowder Band and Leeland. I loved them, and was glad they were there, but I definitely felt like the exception rather than the rule. Maybe I misread things, but that's just kind of the vibe I got.

My only other complaint was that we spent just a little bit too much time on one particular style of worship, and that was loud music in one form or another. Granted, they did a VERY good job of finding a variety of musical styles to lead us in worship with. We had everything from the Rock and Roll of Leeland to Gospel in Tony Evans. I also got introduced to a bunch of worship leaders I would never have seen otherwise, and my iTunes account reflects that. But by the end, I was just kind of feeling worshipped out. I would have given anything to walk a prayer labyrinth or something like that. But all in all, the conference was great. Some of my favorite highlights:

Paul Baloche
Paul both led worship one night and spoke at a few workshops. The workshop I attended was supposed to be about creating flow in worship, but I think it turned into a bit more of the "Paul Baloche speaks his mind" hour. And what a wonderful hour it was. I think I have about 3 pages of notes to go over again from that one, just about the heart of the worship leader in church and all different kinds of ways that manifests itself. I am always so impressed by how much emphasis Paul puts on the local church, and not desiring to be a big rock star. You have to love the people God has placed before you, and I pray that God will allow me to do that more.

New Songs
It was good to hear in worship every night the kind of new songs that people are writing to bring God praises. Vicky Beaching's "Breath of God" and Paul Baloche's (...muttering because I forget the title of this excellent song...) were among the greatest. I am so looking forward to this week, sitting on the porch at Breezy Point with a guitar, and singing some new songs. And with a bigger Breezy house, maybe I won't have to worry about waking people up in the morning!

Fellowship With Worship Leaders
I really enjoyed hanging out with worship leaders from all over the country, getting to know them and their hearts a little bit better. I think it's important to remember every now and again that the kingdom is much bigger than our little congregations. Rob Bell says "It's dangerous when our world becomes THE world." So it was nice to get out and see a bunch of the world.

The Church of the Resurrection
The folks at the church that hosted us were absolutely the bomb! The little coffee nook in the lobby became my very best of friends. Even now, as I sip my lowly home-brewed Dunkin Donuts coffee, I feel as though I am missing out on the grandness that is a Monkey Mocha. So very good. But really, it was the people of this congregation that made the conference a ton of good fun.

There was so much more than that. The way David Nasser kicked all our butts on Thursday morning. The lessons on loops in worship. Rory Noland teaching me how to be a better team leader. So much good stuff! I can't wait to get back to Westminster and try out some new stuff. Timing is excellent too, as the new sound system shouldn't be that far behind, so we'll have the tools to do some of this excellent stuff.

But, there's something that comes first...

Stay tuned...



Day Three Part All of Them: Goodnight


Hey everybody,
This is yesterday's post of course, but by the time I got back the hotel last night I was completely wiped! I crashed pretty much right away and never looked back. Matter of fact, I think I looked just like this kid. Crazy.

Yesterday morning started with Beth Moore's worship leader, Travis Cottrell. I don't mean to offend anybody, but I felt like I was being led in worship by the same people who produce The View. I mean don't get me wrong, it was good. They were a really talented band, but it just wasn't my style. I felt very out of place.

From there I made my way to a geeky workshop. I learned all about recording options for songwriters. Perhaps you as a blogging community can help me out with this by encouraging me, but I would really like to do a better job of writing more songs. Our speaker yesterday morning informed us that a friend of hers did a search of the CCLI top 25 songs for 15 years, and not once in those 15 years did a song about the trinity show up. She challenged those of us who were song writers to take a crack at things that aren't often written about, like lent or advent. I have some ideas for songs now, and because I am a total sucker, thanks to yesterday's workshop I'm the proud owner of a new portable recorder.

From there, I skipped both the afternoon workshops and afternoon worship, because I was just tired. I ran out to CVS to get some snacks, and then made my way back to the hotel for a little bit of shut eye. It's hard sometimes on these trips to make sure that you're taking care of yourself and getting enough rest. We've been getting home every night around 10 or 11, getting to bed around midnight, and waking up again around 7. Two nights of that is ok, four nights of it is killing my sleep pattern. Coffee has become my new best friend.

After a Chinese food dinner and a quick "boy I wish I had more money" visit to Guitar Center, Curt and I worked our way back to the church to hear Matt Maher, Meredith Andrews, and Paul Baloche. I heard Meredith for the first time last night, but those other two guys are some of the best underrated worship leaders around. A lot of people don't seem to know who they are, but they are excellent. It was a terrific evening of worship, but I will say I'm starting to get a little bit worshipped out. It is possible to sing too much. It is possible to worship too much IN THE SAME WAY. And that's the key. Maybe sometime today I need to sneak away and sit and pray in silence. We'll see what the day brings.

I have all my workshops picked out. I can't believe the conference is almost over already, but man am I ready to hit the beach. New York City here I come!



Day Two Part Two: I found you!


Hello bloggers!
I've made some adjustments around here in the digital media world. I have switched over to tweet deck, mostly because I think I was annoying the heck out of all my friends on facebook with my constant twitter updates. So I will only update both together when I have something to shamelessly self-promote, say a blog of some kind.

This afternoon was the best. I'm so very tired as we've crashed back into the hotel room. This afternoon I attended a seminar offered by Paul Baloche. Seriously, it was an entire hour almost on how to open a worship service, but man it was one of the best hours of my week. We talked our way around a whole bunch of stuff as regards worship leading, to the point that I have two pages of notes, but really none of it really goes together. It's like Paul Baloche had so much to get out today that it couldn't be contained. I liked that.

(Seriously, I keep forgetting how much of a game day player this photograph is!)

After that seminar, I moved on to see Vicky Beeching teach about song writing. It was super nice to hear someone who comes at song writing from such a theological background, everything being well thought out, we researched, and well organized. I want to spend more time writing, hopefully when I get back home I will log more journal hours with a guitar in hand.

The one thing that both speakers emphasized (though not outwardly, just by their actions and tones) was a love for the local congregation. I have to say, I absolutely love that. Going into my third year at Westminster, there's not a single Sunday that I walk in the door without this feeling of love for the people and the place God has put me in. None of this makes any sense without the local church, and while so many people can start to feel like they need to be rockstars to be successful, it was nice to be affirmed for wanting to stay in the place I am.

After the workshops, Curt and I went to this local restaurant for Bar-B-Que. While the experience itself was exceptional and sent my taste buds on an adventure that they will not soon forget, the after effects tonight are regrettable. Probably more than you wanted to know, but I'm taking an indepth look at the convention here people!

Tonight's worship leaders were nothing short of spectacular! I have been finding all kinds of new worship leaders to put on my iPod, and tonight's that really stuck with me was Aaron Shust. Laura Story and Mac Powel were great, don't get me wrong. But when Aaron came out for the closing set tonight, his hat had but one logo on it that sealed the deal:

That's right folks. He loves Jesus and the Penguins. He's an ace in my book.

My hair is disgusting, so I'm going to take a shower tonight instead of waiting until tomorrow. Seriously, I look like Flock of Seagulls.

Goodnight and Godspeed,


Day Two Part One: Sweet.


Greetings from day two, which started from extreme coffee depravation. Turns out this church has it's own coffee bar in the lobby. Monkey Mocha = Divine inspiration.

Our general session introduced me to two people whom I think I will be following quite closely for quite some time. The first is Jeremy Riddle. At times I wonder how it's possible that I could go this long and allow a worship leader like him to slip through my fingers, but none the less I'm on the train now. His song "Sweetly Broken" will absolutely be showing up at the Bridge in the very near future. Count on it.

Then we heard what might be the finest sermon I've heard in a long time about the postmodern culture we find ourselves in. The whole thing will be available online soon, and I will absolutely link you to it if it is indeed legal to do so. The overall point of the sermon though was that we need to "Be there." This counts for both worship leading and youth ministry I think. He also made a great point that in our culture today there seems to be a trend of allowing completely opposite concepts to exist at the same time without contradicting each other. When you think about it, this is what Jesus was all about. We must become humble to become great. The first shall be last. Stuff like that. It was a neat sermon, and I'm sure I'll be writing more about it later.

My first choice in seminar this morning was way too crowded. I would have to sit outside the door and hope to be able to hear everything. So I spent my time with another monkey mocha and a sermon, which I desperately need to finish before Friday so that I can spend my vacation, you know, on vacation.

Which, by the by, I will be completely unplugging during vacation. No blog. No Twitter. No anything. I am sure all three of you who follow me on those things are crushed. Get over it.

Now I am sitting waiting for the Paul Baloche session on creating flow. I heard him give this presentation a bunch of years ago, and I'm hoping that I will learn some new stuff this time around. If you'd like, you can follow me through the sessions this afternoon at www.twitter.com/freyer28.

Until tonight!



Day One Part Two: Why were we here again?


This is a Garmin GPS device for your car. It is the only reason Curt and I are alive right now. It has led us to all kinds of delicious restaurants and movie theaters. But then, sometime around four o'clock today, we remembered that we came here for a national worship leaders conference, and so we finally asked are Garmin (named Gwen by me) to take us to the church. She obliged.

This is the sign from the church we are visiting. It is the only image that I could find of the church in a very brief search of google images, and that's probably because that is the only part of the church that will fit in a camera lens. The place is huge people! They have a separate building to house their youth (are you taking notes Westminster?) which is bigger I think than our entire complex (are you taking notes Westminster?) The multi-media is unrivaled, just stunning stuff going on (are you...ah never mind.) It's a pretty cool place to be, and I haven't even been into the merch tent yet. (are you running for the hills Westminster?)

At one point there was a video that really stuck with me. A guy was being interviewed about Arts Pastors (something I don't even think the Presbyterian Church recognizes), and he said (I'm paraphrasing due to sucky memory) "The Church used to be the patrons of the Arts. We need to reclaim that." What a true statement! We used to be the driving force behind most of the art in the world. DiVinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, those other Turtles, they were all influenced and in most cases contracted by the Church. And they weren't poorly recreating what the secular arts were doing, they were setting the trend for the secular world. We need to reclaim that. Absolutely.

Greg Laurie was our speaker tonight, and he gave an incredible sermon. I would post a bunch of the ideas and thoughts from his sermon, but it really did a good job of feeding into a sermon that I'm working on for when I get home, so I'm going to leave that one till a little bit later. Suffice it to say I was really challenged, and it was a really good sermon. And then after him...

Crowder. Owned it. It's always fun to fall back into the hotel room with a completely hoarse voice from singing at a Crowder concert. Good times, good times indeed.

Wonder how big of a stink this story is making back home?

More tomorrow.



Airplane Techno


Hello all.
While I was on the plane, I worked on a song on Garage Band. It started out as just something to kill time, but I'm pretty pumped about it. Check it out! I call it "Kansas"



Day One Part One: Man I feel like a jerk.


Ok, so while I still think this is one of the funniest images to make it's way to J-Blog in quite some time, the people here are not nearly as backwoods as one might have imagined. Nor are we in the midst of cornfields yet. Granted, we haven't ventured to the church yet, but at the moment it's quite metropolitan. Here's the obligatory travel log from yesterday:

(Captain's Log)
We went to the airport at 3:00 for a 5:15 flight, as we have been told countless times by countless people that in this day and age one must arrive at least two hours before a flight to avoid the issue of airport security. We checked in at a little computer, and made our way through the security. They checked my shoes to make sure they weren't bombs. I apologized for the smell. Getting through security took no more than 5 minutes. So now we had an hour and forty five minutes to goof off in the Pittsburgh Airport, which as it turns out is not the most happening place to be.

While we were sitting there, my name was called over to the counter. I was asked if I was willing to move to make room for a family who had a small baby, and I said sure. People, I was just trying to be a good guy! I did not realize that my actions would move me up to first class, leaving Curt alone to fend for himself with the infant who couldn't be more pissed that mom turned of Dora the Explora (the only way to spell that and make any sense). I apologize deeply to everyone I may have offended for my upgrade. Suckers...

After a couple of hours of flight and layover time, we made it to KC. I stood in line for quite some time, and then managed to get the new girl at the Avis counter. For reasons beyond my understanding, Avis uses computers that apparently still communicate in binary. To rent a car is to spend hours upon hours standing at the counter, waiting for the nice young lady to figure out what language she needs to use to put stuff in the computer. I just wanted my car. Eventually we were handed the keys to a very nice Ford Focus, complete with a GPS navigation system. Her name is Gwen, and she's from Austrailia. Plus, at one point the focus told me the parking brake was engaged, so I think there's some inner-car romance going on here...

We drove to our hotel, but made a quick pit stop at my health club.

Today we're going to try to find something to do in KC. The conference doesn't start until this afternoon, so we may end up driving around and seeing what we can find. That is of course as long as the parking brake can keep his mits off Gwen long enough for her to get us anywhere.

Another update tonight after worship!


Road Trip!


Hello friends!
Been a while since I hoped on and did any blogging! This week we're going to change all that, as I'll be headed to the national worship leaders conference in Leewood Kansas. I am hoping beyond all hope that Leewood is actually a pretty legit place to hang out, but my expectations are not high...

All the same, I'm very excited about the conference! I'll be headed down with good friend and co-conspirator Curt Scott. Chance of getting lost: 110%. But I've spent the last couple of days looking at the schedule we're going to partake in, and I'm having a difficult time figuring out how I'm going to fit in all the seminars I want to go to. It should be tons of fun! Plus, this guy's going to be there:

Errr...um...I meant this guy:

Yeah, that's it. Crowder. Plus Vicki Beeching, and Matt Maher, and all kinds of other people in this buisness whom I respect a bunch.

And so I'll be live blogging from the conference, hopefully updating after each seminar. Heading down with my iPhone and my new MacBook makes that a little bit more reliable, if a certain someone would decide to allow tethering it would be even more reliable...

So for now I'm going to hit up Starbucks and lead worship at the Bridge. I'll update tonight with some info about the beautiful town of Leewood. Till then,



YouTube Round Up Volume One


Hi there everybody!
It's a slow day here in the office. Ed has gone to Ohiopyle with some of the kids for a whitewater rafting trip, and I have decided to stay behind for my own safety. However, in the last few days, youtube has offered up some absolute gold that must be shared with the masses. And so I present to you the YouTube round up, volume one. Hopefully there will be many many more.

Let's start here:

If you own this product, please jump off a bridge. Who in the world comes up with something like that, and keeps it in the house with them? That will get your morning off to the right start!

Moving on to happier things:

It was a month ago. That's all. My goodness. So much has happened in a month. Take a look at that last save by Fleury again. It will steal the breath from your lungs. Oh, so magical!

Now, this is a two parter. Some of you may have seen what is one of my favorite videos on the interweb:

Which leads us to this:

The number of things that went right here are exceptional. The acting, the special effects, the dissing of people like me who tweet every waking second of the day. It all comes together so well. Watch it again. Giggle with joy.

I am officially out of coffee. There will be no blogging without coffee!

Later all!


EDIT: Last minute entry.
Holy Cow people, our society is messed up.

We needed it more than they did.


Good morning bloggers!
I am taking the morning to chill out and drink some coffee while I'm waiting for a meeting with Mikey B. He's leading worship at the Bridge while I'm away at the National Worship Leader's Convention (which, by the by, I will be live blogging from each and every day. Stay tuned!) So we're gathering together for lunch to get him caught up on how things go at the Bridge. But in the meantime, I am sitting at a Panera, on the comfy couches, drinking a delicious coffee beverage, and catching up on reading and blogging. But I hopped on because last night was one of the biggest affirmations of what I do that I've ever come across, and it came from an unexpected place:

Last night we had a Mario Kart tournament at the church. We hadn't seen the kids in a while, and this was probably the easiest event we could have possibly done. We ordered pizza, we set up the projector and the sound system, and made the brackets by random drawings. There was little effort put into the event itself at all. And that's what made it beautiful. Rather than pour our creative energies into the program, we poured them into the kids.

Countless books (including this one from Mark Devrie) tell us that youth ministry has to be less about the programs, and more about the relationships. Somewhere in the back of my brain I always agreed with people who said that, but I don't think I realized the power of such a philosophy until last night. We needed last night as much as the kids did I think. To have an opportunity to connect with kids again after months of sitting in our office trying to keep "busy" was refreshing. And again, we didn't spend any time working on talks, or planning games, or anything like that. We just turned on the Wii and hung out with the kids. And that was all we needed.

So to all my youth pastor friends out there swimming in the insanity that tends to be our summers, my encouragement would be to connect with your students this week. Maybe you do something simple like that where a bunch of people show up, or you call a kid up and take them out for a cup of coffee. Either way, enjoy time with the people God has asked you to minister to. I promise, you'll enjoy it more than they will anyway.