Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Guitarist, Phil Keaggy, in concert at Topeka Bible Church - Sat, Jan 23 at 7:00PM

I'm pumped about world famous guitarist Phil Keaggy coming to our church Saturday, January 23rd. The concert at 7:00PM will be $15 advance tickets ($18 at door) - tickets will be available soon at Lifeway Christian Store or Topeka Bible Church. And there will also be a FREE guitar clinic the same day from 3PM to 4PM. If you've never heard Phil Keaggy play - watch Phil Keaggy master the guitar here.

If you've never heard Phil Keaggy play...see him on this video...

Monday, December 21, 2009

You would have cried too...

Simply beautiful.

Gospel Per Ear: How much would you be willing to pay?

How much should it cost a church to get the Gospel into the ears of it's community? The obvious answer is that it will cost something in resources (funds, time, energy, personnel, etc.).

You've heard the saying...if just one person comes to Christ, all that effort was worth it.

I disagree if it means it was done inefficiently.
Allow me to explain...

If I had a choice between spending $10 a person verse $5 a person to get the Gospel into their ear...I'd pick the $5 every time. Would you? So would any smart organization - that way they have more resources to do it time and time again.

For example, at Topeka Bible Church we had 2,075 vehicles come to our light show this year. That's a 13% increase over last year's traffic. How many people do you think were in each car on average. We use the figure of 3 people per vehicle...but let's be very conversative here and account for an average of 2 people per vehicle. If the budget this year was $6,000 for the light do the math, $6,000/(2,075 vehicles x 2 people per vehicle) = $1.45 Gospel per person.

Some would say we didn't spend enough compared to the rest of the church budget. Yet others would say, invest more in the ministries which have the largest impact (this is what wall street brokers do). Yet others are content to spend just enough to feel like something was done, but not too much to be a sacrifice.

Is $1.45 per person worth the Gospel? If not, what is? If you'd have been willing to pay more, what's your ceiling? Well, if it help to have a frame of reference, it's one of the lowest cost per person I've ever been a part of. Historically, at other churches, it's taken $80,000 to get the Gospel to roughly 8,000 people. That's $10 a head.

Here's another question, "How much did it cost God to reveal the Gospel to us?"

A BIGGER QUESTION is WHO were those people that we just invested $1.45 in. Do they attend TBC? Do they attend another church? Do they already know Jesus? Were any of them guests that a TBC person invited? We will survey this week to find out just WHO these people where and what connections, if any, they have to TBC or other churches in our community.

THE BIGGEST QUESTION... "If TBC doesn't get the Gospel into the ears of the community, what will that void be replaced with?"
Take your pick:
1. No one will 2. Another church who cares people enough to throw resources at it 3. Another organization who might not communicate the Gospel

QUESTION FOR MYSELF Is Bryan Nelson willing to get the Gospel into the ears of the community? If not, why not? Is it costing me anything to do it?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My mom with our daughter

My parents drove in from WI this weekend to catch the light show this
weekend at Topeka Bible Church.

My dad with our youngest

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Nelson's dance for Joshua's Birthday today - he's 5

Thanks to Suzie Carter for making this video for my son's 5th birthday. Watch Joshua, Tyler, and me dance it out.

Light show, hard at work

Thankful for this generation of dedicated volunteers. They save my hide.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Some of my light show compadres

There some farm engineering going on when John Crouse is involved.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sonic Spoof Commerical #1

Great job by Thad Lockard at editing down this video to promote the Chili Night & Light Show at Topeka Bible Church. Dick Carter (left) and Justin Parsons (right) weren't bad either. By the way, the dialog was all unscripted. More to come next week.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Two Brian's on the roof, light show setup

My youngest son before I left this morning

Great weather to put up the light show

Light show coming to Topeka Bible Church (Topeka, KS) on December 6,
11, 12, and 13. If you go to TBC, you get a sneak peek on December 5
at 6:00 and 6:45pm.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Video of two worship bands synchronized playing in different locations at the same time

Here's a quick new of this last weeks rehearsal with the Main Auditorium (MA) band and Lower Auditorium (LA) band.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rick and Steve having "fun" on the lift

Thankfully the church owns this nice used lift. We won't need to take
down the lights in sub-zero weather like last year thank goodness.

Roger runs power to Ken for the light show

Good thing we don't need power to the AC units in Kansas this time of

Crazy Rick and sidekick Craig work into the dark on Topeka light show

Lights going up for his year's light show at Topeka Bible Church.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Searching music with Google just got easier

This will change how we search for music online. Thank you, Google.

Worship Tip and Rewind: November 1, 2009 #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists

(If you are reading this in your RSS feed, then you'll want to hit the actual site to catch the video.)

Topics in this week's worship tip & rewind:
  • find a way to communicate to the entire worship arts family
  • out of sight, out of mind
  • getting hit by a bus (do your job and replace yourself)
Subscribe to my YouTube stream to catch all future tips automatically.

Set List:
  • Beautiful One (Hughes)
  • Our Great Savior (Prichard, arr. Cottrell)
  • In Christ Alone (Townsend, Getty)
  • How Deep the Father's Love (Townsend)
  • How Can I Keep from Singing (Tomlin, Redmen, Cash)
Watch/listen to last weekend's message

Links to other setlists:

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Fun with a Burger King straw

Thinking about putting together a Burger King band.

Monday, October 26, 2009

David and Goliath in MODERN DAY LANGUAGE - prepare to laugh your socks off

David and Goliath in the modern day language. I don't know why this voice over is so funny...but found myself falling off my chair laughing. Creative folks over at student ministries @ Saddleback Church (Lake Forest, CA).

Worship Tip and Rewind: October 25, 2009 #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists

(If you are reading this in your RSS feed, then you'll want to hit the actual site to catch the video.)

Topics in this week's worship tip & rewind:
  • boundaries (maintain healthy ones to be in it for the long haul)
  • Country Music weekend, yeeeeeeeehaaaa
  • how God has blessed TBC with musicians (so many and so varied and so skilled)
  • 3rd hour botch (but the band didn't flinch)
Subscribe to my YouTube stream to catch all future tips automatically.

Set List:
Watch/listen to last weekend's message

Links to other setlists:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

CCM video with 3 million hits

Almost 3 millions views. Thanks Joyce Jordan for the video library you send me. ZAP!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Worship Tip and Rewind: October 18, 2009 #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists

(If you are reading this in your RSS feed, then you'll want to hit the actual site to catch the video.)

Topics in this week's worship tip & rewind:
  • take your musicians/techs to lunch (relationships are more important than music)
  • final song was not planned (This World Is Not My Home)
Subscribe to my YouTube stream to catch all future tips automatically.

Set List:
  • Psalm 145 (The Message Remix: Scripture Reading)
  • Rising > Baloche, Redman
  • Sing To The King > Foote, Home
  • Praise to the Lord the Almighty > Gesangbuch (Cottrell arrangement)
  • Ancient Words > DeShazo
  • This World Is Not My Home > The text and the tune (I'm Just a Passing Through) are both of unknown origin. Sometimes they are attributed to Albert Edward Brumley (1905-1977).
Watch/listen to last weekend's message

Links to other setlists:

Click-Track production prank with musicians at the Topeka Bible Church light show

Here's a little something that will prime your pump for this year's Light Show at Topeka Bible Church.

What do you get when 16 musicians (that can't see or hear each other) are playing to a click track that speeds up? The following is the result from last year.

The production crew simply couldn't wait to unleash the musicians on this prank click-track that gradually sped up. What you are hearing in the video are the actual musicians playing along. What fun to hear them try to keep up.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Take a Walk on the Piano Stairs

66% more people took the stairs (instead of the escalator) when it was more "fun" than normal. Making it fun does make a difference.

Thanks to Joyce Jordan for sharing this one with me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Worship Tip and Rewind: October 11, 2009 #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists

(If you are reading this in your RSS feed, then you'll want to hit the actual site to catch the video.) Topics in this week's worship tip & rewind (have two separate roles on stage - worship leader & band leader, put vocal team/choir in columns in front of mics). Get past the dork and listen to the content.

Subscribe to my YouTube stream to catch all future tips automatically.

  • Today Is the Day > Brewster
  • Sing To The King > Foote, Home
  • From The Inside Out > Houston
  • You Are My King > Foote
  • I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go > Roun­se­fell, Brown, Prior
Watch/listen to last weekend's message

Links to other setlists:

Monday, October 05, 2009

Worship Tip and Rewind: October 5, 2009 #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists

If you are reading this in your RSS feed, then you'll want to hit the actual site to catch the video. Topics in this week's worship tip & rewind (entry point to the worship arts ministry, why I don't like the word "choir," the instrumental prelude/greeting from this past weekend, our use of click-tracks and loops). Get past the dork and listen to the content.

  • Sing To The King > Foote, Home
  • Revelation Song > Riddle
  • Speak, O Lord > Getty, Townend
  • How Great Thou Art > Hine
  • Indescribable > Story
Watch/listen to last weekend's message

Links to other setlists:

How and Why to Use Click-Tracks in Worship

If you are looking for the 100+ library of worship click tracks and audio loops - click here. But if you've wondered what in the world the musicians are listening to in their ears... read on. You can listen to an example of one of the custom click/loop tracks we used this past weekend at TBC for two of the songs (Sing to the King + Revelation Song). You'll hear click/cue track on the left (sent to the musicians' in ear monitor) and the loop/ambient track on the right (sent to the front of house system). By the way, a thank you to John Bowes for loaning me the eBay special electro-harmonix "Voice Box" he temporarily bought - very nice vocoder effect on Sing to the King. It's the "robot voice effect" you hear on the chorus.

WHAT is a click-track?
A click-track is a metronome beat that follows the tempo and time signature of a song.

WHY use a click-track? There are a number of great reasons to use a click-track.
  1. The tempo remains steady through the entire song. No fudging. Makes rehearsals less of a headache. No more comments like, "Hey, slow down...this ain't no freight train." "We are slowing down...speed up."
  2. The tempos from rehearsal to worship are consistent.
  3. Frequent use develops a sense of inner beat among musicians.
  4. Musicians know at what tempo they'll need to play their intro, riffs, outro (especially the drummer).
  5. There's no annoying "drummer-stick-click" - an' a one, an' a get the song going.
  6. If cuing is used, the vocalists can sing the beginning of each section with confiendence - rather than wondering (do I come in about
  7. You can flow from one song to the next with no dead time - smooth patching of music sets.
  8. You can sync up to a music video anytime you need to or want to (iWorship DVD sets, audio loops & click tracks, or a custom video that needs to have the band synchronized, or even synchronize two bands together).
  9. Your band will be set for the recording studio when the time comes.
  10. You can put together a 3-story drive-in light show with live musicians in windows who can neither see or hear each other in separate rooms.
WHAT is a loop? A loop is extra "spice" on top of what a drummer is playing. Sometimes it's a repeatability beat pattern with a high pass EQ. Sometimes it includes synth and other ambient "icing on the cake" elements that augment the band (and difficult to reproduce in real-time, unless you are an Ableton Live freak on the stage).

WHY use a loop? It can bring studio production elements into a live music setting with ease. It also can augment your band if you are missing an instrument.

There are some cons to using click/loops. You can lose of spontaneity (unless Ableton Live MIDI triggering is used), or you might have a drummer with their time keeping pride, or the time it takes to learn/train, or even the monitoring system it costs to make it happen. But that's for another post. If you've got questions about click/loops, let us know - we live with these clicks/loops on every song and every week. Many musicians have been saying, "I'd never go back now that we are here."

Monday Music: Kid Shreds on Accordion

I don't care if you don't like accordion music - this kid is a-maz-ing. I've never heard Vivaldi's Summer from Four Seasons like this. I love how the kid simply looks off to the side like what he is doing is no big deal.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Worship Song: No Mo' Bacon

Remember, what's the most important part of any worship song. The words.

By the way, this video has more than 1 million hits.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Music: Phil Keaggy

I don't know anyone else who can make a Symphony out of one guitar...other than Phil Keaggy. Phil is a master musician. Aren't you amazed at how God has designed Phil with his body, mind, and soul to create music that points others to the Creator? Be amazed. Be very amazed. There's no greater purpose than to play for the King.

Make sure you watch through the 4:30 mark, his layering is spicy.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Worship Tip and Rewind: September 20, 2009 #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists


If you are reading this in your RSS feed, then you'll want to hit the actual site to catch the video. Topics in this week's worship tip & rewind (empowering others, orchestra, micing a guitar amp in isolation, virtual sound check). Get past the dork and listen to the content.

  • New Doxology with Baba O'Riley patch > Ken, Psalter, Miller
  • Your Grace Is Enough > Maher
  • From The Inside Out > Houston
  • Your Name > Baloche, Packlam
  • Friend of God > Houghton, Gungor
Watch/listen to last weekend's message

Links to other setlists:

Monday, September 14, 2009

TBC Worship Rewind: September 13, 2009 #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists

If you missed this past weekend at Topeka Bible Church, then you missed a hilarious drama written by our own Steve Larson. What a great way to kick off Jim's sermon series on MythBusters. If you missed it, you'll have to watch the video.

The "Vocal Team" led worship this past weekend at Topeka Bible Church. I absolutely LOVE these weekends when every TBC vocalist leads. Having 50 singers on stage belting out harmony on the chorus begs me to sing. If you missed it, you'll have to wait until October 8th to see them again.

Most churches would call this group their "choir" - but I don't. Why don't I? It's because of the stereotype church choirs have these days. Believe me, this is not a stogy group of people. They are full of life, sing with gusto, and sound like a modern worship choir. They are THE vocal team at Topeka Bible Church. In fact, it's the ONLY vocal team at Topeka Bible Church. All singers are selected based off their participation in this group.

My favorite part of the morning was the 4th row back who LED ME IN WORSHIP. You know who I'm talking about...that row of four African Americans put me to shame as they led me. If you guys are reading this, you know who I'm talking about. Love it! If you do that again, I'm laying my guitar down and coming out into your row.

We sang a new song (for us) called "From the Inside Out." This song has been around since 2005 and very popular among other places of worship. I had a new vocalist in the Vocal Team suggest the song - so I put it on my iTune "Suggested Song" playlist. After listening to it, the words really impacted me. Remember, the most important part of any new worship song is the WORDS. Check them out.

"From The Inside Out"

Verse 1
A thousand times I've failed
Still Your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I'm caught in Your grace
Your light will shine when all else fades
Your glory goes beyond all fame

Chorus 1
Your light will shine when all else fades
Your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart
Is to bring You praise
From the inside out
Lord my soul cries out

Verse 2
Your will above all else
My purpose remains
The art of losing myself
In bringing You praise
Your light will shine when all else fades
Your glory goes beyond all fame

Misc 1
In my heart in my soul
Lord I give You control
Consume me from the inside out Lord
Let justice and praise
Become my embrace
To love You from the inside out

CCLI Song No. 4705176
© 2005 Hillsong Publishing (Admin. in U.S. & Canada by Integrity's Hosanna! Music)
Joel Houston
For use solely with the SongSelect Terms of Use. All rights Reserved.
CCLI License No. 21985

Watch/listen to last weekend's message

  • Sweeter > Houghton, Houghton, Ratcliff
  • You are Good > Houghton
  • From The Inside Out > Houston
  • Mighty to Save > Feilding, Morgan
  • The Solid Rock > Bradbury
Links to other setlists:

Monday, September 07, 2009

Churches I visit Monday through Saturday

Someone at Topeka Bible Church asked me, "If I wanted to catch TBC's worship time with the music online, how can I do that? I'm now involved over at the College Avenue Building each week in children's ministry." Great question. While we don't publish any podcasts of the music portion of the worship gathering (copyright nightmares), the sermons are always archived here for TBC.

Then they asked me if I could share any other churches that I listen/watch to. Again, you won't find much music - but you'll catch all their sermons online. Here's a quick list of some churches that are doing great things in the kingdom of God. And you can attend their sermons Monday through Saturday when you aren't at your home church. I'm posting the actual URLs for transferability.

Lemon boy

Gave my son a lemon at Sonic after our Labor Day Shunga Trail bike ride.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Jim's fender bender

Nice kisser. Shofar, not so good.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Incredible Topeka Bible Church baptism story last weekend

How God used Topeka Bible Church to lead a Drug Addict to Christ: If you missed baptism last Sunday, you missed an INCREDIBLE story. Last year you may recall a song and video the Vocal Team (all TBC singers) and Band communicated - called "Our God Reigns." If not, here's another look at it... his story begins at 3 minutes 10 seconds...

Underneath the song, a story of TJ was told - a guy who's in the worship arts ministry ... in fact, on stage crew. His life was spiraling out of control.

Can you believe that one of TJ's drug dealer clients had started attending TBC and was there that morning? Believe it. This woman was looking for the same hope that TJ discovered. And now the video, song, and story was connecting with her. That's how God works. At this past Sunday's baptism, she was baptized! Do you believe God can use us? If not, change your thinking. Worship at TBC matters!

Rehearsal Expectations

As the Vocal Team, Orchestra, and other groups get started in several weeks, I wanted to review an expectation that I have for every person showing up to rehearsal. The expectation goes like this: Come prepared (having your part already learned). That means if you are a vocalist, you better know your harmony part on the chorus BEFORE rehearsal. If you are a drummer, you better know the INTRO pattern on the song. If you are a guitarist, you better know all the chords before rehearsal. If you are an audio guy, you better know where that instrumental solo happens before rehearsal. Remember, rehearsal is RE-hearing something...not on the spot learning. Most do an excellent job of this, but I do know when you show up unprepared.

What are indicators that I see when someone HAS NOT prepared? Here are some:
  1. You don't have a clear and confident knowledge of how the melody or chord structure goes. (Use the music/recordings in advance to have this in the pocket before you show up.)
  2. You didn't know where the solo was. (I look at the instrumentalist or audio guy and we blow right through it, don't use the excuse that you were paying attention to something else.)
  3. You have a lost look on your face. (Worship leaders [each of you] can't lead if they need to follow someone else.)
  4. You ask me, "What am I supposed to sing on the chorus?" (Individual vocal parts are all available via, if you have me before the week of rehearsal.)
  5. You ask me, "What feel are you going for here?" (It's on the recording you had access to for the past 3 weeks.)
  6. You mention some excuse, "I was simply too busy." (You could have called me in advance to say I should get someone else, or you should do a better job of not over-extending yourself.)

What are indicators that I see when someone HAS prepared? Here are some:
  1. You know exactly how the melody or chord structure goes, enough to take risks and make a little mistake here or there.
  2. You not only knew where the solo was, you nailed it.
  3. Your face displays a confident look. You are leading yourself and the worshippers instead of following.
  4. You might say, "I really enjoy how the vocals sound on the chorus."
  5. You might say, "The recording has this type of feel, but what do you think about this type that I worked on as an alternative (then demonstrate it)."
  6. You called me a week ago and said, "I know I accepted the invitation to sing/play 4 weeks ago, and you even got me music 2.5 weeks in advance, but I've had some major unexpected changes in my life - I need to decline, can I make some phone calls for you?"
If we come to rehearsal prepared, our relationships will become more important than the music. That's the end goal.

Monday, August 31, 2009

TBC Worship Rewind: August 30, 2009 #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists

Big day at Topeka Bible Church yesterday. We had our normal 5 worship hours (3 locations), then add the Discovery Day tent, then an evening baptism at the lake with 20+ people making a public statement to follow Jesus. Personally, we had a wedding that our kids were flower girl and ring bearer in, so that was Thursday/Friday. It was a big week and weekend.

I learned that musicians/techs function differently in the AM verses PM. Don't all of us? With a unique Saturday rehearsal, I was toast when I walked in. So were others, including the pregnant singer with morning sickness. I function better in the PM rehearsal on Thursdays. Glad that's our regular routine. Now to take care of Sunday AM...what about a Saturday PM?!?!? I'd be in heaven.

Pick easy/familar songs when you have a late rehearsal (or a freak "no rehearsal" at all for some reason), that is if you are used to rehearsals advanced of Sunday. I've wondered what this senario would look like?

Rehearsal 3pm - 5pm
Dinner with musicians/techs 5pm - 6pm
Worship 6pm

Sound check 7:40am
Worship 8am, 9:30am, 11am

What do you think? No rehearsal Thursday, just Saturday...then roll.

Watch/listen to last weekend's message

Set List:
  • You're Worthy of My Praise > Ruis
  • Jesus Messiah > Tomlin, Carson, Cash (Ed, not Johnny) , Reeves
  • Oh the Deep, Deep Love > Music by Kauflin
  • O Worship the King > Chorus by Tomlin
Links to other setlists:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Exit Interview: Why are people leaving your church?

What if people were leaving your church because they "never felt fed?" What if people were visiting other places to get what they felt they needed because they didn't get it at your location? What if people were just singing words instead of really meaning them during a worship gathering? What if people questioned if the majority really even had a relationship with God?

Then, what if they told you they believed the change should come from leadership? (Gulp, that's me.)

What would you do? Anything? Or is it easier to turn my head?

So here are some big questions...

1. Do people in our church have a relationship with God? What percentage do you think?
2. Are we sure people are growing deeper in the relationship? Where have they come from, where are they today, and where are they going on a spiritual spectrum?
3. Are we using God's Word to feed people? If not, how can we so that #1-3 happen?

How do we evaluate to figure out these things?

Some deep questions for this morning.

Monday, August 24, 2009

TBC Worship Rewind: August 23, 2009 #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists Ableton Live verses iPod MP3 click tracks

We had a streamlined band this week in the Main Auditorium (MA) - Drums, Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, and two vocalists. Downstairs in the Lower Auditorium (LA) we had about the same, add a vocalist and subtract the Electric Guitar. I'm learning that fewer instruments get in the way of each other (both musically and audio mixing), however I'd really like as many people along for the ride as possible. With the Vocal Team (all TBC singers) and Orchestra cranking up again this fall, I don't mind a smaller group here and there.

One of our piano players who came to worship this past week came up to be following one of the hours. She mentioned, "I like it when you are on keyboard and leading worship - things flow from one thing to another nicely." I agree with her, but I'm in turmoil over it. I'd love to have things setup where there is flexibility between the a keyboardist and the worship leader. You know, the whole 'I'm reading your mind and I'll take you there' type of thing. However, because we are synchronizing two bands together between Main Auditorium (MA) and Lower Auditorium (LA) - there's hardly any room for flexing. About the only flex we have now is when I'm on an instrument and can add small flexibility.

One more thing I the 3rd hour, the vocalists (including myself) jumped the gun on the click track 4 measures before we were supposed to. Thankfully we had the rest of the song to think about how we would get out of the mess at the end. No problem, simply pray/play for a longer transition while the click could finish. You see, we've combined all our click tracks into a master "Set" track that rolls from one song to the next. Like this...
  • SET 1 (three songs, all one MP3)
  • ___ PAUSE click here, 30 seconds of silence (cue)
  • SET 2 (two songs, all one MP3)
  • ___ END click here, 30 seconds of silence (cue)
It flows nicely when it works - however, if we jump the gun, there's no flexing. We do have each individual song setup with 'cue tracks' so the MP3 operator can simply hit "next" to cue up the song, like here...
  • Hungry - loop and click 86 BPM
  • ___ NEXT when ready (30 second silence)
  • I Surrender All - loop and click 80 BPM
  • ___ NEXT when ready (30 second silence)
  • Revelation Song - loop and click 64
  • ___ PAUSE click here (cue)
  • ___ NEXT when ready (30 second silence)
  • All for the Glory of You - loop and click 130 BPM
  • ___ END click here (cue)
But this doesn't flow as nice and there's lots of down time between every song.

Ableton Live vs. MP3 Player click tracks:
Yes, we could begin using Ableton Live and use MIDI triggering to add the flexibility back in...but I've decided not to go that route for several reasons...
  1. Lower cost of the system (iPods are cheaper than a 2nd computer, software + upgrades, MIDI keyboard/peadal triggers, etc.)
  2. Transferability between volunteers (people know how to operate an iPod, how many people know how to operate a laptop/software/looping/MIDI/triggering)
  3. Setup required (it's easier to setup an iPod, try setting up a laptop/audio.interface/MIDI.triggers/cables, etc.)
  4. It's solid state (iPod's rarely crash, if they are charged)
  5. Backups are easier (if something happens to the iPod, I still have the playlists on my iPhone, and my computer for that matter)
  6. Easy location transfer - imagine if the band wanted to travel to site #3, #4, and #5 in town with the same worship set? Easy...take the iPod with you.
  7. Potentially more confusion if the Ableton Live operator triggers too early/late
So at the end of the day, we are married to this out of necessity. As a result, the Main Auditorium (MA) and Lower Auditorium (LA) are able to coincide together. It jumps our seating capacity from about 600 to about 800 on a given hour of worship.

Is it worth 200 people? Yes. Remember, we count people because people count to God.

Watch/listen to last weekend's message

Set List:
  • Hungry (Falling on My Knees)>Kathryn Scott
  • I Surrender All>Word Music
  • Revelation Song>Kari Jobe
  • Hosanna>Hillsong United
  • All for the Glory of You>Mark Harris
Links to other setlists:

Monday, August 17, 2009

TBC Worship Rewind: August 16, 2009 #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists

Our add-on instrument in the Main Auditorium (MA) this week was an Accordion [and piped down to our synchronized location in the Lower Auditorium (LA)]. Now, don't think that accordion music is strictly for German polka worship. Emmi did a tasty job of playing with the rhythm section. It was also nice for me to hand up the guitar and play B3/keyboards for this week. Finally, the song "Hungry" is new for Topeka Bible Church. While the song is 10 years old and some of it's popularity has faded since the Passion movement, the song is new in our eyes. If you think hymns or other songs that are years old are out-dated, think again. Many older songs resonate with today...sometimes the style of music simply needs a little updating. And sometimes, they are fine all by themselves.

Watch/listen to last weekend's message

Set List:
  • Beautiful One>Jeremy Camp
  • As the Deer (funky version)>Paul Oakley / The Maranatha! Singers
  • Better Is One Day>Elroy Mihailov
  • Hungry (Falling on My Knees)>Kathryn Scott
  • Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)>Chris Tomlin
Links to other setlists:

Devotions in your pocket: moving the church out of the church

Thank you to Wayne and New Hope for making daily readings from the Bible accessible to their church...and the world. Moving the church (people) out of the church (building). Via The Digital Sanctuary.

New Hope on iPhone from Peter Thourson on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Topeka Bible Church goes polka worship

That's Emmi Homman I'm smacking. She's a gem to work with.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Topeka Bible Church Light Show Concept #268: Environmental video projection

Thanks to Matt Ottman for finding this video and sending it to me. This is exactly the video projection stuff we were seeking for the light show. The video just keeps getting better and better the longer you watch it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

TBC Worship Rewind: August 9, 2009 #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists

This was a fairly "normal" week for us. It's nice to have a "coast" week where we can re-group and launch some creativity in the future.

Watch/listen to last weekend's message

Set List:
  • All for the Glory of You>Mark Harris
  • Take My Life>Chris Tomlin & Louie Giglio
  • Hungry (Falling on My Knees)>Kathryn Scott
  • The Power of the Cross>Keith & Kristyn Getty
  • Indescribable>Chris Tomlin
Links to other setlists:

Thursday, August 06, 2009

in Kansas City at the Leadership Summit #tls09

Here with Doug Will, Hunter Ruch, and Mark Bucholtz. Learning how to
hire, fire, and deal with board meltdowns in this session.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nat breaks his wrist by falling from the crow's neat ladder

He had a plate and screws put in today at 1pm. Talk about getting

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cat performs the "CATcerto" - worth the watching

Someone said there is no new music...while theoretically that's true, I haven't heard a cat arrange the music like this before. Imagine a concerto written around what a cat has played on a piano. Brilliant! If you haven't seen this "Cat-certo" - it's worth the entire listen. Thanks to Joyce Jordan for passing this along to me.

Monday, July 27, 2009

TBC Worship Rewind: July 26, 2009 #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists

Tried something a little radical this week - the weaving together of several songs (read medley). I know, sounds weird on paper, but it works. But what did you think?

Watch/listen to last weekend's message

Set List:
  • New Doxology>Gateway Worship with Baba O'Riley>The Who
  • The Power of the Cross>Keith & Kristyn Getty
  • Medley: Your Grace Is Enough>Chris Tomlin with Victory in Jesus>Public Domain with Carry On Wayward Son>Kansas
  • Mighty to Save>Hillsong
Links to other setlists:

Monday, July 20, 2009

TBC Worship Rewind: July 19, 2009 #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists

This week I was at NAMM with Kerry Livgren and John Bowes. Thank God for the others who lead worship when I'm out for a weekend.

Watch/listen to last weekend's message

Set List:
  • Praise to the Lord, the Almighty>Word Music
  • O Worship The King>Passion
  • Oh the Deep, Deep Love>Sovereign Grace Music
  • Jesus Messiah>Chris Tomlin
  • Friend of God>Chris Tomlin
Links to other setlists:

Monday, July 13, 2009

TBC Worship Rewind: July 12, 2009 #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists

Leading worship from the piano is different for me than guitar. 1. One can control transitions in and out of songs more easily. 2. One has less interaction with those who've come to worship. 3. One has less opportunity to give non-verbal communication to the rest of the band.

At rehearsal, we had serious click/loop/sheet music/display lyric sync problems. Thankfully, on the weekend - it was all ironed out. Thanks to Jim Welborn on lyrics for keeping a cool profile and having a great attitude.

Our Aviom IEM (in-ear-monitor system) setup is having some issues. I learned this weekend that our A-Net mixer lost a channel. I mean, it's gone. We had to re-route the stereo keyboard and B3 organ setup to different channels and avoid the dead channel 7.

Musically, it was great to have a week that I didn't worry about anything. That tells me we don't need to work on the music end - we need to work on ironing our sync and audio issues.

Watch/listen to last weekend's message

Set List:
  • Say So>Israel & New Breed
  • Great Is Thy Faithfulness>Word Music (nice arrangement in 4/4 time)
  • Oh the Deep, Deep Love>Sovereign Grace Music (great new song)
  • Revelation Song>Kari Jobe
  • Hosanna>Paul Baloche
Links to other setlists:

Thursday, July 09, 2009

From the lips of a 5 year old (trumpet player)

If you don't play trumpet, then I'll simply tell you - be amazed. Be very amazed.

Monday, July 06, 2009

TBC Worship Rewind: July 5, 2009 #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists

It was nice to have our newest Acoustic Guitar player (Armand Heyns) play Mandolin for several of the songs. Thanks to my Line 6 Variax guitar and PODxt Live to be able to switch to acoustic when the mandolin was up to bat. I learned yesterday that the click/met track should NOT have any slow-ups/ritards at the end of the songs so that the Main Auditorium (MA) and Lower Auditorium (LA) bands can simply end them un-synchronized...then start the next song by itself. It was also nice in the Main Auditorium (MA) to have the Blasi trio lead on vocals so I could lead the band and enjoy the Electric Guitar role without leading. One of the things I dislike about the whole synchronized Main Auditorium (MA) and Lower Auditorium (LA) is the fact that I don't really know how things are going downstairs. I'm relying on secondhand information. Thankfully, we have capable musicians in both places - so I'm not worried too much about it.

Watch/listen to last weekend's message

Set List:
  • Mighty to Save>Hillsong
  • You Shine>Brian Doerksen
  • Oh the Deep, Deep Love>Sovereign Grace Music
  • Your Name>Paul Baloche
  • The Old Rugged Cross>Brad Paisley
  • Holy is the Lord >Chris Tomlin
Links to other setlists:

Success failure on Topeka Sign

Don't think the S fell off - they didn't leave a space for it.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

TBC Aquires a Pope-Mobile

Minus bulletproof glass and security detail.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Topeka Bible Church June 2009 Baptism Video

LA worship location packed today

LA was packed today. And the main auditorium was pretty full as well.
Leading *people* to life in Christ requires seats for one of the most
important components of the mission - people.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Create nice blown up musician floor worship outlines using Planning Center Online

As a musician, maybe you need bigger font/keys if you aren't using music, music stand, or you place it on the floor. If you use and you've wanted an outline that you can put on the floor to see the songs and keys in's what you've been looking for. Thanks to the awesome people at for the great tool they've created for us.

The coding file can be found here.

And a PDF example can be found here.

Email me with questions on implementation.

Results of "Have It Your Way" worship

Last Sunday at Topeka Bible Church, we took requests from worshipers, then voted with the applause-o-meter. Want to know the results?


  • Blessed Be Your Name (beat out A Mighty Fortress Is Our God)
  • I'll Fly Away (beat our Amazing Grace)
  • Days of Elijah (beat out Victory In Jesus)
  • How Great Thou Art (beat out Wonderful Grace of Jesus)

  • I Can Only Imagine (beat out Days of Elijah)
  • Made Me Glad (beat out Give Me Your Eyes)
  • Jesus Messiah (beat out Shine, Jesus Shine)
  • Amazing Grace [My Chains Are Gone] (beat out In the Garden)
  • In Christ Alone (beat out The Power of the Cross)

  • Days of Elijah (beat out Majesty)
  • In Christ Alone (beat out Above All)
  • Hosanna (beat out Say So)
  • Your Grace Is Enough (beat out Lord, I Lift Your Name on High)
  • *Untitled Hymn [Come to Jesus] (beat out Give Me Your Eyes)

* We will sing this song this upcoming Sunday, June 28th at Topeka Bible Church because Jim Congdon requested it to be sung as a part of his message.

You might be wondering how we worked this with our synchronized location " Lower Auditorium (LA) ". We took two requests from Lower Auditorium (LA) to generate the list. Then we asked Lower Auditorium (LA) to be the tie breakers if the applause from Main Auditorium (MA) was too close to call. Thanks to Lower Auditorium (LA) - we needed two tie breakers.

So which ones where you glad that got beat out? Which ones were upsets for you?

How to get feedback from your worship arts family

What's the best way to get feedback from your ministry? Ask them. So that's what happened with our Spring 2009 Worship Arts Survey. If you've never used for online surveys - give it a look. Very helpful in collection and analyzing the results. So easy - even a monkey can use it.

Want to know the results from the 81 people who took it? See the results (without names) here.

Other good ways to find feedback - take someone to lunch, watch the worshippers (are they sleeping or have their arms folded), or create an approachable open door culture (like, is your office door open or shut most of the time?).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Somebody stuffed the ballot box 3rd hour

Someone wasn't playing fair at "You Pick the Music Sunday." Check out
all the signs for one song. New rule - people with signs have to come
up to sing a solo.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Got to listen at 11am in the house

- volume level good
- mix was good
- loops help drive
- balcony levels were weaker than floor
- that hollow piano sound is about to be upgraded (more to come)
- ad lib vocals are nice (good, Jill)
- instrumentalists are singing (thanks, Joel and Randee)
- it's nice to be in the house
- transitions are spot on