Changes

“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…”

To quote David Bowie.

I’ve been on staff at PCC as the primary worship leader ever since I’ve started here, seven years ago. The church has grown, our team of musicians has grown.

And I’ve grown. Sideways, sometimes. But that counts, too. I’ve probably learned as much from my failures and mistakes as I have from things we’d say were successful.

When I came to PCC I was very broken, very unsure of myself in many ways. The one thing I knew was that worship was my lifeblood. I’ve been a musician all of my life. I am most myself when I am making music. The invitation to make music at PCC – and to carefully tend a leadership role – was a pivotal point in my life, not only professionally, but also spiritually and emotionally.

So I started singing and playing and leading. And growing.

And the church grew, too.

Growing things change.

It’s been obvious that God has directed some incredibly talented people towards the creative arts team, and in order for them to grow and learn, we’re shifting a few responsibilities around in our leadership structure. These changes won’t make a huge difference in your Sunday morning experience, as you’re accustomed to seeing these folks on stage already; but I thought I’d make an official introduction to you.

Matthew O’Donnell has been at PCC for about 18 months. He came with his family, started making music with us and basically never stopped. Matthew is talented, passionate and loves God. He has a unique mix of intelligence, musical ability and leadership gifting that presented us with an obvious responsibility: To help him grow and learn to use those gifts here at his home church. That’s what we’re doing. I’m glad to share the news that Matthew is the new Worship Coordinator at the Powhatan Campus.

Matt O’Rear came to PCC in the spring of 2012.  Matt and his family worshiped at the Westchester Campus for several months; we had a chance meeting at a local restaurant. Sammy introduced Matt to Lindsay and I and mentioned that he played music. We invited him to come play for us right then and there; he got directions, grabbed a guitar and came to the Powhatan Campus and played for us. Matt’s background includes music business studies at NYU,  music production and engineering studies at Berklee College of Music and church music at Southeastern University. He loves God and is passionate about musical worship. Matt will be the Worship Coordinator at the Westchester Campus.

And although she’s not named “Matthew”, Laura Krzyston has joined the PCC staff as well. You might recall a blog post introducing Laura as our Artist In Residenceit’s been wonderful to have her on board as part of our creative team. She’s written some amazing songs and continued to grow as a part of our community, working with our musicians as well as student ministry. Laura feels strongly that God has called her to travel, but for this current season she is responding to a strong tug towards Fork Union. She will partner with Chauncey Starkey to build a team of musicians at Fork Union, and plans to be part of that community as a resident. Laura holds a degree in music from VCU, has a passionate love for God and is committed to the work of the local church.

I am thrilled to see these three talented individuals step out to invest their time, talent and resources in the work that God is doing in and through PCC. We are better for their presence among us, and as they continue to grow as leaders we will benefit from their imprint on our church. Nothing makes me prouder than to stand in the back of the room and worship under their leadership!

And that’s what I’ll be doing…on some days. Matt, Matthew and Laura will carry a large part of the scheduling and rehearsing for weekend services, and they’ll be on the platform leading consistently. I’m still part of the worship team, and I’ll still  play and sing – but, a lot of my energy will now be focused on equipping and encouraging these new leaders and helping them to be successful. I’ll continue to lead our programming team as the Creative Director and serve on our senior leadership team as we develop strategy and systems for growth.

My friend Walter pointed out that I have a strong maternal streak; I want to protect people in our ministry. I want to see them soar, too. As I grow older, I am beginning to understand that this maternal instinct is a part of my leadership style. It might not be a good fit for a Fortune 500 company, but it’s part of the unique wiring that God gave me. I think it’s a good fit for His people, too.

I’m glad for it.

I hope you’ll welcome Matthew, Matt and Laura – and I hope you’ll prayerfully support and encourage all the leaders of PCC as we move into a new, exciting year of change!

Advice To Worship Leaders

I was driving home this afternoon, and I had this thought:

I’m really humble.


No, really.

Isn’t that crazy? I mean, what kind of person calls themselves humble and is, in fact, humble? Isn’t that a big, fat oxymoron?

I remember being in a conversation once – for the life of me, I can’t remember who, but that’s par for the course these days, because I’m lucky if I can remember my own name. It’s hormonal, I think.

Anyway – where was I? Oh, right. That conversation.

Somebody was telling me about themselves in regards to serving on our arts team, and the comment they made was, “Oh, I get humility. I’m the most humble person you’ll ever meet.”


Now that is messed up.

But back to my point: It has to do with the way I do my job. I had lots of meetings this week, with lots of dialogue and conversation. I’m working on some strategic planning for the summer that involves a good bit of collaboration. And in every one of those situations, I’m investing time and energy into processing, thinking through and then pitching ideas – my ideas. That’s what I get paid for, that’s my calling, that’s my role and responsibility. I’m often invited into places where my opinion or evaluation is requested, and I tread very carefully; but I use my brain and my experience and my discernment and I offer ideas and suggestions and plans. Sometimes with a great deal of passion.

Then there’s the music leading part, too; I have strong feelings about how we’re called to serve the church and one another as musicians. I also have strong feelings about how songs ought to sound and how a service ought to flow, about who has potential and a calling to lead worship and who might not be quite ready. I’m not ashamed of voicing those opinions, of pushing through to create things that I believe will honor God and inspire people. Things that will be excellent.

But undergirding all this opining and leading that I do is a very specific underlying assumption. I rest my pride and ego upon it, and I also balance a great deal of confidence here, because I know, ultimately, that working from this premise makes me better. And makes our team better.

Regardless of all my great ideas, I always believe that somebody else has a better idea. 

I always believe that somebody else is more on top of things, smarter, brighter, more effective, more efficient. Not just that they might, but that they are. And that they have better ideas than I do.

At its worst, I’ll cling to this life-raft of insecurity and cry myself a pity party in which I am old and decrepit and useless and jealous. Oh, yes. Sometimes that happens.

But at its best, I passionately believe that I am leaning hard into Paul’s words in Philippians*, which I think are dead on:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others. 

Or, as creatively voiced by Eugene Peterson in The Message:

Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

This is important to me. I think it’s important to my job, to our church, and ultimately, to the community. I think it resonates with me because I’ve screwed up so royally by looking to my own selfish interests first and foremost, by being obsessed with getting what I wanted. I’ve swung the pendulum the other way.

It’s better this way. And it matters.

If I could give counsel to any person leading in the creative arts field, most especially to worship leaders, I would say this: the sooner you own this sort of humility, the better. You’ll be better. The people you lead will be better. And even though you might say stupid things to yourself like, “Gee – I’m really humble!”, in the long run it’ll be fine. It works.

*Philippians 2.3

It’s REALLY Not About You

News flash: we have a date for the 2010 Randy Lawson Memorial Concert. Mark your calendars now for May 21st – we’re on!

I got an email from somebody today who initially wasn’t sure if their schedule would work out for them to be there for concert. Here’s what it said:

I WILL be here for the concert on 5/21. Please use me wherever you need me. I don’t have to speak or sing, but I’d love to beat the congas for a song or I can be a stage hand or whatever.

Not so remarkable in light of all the folks at PCC who love to serve, who give countless hours of their time, talent and resources to make all sorts of great things happen around the church. Lots of folks have great attitudes; they rearrange their schedules; they give up vacation time; they offer to serve anywhere needed.
But this email is remarkable in another context. It might surprise some of you. It might mess with your assumptions. It might defy your expectations.
Read it again, and note the willingness to “beat the congas for a song” or “be a stage hand” or “whatever”.
See, lots of folks have this preconceived notion about church. Specifically, about church leadership. They assume that certain folks within the organized structure of the church sort of “reign” over the others. They think that some folks hold to a loftier position than others. They assume that people in more prominent positions are interested in acclaim and reward, financial gain or status. They assume that high-profile leaders set themselves apart from more “menial” tasks to focus on dong things that keep them in the limelight, keep the applause on themselves, make themselves and their efforts look good.
That’s not PCC. That’s not how it works here.
Have you been around Powhatan Community Church for a few weeks or longer? How many times have you heard Brian Hughes – our senior pastor – say, “It’s not about you” ?
He means it. He lives it. Not just out in front, preaching from the platform; but behind the scenes, in an email volunteering his help for one of the biggest events of the year.

Brian with his daughter, Mary Ashleigh.

Brian, I imagine we’ll have something for you to do. And since very few people speak as well as you do, we’ll probably ask you to do that. But maybe you ought to plan to bring your gloves and play some percussion with us…or be a stage hand…or whatever…

Leadership Conference

I’m honored to have received an invitation to speak at the 2009 Leadership Development Conference for Central Virgina Baptist Ministries. I get to talk about creative technology and the impact of social media on the church.

Hopefully I’ll figure out a definitive answer before the conference. Then, maybe I’ll solve the American health care crisis.
Seriously, I’ve enjoyed researching info for this talk. I’m looking forward to it!
If you’re interested in Leadership Development, Central Baptist Style, check out the registration info here. The conference itself is free, but you can get yourself a good dinner for a mere $7. The event is September 28 at Bon Air Baptist Church. I’m not particular about wanting you to come hear me; there are a ton of sessions offered that might be of interest to you. Check it out!
I’ve met some great people through CVBM – folks like Lee Ellison and Jim Hamacher and Nita May. Looks like this conference will be another great opportunity to get folks together.
Hope to see you there!

All The Single Ladies (And Guys)

I’m single. And I serve a large church, where a lot of other single people find themselves. We continue to work to find effective ways get single people connected in service and small groups, to find ways to help process and work through the very difficult challenges that men and women face as they recover from divorce or deal with singleness that goes past the age of 30, when it appears that society expects you to be married. Getting connecting, meeting and trusting people? Not always easy. When you have issues stemming from divorce, it can be extremely complicated.
It’s tough. People want to find God, to learn more about serving and growing. But people also want healing, and help, and partnership and connection. Often, single folks just want something to do. Being alone can be very lonely.
It’s a struggle for me, in a position of leadership at church, to know exactly how to best serve folks like me.
I read something today on Kathy Guy’s blog that really helped me understand how a church can best serve single people. Here’s what she has to say to the single folks at their church:
It’s likely that 90% – or at least a bunch of you – are here with the hope of meeting someone of the opposite sex. That’s not an insult or a judgement. It’s understandable and nothing wrong with it. It’s reality.


At the same time, the intent of our group environments is not to provide a dating service.
Our hope is for you to discover more fully how much you matter to God, and we believe that this happens best as you build relationships with each other.

If inside of meeting others, you happen to meet the person of your dreams, well that’s just a big touchdown for you! If you measure your experience based on that, however, you’ll be disappointed. You will have an opportunity to get to know some people, and you’ll start seeing them when you come to church. You’ll feel like you know some people, and it just makes it better.”


Our hope is for you to discover more fully how much you matter to God.
Anything else is a bonus.
That’s a great way to do church.
What do you think?

Successful Church

Putting on my leadership hat to share this recent post from Craig Groeschel of lifechurch.tv. (Check out his blog here.)

This really, REALLY made me think today.

I’m glad when God kicks me out of my comfort zone.
But it ain’t comfortable….
I will never be satisfied with a church filled only with people who know Christ. God longs for the “lost to be found.” But for years I found the greatest joy in more people coming to church.

Today, I’m redefining success to not just more people, but different people.

A few years ago, our church was experiencing record crowds of people. But we also had many people who’d been with us for years falling into major sins.

We seemed to be effective at getting people into Church, but were we truly getting people into Christ?

I’ve been set free from being totally driven by attendance. Instead I’m asking God to take those we have into a deeper place of intimacy and knowledge of Christ. I’d rather have fewer and totally committed believers than a large number of lazy, apathetic, carnally minded and unproductive cultural Christians. – Craig Groeschel
What do you think? What makes a church “successful”?

Common Sense Leadership

This is what I’m reading at the moment. I love leadership books that resonate with common sense.

After the introduction, I’m convinced that this sucker is FULL of that very thing.
If you’ve read it, what do you think?
Check back for a full report. Our entire staff is reading it, and we’ll be discussing in a few weeks…