Dementia, Miscommunication, and Extraneous Sounds – Another Normal Sunday

This past Sunday I had the privilege (an overused word, yes, but always true) of leading the singing at my home church, Covenant Life. I’ve had requests to post more on what we do on Sundays, so here it is, my rundown of another normal Sunday.

We’re in a series called “Living Hope” as we preach through the book of 1 Peter. Two Sundays ago we heard about the prophets who were faithful to prophesy about the grace that was to be ours and “searched and inquired carefully” (1 Pet. 1:10). So this week seemed like a great Sunday to teach the Getty/Townend song, By Faith. The song includes the verse:

By faith the prophets saw a day
When the longed-for Messiah would appear
With the power to break the chains of sin and death
And rise triumphant from the grave

This was the line up:

My Hope is Built on Nothing Less – we added an intro/turn in 6/8 for a different feel between verses. Click here to listen.
By Faith
Water Baptism
Saving One (Starfield)
Here I Am to Worship (never got to this one)

Before “By Faith” I shared a thought that went something like this:

In just a few minutes we’ll be privileged to sit under the teaching of God’s Word. But it’s good to remember that even now, Colossians 3:16 says that we are “teaching and admonishing one another” as we sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in our hearts to God.” So in the song we just sang, we were teaching each other that Jesus Christ is our only rock, that anything else we trust in is like sand, that “his oath, his covenant, his blood” support us in the whelming flood. In the song we’re about to sing, we’re going to be telling each other that we weren’t the first ones to trust God. We are part of a long history of God’s chosen people who have put our faith in God’s Word and his promises. We heard last week that prophets long ago proclaimed a Messiah they would never see because they believed God had spoken to them. We believe God has spoken as well. The world may mock and deride us for trusting in God. But we look not to things that are seen, but to things that are unseen. We stand on the promises of God as he has declared them to us, for in Jesus Christ, every one of them is yes and amen. And those who have put their faith in Christ shall never be ashamed.

After we sang “By Faith” we witnessed two people get baptized in the first meeting, and one in the second. We started including water baptisms in the Sunday meetings a few years ago, and I’m so grateful that we did. It’s a regular reminder that God is still in the business of radically changing lives through the gospel as well as preserving kids who grow up in Christian homes from a life of rebellion.

Here’s where the title of this post comes in. After the baptisms we planned to sing the bridge of “Saving One.” So I had everyone stand up and boldly sang out, “And anyone who calls upon his name, they will be saved.” The only problem was, I was singing the bridge lyrics to the chorus melody. I guess I didn’t know it as well as I thought. I backed away from the mic, trying to make it sound as though I was having a spontaneous burst of inspiration (one benefit to being a continuationist). I gathered my thoughts, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and the right melody came back to me. Strike one.

At the end of the meeting we were planning to sing Stuart Townend’s “Beautiful Savior” in response to the message. But I looked down to the lyric screen and saw that In Christ Alone was in the cue (ProPresenter includes both the lyrics you’re singing and what’s coming up). I assumed that someone had chosen a different song. I found out later that the projectionist was editing lyrics and those words just happened to be up on my screen. The song ended up working great, but I totally misunderstood what was going on. Strike two.

In the second meeting, things went better. I actually remembered the bridge melody to “Saving One.” But when I came up after the message I heard the drummer’s click track in my headphones and the tempo was nowhere near what it should have been. I tried to get the drummer’s attention, but he seemed to be talking with the people at the monitor board. In the mean time my piano kept fading out of my monitors. I had no idea what was going on but  hoped someone would figure out that I didn’t want the click track in my headphones. Moments later I realized that either I or someone else had hit the “metronome” button on my keyboard when moving it. The click track was coming from my piano. Nice touch. Strike three.

Fortunately, leading congregational worship isn’t like baseball. I’m not out. They’re still going to let me lead next Sunday.

More importantly, people encountered God as we sang, Jesus was magnified in their hearts and minds, the gospel was clearly proclaimed, and I was humbled.

All in all, a great morning and another normal Sunday.

27 Responses to Dementia, Miscommunication, and Extraneous Sounds – Another Normal Sunday

  1. Jon Elliff May 5, 2010 at 9:50 AM #

    Great to know we small timers aren’t the only ones that face stuff like this!

  2. Jason Parmer May 5, 2010 at 10:18 AM #

    Thanks for this encouragement. I am at ease to know that from time to time we all go through these types of situations as worship leaders. But as you said, it keeps you humble and bottom line is Jesus was glorified. Awesome!!!

  3. The Huie Family May 5, 2010 at 10:37 AM #

    We were there for the first service and caught neither of the first two strikes. We came upstairs after Starting Point to get our older children and caught the end of worship in the second service. Yup- we heard the click but joined in the worship without even thinking about it. We can affirm that your last paragraph was what we remembered most about Sunday worship “More importantly, people encountered God as we sang, Jesus was magnified in their hearts and minds, the gospel was clearly proclaimed”. Thank you for your humble service to us. We were blessed.

  4. Doug Lane May 5, 2010 at 10:41 AM #

    All you were missing was a string breaking and a mysterious hum.

    Talk about dementia: I led worship at my church the morning after my son was born. I was so exhausted that while singing “God of Wonders”, I got stuck on the line “Lord of heaven and earth” and kept repeating it over and over again for (I’m told) several minutes. The band just hung in there, the congregation assumed I was either caught up in the Spirit or had fallen asleep (which was probably more likely on that morning!). They still remind me about that…

  5. Jacelyn Sytsma May 5, 2010 at 11:04 AM #

    Bob, thanks for sharing this. I find it comforting to know that these things happen to you as well… and that grace abounds in it all.

  6. Terry Foss May 5, 2010 at 11:15 AM #

    That’s so encouraging Bob to hear that even for you, things can go wrong! Ha! That reminded me of a recent experience I had while leading. It was about a week and a half ago, I was leading for the Evangelical Covenant annual conference. It was a service for all the pastors in the Northwest Conference. They had requested a Hymn I wasn’t familiar with. Based on the melody, it seemed to be a slower song. However, I was told just before the service what the correct tempo was which changed the instrumentation considerably. But when it was time to do the song, I stood up and couldn’t remember how it went at all! I had been practicing it all week but now totally blanked on it. So I had shared with all of these pastor’s that I had the privilege of learning one of their favorite Hymn’s and shared how I’d been practicing it with the wrong tempo….(I still didn’t know how the melody started.) So I said “I’ve been practicing it like this… (sang some non-sensical melody) and said “…Vibrantly I sad “but that’s not how it goes does it? Y’all know it, How does it go?” They all started singing it. And then I said that’s right! (Never once letting on that I had NO CLUE how to start this song! Ha!) The drummer counted it off and we finished it just fine. Whew! Worship crisis averted!

  7. Chris May 5, 2010 at 11:57 AM #

    Hey Bob,

    Thanks for being humble and transparent enough to share this with us. It’s always good to know that we are all in the same boat.

    I have a question for you about Starfield’s “The Saving One”: The second verse has the line “the cross was not enough to steal away His throne for He is God.” While I love that sentiment, I am a little uncomfortable communicating “the cross was not enough.: It just doesn’t sit quite right. Did you run across this problem as well, and if so, how did you reconcile the situation?

    • Bob Kauflin May 5, 2010 at 12:01 PM #

      Chris, great question. I think there’s an unfortunate break in the lines, but the meaning doesn’t change. I think of it as another way of saying Christ’s death on the cross could not take away his divinity. From Satan’s perspective the cross was Christ’s defeat. From God’s perspective, it was his greatest victory and the very reason God exalted him to the highest place (Phil. 2:5-11).

  8. Matt Blick May 5, 2010 at 2:31 PM #

    Ha! Hilarious!

    There’s a clip out there on the web of a drummer playing and electronic kit on (I think) Jesus be the center when he accidentally hits the metronome button.

    Only it’s not a click, it’s the sound of a hyper caffinated Jeames Brown wannabe shouting, “ONE..TWO..THREE..FOUR!!” repeatedly…

  9. West B. May 5, 2010 at 3:00 PM #

    Sounds like our first service from last Sunday too!
    – Ableton Live track starting in the middle…
    – Piano, orchestra, and organ fighting over the tempo…
    – Lyrics not projected….

    But it was so sweet (and surprising!) to hear later from folks how beautiful everything was.

    Question: Why do you point out that it was *water* baptism? As opposed to what?

  10. dave fournier May 5, 2010 at 8:15 PM #

    good post!

  11. Jordan May 6, 2010 at 12:27 AM #

    I actually have another question regarding Starfield’s song. I love the song and used it at my church a few weeks ago, but changed the first verse’s “my fate was surely sealed/until he rescued me” to “the day he rescued me”. Although the original emphasizes Christ as the only hope of redemption, I find Scripture speaking of sealing my fate only as for salvation, not condemnation. Am I making too much of this?

    • Bob Kauflin May 6, 2010 at 12:46 AM #

      Jordan, I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t think it needs to be interpreted that way. Humanly speaking, “my fate was surely sealed,” as in, “I was doomed.” The biblical writers use phrases like that to describe our state before by faith we trusted in Christ: “We were dead in the trespasses and sins in which we once walked…children of wrath like the rest of mankind.” Is that helpful?

  12. Aaron Leggett May 6, 2010 at 1:35 AM #

    I’m thankful for your willingness to share moments like these. I laughed as I read, remembering all the goofy things that I’ve done…

  13. Sharon May 6, 2010 at 2:24 AM #

    I love reading your posts. So down to earth and easily understandandable! You dont use high-fallutin’ words! Reminds me of Jesus’ teachings in the Bible..God bless you and your family.

  14. Neil May 6, 2010 at 4:50 AM #


    Always appreciate your humility and openness in sharing these scenarios. A reminder that we all need to spend time practising & familiarising ourselves with new/old material.

    I was reminded of a time in the mid 90s where I’d been invited to lead a University Christian meeting and half way thru the opening set, as I thoughfully strummed a G, I had a mental block on the melody to Amazing grace! I did the humble thing, I stopped, asked if anyone knew it, and started up as soon as I heard the opening 2 notes.

    Goes to show, you can never know a song too well :)

  15. Sloan May 6, 2010 at 7:55 AM #

    Thanks for the honesty… Sometimes I feel like I am the only one who forgets lines or sometimes sings the wrong melody!

  16. Michelle May 6, 2010 at 2:57 PM #

    I’m starting to that my church’s lack of all those fancy electronic gizmos (that I so badly want us to purchase) could be a blessing in disguise! :0)

  17. Jordan May 6, 2010 at 10:01 PM #

    Thanks, that helps!

  18. mandythompson May 9, 2010 at 2:16 PM #

    Bob: It’s great to know we’re all prone to blunders. Also, great to know that you continue to serve in your local church. :) Thanks for sharing this recap with us.

  19. Zach Rice May 11, 2010 at 2:21 PM #

    Thanks for that post. I needed that. This week was one of those weeks for me too. We began with “The Father’s Love” and as I was setting it up I went totally blank. Later in the service – the screen went blank several times. Great to know God is still sovereign when we are blank!

  20. Alan May 11, 2010 at 7:23 PM #

    I agree with the other posts Bob…it’s helpful to see that we aren’t the only ones dealing with “issues” on Sunday morning. However, I was a little taken aback that someone who is “privileged” to lead worship would use an adjective such as “normal” to describe the Sunday morning meeting. I think I know your heart Bob and have heard enough of your teachings to know that you would emphatically describe the opportunity to gather as the local church each week is anything but normal. Don’t feel bad. I’m sure it was just an oversight. I just don’t want to see you lose your zeal… for the sake of all those you influence greatly.

    • Bob Kauflin May 11, 2010 at 10:26 PM #

      Alan, I had the very thought after I posted this. I only meant “normal” in the sense that misfires, miscommunication, and mistakes happen every Sunday. But every time God’s people gather to worship Christ in the power of the Spirit, it is anything but normal! Thanks for the adjustment.

  21. John Benson May 12, 2010 at 8:18 AM #

    I was surprised when I received an ‘attaboy’ this past Sunday following our morning worship from the senior pastor. I had been so caught up in the misfires and the technical aspects of leading that I had missed what The Spirit was accomplishing in our midst.

  22. johndavid May 18, 2010 at 3:15 PM #

    I’m a little late on this post – but thanks for being humble and laughing at yourself. Even with the mistakes, our church is blessed to have your leadership. And your word was really encouraging – the fact that we are encouraging one another while singing to the Savior is really cool.

    john david

    • Bob Kauflin May 18, 2010 at 4:00 PM #

      Thanks, John David! It’s a joy to be serving with guys like you who encourage my heart when I think about the next generation.

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