Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - Write Bad Songs!

One of the great blessings of this East Coast Tour has been the chance to mentor singers, musicians, and songwriters. We've met many of them through our workshops, but we've also met lots just through our concerts. Every so often, a young person will come up after a concert and say, "I want to be a musician too."

We'll ask if they sing or if they play. Are they taking lessons? In school groups? Have they put on a local show yet? Are they in the church choir or band?

Inevitably, the conversation will come around to songwriting. It usually goes like this:

Us: "Do you write your own songs?"

Them: "No."

Us: "Have you tried writing?"

Them: "Well, yes, but my songs were terrible, so I gave up."

At that point, you can hear our hearts break a little.

At first, I tried to sound comforting, consoling them with cliches: "It's okay. We all write some bad songs. You can do it. Keep trying..."

But on Sunday, I met an 11-year-old who told me:

"I tried writing, but I failed miserably. My songs were awful!"

That word: "FAILED"

What a powerful word. It can shut down the best of intentions, the most noble efforts, the lifelong dream.

And yet, if we let it, it can transform our world. It can be the great lesson learned, the giant mountain we overcome, the mighty leap to success.

So when she said, "I failed,
I exclaimed, "CONGRATULATIONS!!!!"

She looked at me like I had three heads.

"Congratulations!" I reiterated. "Writing bad songs is the first step to becoming a songwriter! Write lots and lots and lots of bad songs. Each one will teach you something, and before long, you'll notice you're writing good songs."

I could see the plan forming in her head. I could almost hear the songs writing themselves in her imagination. A smile crept across her face.

When we parted, I said it again, "Write lots of bad songs! Promise me?"

"I promise, " she said.

The Dream was alive again...

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - Thanksgiving Blessings...

Let us come before him with thanksgiving 
and extol him with music and song.
Psalm 95:2 

Happy Thanksgiving!

This past weekend, we joined with people across Canada to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives. For us, the list was long:

- our families, our friends, our health, and our livelihood
- God's grace, forgiveness, mercy, and love
- our skills and talents, and the opportunity to use them together to serve God and God's people
- and the list goes on...

It was just over a year ago that we made the decision to take Infinitely More on the road full time. It's been an interesting journey, with a huge learning curve. We've had some set backs, such as losing our first Prairies tour due to illness. There have been amazing blessings, like our Covenant Award Nominations, and our winter in St. Andrews By-the-Sea, New Brunswick.

I often describe our life as an Adventure. People generally smile when I say that, until I reveal the truth of that statement:

Every real Adventure contains great challenges, devastating failures, and amazing successes. 

Adventures are not for the faint of heart. That's why we tend to avoid them and choose safer routes. But even in the hardest part of the Adventure, you can still see God at work. 

This week, two great examples showed themselves:

We are currently on our East Coast Tour. We're singing 30 events in 9 weeks in 5 provinces. Scheduling this tour was a bit of a plates-on-sticks trick, balancing driving routes with concert times, making sure we didn't exhaust ourselves while also covering all the areas that wanted our ministry. In a piece of timing that could only be God's, we found ourselves in Botwood, Newfoundland, for Thanksgiving. Botwood is my Mom's hometown, and still home to my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins. For the first time ever, we were able to celebrate Thanksgiving together. What a blessing...

And here's another: We've accepted a concert for November 2 in Hillsborough, New Brunswick. This concert will be after we leave Newfoundland, on the way back to Ontario. Remember how I mentioned balancing our driving routes? Well, this one is terrible! We'll take the ferry on Saturday, giving us a 6 hour drive (not including breaks) on Sunday before the concert that same night. We're happy to do the concert, but the drive has been stressing me out. But last night I thought, "When do the clocks change?" They fall back on November 2! We'll get our extra hour on the day of the drive. You can't tell me that's not God's timing!

I don't know what your Thanksgiving was like. Perhaps you're in the part of the Adventure that feels more like a challenge, or even a season of failure. Let me encourage you to look for God's blessings in this time. I assure they are there, and they are waiting to be found by you. He has not forgotten you. He is still with you. There is no end to the love and blessings He has for you...

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - We Are The Face Of Jesus

The story begins in August, 2013. It was a sunny morning in Chamcook, New Brunswick. We'd had a beautiful concert the night before in St. Andrews By-the-Sea, and we were ready for a relaxing day off. Gerald, as usual, had risen early. I found him at the kitchen table, with that new-song look on his face.

For a long time, he'd wanted to write a new lyric for the classic tune, Shenandoah. "Listen," he said...

We are the face of Jesus
And the world, the world is watching.
We are the face of Jesus
And everything we do reflects upon our Lord...

It was so beautiful, and fit with the melody so perfectly. I've always loved writing that calls us to be accountable in our role as Christians. With the slightest word or action, we can affect another's belief in God. We can draw people to Jesus with our love and our kindness, but perhaps even more easily, we can repulse them with our judgment and our hypocrisy.

When I heard the first verse, I was reminded of the classic hymn, Take My Life and Let It Be. What if we were the eyes of Jesus, the hands of Jesus, the heart of Jesus...

Gerald was also thinking this way, so as we continued our tour, we started to write the remaining verses. But something wasn't clicking. The arc of the song wasn't complete. We couldn't find that final piece of the song puzzle.

The following week, we found ourselves in Berwick, Nova Scotia. The volunteers from Servants Heart Ministries has brought us into the area to sing fundraising concerts for two mission teams. That night, we met a group of teens who would be traveling to the Dominican Republic to build houses. Their excitement and passion for the trip was electric. When we left the concert, we had our final verse:

We are the hands of Jesus
And the world, the world is needing.
We are the hands of Jesus
And every house we build will be filled by His love.

The following night, we were in Kentville, Nova Scotia, to sing the final fundraiser. We told the crowd about the song, and how the teens had inspired the final verse. And with handwritten lyrics in front of us, we debuted We Are The Face Of Jesus.

The teens that inspired our final verse...

Since that time, we've had the chance to sing the song for churches, clergy, and retreats. It resonates with people who are aware that their faith walk is also their witness to the world.

When we decided to step into the studio this year, 
We Are The Face Of Jesus was an obvious choice. 
You can hear a sample from the final recording here.

Just a few weeks ago, we found ourselves in Kentville again, and we were able to sing We Are The Face Of Jesus for the 2015 missions team. We pray that each of us, as we move through this world, will represent the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness of the One who loved us first.

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - Guest Post by Gerald Flemming

Today we feature a guest post by my husband and partner in all things 
Infinitely More - Gerald Flemming. 

By Gerald Flemming

Embracing a vision can be a difficult and frightening thing. When your calling appears to you, when you feel it in your heart and there’s that undeniable pull towards the light, what do you do?

Do you throw yourself without delay into the abyss hoping that it is the real deal? 
Do you deny and continue on your current path? 
Or maybe you find that copacetic middle ground that neither commits nor denies, 
but seeks with curiosity?  

It’s amazing that God’s limitless patience and grace has space for all three of those choices. And as we walk down those separate roads there always seems to be constant and quiet reminders that seek to turn us toward a singular purpose. Sometimes it’s people who walk into our lives and whisper the right story that catches us at the right moment. Sometimes it’s a piece of sermon or song, or psalm that seems to speak directly to us.

It’s possible that the moment that turns you towards the light ends up being more abstract. 
A detail in a painting.  
A stanza in a piece of poetry or fiction.  
A moment of unspeakable natural beauty and silence 
where the Voice is undeniable in its approach to your heart.  

And in an instant we are offered that deep breath of perfect knowing.  

I’m closing my eyes and taking a deep breath right now in a cafĂ© in Lunenburg, NS. In the last month both Allison and I have experienced the Voice, in all of those things and other incredible gifts. The privilege of hearing others talk about the remarkable moments that brought them to a deeper trajectory with our Lord. Shimmering sunlit waters that echoed with the sounds of fall approaching. A 250 year old house of God that was destroyed and then resurrected by the love of a congregation and the outreach of many hearts and people coast to coast. We were fortunate enough to receive a call to help with this ten years ago. We were given the honour of sharing a stage with John Allan Cameron at a fundraiser for St. John’s Lunenburg. It would take a willful arrogance not to feel God’s hand on our return here.

For us, the privilege of finally doing a concert here, in this ‘House Where Prophets Speak’, is just another glorious encouragement. It’s another whisper from the Voice, that we are on the path that was waiting for us. 

And that we can completely and totally trust this undeniable pull towards the light.  

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - 7 Ways to Create an Invitation To Worship...

Today, we're posting from Halifax, Nova Scotia! We just wrapped up the New Brunswick leg of the tour with a concert and workshop in Hampton, which was the inspiration for today's post.

How do we bring our congregation into worship?

As worship leaders, we've rehearsed the songs, studied the lyrics, and we come to church with an enthusiasm and a readiness to worship. But so often, we meet a congregation who is not in the same place as us. They seem reluctant to join in the Sunday celebration.

Here are 7 thoughts on creating an Invitation to Worship:

#1. Where Are They?

When we're leading worship on a Sunday morning, our early hours are filled with preparation - vocal warm ups, Bible devotional, prayer, set up and rehearsal. But our congregation hasn't had the same kind of morning. We can't know what they've all experienced, but we know for some of them, it was probably a challenge to get to church that day. Perhaps their littlest one had a temper tantrum, and the breakfast table became a battle ground. Maybe they had a fight with their spouse on the drive over. Perhaps they haven't slept because they know they might lose their job this week, or maybe they're coming in hungover from a later Saturday night. Or maybe they don't even believe in "this stuff" and someone is dragging them to church today.

That's our congregation. That's who we need to lead into worship. Our first step is to recognize this.

#2. Pray.

We always encourage both individuals and teams to pray before worship. In your prayers, lift up your congregation. Remember that they're struggling. You may not know each person's challenge, but God does. Pray that you may be used to lead them into God's presence, and that they may feel God's love and grace today.

#3. How Do We Set The Mood?

Each church handles those pre-service moments differently. Some prefer silence, and other use that time for announcements. Some play instrumental music, while others lead a sing along of favourite hymns and worship songs. Brian Doerkson talks about "stirring the waters" - a gentle improvisation of all the instruments in the band. It's not a song, but simply sounds that start to tune the congregation's ear to the music.

Find the right pre-service moments for your congregation that will meet them where they are, but will also prepare them for a time of worship.

#4. Issue An Invitation.

This sounds obvious, but it can't be underestimated. Find some way - through words, images, music, or movement - to shift the mood and actually invite them into worship. I'm a big fan of using the Psalms to bring our focus into praising and glorifying God. Sometimes, I may issue an invitational prayer while Gerald underscores with gentle guitar. Other times, we've had slides showing different images of the majesty of creation, with accompanying prayers or music.

Don't be afraid to be direct. There are times when I'll pray something like, "I know many of us have come here today with burdens, things that are filling our minds with worries and concerns. Let's lay them aside for the next hour, and allow ourselves to experience the love and grace of God." 

In each case, we want people to recognize that this isn't the rest of the week - this is sacred time, and they are invited into that holiness.

#5. Now, We Get Them Singing

We've chosen different kinds of songs for our opening worship song - sometimes we start gently, other times we get them off to a rocking start. In either situation, we always choose a well known song. As musicians, we forget that most people don't sing on a daily basis, and now we're going to ask them to spend the next hour singing! Allow them to start with vocal confidence on a familiar song or hymn.

#6. Don't Hit Them With The Wall Of Sound

Often times, worship teams can get so excited to play together that they knock their congregation over with the 'wall of sound'. This is our term for when everyone plays every note of every song and it's LOUD! It can come from enthusiasm, but it can be fixed with some good arranging. Allow your songs to build. Start with one instrument, add another on the chorus. Sing unison in the verses, build into harmony. Give your congregation a way to enter the song, and then take them on a journey.

#7. It Starts With Love

Bringing people into worship is an act of trust. Love your congregation. Get to know them. Attend coffee hour and start conversations. Join a small group or outreach project. Build relationships both within and outside of your worship team. Encourage your band and choir to do the same. Break down the us-them walls. Let people know your love of God and your passion for worship. Because when that trust has been built, we can help bring people into the presence of God, and experience all that is waiting for them.

How do you invite your congregation into worship?
Please let your thoughts in the Comments section

Our new CDs - 
How The Light Gets In and Tonight, Everywhere Is Bethlehem
- are now available    

Listen and purchase music at

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - Holding Sound In Our Hands

It's official - our 2 new CDs are finally here!

Last Monday, we received boxes and boxes from the manufacturing plant. It was amazing to crack them open and see row upon row of CDs, ready to share.

How The Light Gets In and Tonight, Everywhere Is Bethlehem

The next morning, we loaded the car and started out on our 2-month East Coast Tour. It's been a whirlwind start, traveling through 3 provinces, 2 countries, and performing 5 concerts in 5 days.

Today, we've finally had a bit of time to upload the new music to our website. 
You can hear samples of the music HERE.

It's hard to describe the feeling of holding your new CD in your hand. Some people equate the process to giving birth. Many people feel completely drained by the process. Others experience a burst and energy and excitement.

For us, it's probably a combination of all these things. We decided to record because we had so many songs that were crying out for a home. We'd perform them in concerts, and when people requested them on CD, we knew we were singing the stories that needed to be shared. From the writing to the song selection to the actual recording, it's been an intense and emotional season. We've been a little antisocial, and probably should have taken a few more days off, but it's been worth it all.

Our greatest joy now is sharing the music! We're so excited to put these songs into the hands of listeners, and soon, we'll even start sharing our music on radio.

We are so grateful for everyone who supported these projects - those who shared their creativity, their financial support, and their emotional and spiritual encouragement. It truly takes a village to raise a CD!

We would love for you to take a listen
and maybe even purchase a CD or Download.

We also want to share the artwork with you today:

Photos by Simon Chambers.

We pray that in sharing our journey with you, you may also be inspired and encouraged with your recording project. In our experience, it's one of the biggest creative challenges an artist can experience. 

But as soon as it's complete, the only real question is, 
"When can we do this again?"

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - The East Coast Tour Has Begun!

Everyone in Ontario has been complaining about the cool summer. Funny thing - when you spend your entire summer inside a vocal booth, you don't even notice the weather...

It's amazing to find ourselves in September, 
and at the start of our East Coast Tour!

Over the next 2 months, we'll sing 30 events in 4 provinces! 

As we head out on the road, we're always filled with great excitement and inspiration. We love traveling and making music, and the first moments of every tour are filled with all the possibilities that lie ahead of us.

And as with all things, we start with prayer.

We've been praying over this tour for months. We've prayed that we will connect with the churches who need us, and that their leadership will be open to the opportunity. We've prayed that calendars, schedules, and distances will balance to keep our route easy and efficient. We prayed for clergy and volunteers as they've prepared their churches and communities for our visit.

Now, our prayers move to the practical, the immediate, and the spiritual:

  • We pray for safety, our car, and good weather.
  • We pray for good vocal and physical heath.
  • We continue to pray for each church, community, clergy, and volunteer.
  • We pray for individuals and families who will be coming to the concerts and workshops.
  • We pray for our emotional and spiritual heath, both as individuals and as a couple.
  • We lift prayers of thanksgiving for our new recordings, and for the opportunity to use our talents to bring a message of hope.
  • Above all, we pray that everything we do over the next 2 months will honour God, and serve God's people. We pray that everyone involved in these events will come away with a renewed sense of God's unfailing mercy, grace, and love.

If you feel comfortable, we would love for you to join us in these prayers on this tour!

"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."
Matthew 18:20

You can follow our East Coast Tour by visiting this blog, our calendar, and Facebook!

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!