Community on a Wire

I love Pixar movies. As a father of three (relatively) young children, we still have a valid excuse to watch them. In fact some of them have been seen so regularly in our house that I could recite the script quite happily. Although these days Hannah and I are the ones that still try and push to watch them whereas our kids are wanting to move onto more grown up films. Sigh….

And one of the things I love about Pixar movies is the shorts that they include with all of their releases…usually played at the start in the cinema, and included as extras in the DVD release.

For The Birds was released in 2000 and was shown as an opener to Monsters Inc, the huge Pixar hit featuring John Goodman and Billy Crystal. It tells the story of a group of small, grumpy birds that are perched on a telephone wire, who are interrupted in their daily routine by a much larger and friendlier bird who wants to join them. The small birds are having none of it, and are unwilling to share their perch. As they try and knock him off of the cable so they can have it to themselves, there is a sudden realisation that their selfishness and inward focus is going to have some serious repercussions…

Social Club?

Too often we are like this as a church. For a place that professes to care about people and be a part of the community, we can be like these birds on a wire. We happily get on with our Sundays, singing the songs we like, seeing our friends and listening to a good message. But when that is disrupted…new people we don’t know are sitting in “our” seats, unfamiliar songs are sung and service times and orders (and even meeting places) are changed to make it more accessible to potential visitors; we grumble, complain and question what is happening to “our” church.

I have experienced it from both sides…having been at our current church for over 12 years, there is a comfort to seeing the same familiar faces each week, talking to my friends and not keeping an eye out for visitors…something I need to address regularly. And from the other side, many years ago in our last church I received so much grief from certain members of the congregation as I was “doing the work of the devil by playing drums in church”! Heaven knows what they’d think about our current services at EBC!


So next time you’re running a series on community, or looking at your next invite, use this short to remind yourself of how inclusiveness, community and outreach is so much more important then maintaining the status quo.

How do you react to change and new people in your church?

Getting to Know You/Rehearsing with a New Band

This past Sunday I had the privilege to co-lead at one of local churches as we held a joint event. The service went fantastically well, we had a great mix of our congregations and followed it all up with a huge barbecue and piles of puddings! And to top it all the weather was perfect. Great day!

Over the past few weeks I’ve been looking at rehearsals on this blog, both in terms of frequency and structure. This Sunday I was able to put it into practice with a new band, something I rarely have the opportunity to do.

We had begun the planning for this some time back, mainly in terms of basic orders and themes. I met with Rachel, my co-leader, to put together a band and to choose songs. We both had different sets of music that we use on a regular basis, including different arrangements and chart formats. But as we have a relatively small song list (around 60), it was relatively simple to cut down all commonly known songs according to this, and then devise some sort of a set list. We agreed on quite a large selection of 8 songs, and then booked in some dates for rehearsal.


It was difficult to fit extra time in as we were all still maintaining our weekly service schedules and associated rehearsals. But we made the decision to have a few rehearsals, as this would be the first time that we would be playing together. And while I was confident that we were all competent and capable of making a joyful noise together, I still wanted to meet more than once, as our first get together would be less of a rehearsal and more, as in the eternal words from The King and I, a “Getting to Know You” evening. There was also the added bonus that we were using the other church’s hall, so we had to get accustomed to their set up which also included In Ear Monitoring. So we met, we plugged in, we tweaked and twiddled and then concentrated on playing through the songs.


As we had already agreed the songs, I printed off several sets of the music that we use at EBC so that we had something to start with, and it also meant that we were (literally) all singing from the same (hymn) sheet…so to speak. And I had also loosely worked out arrangements, repeats and transitions between the songs.

The first rehearsal went very well, we all got along well and started to get to know each other, and worked on being accustomed to the IEM system and everyone’s playing style. I am sure we would have made a good noise if it had been the only rehearsal we’d had, but we had agreed to more, so…

Our second rehearsal we were much more familiar with each other and new what to expect of each other, and the equipment. So we were then able to start honing what we had…developing the arrangements, sharing out parts, working out intro and endings, transitions and leads, harmonies and lots more. By the end of this evening we had a very tidy sounding set and a plan as to how we were going to lead on the Sunday.

Getting to Know You

Now clearly some of this may be obvious, and maybe you do this every week. But as I’ve outlined in my previous posts, meeting frequently and arriving prepared will go a long way to making you the best that you can be come your service. We met more than once, we started with a shared set of music and a rough plan, and together we polished it into something that, come the Sunday, was extremely special. And it went so well that we’re already planning to follow it up on a regular basis.

How do you approach rehearsing with new people?

Badminton for one

Have you ever tried to play badminton on your own? Or tennis? Or squash? (Actually, squash is feasible….) Or any bat and ball or team sport, but without a partner…or team? It’s not much fun, is it?

This week at EBC we were looking at community in church, referencing Acts 2:42 as our reference. Church should be all about community…it’s one of the many reasons that we meet together each week.

So to illustrate how commun20140519-173444-63284637.jpgity works, we played badminton….on our own. You could do the same with indoor cricket (soft ball recommended), or have a party for one, or football with an empty goal. Whatever you choose, the point is that community is no fun on your own.

disclaimer: I have never attempted to do any of the above in my normal life, but the I am also rubbish at sports.

How do you cultivate community?