29 Commitments

1This past weekend I took a short trip to Syria.

Syria, Virginia, that is.

Our choir takes their yearly retreat at a little mountain lodge there, and I joined them for about a day and a half of rehearsals, fellowship, country food, and some time with this friendly black bear who graced the stair-rail with his welcoming smile.

Since I’m still new in my role here at Truro, I took some time on Saturday morning to share my story with the choir, how God led my family and me to Truro, and my 29 commitments as the “Director of Worship and Arts”. Here’s what I shared I’m committed to:

1. The centrality of Jesus

May Jesus be high and lifted up and central in all that we do.

2. Musical excellence

Whether it’s a sacred hymn, a contemporary song, or a Bach cantata, let it be done with excellence and skill.

3. Musical vibrancy
We will pursue what theologians call “oomph”.

4. Musical variety

Let’s never become musically myopic.

5. Lyrical integrity
What we sing matters.

6. Theological clarity
What we sing needs to be clear.

7. The authority and primacy of scripture.

Music isn’t the sword of the Spirit. Scripture is.

8. The presence and power of the Holy Spirit

May God keep us from being so confident in our own abilities that we forget our utter dependence on him.

9. The Anglican liturgy
It’s beautiful, it’s helpful, and it’s biblical.

10. The hymns of the faith
We won’t sing a token hymn or two just so we can say we sang a hymn. We will incorporate hymns as a staple of our corporate worship.

11. Classical music
I’m not a classically trained musician, but I love it and am committed to making sure it’s always expressed here with excellence.

12. Contemporary music
We will continue to branch out and mature in our vibrant incorporation of contemporary music.

13. This choir
I love choirs. I want to see this choir continue to grow and thrive.

14. Raising up new worship leaders
We have to do this!

15. Incorporating more musicians and singers
I dream of a crowded platform on Sunday mornings, full of singers and musicians passionate for God’s glory.

16. Good sound
We will take all the steps we can to make sure the mix/volume/sound on Sunday mornings is as good as it can possibly be.

17. Effective utilization of technology
If we’re going to utilize technology on Sunday mornings (which I think we should), we should do it with excellence.

18. Congregational singing
If the congregation isn’t robustly joining in, something is wrong.

19. Humility

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34).

20. Light-heartedness
We will have fun together, poke fun at one another, and I’ll model this by poking fun at myself first.

21. Professionalism
We’ll be prepared. We’ll be rehearsed. We won’t be throwing things together two minutes before a service starts.

22. Leaning forward

I’d rather us err on the side of leaning into what new things God is doing, as opposed to staying where it’s safe and comfortable. I’d rather go on a trip somewhere than spin my wheels in the same spot.

23. Spontaneity
I always want to be attentive during our services to what God is saying, and if he’s saying we should adjust anything we planned.

24. Planning

Healthy spontaneity can’t exist when there isn’t intentional and prayerful planning. God will oftentimes (!) tell us in advance what he’d like for us to do.

25. Modeling/encouraging biblical expressiveness

Biblical worship is expressive worship. Let’s model this from up-front.

26. Open communication

My door is open, my phone is on, and my inbox receives emails. If you have any questions, frustrations, suggestions, critiques, and maybe even compliments, I’d love to hear them from you directly.

27. Punctuality
We’ll start and end our rehearsals on time. We’ll try to do the same with our services!

28. Tory
 (my pastor)
I’m committed to Tory. He is a friend. He is a good man. He is a good pastor. I support what he’s done and what’s he doing in his leadership of Truro. I want to support him however I can.

29. My family
My family comes first! And so does yours. Always prioritize your family.

Here is how I summed this up for our choir:

I am committed to making this work. Yes, I will make some mistakes. And I will frustrate you! But you now know my motives. There’s nothing hidden here. I’m not coming in with a plan to turn everything on its head and bring in disco balls and smoke machines (well, maybe disco balls). I long to see Jesus exalted and the congregation engaged. This is what drives me. These are my main priorities. 

We are not enemies. We are friends. We are partners. We must never become enemies. God help us. God help me. That will not happen. The best is yet to come. So let’s give it a go.

6 thoughts on “29 Commitments”

  1. This is good Jamie. Do you direct the choir as well or does someone else lead them? I’ve transitioned from worship-dude-with-a-guitar to wavy-hands-guy-leading-a-choir. Definitely helps your music reading chops.

    1. Hi Rob,

      No I don’t conduct the choir (except for giving them cues and and walking/talking them through the contemporary stuff). But as for the more classical stuff and their anthems (and their rehearsals), we have a choir director who’s gifted in those areas.


  2. Of course, there’s a lot of beautiful and powerful music that glorifies God and is edifying to the congregation… but is really complicated. Understandably, perhaps this music should not be done during the church service, but does that mean it should never be done? Do congregations really always have to be singing to show their engagement with the music? Aren’t there some venues within the church where the more complicated stuff can be explored and musicianship be developed and increased through preparing this music? Jamie, things do not always have to be lowered to the lowest common denominator. Thanks.

    1. Thanks, Chris. I don’t recall ever using the phrase “lowest common denominator”. I’m advocating for a congregation-centric model of worship leadership that values congregational singing.

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