Stuff From the Mind of Dr. Barry Kolb

+Vision+Mission+Passion+ - Stuff From the Mind of Dr. Barry Kolb


thumb8On the way out of church tonight I heard someone talking about a friend who died and he said, “God must’ve needed another angel.”

I wondered: Is God so lonely that He needs another “angel”?  Is there a shortage?

Then I thought about people who say that when we die we get our wings, sit on a cloud and play a harp all day long!

Really?  We turn into angels?  And why not a saxophone…that sounds better to me!

Or where did we get this idea that our relatives “in heaven” are watching over us?

Personally I think if that were happening, it would greatly disturb them…and heaven doesn’t seem like a place to be disturbed!

Where is this stuff in the Bible?  Did I miss that class at the seminary?

If It Is Of God …

letgodFor the last few months, I have been re-thinking a number of things.  One of them is the propensity to join in / pile on people or pastors or churches or denominations, etc. that are not doing things the way I like or who doing things that are different, etc.

Perhaps it was a message I wrote and delivered not long ago on judging that put me over the edge on this.  And yet…maybe it was the God-thing that happened:

On Saturdays when in the Metroplex, I have been attending Center Point Church in North Richland Hills.  It is my touch of contemporary worship and the pastor is a great Bible-teacher!

On the evening before I was to preach in Mineral Wells, Pastor Jay said, almost word for word what I had written in my message for the next day.  Once home, I checked it out … and yes … there it was … virtually word-for-word what I had written and what he said.  When I mentioned this to him the following week, his comment was, “Well, we do preach from the same book!”



Lately I have been moved to say (and live out): No more potshots on pastors or ministries or denominations … if they are not of God, God will deal with them; if they are of God, I had better leave them alone!

Consultant Humor

1812661c90a57eeb7abf7840048e944cA cowboy was herding his herd in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud towards him.

The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit,Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the cowboy, “If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?”

The cowboy looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, “Sure. Why not?”The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his AT&T cell phone, surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite navigation system to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo. The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany.

Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with hundreds of complex formulas. He uploads all of this data via an email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response.

Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer and finally turns to the cowboy and says, “You have exactly 1586 cows and calves.”

“That’s right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves,” says the cowboy.

He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amused as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.

Then the cowboy says to the young man, “Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?”

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, “Okay, why not?”

“You’re a consultant.” says the cowboy.

“Wow! That’s correct,” says the yuppie, “but how did you guess that?”

“No guessing required.” answered the cowboy. “You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked; and you don’t know anything about my business…

Now give me back my dog.”

Is Everyone Singing?

Singing-in-church-NOT-300x213Why Has My Congregation Stopped Singing?
And how can we get them back? by Jennifer Shaw

As a full-time Christian speaker and musician, I end up at a lot of different churches every year. At so many of these places I seem to have the same conversation with frustrated pastors and worship leaders, and even with members of the congregation. It often starts with a question like, “Why aren’t our people singing/worshiping anymore?”

There are probably as many different answers to that question as there are churches with this problem, but I’ve observed several trends in contemporary worship services that are contributing. If you’re struggling, check these out, and if you’re doing well, you may want to look at the list and see what might make your worship even stronger.

Here are the top seven reasons I give worship pastors about why their congregations may have stopped singing:

1. Your worship team isn’t worshiping. That may seem basic, but you can’t lead people in worship if you aren’t worshiping yourself. Many times I see teams who are either under-trained and very concerned about making sure they know their notes and words or they are performing and hoping everyone will notice how great they are. We should be striving for excellence on the platform so that we don’t distract from the Lord, and we should know our material well enough that we can be praising God while playing or singing. We need to have the right motivation for being up front, and that is to serve others with humility and lead them into a place of worship. If your up-front people aren’t worshiping, your congregation won’t either.

2. They can’t hit those notes. This is fast becoming my number one pet peeve in worship. Most singers are taught to find the best key for them, and many leaders are trying to do radio songs in the radio key. The vast majority of people in a congregation can’t hit those notes, so they end up switching octaves constantly which is frustrating, or dropping out. The most comfortable range for most Americans is between middle C and the A above (major sixth), and they can go as far as the A below middle C to the C above (major tenth). This may not be the best range for you as a worship leader, but that is the heart of servant leadership – we make sacrifices because our goal is to lead others in worship, not just to stay where we’re most comfortable or in the key that makes our own voice sound the best. Check the melodic range of your song, fit it as closely as you can to the above range, and then see what key that is and play it there. I guarantee your congregation will thank you!

3. They feel disconnected/extraneous. Theater lighting and sound are becoming more and more the norm in churches, and I am all for it. Having spent years in the theater, I totally appreciate how much lighting can set an emotional mood, and as a musician, excellent sound is very important. However, church is different from a performance. If lighting or sound is taken to the extreme, it can make your congregation feel as though they are watching a show. When you plunge the congregation into total darkness while the stage is lit during worship, you tell them they are not a part of what’s going on. When the sound level during worship is so high that they can’t hear themselves singing, they wonder why they should bother. Lighting and sound should feeling inviting and inclusive, bringing people into this corporate thing we do called worship.

4. They don’t know that song. It may sound silly, but so many churches do brand-new songs with no introduction whatsoever. I’ve been to many churches where the worship pastor got excited about new music and every piece on the entire worship service was new! This is just discouraging for your congregation because they have no idea what’s going on. I’m all for new music – when I was the music director at our church, our band had over 300 songs in rotation at any given time and introduced new songs often – but you should introduce it either by playing it one week as an opening or offertory, or by teaching them the chorus so they can at least join you for part of it. When you introduce a new song, make sure to bring it back a couple of weeks later so people can cement it in their minds. And I would limit yourself to no more than one new song a week so that the congregation can be enthusiastic about the things they do know!

5. They aren’t musicians. Musicians relate to music differently than non-musicians. We are usually very moved by sound, but most people are more visual and they aren’t as excited about that cool guitar solo as your guitarist is. In their minds, that’s just time when they’re not involved, so keep those instrumental interludes to four bars or less. In the same way, if your vocalists are using lots of melismas and embellishments, people in the congregation can’t follow the melody. Leaders should use clear melodic lines at all times so the congregation knows where the melody is going and they can participate while focusing on God, not where the leader might be going today.

6. They’re not connecting emotionally. Song choice is so important. Do the songs you’ve picked relate to and support the message the pastor or teacher is giving that day? Do your songs have amazing lyrics that move people to connect deeply with the Lord? Are you repeating lyrics so many times that people get bored and drop out? Do you have enough variety in tempo and emotion or have you programmed four utterly depressing or maniacally active songs in a row? Music is an amazing way to influence the emotional tone of a service and allow people to respond to what they’re feeling. Are you using this power purposefully?

7. You broke the mood. Finally, I see so many worship teams doing so many things well to get people to a place of worship only to break the flow and pull people back out. Transitions between songs are so important. Don’t just stop playing and announce the next song. Try to move on seamlessly, and if you need to change keys and/or tempo between songs which happens often, give a Scripture or a short prayer thanking God for what you just sang about or are about to sing while your band transitions. Make sure you check all your slides before the service and that the video techs know the order of the lyrics. Slides should change on the last word or two of the previous slide so the new words are up a second before they need to be sung. Nothing is more frustrating than being in worship and not having the words for two lines before the slides catch up. Making the worship flow through the entire set allows people to enter worship and stay there.

I’m blessed to get to worship with such a variety of churches in the greater Church. It’s a privilege to lead others in worship, and I hope that looking at these few ideas will help your church worship with excellence, and sing!

Jennifer Shaw is an award-winning speaker, author, songwriter, and five-time Billboard Top 40 recording artist. She holds a Masters Degree from the Manhattan School of Music, was a former professor of music at Cedarville University, and served as the music director at her church for over twelve years. She has been privileged to lead worship in congregations on four continents now, and loves bringing people into God’s presence. Please visit www.jennifershaw.com.

Why I Continue to Teach the Word!

teachA Church Membership Committee was examining someone who wanted to join the church.

One of the questioners asked the candidate: “What part of the Bible do you like best?”

“I like the New Testament best.”

“What book in the New Testament?”

“The book of Parables sir.”

“Would you kindly relate one of these parables to this Committee?”

So the uncertain spoke as follows: “Once upon a time a man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves, and thorns grew up and choked the man.And he went on and met the Queen of Sheba, and she gave that man a thousand talents of gold and silver and a hundred changes of raiment. And he got in his chariot and drove furiously. And when he was driving along under a big tree, his hair got caught in a limb and left him hanging there. And he hung there many days and many nights, and the ravens brought him food to eat and water to drink. And one night while he was hanging there asleep, his wife, Delilah, came along and cut off his hair and he dropped and fell on stony ground, and it began to rain and it rained 40 days and 40 nights. And he hid himself in a cave.And he went out and met a man that said, “Come and have supper with me.’ But he said, ‘I cannot come, for I have married a wife.’ And the man went out into the highways and byways and compelled him to come in. “He went on and came to Jerusalem, and he saw the Queen Jezebel sitting high up in a window, and when she saw him she laughed, and he cried, ‘Throw her down.’ And he said, ‘Throw her down out of there again.’ And they threw her down 70 times 7, and of the fragments they picked up twelve baskets full. Now, whose wife will she be on the day of judgment?”

And the committee said, “You will fit right in here. That’s one of our favorites as well!”