Why Teams Always Do Things Better

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There’s an old adage:

Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

I’m pretty sure there’s another one. At least there is for me:

Anything worth doing well is worth doing as a team.

And maybe better still:

Anything you want to do well, you’d better do with a team.

Last night, the team pictured above rallied to put on one heck of a show at Indian River High—the largest campus in our county. The event was one of our youth ministry’s LIFTED events, which mixes music, worship, drama, dance and video to support a Gospel message, concluding with an invitation to accept Jesus.

Here are a few reasons I resist doing things without a team:

They’re Smarter Than I Am

When things go wrong and systems fail, I want to be around people that are smarter than me. Or, at the very least, will look at things with different eyes. This allows problems to be treated with new solutions that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

We had a few unforeseen system integration audio issues during set up last night; work arounds came much faster because ideas were shared quickly and freely. We checked one another’s work and talked through some of the more complex signal paths. Because the teams trust each other and are not threatened, even people not on the audio crew were getting involved and doing their best to serve and troubleshoot.

Humor

When the pressure gets high, you need people around you who can make you laugh. The only other release for pressure tends to be rather destructive: you allow it to mount until you snap. And people or things usually get hurt.

Keeping things fun, even in highly stressful scenarios (and I’d argue especially in highly stressful scenarios) is absolutely critical. Dedicated, hard working people who have a lighter side, and know when to augment situational tension with a bit of levity are crucial for letting teams reset and keep things in perspective.

Humor is also a great way for you as a leader to let your team know you’re not drowning in frustrations when things go wrong. At one moment last night when things were especially difficult, I just decided to start dancing. No music. No beat. Just my moves (which are in themselves hilariously pitiful). It made people laugh and reminded us all to keep the main thing the main thing—our core message: we’re here to share the Good News of Jesus with teens.

Ownership

At the end of the day, saying, “I did all that,” gets rather boring. Not because you’re suffering from a lack of ideas, but because you have no one to share it with.

Doing things together means more people are taking pride in what’s happening. And people that do things together end up building stronger bonds because of the process.

This sense of community not only makes the end product more vivid and colorful, but it’s essential in spreading whatever core message you’re attempting to promote.

•••

Doing things as a team says to history, “We were here. We had something so important to say that we needed many voices to say it with.”

May history never forget us and the future never forsake us.

What are some of the favorite teams you ever worked with? What made them special?

ch:

Cornerstone Church

Just a simple, loving, and very grateful shout-out to our new family at Cornerstone Church in East Longmeadow, MA. Dr. Tim and Debbie Moore, and all their amazing staff, went above and beyond the definition of hospitable.

Saturday evening’s service with Youth Impact was as powerful as it was memorable: who will ever forget Dillon plowing me over for his tissue box? Contend for you faith!

And this morning both jennifer and I felt overwhelmed by the congregation’s love and appreciation for our ministry in music and the teaching of the Word.

We look forward to a return visit. Much love and appreciation to you all. ch:


Thoughts on Vice Verses

For someone who makes a large part of his living creating and playing music, I don’t listen to a whole lot.

Part never being able to turn off the critical listening region of my brain, part tiring too quickly of chord progressions and lead singer’s tone, part craving silence instead of sound, I’ve never really been able to put my finger on my lack of listening habits. Maybe I’m just too busy making my own music I don’t have time to digest other people’s.

Bottom line: I have to really like what gets played in my car. It’s not competing against a long playlist, it’s competing against quiet.

This past week Switchfoot’s new record came out, Vice Verses. Because I splurged and got the “deluxe package,” it also came with – among other things – a live album of Hello Hurricane.

I’m not sure why Switchfoot has hooked me the way they have. They’re great guys. They put on an amazing show. They love their families, still love Jesus without making him cheap (or being obnoxious). And successfully mix fun and intensity into their music.

And maybe that’s why I’m gelling with Vice Verses so much.

It’s about the dichotomies.

The juxtapositions.

The tensions of life.

The older I get, the more I live out the extremes. Funerals and births. Hellos and goodbyes. Victories and defeats.

And if there were ever a soundtrack to accompany such life-living, I dare say this album is one of them. If nothing more than for the words.

Jon Foreman is a master poet. And he’s managed to capture the soul of such life predicaments in lyrics. Then the band wrapped them in threads of song.

I’m also a big fan of experimenting with tones, especially with bass and guitar, as in this record. Low-fi dirges to shrill grit. The lovely warmth of the clean to the harsh sterility of the digital. It seems even their production choices adhered to the thematic condition.

The deluxe packaging – a ribbon-tethered boxed set including a letter from Jon, manila folders filled with photographs, handwritten lyric pages, a DVD, and a sweet pencil (among other things) – is probably one of the coolest presentations I’ve seen in a long time.

Needless to say I have had Vice Verses and Hello Hurricane Live on in my car back-to-back. (The live disc deserves its own review; it’s that good). Switchfoot has done it with me again. Connected. Sounding familiar enough that I can pick up shreds of influence from bands that we clearly both love, yet foreign enough that I’m marveling at the nuances, at the elements of invention.

My hat’s off to the boys for crafting a rock-n-roll gauntlet in honor of life’s polarities. ch:

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Somewhere Over Frink Park

Jennifer and I had a wonderful evening leading worship at Frink Park in Clayton, NY last night. Joseph Gilchrist sat in on drums, and his brother Daniel on bass.

With a huge storm front moving in from the south, we decided to start early as there was already a good amount of people seated. We asked the Lord to hold off the rain, then told the audience we’d play as long as we could.

After more than an hour of playing, the dark sky loomed overhead. I turned to Jenny and asked her to sing one last song. She picked our favorite: Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Just as she started the bridge, she pointed up behind the audience and said, “I just want everyone to know there’s a giant rainbow up there.” To all our amazement, right on cue, a rainbow appeared. As if God was reminding us once again of his promises, and heard our request to keep the rain off.

As we pulled out of Clayton with all the gear packed away, the storm hit. Hard.

I asked people to take pics and send them to me so I could make a collage and post it here. If you were there last night and see a photo you took, please leave a comment below so we know who you are and can give you props.

Thanks to all those who came out; we love playing for the hometown crowd. ch:

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Sunday Recap in Manchester

Not unlike being at either New Life or The Father’s House – CHB’s home churches – we had a 6am wake-up call and a 7am sound check at Church of the Living God. My voice definitely didn’t work right for the 8am version of “Rain Down” in D, but we managed. Our set for all 3 services  included “Nothing Is Impossible,” “You Alone,” Nate Cronk’s “Jesus You Are,” “Revelation Song,” and a 2001 resurrection of “I Believe” which we’ve added back into our rotation.

As a group, CHB has never sounded so good. I continue to be so proud of my team, their hearts for Jesus and others, their dedication to the craft of fine music-making, and their hunger to affect society through committing their lives to service within the Kingdom. I count serving with them among my life’s greatest privileges.

One of the weekend’s fun surprises was finding out Pastor Josh Finley from Elim Gospel Church in Lima, NY was the guest speaker. It was a NY invasion of Connecticut! He brought a powerful message on the significance of the individual within the Kingdom. I was really blessed, and took notes all 3 times I heard it.

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We headed to Ted’s Montana Grill for a post-church lunch of bison burgers, then said our goodbyes as the band headed back to NY. Because our individual ministry lives are so busy, our music trips are often the only times we get to see some of our very best friends; hard goodbyes are the marks of those who live life selflessly.

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[Michelle "Merch Queen" Cronk and Jenny pose for a picture].

[Becca and Jenny part ways].

Jenny and I grabbed a nap, then I worked on my notes for Merge Ahead – CLG’s amazing youth ministry service every Sunday night. My message “Living as Lions” was drawn from Paul’s conversation with the church leaders of Ephesus in Acts 20:17-28 in which he charges them to walk in wisdom, generosity, and boldness. “We are lions!” #ROAR

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[Photo by: Randall Martins | @randymartins]

[Bottom photo by: Randall Martins | @randymartins]

Pastor Eric Peoples and his wife Melissa took us out for dinner at a great Mexican place, and then we crashed back at Mike & Iris Kim’s house (where Jenny and Iris did some sort of facial mask that made them look like the girls friends of Jigsaw and Hannibal Lechter. Pretty weird).

Today we drive home to tribe (and relieve the babysitters).

Thanks to all those who came out on Friday and Sunday to worship with us; you made it one of our most memorable weekends ever. ch:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Night in Manchester

My phone was charging on stage and I totally forgot to grab it, so I didn’t get nearly as many pics last night as I wanted. Maybe someone can post a couple, or send me a few.

We played to a packed house at Church of the Living God in Manchester, CT and what a night it was! My band has never sounded better, and I’m not exaggerating. So proud of their dedication to their music craft.

The flow we had in the Holy Spirit was indescribable; at one point, everyone stopped singing and Denis played the keys for about five minutes. No one moved. It was truly a #heavenmeetsearth moment as God visited us in that room.

If you were there, what was God speaking to you? What was your favorite moment? (Use #heavenmeetsearth on Twitter & Facebook).

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We had lots of great conversations after the concert, and “Michelle the Merch Queen” was selling the new Bald V-Neck t-shirts and #heavenmeetsearth wristbands faster than we could stock them! Yes, the infamous t-shirt design we toyed with a while back is a reality, as pictured by Mike Kim, who’s responsible for designing that crazy bald head icon. (We’ll make them available in our store shortly).

The fellowship that followed was nothing short of chaos. We crashed at my favorite Jewish deli out here, and I snapped a picture. Of course, not thinking, I had everyone say “Yahtzee!”

…which to the rest of the restaurant sounded like we screamed “Nazi!”

Perfect. ch:

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Saddle Up

After almost a month off from traveling, Jennifer and I are headed to Connecticut for a full weekend of ministry with CHB at Church of the Living God in Manchester.

Follow @find_ch & @find_chb on Twitter for moment-by-moment updates, and lock in here for recaps & pics. I promise that whenever I’m around Mike Kim, and the rest of my band, things are guaranteed to get nuts.

Thanks for riding along. ch:

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MP3 Messages from Creation Fest

As I felt last year, I had the incredible privilege of being listed beneath some of the nation’s top speakers like Bob Lenz, Louie Giglio, and Duffy Robbins. How I ever landed this gig is beyond me, but I’m humbled by the opportunity to pour into lives yet again. Thank you Jesus I’m still of some use.

For all those who’ve been patiently waiting (and tirelessly searching) for the MP3′s of my messages from Creation 2011 (download free PDFs of my notes), I got word from the head honchos that you can access them here for a small fee (currently $5.99 as of this posting. All proceeds go directly to Creation for 2012 planning; I do not receive a penny as per my request).

Although I have not gone through with purchasing them, it seems to be a two-step process:

First, click on the “Buy Northeast Speaker Sessions.”

Select “1 download” (which I believe lets you download all sessions 1 time, or at least select the speaker you want to hear), and submit your payment info. Once finished you’ll be assigned a download code. Click on “Redeem Northeast Speaker.”

And enter your code.

Hope that helps! If you have any problems, please let me know in the comments section and I’ll be happy to ‘rastle up the honchos for some questioning. Likewise, if you have any further comments or questions about what I shared, I always love hearing from you. ch:

Live @ Five

This week has been full of media advertising for Music for the Mission happening tomorrow night. I love seeing my city get behind such a wonderful cause. And I really enjoy getting to talk about the crazy love of Jesus on radio and television.

My favorite interview of the week was last night on AM 1240′s Live at Five show with Glenn Curry. Listen and pass on, especially to those living in Northern NY. God is opening some awesome doors to reach people with His extravagant grace in Jefferson County. ch:

LISTEN HERE

Live @ The Father’s House

Just a quick reminder to ask you all to tell any of your friends, family, of foreigners (it rhymed…what?), or even the band Foreigner, to come out to our free CD release concert at The Father’s House tomorrow night at 7pm. Doors open at 6:30pm. It’s going to be epic, I promise that. Especially if Foreigner shows up. ch:

Order or download your copy of the new CD here.

Book Signings in Champaign, IL

This weekend I’m flying out to Illinois to meet up with the infamous Sir Wayne Thomas Batson for some sword-swinging frivolity, jovial antics, miscellaneous musicality, and general book-signing merriment. And all this for anyone willing to venture out to the Borders on West Town Blvd. in Champaign IL, Saturday, Oct. 16th, 2pm-5pm. For those that can’t make it, we’ll be streaming live here.

Earlier in the day we’ll be hosting a private party for the Nightwing Tribe, winners of our epic Tribebuilding contest held for Curse of the Spider King (and ongoing for Venom and Song). Can’t wait to spend some time with these awesome Elves! ch:

CHB @ TFH

The “Heaven Meets Earth” Worship CD will be debuting at The Father’s House in Rochester, NY on Friday, November 5th at 7pm. Admission is free with general seating only (so come early!). RSVP on FaceBook here. It’s going to be one incredible night! Let me know if you’re coming in the comments section below. Thanks! ch:

Switzerland: Day 5

I’m sitting on the floor in the studio at 10:00pm trying to type as quietly as I can as Jenny and Andy are still tracking around me. What fun!

But truth be told, I’m exhausted. Recording, singing, arranging, and co-producing is so mentally demanding, I often feel as though I’ve run a few miles yet without breaking a sweat. Definitely an odd experience. But one I’d never trade. Being here is such a profound privilege. That, and Gabi is really doing most of the hard work here. What a genius.

We were able to finish a whopping 5 songs today: Heaven Meets Earth, Set Me Free, You Alone, Words Cannot Describe, and Jesus You Are. That’s a mammoth amount of work to be sure! But the real heroine of the day is Jennifer Lee. Wow. For a girl who is just starting to really dive into French, we’re all amazed. She’s worked very hard and has had a lot of wonderful help along the way (thanks Anne Marie and Tribe!).

Wonderful meals, a nice walk, and more than one break just to take in the view helped break up the time. Thanks again for all those who kept us company online. See you tomorrow! ch:

PayPal the Wagoners and Get Free Music

This winter a good friend of ours, Justin Wagoner, broke his back in a snowmobile accident. While he and his wife operate their own construction company, and have two beautiful little girls, Justin himself did not have health insurance. Not only has he been unable to work for the past several months, but his medical bills are mounting.

Miraculously, Justin has made made huge progress, even walking on his own now. What the doctors expected to take place over many months, Justin is doing in mere weeks. Clearly, Jesus still heals!

But the Wagoners do need a financial miracle. And while we believe prayer is a part of it, God has fully enabled the Church do handle such a task. I don’t need to pray about giving to a family in need. I give.

Jennifer and I will be performing a benefit concert tonight for the Wagoners; you can tune in live at 7pm EST tonight. We’ll be playing our favorite songs from artists like Norah Jones, Rascal Flatts, Eva Cassidy, and more. But I’m also asking that you consider giving toward this wonderful family. You can click on the church’s PayPal link below…

And when prompted, just open and fill out the “special instructions” dialog box…

All monies are tax-deductible, with a year-end receipt mailed to you. Any amount you feel lead to give helps lessen the burden on this wonderful family.

As a special “thank you,” I’m offering free a download for those that give. This is a reference mix of “Set Me Free” from our new album, Heaven Meets Earth, recorded Saturday night, January 2nd 2010. It will never again see the light of day as it’s the most raw look at a live recording, unmixed, unmastered, used only for letting the musicians and engineers examine their performances.The voice you hear in the beginning is my father, Peter Hopper, “slating” the take. I will keep this up for only a few days, and ask that you adhere to the honor system here. You give, you get. Please do not download the rack unless you’ve helped the Wagoners.

CHB Set Me Free Unmixed (click on drop down to “Save As Source”)

Jennifer and I thank you for caring for our friends. ch: