Reflections Upon Leading a Worship Service for the First Time in a While

Since quitting my career as a worship pastor about a year and a half ago, all my musical endeavors have been outside of worship music, and all my worship service leading has been in a home setting. It’s been super nice to keep musicianship and giving God praise separate for the time being. My mindset for all worship leading in a home or small context has been, “How can we worship in the simplest, least distracting and least selfish way possible?” Which has led to the worship taking precedence, and the music’s only purpose being to support the melody so that we can sing together. Oddly enough, as is often the case, that simplicity has actually taken more musical skill than any guitar solo I’ve ever played. It’s just that the skill is mental and comes prior to the actual worship leading.

So when it came time last weekend to lead worship in a production setting for a retreat that I had committed to a year and a half ago, it was an interesting experience to try to balance making the music just the backdrop for the worship, with standing on a stage in front of hundreds of people. And sure, we always say the music is just the backdrop, but then we go on to spend so much time getting all the stops and beats right and the band tight, that we rehearse right on through prayer time. And then we throw in a 1 minute intro and a 30 second guitar solo, leaving only a couple minutes for lyrics we tried to make so artsy that they’re barely recognizable as God-centered. And then we judge how many people gave God glory with how loud the applause was after our big concert ending, rather than asking folks afterwards if they felt God was the center. Honestly? I’m tired of all that and I think we’re bordering on blasphemy.

It was a very difficult balance to walk, and I’m pretty sure I screwed up more than a few times, and not just in playing the wrong chords…which also happened. ;) A few of my observations…and yes, we’re back to the beloved/hated bullet posts:

  • I tried very hard not to use prayer as a “transition tool.” And you know what? The world did not implode in the five seconds it took me to put down my electric and grab my acoustic.
  • We rehearsed up to the point where the song wouldn’t fall apart, and no further. After that, it was worship only. Incredibly freeing. I could actually worship. I’m not sure Capitol Records would’ve signed us, but then trying to land a record deal shouldn’t really be the point of worship, should it.
  • I definitely took too many guitar solos. The tone got to me and I self-indulged a few times. Failure. And I could feel from the folks singing that they really just wanted to sing to God more.
  • The mic shocked my every time I put my lips on it. Made things more interesting. ;)
  • Over 150 people came up to me and said that worship was pretty good, but would have been much better had the delay been with a Timeline instead of my Echo Park. Nope. That didn’t happen.
  • We did lots of accapella. Pretty much overshadowed all the times we were playing with the full band.
  • I played with my Matchless because it didn’t sell yet, and it was wonderful. I know that you shouldn’t need a multiple thousands of dollars amp to worship…not in the slightest. Yet at times I felt that you do. Yikes, I’ve got a long way to go.
  • The musician in me is a transition fiend. I like flow and beautiful sounds. So I had to force myself to allow song choices to not flow if the theological content called for it. Meaning we jumped keys and tempos and styles and had abrupt changes so that we could do only songs that glorified God implicitly. And oddly enough, though I felt the clunky transitions, as soon as we started in singing the God-centered lyrics, the clunkiness was immediately overshadowed.
  • In choosing songs, I realized that there are a lot of modern worship songs that I’m not sure we would even classify as ‘worshiping of God’ were they not done by ‘worship bands.’ There are many, many songs, and even hymns, focused on us and our feelings almost exclusively. Are our feelings bad to focus on? No. Is it bad that sometimes we miss entire worship services because none of the songs have the intent of glorifying God? Yes.
  • You know what mattered most to everyone? Not our impeccable musicianship. That we treated the sound guy nice.
  • Oh yes, and our musicianship was far from impeccable. ;)

It was a great experience to try to lead worship in a God-honoring way, or a way that couldn’t be mistaken for anything else. It’s a mental shift of course, but a mental shift that isn’t worth anything if not accompanied by some tangible changes. There were also a lot of failures, and there’s a long way to go. I still feel as if it might have been better if we just chanted some psalms. But the journey is on, and this is where I document it. Take it as you will, but at the very least, let’s remember that worship is not a platform for our musical skills or even our feelings. It should be about God, and if anything seems like it might not be, scrap it.

Splendid.
Karl.

Reflections on Fatherhood

And no, that doesn’t mean I just bought a new amp.

(I mean, I did, but that is not what this post is about.)

My wife gave birth two months ago to a very healthy (and incredibly strong…was lifting his head up on day one…vegan power, baby) baby boy. He is awesome. And he was born at the most inopportune time imaginable. We had just restarted our lives on faith alone (read: not on money…at all), and suddenly we have three to feed. I mean, technically Jesus did say that you can eat faith, but I’m still trying to figure that one out. ;) And yet…we are still here. The three of us, pretty much just surviving on God’s grace and an upbringing that thankfully stressed dogged hard work as a matter of Christian integrity. As such, I haven’t had much time to write, or even think thoughts other than please let this diaper hold. But tonight I find myself waxing poetic……

First off, I haven’t had the experience that everyone said I would have. Namely, that becoming a father finally helps you understand God’s love for us. Nope, I still don’t understand the Creator giving His life for mine. Super thankful for it, but don’t understand it. What I have felt is the very real instinctual desire to take care of my son and keep him alive at all costs. But to love him…in the Christian (Christ-ian) way…is definitely a choice. I could definitely walk out that door, away from the new responsibilities, and continue to live a much more free life. My instincts might war against it. But I can feel the sinful, selfish desires just as I can with every other temptation. I’m learning that integrity is never instinctual…integrity is a choice.

Secondly, I realize with crashing ferocity the effect that every act I make will have upon him. Not just the decisions for his life and well-being…but how much he will emulate and look up to or not look up to the things I do. Once again, there is no price or substitute for integrity. My son will ask me why I do the things I do. And I want to have an answer for him. My son will imitate the things I do. And I want to have an example for him. I’ll of course make mistakes, and mess up his psyche in my own special way; but I want him to have the example of following God and not man, even when it hurts and hurts bad. In that way, I realize he may have been born at the absolute perfect time. Because I spent a good deal of time pleasing man while telling myself I was trying to please God. I’ve been aware of that for about two years, and living the correction for about one now. It’s a tough road…but we were never promised anything other.

And thirdly, I used to get down on parents who just had to keep their child’s bedtime at all costs. I was always like, “Come on, the kid can handle a few extra hours up.” And I realize now that yes, the kid can handle a few extra hours up. It’s us parents that can’t. ;)

Sleep well tonight, little man. We choose to love you with our lives, which is all we can give. To be a better man than your father is what I can hope.

Karl.

Jumping the Shark

There’s this scene in Happy Days. In the later years, when it was all falling apart, as great shows tend to do. (See: Steve Erkel cloning himself, the cast from Everybody Loves Raymond not being able to get a line out because of the audience cheering so loud when they would run on stage with a weird look, etc.) And Fonzie, The Fonz, inexplicably enters a water-skiing contest, and subsequently jumps over a shark. And that was the day people realized that the show had somehow faded into irrelevance.

It was a couple years ago, now. I was sitting in a meeting, as the 28-year-old wonder kid worship pastor at one of the fastest-growing churches in the city. All my life I had been praised for being advanced beyond my years, mature beyond my experience. So when I decided at eighteen years old that my life’s goal would be to serve God by being a vocational worship pastor, no one stopped me. Instead, they praised me for the spiritual wisdom seldom seen in someone my age. The problem was, someone should have stopped me. Someone should have looked at the lights, and the amplified guitar sounds pumping through the best venues in town, and the stages, and the subtle prestige only expounded by humility, and really everything we call ‘worship’, and talked to this eighteen-year-old kid in depth, asking him if this would still be his dream if the church were to change tomorrow, and his vocation of ‘worship pastor’ went back to playing an organ from a hymnal in the back, or starting the countdown for the congregational accapella chant. But no one stopped me. (Or at least if they tried…I didn’t listen whatsoever.) Because I was living the American church dream.

To be a rockstar, a CEO, or a famous personality, but it’s also a righteous endeavor because you’re ‘doing it for God?’ That’s a very enticing offer, especially for a young person like me who struggled with an inferiority complex. Looking back, I realize that I truly believed that my motives were pure. My heart was in the right place. But like so many people in history whose hearts were in the right place, I was also dead wrong.

So here I am, ten years later, watching a sermon from a famous pastor. One now marred in scandal, and one with whom I have been very vocal about disagreeing. And he was teaching on how Jesus is our prophet, priest, and king. Not necessarily a doctrine I have a problem with. And then I listened in horror, as Jesus Christ, the savior of the universe, was reduced to nothing more than a flow chart. Rather than the face value of being our guide, our intercessor, and our master, He was now just an example of whom to hire in your church. Three categories that really would have really stretched the imagination as a Biblical exposition; except that I had been taught them before…in the corporate world. But now we were bending Bible verses so that this flow chart had ‘Biblical’ authority.

To me, it was at best, logical fallacy, at worst, outright heresy. I spoke with people in person and with various peers later. I said I believed that when the Bible mentions Jesus as king, the subtext is that we should obey him, not that we should hire more administrators in our 501c3 church institutions. Interestingly enough, some told me that I really didn’t feel that way, but that I was just a ‘priest’ (i.e. “feeler”) who was just upset because the pastor preaching the sermon had used some word like ‘pissed’. And therein lies the problem. We’re concerned about piss. And we’re not concerned about twisting the words of the Bible.

After hearing that sermon, after months and years of questioning why we do what we do and how if we had really used the Bible as our basis we had ended up where we’re at, …… I made no decision whatsoever. This is where you’d think I would’ve felt as if we’d as a universal church jumped the shark. But you have to remember, that this was the only life I had ever known. I have friends and people who have lived as Christians far longer than I have, who agreed with this sermon. And the last time I said I disagreed with a nationally renowned pastor, I was berated, both in person and on this blog. So I’m sad to say, I walked out too afraid to, right then and there, say something is terribly wrong with the majority of how we as a western civilization run our churches, if this can pass for nationally recognized church doctrine and practices. Rather, it was as I went about the rest of my work day, that I realized that church aside…I personally had jumped the shark.

I looked at the rest of my schedule for the day, and it read fix lighting, test sound system, change out songs in church playlist, re-string guitar, buy new delay pedal, make new graphics for signage, edit intro video, and a hundred other things that bore little relevance to my love for God and what was over the last couple of years my newfound desire to actually worship Him…not put on a rock concert that subconsciously stroked my ego, but worship: react to…God. God. God. My life, ministry, and occupation, had slipped into irrelevance towards the things I wanted to do most and the things we humans desire deep within ourselves…selfishness, and the constant lust for power, prestige, and affirmation. And I had let those things, unbeknownst to me, take a hold in my life by burying myself in an institution that I had mistakenly confused for God Himself.

Remember God. Remember that church only exists for His purpose. Remember that pastors, even nationally renowned ones, are fallible human beings; a fact that becomes all too apparent after the scandals, but a fact from which we seem to never learn the next time. These, among other things, have renewed my faith in God over this past year…and hopefully caused me do a backflip back over the shark…or something like that. ;) Has the church jumped the shark? Maybe not; but we’ve certainly put on the leather jacket and entered the water-skiing contest. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I fully believe that we have to stop making church into a god, we have to stop making servants and shepherds into rockstars, we have to stop making worship into a Coldplay show, and we have to start learning and obeying the Bible at face value rather than being “tossed to and fro by every new doctrine”, or in our case, every new podcast before it even has a chance to become doctrine. And this is coming from a guy who passionately lived those four follies, and finally took a step back towards just plain and simple…God.

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. For clarification purposes, I have no problem with new and original takes on Biblical doctrine, provided the following: 1) that the goal for the doctrine remains to be true to the Bible as opposed to being new and original for the sake of being new and original, for the sake of shock value, or for the sake of YouTube ratings, 2) that new doctrine be researched, tested, and peer-reviewed much like it is in the academic world, rather than being “insta-authority”, 3) that logic, reason, and common sense prevail and that people would actually be encouraged to question new ideas rather than being chastised for opposing a thought from a famous personality, 4) that corporation and psychological ideals we happen to like (i.e. Meyers-Briggs) not be re-purposed with a quick Bible reference underneath, and 5) that the doctrine remains expository…i.e. “What is the Bible saying?” as opposed to “I want to say this, and what verses can I find to back it up.”

 

Here You Go, Way Too Fa-a-ast…

The perfectly hued lights cast shadows in all the most dramatic places on the worship leader’s face as it is stared at by thousands on the video screen as they chant the lyrics they know so well from who has been described by themselves as their favorite band from the cd being sold in the lobby, and the music swells to a screaming crescendo as the guitar player trem picks open the ears of heaven so at the perfect moment the worship leader can scream, “I must decrease so He can increase!” Downbeat stop lights out. Punch in full lights. And the crowd goes wild.

Curious culture we’ve made for ourselves.

Not all of it is bad, but I think we need to pull it back a bit and ground ourselves once again in who it is we’re worshiping, before we come to a crash. The most frightening thing is that if we don’t, I’m not even sure we’re going to realize it when we do crash.

Splendid.
Karl.

Heroes – By Their Podcasts You Shall Know Them

- Dwight K. Schrute

So I was at Target the other day (pretending to shop, but actually just playing with the new 3D marble maze toys…those things are awesome!), and at the checkout counter, I was struck by the number of magazines on Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding. And when I say ‘struck’, I mean, as in they actually struck me. They literally attacked my eyes, there were so many of them. One even went so far as to say, ‘Panic! The Dress Didn’t Fit!’ And of course I don’t blame the media moguls who produce the magazines. If the magazines didn’t sell, they’d stop making them. I blame us, and our culture of heroes.

That instance isn’t exactly what I want to talk about, but it did give me the little push over the edge that I needed to talk about this hero worship in our culture. And of course, in our church culture. Because for as much as we like to scream that we’re counter-cultural, a vast majority of what the church has done and continues to do, follows very closely with each decade of culture. In our culture, celebrity is god. Someone appears on our magic box of anti-boredom (because above all else we humans fear boredom and uncertainty, and the television cures both in perfect half hour installments), and suddenly, they are our hero. Sure, most of us won’t say that, but yet why then do we model our lives after people we don’t know? Working in the entertainment industry and the church media industry for many years, I feel like I can put forth a good idea of why. Because a lot of the time, reality sucks. So in order to sell advertising space, the media companies of course don’t give us reality. They give us a highly dressed up version. We see that highly dressed up version as reality, we of course prefer it to our own, and we end up desiring something that isn’t real or possibly attainable outside of lighting, studios, Photoshop, and highly edited story cuts. We desire and strive for the unreal, while the glorious real of actual life slowly passes us by.

Culturally, mainstream Christianity follows suit. A fantastic case in point is Duck Dynasty. I don’t know the people portrayed in the show Duck Dynasty. I’m guessing that you don’t know the people portrayed in the show Duck Dynasty. But because someone says ‘Bless this food, Oh Lord’ on television, they are our new cultural role models. We buy their t-shirts, we defend them as if we were defending Almighty God, we make theological points on Facebook using their memes, and we even go so far as to include them in our sermons. Our co-worker might show the fruits (Matt. 7:16) of 40 years of following God even through the death of a child in a completely unedited life, but we don’t quote him in our sermons. No, we quote the highly edited and produced television characters who said ‘Bless this food, Oh Lord’ but seem to treat their families in a fairly misogynistic way. We even miss the misogyny and the non-Christ-like interactions between the characters, and dare I say even start to implement them in our own lives and pervasive Christian culture, because these produced television characters are our new role models because they dared to say ‘God’ on tv.

The same can be said of someone as loved and respected as Denzel Washington. The dude seems like a wonderful guy, talks about God a lot, makes movies that bring about great moral questioning of ourselves, and gives to charity. But it would be erroneous of me to base my life off of that guy. Not because I think he’s a bad guy, but because I do not know him. I have no intimate knowledge of him. Let’s go a step further here. Billy Graham. Says some wonderful things. A pillar of faith, some may say. But to base your life off of, in essence to make someone into your mentor and elder (literally in the book of Acts…one of age and experience) that you do not know personally, is a dangerous way of wasting your life.

I’m going two steps further. Some of you may know your pastor. I really, sincerely, hope you do. Biblically, pastor means shepherd; and it saddens me that we have created some churches into places where you have no intimate knowledge of your shepherd. I hate to break it to you, but as you’re undoubtedly intelligent enough to know, churches spend thousands and thousands of dollars on lighting rigs, video equipment, microphones, and Vimeo subscriptions. The pastor spends hours practicing his affectation in his sermons. The worship leader (this is true for me and hits close to home) spend hours practicing his songs and affectations. The production you see on Sunday morning is just that, a production. And while that’s not necessarily an evil thing, it does function to make you feel as if you know the guy giving the message, or the guy singing the songs, or the guy giving the announcements. But in reality, you do not know them any more than you know me. And the last step I’m taking this…most of you do not know me either. Sure, I’m saying all this, but if you’ve never been to my house and talked with me personally, don’t take my word for it or base any life decisions off of this. Run it by someone you actually know and actually respect.

We need to make our lives and circles smaller. We can’t base our Christian lives off of Duck Dynasty, Denzel Washington, Billy Graham, Mark Driscoll, our pastors, or blog personalities. If you really want to, then go get to know your pastor. Or get into a church where you can know your pastor. I highly encourage that. The point isn’t that pastors are evil; the point is that, when push came to shove, you would have no idea if your pastor was evil or not because you don’t know them. We need to stop modeling our lives, our families, and our cultures after people from whom we’re too far away to tell if they have actual fruits or just the appearance of fruits. Jesus says that by their fruits you shall know them. Not by their podcasts, their stages, their tv shows, their public speaking ability, or their many anecdotes. Create a culture in your family where your models, mentors, and elders are people that you know intimately. Real people, weathered and life-beaten, but unmoved…and you can say, I want that. Not people who say all the right things, but people whom you can view their lives of 40 and 50 years of solid faith and integrity through ups and downs and questioning of their faith and whom you have seen come out the other side real, unedited, un-produced followers of Jesus.

Sincerely,
Karl.

Evangelicalism

I’m confused as to when “being an evangelical” became more important than “being a follower of Jesus.”

We’re so worried about our own identity, that we’ve missed the identity of God, and who we should be as His followers…whether that is comfortable and validating for us or not. This is not a club. You are not the podcast you listen to. You are not the party you vote for. You are not the church you attend. Somehow it seems like we created all these ingenious ideas to worship God, and then He fell through the cracks and nobody noticed. We are missing it.

“…nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” – Luke 17:21

In Christ’s love,
Karl

Things I’ve Learned from the Ocean

About a year ago, I moved to the beach. I remember when I first started this blog, my morning ritual (which incidentally I couldn’t wait to do and even dreamed about occasionally or not so occasionally) was to wake up, pour a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and surf eBay for new pedals. Then I’d finish that bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, convince myself that it was really only half a bowl and that the new pedals would only be done justice when fed into a new amp, and get another bowl and surf Gear Page for a new amp. I chalked it up as work, because that’s what worship leaders get paid to do. It might not ever be stated that that’s what we get paid to do, but when every little piece of a Sunday morning worship set gets critiqued each week from the sound of the speakers to the length of the pauses to the color of the pedals, as reasons for the congregation not raising their hands to the appropriate level…then getting the sounds and the visuals perfect is by definition what we get paid to do. And surfing eBay a lot and buying many things is often what it takes to get that perfect 1.73 second transition while modulating into the key of the next song that just has to be played, but in a key that the female vocalist can sing, while changing the click track to 6/8 timing and signaling the tech that the lights are 22% too bright.

Not that I was completely without fault. Okay, I was a lot at fault. This is what I knew I was signing up for ten years ago. This is what I wanted to do. I wanted to run a worship production, and even made many suggestions at many a church to increase production quality. Basically…you can serve God by buying new delay pedals and larger speaker columns and you get paid for it? Ya. I’m in.

But this past year, my ritual has changed. I wake up, go to the beach, jog in the sand, and then wade out into the waves. I close my eyes, still my mind, and see what God’s gonna say, if anything. Turns out, usually quite a lot. More than He did in my ritual of past years (even when switching to rolled oats and almond milk…hey, we all get old). It’s been a little bit like that story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. Sometimes God isn’t where we expect Him to be. In fact, about a month or so ago, it was raining all day. And I went to the beach for a jog. The storm had driven everyone away, and it was literally just me. For miles. And no matter how many times I’ve sung Chris Tomlin’s “How Can I Keep from Singing”, this was the closest I have ever come to not being able to keep from worshiping. I almost didn’t have a choice. I felt very much like Elijah, sitting in that cleft in the rock. The wind was throwing my voice back at me so strongly that it was as if I wasn’t singing at all. It was just me, and the creation of something much, much bigger than I. Not lighting copied from a Coldplay concert so that I get the same feeling as at the Coldplay show, but this time it’s called the Holy Spirit. More like, if you take one more step, you might be crushed by that wave, and My plan, My Being, My glory…would still go on just as before without you. You are inconsequential. But by and in My grace you are able to live and move and have being. And I threw up my hands and sang How Great Thou Art.

Two different morning rituals. Both looking for God. And I still have some delay pedals, and I still enjoy playing some worship songs on them. But it turns out God talked to me a little more in the simpler one…the one with less of me.

Splendid.
Karl.

For Worship

It’s been almost six years since the start of this blog and this little gem, and about one year since I posted that everything on this blog was about to change. And now…it’s changing.

I’ve taken the last six months or so to work outside of full-time ministry for the first time in about ten years…my entire adult life. I did this after becoming convinced and convicted that God had to be bigger than the marketplace we’ve created, then working to effect change from the inside with very little luck, and then finally realizing it was time for some time away. I was too close to everything. I really didn’t know any life apart from western institutional church ministry. I needed a break to look at things as an outsider, and gain a clear perspective. And I knew that after about 6 to 8 months of that, one of two things would happen: I’d either come out stronger in my convictions, or realize that all I needed was a healthy sabbatical and then continue to look for a new worship pastor position, continuing the guitar, and the voice, and the production…for worship.

And after those 6 to 8 months, I’ve come out……

……stronger in my convictions.

When I think of worship, and what to write on this blog, and what should be “for worship” of a very real and a very frightening yet very loving Creator, some of the last things that come into my head are pedals, tone, stages, flow charts, soundboards, music stands or no music stands, playing together as a band, and a lot of things I’ve blogged about over the years and have been paid for in ministry over the years. I still love these things (and probably still more than I should), they’re just not what I think should be the most time-consuming parts of worship anymore. What do we need “for worship”? How do we express what God is worth to us? A Strymon pedal or a handshake? A well-structured setlist or a Psalm of abandon? Sitting in a church office ‘researching’ yet another Vimeo service or working through a coworker’s pain with them?

This is where my heart is at. And what is exciting, is so are the hearts of many people, both Christians and regulars, that I’ve spoken with over these past months. We’re ready for more. We’re ready for what we read in the Bible, and not just the parts that have had chosen interpretations preached to us. I’ve been so surprised and overjoyed to learn these past months that much of what I’ve been convicted about is nothing new…Lewis, Moody, MacDonald, Schaeffer, Bonhoeffer, have espoused these views for hundreds of years. But we have overlooked, reinterpreted, and rationalized them, years of church history, and the teachings of Jesus Himself in the name of relevance over all. Relevance, tone, pedals, org charts…they all have their place. That place just shouldn’t be above everything else. And it has crept above.

So in the name of integrity, something that once lost is so very hard to ever fully recover, just as I can no longer be paid to lead worship in its current form, I can no longer blog about guitars for worship to keep my stats and google ranking up, and to get free gear from companies. This blog is going to become about worship. Worship in the real world. Worship for the other 167 hours in a week. There will still be the occasional guitar post, as it relates to inviting everyone into my garage with their guitars to sing some hymns, and who knows…maybe there’s a great guitar string that I’ll want to tell everyone about that’s conducive to that worship setting. But this place is going to become a community of people looking for God, and what our response should be as we continue to find Him.

As I still love music, and continue to work in the industry, my music website will continue all the sarcastic musician posts, pedal demos, and random nonsense that you’ve come to expect. That stuff is wonderful, and I still unfortunately believe that tone equals life just a little bit. ;) But here…is for worship.

Worship & God: (Guitar) For Worship

Gear Demo’s and Musical Musings: Karl Verkade Music

I love you all, and I have appreciated the years here more than you know. I look forward to many more years with those of you who choose to stay into this new chapter. (Even if it’s just out of morbid curiosity. ;) ) Goodbye, Guitar for Worship. Let’s worship.

Splendid.
Karl.

You Know You’re a Post-Hipster Worship Guitarist When…

A while back I explained how you knew when you were a hipster worship guitarist. It was about 90% autobiographical, but a tongue-in-cheek look at myself from a couple years earlier. So here is a look at me now (I’m makin’ paper), and those like me. We add ‘post’ to ‘hipster’, because post makes everything cooler. You know you’re a post-hipster worship guitarist when…

  • …when you’ve sold all your Strymon pedals for Boss pedals. Well, almost all of them. You still have the Timeline, but never miss a chance to talk about how you’ll sell it as soon as Boss releases the post-hipster-legend DD30.
  • …when you keep a Digitech pedal on your board and force yourself to use it every once in a while…just to say you did.
  • …when you maintain that The Stand is really just Transatlanticism.
  • …when you wear Uggs instead of Toms.
  • …when you can’t wait to wear those comfortable Toms again as soon as the last hipster stops wearing them.
  • …when you listen to Nirvana on the way to church, and make sure to crack your windows a bit (like you forgot) when you turn into the church parking lot.
  • …when you talk about the state of the church, and how everything’s become a show, and worship is just an industry now. Except the church that pays you. They’re cool.
  • …when you hate JHS.
  • …when you worship to Arcade Fire.
  • …when you can’t stand how much everyone treats pastors like brands and only refers to them by ‘Driscoll’ or ‘Ramsey’ so much, that you listen to no exegesis. Ever. That’ll show them.
  • …when you rail on worship guitarists for spending thousands of dollars on boutique pedals, as you pull your Boss pedals out of the back of your Escalade.
  • …when you own a Timeline, but still suggest the DD20 in every internet thread.
  • …when you pretend to be all confused when hipsters use worship guitarist nicknames like Droff and The Duke. But really you know exactly who they are.
  • …when hipsters talk about how overused delay is, you use it anyway to show that it’s so overused that it’s so hated that it’s cool again.
  • …when you’re all about chorus. You really can’t get quite get it to sound good, but you’re all about it.
  • …when you pontificate that the only worship music you can really stand is John Mark McMillan, and even he isn’t that great.
  • …Radiohead.
  • …when no one really needs the Strymon Big Sky……except you.
  • …when you can’t stand how much everyone is on their iPhone during the message. You have to use yours for work.
  • …when you refuse to use sheet music, because worship shouldn’t be so produced, man. Ya, I know that C was supposed to be an A. First inversion, bro.
  • …when worship should be all about improvisation, and worshiping with your instrument in the moment. Except the bass player. Ya, he needs to play 8th notes. And the drummer. That kick should be straighter. Hey, why isn’t the keyboardist just holding pads?
  • …when volume pedal swells are so overused. You use reverse delay, where the initial attack of the note is cut out, and the sound seems to swell in…wait…
  • …when you’re still trying to find a way to work ’90′s hip-hop into worship. You’re very white, but you understand the struggle.
  • …when you sit through the message in all four services just to prove a point. You’re answering emails, on your computer in the back, or just plain zoned out, but man you’re there.
  • …when God has become a means, a brand, a podcast, or an overall life feeling.
  • …when you don’t listen to Hillsong. Except Brooke’s solo stuff. You call her Brooke. You’re not on a first-name basis with her, but if you ever met, you’re sure you would be.
  • …when you’re all about homeless ministry over worship ministry. Yet your pedalboard could still feed the entire city of Los Angeles for a year.
  • …when you don’t play Telecasters because everyone does. But strats look like you’re trying too hard not to play Telecasters. You wanted to play a Les Paul, but U2′s newest video shows Edge playing a Gretsch which will be mistaken for a Les Paul, so of course Les Paul’s are out. And Gretsch’s. It might even have P90′s. And we don’t even have to mention hollowbodies. Mustang’s are awesome, but even you can’t convince yourself they sound good. It’s all very confusing. So you play a Tele.

Ah, some of that hits way too close to home. Okay fine, all of it.

Splendid.
Karl.