#26 – Worship ft. Cory Alstad & Pat Sczebel

 In

Worship

 

Worship today is largely influenced by movements like Hillsong and Bethel.  How are these movements and others shaping the worship lives of believers?  How have worship leaders adapted since the pandemic?  Join Rob and  2 worship leaders as they share their perspective on these questions and more.  Their thoughts, experience and resources may benefit you.

 

“I’ve gotten into the practice lately in the last year or so, of being really intentional with silence,” – Cory Alstad

 

 

“…my desire is that we would, there would be intentionality from the minute we gather to the time that we scatter and that’s all worship, and that worship is with intentionality” – Pat Sczebel

 

Topics Covered Include

  • Current Worship Movements
  • Non-Musical Corporate Worship
  • Adapting in a Pandemic
  • Intersection of Theology/Scripture and Worship
  • Worship Inspiration

Show Notes

 

 

 

BCMB Pastor to Pastor
BCMB Pastor to Pastor
#26 - Worship ft. Cory Alstad & Pat Sczebel
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Transcription

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Pat Sczebel:
My desire is that we would, there would be intentionality from the minute we gather to the time that we scatter and that's all worship, and that worship is with intentionality, just like the pastor gave 15 hours to prepare sermon.

Cory Alstad:
For me, it's, it's super important to be intentional with, with this, this sort of sacred, you know, hour, hour and a half that we have with people to try to, to, to really organize something that would help people remember who God is and what he's done and celebrate what he's doing and anticipate what he's going to do and, um, and just be part of and also, of course, just be with God and be able to confess our sins together.

Welcome to the BCMB podcast, Pastor to Pastor. This is a podcast by the British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. We want to help equip and encourage pastors, churches and anyone else who wants to listen in and be more effective in their ministry. This is Episode 26, Worship with Corey Alstad and Pat Sczebel.

Rob Thiessen:
Great. Well, it's good to be with you again. My name is Rob Thiessen. I am the Conference Minister for the BC Mennonite Brethren Churches, and this is the Pastor to Pastor podcast. And I am very glad to be able to welcome today a couple of friends, guests. And our topic this day is worship. And so I've invited a couple of great worship leaders, musicians and brothers in the Lord. Cory Alstad and Pat Sczebel, and they both are and have lots of experience as worship pastors in churches and also in other aspects of ministry. Pat, you've, you've pastored and shepherded in all kinds of capacities. And and I know your son is also involved in worship leading and Corey and his whole family. I think it's a family tradition here. You guys have passed on your, your love for worship to your kids, and it's just inspiring. So I really count it a privilege to have both you with us. And I know that our listeners are going to be blessed by this conversation. It's my prayer that this conversation would be an encouragement to pastors and leaders, help inspire and expand our, our worship of the Lord in a way that honors him. So to introduce you guys, maybe, Cory take us off, tell us, tell us a little bit about the family of or about your family of origin, about the community that shaped your faith and how that, how the Lord worked through community in your life.

Cory Alstad:
Yeah, sure. It's, it's awesome to be here, really thankful to have this opportunity. And yeah, I guess I, so I grew up, I won't go along here at all. I grew up in a Christian home. My dad is still a pastor. He was a pastor all my life. And I think that I, probably the most influential years I grew up and I became a Christian early after a spanking, I think, if I recall correctly, I think it was probably after quite a few spankings, I became a Christian over and over again. But anyways, I you know, I don't think I took my faith that seriously as a young kid. And it kind of grew as I, as I got older, I went to Bible College and, but it was my first, my first church at the Meeting Place where I think I really had to wrestle with my faith. And I'm really thankful for those years, that was in Winnipeg. I, I was called there. It's a long story that I won't go into. But I was the music director full time there, and that was my first kind of experience sort of in a, in a career sort of setting as a as a worship leader. And there was a my, my mentor there and supervisor was a guy named Tim, and he was just, he was really awesome for me. He just kind of, he pushed me on a lot of things and he, and he kind of would, he just, he would he would make me wrestle with stuff like he would say, hey, I noticed that you, when you, when you prayed as you were leading, you said this.

Cory Alstad:
And I'm like, yeah. And he's like, do you really believe that? And I'm like, oh, uh. And I, and I'd have to kind of wrestle with it. And I have to think about, um, like, you know, I mean, I think I've always said that. And he was great at I think he really taught me to ask questions. And that's been a huge, that's been a beautiful thing in my life, actually has been the freedom and the permission to ask questions and, and to understand that God is, is big enough for my questions and to and,to dig in a little further. That was a huge, huge gift for me. Out of the Meeting Place, we ended up moving out here to Langley. And Rob, you were the lead pastor that actually brought us here to Langley. And that was a huge gift for us as well. We had a lot of I was sort of our church and Winnipeg ended up unfortunately kind of going through a lot of difficulties. And in the end, we ended up needing to, to step down there voluntarily. We were, we were kind of hanging on for a long time. And finally, it was just like, I think we need to to look into something else. And that's another long story, but a really beautiful story for us. And Rob was our lead pastor and we came out here to Langley, and that was a huge gift for us as well.

Cory Alstad:
I think just being in a place that really valued, um, it was, it was a contrast to the Meeting Place. I love the Meeting Place. Here, just felt as though we were, we were pastored, actually, even as I was kind of being called to be a worship pastor. But, um, but also just pushed, I think, Rob, you you actually really pushed me as a worship leader and as a worship pastor and, and say, what do you think the spirit is saying and what do you think we should be? You know, like where where should would be going and worship and, and praying with us. And we didn't have as much of that at the Meeting Place, in particular in the last year and a half or so. And so that was a beautiful kind of resting place in a way for us, even if it wasn't necessarily restful, but it was, it was a great place for our both Sheri, my my wife and myself, our souls, to kind of find rest and, and growth. And I think we really grew a lot. I'm still here at the North Langley Community Church, and Matthew is now our lead pastor. Rob, you're no longer pastor there, but still obviously involved there. And so, yeah, that's and I'm here I've been here for fourteen and a half years at North Langley Community Church, I guess. And it's a beautiful community that I love being a part of. And yeah, that's, that's sort of the very short version of my my journey.

Rob Thiessen:
Thanks Cory. And,you know you're reflecting a little bit on your experience 14 years ago at the Meeting Place, and obviously that church has moved on and is a vastly different community now, healthy again and thriving. Yeah, it's good. All right, Pat.

Pat Sczebel:
Yeah, well, I was, I grew up in a Christian home. My dad passed away when I was a year old, and my mom deeply loved Jesus and at a very early age taught me of Jesus. I remember being three and four years old in the living room with the, the accordion, her teaching us harmonies and singing the old hymns. And yeah, I grew up and my mom remarried a couple of years after that, and didn't remarry a very nice guy. And so life was pretty hard for the next seven or eight years. And she was kind of the, the rock. Her love for Jesus kind of kept us.

Pat Sczebel:
And I had been a part of many seasons in that,those few years where I watched God working in the church, saw the presence of God actively at work in churches. I remember as a young boy attending, I think I was like nine years old, attending Kathryn Kuhlman's healing meetings down at the Pacific Coliseum. It was a just a crazy event that just like kind of rocked me. And then when I was, But but all that stuff was, was good. And I think there was, a there was seasons and moments where God was drawing me.

Pat Sczebel:
But it was when I was 13 that I just had a radical encounter with Jesus. And then, it was at that time where I felt the call of God on my life and was just kind of waiting for the day when I would be thrust into full time pastoral ministry. And I have been a pastor for thirty one years now. Most of that has been primarily in the area of worship. But I've done a few other things and the first nine years was in kind of out of that Pentecostal and then maybe even more extreme charismatic background. And so I saw a lot of, a lot of good, but a lot of bad and a lot of ugly in the charismatic. And I attended a pastors conference in nineteen ninety eight, kind of coming unraveled at the seams, burnt out, jaded a little bit already in the first nine years of pastoral ministry. And it was there that I felt like I heard the gospel for the first time in my life. I would say those first nine years in pastoral ministry and really since I was 13, I deeply loved Jesus, but I really didn't understand the gospel. And so it was at that conference where I felt like I heard it for the first time and that really transformed my life. And so from there, planted a church in nineteen ninety eight and for 20 years was a part of that church. And, and recently we merged that church with Crossroads Church where I'm presently, that's my home church, and I'm regularly involved there and I, as well coach and train worship leaders, worship teams as kind of my, my main role now full time.

Rob Thiessen:
Excellent. God has been faithful to, to, to us all on our journeys, and we're so grateful for, for the lessons he teaches us and his grace shown to us, even, even through some weird experiences that I'm sure we've all, we've all had within the church. Let's just talk a little bit about you've you testified there a little bit, Pat, that you also had been a part of movements and things that came through town. And when you mention Kathryn Kuhlman, you know, yeah, there used to be quite a, quite a show, quite a show at these healing events that, that would happen. Now, today, we're watching a lot of movements as well that are influencing the church. And and I'm think about two big movements in the worship field currently. And there probably are others. Maybe you guys want to to reflect on others as well. But both Bethel Worship and Hillsong, down from out of Australia, really are impact in the global community. Um, there is, you talk to us a little bit about what you see in the positives and negatives in kind of the worship movements that, you know, that are, how are they influencing the church? How are they influencing our worship? And what what excites you? What concerns you in those?

Cory Alstad:
So I've been really blessed by, by Hillsong and Bethel, like. I know.

Cory Alstad:
Yeah, definitely, it's not hard to see lots of, you know, concerned people online and stuff. And you see, like, all these you know, Bethel's theology is, is this or that or Hillsong. You know, the, some of the teaching and stuff is, is theologically suspect with, you know, at least not lining up with maybe what we would line up with in the Mennonite Brethren or whatever. But, yeah, for me it hasn't like I, I definitely, I've been really, I've really loved a lot of what I think I love about, say, Bethel is I think, I think what they're, it seems like they're tapping into universal longings, like a lot in their, in their music. And I think that's really valuable. A lot of their, a lot of their, it reminds me a lot of the Psalms, like a lot of their music, is like they'll, they'll speak from a place of fear or anxiety. They'll, they'll speak of God as, as the one who rescues us and the one who, you know, delivers us and frees us and like I've, and they and they mix it and match it so well with, which is really important with, with really great music. And so to me it feels like beautiful poetry that actually is just a really big, really big help for us. Like, so I'm, I don't have, I've never, I'm not, I'm not, I don't know at all where you're coming for this or with this, Pat.

Cory Alstad:
But I, for me, I don't, I'm not that concerned about, like, you know, it's one thing if we're lifting their messages. And so, like, you know, we're, we're getting all of our theology from that. I don't find that a lot of the weird theology is coming through in their worship, at least the stuff that we're, we're doing. And maybe I'm just picking, you know, whatever certain songs that don't do that. But I, um, I just feel like, yeah, I think that Hillsong as well, Hillsong, they're tapping into something that I think is important for us to be singing because it's, it feels very culturally relevant in a good way. And, and it's and it feels quite honest as well. I think sometimes that for me is, is a bit of a thing, like I don't like, I don't like worship music or any any kind of music, actually that doesn't feel super honest. And I, and I like that I feel as though the music, at least again, the stuff that I'm picking, I don't know their whole library or anything, but that we use it our services, it feels honest and it feels like, yeah, this is something that I can honestly sing and pray and I'm happy to put that on the lips of my people, like our community, to say, yep, this this feels like a genuine human thing.

Cory Alstad:
It's not, it's not a bunch of clichés. It's not, it's not saying the things you're supposed to say. It's actually saying stuff that I think our heart cries out for. And, and it also speaks of God in a way that I think is true and honest about God's heart and his love for us. And so and I'm not a huge, that may be the last thing I'd say is that I guess the concern I'll just jump to that. Maybe if there is a concern, I don't, I don't feel it strongly, but it would be sometimes, like you said, you were talking. But we're talking with that new song, The Blessing. Right. And you see that's an example of many where you see, you know, like Kari Jobe and I think Cody Karns, Cody Karns, is that right? They're doing this, and it's like a twenty minute worship experience doing a song. And, you know, there's, there's part of me, it's like, oh, yeah, that, that can be a little misleading because it's you know, that's, that's not most of our experiences in our local churches, you know, have these these ongoing crazy, you know, emotional experiences when all this is happening. And it's I don't have a problem with that. Like, I think, hey, great, if that's, it's probably not going to happen at North Langley Community Church that we're going to do that.

Cory Alstad:
It's not realistic for us, but, um, but it also can be misleading. It can be one of those things where like, oh, do they have something that, that I don't have? Like is it, am I doing something wrong as a worship leader that I can't get people to, to be hyped up like that and emotional like that and. That's maybe the one concern is like, hey, it's, this is, it's great to enjoy it, but let's not try to replicate something and pretend that we're, we're something that we're not. So but I don't have a huge like it. It's not like a massive thing for me. I went to a Bethel conference and I, I watched that as well. And it was, it was a beautiful experience. I love the conference. The teaching part was, yeah, it was a little weird for sure. Like there was, it was kind of like 90 percent of it was amazing. And then, like, you know, eight percent of it was pretty weird. And I'd probably say, I'll just leave this here. And then two percent was like, yeah, maybe. And it's like, great, that's awesome. You know, there's the 90 percent is worth it big time and. Yeah. So I'll leave it at that.

Cory Alstad:
That's, those are, those are just my off the cuff thoughts, you know.

Rob Thiessen:
Thanks, thanks Cory. Pat, you've reflected on this too? You're observing this impact.

Pat Sczebel:
Yeah, yeah. I think I, I would want to begin with a bit of a confession maybe to start. And that confession would be that I feel like the Lord has convicted me over the last couple of years of, of pride and I think often feelings of superiority. I think there's a real danger in the church, in particular the various camps of, I'm this or I'm that, to elevate oneself and go, you know, look at this as this doesn't seem to be right based on my, my doctrine of this or whatever. And, and so I think I've been quick to criticize in the past, movements like this, with an overemphasis on experience. And you have to understand, I came from that. I, I've kind of seen, I've run the gamut of I could, I could write a book that would make your hair stand up. I'm pretty sure of some of the many experiences I've been a part of. Lately as I've, as I've reflected on the, the church in Corinth. And this has been a real helpful thing for me. And I just, I'm not sure how many in my camp in the reform circle would respond to the Corinthian church in this day and age. I think we, we would be quick to say we want nothing to do with that church. We wouldn't associate with that church.

Pat Sczebel:
And yet, you know, when, when Paul begins that letter to the Corinthians, he's very clear that these are dearly loved, you know, children of God. You know, I give thanks to you always because of the grace of God in every way you are enriched in him. You know, you're not lacking in any gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord. God is faithful by whom your called. So there's this beautiful picture of a church that's about as dysfunctional as you can get. And Paul, Paul is going to address that. And yet, and so I feel like the Lord has been working in my life to, to, to be discerning without criticising and being quick to judge something that maybe necessarily I wouldn't agree with. And so when I think of, you know, these movements and others, you know, I think the thing is, is to teach our church to be wise, to be discerning. It's at our fingertips. It's everywhere. It takes nothing to just do a quick search. And what do you want to watch? What do you want to be a part of? And so to help our church to be discerning, I, I was thinking of a quote by by John Piper in a book called Desiring God. And it's the third chapter on worship.

Pat Sczebel:
Just a quick paragraph. He says here, truth without emotion. So this is a bit of something along the lines of what Cory mentioned. Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full or half full of artificial admirers like people who write generic cards for a living. On the other hand, emotion without truth produces empty frenzy and cultivates shallow people who refuse the discipline of rigorous thought. And then he concludes. But true worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep and sound doctrine. Strong affections for God rooted in truth are the bone and marrow of biblical truth. And so I think teaching our people to be discerning. I would agree with Cory. I think there's you know, we, we sing several Hill songs and we sing several Bethel's songs.

Pat Sczebel:
And again, there would be things that I would disagree with and there would be things that I agree with, but teaching our people to be discerning I think is really key.

Pat Sczebel:
And then I guess something that maybe that I've, I've found myself a bit concerned with, I think within the churches we're, we're so quick to gravitate to the next latest greatest, best thing without actually thinking about our church specifically or our diet specifically. And while I would agree with Cory that there is a universal kind of thing, sometimes the Lord puts the song out and it really has to be sung by the universal church. I think there is as well stuff that needs that God wants to do specifically in our churches. And, and so I think, I think sometimes we throw away our minds and it's just easier to ride on the the tail of somebody who is doing things. And we like it. And we've, we've been on there. We've watched the video and it moves us. So let's take it to our church and let's let that move them. And I think there's a bit that, that happens there where we set our brains aside, we set our creativity aside. We do the arrangement exactly like they do it. We do everything. Exactly.

Pat Sczebel:
And I think sometimes if I would want to challenge a young worship leader, I would say, you know, listen to those things and take it and use it in your church but at the same time, are you leaning in to what, what the Lord wants to do specific in your church? And how could he use you and your team to write songs could use you to, to, to be intentional in your church. So those are a few things, you know, let's learn from them. But let's be discerning. Let's lean into what the Lord has for us specifically. I don't know. I think I kind of answered your question, but.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah, no, that's good. That's good Pat. It's funny, my morning reading was also in First Corinthians today and I just wrote a reflection on verse 16. Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him.

Rob Thiessen:
And, I was just reflecting to myself in that verse that we often, because of Chapter six, where it says you individuals are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we just associate this also as being an individual expression. But in the context it's not. Paul's talking about the whole church being the temple and the problem is the partisan spirit that's there. So I hear you saying that worship can also become a partisan thing when we focus on this leader, that leader, this style, that style, we're divided.

Rob Thiessen:
Right. This is my favorite. And, and that is dishonouring to the Lord and not in keeping with what worship is about. Right. It puts the focus on individual. So I guess what, you know, what I'm also hearing and it's the, it's the celebrity side. And I think that's maybe what I was driving at with, with the movements. And I don't know that I would, I don't know if I know, I mean, there are individuals who just by the way they lead worship, they seem like they're prideful or celebrity folks. I don't know that many of them. I think it's more what we do to, to the people who are leading. We idolize them. We, because they have a gift or a talent, we elevate them. And, and I don't think it's, it's good. It's unwise for our communities and. I guess that's part of, part of the concern out there is it's easy in our culture to, we gravitate towards making celebrities out of people, especially musicians, beautiful people.

Rob Thiessen:
You Know present company excepted, of course. All right. Let's you know, now that we've gone from solving global problems, let's, let's talk a little bit about, more practical, how we're leading worship. So I just ask you guys to reflect a little bit. You're both musicians, so and that's a big part of everybody's experience of worship, it's where a mind goes right away when we think about worship. But what about nonmusical areas of worship? How do you see those impacting the body of Christ? What, what are some positive nonmusical forms of worship that you're exploring that you know, you think, hey, this is really good, that the Lord is teaching the church new ways of worshipping that aren't just dependent on this song, the next song. Yeah, Pat?

Pat Sczebel:
Yeah, well I, I mean, for I guess about the last ten years after reading a couple of different books, Brian Chappells book Christ Centered Worship and Mike Cosper's book called Rhythms of Grace, I started understanding. I think we all know that worship is, is about all of life, but started categorizing worship as worship gathered, worship scattered. And I think that the, the worship gathered includes the preaching it includes, so it's not the singing portion of the service. Worship is this, this corporate worship we gathered, we gather to worship as a church and then we scatter to worship. So, and I think I've, I come to really appreciate the glory of the gospel and proclaiming that gospel to, to, to the people that I have the privilege to serve every week. So, you know, I realized this a long time ago, that people on a regular basis are coming into my church. And I think they're coming into your church and to everyone else's churches forgetting the gospel. We, we gather on Sundays to remember the good news of Jesus Christ because we so forget so quickly forget it. I think it was Martin Lloyd-Jones that says for every 10 looks at ourselves, we're taking one look at Christ. So when, when, when I gather with our church, you know, the, the purpose of the, the preached word and the prayers and the scriptures and the songs are meant to take those people's eyes where they're belly button gazing, more aware of they're looking inward and maybe just of how many times they've blown it that week, how many times they've wandered from God, how many times they've hurt their spouse or been unkind to their children or yelled at their kids or whatever. They're coming in. And I want, I want to take their eyes off themselves. And I want to, you know, Lord willing, by, by a band and by songs and by prayers and scriptures, I want to lift their eyes to see, see the one who is past, present and future sins are all placed on Jesus Christ.

Rob Thiessen:
And so so, Pat, if you're, if you're the worship pastor, so maybe in some situations you're doing oversight of the whole thing. But if you're planning, you know, because I do some guest speaking now. So quite often a group will ask me to prepare a message and occasionally they'll want to know what I'm speaking on for the worship leader choosing the songs. But that's about as good as it gets in terms of coordination, thought, prayer into the planning of a service. What, what you know, if you're saying that worship is much more, it's the prayers. It's a thing. How do you work then as a worship pastor practically? And what do you do to ensure that, that, that, that, that worship time, that whole service or maybe you can't ensure, I don't know, how do you give your best effort that, that is a Christ honoring true worship experience, not just a thrown together variety?

Pat Sczebel:
Yeah, well, I think it's you know, we would never allow the lead pastor or the preaching pastor to take two hours to prepare for Sunday's message. We, we give him lots of space and time. He's got, what, 15 to 20 hours? I think that's what it took me every Sunday to prepare a sermon.

Pat Sczebel:
And, but then we somehow say that in a sense, we're kind of saying and the first portion of the or the singing portion of the service is not as significant because, so it doesn't need intentionality. Just get your guy that, that's listened to all those YouTube videos to let them pick his favorite songs. And you do that and just get it over with quick so we can get to the main course. And I think, you know, my, my desire is that we would, there would be intentionality from the minute we gather to the time that we scatter and that's all worship and that worship is with intentionality, just like the pastor gave 15 hours to prepare a sermon. Are we being that intentional with thought going into, how should you know, what is a cult of worship look like? What does a corporate confession of sin look like? What does it look like to assure people of God's amazing grace for them? And so, so I look for catechisms. I look for prayers. I look for scriptures. I do responsive reads. I look for ways to, liturgy is, is just means of work of the people. So we gather, we worship, we gather to worship. And it's built around the gospel. We're remembering the good news of Jesus. And I'm just the person who's like the pastor that's taking, you know, maybe 10 hours to develop or to pray through and to think through intentionally how all these pieces should fit together so that the over arc of the gathering from the minute that we, we got together till the time we were sent with a benediction, we have heard the gospel proclaimed over us and it was very intentional.

Rob Thiessen:
Good. Cory, what are your thoughts on this now? You know, you may have some, some advice to give pastors based on bad experiences that you had in the past with senior leaders who didn't listen to you. Present company excluded, of course, but just. Yeah, give us, give us an overview and then maybe you can share also some of your perspective. What, what would you like for the senior pastor to understand about, you know, about this process, about about worship in a more holistic way?

Cory Alstad:
Yeah. Yeah. No, I, I agree with, with Pat. It's so true that I think sometimes maybe that's one of the frustrations that there is definitely sometimes where you feel like, you know, and maybe it was more common, you know, in past years. But where it was like, you know, really your job is to warm up the hearts of the people so that when the preacher preaches, they'll be able to hear it. You know, you're opening up the hearts and then they'll do that. Then the real stuff comes in. And, and I think and again, not that I'm trying to toot your horn, Rob, necessarily, but I appreciate that about you immediately. Was that when I came is that you were like, like this is all part of our worship, like this is the way, it may be that someone in particular this morning needs to hear, needs to be part of the worship experience and the preaching, whatever. It's going to be fine. But, you know, it's God's going to use each of these elements for sure. So, yeah, I would, I would agree with Pat. Like, for me, it's, it's super important to be intentional with, with this this sort of sacred, you know, hour, hour and a half that we have with people to try to, to, to really organize something that would help people. Yeah. Like you're saying, Pat, remember who God is and what he's done and celebrate what he's doing and anticipate what he's going to do and, and just be part of and also, of course, just be with God and be able to confess our sins together.

Cory Alstad:
And I think that I maybe lean a little bit more towards like the I do feel like we do, you know. Well, so you were talking about nonmusical elements like I, we, I've gotten into the practice lately in the last year or so of, of being really intentional with silence, which I feel like is a lost, it's a lost art, at least in my life, can easily be a lost thing in our culture with we've got so much available to us. Pat, you'd said that earlier, we have everything on the tip of our like just like a finger click away and we can, we can distract ourselves and busy ourselves and have lots of noise in our life. And so we actually, at the beginning of our services, for the most part, we actually say, hey, we're going to take like a minute and actually like a minute or , which is funny, doesn't sound that long, but actually, it can feel long, of of just silence. And we want to invite you to. Yeah. To center your heart's on the Lord to ask him to to speak to you. Maybe there's some walls that need to be kind of taken down here before we begin.

Cory Alstad:
And maybe there will be a time of silent confession together where I want to invite you to think about your week and what are the, what are the things you need to kind of bring to the Lord? You know, it's I think that stuff is super important. It's been important in my life to be able to have those experiences. And, and then we'll yeah, maybe we'll pray a corporate prayer of confession together, which I, I really value that as well. Finding beautiful prayers of the church and of the past that have been carefully put together. I often find my prayers are can become quite repetitious. They can become kind of vending machine prayers. And I hear myself and I'm like, Cory, you kind of, you kind of sound similar each time. And so when I find, like, there's just there's so much rich, there's a rich history of, of beautiful prayers that have survived the test of time. And and so I love, I love helping us kind of do those things together, pray those things together.

Rob Thiessen:
What are some sources, Cory, where you find those kind of prayers?

Cory Alstad:
Yeah, I've, one that I've used a lot,it's called The Worship Sourcebook. And it's like, I don't know, I'm actually, I got it from a friend of mine. I got it years ago. I don't really know where I got it from. But it's, it's filled with invocations and benedictions and confessions and prayers of assurance, and so I use that quite a bit.

Cory Alstad:
The Daily Office, I will, I'm sort of a loose follower of The Daily Office. And I'll, I'll read those. And sometimes I'll be like, oh, this is great. Let's, let's pray this together. I have listened to the Taize Community in France. Sometimes they, like I've gone there on their website and they sometimes have some beautiful daily prayers that I'll be like, oh, we need to, there's another a great book for anyone who's interested. As I just, I've rediscovered it again is this book, it's called, I don't know Pat if you've heard of this, it's called This Private Diary of Prayer by John Baillie. It's a, it's an old book and it's basically it's thirty one prayers for each morning and evening, prayers for each day of the month. It's, it's just beautiful. It's it really honestly go on to Amazon and order it. It's just a little book, but it's just a poetic prayer, you know. And so anyways, I read those prayers and I'm like, yes, this is what I need to pray. Sometimes people are like, oh, it's not spiritual if you're not doing it spontaneously, if you're not, you know. And I just, I reject that, you know, it's like, no, no, you read these prayers and it's like, yes, thank you, Lord, that yeah.

Cory Alstad:
This I need to pray. And so I want to, I want to bring that and help our people with that, you know, and our community with that. If it's affecting me, I think I sometimes take that as a sign from the Lord that I've been called to this place in this time. And so if it's something that I'm feeling in my spirit, I need to pray this, then chances are there's probably my brothers and sisters need to pray this as well. And so anyways we'll start with silence. We have liturgical prayers that will include the reading of the Psalms together often. Yeah, sorry. I think I've lost my train of thought. But is that kind of answer.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah, yes. No, I'm really good. And maybe, so for our listeners, maybe pastors, there might be some worship leaders listening. But you know, what would you like to see the pastors who are listening to if maybe they haven't thought about this or what, what steps could they take on a weekly basis to cultivate a deeper or to lead their church and work in partnership with their worship leaders, even if they're, you know, maybe they're not employed, maybe they have laypeople with limited margin? What, what would or what could a pastor do to lead into a deeper,a deeper experience of worship the way you're describing? What how would you like to encourage pastors?

Cory Alstad:
Hmmm, Yeah, I think, like, it's a tricky, I was, I was thinking a little bit about this. I know that sometimes. And I and I'm thankful that I have not had this experience very much. But sometimes I think for task oriented people, it can sometimes be weird to kind of look at, let's say, a worship pastor or a worship leader who's, who's spending time maybe jamming with a guitar or playing the piano and singing a little bit and maybe trying to write a song or and I think it's easy to kind of look at that and be, is well, is that is that work? Like you're not actually getting a lot done or it doesn't seem like you're getting a lot done. You know, someone who's sort of task oriented. I think, I think there's actually good in preparation when it comes to to being creative about, about our service and about, you know, the music we're going to do and maybe what the prayers that we're going to lead and the, the different elements of the service. Like for me, it's that time actually really matters. And, and it's again, there may not be super clear, you know, tasks that are, that are happening here. You know, it's not like I've got like a I don't have a seven and eight page paper here outlining everything. It's like, well, no, it's but I've, I've been inspired and I have met with the Lord and I feel like, like, man, I'm so excited on Sunday because I've got this idea.

Cory Alstad:
Meanwhile, someone might have been watching me for the afternoon, have been like kind of look like you were just sort of sitting there fiddling on the piano a little bit and, you know, and not that I know. I you know, obviously those things can be abused as well where it's like actually I was just fiddling on the piano, but no, you know, it's you know, for me, those, those times are often very rich and very important. And then I think that God brings about fruit from it. Like you, you know, it's like Sunday morning comes and it's like, you know, when you have someone says like, hey, that was like, thank you for that. That, man that song. I just, I was crying the whole time. I couldn't do it. It was like God was doing something and and I'm like, OK. Somehow in my weakness, in my brokenness, God is, he is helping me to to do something here that's helpful somehow, you know. And so anyways, I would just say that was, that's one thing that came to mind is like, you know, understand that creative people, that it looks a little different sometimes when you're working on stuff.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. I think pastors will be able to identify in their sermon preparation. You know, they may have a pile of books spread out in front of them. But honestly, sometimes it just looks like they're staring at the pages. And, and the truth is, that's what they've been doing for the last few hours because they really, and, and we just factor that in is part of the, the cost of study. That's just what I do. It's not all productive. And we don't extend the grace to the worship leader to also say, well, that's part of my work. Cause like you said earlier Pat, the option is just well you could just jump on YouTube and copy somebody, right? Right. And that, that may be low hanging fruit, but it's not going to maybe bring the, bring the best fruit forward. What are your thoughts? What would you like to say to pastors on this?

Pat Sczebel:
I would say to the pastor, especially, there's so many churches, like you said, that has a part time worship guy, or maybe they're just getting a stipend or something. You know, a lot of churches like that. I would say that, that worship leader role should be the lead pastor's greatest investment. And the reason why, is I think there's, when, when you are the two that is the primary, you know, you're taking the primary role of the gathering and you're gathering to worship, to be on the same page. And a lot of lead pastors, I hear this a lot because I go into churches and I teach on this stuff. A lot of lead pastors say I'm not musical. I don't even know what to do. And I don't, I don't think musical is the important aspect of this. I think the investment and discipleship. You know, I was going to say later on, but I could say now that often we were taking the gifted guy or gal and we're, we're giving them that role, but we're not really equipping them and discipling them. So, you know, where, what are they doing when nobody's looking and how is their love for Jesus and are they studying the scriptures? I mean, I always say first I'm a Christian and that I'm a pastor. First I'm a plumber, or I'm a Christian and then I'm a plumber or whatever.

Pat Sczebel:
So just being a Christian is a disciple. It's one who's following Jesus and wants to know Jesus more. So everybody is a theologian is just dependent of whether you're a good one or not a good one. And so that, that person that's picking up the guitar, that's really gifted. I want that lead pastor to say, hey, I'm taking this guy or gal under my wing and I want to make sure that, that, you know, when they talk and we've all had the experience of the worship guy worship gal talking and wishing they never did because it was just so bad. So how do we help them? You know, we I'm fifty four years old and I still script to this day and I script because I don't trust myself, you know, often just going off on a whim is, is left to my own demise. And so I think it's helpful to teach them that it's OK to, like Cory said, to have a scripted prayer, to find this amazing prayer online and go, oh, this is beautiful. This would really serve our church this week. So I think the Pastor needs to be very intentional with that role. That and if he feels like I don't know what to do, call me. There's lots of people that could help, call Cory. There's people that can help lead pastors to, to, to help them serve their worship leader well.

Rob Thiessen:
So you're highlighting the, you were touching on the theology and the worship are connected and that the growth of the worship leader is important. So let's just throw that out there. What, what do you do to, to grow, to feed your own soul? And how, what are things God is teaching you kind of currently about is about himself that leads you to, to worship him, that drives you towards thinking this is something about the character of God that causes me to worship.

Rob Thiessen:
Cory, you take a stab and then we'll come back to Pat.

Cory Alstad:
Yeah, sorry, you were saying what am I doing to kind of grow?

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. Yeah. How do you grow as a person, you're thinking? Because Pat just drew the attention there to the intersection of theology and worship. That if the worship is going to be rich and meaningful, that leader has to be connected in some way with, with the deep things of God, not just with a surface knowledge or repetition or a quick Google search.

Cory Alstad:
Yeah, yeah, exactly. So for me personally, I, I am like I'll do, I do kind of what would be I shouldn't say normal because it may not be normal, but I'll have like morning devotions. I'm never good at, our church does life journaling, is a big, big theme in our church, we do a lot of life journaling and I, I've never been great at journaling. And so I kind of dabble in different things, whether I'm reading like a devotional book, whether I'm actually doing life journaling or that's kind of my I do have a regular sort of habit with that and not always perfect. But, but that's that's a huge part of my spiritual journey of starting the day that way and spending time in prayer. I think, like for me, I'm a big reader as well. Like, I, I don't trust it's funny you said I don't trust myself. I don't trust myself too often to understand, you know, scripture perfectly myself. And so I, I value good books of, you know, of scholars and theologians that have wrestled with, with contexts and with the way, you know, this particular passage and all that kind of stuff. So I do a lot of reading. It's, that's actually becoming more and more of a discipline these days because it's, it's way too easy to, my reading has dropped a little bit with just so much available social media.

Cory Alstad:
And it's good, good things, but, but just distractions, right from, from reading. So reading, reading, good books, good spiritual books. People like a NT Right and, and others. Eugene Peterson are authors that I really love. And so doing that, I for me there's, I have some kind of spiritual practices that I do. And I love going for quiet walks, actually.

Cory Alstad:
And I, I do find that I some of my richest prayer times are when I'm going for a walk silently and admiring God's creation and just letting him, kind of minister to me, you know, as I as I bring things to him. And that's, that's a beautiful part of it. And it's actually become quite a regular, part of it is that we have two dogs, so I do lots of walking and we have nice paths around our area. And I just I really value that actually, especially these days with the pandemic that we're currently in. There's lots of time for that. So, yeah, those are huge. And I think yeah, that you're right, it definitely, that obviously trickles into, you know, as the way that I lead and the, my heart when I'm leading. Not that my heart is always in a perfect spot when I'm leading at all, but that's where the discipline comes in and the, and the role and responsibility comes in to say, hey, this is what I've been called to do. And so I may not be feeling it today, but that's, that's OK.

Rob Thiessen:
Is there something just lately, put you on the spot Cory, that, that God is revealed about himself or his ways to you that you think, oh,that would be,that would be great to incorporate that into worship. I like to write a song about that or meditate on that or explore that.

Cory Alstad:
Yeah, I don't know this will be that new and exciting. But I do feel like God continues to remind me of his, his generosity and his and his, his love for redeeming broken things. Like I think that's been a, that's been just a theme. I don't know what it is probably is a combination of what I've been reading and conversations that I've been having with people and probably what I've been watching. One, there's some great shows that I'm like, oh, it's beautiful. Even though it's not written from a Christian perspective like this, a picture of redemption and how everyone is like God loves this world and God loves broken people and wants to. Yeah, wants to bring like redemption and rescue to their lives. And so I think I've just been, honestly I feel like that has just, there's been exclamation marks behind that theme in my life where I'm like, man, no one is too far gone. You know, that's been a theme that I've been just. Yeah. And part of it is the pandemic, again, that we're in right now is just missing people, missing just the physical interactions.

Cory Alstad:
This is great to see you guys on the screen. But like but sitting, you know, having a coffee with someone and hearing their story and and sharing my story and just the interaction, like, you just see how God has made us in his image. Right. And it's and you see that in those face-to-face interactions anyway. So that would be a big theme in my life is just an incredible love for us.

Rob Thiessen:
That's good. Pat?

Pat Sczebel:
I would say, first off, that it's vitally important for those that, you know, they might say, I don't, don't like reading. That would have been me. I'm not like Cory. I read as a discipline and I read regularly, but not because I love it, but I know it's good for me. And a dear friend of mine, Bob Cauflan, said to me one time, I was so discouraged, I read a book and he'd say, tell me about it. I say, I can't remember a thing I got, I read from the book. He said, not one thing. And I say, Yeah, this one thing. And he would say, there's one more thing, you know, that you didn't know before you read the book. And so I read books with the hope that just I'll get one more good nugget from that. So I think my, my regular practice is I'm always reading through the Bible. I do the Bible project is what I use for my going through the Bible. And then I constantly want to be always having an elevated view of God, big view of God.

Pat Sczebel:
So I'm rotating, The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W Tozer and The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink and Knowing God by J.I.Packer, a constant little book called Communion with God by John Owen. And it's a little puritan paperback. It speaks of the father and the son and the spirit and the role, who they are in their role, anything like that, that elevates the bigness and the greatness of God, because I'm prone to shrink him to my size. So I try to on a regular basis, I guess something that he's, that he's been teaching me recently. A couple of weeks ago, I came home from a day of just being completely overwhelmed by the Costco line ups and the, the Superstore. I literally the lady told me when I was going into Costco, don't bother coming in here it's a two hour line up. And then I drove to Superstore and I got to the door. The manager said, by the way, I would not come in here. There's almost two hour line outside every checkout. And I was just so overwhelmed, discouraged, and just my mind was blown.

Pat Sczebel:
And I just started meditating on the fact that, you know, God is always working. He's always active. He's always in charge. He's always king. He's always on his throne. He's never out of control. He's never disengaged. He's never uninterested. He's all powerful. He's all knowing. He's everywhere at all times paying attention to everything. And and in a couple hours, I wrote the song just called Jesus Reigns. And I put it on YouTube just because I was just so moved by meeting with the Lord. And this has just been something in the last kind of two weeks in my own soul. This is a fresh reminder every day as I behold him, I understand that he's really got this. He's in control. He's reigning over all this. This didn't take him by surprise. He's not shocked by Covid-19. And so those are some of the things I think.

Rob Thiessen:
That's good.

Rob Thiessen:
That's good. And that leads us. Maybe I'll just ask Cory for your thoughts on, you know, with what's going on presently with all of our isolation, no gatherings. How is this impacting worship? And what would you like to say to people? What do you hope that people and worship leaders, what do they need to know or what, or what is the Lord speaking to you about these things?

Cory Alstad:
Yeah, I think, you know, I would I agree with what Pat said, it's so true that God you know, God is not intimidated. He's not insecure. He's not like, none of this has caught him off guard. And I think that's been, that's been obviously revealed to me.

Cory Alstad:
I think our fragility has been revealed to me as well. Like, it's like, yeah, we're it's funny you just said I'm Bill Gates. I think he said something to the effect of like this, one of the things this is showing us is that we are all similar, like we're all weak. This doesn't, it's not the rich and powerful don't get, they don't get a pass on this, you know. So we've been doing, we've been doing online streaming at our church. And we're really, we're grateful for the last couple of years, we've been kind of investing in that and trying to do this as a, as something that we would do as well as our, our Sunday services. And now it's turned into our Sunday services fully. So we have been doing that Sunday after Sunday and social distancing as we do it. And also we have a night of worship and prayer on Wednesday nights. And so that's, that's been something that we're doing. And it's a weird thing to lead, lead worship when there's no one in the room. You know, you're, you're leading, trusting that and knowing that there are yeah, there's people watching at home and wherever it is.

Cory Alstad:
And I would also just say to worshippers and worship leaders and musicians like I think this is the time for, for our artists as well to be, to be offering something beautiful to people, you know, to, to remind to, remind people that God is good, to remind people that there's something about music that does that better than, I'm biased, of course, but, but better than, than the spoken word sometimes. Right. Like, like create something or record something. I've been trying to do a little bit of that pat, like you're saying recording something on to YouTube, like now's the time to be like and there's almost permission in a way. Right. Sometimes we're like, oh, I know. Who am I? What am I going to do? I shouldn't.

Cory Alstad:
Well, now, now is actually the time because there's not much else you can do, you know, put it online like record yourself, write a song, and it can really encourage your community. We've, I've done a few of those things. It's just really cool to see people like, oh, thank you for that. Just covers. Right. Not like well one I guess was my own song, but like often it's covers and you know, It Is Well With My Soul or we did Psalm 23 by Shane and Shane and, and songs that, that, that minister to people. And so I think those are things that, that we can do as worshippers, worship leaders. Help remind people of God's goodness through music and through beauty.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah, that's cool. Well, maybe I'll let the listeners know. Pat you said you put a song. It was called Jesus Reigns?

Pat Sczebel:
Yeah. I think if you go on YouTube, I think I called it Covid-19 Song of Hope or something like that.

Rob Thiessen:
OK. OK, so listeners, take a look.

Pat Sczebel:
If you looked up Pat Sczebel Covid-19 or something, it would show up.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. Good luck spelling Pat's last name.

Pat Sczebel:
Yeah. It like, in the first day I think at fifty five hundred views or something. So it just kind of went crazy and there was a lot of people just email and said that I needed that today.

Pat Sczebel:
And so, it was just kind of one of those moments where it was out of a place of my own, just overwhelmed by what is happening in our world and the truth of who God is anchored me in that moment. And I need that to be anchoring me on a consistent basis.

Rob Thiessen:
Good, good. And Cory, you, I listened a little bit. I saw you and Tim recorded a song. Where would people find that one?

Cory Alstad:
Oh, you know what? I need to make that. It's actually not public. I put it on our NLCC friends page, and so I didn't know that it's not actually public.

Rob Thiessen:
Where could they find something that you've recorded.

Cory Alstad:
Well, I, you could find, I have some stuff on Spotify and also iTunes and stuff. If you look up either Cory Alstad or more recently, Alstad, just my last name and you'll find they're actually two separate sort of artist accounts. And so I've, I've done a lot of piano instrumental stuff lately. So under Alstad, that's Songs for the Evening is an album that I put out last fall.

Pat Sczebel:
So, and a much, much easier last name.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. Yeah.

Rob Thiessen:
For those of you you're wondering, Sczebel is SCZEBEL, I do it right.

Pat Sczebel:
Yeah I see. That is the right way to go.

Rob Thiessen:
I go American, I go American with the Z. Yeah. Well thank you so much guys for, for taking time in this conversation. And worship is the best, the best gift that we have. It's our preparation for glory. It's what we'll be doing through all eternity.

Rob Thiessen:
So really appreciate your calling and your investment and may the Lord bless you and really continue to use you through this time. And to our listeners, thank you again for giving this hour of your time, to a long one, to this podcast. And it's great to be with you, the Lord bless you and fill you with his peace over this season. We'll look forward to being with you again in the next podcast. Bye bye.

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