What it looks like to serve for Jesus’ sake

Thank-you, Bob Kauflin:

What does it look like when leaders seek to serve others for Jesus’ sake?
We recognize that the goal isn’t to have musical experiences dwell in people richly, but the word of Christ (Col. 3:16).
We’re more confident in God’s words than ours, both in our songs and our speech.
We choose songs that help people understand, apply, and benefit from the gospel.
We think of ways to involve others in leading and playing.
We welcome, even ask for, input from our pastor and others before and after the meeting.
We keep creativity in its most helpful place, using it to draw attention to Jesus rather than to itself or to us.
We’re relaxed as we step up to lead others because we’re aware that we’re jars of clay and Jesus is the all-surpassing treasure (2 Cor. 4:7).
We know that God loves to use the foolish things of this world to shame the wise (1 Cor. 1:27).
We make it a joy for others to follow us.

Leading others in song is always about God and what he’s done for us in Christ, not about us and what we’ve done. While God wants to use our gifts, preparation, and skills, he doesn’t need them.

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.



#TwentyFourteenProject July: Overcome

Oops, I forgot to post about last month’s new #TwentyFourteenProject song before I flew out.. good thing I’d uploaded the recordings.


I struggled with July’s song. I didn’t get any solid ideas until late in the month, so I didn’t have so long to develop it. If I was to use this song in the future, I’d probably go back and rework the verse in particular. All part of the process…

Two Excerpts

Here are a couple of quotes for your Sunday reading:

Those of us in ministry, whether it’s full-time, part-time, flex-time, or volunteer, are just stewards of God’s ministry. He uses us for a time, and then he moves us on and uses someone else. We don’t build dynasties – God builds His Church.

Jamie Brown


I’m starting to think that a lot of modern worship music isn’t relevant to my church. It may be great at a massive stadium event, but that’s hardly the world I live in on a weekly basis.

We have to remember this: Our people come to meet with Jesus.

Oftentimes, the reason your church may not be worshiping is because they don’t connect with your song & style choice.

I’m convinced that we need more worship leaders who are willing to be less cool if it serves their churches well. There’s more than copying Hillsong. There’s more than mimicking Jesus Culture.

You have a voice. Your team has a voice. Your community has a voice. It’s time to find what that is even if it means you sacrifice “cutting edge” on the altar.

David Santistevan

Migrant service

Before I jumped on the flight to Australia, I helped lead a special migrant & refugee focused service at the Karlsruhe FeG last Sunday.

My friend Vimal spoke on what the bible has to say about about God’s heart for the vulnerable and how he expects his people to treat them; about how he is able to understand what migrants go through, as Jesus was himself a refugee; and how all of us who are followers of Jesus are migrants in this world. (Vimal has recently published a booklet to give away: Jesus: I was a refugee)

We heard a Testimony from a Tamil brother seeking asylum, who became a Christian in Germany.

We sang together some songs which helped us remember Jesus as our hope and security:

God of angel armies
The cross stands
Hier am Kreuz
In Christ alone
Wohin sonst

And shared a song which Vimal and I wrote last year:


The worship leader as storyteller

This is really good:

For the Worship Leader the goal of corporate worship should be to remind the people of God of the story of God’s redemption through Christ, thus leading this redeemed people into the worship of this active, living God. This corporate memory must be rekindled by connecting the local congregation to the acts of God in history, by singing songs and reading Scripture that recall these acts. 

The whole piece is good. Read it.


h/t WorshipLinks


The gospel and approval

You may have read this week about the death of Broadway legend Elaine Stritch (though you might know her better as Jack’s mother on 30 Rock). My Facebook feed has certainly seen a number of tributes, but one quote in particular caught my attention:

“The terrifying thing in my life is that I am just an actress. And I have to keep pushing it and getting approval, approval, approval or I don’t think I’m worth two cents. And I am starting to get over it, thank God. And I’m just sad because I don’t have many years left and I wish I had a longer space of time to think that Elaine Stritch is okay.”

It’s so easy for us to put our identity in what we do, especially in the arts, where what we do is constantly on display, and either applauded or critiqued (or both). Here is someone who was at the top of their game, respected and rewarded, and yet the admission that so much of it is striving for approval, for validation of self-worth. This is not a judgement – I feel it, and if I think that achieving that level of artistic success would change anything, I’m kidding myself. I need to keep reminding myself:

The gospel re-shapes perspective. It puts things back in their proper place because it puts God in His proper place. He sees all we do; He is our most important audience. The opinion of whoever else is listening is just not as important as His. And what is His opinion? The gospel tells us – he approves of us already. – Tim Keller

This isn’t to be confused with a disregard for legitimate critique of our work, or of seeking to do work which impacts an audience, or even of enjoying applause for good work, rather, it is to simply remember that my self-worth, my identity is not tied inextricably to this work. It is to remember that whatever happens, whatever failures I might experience, or whatever judgement I might incur from an audience or critics, it doesn’t change who I fundamentally am, because I’m loved by grace. Before I could do anything to merit applause, He who bore the scorn of crucifixion has given me his worthiness. I’m more than OK; I am in Him, and He is perfect.

Falk von Traubenberg

My 2013/14 season in pictures

The 2013/14 season finishes officially at the end of this week, but I had my last performance on Tuesday, so I’m effectively on summer break now.

I need it. It’s been a really big season (but a great one!). I was in five new productions (and rehearsed a sixth, which I’ll do first in the coming season):

Cristiano in Un ballo in maschera (Verdi) – it’s a bit of a cough and spit part, so I didn’t manage to find a photo, but I did get a mention in one review:

In the small cameo of Cristiano, Andrew Finden took charge of the stage and made every phrase count, with his pleasing baritone and animated presence producing a solid impression.

The next premiere was J. Strauss’s operette Die Fledermaus, in which I played a freudian Dr Falke, a role I had done previously in Nuernberg:

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In February came the annual Handel Festival, and I had the pleasure of taking part in a candle-lit, baroque-gesture production of Riccardo Primo (featuring the insanely talented Franco Fagioli). As you can see, my character Berardo, was the trusty sidekick (#friendzoned) to Costanza (Emily Hindrichs):

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The costumes and set were exquisite, so check out the rest of the photos here and here.

Then came the longest opera ever… Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, where I played one of the Meisters, Konrad Nachtigall. One of my props was a live teacup poodle named Popcorn, who managed to upstage us all.

KS Eddie Gauntt as Beckmesser, Renatus Meszar as Hans Sachs, Guido Jentjens as Pogner Photo: Falk von Traubenberg
Renatus Meszar as Hans Sachs, Guido Jentjens as Pogner
Photo: Falk von Traubenberg
KS Eddie Gauntt as Beckmesser, Renatus Meszar as Hans Sachs, Guido Jentjens as Pogner Photo: Falk von Traubenberg
KS Eddie Gauntt as Beckmesser, Renatus Meszar as Hans Sachs, Guido Jentjens as Pogner
Photo: Falk von Traubenberg

This season’s foray into frech repertoire was a double bill of Ravel’s
L’enfant et les sortilèges and Stravinsky’s La Rossignol, in which I played a handful of parts: the Father, Clock and the Cat in the Ravel, and a courtier and Japanese Ambassador in the the Stravinsky. At least my ‘Stummauftritt’ makes an appearance in the video:

I was also involved in the final Premiere of the season, Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunow, although I’ve done a dress rehearsal already, my first performance is the revival at the beginning of next season.

as Schtschelkalow Photo: Falk von Traubenberg
as Schtschelkalow
Photo: Falk von Traubenberg

In addition to new productions, I did performances of five revivals, most of which I’d already done in previous seasons. The only new role to me was Ned Keene in Britten’s masterpiece Peter Grimes in the powerful production by Christopher Alden. I was also glad to have been able to share the stage for a performance with John Treleaven, who is arguably one of the great interpreters of the title role.

Jaco Venter (Balstrode), Kammersänger Klaus Schneider (Peter Grimes), Andrew Finden (Ned Keene) Foto: Jochen Klenk
Jaco Venter (Balstrode), Kammersänger Klaus Schneider (Peter Grimes), Andrew Finden (Ned Keene)
Foto: Jochen Klenk

There were two Mozart roles which I love: the count in Le nozze di Figaro


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and the everyman Papageno in Die Zauberflöte

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Marullo in Verdi’s Rigoletto is another little cough and spit number, but it’s probably one of the things I’ve performed the most, and in fact, the first new production I did in Karlsruhe.

I’m very glad that we revived the incredibly powerful production of Weinberg’s The Passenger. I wrote at the time about meeting the author Sofia Pozmysz, and it remains one of the most powerful pieces of theater I’ve had the privilege to be a part of.

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I also took part in he Christmas concerts, and a New Year’s concert of Bernstein:


I’ll be reprising a number of these parts again in revivals next season, along with Schaunard in new productions of Puccini’s La Boheme and Oreste in Gluck’s Iphegenie en Tauride.

But first, a few weeks in Australia!!