Top 10 Posts of 2017

These last few weeks of the calendar year are always some of my favorite - time to reflect on a year well-lived and make big plans for the year to come.

Here are a few fun facts from this year:

2017 By the Numbers

Blog posts written: 81
Online courses created: 2
Online workshops created: 4
Videos recorded: 31
Emails written: too many to count!
Site visitors: 125,000+
Page views: 295,000+

I love looking back at where I started at the beginning of the year and all the things I learned, created, and experienced these last 12 months. But even more than that, I love learning about your favorites - what resonated with you, what was most helpful, what you've been able to use in your ministry and teaching.

So, I dug into the analytics and tallied up the numbers - the results are in! Here are the top 10 most-read posts of 2017 (in rank order):

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Why What We Are Doing Is Important

Today's post is written by my church musician friend, Janis Maxwell. She's the Director of Youth Music Ministry and Organist at Athens First United Methodist in Athens, GA. I hope her thoughtful perspective on ministry encourages and blesses you in your work this season.

- Ashley

"Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing." - Psalm 100:2

As I reflect on the topic, “Why What We Are Doing Is Important”, this Bible verse pops into my head.

A source of text for many great anthems, this Psalm reminds us that we are Biblically called to sing praises to God. We are not instructed to sing perfectly, in the right key, or with correct vowel formation. We are simply called to sing out our praise and thanks to our Creator.

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How to Use the Revised Common Lectionary

“A lectionary is a collection of readings or selections from the Scriptures, arranged and intended for proclamation during worship of the people of God.” (source)

Used as a guide in services of worship across denominations, the lectionary is a useful tool for choosing and sequencing Scripture readings and related music and liturgy for weekly worship.

Today, I’m writing about the Revised Common Lectionary - its history, benefits, how it's organized, and how to use it to guide your worship planning from week to week.

Let's get started!

History

The idea is not a new one: The first lectionary is believed to date back to the 4th century. (source)

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Are You Running On Autopilot These Days?

Are you running on autopilot these days?

You know the feeling: distracted, absent-minded, forgetful, foggy, disengaged, disconnected.

It's easy to slip into this way of living without even realizing it, especially during months like December (can't imagine why!).

But what does running on autopilot really do for us? And how can we switch back into manual mode?

Shauna Niequist, in her book, Present Over Perfect, describes the soul as our connection point - to God, to life, and to the world around us. It’s with our souls that we really feel, that we love, that we ache, and that we feel God’s presence the most.

But, like anything, if we don’t pay attention to what our souls need and crave, we slowly lose that sense of connection. We start doing things for the sake of doing them, uninspired, distracted, and numb on the inside.

We start running on autopilot.

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How to Write Your Own Children's Choir Curriculum

For some people, the word “curriculum” may denote academic rigor, standardized tests, detailed lesson plans, and lack of freedom and flexibility. Do we really need this level of planning and detail in our church choirs?

To a certain extent, yes. Here’s why: 

Curriculum can be defined a few different ways. My favorite definition is that curriculum is “the totality of student experiences that occur in the educational process” (Kelly, 2009). 

Think of curriculum like a guide: a plan to help you do your best teaching and help promote meaningful learning experiences. Like I tell my students and clients, a curriculum is your basic framework for all the teaching and learning you hope will take place in your choir this year.

As a children’s choir director or leader, you wear many hats. You’re a mentor, a Christian example, a spiritual guide, a teacher, and a music educator. It’s important to be just as intentional with the overall plans and goals for your choir year as you are with your week-to-week interactions with your choir members.

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