I was in Nashville recording last weekend and had the chance to visit Christ Community Church, home of renowned author, speaker and pastor Scotty Smith.
I attended Christ Community in the heyday of Christian music back in the 90s. Christian artists have always seemed to be drawn to certain churches during certain decades. In the 80s you’d find the stars at Belmont Church on Music Row. In the 90s it was Christ Community. The first Sunday I played on the praise team Amy Grant sang the offertory. I looked down and saw Steven Curtis Chapman on the front row. You’d regularly see the guys from Jars of Clay, Steve Green, Scott Wesley Brown and many others.
Because so many artists attended, Scotty and the church naturally had a great impact on Christian music. It’s a PCA church (Presbyterian Church in America) and often I’d detect some reformed theology slipping into lyrics I’d hear on the radio (especially with artists like Wes King) and I’d think “that’s Christ Community and Scotty!”
Behind all this is a great story (too long to go in here) of how, over 25 years ago, concerned Christians left a mainline denomination, formed the PCA and in Nashville formed several sister PCA churches. Christ Community was the most contemporary of those churches and was an early leader in the praise and worship movement.
Scotty is soon retiring and his last Sunday is June 1, so I was delighted to hear him, probably for the last time. He began his final sermon series and spoke on the “History, Heritage and Hope of Christ Community Church.”
Music director David Hampton leads the band from the piano as an SAT trio leads in worship. David Hampton sort of helped me get my first music director job – the pastor I was interviewing with at the time, upon realizing I’m not the typical skinny, singing worship leader with an acoustic, said “Oh, you’re just like David Hampton!”
The vocals and band were as tasty as you’d expect in a Nashville church and the music was well done. David played a Jim Brickmanesque version of “All Creatures of Our God and King” as a prelude then segued into the praise set:
The Greatness of Our God (Hillsong)
How Firm a Foundation (contemporary hymn arrangement)
Step By Step (Mullins)
How Firm a Foundation (last verse acapella)
Offertory: Open My Hands (Sarah Groves)
Oh For A Heart to Praise My God (an old hymn with new music by David)
You’ll Come (Hillsong)
This is one of those rare “perfect praise sets” because it has a little bit of everything:
- New Praise Song
- Old Praise Song
- Original Praise Song
- Traditional Hymn
…all tied together with Scripture readings and an acapella reprise verse of “How Firm a Foundation” (when was the last time you let your congregation sing acapella?)
Needless to say I enjoyed the whole thing and was quite moved spiritually. This week try to incorporate a little bit of everything into your praise set – you’ll reach and bless a wide audience.