Preparing For Accessibility


I was walking with my kids a few weeks ago, and they asked me why the ends of the sidewalks are bumpy. I knew it was so that everyone would feel that they’re about to enter the street, but I didn’t know the whole story so I decided to look into it.

It turns out that “truncated domes” are just one type of tactile paving that spread around the globe from Japan, and is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since 1991, cities have been retrofitting sidewalks and modifying schools, hospitals and public buildings to comply with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

What’s so striking about this is that all of the empathy and expense is required BEFORE accessibility can be realized. Think about seeing someone unknowingly walk into traffic or struggle to climb the steps outside a medical building. It’s impossible to offer the dignity and honor of true accessibility if we’re reacting in the moment we realize that it’s lacking. As a society, we had to open our eyes and our hearts to how people were being excluded and intentionally take action to correct the shortcomings moving forward.

Isaiah prophetically provided a peak into God’s accessibility design:

“Clear the way through the wilderness
for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!”
– Isaiah 40:3-5

That’s our kind of accessibility! Let’s be on the constant lookout for any tight curves and steep hills and rough places that crop up in our gatherings. And whenever we see anything that gets in the way of accessible worship, let’s join in the preparation work necessary to straighten and flatten and smooth out. Like truncated domes, most people will never notice or realize the full significance of our prep work. But the Holy Spirit just might make it the welcome mat for a special someone. And in our readiness, they will experience the love of God.

Spend some time considering:

  • How could this be applied in our prayer before and during worship?
  • How does this affect our selection of songs and keys?
  • How does this change our approach to rehearsals, personal practice and instrument maintenance?
  • When is the last time you noticed something “get in the way” during one of our worship gatherings? What was it?
  • What needed to be done in that moment? Did you or anyone address or correct it?
  • What needs to be done to prevent it from happening again?
  • How can you improve your sensitivity and empathy toward those who might feel excluded in our gatherings?

The Secret’s Out


Luke 8:16-17
“No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house. For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.

I grew up believing these verses were a threat that Jesus would tell all my darkest secrets. And God does have a way of bringing things to light, doesn’t he? But over the years, I’ve come to understand a different meaning. Check out what the Cambridge Greek Testament has to say:

“[Jesus] is not thinking of the discovery of crimes, but of the right use and further dissemination of Divine light. The truths now revealed privately to faithful hearers, and only dimly shadowed forth to others, should soon be flashed over all the world. Parables first yielded their full significance to the disciples, but found “a springing and germinant fulfillment in every age.”

That totally changes it! Now I feel grateful, not nervous. I’m confident, not cowering because I’m living proof that it’s true. God’s truth used to be reserved for a select few. But Jesus came and put his glory on display… even to me! He has dropped truth directly into my heart and mind. He has spoken to me through scripture. He’s even revealed himself through other broken people.

And he wants to use us worship leaders to let even more people in on the secret. 

  • Have you ever discovered one of God’s “secrets” through the words of scripture or the faithfulness of people who know him?
  • Has God ever shown you something in private that you later shared with other people?
  • How does this change the way you think of private worship and Bible study?

2016 By The Numbers


This has been quite a year! At this time last year, we were just beginning to understand what God meant when he said,

“Share everything.”

The Springbrook venue was just getting going, the Preteen ministry was about to kickoff, House Worship was still at a house, and Knoxville wasn’t even on the radar.

God has formed our little tribe of artists, and the Vineyard has become a safe place to connect with God and other creatives. One of the beautiful side effects is incredible worship services where people experience God. New ministries and multiple venues not only mean more of these services but also more opportunities for worship leaders to take risks and grow.

The numbers bear that out! These stats reflect the services of the Maryville venue, Springbrook venue, Knoxville venue, Vineyard Youth, Vineyard Preteen, House Worship, and a few special services we hosted in 2016. I also included the 2015 numbers when possible for comparison.


  • 414 total worship services (266 in 2015)
  • 197 Sunday services outside our building (10)
  • 245 rehearsals (158)
  • 1,125 hours in rehearsals and services (762)


  • 113 musicians & technicians served (72)
  • 36 people led our church in a song (27)
  • 43 led worship from the sound booth (25)
  • 6,978 man-hours in rehearsals and services (4,975)


  • 154 total songs sung in all environments (108)
  • 86 songs used for Sunday morning gatherings (93)
  • 30 songs from the Vineyard tribe (21)
  • 15 homegrown originals (6)
  • 19 hymns (18)
  • 10 Christmas carols (7)
  • 24 songs unique to Vineyard Youth or Preteen (15)
  • 23 songs incubated at House Worship (0)

Songwriting & Recording

  • 24 active songwriters (17)
  • 15 songwriting small group meetings Feb 16-May 24
  • 1 songwriters night at Vienna Coffeehouse on May 31
  • 3 attendees to Southeast Song Summit Sept 19-20
  • 9 songwriters attended our annual retreat Nov 4-5
  • 22 original worship songs finished
  • 2 original songs translated to Spanish
  • 9 recording sessions
  • 4 songs recorded


  • 15 attended training lunch with Dan Wilt on May 14
  • 2 students & 1 faculty attended Worship Leaders Bootcamp in Nashville June 14-17
  • 21 kids K-5th attended kids’ worship jam on July 7
  • 37 attended training with Mike O’Brien on July 16.
  • Guest worship leader Mike O’Brien on July 17
  • Provided 2 worship leaders & equipment for Vineyard Southeast Regional Conference July 18-21
  • Guest worship leader Sarah Pemberton on Aug 21
  • 17 attended youth worship circle & training on Oct 12

If you helped facilitate any part our worship gatherings in 2016: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

I’m so grateful to get to serve alongside you as we put God’s beauty on display and cover the hills of East Tennessee with the songs of heaven. Who knows where the sound will reach next?!?

Kids Worship Jam


Vineyard-Kids-Worship-JamOur first Kids Worship Jam was incredible! Seven members of our worship team spent a few hours teaching 20 kids from age five to 5th grade. We got to see them engage in worship as they stretched for new musical skill… I’m pretty sure the team got more out of it than the kids!

We spent the bulk of our time together working on the song “Holy Spirit” by Bryan & Katie Torwalt. Not only is this a favorite of our church, it’s also easy to play. There are only three chords, and in the key of D, they’re among the easiest chords to learn on guitar.

We only scratched the surface on Thursday, and we want the kids to continue, so we put together some resources to help them learn more. Download the PDF and check out the videos below:

Download PDF

“Holy Spirit” Piano Tutorial:

Guitar Tutorial For Key of D:

Other free resources to check out:

Cultivating Personal Green Space with Dan Wilt


I sat down with Dan Wilt last fall at the Vineyard Worship Leaders Retreat in Montreat, NC to record his thoughts for our worship team on the subject of “cultivating personal green space.” I’m privileged to count Dan as a friend, and he has been a tremendous help to me in this area. I’m really excited that you get to hear from him.

We live next to one of the greatest green spaces in the world. But can you imagine what would’ve happened to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park if it had never been intentionally guarded, conserved, and cultivated? It would be fully developed with cell towers, resorts, rental cabins, neon signs, and amusement parks. These are things we like and appreciate, but there’s a reason no one lives at Dollywood. The screams of the Wild Eagle make me even more grateful for the serene sound that can only be heard behind Grotto Falls.

This month, we’re focusing on our value of intimacy in worship, and green space is the starting point. There’s a richness and depth in Christ that’s only available when we intentionally define our personal green space, and then guard and cultivate it. Grab a notebook & take a few minutes to listen to Dan instruct us and give us loving nudges towards deeper spiritual formation.

Standout Moments:

  • 0:50 Life is made up of rhythms. The World runs on rhythms. There are cycles in creation that are equilibrium, tension and release.
  • 3:50 The challenge of the Christian life is how we manage our rhythms.
  • 4:35 We all know that life is lived in moments, it’s lived in hours. It’s lived in… the Daily Office hours.
  • 5:19 I believe the Lord wants us to be a people who’s sabbaths are not weekly. But who’s sabbaths are daily.
  • 6:30 The daily office was intended for us to look back on the last three hours and say, “Lord, I give you thanks for the last three hours. All that you were doing…” It’s like this catharsis, and you give it to the Lord. And then you look forward to the next three hours and you say, “Now in these next three hours, Lord, make me attentive to you… I welcome your Spirit to empower me to do this.”
  • 7:25 If you don’t have the rhythm, you won’t get thirsty. You’ll simply lap up when you need it, or what more happens is your body, and your mind, and everything else screams at you, “You NEED a sabbath!” after six months of too much stress and burnout. And then people take forced sabbaths because their body shut down on them or they started to loose their perspective, they get depressed… Now I’ve dealt with depression most of my life – severe depression. This has been a primary healing factor for me.
  • 8:28 Matt is super creepy.
  • 9:20 Any new habit is rocket science to break into… Because you’ve spent, and I’ve spent decades forming what we don’t know is an alternative habit, which is dismissal of those things.
  • 10:18 Don’t do this by chance. You don’t know what you don’t know. So rely on someone who knows.
  • 11:51 Don’t get discouraged. Everyone goes through this, I went through it. But it is a wall you have to punch through, and we need to pray for each other.

About Dan:

Dan Wilt, M.Min. is Director of Communications & Resources for Vineyard USA. He has served as senior pastor, worship leader, professor, and mentor to countless worship leaders in North America and beyond. Dan lives in Franklin, TN with his wife, Anita, and three amazing children – Anna, Abigail, and Benjamin. Dan also leads worship at the Vineyard Church of Franklin, TN.

Resources Dan Mentioned:

Connect With Dan:

New Song: The Real Thing


Today at the Maryville & Springbrook venues, we’re introducing a new song called “The Real Thing.” It’s another homegrown tune that Scott Flinchum brought to our songwriting retreat, and several folks collaborated to finish it with him.

We’ve been singing it at house worship and youth for a while now, and we’ve found that each section of the tune is simple, easy to learn & repeatable. You might find yourself singing along the first time through. And it’s perfectly suited for our desire to give a little space to our worship.

This desperate cry borrows themes from Ecclesiastes:

All my life is vapor. Your Word stands forever…

I’ve been chasing after wind. Your wind is chasing me.

And as the song progresses, we move from longing to declaring:

You are the real thing! The gospel breathing!

Men will lead this one in G or A, and women will be in D or E. Visit the song page on Planning Center for charts.


New Song: “Your Love is Greater”


LOVE>FEAR is one of our favorite recurring sermon series at the Vineyard. It’s based on 1 John 4:18, where we learn that “…perfect love expels all fear.” We’re about to dive back into it starting January 24, and our next new song is called “Your Love is Greater.” It’s a homegrown tune written specifically for this series.

I love songs that capture the reality of the “Already and Not Yet” of our lives. This song acknowledges the presence of fear, but serves as a reminder that God’s perfect love is greater than every fearful thing we face:

You come and tell me “Do not fear”
And even though I know you’re here
I’m still so afraid
But your love is greater

As we lead our church family in singing these lyrics, let’s ask ourselves what it would look like if we each live with this truth in view. Where would it lead us? How would it change our decision-making process?

The founder of the Vineyard movement, John Wimber, is famously quoted as saying,“Faith is spelled R-I-S-K.” When we experience God’s perfect love, we are marked by it. We no longer fear punishment. We assess risk differently. The bridge of the song leans into this:

In death, in dying I will risk it all
In shame, in darkness, I will risk it all
In hope, in healing, I will risk it all
In life, in glory, I will risk it all for your kingdom

May God draw near and let us experience his perfect love during this series. May he remind us of what’s true. And may God call us to new risks for his kingdom as we respond to him.

Check out the chart and demo of “Your Love is Greater” on Planning Center.

2015 By the Numbers


Here are some stats from our year as a worship community… This reflects Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, Vineyard Youth, Springbrook Venue, La Viña, and a few special services.


  • 266 total worship services
  • 158 rehearsals
  • 10 services & counting for the new Springbrook venue
  • 762 hours in rehearsals and services


  • 72 musicians & technicians served
  • 27 people led our church in a song
  • 25 people led worship behind-the-scenes in the sound booth
  • 4,975 man-hours in rehearsals and services


  • 108 total songs sung
  • 21 from the Vineyard tribe
  • 6 homegrown originals
  • 18 hymns
  • 38 modern worship songs
  • 7 Christmas carols
  • 3 La Viña songs with no English translation
  • 15 songs used only for Vineyard Youth

To everyone who helped facilitate the worship gatherings for our church family: THANK YOU!

God is leading us and forming us into a community where artists thrive while helping people experience God’s presence. I’m so excited to share that with more people in more places in 2016!

New Song: “No Longer Strangers”


Our new song for July is “No Longer Strangers” taken from the latest Vineyard UK record Waterfalls, and we’re introducing it on July 12.

I love this song. Not just because of Dana Masters’ unbelievable voice. The song is universally relatable and immediately singable… it applies directly to me and somehow manages to feels like an old familiar song I already knew. Especially the chorus:

We are no longer strangers to your arms
We are no longer strangers to your arms
By your grace you have saved us
We’re no longer strangers
We’re no longer strangers to your arms

As you learn this song, keep Ephesians 2 in mind:

5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ… 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. (Ephesians 2:5-6, 12-13,19 ESV)

If you dwell there long enough for it to sink in, it might just mess you up. 🙂 And if that’s not enough, the bridge brings in imagery of the prodigal son:

Father I’m coming home
Though I have wandered far
Your love is reaching out
I’m running to Your arms

I’m coming home

The arrangement on the record is so good we won’t need to deviate much, so pay close attention to your part as you listen. Guys will lead it in G, girls will use B or C and you can grab the charts on Planning Center.