It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Call me Ishmael. It was a dark and stormy night. All this happened, more or less.
They say that the first sentence of a novel is the most important. It is an invitation, like the aroma of fresh-baked pies wafting at the doorstep, or a father dangling the keys to the sports car to his teenage son. The year 2016 was like that in a way, full of promise and intrigue and adventure. As the year draws to a close, I feel like I’ve just read the first few sentences of a new chapter in a book.
Here’s my annual end-of-the-year By The Numbers. In general, this is a down year for me numerically, not because I’ve been less busy but because I’ve been more. Two projects in particular, the Walkabout, a musical instrument a friend of mine and I patented last year, and a new book deal, have sucked up much of my time. But more of that later in this post. As always, I’m so very thankful to the many hundreds of artists of faith with whom I’ve had the opportunity to share ministry, art, and life over the years.
I do apologize for not keeping up with the blog this year. I typically average two posts per month, and obviously haven’t kept up. Interestingly, hits to my site are up substantially from last year. The most popular new post this year by far is “Seven Things a Worship Leader Won’t Tell You.” The most popular post is last year’s, “How To Compliment an Artist” and my 2014 post, “The Issue of Age in Modern Worship,” continues to get a steady stream of hits.
Number of Gigs: 10.
Typically, the number of gigs I play per year is somewhere between 80-100, but I stopped playing solo piano locally and have not been active soliciting other gigs. The loss of income was accompanied by more time at home with family (and time writing), so I guess I’ll live with that. My band ML3 didn’t play at all last year, but I did start another group, a duo called Waiting For Sunday, and we played a variety of wineries last summer, which was a lot of fun. Hit our Band Link, and book us!
Number of Missions Trips: 1
I try to go on one major missions trip per year if possible. In 2016, I went on my third missions trip to Legazpi, Philippines, for almost three weeks, in support of the Bicol Center for Christian Leadership. I taught a class in worship theology as part of their curriculum for their certificate program, lead an all-day worship workshop, taught a three-day songwriting intensive, spoke a few times, and did some recording studio training. As on previous trips, my time there culminated in a large-scale worship concert (which by the way, was a blast!). If you want to read up more on this, please hit this Mission Trip Report Link.
Number of Speaking Engagements: 6
There is a part of me that is always just a little bit incredulous and humbled that people would actually ask me to travel somewhere and talk to them. But then, they don’t know me as well as my wife does! I’ve been blessed to speak at a variety of places this year. Contact me if you’d like me to speak on faith and the arts.
Number of Patents Granted: 1
I mentioned in last year’s By The Numbers post that my friend, Bob Kilpatrick, and I developed a new musical instrument that we’re calling a WalkaBout. We’ve spent a lot of time this year developing prototypes and accessories, dreaming up associated manufacturing processes, and just plain jamming with it. We’re at the point now where we’re talking to different companies about possible licensing. You can imagine this is taking a lot of my time. We’re not quite at the point to where we can publicly unveil it, but suffice it to say, it is a percussion instrument that has the potential to be a real game-changer in terms of how we make music.
Number of worship services: 96.
I did a rough estimate of the number of services I’ve led over the past 26 years of full-time ministry, and this brings the total to over 4,400. That’s a lot of time leading God’s people in worship. Which is to say, I have the best job in the world. As always, I am grateful for the opportunity to mix it up with so many musicians, painters, filmmakers, dancers, writers, actors, and other artists in my life.
Number of Book Deals: 1
Last summer, I signed a contract with InterVarsity Press to write a book for their Formatio label on worship. Tentatively titled, Falling on my Face, I hope to tie spiritual formation with the essential aspects of corporate worship. It is true that writing a book is like birthing a baby—it’s arduous, uncomfortable at times, but extremely gratifying. Look for it some time in 2017! And speaking of babies…
My son, Justin, and his beautiful wife, Riley, graced us and the world with a baby boy, Grant, at the end of this year. It is our first grandchild, and he is amazingly handsome (but I might be a little biased). We look forward to learning how to be grandparents.
What Does 2017 Bring?
As I said, I feel like I’m in the opening sentences of a new chapter in my life, with a lot of new possibilities and opportunities. I hope to find a home for the WalkaBout this year. I look forward to the release of Falling on my Face. I hope to do another missions trip, possibly with Proclaim! International, in the next year. And I am mostly looking forward to being a Grandpa! In all of these things, I am grateful to God, and to all of you, for the ability to live an artful life.