Behind the Scenes

  • Behind the Scenes
  • Collaboration: The Model of Kingdom Creativity

    By Shawn ‘Walrus’ Wong

    God loves collaboration. Right from the beginning of time in Creation, we see the Trinity collaborating in perfect unity to form life.

    The Father who spoke, the Word of God (a.k.a. Jesus) was released. By the authority inherent in the Son, the Spirit of God, who had been hovering over the waters since verse 2, empowered the atoms and molecules into motion. The earth, hitherto formless and void, scrambled to align itself to the command that was spoken, like paint adhering to the motion of the Painter’s brush on canvas.

    As wonderful as the outcome of Creation was, let us pay attention to how it came about. Notice that each person of the Trinity had an integral part to play in the eventual result. It was a combination of the Father’s command, the Son’s authority, and the Spirit’s power. An example of perfect teamwork – 3 distinct persons acting with aligned values, demonstrating the spirit of unity like no other. That, we believe, is a model for what creativity was meant to be for us – collaborative.

    In January, AG held our first-ever Songwriting Retreat, where songwriters from different churches and denominations gathered to craft songs for our next live worship album, which will be recorded in July. We were so humbled by how the Lord blessed us with original, powerful worship songs that we believe will impact the nations.

    (Above: AG Songwriting students working together on a song.)

    One of those songs started out with a lyrical idea that I had about God speaking light into darkness. As a group, we came up with a melody for those lyrics, added more sections, and worked tirelessly to refine it into the best version it could be. After two days, we had finally completed the song!

    What struck me about the whole process was that by the end, 7-8 songwriters had contributed to it. The people who helped finish the song were totally different from the ones who started on it. There was no way I could have written the song on my own, without the group’s collective input.

    We were never meant to operate in a silo. The Bible is replete with stories of people coming together for the success of a specific purpose or project.

    When the Lord saw the Tower of Babel being built, He said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.” (Gen 11:6) Remember, God was saying this about a project that He did not even support! What more, when we begin to listen to His heart and come together in unity to create pieces of art that are Spirit-breathed?

    Let us decide today to throw out the spirit of competition, and to put on a spirit of humility that says, “Yes, though we may be quite different, I’m willing to learn from and work with you.” If a brain had an idea, it would do little good without eyes to look for the pen and paper to write it down, or legs to get to the desk when it finds them, or a hand to pick them up. We were always created to operate as One Body. As Lou Engle put it, “We can only fly UNITED”; and he wasn’t talking about the airline.

    We believe collaboration is the model of Kingdom creativity, that no piece of art can reach its utmost potential apart from a community – friends who love one another, are rooting for one another, and whose values and goals are aligned. Remember, if we are one people and have the same language, nothing which we purpose will be impossible for us!

  • Behind the Scenes
  • How to Empower Your Sound Team

    By Caleb Chan


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    The role of a sound volunteer is becoming an increasingly crucial need in churches, spanning from simply ensuring that there is sound, to helping create an atmosphere for God-encounters to take place.

    More and more churches and leaders are beginning to recognise the need for, not only available but equipped sound volunteers in the church. However, most don’t know where to start.

    In this post, I hope to help get you started on 3 powerful investments you can make to empower your sound volunteers to rise up and meet the needs of your church.

    1. People Investment

    Unfortunately, the sound team is usually not an area to which much value or attention is given. In my previous post, I encouraged sound crews to view themselves as part of the Worship Ministry. I would like to encourage leaders to view the sound team the same way.

    The sound team is often made up of volunteers who want to be a part of the worship team but do not play an instrument, non-serving members who have been called upon to fill a need (that was how I began), or musicians who double up on sound every other week. It can quickly become a gathering of passionless volunteers who report weekly, turn systems on, and push volume faders.

    You could always start with a simple “Thank you”, and if you already do that, go further! Empower them! If you see a need to meet up with your worship leaders, band members, or singers, then also include your sound team. Involve them in the briefings, debriefs, bible studies, appreciation dinners, meals, and anything else you plan for your worship team.

    Make investments into the lives of the volunteers and crew on your sound team. When you sow into this relationship, I believe you will reap volunteers who serve passionately because they know they are a part of the bigger picture.

    2. Equipment Investment

    A practical way to empower your sound team is to invest in necessary equipment.

    We want our songs and sermons to be heard clearly and audibly, but sometimes our equipment is no longer able to support the ever growing needs of the church. Newer and more capable gear are being released at lower prices these days and it might be time to consider an upgrade.

    I’m not suggesting you go out and purchase the best mixers and speakers available, but perhaps keep in mind that you plan to empower your sound team by providing them with better tools for the job.

    Listen to their needs and opinions, and work towards a good goal. Upgrades can also be done in phases if the budget does not yet allow for a full major upgrade. New gear might also renew interest and desire in your team to learn more, which leads me to my last point…

    3. Training Investment

    You could give a car to an unlicensed driver and he is likely to get into an accident and wreck it.

    One of the best ways to empower your sound team is not only to equip them with the right tools but the necessary know-how in using the tools to operate effectively. There is a common saying that it’s the ears behind the sound that make it sound good. We may never have the perfect system, but we can certainly optimise what we have. To do that, your sound volunteers need to be trained.

    It does not take an engineer with a diploma or degree to achieve good sound, no matter how technical sound can be. There are certain fundamental concepts that can help provide a platform for sound volunteers with no experience to start off. Just as much as we would not like to roster an inexperienced guitarist on the music team, it is unfair to roster a sound volunteer with no training and expect good sound.

    Again, I challenge you to make these investments. Have a plan to develop and empower your sound volunteers and I believe you will see – or hear – the difference!  Empowered sound teams empower worship teams to usher in the Presence of God.

    For more information on Awaken Generation’s Sound Training Courses, please click here.

    Caleb is a full-time live sound & recording engineer and mentor with Awaken Generation.


  • Behind the Scenes
  • Let It Sound Like – The Story Behind the EP


    by Alarice

    Earlier this year, I wrote a song curiously named ‘I Have a Song’ – a prayerful longing of the heart that sought to bring deeper understanding of the truest form of worship – a surrendered heart of total obedience to God. It is not about the music or something that can be compartmentalized neatly into a service – worship in the rawest form is our unabandoned obedience to follow Jesus because we have been overwhelmed by the love He first showed us. The song posed a question beyond just a melody: What would our worship sound like?

    I believe that the songs written for this EP capture the facets of worship. Prodigal & Come Alive explore the depths of repentance & the need of the human heart for a Saviour.  He is Yahweh – the sound of high exaltation & praise in the presence of a Holy God. & finally, Where the Spirit, a joyous melody of the prisoner set free.

    Let it sound like
    A church alive
    Let it sound like
    Our faith on fire
    Let it sound like
    The song of heaven on earth 

    (I Have A Song – Awaken Generation)

    What do you hear when you listen for the deepest cry of worship?

    I hear the revival of the coldest of hearts, I hear the footsteps of a Father running to embrace His lost child, I hear the cries of a church alive & burning for Jesus, I hear hope for a dying world.

    We pray that as you listen to the songs of this worship EP by Awaken Generation, that you would be ushered into the deepest realms of worship, that it would spark a desire in you to live radically for the God who gave His all for you.

    You can now purchase Let It Sound Like on iTunes – a culmination of a year’s worth of prayer, songwriting & production work by the 2016 student cohort & the Awaken Generation Team. 

  • Behind the Scenes
  • Jean Tan: Finding Inspiration as a Songwriter


    by Jean Tan

    Everything can be inspiration.

    I remember turning my head to see the world upside down as a kid; staring at my fingers & wondering how my invisible will could control their tiny movements.

    Today, I wonder at crazy movie plots, the interesting people I meet & the mind-boggling beauty of nature. Many things speak deeply about life & its fullness: its beauty, as well as its pain.

    Once I met a taxi uncle & spoke with him at length, starting with the usual questions of how long he’d driven for & what he thought about the country. Then we arrived at the topic of his family. He hardly saw or talked to his family, seemed evasive when I asked about his children, & through the rear view mirror I saw a deep longing & loneliness in his eyes. That spoke volumes to me about humanity – & how we, like this particular uncle, drift in search for connection despite the seeming busy-ness of everyday business —

    Circle round in a taxi
    In a one-man space of a one-man car

    (‘Taxi’, from the album Dance, 2010)

    pexels-photo-28477 (1)

    Then there was an insane time of my life when auto-immune kidney disease jolted me out of normalcy & confined me at home months at a go across a span of 5 years. At one point I was 20kg heavier with water, puked 5 times a day for a month, & was so bloated it would take 4-5 tries each time to draw blood or inject medications. My vision was blurry, & walking was difficult.  At that point, the only thing you could do to survive was to focus your mind on what was good & give thanks. I gave thanks for a bed to lie on, for being able to stand for 20 minutes, for being able to sing, even in gasps. For still having the ability to see colour, & all its splendid arrays —

    Even when it’s lonely,
    even when it hurts sometimes
    There is so much more to see
    The little things so beautiful

    (‘Colours’, written for the 28th SEA Games, 2015)

    I’m currently working on my third album, & in the collection are songs inspired by biblical text, poets, pictures of dandelions, & a song cover by Tommy Emmanuel. Anything can be inspiration when we open our eyes to the world & our ears to hear its whispers. Peel your eyes for inspiration & get ready to receive.

    Let to, let in
    Something is waiting
    And where my heart is beating
    I have love to keep me going

    (‘Walls’, to be released in 2017)

    Jean is a part-time songwriting mentor at Awaken Generation. She has released two full-length albums (Dance, 2010; Passage, 2012) with a third to be released in the following year. She is a great educator, worship leader & wonderful woman of faith who has inspired many with her story & simple love for Jesus.