Thinking Out Loud

October 1, 2010

Brian Doerksen’s Live Worship Experience

So here I am in the most unusual position of reviewing an Integrity Music worship DVD which is not available in the United States.   Not so far.  Truly, that doesn’t happen very often.

I’m talking about Level Ground a new two-hour worship video event from Brian Doerksen, the Canadian worship leader and songwriter best known for songs such as, Refiner’s Fire, Come Now is the Time to Worship, You Shine, Today (As For Me and My House), Light the Fire Again; and many, many more. I’m a huge fan of his Today DVD — imagine watching a series of songs while actors re-enact Nehemiah’s rebuilding of the Jerusalem wall — and was not disappointed by his newest take on producing a worship video.

You know the criteria for good worship DVDs right? Great worship songs. A tight band. Memorable song introductions. Good camera shots of the audience and worship team.   Lots of cheering at the end of each song.

Forget all that. On Level Ground – The Live Experience, Brian focused on the idea of intimacy in worship. Recorded over two evenings, Brian brought together a much smaller group of people to a barn located on a B.C. nut farm.   These are people he knows; people that he and the worship band are doing life with, and throughout the video, he introduces about a dozen of them and allows them to tell their salvation story, or as he puts it, their “grace stories.”

With all this background, Brian’s friends become your friends. You worship along with people you know, as the smaller crowd means recurrent crowd shots of the same individuals.*

Wait! Let me qualify what I mean by “crowd shots.” There is no crowd. No audience. The band is placed around the floor of the barn interspersed among the worshipers. No musicians are on a stage or platform. The title song reminds us of the saying that “the ground is level at the foot of the cross;” and the arrangement of the musicians on all fourteen songs stands as a reminder, a reinforcement of this principle.

Welcome to the place of level ground
Welcome to the place where grace abounds
We all need mercy
We all need mercy
Welcome to the place where none can boast
Welcome to the place compassion flows
We all need mercy
We all need mercy

By its own admission, Level Ground is a hybrid; part concert, part worship experience, part talk show; with the visual additions of fine art and dance.   Of the 14 songs, almost all new, my favorite was “Whatever Comes,” a reminder that no matter what the evening news has to say about the world, God is with us.

Whatever comes
Cultures will rise as nations fall
Troubles will challenge and assault
Your Word will stand above them all
Whatever comes
All we cannot comprehend
Disasters will break the pride of men
And you will be faithful to the end

Almighty, immortal,
Love is on your throne
Sovereign, in control
Unchanging, prevailing
Though the nations rage
You’re still the God who reigns

Here’s a six-minute preview of the video on Vimeo.

For readers outside Canada, if all of this has piqued your curiosity, until this one is released, I can’t recommend the Today video strongly enough.

Read a review of Brian’s book on the subject of worship, Make Love, Make War (David C. Cook)  here.

*Knowing the stories of the people you’re worshiping with — Is there a theme here?  Check out yesterday’s review of The Strategically Smaller Church.

Level Ground is also available (and will presumably be also released in the U.S. later) as an audio CD.

No “nut farm” jokes were used in the preparation of this review.

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