Thursday, September 8, 2011

10 Thoughts For And From A Worship Leader*

A friend recently recommended this post, "12 Thoughts For and From a Worship Leader", and asked what my thoughts for worship leading might, I thought I'd write a post about that.

I've been around the church long enough now to have heard my fair share of "The 7 Secrets To Success" and "The 3 Things Every Leader Should Know"...everyone has their two cents, their catchy one-liners, their $200 DVD series that they live and breathe and Tweet by...

...but what I found so refreshing about Carlos' list (see link above) is that these 12 things we're practical, unpredictable, original, and clearly coming from personal experience. So here's my stab at such a list. If you're a church musician, I hope this helps you to look at things in a new way...if you're not a church musician, my hope is that this list will help you understand your friendly neighborhood worship leader a little better...

1. Your band-members are people first, and musicians second. Treat them accordingly.

2. Learn how to talk to drummers.
Your drummer probably doesn't know what to do with advice like "more tom stuff" or "more energy!" Know what you want from them and how to communicate that to them before they show up for practice.

3. Communicate with your vocalists.
As an instrumentalist, it's easy to overlook vocals in an attempt to lock in the instrumentation. Make sure your singers feel like an important part of the band. Otherwise, during that big instrumental breakdown you rehearsed, instead of engaging in the music, your vocalists will stand there, feeling excluded, until the vocals kick back in.

4. Work closely with your pastor.
The best church services are the ones where the music and message support each other. Make sure you have harmony with your pastor on a relational level and with the subject matter of the service you're leading together.

5. Never lead a song "just because".
If you can't tell me why you chose the songs you did, then you haven't thought enough about the importance of what you're leading me through.

6. Get inspired.
Figure out what inspires you and do that before every practice, service, and songwriting session, especially if that's listening to good music. (Heresy alert: "secular" music can inspire you to worship just as much as "Christian" music...but that's for another post)

7. Re-Arrange!
If you're
getting sick of or bored with a classic song, so are your people. You don't have to be a master song-writer to re-arrange a popular song- it's amazing how the littlest things can breathe life into a dull or dying arrangement: change the tempo, change the key, turn an anthem into an acoustic tune, or a hymn into an anthem, have a female lead a usually-male-led song, or visa versa. Do not be responsible for burying an important song underneath an outdated, predictable, or too-familiar arrangement.

8. Get feedback.
Find someone you trust, give them permission to tell you what you're doing well and what you need to work on, and then listen to and learn from them when they offer advice or criticism.

9. Expect big things to happen.
Every time you gather with your congregation. Every time. Do not let your lack of imagination limit what the Spirit wants to do.

10. Take this seriously.
This may seem harsh, but here it is: You are an artistic ambassador of the Creator God. Make music that reflects that. Please don't embarrass me and my church family by making mediocre art about an amazing God.

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What are your ten?

**photo taken from here

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Musician or Worship Leader?

-For those of you who don't know, when I'm not singing or writing in my living room, I am singing and writing at my church. This is a post about that-

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A man who is much smarter than I* once wrote:
The word “Christian,” I imagined even then, was probably best understood as a kind of verdict, a compliment even; not an adjective to be presumptuously self-applied or ever broadcast as a boast. I could aspire to be someone upon whom the word might be suitably dropped as a descriptive term, but doing so myself would be horribly tacky, akin to the cart before the horse.
The proof is in the practice.

You are a Christian when the world sees your life and considers it Christ-like.


What about taking it a step further?
How does this apply to your label as a worship leader?:

Are you a worship leader
because that is the title lent to you on Sunday mornings?
or are you a worship leader
because when you enter into an atmosphere of worship,
people follow you?

There's a line in the sand:
on one side, there is reciting church songs,
and on the other side, there is leading worship.

The first is typically performed in a way that is either
uninviting to the congregation
or too much of a solo act for anyone to join in on.

The latter is verbally and musically engaging,
inviting, and understandable to the average congregant.

As church musicians, we are called to LEAD people to and through the songs we are singing. That means that our congregations find us musically inspiring and easy to follow, and spiritually encouraging, inviting, and trustworthy...

So what are you...a Musician or a Worship Leader?

*David Dark, in his review of Rob Bell's 'Love Wins' -

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Take off your shoes.

Well hello's been awhile.

-For those of you who don't know, when I'm not singing or writing in my living room, I am singing and writing at my church. This is a post about that-
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“Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!" - I Samuel 12:16

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Picture this:

A fugitive murderer is herding sheep in the desert...
Good start, huh?

While in the far reaches of the wilderness, he comes across a bush, burning with fire, but not being burnt- out of the bush, comes a Voice, and the Voice knows his name.

Here I am...
Take off your shoes. The place where you stand is Holy ground

Moses does so. The Voice speaks:
My people need rescuing. I want you to go to them.

Moses fights with the Voice:
Me? How could I possibly do this? Do you know who I am?

The Voice answers:
I will be with you...and I AM WHO I AM.

He is The Answer to the question we are all asking.
Why me? How can I possibly do this?
I AM WHO I AM...that's how.


Every once in a while, I show up on Sunday morning to sing, and I feel like I've just wandered in from the wilderness, and the Voice of God meets me there.
He says:
This is a sacred place. Can you feel it?

God wants to do amazing things with His people.
He wants us to experience Him. He wants us to hear His Voice,
and see His Hand moving in our lives...
Not once in a while...
not just on "Worship Nights"...
not just on Thursday night of camp...
Every time we are together.

What would have happened if Moses would have ignored the Voice in the desert? What if he hadn't followed the divine longing in his heart to see what made the bush burn the way it did?
Would God still have found a way to save His people?
Yes...but Moses wouldn't have been a part of it.

Is it possible that we are missing great things because our expectations are not high enough for what God wants to do with our Worship? Do you believe that the simple act of recognizing that you are standing on Holy ground can open up the door for the Voice of the LORD to speak?
Stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!

Our Sunday gathering can be the place where God speaks to us and tells us of the great things He wants us to be a part of. Moses took off his shoes- he heard the Voice, and the Voice used his bare feet to change the world.

Are you listening? You are on Holy ground.
Take off your shoes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

wind chimes

our words surround us
like some sweet-tasting secret that we have always known
but have since forgotten the taste of

like the sounds on the tips of our tongues,
we run after that which is inside of us, and a little bit ahead of us, always.

there are beautiful certainties that exist in this world of ours, outside of the realm of understanding- beautiful permanences in places that stand above and outside the grip of language, shape, and definition.

but you see,

in and around and between all of our clumsy inarticulations,
we are made to breathe, and in so doing, made to take in truth itself - to swallow a language that we can never speak on our own.

it is the never-ending song echoing in the caves of our hearts and running through the trees in our dreams. it makes it's melodies in our wind chimes; in our bedroom doors it marches on. it sends its song through old cans and tall grass. it fills our lungs in one moment, and in the next, runs from them in victorious laughter. in its old-age, it creaks around corners and in open places. it is a familiar friend to this place.
it remembers a time when we were not, though now is not that time.
it was and is and is to come.

and we are oh, so forgetful.

teach us to Breathe, and in so doing,
to take in that Great Mystery
which belongs to no man but is for every man.

*currently listening to Paper Route
*picture taken from here

Monday, September 20, 2010

Of Stained-Glass Windows

In birth, the light shows itself, violently.
In death, the light hides itself, kindly.
In life, we see but through a glass darkly.

Our eyes, like two tiny portholes, speak in whispers regarding our sea-roar surroundings. We try to raise our eye-voices, but we know not what to say; in silence, we wait,
counting raindrops as they freckle the glass.
We weigh and measure these Hints,
as if They will come and explain Themselves to us - explain from whence They came.

[We are those ships that feel the wind but cannot see from where It's come.
We turn, suddenly, expecting to find It staring back at us,
but there is nothing to be seen - not through eyes such as ours, anyhow,
grayed with disbelief as they are]

But when we are awakened by the Great Morning,
we find that we are instead stained-glass windows,
and so the Hints come creeping through each crack until our bones are wet
with the stained-glass-paintbrush display...

...And how welcome are these chromatic pilgrims,
wanderers on these cloudy seas!
Suddenly we find that we have known all along what to say,
and it was only at first that we did not know
the colors, the strokes, the language
with which to speak these things:

- Come in, you Red and Green!
and you, ocean-wet Aquamarine!
Come and fill our pale frames
with Your technicolor certainty,
'Cause our bodies ache,
and we are oh, so tired of
this bleak and blurry glass -

we raise our voices, paled by possibility -
and we do not stop our words from running from our tongues

until we hear ourselves say
that which we have always known,
until Your color runs over us

and what is in becomes Out, and Out, in,
and everything Is what It could have been.

*photo from here

Saturday, August 28, 2010

covers and such

Hey Friends,

here are the two cover videos that we have done so far..just in case you were bored:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


O, Spirit!

All creation sings Your praise,
And the trees and mountains are Your musicians.
They bellow the answer to Your whispers-
The rocks cry out the promptings of Your being.

With Your earth-chest You heave massive sighs of hurricane breath
And fill our lungs with the witness of Who You Are.

O, Jesus!

We remember You best with arms outstretched:
open wide - offering all of You
open wide - welcoming all of us

Your words are like water to our desert-souls:
"Come ye empty-handed! You need not a thing-
I only want you, and you only need Me."

O, Father!

For what You've done, we are Yours forever
But when we forget, help us remember
How You meet us on the road to lift our faces from our shame
And kiss them with Your laughter.

Forgive us when we hurt You,
And please, never stop welcoming us back into Your arms.