Monday, February 24, 2014

Worship Leading Tips: EXPRESSION


Here in Denver, every season is filled with some sort of fanaticism over a sports team.

I'm an NBA fan, so I love to go to Nuggets games. In the spring, the weather's amazing and it's fun to go to the ball park and cheer on the Rockies. Last but not least, the NFL season brings on the undeniable force of the Broncos.

One thing that's common with each team is people in attendance expressing their adoration.

So, I ask myself, "Why doesn't that expression follow them to church?"

If you're a worship leader, I want to encourage you to keep asking that kind of question, because your church needs you to.

There's different answers to that question and I've heard a lot of them over the past several years. If I were to pick the most frequent response, it would probably sound something like, "I'm just more reserved and quiet in my worship."

The only problem with that statement is that it's less about what God desires and more about what the person prefers.

The responsibility of the worship leader is to lead people to experience and participate in the worship of the one, true God in spirit and in truth, because that's exactly what God wants. (John 4:23)

That kind of worship has nothing to do with our comfort and everything to do with God's desire. I love to let my church know that God doesn't NEED our worship. It's way better than that. He WANTS our worship. As sons and daughters of the King, God's desire should supersede the need for own comfort.

Expression is not always comfortable, but I've come to understand that it's very important to the corporate worship experience of church.

If you've experienced the power of expression, you probably agree. The challenge of it all is convincing your church of that, especially if they haven't fully experienced that kind of freedom in worship.

If you've ever led worship in a church that's less than expressive, you're not alone. I've been there and many other worship leaders have too. I've been really blessed to lead worship in churches where the pastor has shared my desire to see God's people break free in praise. It's amazing to see the spiritual growth happen in corporate worship as your people slowly, but surely, let go and embrace biblical expression to their God.

As a worship leader, you can be a catalyst for that growth.

Here's some tips I've learned about leading your church toward expression in worship:

1. TEACH IT - There's many ways to express ourselves in corporate worship. The best ways are the biblical ways. Start with the bible and study what it says about expression. You'll find out quite a bit. You'll find the motive for expression and that it's not about drawing attention to yourself, but about pointing to the glory and presence of God. You'll also find specific instruction, and some would say, mandates about it. Psalm 47:1 says "Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy." This definitely doesn't seem to be optional. The churches I grew up in were not comfortable with rhythmic clapping and definitely not shouting, but they sure were proud about their "stance" on God's Word. There's freedom in expression and we need to teach our church about what the Bible says about raising hands(Psalm 134:2), clapping (Psalm 47:1), bowing down (Psalm 95:6), shouting (Psalm 95:1) and dancing (Psalm 150:4). We can teach and educate our church during a worship set, and even better, a strategic sermon every once and a while. Remember that the pastor of your church is just as much or more the worship leader as you are. A sermon or message series will teach and lead your church to understand biblical, expressive worship way more than a song or worship set can. Look for teaching moments and opportunities anywhere you can. If you don't teach, the majority will never learn, therefore you can not expect them to be expressive at church.

2. MODEL IT - When it comes to expression, you have to model what you want to see happen. If you're on a guitar or a keyboard, plan specific moments in a song where you can free up your hands and model expression for your church. Showing people what to do can be more effective than telling them what to do. Think about those moments as you're planning your service and running through rehearsal. Be intentional about it. The next step is directing your team to model it as well. One of my songs, "Alleluia (Our Praise is)", has a pre-chorus that says, "Lift your hands to the One that you were made in image of." At that point of the song I direct my band and vocalists to model that. If you have a choir, they are a huge model of expression. I've directed choirs behind me to model expression at specific and non-specific times and it's incredible to see it spread from the stage to the crowd. Expression is contagious. When you model it more and more, you'll see a slow and gradual emulation of your expression take place in your church.

3. ENCOURAGE IT - Some people come to your service and they cannot wait to express their adoration to God. Others will come and they're going to need a nudge. They may have come from more conservative, reserved churches or they may just be brand new Christians. It's funny how effective a timely nudge or encouragement can be in a worship set. As a worship leader, you need to understand HOW to encourage your church to expression. Learn to encourage them without badgering them. Prayerfully plan moments in your set to encourage your crowd to lift their hands or shout to God. If you do that during every song, then you run the risk of losing them. Timely encouragement will effectively bring a unity of expression to your crowd and will also create special moments in worship. Plan these moments at different times in a set. There's times where you'll start a song with expression. There's times where you'll end a song with it. There's also those moments during a song, where all it will take is a quick "Lift your hands!" or "Shout to God!" Encouragement will nudge those, who normally don't express themselves, to join the crowd. 

Everyone gets excited about something. Shouldn't we be excited most about God? I've jumped, shouted, danced and fist-pumped about a lot of things, but there's nothing or no one more deserving than God.

II Corinthians 3:17 says, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." Expression is one of the biggest catalysts to freedom in corporate worship. When you stretch out your hands, dance, shout or bow down, you're boldly proclaiming your love for God.

Worship always requires a sacrifice. Expression can definitely be a sacrifice of self, preference and comfort.

As the worship starts with you.

Teach it, model it and encourage it. It's worth it.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Album Review - City Harbor & GIVEAWAY!!

If you're a fan of Christian radio, you'll love Capitol CMG's new artist City Harbor.

From Capitol CMG:

"This album is the debut from City Harbor, one of our newer additions to Capitol CMG. They will be releasing their self-titled album February 4th - I would love to send it to you so you can take a listen and possibly review it (can send link in next email). Molly & Robby, the two members of City Harbor, aim to help the hurt and the broken know that they are loved and cared for in Christ - to show people that no matter what baggage they bring, we are all valuable in the eyes of Jesus."

On their debut, self-titled release, there were a couple great stand-outs for me. I loved the deep message of "Somebody Tell Them"and I quickly was drawn to the musical vibe of "Heartbeat".

If you listen to K-LOVE, then you've probably heard their new single, "Come However You Are":


Here's how you can win it:
1. Comment on this post below and tell me your favorite Christian/worship song right now.
2. Retweet my tweet regarding this review. (@garydurbin)
3. Share my Facebook post. (

Do all 3 and have a better chance of winning.
Make sure to tag me or mention me on social media if you participate.


Get it today on iTunes

Monday, February 3, 2014

Album Review - Stand Up

If you're familiar with and appreciate Worship Central, then you'll appreciate the connection that new artist, Luke Hellenbronth has with them.

On his debut album, Stand Up, we get to hear pure studio recordings from the heart of the artist. The producers on this album aren't too shabby either...Ben Cantelon and Tim Hughes.

The stand outs for me were "Our Generation", "Who You Say You Are" and "Spirit Break Out" which is probably the most familiar. Integrity Music explains...

"Also included among the nine tracks is “Spirit Break Out,” a song that has quickly moved beyond the UK and Europe thanks to Worship Central’s 2011 global release of a live album by that title. Kim Walker-Smith followed this, covering the song for her album Still Believe and Integrity featured it on the iWorship Now/Next collection released earlier this year. The song will reach an even larger audience next spring when it is featured in the Paramount film “Noah,” starring Russell Crowe."

This is a solid, heart-felt worship project that is well written and well produced. Go get it!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Worship Leading Remedies for the Christmas Hangover

Christmas can definitely be "the most wonderful time of the year."

It's the time of year that we can really focus on and celebrate the birth of our Savior.

There's also the family time, lit up neighborhoods, presents, carols, parties, chocolate covered pretzels and one of my favorites...EGG NOG.

Just like a little too much egg nog can bring some early morning side effects, Christmas can also bring quite the hangover for our churches.

It's almost like we're tempted to quit celebrating Jesus once we get past the birth part, but as we all know, there's a lot more to the story. It's the greatest story ever and we need to remember that it continues with us! That's amazing and humbling.

If someone has the Christmas hangover, you'll see it. It's kind of like the zombie virus. Everyone's walking in, but they may or may not be aware of your presence, or God's presence, for that matter. You'll be singing "Shout for Joy!" and you might get more of a "Moan for Lunch."

As a worship leader, I have felt the effects of the Christmas hangover. This is the time that church leaders and worship leaders need to rise up and help people refocus on worshiping God for the next 12 months. By the way...this is an amazing privilege and responsibility.

So to help, here's some worship leading remedies for those in your church that are coming in with the dreaded Christmas hangover:

1. PROVIDE A WAKE-UP CALL - Coffee is a known remedy for hangovers and also a great way to wake up. Sometimes, churches need a wake-up call. I'm a huge believer in the idea of a "call to worship" in our services. If we don't practice this, we're just assuming everyone knows why we're at church. This can take on different forms. Sometimes it's appropriate to greet everyone and chat a little bit. Sometimes it's appropriate to pray or read scripture. Psalm 95:6 says, "Oh come, let us worship and bow down." Sometimes, all you need to do is count off 1, 2, 3, 4 and kick in the first song. No matter what it looks like, our churches need a call to worship, because we need to be reminded of why we're gathering together. After Christmas, your church may need more of a wake-up call to worship. It's an announcement that the holiday season is over, but worship is just getting started. Be prayerful about how you can call your church to worship after the Christmas season.

2. GIVE THEM SOMETHING FAMILIAR - As you're calling your church to come and worship, make sure to give them something they know. Give them something familiar to worship with. It's hard for anyone to sing a song with enthusiasm if they don't know it yet. Familiarity can be a great tool to help you engage with your congregation and lead them past the holiday season and into a new season of worship.

3. BRING SOMETHING NEW - Christmas can be such an amazing time for people, and when it's over it can be sad. The best way to move beyond "what was" is to focus on "what is to come". For our churches, it's a new Sunday, a new season and a New Year. Coming off of Christmas is a great opportunity to bring something "new". I try to teach at least one new song a month for worship and January should be no different. Psalm 96:1 says to "Sing a new song to the Lord!" Come out of the gate of the new year with a new song. I would also advise doing a song that you know your church will catch. There's times throughout the year that I'll have a "swing-and-a-miss" with a new song, but I try to avoid that at the beginning of the year.

4. SHINE BRIGHT - One annoyance to a bad hangover is light, but shining the light of Christ bright to our church can inspire and lead everyone to true peace and praise. Worship is like the chicken pox. It's infectious and it spreads, but it has to start with the leader. When the worship leader is truly worshiping, they are giving everyone a light to draw near to. People can sense a fake, so it's imperative that the leader is genuine in their love of Christ. Psalm 108:1 says, "My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul." Shine bright for your church and make sure it's coming from a heart that is true.

Comment and share some other tried and true remedies.

Monday, November 18, 2013

How the Christmas Stole Worship

This time of year is an interesting phase for the worship leader. We've just made it through the trick-or-treating, Thanksgiving is within sight and Wal-Mart's garden center is littered with holiday lawn decorations.

It's an exciting time. We're thinking about all the festivities, fun and family time that the winter holiday season brings.

But, there is another side of it for me, and I know, other worship leaders. There's a twinge of "Bah Humbug" that courses through my veins. The Grinch-side of me creeps in and I start dreading the annual tale of "How the Christmas Stole Worship."

I consider myself a true worship leader. I'm not satisfied with just playing great songs with excellence. I have a passionate vision to see my church encounter the living God every week. That drive fuels me to challenge and teach my congregation every week, all year long.

That drive and vision runs into December like a freight train, only to be met with an often frustrating and inconvenient challenge called CHRISTMAS.

Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas! I love busting out the Mariah Carey Christmas album and laughing at Christmas Vacation and Ralphie in his quest of the Red Ryder BB Gun (very spiritual, I know). I love everything about it that everyone else does...everything except...Christmas church services.

I'm probably pretty alone in this in my church. For everyone else, it's not so much of a challenge and I'm sure it's very enjoyable. If I was not the worship leader, I would be totally content and probably enjoy the Christmas focus, as we should.

My challenge is simply keeping the "worship" focus in front of my church during this season. There's a lot of worshipful Christmas songs that we all sing every year, but I have definitely seen a drop in the worshipful spirit of my church. The spirit of Christmas, as great as it is, should never replace the Spirit of God.

This is definitely a challenge, but not an impossible task. It's a worthy challenge and God can do some great things in our midst. We just have to be willing to rise up. Sure, we can dwell on the crowd's responsibility to worship, but we, as worship leaders, have a responsibility to prayerfully reach a balance. Christmas doesn't have to steal worship. It can be a time of worship as well.

So, how do we help our church focus on the presence of God more than the presents under the tree?

1. TALK TO YOUR PASTOR - This is so important. If you do not clarify your pastor's Christmas expectations, December will not be so holly and jolly. I have never regretted submitting to my pastor's vision, even if it differed from mine. Make sure that you know what is expected. Feel free to challenge sacred cows, but DO NOT attempt something, unless you have your leader's approval. Every year, I intentionally have a conversation with my pastor to find out what kind of direction we'll be taking in December. Some years we've done a Christmas series throughout the month. In that case, I know the Christmas songs will be rolling out a little early and I need to seek and pray for direction on how we can reach a balance with worship. If there's not a Christmas series, then I know there's not going to be as much of an urgency to dust off the holiday hymnal. In my years of ministry, I've done my share of challenging at Christmas time, but I have always made sure that we are in agreement with the immediate direction. Unity is a priority when you're ministering TOGETHER and you will unite under the vision that God has given your pastor. When you unite, God loves it (Psalm 100:3) and His presence will be faithful during Christmas.

2. SHARE THE ORIGIN - There's a correlation between singing familiar old hymns and singing traditional Christmas hymns. They both carry a sentimental power that touches people in positive and negative ways. Some people struggle with worshiping with hymns that they sang in the past that may remind them of a church that was dead or legalistic. I have found that when I share the origins of those songs and heart of the songwriters, it helps people look at it with new vision. The same can be accomplished with the traditional sentiment that comes along with Christmas hymns. The challenge with the familiar is we can forget what we are singing. If we're not careful, we can sing "Joy to the world the Lord has come" in the same way we sing "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas". Sharing the origin of a hymn, Christmas or not, can direct hearts back to the heart of the song. When we think about the words we are singing, we are more likely to go deeper. In this case, we are more likely to worship.

3. USE WORSHIPFUL CHRISTMAS SONGS - This is really simple, but you cannot expect God to come down in your midst, while lifting up "Jingle Bells". As much as I dread preparing for this time of year, I always look forward to worshiping God with the song "O Holy Night". It's one of the most worshipful songs we can sing. As worship leaders, we should pray over the set list every week. We should seek God's leading as we pick songs. Christmas should be no different. Examine your heart and examine lyrics as you choose songs. Make sure they are God-glorifying and inspiring for worshipers.

4. USE CHRISTMASFUL WORSHIP SONGS - This is a great way to reach a balance of Christmas and worship during December. A classic example of this is "Here I Am to Worship" by Tim Hughes. It starts off with the Christmas story - "Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness". "Let Us Adore" by Hillsong and "Jesus Messiah" by Chris Tomlin are also good. These are effective and familiar, especially if you help people see the correlation with Christmas. If you have any other song suggestions, please comment below. I'm always looking for these in December.

5. FIND NEW VERSIONS OF OLD CLASSICS - Sometimes a new take on an old Christmas song can bring a fresh experience. Every year I'm looking for new versions more than I'm looking for new songs. Establishing a new Christmas song is much more difficult than bringing a new version of an old Christmas classic. It works well, because the people don't have to learn a new melody. They may have to learn a new time signature or a new feel, but because the melody remains, they can engage quickly. Last year, I introduced Lincoln Brewster's "Joy to the World" which was fun and new, but still accessible for everyone there. You can really have fun with this. You can also keep things familiar, while bringing something fresh.

6. LOOK FOR MEDLEYS - Something that I am trying for the first time this year is using a medley with a Christmas hymn and a worship song. I'm using an idea off of Paul Baloche's new Christmas Worship album. He took his song "Shout for Joy" and put it with "Joy to the World" and it works great together. What's great about this is I will be introducing the regular version of "Shout for Joy" at the beginning of December, which will be a song I use throughout the year and then using the medley right around Christmas time. It will be new, but still familiar. Again, if you have any other medley ideas, let me know!

What are some other tips you have experienced that help balance Christmas and worship?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Church Sex Symbols

The other day I was watching the Today show. They were interviewing one of my favorite actors - Robert Redford. They were giving him praise for all his accomplishments and talents. He was clearly not comfortable with it. He said he is honestly embarrassed about the recognition. They asked him if it bothered him that he had never received an Oscar for best actor and he quickly assured them that awards didn't matter to him. He truly is passionate about the art of acting and movie making. Then they asked him about his early days. When he was younger, he was one of the biggest sex symbols in Hollywood. He said he was nervous about what life would be like if he played into that. Then he said something that was amazing. He said he put three signs up about the word "object". These were signs to keep in front of himself as a caution. I immediately took out my iPhone and typed them into Evernote. Here's what the signs said:

Sign #1 - You are being treated like an object.

Sign #2 - You will start to behave like an object.

Sign #3 - You will become an object.

As a church leader, I couldn't help but hear the sermon that Robert Redford had no idea he was preaching to me. The title of the sermon was "Church Sex Symbols".

The definition of sexy is "interesting, exciting or trendy".

There's a lot of interesting, exciting and trendy things going on in church world these days. If we are to be completely honest, there's a lot of sex symbols leading the current culture of church. They're influencing the way Christians live their life, the way church leaders do church and the way the unchurched see the church.

Now, this isn't a rant about how bad and self-indulgent some leaders can be. This isn't a post for me to call out the latest mega-church pastor scandal. This is much more than that.

This is a call to church leaders, including myself, to be careful and cautious with the platform that God has given us. This platform is a sacred and important responsibility to, ultimately, equip and disciple the Church. It doesn't get much bigger than that.

Being a church leader is amazing. Sure, it's got bad days, but the good days make it all worthwhile. The privilege of leading and influencing others is a humbling experience, unless the position is abused...and, unfortunately, it has been and people have been damaged because of that.

God has not called church leaders to be sex symbols. He's called us to be shepherds. He's called us to lead a generation to worship and discipleship. God is to be the object of our church's affection, not us. Just like Redford, we need to keep some warning signs up.

So, here's a few ways to avoid being a CHURCH SEX SYMBOL:

1. Spend More Time on the Inside Than the Outside - The first thing I think of when I hear the term "sex symbol" is appearance. It's actually pretty easy to look the part of anything, especially a church leader. Depending on what kind of vibe your church has, you can dress appropriately and have the right hair style. There's nothing evil about style. Style can be an expression of who you are. Unfortunately, there's a temptation for some church leaders to spend a lot of time on how they look or how things are presented and not enough time on the substance and motive of things. Excellence in presentation is a good thing, but we have to make sure it stays in it's place. Excellence can be a huge idol, and unfortunately, it doesn't take much observation to see that the presentation of God in church services is being worshipped far too often. As church leaders, it is so vital that we do some major, daily introspection of the heart. If our heart is in the right place, we will be able to lead our church to have a heart for God. Have we gotten caught up in public acceptance and neglected our private, quality time with God? Have we placed an unhealthy demand on excellence in front of the call to disciple? It's easy to appear righteous, but if it's all about the outside, then we're just being self-righteous. We can justify this with an evangelistic banner, saying that people judge by outward appearance, but if God isn't the power behind it, then it's all in vain. I Samuel 16:7 says that "People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." When God looks at my heart, I want him to see a church leader and not a church sex symbol.

2. Love People, Not the Spotlight - Loving people is foundational for any church leader. The church is people. It's not a gig for you to spotlight your abilities and talents. Spotlights are common in churches, and there's nothing wrong with that as long we are reflectors. Just as we are to reflect God's glory (2 Corinthians 3:18), we should reflect the spotlight on us back to God. When we fall in love with being spotlighted, we can easily forget the reason we are there, which is to love God and love people. If you start feeling like you're too important to mingle or spend time with the people of God, the sex symbol status may be setting in. I'm afraid that green rooms have become an enabler of church leaders to be away from people, instead of with people. Resist the urge to hang out backstage and go invest in the church. Take advantage of opportunities to actually be with the people. Be in a small group. Most importantly, make sure you are intentionally discipling. The great commission is not dependent on a show. It's a result of us showing God's love, which Rick Warren says is spelled T-I-M-E. That is something that has never required a stage or a spotlight.

3. Don't Believe Your Own Hype - A leader is someone who has followers. When people attend a church, part of the reason they are coming is because of the church leader(s). Statistics suggest that the pastor is roughly 90% of the reason people choose a church. This knowledge is very dangerous. I have received so much encouragement from people in my years of ministry. People have built me up as much or more as they have criticized me. Encouragement feels great. Sometimes, a word of encouragement can be all you need to keep pressing forward. It's great to be a leader that people can look up to and admire. The danger of this is when the admiration you receive becomes a fuel for your own ego. When you start living for your own hype, then you will start believing your own hype. Before you know it, your head will be so swollen that you'll start feeling entitled to the position God has given you, instead of being humbled by it. I love how Andy Stanley puts it - “Your talent and giftedness as a leader have the potential to take you farther than your character can sustain you." Believing your own hype and embracing a sex symbol status will position you to be destroyed by your own pride and ego. I've seen it happen. The worst part is that it doesn't exclusively affect you. It will damage your church. God has certainly gifted us church leaders in a unique, and some would say, odd way. It's not a prideful thing to recognize that, as long as we recognize Who has gifted us. If we keep that in focus, the temptation to believe we're "all that" will diminish and God's glory will be magnified. (John 3:30)

Church was never intended to be a place for us to make a name for ourself. It's about lifting high the Name that is above every other name. (Philippians 2:9-11) Show me a church that is weak in the worship of God and I'll show you a church that is more than likely being led by a church sex symbol. True church leaders influence others to draw near to God. They discourage their church from putting their hope in a person and they encourage them to put all their hope and trust in God. Church sex symbols feed off of the adulation of a crowd and enable idolatry. They are comfortable and content on being the object of people's affection.

Our life is the one shot we've got to do good for God's Kingdom. We've got to guard ourself from becoming an object of people's affection and instead, influence them to worship God with their whole heart and make HIM the object of their affection.

As I said earlier, the definition of sexy is "interesting, exciting or trendy".

Don't settle for sexy.

Have the same motivation that Paul had in Philippians 3:14, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Album Review - Christmas Worship

If I could sit and discuss worship leading with anyone, I would probably pick Paul Baloche. I've learned so much from him through workshops and books alone. I truly admire and relate with his passion for the local church. Every album he puts out gives more evidence to that.

Needless to say, I'm thrilled to review Integrity's new release by Paul Baloche called Christmas Worship.

That title alone is music to my ears. It can be quite a challenge for worship leaders to keep our churches focused on worship throughout the Christmas season, so this release is very exciting!

If you're familiar with Baloche's music, you'll hear some cool medleys that are, like most of his songs, very congregational friendly. You'll also hear some Christmas versions of some of his classic worship songs.

My immediate favorites were "Angels We Have Heard on High" with a cool "Deo" tag and "Joy to the World/Shout for Joy". I'm definitely considering using these two this Christmas season.

The other standouts to me were "Hark the Herald Angels Sing/King of Heaven", "Offering" and the "Your Name" re-write.

If you're a worship leader, definitely pick this up. Your church will appreciate a new, but not too new approach to some Christmas classics.

If you're looking for a new Christmas album to play in the house or car, you will love this. It's Christmassy and worshipful!

Get it today on iTunes

Monday, October 28, 2013

Worship Leading Tips: TALKING


When a church is in need of a worship leader, they're probably not looking for someone who knows how to talk in front of a crowd. The first thing they more than likely want to know is "Can this kid sing?"

As a worship leader, I would venture to say that talking in a worship set can be just as vital as singing. Singing can actually be one of the easier things you do while leading worship. Think about it - the words are already provided for you. If you don't memorize them, you probably have a monitor, or something, that makes it even easier. That's one of the things I respect about pastors and speakers. They have to bring a talk every week and there's no chorus to repeat.

Being able to sing is a huge plus in leading worship, but if you know how to talk and communicate with your church during a worship set, the experience takes on a whole new depth. You will also become an even more effective leader.

Here's some tips I've learned about talking while leading worship:

1. BE HEARD - This may seem like a given and really elementary, but it's important that people can hear and understand what you're saying. There's two things that are required - 1) Make sure you speak clear and speak loud. It would be better that you don't talk at all, if you mumble and talk quietly. 2) Make sure the sound person makes the proper adjustments in the mix. Don't assume that whoever is running sound knows that they need to adjust your channel when you talk. Your talking voice will have a much different level than your singing voice, so make sure it's adjusted appropriately. That will take instruction and training on your part.

2. PREPARE A THOUGHT - One of the most valuable things I learned from another worship leader was to prepare a thought during your allotted time. I've found it very beneficial for our church and myself, as a leader, to have a scripture, quote or just a thought to share at a specific point in the morning. I usually wait until after our weekly rehearsal, unless something hits me earlier. Rehearsal often gives me clarity about the big picture of the experience. Going through it all at rehearsal gives me that context as I sit down, pray and prepare a thought to share. The more you prepare your thoughts ahead of time, the better you can prepare hearts in the moment.

3. MINIMIZE - This is something that takes time to really master, and I'm still working on it. Some worship leaders talk too much and some are afraid to say anything. It's important that you talk to your people and not just sing songs. This allows you to share your heart and it allows them to see your heart. Ultimately, it allows you to lead effectively. If they know your heart, as a leader, then they will be more prone to follow you. On the flip side, if you talk too much, it can turn into a sermon. It's important to remember that they're going to hear a sermon in that service already, so you don't need to bring one. I've found that when I minimize a prepared thought or scripture to ONE moment in a worship set, it's very effective. This means that you should NOT talk between every song. If people think you're going to talk before and after every song, your voice will starting sounding like the Charlie Brown teacher - "WAH, WAH, WAH!" I'm not saying that you should never talk more than once during a worship set. There will be times when you need to say something spontaneously, if the Spirit leads. That can be as or more effective at times. Just make sure you're prepared to give a thought, not a sermon. 

4. ENCOURAGE YOUR PEOPLE - Who doesn't like to be encouraged? Everyone loves to be cheered on and recognized in a positive way. Encouragement can be that rare gem that boosts your day and keeps you going. When my church comes to worship on a Sunday, I recognize that publicly. I will thank them after a Spirit-filled moment, when it is evident that they are truly focused and tuned into the presence of God. A little dose of encouragement can go a long way and I've seen my church get more excited about what God is doing around us when I recognize their recognition of God's presence. As Andy Stanley has said, "What's rewarded is repeated."

5. CHALLENGE WITHOUT RIDICULE - You will never find a perfect church. There will be times when your crowd falls short of what corporate worship is intended to be. As a leader, I look at these moments as opportunities to challenge God's people to be in awe of Him. The key to this is challenging them without ridiculing them. Remember, they don't have to be there. They chose to come and worship in your church that week. You want to challenge and encourage them to do good. Just as encouragement can spur on a crowd, ridicule can push them away. You also do not want to shy away from challenging them. That's what a leader does. As worship leaders, we can help hold our church accountable to worship God, especially if the lead pastor has the same heart. The serious truth about it is that when we do not worship the Creator, we are worshiping the creation (Romans 1:25). When your crowd falls short, don't let it bring you down. Capture that opportunity to encourage and challenge them to give their worship to the only One who is worthy of it. I live in Denver, or better known as "Bronco Country". Here's an example of an opportunity I took at my church:

Look at leading worship as a relationship and connection from the stage. Communication is key to any relationship. When you talk to your crowd effectively, you can draw closer to them, build their trust in you and best of all, successfully lead them into the beauty of true corporate worship.

What are some other tips you've learned about talking?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Worship Leading Tips: TEACHING A SONG


One challenge that faces every worship leader is bringing new songs to the church. The majority of people don't like change and churches are no exception. Some people just don't like it when the worship leader gets up and says, 

         "Okay, this morning I want to teach you a new song."

Change is hard, but change is necessary. If we didn't teach new songs, things would get stale and routine. It's important that the worship leader brings fresh, new songs into church services.

Psalm 96:1 says, "Sing to the Lord a new song."

It's equally as important to teach new songs properly. 

Here's some tips on teaching a song:

1. MAKE SURE IT'S RIGHT - Before you teach a song, you need to make sure it's right to even put it into your set list. Too many times, worship leaders download the new Hillsong United or Jesus Culture album, fall in love with the songs and force them on their church without consulting or considering. Make sure to consult God first. Make sure the song is biblical. There's a lot of worship songs out there that don't line up with scripture. Pray....yeah, that's right...pray and wait for God's peace about the new song. If God says no, leave it alone. Next, you want to consider your church. I know the song is killer on the album and it gets your juices flowing, but is it right for your church? Are they ready for the song? Will the average joe in your crowd be able to sing it? Will your worship team be able to play it? Are the lyrics too deep for the current spiritual condition of your church? These are questions you must consider. Don't let your desire to do a particular song override your desire to see your people worship. There may be nothing wrong with the song, but is it right for your church? Consult God and consider your church.

2. DRILL THE HOOK - The hook of the song is usually the chorus. It's the part that people will remember when the song is over. It's also the part they'll probably sing the most during the song. Drilling the hook or teaching the chorus before you officially begin the song is so helpful for your crowd. It allows people to really participate as you go through it the first time. Teach and drill that hook before you start. Your crowd will appreciate it.

3. DO IT AGAIN - When you teach a new song, do it again the next week. It gives your church the chance to really learn it, before you put it into your rotation. Sometimes, I'll introduce a song as a theme for a short 3-4 week sermon series. By the time you get to that 3rd week, your church will be internalizing and owning the song. This is a great thing. At the very least, try to repeat the new song the following week. Some songs take a few times to catch. You'll see it when it happens. Just do it again.

4. SHARE THE STORY - There's a story behind every song. When you find a new song and it resonates with you, dig deeper beyond the lyrics and music. Find out where it came from, who wrote it, when they wrote it and why they wrote it. The first time you teach the song to your church, share what you've learned. It will bring more depth and substance to the moment. Usually, there's a scripture that has inspired a worship song. By all means, quote that scripture, put it on the screen and watch the power of God's Word in action. It will prepare people's hearts for the song like nothing else can. Share the story, then sing the song.

5. PLACE IT PROPERLY - The best place for a new song is right after a favorite song. When you do a song that everybody likes, you've given them what they want. Sometimes a new song is not what a church wants, but it's what they need. The best time to give someone what they need is after you've give them what they want. They're usually in a good mood. They're more open to the new, because they've just experienced the old. They're more confident, because they're in the familiar. That's a great opportune time to teach a new song. It's also very wise. You can get away with ending with a new song, but it's usually a bad idea to begin with one. I'm not saying never, but it's usually a bad place for it. When you place it properly, you give it the best chance to catch on.

What are some other tips you've learned in teaching a song?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Word Wednesday.::243

Word Wednesday is posted every Wednesday. Each week I post a scripture that I've read that week that has spoken to me in a fresh way. I believe that if we read God's Word every day, He will give us at least one scripture every week that will impact us. Sharing Scripture with each other is like iron sharpening iron. Leave a comment and share a scripture that has impacted you this week.

Here's the scripture that stuck this week: Isaiah 59:1 (nkjv)

No matter how low you are, God can save you.

What's your Word?