August 26, 2016 | Get free updates of new posts here
Pastors – I know you want your worship leaders and worship teams to spend more time in Bible study. Worship leaders – I know you have a hard time finding resources for worship team Bible study. We all know worship team Bible study is vital to our ministry but it can be one of those things which become low priority over time.
I get it.
So I’ve created a new worship team Bible study resource called 52 Sundays. Here’s the concept:
Sign up for free and get a weekly worship team Bible study delivered straight to your inbox every Monday morning for a year. That’s it.
Every week you’ll receive an email devotional direct to your inbox – a passage of scripture, a short reflection around worship, a couple of response questions you can ask your team and then a closing prayer.
The idea with this is to make it work for you. Use it just how I’ve written it or make some adjustments based on what’s best for your team. I’ve designed these so you can go through it with your team in about 10-15 minutes as part of your rehearsal as you prepare to lead your church in worship.
This is a total new idea for me and something I really believe people are going to find valuable. Would you share this with pastors and worship leaders who may also be interested in receiving it? That would be amazing!
August 12, 2016 | Get free updates of new posts here
One of the spiritual responsibilities of the worship leader is to invest time and passion into relentless prayer for the work of God in your church and your community. These worship leader prayers are the opportunity to go ahead of your team, your pastor, your congregation and plead with the God of the universe that He would do the things He promises to do. What an incredible privilege!
Worship leader prayers are an expression of our praying without ceasing. There is an inexhaustible list of what we could pray for but let me give you a few worship leader prayers you could be praying daily or weekly, relentlessly as you prepare to lead your church in worship.
Pray for God’s glory
“May all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD,
when they hear what you have decreed.
May they sing of the ways of the LORD,
for the glory of the LORD is great.” Psalm 138:4-5
Pray for Jesus to be exalted over all
“Therefore God exalted Jesus to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11
Pray for your pastor
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you.
Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7
Pray for people to meet Jesus
“He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” Colossians 1:28-29
June 20, 2016 | Get free updates of new posts here
Over the last 20 years as a worship leader I’ve had the opportunity to lead and serve alongside some incredible artists. I’ve played music beside some of (I’m convinced!) the most talented people God has ever created. I’ve seen painters, video producers, photographers, singers, poets and graphic artists put their amazing artistic talent on display in a way that led to some jaw-dropping moments – for the glory of Jesus and for the sake of his kingdom.
I’ve also come across artists and leaders-of-artists who have squandered their opportunity, squashed inspiration and frustrated creativity – stop me if you’ve heard this before!
So whether you’re an artist in the church or one who leads artists in the church I do believe there are some principles we can agree on which can result in powerful, Jesus-exalting, God-honouring works of art which are created in an environment of Christian discipleship, healthy boundaries and visionary leadership.
And like most things you’ll read on leadership, please don’t consider me a faultless expert on this. There’s no way I get this right all the time but think of these principles as the lighthouses by which we’re being guided. These are the principles I’m trying to put in place for the dozens of talented, trail-blazing, Jesus-loving artists I’m leading in my current role.
So with the hope that these principles may lead you to your own lighthouses, let me offer to you three principles for leading artists effectively:
The Principle of Priority
Artists will produce their best work when they feel their work and creativity is a priority for you, your event or your organization. When art is treated as more than decoration artists will respond with creativity and passion.
Conversely, artists must understand that their own creative work and artistic freedom are not the first priority of the leader, the event or the organization. We all serve somebody and artists and leaders are called to serve one another as a demonstration of submission to Jesus.
The Principle of Purpose
Leaders who can include artists in conversation around purpose will find the emotional, relational and artistic results will far outweigh what would come as a result from artists being given a simple work order or a request for delivery.
Again, artists who serve leaders in achieving the purpose and vision they are working toward will gain the trust and assurance from leaders which will result in more opportunity and more freedom in the future.
The Principle of Pressure
Artists perform well with a deadline but they don’t perform well under pressure. Leaders who can give artists a long runway (especially for prioritized, purposeful projects!) with multiple stages and deadlines will get the most creative work from artists every time. Leaders need to learn how to manage the pressure they’re putting on artists so that the end result is great art and a great relationship.
Artists who can learn to identify the difference processing and procrastination will understand that their best work happens through refinement and iteration. Our first draft is rarely our best and so we need to break artistic projects into multiple stages where we can give time for our best work to develop.
At the end of the day the heart of the issue is respect for and from artists and leaders. As we serve each other we demonstrate first our submission to Jesus and we show the world that the gospel really, truly is good news for every person.
April 10, 2016 | Get free updates of new posts here
I’ve never been accused of caring too much for fashion and I promise you won’t find me browsing the mall on a Saturday afternoon. (Seriously – can someone figure out how to help old dudes get decent clothes so they don’t look stupid?? That’s all we want.)
Although worship leaders are sometimes guilty of caring too much about their look I want to share with you four “looks” to help with your perspective on a Monday morning. Regardless of what your weekend was like and how things went with your church on Sunday, these are four really helpful looks to have on Monday morning.
Because who we are and what we do flow out of who God is and what He has done we need to begin our week with our eyes lifted up to be reminded of the grace, mercy and love of God. God’s love for you doesn’t depend on how you do your work and it’s in fact the complete opposite. Because of the work of God in our lives we can now do the most effective work.
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
At the start of your week, look up and be reminded that everything we are and everything we do flows out of what God has done for us and how He helps us accomplish the things He’s called us to.
Where are you right now? What is it God has called you to do today? Where are you planted and how can you thrive in the place where He’s put you? At the start of the week get an honest reminder of the situation you’re in and the role you play.
Psalm 1:3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
Are you able to recognize what is unique about the place and the season you are in right now? Are you aware of how God is using you – you! – to be part of seeing His kingdom come? Look down and be reminded where you are and what you are called to do.
If Monday if your first day back at work (some of you will have Monday off and Tuesday is the start of your week) take some time to look back on what happened at your church this weekend. How did it go? Was Jesus the focus of your worship service? Did people sing to celebrate who Jesus is and what He has done?
One of my favourite encouragements when it comes to debriefing and getting better is that there are two ways to get 100% improvement – you can make a few big changes or you can make many small changes. My perspective is that if we can consistently make 2% improvements over the course of a year we’ll be 100% better one year from now without really having had to make big changes.
As you look back are there some aspects to your services that could benefit from a small 2% improvement?
The best and worst part of a worship leader’s job is that Sunday is always coming. Whether Sunday was great or not so much you’ve always got another opportunity this coming Sunday as your church gathers together to celebrate Jesus. Monday is a great time to look forward to what will be happening in your church this weekend to be praying and dreaming about what God will do when you gather again.
Take a change to and look forward beyond Sunday. What’s the next big event on the calendar? What’s coming up that might need some extra attention? Even in April are there some things you can be dreaming about for Christmas or maybe even next Easter? Never let a moment of inspiration go wasted simply because you didn’t take the opportunity to look forward.
April 8, 2016 | Get free updates of new posts here
Back in 2014 I did a huge post where I gathered up all of my favourite best apps for worship leaders on iPhone and iPad and shared them to help worship leaders do their job better. I even put it all together as a free downloadable ebook which people have definitely used!
It’s hard to imagine what we’re able to do with these small devices in the palm of our hand but at the same time there are so many apps out there how do you even begin to find the best ones??
A couple years later the app landscape has changed – more apps, more powerful devices, more ways for technology to help us do our jobs better so I thought I’d go back and update the whole list. I’ve compiled my new Best Apps for Worship Leaders: 2016 Edition with updates, additions and some removals of apps that either aren’t available or have been surpassed by other, better apps.
Once again I’m making this available totally free a downloadable ebook. It’s available below through the signup box and will arrive right away in your inbox:
March 16, 2016 | Get free updates of new posts here
If the internet has given us anything it’s cats*, pirated movies and leadership principles. (If I had to choose, cats would get my vote!) You don’t have to look far to find an abundance of advice, instruction and experience when it comes to leadership. And this is a great thing!
Leaders are vital to organizations, to families, to government and yes, to the church. Leadership is a blessing to the people who are looking to be led but it can sometimes be a curse to the one who is called to lead. Anything that can help us be better at leadership is a good thing!
And yet sometimes there are some simple things which can be overlooked and under appreciated when it comes to leadership. Simple strategies which can have massive benefit to you and to the people you are leading.
So, humbly, let me add to the overabundance of leadership advice found on the internet by sharing three under-appreciated leadership strategies:
You are not a robot. Sorry to burst your bubble. There is no substitute for sleep and this is the best remedy for a troubled mind, a confusing decision and a weary spirit. Many leaders (including me) think they can run on their 20-something sleep patterns into their 30’s but that’s just not true.
Can’t find time to sleep in? Love to get up early? Sleep in on the front side. Go to bed early. Shut off your stuff, put down the coffee, turn out the lights and just go to sleep. You’ll be a better leader in the morning.
There are no get rich quick, instant success, magic lamp wishes when it comes to leadership and seeing vision happen. The dream you are seeing in your mind and the people you are called to lead and the impact you long for in your heart will not be accomplished overnight. It won’t be accomplished in several overnights.
If you are dreaming dreams that are worth dreaming you must be patient and realize that by saying yes to leadership you are committing to years or decades of patiently putting one foot in front of the other and inviting others to come along with you.
You don’t have it all figured out. You haven’t learned all there is to know about the things you know. You are never the final authority in your area of expertise. You’re never finished.
You might be great at what you do. You might be very respected. You might have all the answers and be able to get people to ask all the right questions. And yet everything is changing. Always.
The world around you is constantly evolving and shifting and being renewed and so you should be as well. Never lose your curiosity and always be looking for inspiration, even in places where you would not expect it to be found.
Sleep, patience and curiosity. Three under-appreciated leadership strategies that can be implemented by anyone regardless of age, experience or position.
March 11, 2016 | Get free updates of new posts here
Worship leaders have lots of responsibilities when it comes to their church’s worship services but something that can’t be neglected beyond choosing songs and finding communion servers and importing slides to ProPresenter is the importance of preparation. Preparation is one of the ways that leaders lead – literally getting out in front of others – and it’s how we are able to handle the unexpected events which may happen between now and Sunday.
Preparation is more than spending time in rehearsal or going over notes. Preparation as a worship leader communicates importance of the role you are in, communicates value to your team for their contribution and communicates priority to your congregation who will be gathering to worship.
As I’ve thought about how I do this and help others do it, here are some things I’ve learned when it comes to preparing yourself, preparing your team and preparing your congregation for worship.
Don’t neglect personal spiritual devotion. For the sake of your soul, for the sake of your family, for the sake of your church and for the sake of the gospel. Personal spiritual devotion is about so much more than reading scripture to find themes for your songs on Sunday. Worship is so much more than rehearsing for your services.
“Ministry to the Lord” is one of the beautiful opportunities we have as followers of Jesus but also as levitical leaders within his church. Take the opportunity!
Spend time through the week hearing the voice of God as He speaks to you through His word. Spend time expressing your heart to the Lord through worship as you sing to Him. Minister to the Lord and don’t neglect your own spiritual devotion.
The priests stood at their posts; the Levites also, with the instruments for music to the Lord that King David had made for giving thanks to the Lord—for his steadfast love endures forever—whenever David offered praises by their ministry; opposite them the priests sounded trumpets, and all Israel stood.
2 Chronicles 7:6
One other way to prepare yourself for worship is to love people before you lead them. Spend time in the pews and in the lobby before your service starts. Get out of the green room and shake some hands. Say good morning to some people. Hold a door for someone. Help a parent find your kids checkin spot. Ask someone how their week was. Be engaged in relationship with the people you are about to lead and express your heart to them even in those few minutes before your service starts.
When it comes to personal preparation, here are some books that I would recommend should be in the library of every worship leader. I go back to all of these often:
Unless you have a team full of paid musicians you are typically working with a worship team who have full time jobs, families, social responsibilities and just life events in general. Everyone’s got a ton going on. To help them prepare for worship one thing you need to do as a worship leader to communicate really clearly what you’re asking them to do. Simply providing them with songs, arrangements, audio files, chord charts and some communication around how you’d like these songs to be done in the worship service will be a huge work of preparation for your team.
From my personal experience and from what I know about working with worship leaders for the last 20 years is that this does not come naturally. Organization, detail and communication are not typically high in a worship leader gift set so you need to learn this behaviour and acknowledge that you won’t always get it right. But you can learn it and it’s one of the ways you can lead (get out in front!) as a leader.
Are you making changes to arrangements? Are you changing the feel from what is expected? Is there a repeated section or a transition you’d like them to do?
Invest time during your week to set up your team to succeed when you come for rehearsal or for your weekend worship services.
Here are some tools (both paid and free) you can use to help with communication for your team:
Beyond praying for your church family and being faithful in your call to lead them in worship on Sundays here are a couple ways you can prepare your congregation for worship.
I see lots of debate online about posting set lists and whether people should do that and if you do it should it before Sunday or after Sunday and should you link to iTunes or should you… and on and on and on. I figure anything I can do to get my congregation engaged and excited for Sunday, anything that helps and equips and prepares them for worship, let’s do it!
Typically I will post a social media graphic of the songs we’re singing at our two locations and I try to do this before the weekend hits to give people the chance to check out the songs and get familiar if they’d like to. The only way to really track if this is effective is the weeks when I don’t do it – and that’s when I hear from people!
Usually I use one of two iPhone apps to post to instagram, twitter and facebook and then our social media people will repost those to our church accounts.
Here are the tools I use to do this and a couple examples of finished product:
One final way to prepare your congregation is (ironically) the way you start your service. How much time do you invest in thinking about and planning the first thing you’re going to say when your service starts? Some of you are in a more liturgical setting where your call to worship is pre-prepared but many of you have the privilege to lead your congregation right from the very start of the service.
Invest 30 minutes this week thinking about your call to worship – the very first thing you’re going to say when the service begins! Whether it’s a couple of verses or a psalm or an encouragement to worship or something reflective, use some time this week so that on Sunday you can most effectively prepare your congregation to worship right as soon as the service begins!
Hopefully that’s helpful for you and I’m sure you’ve got a ton of your own ideas so I’d love to hear what you do to prepare yourself, your team or your congregation for worship. Hit me with an email email@example.com or on social media (@chrisfromcanada twitterfacebookinstagram) and let’s help each other learn.
If you’re interested I’ve got a set of ebooks available free for worship leaders to help you do your job better. Sign up below to get them delivered straight to your inbox.
December 26, 2015 | Get free updates of new posts here
Like many of you, the day after Christmas (Boxing Day in Canada!) is really my first opportunity to breathe and relax in a busy December. Christmas Eve services take lots of work, lots of prayer, lots of preparation and Christmas Day is time very well spent with family. December 26 has become, for me, a great day I look forward to every year.
Leading up to Christmas this year I was drawn more than usual to Isaiah 9 and the four titles given to Jesus, the awaited Messiah.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Wonderful Counselor Jesus is incomprehensible wisdom. He knows what we need more than we do. He knows how to lead us where we need to be and He asks us to trust Him as we follow.
Mighty God Jesus is strong and powerful in the same way God has always shown His strength. Jesus is the powerful incarnation, strong enough to save His people from their sins.
Everlasting Father Jesus is eternally existant in trinitarian communion. Begotten from the Father, present and active in creation, now glorified and magnified in majesty.
Prince of Peace Jesus is given dominion from every sea to every sea and His kingdom is always and only advancing through peace. Jesus is the one who brings peace to every difficulty.
December 17, 2015 | Get free updates of new posts here
Worship leaders and teams all around the world are getting ready for Christmas Eve and Christmas services. We’re anticipating hundreds of millions of people gathering together at every kind of worship service you can imagine at every time of day in every time zone in every country on the planet. Amazing.
Worship leaders, you have one week between now and the moment your services begin. How should you invest that time? What should you be giving your attention to over the next 7 days?
Of course there are people to be scheduled and set designs to be built and candles to be lit. Please do the tasks of your job so that you don’t get fired! But along with that, where should you be giving your energy to help ensure success for your Christmas services?
Let me share with you where I’ve learned to focus my attention and energy in the last week leading up to Christmas. Not in order of priority or preference:
This is sometimes a given but it should never be a given.
Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
Unless the Lord encounters people and changes lives, the worship leader sings in vain. Unless the pastor prays, the people come to a nice event in vain.
Pray for your Christmas services, for your Christmas events. Pray for your staff and your worship teams. Pray for the invites going out to the community. Pray for every person who will sit in every seat during every service in your worship space.
Pray for the preacher or whoever will be speaking from God’s word during your Christmas services. Pray for people who will say yes to the invitation to follow Jesus. Pray for God to be showing Himself in amazing ways in their lives even right now.
This week keep prayer at the forefront of your Christmas service preparation.
Depending on your style, flavor and denomination of church you will have a certain level of freedom when it comes to programming your service.
If you’re still choosing songs or fine tuning the elements of your Christmas worship service I’ve found that simplicity wins the day when it comes to this time of year.
Choose songs that people want to sing – Jesus-focused Christmas carols. Include readings from the Christmas story. Preach the birth of Christ and the radical implications of incarnation.
Christmas is not the time to get tricky or clever. People are saying yes to the invitation to come because they’re expecting the manger and the shepherds and the hark the heralds. Don’t make enemies over the baby Jesus!
As you’re thinking about Christmas Eve services and all the work to be done, remember that you (hopefully!) have hoardes of people from your church who have their regular jobs, their family commitments, their own craziness this time of year PLUS they’re thinking about how excited they are to be involved and how much work there is to be done for Christmas services!
Take time this week before the big day to send an email or give a quick phone call to let people know that you appreciate them and the work they’re doing to help your church get ready for Christmas.
On the day of your services have you thought about how you’re going to treat volunteers? If you have multiple services do you need to feed them? How are you going to include their families? Remember that many of them are giving up a big chunk of time (willingly!) and as their pastor you would do well to recognize and acknowledge that.
Spend time this week thinking about your people and how their involvement is significant for your Christmas services.
Merry Christmas! May you have moments over the next week to be amazed and in awe of the God who loves you enough to come and be with you.
November 6, 2015 | Get free updates of new posts here
If you’re not already up to your eyeballs in Christmas, it won’t be long! Just like Sunday comes every week, Christmas comes every year and we have this incredible opportunity of welcoming people into our churches for Advent, Sundays leading up to Christmas, Christmas Eve services and maybe even a Christmas Day service.
Of course the story we tell and the songs we sing at Christmas better be focused directly on the birth of Jesus, the arrival of the Messiah, the incarnation of God Himself but how we present that story and invite people to engage with it can be a challenge.
Over the years I’ve learned to leverage every creative option available to me at Christmas to help create one beautiful moment of worship in our services. It’s easy to let the lyrics of all-too-familiar Christmas songs just whiz by (don’t get me started talking about the Hark The Herald Angels Sing lyric – “Hail the heav’n born prince of peace / Hail the Sun of Righteousness”) and yet there is depth, beauty, history, promise and emotion wrapped up in these songs and stories.
Christmas is without a doubt the easiest time of year to invite people to church. They are much more likely to say yes to an invitation to a Christmas Eve service than at any other time of year. What I’ve done here is to gather together some resources to help you plan before, during and after your Christmas services to have the maximum impact possible in the lives of people you are trying to reach.
First of all, I’d love to share a free resource that I created for you so that you can design and implement a Facebook Advent calendar for your social community. This is a free downloadable ebook that will share step-by-step details to share the incredible news of Christmas with your church and to help your church share it with their community! An easy, free way to have big impact this Christmas and help invite people to church for your Christmas services.
Probably the first thing on your mind as a worship leader is the songs you will sing during your Christmas services. Of course there are always the standards and the usual suspects but if you are looking for new songs to include as either presentation or corporate worship then you need to look at the list from PraiseCharts of their top Christmas worship songs.
The visual of your auditorium/sanctuary is pretty crucial to your Christmas worship service experience and Jeff McIntosh from Church Motion Graphics has some incredible Christmas video bundles available for really reasonable prices. Buy a bundle or get access to the library through his media subscription.
Worship leaders are often looking for videos to include as creative content in their Christmas services. Maybe you’re looking for something funny like kids telling their version of the Christmas story or something meaningful like a story of redemption around the Christmas season. Whatever you’re looking for the guys at Worship House Media have got it. They’ve gathered together all of their Christmas videos so you can find exactly what you need!
Here’s one of my favourites that we used in our Christmas Eve services a couple of years ago –
Of course every year you’re going to include the Christmas story in your services and share again the incredible news of the arrival of Jesus. If you’re looking for a beautiful, creative, inspiring way to do this for your church I can’t recommend The Story of Christmas from Church on the Move enough. We presented it as part of our Christmas services two years in a row at my previous church and the impact is incredible.
Watch this video from Church on the Move’s presentation of The Story of Christmas in 2012 –
Purchase the score, audio tracks, script and cueing video for The Christmas Story to help you prepare this amazing creative element for your Christmas services.
The visual experience in your auditorium is more than what’s on screen so you definitely want to think about stage design and how that will add to your Christmas services. You can go traditional with trees and poinsettias and candles or you can go out of the box and very modern. Of course every worship leader loves to use pallets in their stage design!
Make sure you check out the Christmas ideas and inspiration over at ChurchStageDesignIdeas.com for some great visuals and write-ups that detail how to pull off that great idea for your Christmas stage design.
Even at Christmas pallets can be used for stage design!
Maybe your church is doing a bigger Christmas event this year and you’re looking for some resources to help you with planning – communication, invitation, setting some goals and targets for the event. Of course this kind of thing is helpful for Christmas Eve services too so you need to check out this series of articles at Sunday Magazine which tell the story of Cross Point Church’s A Merry Music City Christmas event and how the staff and volunteers from that church worked to pull off an incredible event that had major impact for people in their city.
Last year I was fortunate enough to be in Nashville while the event was happening and got to visit for myself. It was unbelievable! Fire pits, tube hills, hot chocolate, Christmas music – all the great things about the Christmas season wrapped up in one event designed to bless people at Christmas and invite them to Christmas Eve services. Amazing.
Obviously you don’t want the relationship with people who attend your Christmas services to end once they walk out the door. However you plan to communicate with them you need to prepared to gather contact info and also with the delivery method you’ll use. I found this great article over at ChurchLeaders.com that will be helpful for you – 6 Easy Ways to Follow Up With Christmas Guests
Hopefully this is helpful for you! I’d love to hear how you use these or other resources in planning and delivering your Christmas services this year. Share this with your friends and then share with me your best resources!