January – blog goals recap

January 31, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

I set out at the beginning of 2013 with three pretty significant blog goals – something I’ve never done before. I love writing this blog as a way to serve worship leaders, to help you find resources and tools to help you lead worship better and more effectively. Serving more worship leaders and sharing more resources and tools is definitely the big goal for 2013 and I’ve broken those down in to three smaller targets.

First, I looked at my stats from the last few years, thought about some new things I wanted to try this year and decided that my target would be to see 100,000 visitors to the blog in 2013.

For some of you, 100,000 is chump change. For others, 100,000 is stratospheric. That’s not the point. The point is that I wanted to be able to serve a significantly higher number of people this year through my blog and that’s the number I landed on.

Blog stats January 2013

So.. how did we do in January?

Number of visitors in January 2013: 6,870

One month’s target to reach 100,000 visitors in year: 8,333

Over/under that target number in January: Under by 1,463

So while I didn’t hit the one month visitor target in January to get me on pace for 100,000 visitors in 2013 there are some bright spots here:

  • There were more visitors to my blog in January 2013 than in all but one month in 2012
  • The daily average for visitors is the third highest of any months since I began my blog in 2007

Second, I told you that I would write and release three ebooks this year. Two of those are in production and will be available soon. I have an idea for the third one but I haven’t started it yet.

Third, I talked about wanting to do more series of posts. In January I posted a few times looking back on 2012 (1|2|3) and also posted the first Final Friday Guest Post from Daniel Bashta. More of those to come each month!

At the very least, I’m glad to be back on the regular blog posting bandwagon and have really enjoyed writing these posts this month. The response from you and others have been fantastic and I’m so thankful that you are finding this blog helpful to you as you think about leading worship and how you can do that better.

Books for Worship Leaders in 2013

January 28, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

Worship leaders – what books are you reading this year?

I’ve been asking friends and worship leaders on social media to find out what books they are reading right now and I’d love to have you join in the conversation.

Tweet this post with the #WLbooks hashtag to have
more worship leaders join in the conversation.

I’m a big fan of the “leaders are readers” mantra and there is nothing like spending good time with a book to challenge, inspire and expand your horizons. Books have this beautiful way of confronting things we already believe to be true, inspiring us to tackle new ideas and push in areas we need to grow.

So, worship leaders, what books are on your reading list this year?


Read my list of books that I think every worship leader
should read and have in their library.

Here is what was is in the Amazon order I did last week:

The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship by A.W. Tozer
The Crucifixion of Ministry: Surrendering Our Ambitions to the Service of Christ by Andrew Purves
Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City by Tim Keller
The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church by Matt Chandler
The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson
One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do by Phil Cooke
The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together by Twyla Tharp

What have you got on your 2013 reading list? Comment below or tweet it with the #WLbooks hashtag so we can all follow the conversation.

Final Friday Guest Post: Daniel Bashta

January 25, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

I told you that I had some big goals and new ideas for the blog in 2013 and today is the first instalment of one of those. I’ve invited 12 guest posters to come and be a part of a Final Friday Guest Post series here and I’m happy to have the first one go live today.

Final Friday Guest Post

The first Final Friday Guest Post comes from Daniel Bashta, a songwriter/artist/missionary whose new album “The Invisible” arrives February 5 from Integrity Music. If you have had the opportunity to see and hear Daniel live, you know that passion is a word which easily describes who he is, what he does and what he is hoping to see in others.

Daniel Bashta - The Invisible

You can find out more about Daniel Bashta and his new album “The Invisible” at www.danielbashtainvisible.com. Hear the songs, download chord charts handwritten by Daniel see “behind the song” videos and read through some devotionals Daniel has written on some of the topics he covers in the songs.

Thanks Daniel for writing this month’s Final Friday Guest Post! I hope you guys enjoy this.

Daniel Bashta

Awaken Dreamers, And Let Hope In
Daniel Bashta

There is a growing population of what I call “the exiles”… artists who are full of hurt because somewhere in their journey, the dreamer inside was killed.  I know because it happened to me. A person in leadership once told me that I was not “called” to be a worship leader and that I needed to stick to being a number in the system. I have a real problem with that because I believe God is in the business of creating, NOT duplicating.

But sometimes in an over zealous attempt to build our trendy empires, we can bulldoze over the not-so-put-together, the very raw, quite passionate artists because they are uncontrollable and radical. 

A leader can either embrace the artist-dreamer and try to be a father to help steer his or her wild nature… Or, they can manipulate and handcuff the dreamer because it is too outside the lines of the empire. 

Not long ago, my wife and I were speeding through our story. Our belief in God was stronger then ever, but our belief in the system was completely destroyed. I actually started working on a song, and wrote the line “my faith is dead, I need a resurrection somehow.”  

Along the way, I met a “father” who is now my pastor and a community of people who are now our church family. It’s as if God saw what was happening in our lives and created a custom package just for us. Now almost 2 years into it, an awakening has taken place in our hearts. I have learned that when unexplainable miracles take place, life oozes out into every dry place and that new life begins to form and things begin to happen!  

If you are a hurting artist, or if you are surrounded by radical dreamers, here are few practical nuggets I picked up over my time of healing. Maybe they can help.

 

LEADERS – If you are leader, be a father.  Fathers are a dying breed in our generation. Everyone likes the spotlight; very few pioneers will be around to help clean up the filth. Stop manipulating and trying to control the coloring outside of the lines… maybe the beauty starts when we get outside of our borders.  Be so committed to your artists that they know how much you love and support them. Your goal should not be to contain, it should be to compel.

 

DREAMERS –  If you are a dreamer, what is your mission? Along my journey, I figured out that my mission has not changed, but my identity has become clearer. If you are a creative type, you must have a mission and you must know without any doubt what you are called to do.  Your mission should boil in your soul to the extent that if dream killers attack, you are secure in what God has created you for. Stop trying to replicate, and begin to pioneer. God does not need another Chris Tomlin, He already has an incredibly talented one. God needs you and what He has breathed inside your veins.

 

Find a father that you can submit your life to. Be willing to accept the wisdom spoken in this covering. Do not try to be so different that it borders on being rebellious. I’ve heard it said that the most radical people are not known by what they look like, but what they do.  Having a father in your life will bring such healing and strength, knowing that you have someone applauding you no matter what stage of life you are going through. This has to be a two-way relationship in order for it to succeed. Communication is key and love is mandatory.

Be healed and DREAM! The local church should be the hope of the world. It should be a place of spectacular healing, restoration, and creating. We should be so stunning in our display of who we worship, that all eyes become fixated on this uncontrollable, invisible force.

 

We need the dreamers of this generation to stand up and be counted. Very few wounded soldiers ever get back into the battle because of how jaded and weary they have become in the process. My prayer is that we will see an awakening happen in the exiled outcasts of our churches so that we will see revival erupt.

 

Awake dreamers, and let hope in!

 

Luminous Blog Tour: Space for Creativity

January 22, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

I was honoured to be asked by my friend Chad Jarnagin and the crew over at Luminous if I would participate in their blog tour to help promote their conference. I was more than happy to say yes! You can also read my post from the Luminous 2012 blog tour Space for Love.

“Here’s all the information, details and objectives – just do something creative!”

Ever heard that before?

If you’re involved in ministry or any field where your creativity and artistic ability are valued (whether or not that value comes through as an actual paycheck) you’ve probably been asked instructed to just “do something creative.” Sounds easy enough!

The request comes from a good place and we shouldn’t fault people who expect and hope that we can be creative producers when it comes to planning church services, designing graphics, publishing articles or promoting events. Hopefully everyone who is part of an organization has the same desires and objectives – some of those people are good at assembling details and objectives, some of those people are good at creatively turning those details and objectives into a format which can be digested and experienced by the participants.

You are not a creativity machine

You are not a creativity machine

As someone who makes a living as one of these “creative producers” (I’ve been on staff as the director of worship at Compass Community Church since 2005 and have been leading worship as my main thing since the mid-90’s) I have had the opportunity to learn some things about how I as a creative leader am able to manage, understand and execute these requests.

So, for the sake of those of you who may be feeling restrained, hindered and suffocating within the creative limits and expectations of what you are being asked to do, let me give you three guidelines which can help every creative leader produce their work at the highest level of their capability.

1. Create space for creativity

I’m busy. You’re busy. We’re all busy. We get it. Busy is the buzzword of our culture and we wear it like a golden badge of honour. Get over it. You’re as busy as you want to be. Want to be less busy? Say no. Want to be more effective?

Create space for creativity.

Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly – you must create space within your calendar for creativity.

Daily? Take a long hot shower where you can just let your mind daydream and go places it won’t while you’re sitting at your desk. To accomplish this you might need to get up 15 minutes early.

Weekly? Rest. Sabbath. Unplug if you have to. Create space one day a week where you stop doing the things you normally do. Be amazed at how a change of pace sends your creativity into overdrive.

Monthly? Take a day away where you look back and look ahead. How have you spent your time? your money? your creative energy? How do you want to spend it this month? Is there a big project coming up that you are feeling anxious about? Lay out some action steps you can take to help you cut that big project down into smaller pieces.

Yearly? Schedule a retreat or getaway where you can be on your own for a couple of days. You don’t need to be a hermit but maybe you do. Take a journal, your guitar, your canvas, whatever it is and get back to the love of the art which you may have lost in a year of demands and pressure.

2. Ask for space for creativity

Of course these may sound like great ideas to you but you have other people in your life who need to be on board with this – your spouse, your family, your boss, your co-workers. Ask for space. Be honest with your need for margin so that your creative production can go to the next level.

Asking for space also means being clear with people who are presenting requests to you that you need to work with details in a certain timeline. If this project needs to be done tomorrow it’s not a good thing for you to receive the information and instructions today. Be clear with expectations of timeline and ask others to work within the space that is needed.

3. Honour the space for creativity

Once you’ve created the space, asked for the space and the space has been given do not screw this up. Don’t waste the gift. Use it wisely. Honour the space for creativity by doing what you said you would do. Creating space and asking for space will produce no tangible result if all you do on your yearly creative retreat is play Xbox and eat Cheetos. Don’t be that guy.

Honour the space for creativity by working hard at stretching your creative muscle. If you said you’re going to sabbath weekly by doing things differently that day then do what you said you’d do. Take a real day off. Write a song just for the sake of writing a song. Paint a landscape because it’s beautiful. Design a CD cover for your imaginary debut album.

I need my space

Not exactly but you get the idea.

All of us have high demands on our life and producing creative results is no exception. The tools, software and resources we have at our fingertips means we can produce more with less cost, less time, less talent but we still need to be refilling our creative tank so that what we are producing achieves the objectives we’ve all set out to accomplish together.

Place these three guidelines in your life – create space for creativity, ask for space for creativity, honour space for creativity – and I promise that you will be able to produce your creative work at the highest level of your capability.

This post was inspired by the Luminous Project. Luminous is a creative spiritual event in Nashville May 1-3, 2013. To find out more, check out luminousproject.com. You can use the promo code ‘BRINGitHERE‘ to get 35% off the registration price.

Album review: Meredith Andrews – Worth It All

January 21, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

Meredith Andrews (web|twitter|facebook), a talented worship leader from Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, is releasing her third studio album “Worth It All” on Tuesday, January 22. Full of songs which feature Meredith’s voice and her songwriting ability, this album has several songs which worship leaders will want to use in their churches and others which will definitely find themselves at home on Christian radio.

Meredith Andrews - Worth It All

Thanks to the fine people at Word Worship I’ve had the opportunity to listen to this CD for the past couple of weeks and it got my attention right away with Meredith’s versions of “Open up the Heavens” and “Not for a Moment” from the Vertical Church Band album. I have made no secret of the fact that Vertical Church was my favourite CD of the year and “Open up the Heavens” has been one of the top songs at our church this year. Meredith’s version takes a great song and makes it even more accessible with a new rhythmic groove underneath. Worship leaders – these are songs that your church will sing!

Over the course of the 11 songs on “Worth It All” it becomes clear again that Meredith is the kind of artist who is at home equally in the world of leading worship as well as performing. Her heart is for the church, her writing is accessible for most congregations and the lyrical direction is nothing but Christ-focused and God-exalting. Her voice is top-notch, the production on this album is fantastic and whether or not all of these songs are accessible for congregational worship, this album is worth being part of your music library.

“Worth It All” by Meredith Andrews is available from Word Worship and iTunes.

Paul Baloche – Leadworship Workshops in Canada: Moncton & Oakville

January 19, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

Paul Baloche is a favourite worship leader at many churches in Canada and around the world. This spring Paul will be bringing his Leadworship workshop to Canada with events in Moncton, NB and Oakville, ON. Paul Baloche will be bringing his whole team for the Leadworship workshops in both Moncton & Oakville and bringing your whole team would be a great idea.

The workshop will feature a worship concert with Paul Baloche and his band on the Friday night and then a series of large group sessions and small group breakouts on the Saturday.

Here’s how the workshop is described on Paul’s website:

All of the general sessions and workshops are designed to:

• Encourage and equip your entire worship team
• Deepen the spiritual life of each team member
• Be interactive, up-close and personal with each presenter
• Increase your passion for leading others in your local church

Click for more details on each of these workshops including registration info and event schedules:

April 12-13 in Moncton, NB
Moncton Wesleyan Church

April 19-20 in Oakville, ON
Harvest Bible Chapel

Chris Tomlin – Burning Lights CD lyrics

January 8, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

The new Chris Tomlin CD Burning Lights was released today (or last night, if you pre-ordered!) and I’ve had the chance to listen through a couple of times. You’ll find some songs that you’ve heard before on Passion albums, some new songs that you may have heard at Passion this year, a re-working of a classic hymn and more.

Chris Tomlin - Burning Lights pre-order

Although this isn’t a full review, this album is classic Chris Tomlin. Every worship leader should own this album and consider some of these songs for their church. Chris and his co-writers have given the church another gift of Christ-focused, God-exalting songs which give us the opportunity to express our praise and adoration to God.

Burning Lights is available on iTunes or at www.christomlin.com

To help you learn these songs, I’ve gathered the lyrics I could find for the songs on this album and posted them here. This is a long post so I’ve added this little more link here.

Click “Continue Reading…” to get the full post with all of the lyrics from Chris Tomlin’s Burning Lights CD.

Continue Reading

2012: Top Worship Songs from our Church

January 7, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

I’m continuing to look back at 2012 in a few areas – my blog, my life and now my church. Earlier this year I posted what I thought were the best new worship songs of 2012 (1|2|3) but I also wanted to share with you the top worship songs from our church in 2012.

2012 top songs

Thanks to the magic of Planning Center Online, figuring out the top worship songs from our church in 2012 is pretty easy. I just ran a quick report, imported to Numbers and looked at how often we had done these songs. And here are the results.

Matt Redman – 10,000 Reasons
This is hands down, without question the most impactful song we sang this year at Compass. Great lyrics, great melody, very easy for people to learn even the first time they hear it. In all, we sang this song on ELEVEN Sundays at our church.

Hillsong – God Is Able
Ephesians 3:20-21 has been a bit of an unofficial theme verse for me in my leading this year and “God Is Able” captures that idea perfectly. Another great congregational song from Hillsong. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2exW2cUdC4

Brenton Brown – Everlasting God
I don’t know how long this song will stay around but it’s safe to say it is a classic. We have gone through seasons where this was a meaningful, profound song for our church and seasons where we have put it on the shelf. This year it gave words to our church in a powerful way.

Chris Tomlin – All To Us
This song expresses so clearly our desire for what we want Compass to be all about. “Let the glory of Your name be the passion of the church!”

Paul Baloche – Hosanna
Paul continues to write great songs for the church. I am so thankful for him. This continues to be one of the best call to worship songs we have.

Vertical Church – Open Up The Heavens
Another new song we introduced this year. If you have not bought the Vertical Church album from Harvest Bible Chapel or read the book by the same name from James MacDonald, you need to do that in 2013.

Paul Baloche – Our God Saves
I love how this song ties in the reason for our gathering with the exaltation of God. We gather in the name of the Father so that He would get glory because of what He has done. 

 

2012: A Look Back

January 4, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

2012 was a pretty significant year for me and I wanted to take the opportunity to recap it here – partly for myself, partly for you – as a way to give glory and honour to God for what He has done.

2012 calendar

Looking back can be a good thing. Remembering what God has done does two things. First, it reminds us that God has been active and alive in our life and has not abandoned us. Second, it strengthens our faith for the future and what He has ahead of us.

So in the spirit of that, let me share with you some of the great things 2012 brought me.

  • Family
    2012 marked the beginning of my 10th year of marriage to Sonya and we’ll celebrate that big anniversary in May 2013. Marriage is not always easy or what I imagined it to be but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Sonya is a great gift in my life and this has been a year that we will remember for a long time.

    Our four kids continue to be incredible fountains of energy. Our three girls are now in school which means that my son & I have been able to enjoy “Manday Monday” on my days off. A real privilege to spend time with him and teach him things that every man needs to know.

Family
  • Sabbatical
    Much of my year centred around a 3-month sabbatical which the elders of our church offered to me. A few years ago they instituted a sabbatical policy for our ministry staff, giving us the opportunity to request sabbatical every 7 years. The time away was an incredible gift, reminding me of the good things God gives, reminding me that I love my church and my job and reminding me that nothing I enjoy in this world compares to God Himself. He really is supreme above all things.

    As part of sabbatical I spent time away on my own, time away with my wife, time away with each of my kids and time away as a family. We also spent 13 weeks away from our church, our home group, our staff team and our leadership roles. God opened my eyes and my ears while renewing my passion for the church and conviction that she really is the hope of the world.

    One of the incredible blessings I got to enjoy as part of sabbatical was a private retreat on this beautiful property. I spent hours walking up and down this carriage path lined with maple trees. The opportunity to do this is something I will remember for a long time.Trees

  • Church
    I’m so thankful I had the privilege of marking seven years on staff at my church this fall. We knew when we came to Orangeville that we were looking to be in one place for a long time and God has honoured that desire. In many ways it feels like we’re just getting started but when the church where you serve is 151 years old, 7 years isn’t much!

    As an expression of our commitment to demonstrating and declaring the gospel to as many people in our region as we possibly can, our church agreed this year to change our name from Orangeville Baptist Church to Compass Community Church. This is an exciting change which allows us to move forward on some things God has been stirring in the hearts of our elders and staff for a while.

    At some point I’ll write more about the whole name change process and how we led our congregation through that but as of January 2013 we are officially operating as Compass. This is a great change that our church is engaged in and we continue moving forward in the things that God has called us to.

    Compass Community Church What about you? What were some of the significant things in your life in 2012?

2012 Blog Stats Recap

January 3, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

Another year, another look back at what’s happened here at the blog. Thanks to those of you who have been along for the journey! Thanks to WordPress stats and Google Analytics for helping me put this together.

2012

Total number of posts in 2012: 86

Most-visited post on the day it went live: Advanced Capo Ideas

Post from this year with the most views: “Not for a Moment” by Vertical Church

Total number of site visits: 61,184

Highest traffic day: September 19

Highest traffic month: December

Site which referred the most traffic: WorshipIdeas

Number of countries represented by site visitors: 156

Number of those 156 who only had one visitor all year: 19

Non-English speaking country with the most visitors: Germany

Post with the most comments: Best New Worship Songs of 2012 – Part 1

Blog series with the most readers: Write Worship Songs

Outgoing links with the most clicks:

Most common search phrases leading to the site:

  • christmas eve service ideas
  • portable baptistry
  • mike guglielmucci
  • easter responsive reading
  • gungor beautiful things

So what’s next for 2013?

For starters, I still believe in the power and place of blogging. I know lots of blogs have come and gone but this really has become my home base on the web and I’ve loved posting and sharing here as a way to encourage and help worship leaders do what they do and do it better.

I do have some things I’d like to see happen here in 2013:

  • 100,000 visitors
  • Write and release three ebooks
  • More blog series of posts

It’s been a great year. Looking forward to all that is ahead in 2013!