Creative

The Most Important Thing

"Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care."- Theodore Roosevelt

That's been my biggest lesson as a leader in the church.

You can have the best programs, the best music, and the most education in your field... but if you don't show your team you care, your success will be short lived.

I'll be the first to admit I've had seasons of ministry where I've been so focused on "work", that I take for granted the people who invest their time and energy to help me do my job with excellence. It's funny, because as a worship leaders/pastors, our number one "job" is to love our people. 

I definitely don't have all the answers, but what I do know is that your team will go with you to the ends of the earth if they believe you and believe IN you. You earn that trust by investing and showing them you care. Any effort, big or small, to show people you genuinely care about their lives, goes a long way in ministry.

For example- Team Nights have been a game changer at my church. We spend a couple hours eating a great meal, playing a game or two, and then have some time to cast vision and celebrate team members. It's something I wish I had done a long time ago.

If you haven't already, take that first step for to start investing in your team. Do SOMETHING. Love your people. It's the most important thing you can do as leader.  

What are some ways you lead and invest in your own team? Leave some feedback in the comment section below!

Take A Chance

Every single job or opportunity leading worship I've ever had is because someone took a chance on me. Seems crazy, I know, but hear me out.

  • My first time EVER leading worship was for my youth group- All because my youth pastor took a chance on me.
  • I worked my first summer job as a worship leader/staffer at a christian summer camp in Missouri- The camp director took a huge leap of faith that I would be halfway decent. (I hope he was right).
  • Then there was that time I worked at Kohl's- I applied and never heard back, so I introduced myself to the manager and he hired me on the spot. He took a chance on me.
  • When I started to intern at my first church job- the worship pastor not only took a chance on me... he gave me responsibilities, and trusted me with them. That was huge.
  • I moved my family out to Houston, TX- all because a pastor took a chance on me!
  • Even where I'm planted now, at my incredible church in Jackson, MS - it's because someone believed in me.

 Now, maybe I'm just lucky. But I can't imagine how different my life would be if these people hadn't taken that chance on me. I wouldn't have had these incredible experiences to grow, learn, hurt, and believe in myself more fully because someone else did.

Which brings me to this question: who is in your life you can take a chance on? Who are you helping to grow?

You may be the catalyst in someone's journey- a piece of the puzzle for them to reach their full potential.

Invest. Share what you know with someone. Let them freaking do it. Go out of your way to resource them. Meet them for coffee. Believe in them. Help them up when they stumble. Encourage them when they flourish.

We all needed it at some point.

How To Be Consistent

If you're a leader of any capacity, the greatest strength you can practice is consistency. 

People are willing to follow those who are consistent. Those who set goals and follow through with them. Those who start meeting on time. Those who know why they're doing what they're doing. You get it.

Something I've been learning as a leader is that to be consistent, you need to have clear expectations on your team, and reasons for the expectations. This is called a "system".

Your ministry is only as strong as your system. It's easy to change every little thing as they come when you don't have a firm system to place your ministry on. That's like building your house on sand, instead of a foundation. That's in the BIBLE (Matt 7:24-27) Boom.

What's a system? What does it look like? There are a million different styles and outlines, but Craig Groeshel, pastor of Life.Church, simply explains it this way:

Your team has to know:

  • This is WHAT we are doing.
  • This is WHY we are doing it.
  • This is HOW we are going to do it.
  • This is WHO is going to do it.
  • This is WHEN we will get it done.

When you're team knows your vision, and HOW and WHY to serve the vision, you'll see your ministry flourish. I encourage you to sit down and write a system for your team if you're in a leadership position. Systems create consistency. Be consistent.

Lead boldly this weekend!

Excellence In Worship

In my years of leading worship, and especially leading teams, one thing I've learned is that excellence is developed in the little things. 

Great things are accomplished when the small things come together.

Now, what does that mean for worship?

  • It could mean that you and your team work on transitions between songs to make the worship set flow. 
  • Maybe it's adding some background music if you have a host that communicates in the middle of your worship set.
  • It could mean changing up a song every once in a while to give it your worship team's own flair. 
  • It could be using a metronome/click track if your team isn't already. Adding loops into your setup... Creating your own synths... Changing the set design quarterly... You get it.

I encourage you to work on those transitions and elements with as much energy as you work on your song set. If it enhances your entire worship experience, make sure you work hard and make it the best it can possibly be. Not to show off, but to give people an environment to meet Jesus without distractions. That's the goal.

Remember, excellence doesn't happen overnight. It is a process that takes vision, determination, and consistency. Take your team to the next level by making the ordinary things extraordinary. 

Lead boldly this weekend!

 

 

Learn How To Rest

Being a worship leader is an incredible, stressful, empowering, and blessed privilege. You do your best to put together songs that go with the sermon, attend meetings, schedule bands, rehearsal prep, leading rehearsals, and then making sure Sunday runs as smoothly as possible. It's a lot of little things that make a big thing happen. It's a lot of moving parts.  It's a lot of work. 

In all the mundane tasks you must accomplish to make a weekend seem effortless, I want to urge you to take care of yourself during the week. That means... REST. Not just more sleep, but actual rest. Here are a few examples:

  1. Stay in the word. Make sure you're constantly covering your heart, mind, soul, and spirit in scripture. As a worship leader, or anyone on a platform for the matter, you will be attacked daily. Make sure you're sharpening your sword and constantly staying connected with the Lord so when he calls you into action, you can hear him clearly. 
  2. Seek wise counsel. (Proverbs 12:15). Just because you are on a platform, that doesn't mean you've "made it". Not one bit. Find a mentor. This doesn't really seem like rest, does it? Trust me. Having someone who can pour into you, speak life to you, and build you up is just the kind of rest you need. I believe if you want to grow as a leader, this is a must. 
  3. SERVE. Now, this REALLY doesn't seem like rest. But it is! Nothing gives life more than serving someone. Going out of your way to serve someone else not only blesses them, but you will be blessed too. It's just the thing your spirit needs after a long week of work/tedious tasks. So whether its helping out with the preschool at church, feeding the homeless, or picking up someones bill at Starbucks... get out there and serve someone.

When God calls you into ministry and you respond with obedience, you will be truly blessed in your efforts and see God move in ways you've never imagined. Work hard. Rest well. 

Lead boldly this weekend.

7 Steps for Effective Worship Leading

 

1. COME PREPARED.    

When you arrive at rehearsal, your voice should already be warmed up, your lyrics memorized, and your guitar parts down (if you play guitar while you sing). When you aren’t focused on what the next lyric is or what you’re supposed to play, that leaves so much room for you to focus on LEADING. When the entire band is prepared, it is much easier to add stylistic details and just have fun. Remember: rehearsal is not the place to learn the music. It is the place to put it all together.

                                                                                                                        

2. KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GONNA SAY BEFORE YOU SAY IT.

I'm not saying that you shouldn’t let the Holy Spirit lead. There are definitely times for that! But during the welcome especially, it's good to have a somewhat scripted introduction. Here’s a template of a general welcome:

"Good morning! We’re so excited you’ve joined us today at _____ Church. 

My name is ______. We’ve got a few songs this morning, I wanna encourage you to sing along!"

 “Welcomes” call for a brief, energetic, and authentic introduction to let people know you’re glad they’re here with you. No spiritual bombs need to be dropped at this time. Just get them active, excited, and involved.

 The second or third song may call for a spiritual moment. (Note that every song does not need one, but you can figure out if it could use one to engage with your people) It’s a good idea to have this somewhat scripted out as well for the songs we have spiritual moments. I like to write out what I’m going to say before rehearsals so I can practice it and make sure it sounds/feels good. We do this for a couple of different reasons.

To make sure what we say is theologically sound.      

-We don’t want to go up there unprepared and say something that is scripturally incorrect, even if it’s by complete accident.

 It helps the front of house engineer in rehearsal.

- We need to PRACTICE our “spiritual moments” in rehearsal so the FOH engineer can get a good mix of our speaking voice as opposed to our singing voice. We cannot risk the experience of a first-time guest because we said something stupid or spoke too long. As worship leader, we are communicators. It takes practice to say things in the right amount of time, making sure we don’t repeat ourselves too much, say something out of the ordinary, or speak way too long (which I’ve been guilty of) 

 

3. PRACTICE HOW YOU PLAY; PLAY HOW YOU PRACTICE.

Do you see a recurring theme here? I cannot say enough how important it is to treat every rehearsal like it is a service. That old saying “you play how you practice” is so true. The more often you practice your speaking moments, the easier and more fluent it is onstage Sunday morning in front of 100, or even 1000 people.

Also, it is very important not to slack off in rehearsal. I know you may be there for 2-3 hours playing the same 3 songs. I know it gets tiring. I know your feet and your voice are hurting. But, “you play how you practice”. Andy Chrisman from Church on the Move has an incredible blog about “Sandbagging”, which discusses this topic a lot more. I encourage you to read it here: Say No to Sandbagging

 

4. STAGE PRESENCE IS IMPORTANT.

Confidence 

- The way you portray yourself onstage says a lot about you as a worship leader. People can tell when someone is uncomfortable or feels awkward. That, unfortunately, makes them feel uncomfortable and awkward. The worst part of it is, it can be a distraction during worship. When you’re leading worship, you need to be CONFIDENT and ENERGETIC. Find your stance. Keep your chest up (no slouching) and your lips close to your microphone. When you hunch over to sing, your diaphragm isn’t able to fully expand- which makes your singing weaker. Being a worship leader means you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone. I know its awkward at times, but the more you push yourself to step out of your comfort zone, the more effective you’ll be as a communicator.

Body Language

- Your hands are a major tool in communication. Use them as much as possible when you lead. WL’s with guitars, you can afford to NOT play for that second verse. Your electric guitars take care of that. Use that time to use your hands to lead the congregation. WL’s without guitars, do not fall into the habit of grabbing the mic or the mic stand. That just looks weird. A good rule of thumb is to never let your hands go below your hips. Clap a lot! And you don’t have to clap loud to get people to clap. I like to faux clap a lot. It gives the same energy!

Find Joy

- When you’re not leading a song; sing anyways! Just not into the mic. If you don’t sing the second verse, step away from the mic and sing a long! The congregation sings when you sing. And remember- LOOK HAPPY TO BE THERE AND HAVE FUN. This is so important. You need to be joyful when you’re leading others in worship. Don’t be too cool for school onstage. It tells people that you don’t care what you’re singing about. If they believe you; they trust you. If they trust you; they’ll follow your leadership. This doesn’t mean that you’ll have to “fake” it up there. But sometimes you just have to suck it up and be joyful because that’s what it takes to lead worship. 

 

5. TAKE CARE OF YOUR VOICE!

Voice lessons 

 - Voice lessons are the best way to keep your voice healthy and strong. Being challenged every week by an instructor helps a lot. You can take your singing to another level with voice lessons, I strongly recommend it!

Vocalize U app 

 -This is a great app to warm up with. It gives you a whole bunch of scales to work with. I love it!

Stay away from caffeine on performance days!

 - I realize that early Sunday mornings are rough and you need your coffee, but caffeine is a severe drying agent and is terrible for your singing voice. I reccomend ROOM TEMPERATURE WATER ONLY on performance days. Not cold water; room temperature. Cold water will constrict your vocal cords.

 

6. NEVER STOP LEARNING.

I don’t think there’s ever a time when you’ve “arrived”. I believe you should always learn as much as you possibly can. Here are a few ways to grow:

Books 

"Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rockstars", Stephen Miller

"The Air I Breathe", Louie Giglio

"Worship Matters", Bob Kaufman

"Doxology and Theology", Matt Boswell

Pretty much anything from this website

Blogs

Carlos Whittaker

Seeds.com (Andy Chrisman)

David Stantistevan

Chris From Canada

Mentoring/Training

Conferences

Private Worship Leadership Coaching

Apprenticeships

 

7. STAY IN THE WORD!

Most importantly, read your bible! I cannot stress this enough. Worship leaders should constantly be in the word. It is our source! Your worship onstage should be an overflow of the worship in your daily life. Memorize scripture. Stay in tune with Jesus. Read your bible, read your bible, read your bible!

 

QUOTES ON WORSHIP

"A worship leader is to be a person who exemplifies worship in all areas of life as an example for the church to emulate; who pursues God with everything and lives a life of holiness that worships through obedience in all things; who leads the church in an all-encompassing lifestyle of worship."- Stephen Miller

“We are called by God. We are the carriers of God to the world. A worship leader is a shepherd. They are your people. Lead them to Jesus. Even if all you have is a couple seconds, lead people to have an encounter with Jesus. Each one of us has the opportunity to stand in the gap for people. The weight of worship is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”- Louie Giglio

 “And remember, the goal of practice isn't doing something until you get it right. It's doing it until you can't get it wrong.” - Bob Kauflin

 

Elevation Worship "Wake Up the Wonder" Twitter Giveaway

Elevation Worship is releasing their eighth album today, and in my opinion, they are putting out some of the best quality worship music. Wake Up The Wonder was recorded live in Charlotte, NC at Time Warner Cable Arena with 16,000 fellow worshippers on August 1, 2014. This is perhaps Elevation's best record yet, and I can't wait for you to hear it! I am pleased to announce that I have TWO albums that I will be giving away today. Here's how simple it is to enter:

1. Follow @chrisgroat and @elevation_wrshp on Twitter

2. Retweet the tweet below

https://twitter.com/ChrisGroat/status/537275405401473024

3. Follow Chris' blog via email. (You can sign up at the bottom of the site)

Once you've completed these steps- congrats! You are officially entered to win. Two random winners will be selected, and the giveaway ends at 7pm CST. I will notify the winners via direct message on Twitter. Good luck!

Here's a taste of the what album will sound like.

Interview with Mack Brock

I recently had the chance to have a short conversation with worship leader, Mack Brock. Mack leads worship at Elevation Church, and lives in Charlotte with his wife, Meredith and their son, Harvey. I asked him a few questions about church, family, gear, and inspiration. Here's what he had to say:

Chris Groat- How did God lead you to Elevation Church?

Mack Brock- Long story :)

 

CG- What are your main responsibilities at Elevation Church?

MB- Worship leader, music director, producer, songwriter

 

CG- What are some practical things you do to stay in tune with the Holy Spirit?

MB- Read the bible, worship in my own time, constant communication

 

CG- When do you guys get together to write new songs? What's the process like?

MB- We try and write once a week as a group. We write a lot on our own as well.

 

CG- What does your weekly "to-do" list look like?

MB- Nothing too strange on my weekly list- lots of mundane things too. Check to make sure all campuses have the correct musicians, follow up on the current set list, memorize lyrics, etc...

 

CG- Which guitar is your go-to right now?

MB- Gibson ES-335

 

CG- What does your pedalboard look like these days? 

MB-   

 

CG- How many hours of rehearsal and pre/post production does it take to make a live album?

MB- Too many to count!

 

CG- Which artists/bands have influenced you musically?

MB- Also too many to count! Haha. Radiohead, U2, Kenna, Kanye, Drake, and Coldplay.

 

CG- Waffle House or IHOP? 

MB- Waffle House

 

CG- How do you balance work and your personal life?

MB- It's all integrated. My family is a part of the church. They are bought in just as much as me, so it doesn't feel like I'm working a ton and then go home to my family. We are all in this together.

 

CG- What are some ways to keep your worship team inspired?

MB- Constant vision. Bringing things back to why we do what we do. Every number has a story of someone's life being influenced and changed through the gospel in our church.

 

CG- Lyrics or music first?

MB- For me, music first.

 

CG- Do you prefer Logic, Pro-Tools, Ableton, or any other software?

MB- Logic

 

CG- When you write a song based off of one of Pastor Steven's series/sermons, where do you start? 

MB- Usually the overall vision of the series, the text his sermons are based on, and then his main sticking points for his message.

 

CG- What advice would you leave Worship Leaders/Pastors with today?

MB- Make sure your vision is clear and aligned WITH the lead pastor. Don't have conflicting ideas of what you're doing... work together.

 

Elevation Worship is releasing their eighth album Wake Up The Wonder on November 25, 2014. This album was recorded live in Charlotte, NC at Time Warner Cable Arena with 16,000 worshippers from across the country. Check out their website for countless resources (on most of their records), including chord charts, tutorial videos, and free loops.

Jesus Is Not Your Genie

Prayer is a beautiful thing. However, a lot of times we can use if selfishly.

"Lord, help ME achieve this goal."

"Lord, help ME accomplish MY dream."

"Lord, I deserve this."

What?!

How often do we actually take the time to pray for others? When have we stopped and prayed for

Our family and friends?

Our church?

Our pastor?

The man down the street holding the cardboard sign?

The family next-door?

You see, quite often we find it easy to fall into a mindset of prayer being for us. And don't get me wrong, we should pray for ourselves! We are a hot mess. We need Jesus just as much as anyone. But what is our prayer ratio of OURSELVES and OTHERS? Jesus is not a Genie that we conjure out of the lamp when we need him.

Paul writes in Philippians 2:3-4: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

Jesus calls us to LOVE others. One way we can do this is to pray for them.

Most importantly, prayer requires our thankfulness and praise towards Jesus. If we aren't praising Him with our lips, how can we praise Him with our lives? Thank you, Jesus, for grace.