5 Things Every Worship Leader Needs To Know

1. The only reason you're able to do this is because of Jesus. He died for the sins of the world. He gave us redemption- which is why we worship! Don't lose sight of that in the middle of your setlist. Remember all He's done for you. His grace, mercy, provision, and presence in your life. Let that soak into your heart before you ever step onstage to lead. I guarantee you'll lead with more joy than ever before.

2. People aren't at church to hear you sing. Or shouldn't be at least. Don't let the spotlight distort your view of performance vs genuine worship. Lead people in a way where they don't even notice you. Direct their focus on Jesus instead of your killer vocal runs.

3. We are called to service. Have a servant's heart! Every believer is called to be a servant in some area. For some it's handing visitors coffee; for others it's feeding homeless people down the road. We have the honor of leading our people in worship... Which brings me to my next point.

4. Serving your congregation through song is a PRIVILEGE. Never believe the lie that you deserve to be onstage. It is an incredible privilege and an even greater amount of responsibility. 

5. How people see you onstage should be the same offstage. This one is huge. Your daily worship fuels your onstage worship. If someone sees you being a jerk at Walmart on Thursday, they're going to lose all respect for you when they see you at church on Sunday. Guard your heart. Live above reproach!

Lead boldly this Sunday!

Reproduce Yourself

If you're a worship leader, minister, or a leader in general, two things are super important to personal development: being mentored and finding younger leaders to pour into. 

I'm a strong believer in reproducing yourself. One of my pastors always says "don't hold too tight to the keys to the Coke machine." In other words, when you know the system, sometimes if feels good to hold the knowledge to yourself. I.e., being the only one with keys to the Coke machine. But what good does that do in advancing the Kingdom of Christ?

Being mentored is a huge deal. It's incredible to learn from someone who's already been there and done that. You'll gain years of wisdom and insight when you're being poured into. It also gives you someone to hold you accountable, and who makes sure you're constantly being stretched and challenged. 

On the other side, don't hoard all of the information you've been taught. Actively pursue to invest in younger leaders. When you see someone who has the potential to carry on the work that you're already doing, spend as much time with them as possible- teaching, growing, and encouraging them to tap into that potential you see. 

When done correctly, it's a beautiful cycle of leadership flourishing. 

Seek mentorship. Find younger leaders to pour into.

Sunday Is Coming!

Easter is one of my favorite times of year. Not because of all the candy, pastel colors, or the horrifying giant bunny. It's the day in history that rules every other day. Jesus has risen! We get to celebrate that! 

If you're leading worship this weekend, I'm praying for you! If you're spending countless hours rehearsing, producing, singing, or communicating the Gospel in any way this weekend, don't lose sight of why you're putting in so much time and effort!

At my church we LOVE Easter. We cherish seeing people come to know, love, and follow Jesus Christ. Some people will only ever come to church on Christmas and Easter, so it's an incredible opportunity to show people Jesus's love, grace, and mercy in creative, exciting ways. Being in the ministry requires the extra effort. The extra hours. The extra energy. All for furthering the message of Jesus. 

Worship leader- as this week draws closer to Easter services, pray for your church! Pray for your team. Pray that God has his way in the midst of all of the work and preparation. Open your own heart to receive His word. Work hard, but also take care of yourself. You'll probably be singing a lot this weekend so try to be on vocal rest whenever you can. Don't indulge in fatty foods or tons of caffeine, that will only keep you sluggish. Warm up every day and keep your voice in pristine condition. Don't stay up all night. Your body needs to rest and recover from the craziness. Most importantly, keep your heart in the word of God and constantly be in tune with His spirit. 

Lead boldly this weekend!

5 Steps To Leading Genuine Worship

1. READ YOUR BIBLE. When you're constantly saturated in the Word, it's noticeable. You no longer are leading from your own strength, but from a heart that's in tune with God.

2. Stop trying to be ______ from ______ Church. You are unique and anointed by the God of the universe. Be who He has called you to be. 

3. Lead with joy. Not the fake "I'm onstage so I have to look happy" kind of joy. Jesus took your place on a cross and bore every sin that you've committed or ever will struggle with. When you're leading worship, remember that constantly. I'll bet you my paycheck you find joy in that moment. How can you not?

4. Be transparent. Let your people know when you've had a crappy week. Let them know you've chosen joy in Christ instead of spite. People will be more willing to engage with you when they realize you're not a perfect little church boy/girl onstage singing pretty songs. 

5. Get to know your congregation. Hang out in the lobby before and after service. Smile at first-time guests. Make yourself available. The more relationships you make, the more genuine worship becomes. They believe what you're saying because they know who you are. 

 

Lead boldly this Sunday! 

 

 

Leading Worship From Electric Guitar and Pedalboard 101

I dove head-first into the pedal world about two years ago. I was warned that once you start building a pedalboard, it's nearly impossible to be completely satisfied with the end result. I have been through dozens of pedals; some really good, some really bad. Some pedals were super expensive, and some were dirt cheap. Don't fall into the trap of trying to keep up with the latest and greatest. You may never find the "perfect tone", but you can find what works for you. If you are just now exploring pedals, and wondering what leading worship behind a pedalboard looks like, I hope this helps you on your journey! 

First and foremost- if you're going to lead with an electric guitar rig, PLEASE understand that good tone comes from a good guitar and a good amp. No questions asked. It doesn't matter if you have the most expensive, impressive pedals on the face of the earth. If you're playing through a crappy guitar and amp, it's gonna sound crappy. A decent, somewhat inexpensive setup for a worship leader just starting out would be a MIM Fender Telecaster and Fender Blues Jr. 

Let's begin. You need a board! You can go with the industry standard, Pedaltrain boards, which are great! I have one myself. Flat boards are great too. Brady Cases are a durable, affordable option if you want to go that route. Customized pedalboards, like the ones from Salvage Custom are a superb option if you're willing to pay the big bucks. Heck, even make one yourself! There are plenty of DIY YouTube videos that will show you how to make your very own board to your own specs. It all depends on your style or what you are willing to pay. 

Time to talk pedals. Every great rhythm guitarist needs one legendary pedal: the tuner. This pedal is non-negotiable. You have to be in tune! After that, all you really need is an overdrive, a simple delay, and a reverb. An overdrive pedal gives you more gain without all the volume. This pedal emulates an amp with the volume cranked up to the point of breakup. An overdrive is necessary for those higher energy rock songs. Delay can be great for holding out big whole notes, or "diamonds", which really makes the chord sound bigger, and holds it longer by repeating the notes. You can get a variety of delay types such as dotted eighth, quarter, and triplets. Reverb basically takes your clean signal and makes it really wet. What I mean by that is it makes your tone sound big, washy, and beautiful. Great for ambience, or again, holding out big beautiful diamonds. You can find all of these pedals relatively cheap if you look in the right places. Once you've mastered the basic pedalboard essentials, you may want to start exploring the "fun" stuff, like compressors, tremolos, chorus, octave, fuzz, etc. But if you're just starting out, those are the essentials. 

Every pedalboard needs power! There are tons of options out there, but I would recommend a "Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2 Plus". This power supply offers eight isolated inputs for your pedals, which gives you a super clean and quiet signal. 

Now, what does leading from an electric guitar look like? Unless you're a wicked mad lead guitar player, most worship leaders will lead while playing rhythm guitar. The first thing you want to avoid is the acoustic guitar strum. I use the "less is more" saying when I lead from rhythm. I play a lot of diamonds, and I never add the third in the chord. Say you're playing a G chord, I would mute the B note on the A string with my index finger. I usually stay away from power chords unless the song specifically calls for them. I just think you get better tones when you play big open chords. I use delays and verbs sparingly, maybe on a verse or soft chorus. The heavier choruses and bridges may call for more of a driving rhythm part, and I try to play mostly downstrokes.

Creating a pedalboard and leading from the electric guitar is incredibly fun! Just remember, the less you have to worry about tap dancing on pedals, the more you focus on leading worship. I'd love to hear your thoughts and see your personal pedalboard in the comment section below!

 

Using Loops In Worship

For the past few years, modern worship music has been adding more and more synths and loops into the mix. A lot of people love it, and I'm sure just as many people hate it. In 2013, when Hillsong United's "ZION" record released, I will be honest and say I didn't love it at first listen. I was upset by the amount of 80's vibes, drum machines, and loops. It almost felt like cheating!

Then I came to a realization... This is what our generation connects with. 10 years ago it was heavy rock feel with a Taylor guitar in every worship team arsenal. 10 years before that it was a choir, orchestra, and soloists. Not that any of those things are bad, but if a church is reaching an unchurched generation, it has to stay up to date with cultural relevance. In many cases, if a church doesn't stay relevant, or if they aren't always evolving, it becomes a stale environment with no desire for growth or change. That's a scary place for any church to find themselves. 

Paul speaks on cultural relevance in 1 Corinthians. 

1 Corinthians 9: 19-23

"Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."

I love this scripture because Paul is willing to do anything to reach someone for the sake of the Gospel. We should have the same mindset in modern worship. 

Loops are a great tool for any worship team. They fill up tons of space and give the worship set so much energy. The most well known resources for loops are Loop Community and MultiTracks.com. Loop Community has master tracks, but also loops made by people around the world. MultiTracks.com has a variety of master tracks were you can make custom mixes for one key, or buy the song in every key. The thing that makes "master track" loops so special are stem files in each loop. Say you have the loop for "This Is Amazing Grace", and you are going to lead it this weekend. Sunday morning, your lead guitar player calls in sick. No worries! You have the lead guitar stem file. Some call it cheating, but not every worship team has a full band to work with. Even if you do, its great to have extra synths and elements the artists may have recorded that you don't have on your team (dulcimer, mandolin, drum machine, violin, etc.).

I encourage you to really dive into the loop world if you haven't yet. Some loops can be pricey, but for all it can add to your worship set, it's an incredible investment. I'd love to hear your thoughts about loops in modern worship in the comment section below! 

 

How To Be A Worship Encourager

Something I’ve been learning as a growing worship leader is that leading worship is 10% singing and 90% leading. It doesn’t matter how talented of a singer you are if you can’t lead your congregation vocally. Don’t take that the wrong way. You need to always pursue excellence while singing. I believe that honors God. Here’s what I’m getting at:

1. Direct Focus

It’s hard to get excited about anything at 9am on a Sunday morning. Folks are tired. People will sometimes walk in late. Parents had to drag their kids out of bed, carry them kicking and screaming to church and get them checked into the nursery/pre-school. Every church has different people and different scenarios. Especially if worship is the first thing in the service, It’s your job as a worship leader to direct their focus away from their hectic morning, and into a time that glorifies Jesus. Understand that not everyone will sing, and some quite honestly may not even like the music. However, you can still lead them into a time of true, genuine worship. It is so important for churchgoers to participate in worship together as the body of Christ. Help them understand that worship is not just singing songs, but connecting with God in an “upward" expression. Singing is just one of many ways, but corporately, this is how we all connect as one body of believers glorifying Jesus. Encourage them to sing out loud. Get them excited to be at church. Play some energetic songs. BE joyful.

2. Encourage, Prepare, Encourage!

Throughout the worship set, it’s a good idea to keep your church engaged. I hate asking people to clap, it usually fizzles out in about 15 seconds (if you’re lucky). However, I will constantly ask my people to "sing this verse with me", or "sing this chorus together”. Constant reminders, or “vocal encouragements” keep people actively engaged in what you’re doing onstage. Create space in your worship set for biblical truths, scriptures that tie in to the song, and connecting vocally. This shows your congregation that you aren’t just up there singing some songs. You’re leading them. Also, it’s a great idea to plan out what you’re going to say before songs/during musical breaks. I’m a huge fan of “letting the Spirit move”, but I’m also believe that God honors your preparation. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: make sure what you say is theologically sound. It’s not uncommon to accidentally say something that may not line up biblically, or may sound weird coming out when you haven’t prepared it. 

3. Get Personal

This one is tough. You should be able to show some vulnerability onstage. Never be "too cool for school" when leading worship. You are no better than the drug addict on the third row. We are all in this together. Show your people how to worship by example. Let them know you had a rough morning too, but you chose to be joyful because of the way God has redeemed and restored you. Stages sometimes have a scary effect, where it seems like the person elevated on it is perfect or has it all together. Being vulnerable and honest creates an incredible connection with your church. 

Anyone can stand on a stage and sing some songs, but God has chosen you to be a leader. Set higher standards on your leadership, musically and vocally. I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone this weekend. If you hardly say anything, work on your vocal encouragements and say a bit more. If you say too much, then work on saying only what is necessary. (Sometimes less is more. Don’t be a distraction.) Take the responsibility of leading your church very seriously. God has given you this privilege, Honor him with your preparation and fervor! 

 

Get Out of the Green Room!

A lot of worship leaders across the country have a "rock-star" persona in church. You may not even realize it, but if you aren't careful you can definitely come across that way. It's so easy to stay in the green room and avoid any contact from the outside world. It's comfortable there. You don't have to put on your "happy" face, you don't have to meet new people, you can just relax and chat with your musicians. But we have a higher calling than that.

As a worship leader, you have this scary responsibility. You are on stage for 15-25 minutes... That's almost as much face time as the pastor. If the attenders in a service have no idea who you are, then why should they sing that song you're introducing? Why should they trust you? Why should they believe you? This all may seem overboard, but I guarantee you most people will follow your leadership when they know you.

Let's talk about the green room for a bit. The green room is not bad. It is actually supposed to be a place where your musicians can meet up, eat some breakfast, unwind from the early morning, and pray together before services. Worship leaders have fatally abused the privilege of the green room. In most churches, it has become a place for worship leaders and musicians to spend all of their time. This needs to change.

Creating relationships with your congregation takes work. It takes getting out of the green room and culturing friendships, learning names, and simply meeting someone new. The more you're hanging around the lobby, and NOT in the green room, the more effective your leadership will be on onstage. Here are a few quick solutions:

  1. Five minutes before service starts, You and your worship team meet as many people as they can in the seats.

    • Your congregation sees that you're making an effort to get to know them, even if it's for a few minutes. They'll recognize you when you start speaking from the stage, and probably be more engaged because it became personal.

  2.  Sit in on the services.

    • This shows your members that you're not too good to sit with them. It also gives you opportunities to interact after the service ends.

  3. Stay in the lobby until it's time for the next service.

    • This is where it all comes home. Worship leaders MUST be seen in the lobby. In the lobby is where relationships are formed.

Stay away from the temptation that a worship leader is a rock star. Be a worship leader who truly loves your church. So much that you want to know the people you're singing with. Get out of the green room. Get your butt into the lobby.

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.

Following Jesus

Following Jesus means loving people more than you love yourself.

Following Jesus means doing hard things. I.e. -Holding people accountable, having character, living above reproach, putting your emotions and self-image on the line to share Jesus with someone.

Following Jesus means making disciples. -Really investing and pouring into people, as well as being mentored yourself.

Following Jesus means saying NO to sin. That may be the hardest one. Sin sneaks in and temptation can hammer you constantly. We have to FIGHT sin daily. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." So we have to ask ourselves how spiritually disciplined we are. Because God won't allow us to be temped more than we can bear. So, are we truly fighting sin or just keeling over and letting it win?

Following Jesus isnt easy, but His love is worth it.

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.

 

 

With My Song I Praise Him

Here is a devo I shared with some of the interns I work with.
 
Psalm 28:6-7 NIV
 
"Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy and with my song I praise him."
 
Reading this verse assures me of God's faithfulness everyday. A lot of times, I feel like my cries to the Lord are unheard, or maybe not important enough. This scripture reminds us that He is good and He hears us when we call. He is there, He is trustworthy, He will deliver us.
 
Whether you're still in school, in the workplace, or both... we have all experienced struggles financially, emotionally, and spiritually. Life can be taxing; it is so fast-paced and can be a bit unforgiving. God, however, is just as gracious as He is just. Something about this verse is so calming to my spirit. God knows our troubles. Jesus said it best in Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
 
The last sentence of the verse is my favorite. "My heart leaps for joy and with my song I praise him." But this is more than a song. This is our proclamation that God is our strength and shield. Our hearts should be overflowing with joy because of this truth. Make the promises of God the song on your heart, and praise Him always for it.

The Struggle of Modern Worship

First of all, I just want to point out that I KNOW worship isn't just the music. Worship is our lifestyle. I can quote Romans 12:1 all day. This blog is focusing on the musical side. We would all agree that worship is super important, right? Worship is a way to open up to the Lord and His Spirit. I totally agree with that! Isn't it great when the worship team sounds amazing, the words are on the screen, the lights are all synchronized with the songs, and you just feel good?

What if we had none of the stuff?

What if we had no words on the screens? What if there were no moving lights? What if the band was mediocre? What if the vocalist was pitchy? Could we still truly engage in worship that Sunday morning if we didn't have all of these things we deem so necessary? For the longest time I struggled with the idea of what worship truly was. I think a lot of times we will sing, lift our hands and praise when we "sense" the Spirit. Or even sometimes we will because everyone else is, and we feel like we should too. What if we all pushed the guidelines of worship out of our minds and just worshiped God because He deserves it!! Isn't it so easy to worship when times are good? Why is it so hard to sing when the bad times come? And trust me, they will. We just have to realize that God will still be God! And even when we can't feel the warm fuzzies during a service, it should not stop us from crying out to God!

Jesus is so worthy of our hearts and our lives. I challenge you to enter your next worship service with a heart seeking to glorify the Lord, and truly worshiping Him because He alone deserves it.