Archives For Worship

Pushing Past Perfection

By Emily Benford

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Practice makes perfect. When I get asked to sing a solo or lead worship for an upcoming service, I practice every song everyday – sometimes numerous times a day. I sing the tar out of that song to make sure I do it the same way every single time so it will sound perfect when I perform it.

That’s my mentality – it has to be perfect; there is no room for error. 

I never realized that I had become so frozen in my singing until I joined Saddleback Worship 10 years ago. We had an amazing vocal director who pulled me aside one day and challenged me on my perfectionist tendencies. He kindly and firmly informed me that there was no freedom in my singing. Just by watching my face he could tell I was overthinking every note.

My fear of making a mistake was limiting my freedom in worship and squelching my joy in leading.

This conversation was monumental in how I pursued singing from that point on. It takes time to set aside old habits of trying to be in control of every note, inflection, and sound that came out of…

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unity

I heard someone say once: “If you aren’t fighting for unity, you are losing unity.” After serving on staff at a church for two years and being neck deep in ministry, I find that statement to be so incredibly true. Unity is essential to a healthy church. I have been to many of our Saddleback campuses from Irvine to Berlin, and whether I’m leading worship from the platform or participating out in the house, I have often had that moment of “whoa, we truly are one church!” And it is so cool.

When you are as big and as spread out as our church — staying unified takes a lot of hard work and intentionality. I believe one of our key roles as leaders is to protect the unity of the church. How we lead on the platform, in the green room, and in rehearsals helps build unity. And sometimes those are the exact same physical spaces where ugliness can sneak in and destroy that culture of love and “better-togetherness” that we are trying to build. You know what I’m talking about — comparison, competition, selfishness, pride, gossip — they are unity killers.

Here are…

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The days leading up to weekend services are full of preparation – my heart, body, and mind must be ready to fulfill my call. I orient my weekly schedule around three key factors that encourage me as I prepare each week: Find rest in him, perfect my craft to honor him, and posture my heart to bring others to Him.

Find Rest

Monday is reserved as a Sabbath day. It is essential to schedule time away from work and music. For me, this means completely unplugging as I spend a personal day devoted to rest, recharging, and reconnecting.

Psalm 116:7 “Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.”

Perfect My Craft

The remainder of the week is spent meeting with our team, pouring into volunteers, finalizing set lists, and rehearsing. It’s undoubtedly hard work, but by preparing in advance, I can focus on my ministry when I step onto that stage.

Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

Posture My Heart

Each Saturday morning, I like to cook breakfast, spend time in Scripture, and read a devotional that will help prepare my heart for worship. When…

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At Saddleback Church we say we are One Church Many Locations and in Saddleback Worship we place the idea of functioning as one team as one of our top team values. The transformative powers of a healthy and united team are unmatched. Here are some sweet points to help us remember what being one team is all about.

Unconditional Love

“Let love be your highest goal.” 1 Corinthians 14:1

A healthy team begins and ends with love. Unconditional love means that every team member is wanted and valued. Everyone is loved for who they are in Christ, and not just for what they bring to the table.  It means that the door is open for difficult conversations because there is an expectation and opportunity for growth – not exclusion and exile. A team that loves God and each other well is a team far greater positioned to lead and love its congregation with increased capacity and intensity.

Neutralize Division

“One team” means just that; we are one team. We are not Front of House, and Video, and Platform, and Production. Instead, we are worship leaders; all of us. We each have the responsibility of creating…

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As worship ministry leaders, we are responsible for the many details of a weekend service. We are always balancing the demands of creating an environment where people can find Jesus and express their love for him while leading our teams well without leaving them in the wake of last-minute changes. When we own the weekend, lead the way, and listen to the Spirit, we build an atmosphere where our teams feel confident, equipped, and valued.

Own the weekend

A well-ordered plan allows room for generosity, freedom, and ample opportunity to show the love of Jesus.

  • Know the plan. Whether you are on the platform or behind the scenes, know the details of your service, songs, and stage. Communicate from your heart and confidently share what you know with open hands.
  • Know the people. See every person as a friend and co-laborer in Christ. Make sure your team feels valued for who they are beyond their contribution as a vocalist, stage manager, or band member.
  • Know the solutions. Anticipate problems and troubleshoot ahead of time. Leaders who stand on the solution side of a problem and are willing to reach back with a…

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If you’re a pastor, you should certainly be striving for greater excellence as a communicator, as a leader, and as an organizer. You need a vision. You need a strategy. You need a solid, biblical theology of ministry and the church. But you can have all of these and remain stuck in mediocrity without God’s power. The greatest work you’ll ever commit to as a pastor is the work of prayer.

Praying churches, those that experience the miraculous power of God, are led by praying pastors. This is why Jesus spent time teaching his disciples how to pray. He knew that once he had ascended back to heaven, his church would need to connect with him, and the way we connect with God and receive his direction and his power is through prayer.

Jesus gave his disciples at least four reasons to keep on growing in the area of prayer.

1. Prayer is an act of dedication.

It is an opportunity to express our devotion to God as well as our dependence on God. Our biggest problem when it comes to the frequency and passion in our praying is that we don’t feel the need to…

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If you have been in ministry for any length of time, you have likely been faced with the leadership challenge called CHANGE. This issue of how to navigate a season of transition is one of the questions I am most frequently asked. It is an important question. Change can sneak up on us, it can shake the foundation of our teams, and it can cause pain for all involved. On the surface, change within the context of worship can look like new people, new sound, new music, and a new look. But when you dig deeper change can look like new freedom, new love, new health, and a new culture.

Leading through change and transition requires three things – a clear mind, a calm heart, and clean hands.

A clear mind. You must be clear on the vision of where God is taking you. Clarity of intellect. A clear direction. Know what you’re doing. Get in the space with Jesus so you can hear the vision of where he is taking you.

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News,…

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I’m a lighting guy. I love good gear, fun new gadgets, and a dark room with a lot of haze. But, over the years, my idea of “great church lighting” has shifted. Our Worship Center on our Lake Forest Campus is bright. California sun pours in through floor to ceiling windows every week. I have learned that my job is not only to create beauty for an environment – but to add to, enhance, and be flexible with what already exists.

Each week, at Saddleback Church, we want people to come one step closer to Jesus.

We want them to hear from God and leave changed. So, when I sit down to program for our weekend services, my first question is always, “Will this add to or distract from someone’s experience?”

In another time in history, artists and designers were asked to plan and then erect buildings that would cause people to encounter Jesus. The result was towering cathedrals full of stained glass, ornate carvings, and pipe organs multiple stories high. Those architects, designers, and artists were using the tools available to them to draw people’s attention heavenward and evoke a sense of awe and wonder…

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PD Worship

What an amazing week at the Purpose Driven Church Conference! We’re still thanking God for the opportunities to grow together, reaffirm God’s purposes for the Church, and experience his powerful presence.

All of the songs we lifted to Jesus this week are songs that reflect our season of worship here at Saddleback. So we thought we’d share the whole list from this past week – songs that inspire us and lead us into worship as a community.

Day 1 General Sessions

You Are Good – Israel Houghton

Love Endures – Saddleback Worship

One Thing Remains – Bethel Music

O Praise the Name (Anástasis) – Hillsong Worship

The Lord Our God – Passion (ft. Kristian Stanfill)

Our God – Passion (ft. Chris Tomlin)

Above – Saddleback Worship

Day 2 General Sessions

Alive – Hillsong Young & Free

This Is Amazing Grace – Phil Wickham

10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman

This I Believe (The Creed) – Hillsong Worship

Love Endures – Saddleback Worship

Night of Worship

Holy Spirit – Bryan & Katie Torwalt

This Is Amazing Grace – Phil Wickham

Open Up the Heavens – Vertical Church Band

You Came to My Rescue – Passion (ft. Christy Nockels)

Never Gonna Stop Singing – Jesus Culture

Great God – Saddleback Worship

The Lord Our God – Passion…

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I recently told a friend, who happens to be agnostic, that he “shouldn’t” go to church. I know. That was dumb, right? I really didn’t mean that he should avoid attending church. Rather I meant that he, as a non-believer, wasn’t under any particular moral duty to attend church on the weekends.

Instead of feeling as if he should attend church, I wanted him to understand that he could attend. He could freely and he would be welcome. He would be loved. He would be accepted and treated like family. And… it might even be good for him. No, not a good thing for him to do… a good thing for him. See the difference? I don’t embrace moralistic therapeutic deism. I don’t think the weekend worship service is about making people better.

The worship service is all about magnifying the redemptive Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection for sinners and how he is the one and only saving King for all of eternity! But … I still think church can make life better for people, even when they don’t believe the core message of the Gospel.

Why does this matter? It matters because of where our culture is in relationship to the church. There are two primary reasons people have…

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Every weekend, Saddleback Church shows a short video of what’s coming up in the life of our church. We call this part in our services Church News. It’s a two and a half minute creative way to connect with all those visual learners out there and inform them of events, outreaches, and resources. Our video team has a huge heart for crafting a Church News piece that is engaging, relevant, and creative. We want it to reach the person who’s never been to church before and help them feel welcome, accepted, in-the-know and engaged – and every decision we make is with that in mind.

I don’t know about your church, but Saddleback Church is always changing. It’s exciting to work in such a fast-pace environment, but it can also be challenging. From the time our Marketing and Communications team gets the announcement content to us, we have one week to turn around our video. That’s 5 days to dream, write, cast, shoot, and edit (in addition to our other weekly responsibilities). Because of this, Church News is a HUGE team effort that would not be possible without the different strengths and imagination of our team, hosts, and volunteers.

The heartbeat…

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People

No one likes to hear the word no. It is one of the quickest ways to close a door on an idea, a relationship, or a possible partnership in ministry. A quick no can squash enthusiasm, plant a seed of resentment, or make a person feel devalued. The best way to avoid these culture destroyers is to lead with a yes.

As worship leaders or creative contributors, what we do is almost always under a microscope. It’s not an easy job to balance the opinions (good or bad) of our pastors, teammates, and church congregation with what God has called us to do. The weekend worship experience can draw out strong opinions from the meekest of church attendees; planning services and events require passionate creativity, and implementing new processes can stretch even the most flexible of team members. The number of ways a worship ministry hears the thoughts and ideas of others are endless. And honestly, sometimes answers like “that will never work,” “no, we are not turning the volume down,” or “we can’t do it that way” are easiest when you are on the spot. However, easiest isn’t always best. The harder conversation…

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