Archives For Worship

Part 3 of the series: Building Strong Worship Leaders

Building Strong Worship LeadersAlmost every week, I hear from pastors asking if I can recommend someone to lead worship for their congregation. Most of these are smaller churches or new church plants with limited resources. Most of the time I do not have anyone to recommend, and it saddens my heart knowing there are people who need a leader but have no options. I feel strongly that we must take seriously this opportunity to invest in the future of worship ministry for the sake of building the Kingdom.

About 18 years ago, I had a meeting with my worship team that changed the DNA of the worship ministry at Community Bible Church in San Antonio, TX. We decided that we had two purposes as a ministry. First, we wanted to provide an environment in our worship experiences where people could encounter a Holy God. Second, we wanted to invest in our young people and train up the next generation of worshipers. Since that day, we have made the training of worshipers a priority.

We created a system of training that has produced many worship…

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Part 2 of the series: Building Strong Worshippers

Building Strong Worship LeadersFor the second time this week Joe felt like he had reached the end of his rope. 

As the Worship Pastor in a growing church, he constantly felt overwhelmed and under-prepared.  Regardless of how hard he worked, how early he came into the office, or how many items he crossed off of his list, it seemed he never really got it all done. “If I just had someone to help me,” Joe thought, “then maybe I could at least get a day off this week.” Somehow this wasn’t what he pictured when he felt called to ministry seven years ago.

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Do you know a “Joe”?

Maybe not, but you do know Moses.  And Moses and Joe had a lot in common:  They had more than they could do, and no one to help.

This series on Building Strong Worship Leaders can help you move beyond the “one man show” to invest in and raise up leaders on your team.  This shift is about much more than just enlisting the help of a few others.  It’s a shift in mindset for you as the…

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Part 1 of the series: Building Strong Worshipers

Building Strong Worship LeadersWorship services are made up of people. I know that’s not news; it’s obvious. Yet, how often do we overlook this important detail? Most of us would like to take our services up a notch or two. But we tend to focus on things like newer songs and cooler lights and stage sets, in hopes these will prompt our folks to worship better. We hire talented worship leaders and invest lots of money in externals. All these things can be good, mind you, but none of them really cause worship to happen. Think about it. Worship’s not something we can muster up or generate on the outside, if it’s not first taking place on the inside…of people.

I agree with those who teach worship is best experienced in a corporate setting with other Christians. However, you and I both know that just because someone attends a worship service doesn’t necessarily mean that person is actually worshiping. Worship doesn’t “rub off” on us from those around us. Worship starts on the inside of a person. Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must…

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A Christmas Eve service can be one of your church’s most meaningful moments, and one of its largest outreach events of the year. Use these two secrets for planning a meaningful community-wide event to honor Jesus’ birth.

Secret #1: Early Prep

  • Carefully plan a top-quality program of worship. Forty-five minutes or an hour is ideal. Establish a minute-by-minute timetable for program participants so every second counts. Make it relaxed, yet power-packed.
  • Prepare fabulous music, and include some traditional carols. The Pastor’s sermon is strategic, but may be different than usual. And pass-it-on candle lighting never goes out of style.
  • As early as possible, ask for a commitment from your choice vocal and instrumental musicians, your media team and reliable leaders for greeters and fellowship reception.
  • Preplan unique exterior lighting to attract guests that night—a high, giant star, searchlight or laser lights.
  • Purchase needed supplies early, such as individual candles and paper guards, or jingle bells for kids.
  • Offer at least two service times to enable more families to make it a tradition.
  • Prepare guest cards and handouts ahead. A “Celebrate Jesus All Year” handout can invite guests to return, listing worship…

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ConfusionCan you imagine what it would be like to walk into your church for the very first time? Not as a veteran church attender or someone steeped in American Christianity, but as a complete rookie to the church experience.

As you walk into the lobby you see signs like “Worship Center” and “Connect, Grow, Serve” but you have no idea what they mean. You follow the crowd into what appears to be the “Worship Center”, and when the music starts you stand when everyone else does. The band is singing songs you’ve never heard before, but you notice a few people around you singing along. You mumble through words on the screen to try to fit in. Other than the National Anthem at a ballgame the last time you were involved in group singing was 7th grade choir. That’s an experience you never thought you’d have to repeat.

Finally the band finishes and everyone sits down. The stage lights focus on what appears to be a large bathtub. A girl about 10 or 11 climbs into the bathtub while an older guy addresses the crowd saying something about “baptism” and “profession of faith”….

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Small to MegaI recently joined the staff of Valley View Church in Louisville. Prior to coming to Kentucky, I was serving as worship pastor at a church plant in Birmingham, AL. Over the past twenty-five years I’ve served on staff in several different churches. In the majority of those churches I was bi-vocational and the congregations were quite small. Although the church in Birmingham had grown significantly and my staff position there was full-time, its total membership was still not more than a few hundred.

So, how did I suddenly go from a church of hundreds to serving as worship pastor at a church of thousands? Good question!

Of course, the short (and truest) answer is “God and His grace.” But that’s not the answer you’re probably looking for, is it? Most likely you’re taking precious time to read this article because you want to know exactly how such a thing could happen. Anyone who knows me may wonder how a guy from some small backwoods town in Alabama could “land” such a big church job. Well, keep reading. I believe I may be able to shed some light on that for you.

Contentment with…

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Up All Night to Get LuckyEverywhere I go I hear that song playing. It’s on TV, radio, at ballgames, in convenient stores – all over. It’s got stuck in my head. I started thinking on the title and reflecting on past experiences and conversations.

I started thinking about how many pastors stay up late Saturday night working on their Sunday morning message hoping to get “lucky.” Hoping that they will deliver and come through with excellence. Friends, it doesn’t work like that.

I used to serve on a church staff with a senior pastor that would come in and change his message every single Sunday morning. He’s switch points, slides for the presentation software, music. He killed our creative flow. We had an entire worship and creative staff dedicated to creating amazing worship experiences and they were constantly handicapped by last minute changes.

Hear my heart. I worked with another pastor who planned a year out. He was awesome. But on the rare occasion that he would come to the team and say God had laid something new and fresh on his heart, we would move heaven and earth to accommodate and support him….

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Formed for the Glory of GodJonathan Edwards (1703-1758) is considered by many to be one of the smartest philosophers and theologians in American history. But more than that, Edwards is one of the great spiritual thinkers as well. Edwards helped the churches in New England navigate the work of the Spirit in the “Great Awakening,” and he continues to help pastors walk through these issues through his great work The Religious Affections (one of the most beloved spiritual classics of the Protestant church).

How can we learn from the spiritual practices of Edwards? Here are three lessons that are as important today as they were in Edwards’s time:

1. Spiritual Practices are God-Focused

When engaging in a spiritual practice, whether reading the Bible devotionally, praising God in church or even listening to a sermon, it can be incredibly easy to start focusing on side-issues. Maybe our lips are moving while singing a praise song, but our minds are thinking about everything else we have to do. Maybe we are reading the Bible for something to say that will sound smart and informed rather than hearing from God.

Whatever the case, Edwards would encourage us…

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Burnside Church, Wairarapa, New Zealand, 10 December 2005I’ve been on the road a bit more than usual. My job as CEO of LifeWay requires that I spend most of my time in Nashville, but I do get out to speak and preach frequently. These past seven months have been unusually heavy travel times for a myriad of reasons, but I have tried to make the most of my trips.

Though I’ve not been a church consultant for several years, I do seem to see churches through consultant’s eyes. That reality has been especially apparent as I visited many churches during the past seven months. So, even if I am the guest preacher, I enter the church grounds as a guest. I drive my own rental car, and I have to find parking and entrances just like everyone else.

So what I have found these past seven months? I could give you a fairly extensive consultation report about the churches, but I prefer to distill my words into just a few helpful hints. Each of these issues clearly needed addressing in most of the churches I visited.

  1. Please have plentiful signage on…

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Rick Warren BaptizingNearly 3,000 people gave their lives to Christ over Easter weekend at Saddleback Church! The stories of salvations and baptisms have been so deeply moving.

All eight of our Saddleback campuses had record attendance:  Corona, Anaheim, Irvine, Huntington Beach, Laguna Woods, San Clemente, Rancho Capistrano, and Lake Forest. Last weekend, three of our campuses had over 3,000 attenders, one had close to 2,000 attenders, and four of campuses had nearly 1,000 attenders!

In addition, about twenty folks around the world rented theaters to show our Saddleback Easter service for their friends. Many were saved in a prison in the Philippines where the service was shown!

On Monday after Easter, I sent a tweet asking for people to email me with the highlights of their Easter weekend. Here are some of the responses I’ve received…


I attend a Korean church in Walnut Creek, CA, but am a member of our English ministry for young adults. Because our church has two different congregations and a youth group, Sundays like Easter Sunday and Christmas Sunday are treats for us. All three groups (who worship separately for language and age group reasons) join together for a joint service.

This…

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Revival FireBy Roger S. (“Sing”) Oldham

NASHVILLE (BP) — The apostle Paul charged Timothy to establish prayer as the top priority in his life and ministry (“first of all,” 1 Timothy 2:1). If our churches are to experience spiritual renewal and our nation is to experience spiritual awakening, must embrace this same priority in our churches and in our personal lives.

In Scripture, spiritual awakening is always tied to the obedience of God’s people. Southern Baptist Convention President Fred Luter recently reminded us that revival does not trickle down from the White House; it bubbles up from God’s House! God’s Word to Solomon still holds true — “If MY people, who are called by MY Name …” If revival is to come to America, we must earnestly beseech the Father in specific ways. I mention three.

Pray for our leaders — In Paul’s charge to Timothy, he commanded him to pray for “kings and all that are in authority.” Few national and international leaders mentioned in biblical history were godly. In fact, the number of godly kings can be counted on less than two hands. On the other hand, the number…

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Channel“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14 NIV)

In faith, I know these things to be true:

  • God is full of love and grace, and he fills me with his love and grace.
  • God’s work within me is to clear a channel for his love and grace to flow through me into the lives of anyone and everyone I meet.
  • I may not be there yet, but I am “confident of this, that he who began a good work in will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NIV).
  • And I know “God is able to make all grace abound will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV).
  • He will make my joy complete because I no longer live in darkness, but I now live in the truth and have fellowship with God (1 John 1:4; 1 John 1:6).
  • Through the “Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship…

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