Archives For Worship


Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) once said “Every definition is dangerous.” That may explain why when we try to define a word simply and precisely we often end up missing significant aspects of the word we’re defining. Attempts at explaining worship as “love,” or “intimacy,” or “relationship” say something true, but end up leaving out more than they contribute to our understanding of worship.

In spite of Erasmus’ warning, over the years I’ve come across numerous definitions of “worship” that have caused me think about worship more biblically.

Harold Best, in his book Music Through the Eyes of Faith, defines worship in the broadest sense as “acknowledging that someone or something else is greater – worth more – and by consequence, to be obeyed, feared, and adored…Worship is the sign that in giving myself completely to someone or something, I want to be mastered by it.”1

We want to be mastered the objects of our worship. And indeed we are. We worship whatever rules our time, energy, thoughts, longings, and choices. “Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them” (Psalm 115:8, ESV).

A definition of worship that…

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Pastors Praying TogetherThere is nothing like seeing pastors praying with other pastors. I just returned from Little Rock, Arkansas, where I led a prayer gathering for 304 Arkansas pastors, church staff members, and ministry leaders. In light of this, I am reminded again of the value of praying with other pastors.

Prayer between pastors is needed

Every Christian needs someone to pray with from time to time. This experience is valuable, especially if you pray with someone who takes prayer seriously. Pastors have a unique need to pray with other pastors.

We need prayer. We believe in prayer. We need people to pray for us and with us.

Prayer binds pastors with other pastors

No one understands pastors like another pastor. The size of a church is really not a big deal to a pastor who walks before God humbly. Whether we preach to 25, 2,500, or 25,000 people a week, we all face challenges, criticism, and discouragement.

Prayer with another pastor binds us together. I have seen hundreds of pastors praying with other pastors, and I promise you, they form a strong bond between them.

Prayer with another pastor creates vision

When a man of God prays for…

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Awe Inspiring

One quiet morning a few weeks ago, I decided to take some time to pray alone in our sanctuary. But as soon as I sat down on the front row, my mind began racing about all the stuff that still needed to be done before our Easter services: “How will the lights be set?” “Where will the extra projectors be placed?” “How will we transition between the songs and videos?”

Then suddenly, a still small Voice broke through to my cluttered mind and said, “Dwayne, where’s the awe? Why can’t you simply be still and know that I am God? Here you sit in my presence; yet your attention is captivated by technical details. They’re important, but they’re secondary to your primary responsibility as worship leader. As you stand and lead all those people on Easter, the most important thing you can do is be in awe of me.”

Needless to say, I was convicted and challenged by the Lord’s gentle rebuke that morning. And it drove me to dig deeper into God’s Word about this idea of awe. Here are a few things I discovered…

1. The awe of God motivates us…

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Building Strong Worship LeadersOur goal for church musicians and worship teams should be that they become ministers through music. It isn’t enough to be good musicians or great performers. Worship teams need to minister.

Ministers through music have some excellent and unique characteristics. Imagine a worship team who’s passionate about what they’re doing, with a clear sense of their calling; they are faithful to practice, they’re full of integrity, and they clearly exhibit a servant heart toward God and others. What pastor or worship leader wouldn’t want a platform full of people like that! Sound too good to be true? It’s not! Conveniently, every one of these qualities comes along quite naturally as a result of one all-important process called spiritual growth.

The good news is it’s not up to us to change people. That’s God’s job. The powerful message of 2 Corinthians 3:18 is that we are being transformed: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes the Lord, who is the Spirit” (TNIV). According to Hebrews 12:2, Jesus is both the author and the finisher of our…

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Baptisms on Easter

Troy Page recently noted on, “Remember that the win is not how many people show up for Easter –  it’s how many people come back.Shoot for 75% of your Easter crowd.”

This morning I was sitting in our church parking lot waiting on my daughter to get out of her high school small group.  Waiting gave me a great opportunity to listen to the conversations of those leaving our church service.

The most impactful conversation took place between a father and his young daughter.  He asked the following questions:

  1. “Did you have fun today?”
  2. “What did you learn about Jesus?”

These two questions were a reminder of Page’s comments above and what constitutes a win for churches on Easter Sunday.

Whether you are a seasoned Christian parent(s) such as the father above or have little or no church background, most parents generally ask the same two questions of their children when they get in their car after church:

  1. Did you have fun?
  2. What did you learn?

Churches do a great job of putting significant effort into their Sunday worship services.  I would like to challenge all churches to put an equal amount of effort into your children’s classes…

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Rick Angel Stadium

Last week, I wrote about the 9 reasons why your church should make the most of ‘big days’ for growth. And I told you that ‘big days’ have been very instrumental in Saddleback’s growth over the last 34 years. We’ve learned the art of pyramiding growth through special days.

But how? How do we maximize those big days for all they’re worth? Here are nine ways.

1. Plan your big days around your main worship service.

You might host other special events, but if you’re hoping to enlarge your main service attendance, then you will get the most benefit out of big days if they are planned around your existing, primary weekend service(s). It’s very difficult to try to get people who attend a special event during the week to become part of your weekend service.

2.  Plan big days on a naturally high attendance day.

Have your special day on a day when people are most likely to come anyway. They include without a doubt Easter, Mother’s Day and Christmas Eve. Those are a…

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Part of the Building Strong Worshippers series

Building Strong Worship LeadersThe Apostle Paul provided a succinct summary of the roles of church leaders. In Ephesians 4:12, he said church leaders exist “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” Equip can also be translated train, teach, or prepare. When we stop to consider Paul’s instructions, we recognize our need to rethink our approach to teaching adults. Preparing them for ministry isn’t the same as inviting them to classes.

You don’t need me to tell you that adults are busy. Their brains are bombarded with thousands of messages every day. Deep inside their brains is a filter that separates the needed information from the unneeded information. Needed information is usually connected to real life. Advertisers understand this principle. That’s why most advertisements deal with the consumer’s “need” for the product.

The “need filter” is unconsciously applied to every received message—even the Bible. This isn’t a sign of a person’s disrespect for God’s Word. It is a blatant reality that many church leaders have forgotten or ignored. Take another look at Ephesians 4:12.“Works of…

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Kayla BaileyGuest artist Kayla Bailey leading worship at Grace Hills Church.

What does it mean to worship “in the presence of God”? Sometimes we take our terminology for granted. After all, isn’t God always present everywhere? And in reaction to our feel-good, experience-driven culture, many church leaders conclude that we over-rate the importance of the weekend experience. Perhaps, but I err on the side of thinking that most people still haven’t experienced the fullness of God’s presence in a corporate worship experience.

Perhaps we’re afraid of what God will do if we yield ourselves fully to Him. Or perhaps we’re afraid of what other people will think of us when they see us getting swept up in the moment. Will they accuse us, at least secretly, of showing off? Of being too emotional? Funny how we don’t ask these kinds of questions from the stands while screaming for our football team while waving a giant foam finger.

So what then does it mean to experience God’s presence in a time of worship? I think one of the best explanations I’ve heard recently comes from Jeff Kennedy’s book, The Father, the Son,…

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Allow me to introduce to you my friend and boss, Dr. Joel Carwile. Joel is pastor of the 5800-member Valley View Church in southwest Louisville. I’ve been on staff there for the past 9 months as the Worship and Creative Arts Pastor. Below is a conversation Joel and I recently had about mentoring. As you read this article, I believe you’ll sense his strong leadership and support for the paradigm shift we are visioneering within our worship ministry—that of going from managing talents to mentoring leaders. Pastor Joel expects us to make mentoring a priority in our ministry, and I wouldn’t have it any other way…


Building Strong Worship LeadersDwayne: Pastor Joel, I appreciate how committed you are to discipling and mentoring people. I get that you take time to mentor primarily because Jesus did it and you want to follow His example. But I’m curious; is there another reason too? Did you have a mentor who really impacted you when you were younger?

Pastor Joel: Yes and no. I trusted Christ as my Savior when I was when 8. My dad didn’t become a Christian until I was older, so he…

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Building Strong Worship LeadersDid you know that when you and I worship Jesus, God begins a work of change in our lives?  God is in the business of transforming lives. He transforms us from old to new, dead to living, hurting and broken to healed and restored. Jesus told his disciples that he came to mend the broken hearted and set the captive free. When Jesus does His work of transformation, He changes sinners into worshipers of the Most High God.

Mentoring worship leaders should include opportunities for them to experience transformational worship. At Liberty’s School of Music, we strongly encourage our students to connect personally with God in worship. For example, several of our worship leadership classes begin with a time of musical worship, often led by students. Not only are these vertical worship experiences good opportunities for the students who lead them, more importantly they help to mold everyone in the class. Borrowing from an old saying, true worship of God needs to be caught, more than just taught.

Transformation, alteration, conversion, revolution, makeover, and adjustment are just a few of the words we use in the English language to describe…

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Building Strong Worship LeadersWhen was the last time you took note of someone in your church and thought, “I see potential in that person to grow and to lead”?

Jesus moved through crowds of people every day. He not only noticed certain individuals; He called them. For example, He noticed Peter and Andrew casting their net into the lake, and He challenged them to follow Him. However, Jesus did more than call them to Him, He committed Himself to them. He said, “I will turn you into fishers of people” (NET, italics mine); “I will show you how to fish…” (NLT, italics mine).

Why He Did

Have you thought how long it took Jesus to “turn them” into fishers of people? It took the rest of His earthly ministry. Yet, He never gave up on his disciples. He kept on working with them, setting the example for them, often being up close and personal with them, teaching them to observe everything He had commanded.

So, why would Jesus—with ministry responsibilities like healing the sick and teaching crowds of listeners—be compelled to prioritize in his weekly “to-do list” the mentoring of a small group of men? Why…

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10,000 Fathers

By Aaron Keyes

Building Strong Worship LeadersThere are some moments you never forget.

Bending a knee at the base of that frigid, windy waterfall, asking Megan to marry me; months later, the first glimpse of my beautiful bride walking down the aisle towards me; and then a year after that, the flood of tears I couldn’t hold back when I announced to our family in that hospital waiting room, “It’s a boy!”

I was thrown into fatherhood at a relatively early age—I had two sons by the time I was 23 years old, and two more by the time I turned 30.  By the grace of God, our boys are healthy, happy, and growing in their relationships with Jesus.  But understanding and growing into this role has been hard for me.

I’ve always had a great relationship with my father—I still do—but coming home from the hospital with our first son, I didn’t exactly feel prepared for what was to come, or for how difficult it would be.  And the more I speak with friends who are entering into parenthood, the more I realize I wasn’t alone in my un-readiness.

And while becoming a father has been difficult…

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