Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I’m really perplexed by how easily distracted Jesus Body becomes.  I found myself recently crying out for leaders who can lead from the empty place.  

Emptiness brings nothing to the table and goes away with fresh vision and missional assignment and alignment.   

We’ve gotten way too accustomed to expecting God to do exactly what we’ve seen Him do before, through the same methods and people, and in the same contextual boundaries as we’ve always witnessed.
That doesn’t sound much like the God of scripture who never changes in Word or principle, but finds a myriad of ways and people to accomplish His redemptive purpose. 

There’s a line from a Nicole Nordman song called “Legacy” that has impacted me recently:

And you could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all the who's who's and so-and-so’s
That used to be the best at such and such
It wouldn't matter much . . .

I don’t so much want to leave a legacy anymore.  But I desperately want to lead a legacy, a legacy of vision agility.  I believe vision flows from the center out, from a focused target.  I want to lead a legacy of vision mapping that can only be released from the stability of coordinates on a map.  A map the leads us to the intersection of passion and local predicament. 

It demands simplicity.  If our direction comes from broad statements there is too much room for justification of ministry activity, at the expense of growth.  And by growth I mean true health.

Agility comes in the immediate ability to move innovatively and creatively and organically, based on motion towards achievement.

Agility looks to find people that excel and bring quality to functions that supply movement towards those coordinates.  

Missional is the new attractional.   Everyone is doing Missional now.  It will be uniqueness that draws resources in an attractional way.  Agility seeks it’s unique place in culture.  Copycats are cumbersome.

Lord help me find the simplicity of your voice today, and lead me to that place where my predicament meets your passion, Jesus. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wisdom for Growing Worship Leaders

Here are some guidelines I shared with my team for planning and leading worship at the church where I pastor. A few of the things are specific to our church, most of them are universally applicable to growing worship leaders.

Song Selection

Wise song choices can be found in the following;

Worship chorus standards that the whole Body of Christ has sung; as in Heart of Worship, Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord I Give You My Heart, Here I am to Worship, Shout To The Lord etc.

Hymns that have been really main stream and re-recorded throughout the charismatic worship renewal, such as Holy Holy Holy, Blessed Assurance, How Great Thou Art, O Come Let Us Adore Him, Amazing Grace etc.

Modern worship standards like The Stand, Revelation Song, etc.

Yes you can introduce new songs!

Do whatever song you desire, but consider the following.

Can our band learn and effectively minister the song?
Is it a song that blesses you, or one that accomplishes our mission statement?

Please feel free to choose keys that work with your optimal vocal range; knowing that singers will potentially learn different parts. Just try to consider sing ability for the congregation, and accessibility to the band


Be aware of any occasion on the church calendar that may dictate your songs or flow for the day. This is usually posted on planning center.

Make sure any songs on your list, are entered into Easy Worship, (our rear screen worship software) with the correct lyrics and the correct arrangement. Contact my office and I will make arrangements for them to be entered.

Minister with Confidence

Leading isn’t an act of self-deprecation nor a demonstration of false humility. We know your heart, God knows your heart, but the people need to follow you. Command a presence on the platform that says, “I am the leader!” You are anointed and appointed by God and have been delegated that authority by me. So honor that appointment always. And steward the opportunity with grace!

Balance Your List

If you introduce a new song, you need an anchor song to come back to, so the people aren’t left feeling like they couldn’t connect. Use the sandwich method; something exciting to open, followed by a new song, then wrap it up with a standard.

Work the most on effective transitions. Ask these questions where are we going next? and how can we take the people there in an effective manner musically?

Yes by all means “flow with the Spirit!”

Your ability to flow will be directly proportional to the team’s confidence in how to support you during that time. Give a clear expected chord progression and how to get in and out of that progression if necessary. Feel free to quiet the band and sing acapella. (vocals only)


Avoid the “solo” trap. It isn’t your opportunity to give that needy person the solo they have been dreaming of. Solos are always a fruit indicator. They indicate where our heart really lies, if someone can’t live without a solo, they need a heart adjustment. Don’t bear the burden of those issues, rather, endeavor to lead all in a unified, corporate focused manner.

Honor the clock!

The head and spiritual covering for the service is Pastor Walt, Pastor Ralph, or whoever is present and handling transitions for the service. Hit your marks accordingly. Allow your leadership to give you more latitude if they sense it, but don’t take it without deferring to them. This is dishonoring to God, no matter what your sensing in the Spirit may be at the time. Don’t forget God is sovereign and He will take care of His Church.

Be a great leader on and off the platform

Bathe everything you do in prayer. Pray in preparation privately. Lead in prayer before rehearsal, in the back room.

A leaders greatest asset is to put people at ease. Try not to bring undue tension or frustration into a rehearsal setting or any setting for that matter. Keep things simple and you will be more effective in the long haul.

When your service is done, leave all the mistakes or mishaps behind, don’t carry it off the platform or into the next conversation or rehearsal. The past is over. Learn from it.


Get a cd from the sound person, and listen honestly with critical ears. Were you strong in direction? Did you sing the melody clearly so everyone knew where you were? Did you sing on pitch? What could you do to improve? Was the team overall strong? Please don’t make me critically evaluate you, that never goes well. My best effort to point out areas of improvement usually results in a destroyed ego or a strained relationship. If I really didn’t believe you belonged up there, you wouldn’t be up there. If you really want honest constructive feedback I will endeavor to be gracious. But I have found honest self-evaluation has matured me the most as a musician and worship leader.

I will always endeavor to affirm your leadership, and encourage you in a positive way after you lead worship. The main thing I want to express is gratitude for being used by God, and for helping carry and promote the vision.

If you are like me, every time I lead worship, I learn and grow. It’s a personal journey that I can’t force on anyone else. What God teaches me, He may not necessarily teach you. The main thing is, you allow Him to keep expanding and stretching your understanding of being a worship leader.

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Year's Focus

It is well known by those closest to me that I am not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions.   It isn’t that I don’t think well intended goals and plans are useful.  It is that most New Year’s resolutions are not much more than wishful desires to change the things we have very little ability to change about ourselves.   The result is often a futile endeavor to change our life from the outside in.  Instead, we must find ways to change the inside first and the rest will follow.

I have found that if I set up some New Years value statements, that steer my direction and lift my focus, I end up achieving marked change at the end of the year. You could call them “encouragements.”  I determine not to drive myself crazy focusing on specifics.  In other words, I refuse to sweat the small stuff!

For me personally, I have found that I can’t compartmentalize my vocation and my personal life.  Who I am essentially will determine my success as Father, husband, family member, friend, and leader.  So my value statements normally cover both my life and my vocational ministry.  You may have better success trying to compartmentalize, but it has not worked for me. 

I’ve listed my 2012 encouragements below and included 2 specific goals for my ministry.  I hope they encourage you to find similar statements that will guide you upward in the year to come.

What you won’t find listed (even though they exist) are the corresponding truths from God’s Word that support these statements.  If you do come up with a list like this, I would challenge you to attach multiple scriptures to each one, and mediate on those daily. 


·      Continue to build even when growth isn't evident.
·      Maintain overall healthy relationships.
·      Invest heavily in areas of immediate influence; let it ripple out from there.
·      You are called for such a time as this.
·      Manage tension don't receive it.
·      Put people at ease.
·      Lead from your strengths.

Goals as Worship Pastor
·      A Singing Church
·      Renewable, well equipped teams.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Worship Song Writing Nuggets

Song writing is one element that is a huge part of my vision for the church where I serve as worship pastor.  To me, the more original songs of worship that flow from the local vision, the more personal, powerful and impacting our worship services will be.  Bellow are a few nuggets I've gathered over the years about taking the craft of song writing for worship seriously.

1. Live a life of worship and allow songs to be birthed from that place.  Allow them to rise above the static of ordinary life in a way that flows naturally, unforced, uncontrived.

2. Live in a Mary place (at the feet of Jesus) but do the Martha stuff (hard work and preparation required to maintain excellence in your art form.)

3. Sing in the secret, own the song totally before launching it out into the world.  Ensure your life is modeling the focus of the song, that it is congruent with who you really are.

4. Center your song in scripture firmly.  Doctrine is vital to any song worth it's salt.  When people sing your songs, they are speaking out truth into the atmosphere.  If it is false doctrine you are responsible for leading many astray.  Don't do it!

5.  Don't copy, recreate or model - originate.  Originate!

6. Be an idea magnet, collect and aggregate the utterance of the Holy Spirit in your life, and the world around you as it shapes your experience and walk with God.  Be ready at any moment for an "epiphany" that shapes those moments into a song.

7. Write, rewrite, scrutinize, analyze, criticize your own work. Share it and get feedback, don't be afraid to tweek the song further. It isn't a child you gave birth to, it's one of a billion songs written over the history of mankind.  Live with it a while until it feels right and is right.  Don't be afraid to shelve it until a later date.

8. Great songs often sound ridiculously simple, yet are the product of careful crafting and good choices made musically, melodically, harmonically, and theologically.

9. Can your average Joe sing your song?  If it is for congregational worship, it's a good idea to put it in a singable key and range.  My litmus test of a great accessible song is usually, "How would Diane Zschech sound singing this song?"  As a general rule, most tenors/baritones can lead the songs she leads, and most altos/sopranos can as well.  They seem to fall right in the sweet spot of vocal accessibility.  There is a reason the whole world sang "Shout to The Lord."

10.  Write a song everyday.  Consider most of them practice material. When you hit 1000 songs, see what has taken place in your song writing savvy and your ability to write great "hooks" and great lyrics.  Resolve this;  if no one ever sang a song you wrote, you will have done it as an act of worship and sacrifice in an intimate relationship with your Lord.  And nothing else really matters beyond that.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Blind Spots

I was in my senior leaders home for a regular meeting one day when I came out and found my side view mirror broken in pieces and on the ground beside my car. I was really shocked. No one stopped and left a note, and the guy who came in after me didn't even mention it.  While in the grand scheme of things this really isn't a big deal it was upsetting for a number of reasons. 

1. We have one car to share between my wife and baby and I, and it's a small hassle to have it out for repair.

2. It wasn't worth reporting to my insurance because it wouldn't cover the deductible, which means the cost of repair is coming out of our pocket; an expense we aren't ready to part with.

3.  For me it was somewhat violating because I've always had this thought that bad things don't happen to me or my stuff when I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, in the center of God's will.

At the writing of this post, I still haven't gotten the mirror repaired and we actually have an emergency fund for such expenses, so I have no excuse for not getting it done.  It just becomes a greater annoyance and frustration as time goes on.  Through it all, a very clear spiritual implication has immerged.

We all have blind spots, those areas that are larger than life to those around us, but we refuse to see them for ourselves objectively.  Side view mirrors on our vehicles are supposed to help limit those natural blind spots and help us safely navigate through traffic. 

It seems like the mirror of God's Word is supposed to help reveal our weaknesses and blind spots, not for the purpose of exposure, but so that we can allow the Greater One to work in us.  The antithesis of reliance, is self-reliance-independence. 

We are kidding ourselves if we think the enemy isn't out to isolate us and make our blind spots even bigger.  He will make us believe we are alone, that we have all our issues taken care of and that we don't really need anyone's help let alone God's to navigate the issues of life. 

This little object lesson has made me very aware of areas in which I need the Holy Spirit to constantly be my covering and voice of truth.  

Monday, July 25, 2011

Purpose Driven or in Pursuit of Promise?

The phrase that brought fresh revelation to people everywhere in the last decade was, "Purpose Driven."  Not a new concept but one that was focused upon and "driven" home by well known evangelical pastor and influencial leader Rick Warren. 

What if we missed something ever so sublte in our focus on purpose?  Much good and healthy re-focus was gained in the whole Purpose Driven movement.  Yet I'm impressed to see God's sovereignty, His redemptive work throughout history, and His narrative in the story of man as promise driven, not merely purpose driven.

We tend to "drive" our lives around goals that we think have been derived from a revelation of personal purpose in terms of dreams, hopes, goals, plans and pursuits.

I may very well be splitting hairs, yet I feel strongly that even a subtle mis-alignment in our understanding on this subject would be wrong for us to embrace.

So God's purpose isn't a great mystery, it is one of redemption.  His means to that end are facilitated by covenant.  He makes a promise, He establishes it through covenant, then calls men to pursue the fulfillment of His covenant promise by way of individual calls, and narratives through redemptive history.

I believe this idea of pursuing promise, held by covenant relationship, to be a healthier, freer, approach to life mapping.  In contrast to the "purpose driven" model.  This subtle difference in viewing our brief time on planet earth could revolutionize the lives of individuals, families, and organizations.

What if your church found a fresh vision based on God's promise, or unique voice to them about their role in the community?  What if the many individuals that comprised that church were free to see how the voice of God to them and the many promises He has spoken to them, flowed seem-lessly into the greater pursuit of God's unique promise to their local church? 

The challenge with purpose, is everything gets driven to death by purpose until there remains no unity or agreement on purpose.  For my purpose to make money and look after the well-being of my family, by pursuing my prophetically spoken purpose as the next great, author, song writer, business man, whatever the case may be; will continually contend with all the other "purposes" floating around in my community and local church. 

The beauty of promise, is that promise is generational, and covenant relationship plays a huge role in fulfilling promise, until His return.  As we endeavor to "occupy" until He returns, we should be free from being driven by goals and dreams, and released to enjoy God's interaction with us as His people.  We should set less goals, and live freer covenant lives as He leads us into victory in the many trials and triumphs of life.

We have the benefit of hindsight when we evaluate scripture, yet consider the redemptive story in the heroes of the faith throughout the Bible.  Did Moses draft up short term, mid-term and long term goals?  Did Joshua really have long term strategic plans, or was he really following the daily voice of God in pursuit of the same promise that was spoken to Moses, and prophesied through Abraham centuries before?  Did Peter have a life map and 7 strategic steps to a purpose driven pentecost?  Did the Apostle Paul have as a life goal to author most of the New Testament and spend the majority of his life in persecution, prison and homelessness?

Perhaps we have forgotten how to hear the voice of God in our lives leading us daily.  Perhaps we get too obsessed with building a building or a relevant church and we forget that the promise for all of us is the same.  Our mandate to be disciples and duplicate ourselves is a covenant promise fulfilled, in a covenant relationship with Jesus, led by the Promise of the Holy Spirit as Truth, Helper, and prophetic voice of the church.

Personally I have often gotten discouraged and frustrated because none of my personal ambitions were fulfilled.  Those frustrations are fueled by  a great sense of "purpose" that has been emphasized in recent years.  When that kind of frustration is collective throughout the body, it seems like less would be accomplished.  It seems like a bunch of frustrated people would stop living a daily life and being used by God to see His promise fulfilled.

I am challenged by this to re-frame the focus and structure of my life, and the ministry I lead.  What do you think would change if you could throw away all your present goals, and look at life from this perspective?  Would you set new goals?  Would you be as disappointed if God's plan trumped yours?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Worship as Relationship

Christian worship takes many forms.  Describing worship is sometimes like describing the known universe.  So for this post, the scope is narrowed to the relational aspect of Christian worship.

Worship could be defined in part as the most important relationship in one's life.  Whatever I invest my time, energy, love and devotion to-is the recipient of my worship.  I elevate that relationship to a place of honor.  That relationship receives most of my time, attention and affection.

So an interesting thing can happen.  People transfer their understanding (or lack thereof) of relationships to their worship of God.  But if we do that.  Our worship universe is small and incomplete.  It revolves around us.  In essence if we believe the world to be flat, it is flat.  If we believe God to respond towards us like our abusive earthly father, or our comatose spouse, our worship remains dysfunctional at best.

With earthly understanding of relationship as our worship paradigm, worship remains in the realm of our control mechanisms.  We bring strings attached.  We expect God to respond only to our offering because after all, He loves us best as experienced in the privacy of our prayer closet.  His only action towards us is to fill a void or wound.  This would be the perpetually wounded worshipper.  While He will heal us and bring us out of hurt, God doesn't desire for us to remain in that place.

The challenge lies in the fact that many of us aren't really honest with ourselves, and with what God is requiring of us in a sacrificial relationship.  He desires to lead us, speak to us, and take us from where we feel safe and predictable, into the unknown and uncomfortable. 

If we allow God the right to do those things in our personal worship time, then we are primed for a greater participation in corporate Christian worship.  I would guess many worshippers never enter into corporate worship, but merely do "private worship" in a public place among other private worshippers.

As a result, worship wars ensue.  People often battle for the right to articulate what God said to them, or what song we should sing at a certain moment.  People argue over worship expressions, to dance or not to dance, to wait or to move on.  People fight over musical style, instrumentation and a myriad other things that have nothing to do with what the singular voice of the Holy Spirit desires to say in the context of a specific corporate body on a specific day.

When individual worshippers give way to the corporate anointing.  Something entirely different will occur. Something awesome, something transcendent.  Lord take us into your heavenly place together as one!