Category Archives: Worship

More than 5 Acts


I could be crazy…possibly.

You think about it.  Millions of people every Sunday gather to talk to someone you can’t see.  They talk about how good he is.  They sing songs to him. They encourage one another to serve him.

I’m reminded of the Cee Lo Green song….I might be crazy…possibly.

Maybe I am crazy for doing it.

But, if I’m crazy for worshipping, I’m also crazy for having the hope I have.  I’m crazy for having the purpose I have, and I’m crazy for having the love and joy I have.  Yep, I guess I’m crazy.

Have you ever seen anyone who was in love?  Crazy.

Have you ever seen anyone who made heroic sacrifice for love of country?  Crazy.

Have you ever known someone who risked their life to save another?  Crazy.

Well, I happen to know someone who did that.  He’s the maker and sustainer, but he was also suspended on an instrument of execution.  He is the King of Kings, but he once was the spectacle of all.  But, I believe something.  Not only did he die, but he also arose.

And, you know what the most sane response to that is?

In light of the resurrection, do you know what makes sense?


It’s our world view.

Song Leading 101

This is about leading congregational singing.  The basic thoughts could apply to leadership in general (see point #5).

I’m not fond of the title “Song Leader.”  I like “Worship Leader” better.  So, the first thing is,

1.  Don’t just be a Song Leader.

This is more than a production,  It’s more than a good song.  It’s more than the sound.  It’s about the meaning.  An insightful brother recently said to me that he isn’t into instrumental worship any more.  Why?  Because he isn’t about getting into the emotion via the instruments.  It’s about getting into the real meaning of the songs through the words.  Now, the song leader should bring out the meaning of those words.  He should get to the heart of worship.

2.  Dig deep into the Story.

This means…

  • Being thankful (Colossians 3:16-18).
  • Understanding the meaning  (Ephesians 5:17).
  • Being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
  • Singing from the heart  (Ephesians 5:18-19).
  • It means getting into the story of what God is doing.

Sing and lead from that place of commitment, passion, and purpose.  Then, bring that deeper story out as you lead people in worship.

3.  Learn the craft.

Yes, there are things to learn about leading songs.   Here are some of them:

  • pitch
  • projection
  • dynamics
  • rhythm
  • singing technique
  • use of hands

This takes time, dedication, and training.  Keith Lancaster is doing a great job with this.  I’m interested in helping with this sort of training as well.  If you’re interesting in talking about that, see my contact page.

Remember:  This isn’t about performance, but it is about excellence.

4.  Excellence comes with preparation.


Justin’s iPhone. La Plancha Restaurant, Managua

Seth Godin has an excellent post on this.  Think about a meal.  It takes only a few minutes to cook, but there are countless hours of prep time.  Washing, cutting, chopping, blending, mixing.  When it comes time to cook, it only takes a few minutes.  But, it really took many hours doing the hard work of prep.  It’s training and preparation that make the difference between a so-so meal and an excellent one.  The same is true for leading worship.

5.  It isn’t about you.

I have a confession to make.  I wasn’t going to include this point.   However, I got some really valuable input from a friend (thanks Blake)!   I think it’s probably the most important point of this whole post.

Remember that this isn’t about you.  You can get so prepared, so well trained, and so knowledgeable that you forget the main thing.  Leading does mean leading from the front…but you can’t just run off and leave the folks you’re trying to lead!  You can’t get so advanced in music that you disconnect yourself from the people you’re leading.  Remember that you are leading others.  It isn’t about you.  It’s about other people.  It’s about your fellow worshipers.   Because of that, you must lead them in a way that they can follow!  You must connect with them!  Not only that, but it isn’t just about them.  It’s really about God.

So, don’t get so wrapped up in yourself and getting “good” at leading that you forget the people you lead and the reason you’re doing it in the first place.

Key Element

What do you think about the title “Song Leading 101”?  I was tossing around a few.  I chose this one because I wanted to talk about fundamental elements of leading worship.   This sort of implies I am an expert.  Truth is, I do know some about this topic, but I want to learn more.  I want to grow.  If anything, I think that’s the key element in leading worship or leading anything really.  Are you willing to grow?  Are you willing to learn?  You can’t lead if you’re standing still.

More Than a Song: The Heart of Worship

There was a man who wrote worship songs.  His name was Matt.  He was a part of a church that had become very much involved in producing exciting songs and beautiful music.  The church had lots of people, but the preacher believed something was missing.  So, one day he challenged the church to strip it down to the essentials.  They unplugged the instruments and started worshiping with just their voices.  They would focus on the meaning of the songs and and that worship is all about Jesus, not the spectacle of a production.

Stripped Away

That was the inspiration for the hugely popular Matt Redman song, “The Heart of Worship.”  They stripped away all the instruments and sound system, and just worshiped with their voices.  They did what Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 talks about.  They filled up on the Spirit instead of on “spirits.”

Here are some of the words to that song:

When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply come / Longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless your heart… / I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about You, Jesus.

 More than  a Production

Do you ever feel like your worship is getting out of control, and it’s more about a production than about Jesus?

You might be about the production if

  • You are more concerned with the way worship is organized than the words that are said.
  • You are more interested in getting beautiful 4 part harmony than in the harmony of hearts singing the words.
  • You’re more into getting the pitch right than the attitude right.

The Heart of Worship

If you feel like you’ve gotten to this point, then what do you do?

You strip it away.  You go back to the heart of worship. You make it all about Jesus.  You go back to his Word, and you follow it in Spirit and in truth.  You do things the right way and with the right attitude.  You honor him with your methods and with your heart.

And, when you do that, you can know what what you offer is “more than a song.  It reaches deep within, to the ways of the heart.”

All of life isn’t worship in the sense that we aren’t always singing or praying, but we can turn all of our lives into an offering.  We can turn all of our lives into a heartfelt expression of our acknowledgement and joy in being a part of God’s story.  Then, our lives will be more than a song.

Dynamic Sermons: More than Talk

A man got up in the middle of a sermon.  The preacher asked him, “Where are you going?”

The man said, “To get a haircut.”

Preacher said, “Why didn’t you do that before the sermon started?”

The man said, “I didn’t need one.”

There are so many preacher jokes.  Seems like people don’t always take the preacher or the preaching seriously.

It doesn’t have to be like that.  Let me tell you 4 things about a dynamic sermon, the kind that you wouldn’t ever want to interrupt….even for a haircut.

1.  More than a Book Report

If it weren’t for that book report, I’d probably be lost.  That book report changed my life.

Truth is, you probably won’t ever hear anyone say that.

How about this?

Knowing that man, the things he did, how he did them, and the things he said…he really changed my life.

The authentic messenger has a life changing message to deliver.   It’s not a good speech about a famous book.  It’s a life changing message about the Word.

2.  More than an Opinion Piece

It’s more than just sharing his opinion.  Somebody said opinions are like…well you know, we all have one.  Here are some things opinions can’t do:

But, guess what?  God’s Word can.

3.  More than Crowd Pleasing

Medicine sometimes tastes like…well…medicine.  But, when you’re sick you don’t need chocolate cake and a Coke.

Paul says this a lot better than I would, so check this out:

 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths  (II Timothy 4:1-4).

4.  More than an Argument

I have won some arguments in my time.  But, you know what, when I did so, I didn’t typically win a friend.   However, when I have served and showed the person the love of Christ, they were much more likely to be open to the message.   One preacher said that before he goes out to preach he prays to God, “Help me show your people how you love them.  Let me show them that I love them.”  Sure, we should be making arguments, but they should be shaped like the cross.

Maybe you’re thinking, I’ve sat through many sermons that were nothing more than the things you’ve mentioned:

  • boring book reports
  • nothing more than opinion pieces
  • just about pleasing the crowd
  • just about winning an argument.

 What is the solution for this?

He is the only perfect preacher.  He’s the model and the material.  He’s the Alpha and the Omega.  He is anything but boring, and he’s a lot more than talk.

His name is Jesus.

And, when a messenger is shaped by him, something happens.  As Landon Saunders put it,

 The nails of reality have been driven through the hands and feet of God’s man.  The sword of the Spirit has pierced his side, and out of him flows the very life of God.

That’s a lot more than talk.

Your Worship Will Fail Without This One Thing

I have no doubt your worship will fail without this one thing.

This isn’t my idea.  It’s Biblical.  Before I tell you want it is, let me tell you what it’s not.

This one thing is not

  • a talented worship leader
  • beautiful four-part harmony
  • great song selection

It doesn’t depend on your money, your talent, nor your performance,  Yet, this one thing will improve your worship more than a $1,000,000 sound system or the best voices in the world.

What is it?  It’s gratitude.

Courtesy of Adobe Stock
Courtesy of Adobe Stock

A Biblical Basis

Here’s how Paul put it

“15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:15-17

It’s very Biblical to say that without gratitude, you’re not doing it right.  Please understand, this is about more than putting on a feeling.  It’s about being real.  The only way you can have real gratitude is to have a reason to be grateful.

There is this big story that makes me grateful.  I believe that I have a purpose in life.  I believe that everything works together for good for me (Romans 8:28).  I believe that the Universe itself is designed in such a way that the end result is to show me a kindness (Ephesians 2:5-10).  I believe that the designer of the Universe is best described by everyone’s deepest longing: love (I John 4:8).   And, I believe that I have a destiny, a purpose, and security.   Not only that, I believe that this isn’t just for me.  It’s something I get to do with others.  We can do this together.  It’s not lonely.  It’s family.  It’s not drudgery.  It’s desire and longing.

If I sing beautifully in 7 different languages, and am not grateful, I am just a noise maker.  If I understand all there is to know about music and lyrics, and even if believe are the words are true and could move you to tears with my voice, but if I don’t have gratitude, it’s not worth anything.  If I give countless hours in prep and would sing even if it meant persecution, if I don’t have gratitude, it won’t do me any good.  

What makes you grateful?