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Prepare Him Room Album Tour

“Tour” might be overstating it a bit, but I’m excited that we’re taking Prepare Him Room on the road for three nights in December. Some of the original vocalists and instrumentalists will be joining with local musicians for an event that will combine Scripture, prayer, and the songs from our Christmas CD, Prepare Him Room. Here are the dates: Dec. 10, Thursday, Cornerstone Church, Knoxville, TN, 7:30PM Dec. 16, Wednesday, Crossway Church, Lancaster, PA, 7PM Dec. 17, Thursday, Covenant Fellowship, Glen Mills, PA, 7:30PM We haven’t done anything like this before, but are excited about the opportunity to share these songs in a live setting. We’ll …

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Seven Myths of Contextualization

A wise missionary knows that preaching the gospel to a different culture requires contextualizing your message. The words we use don’t automatically translate to a new culture that lacks the associations and experiences we’re familiar with. We need to find new ways of communicating the old, old story, ways that can be understood, ways that “speak the language” of those we’re ministering to. But even on a local scale, we have to deal with contextualization. That’s because music and liturgy are a language. They can mean different things to different people. In the past few years, much has been written, advocated, and modeled to help us understand …

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The Story Behind He Who is Mighty

He Who is Mighty is one of my favorite songs from our Christmas album, Prepare Him Room. Every time I’ve led it, which I’ve done both during and beyond the Christmas season, the response has been immediate and enthusiastic. I asked Rebecca Elliott, one of the writers, to share a little of the story behind the song, which she co-wrote with Kate DeGraide. For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. (Luke 1:49) The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. (Isaiah 9:2) Mary, Jesus’ mother, has always been a hero of mine, …

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How I’m Using the Songs from Our New Album

Sooner Count the Stars: Worshiping the Triune God is the latest offering from Sovereign Grace Music. On each album we record we try to strike the balance between creative production and accessibility. But at times it can still be difficult to tell what songs might work best for a congregation. So I want to save you some time here and explain the content of each song and how I’ve led or plan to lead them. 1. Sooner Count the Stars A joyful, mid-tempo, straight ahead song that seeks to capture the “unsearchableness” of God. While this song doesn’t address God as Father, Son, and Spirit, it helps us understand though we only know …

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Pre-Order The Ology for only $6

Our next kids album, The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New, comes out this Monday, Oct. 19. But today through Sunday you can get it on Bandcamp for only $6 and download two songs right away. Here’s one of them: The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New by Sovereign Grace Music The Ology is a companion to a book of the same name by my good friend Marty Machowski.  Marty’s storybook devotional seeks to teach kids important doctrines in a way that’s memorable, creative, fun, and understandable. We aimed for the same goal when a group of songwriters got together this past June to write songs for each chapter of Marty’s book. It was a great exercise …

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One Good Turn Doesn’t Always Deserve Another

A few years ago I attended the Sunday gathering of a church that primarily sang traditional hymns. The voices carried the songs and there were few, if any, instrumental breaks between verses. The congregation sang robustly and the sound was beautiful. But at the end of the meeting I was exhausted. Not only were the hymns in higher keys than I was used to, my voice never got to rest. I knew my experience was partly due to the inherent differences between singing hymns and contemporary songs.  But because there were no musical interludes, I also had less time to reflect on the truths we were singing. I was reminded that instrumental turns …

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What God Wants Pastors and Worship Leaders to Know

Recently I posted on What Pastors Wished Their Worship Leaders Knew and What Worship Leaders Wished Their Pastor Knew. Today I’d like to finish by suggesting a few things I think God wants both groups to know. These points certainly aren’t everything that can be said, but they might be helpful to keep in mind as we work together to serve our churches and bring glory to the Savior. 1. The church belongs to Jesus, not us. (Mt. 16:18) Rivalry and disunity contradicts what Jesus came to do – make us one (Jn. 17:11, 21-22; Phil. 2:1-2). If we think the other leader is taking away “our” time, the primary problem is the way we view …

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What Worship Leaders Wished Their Pastor Knew

Last Monday I wrote a post on What Pastors Wished Their Worship Leaders Knew. Today I want to suggest some things that worship leaders wished their pastor knew, or were at least aware of. A few introductory thoughts. If you’re a congregational worship leader (music minister, song leader, music guy, etc.) you should do whatever you can to express support, encouragement, and gratefulness for your pastor. Encouragement is oxygen to the soul, and “sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness” (Prov. 16:21). Also, posts like these won’t apply to every church situation. This is meant to be a conversation starter, not everything that …

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True Worshipers Arrives Today

Today Crossway is officially releasing my new book, True Worshipers. It’s been a long time coming. My first book, Worship Matters, was published in April 2008. It was supposed to be aimed at a general audience. But after reading my first draft, my pastor and friend C.J. Mahaney wisely observed that I was trying to address pastors, music leaders, musicians, church members, and non-Christians, all at the same time. To say it was scattered would be kind. So I narrowed my focus. I imagined sitting across the table from a 20 something individual who wanted to serve the church with his musical gifts but lacked theological training. Worship …

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What Pastors Wish Their Worship Leaders Knew

This past week I had the privilege of participating in the Cutting it Straight conference in Jacksonville, led by H.B. Charles, Jr. and hosted by Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church. H.B. started this conference, now in its second year, specifically to influence African American pastors to preach expositionally. I was invited to be part of the worship track. H.B., along with his music pastor, Joe Pace, hopes to see more black churches singing songs that are theologically rich and gospel-centered. Not gospel like “black gospel,” but gospel like “Jesus bore our sins on the cross to purchase our forgiveness” gospel. While our cultural …

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Only One Week Away from Sooner Count the Stars

On Wednesday, Sept. 30, we’re releasing the newest Sovereign Grace Music album, Sooner Count the Stars: Worshiping the Triune God. We’ve been thinking about producing an album focused on the Trinity for some time. I have to admit, the depth of the topic has made it a bit daunting. But in one sense, every album of congregational songs should be Trinitarian, expressing praise to the God Who has revealed Himself to us as Father, Son, and Spirit. As theologian Herman Bavinck said in The Doctrine of God, “In the confession of the Trinity throbs the heart of the Christian religion. Every error results from, or upon deeper reflection, …

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Songs and Sermons from WorshipGod15: TRIUNE

In the next couple days I’ll be posting my thoughts on WorshipGod15: TRIUNE, which just finished this past Saturday. One of the joys of hosting the WorshipGod conference is introducing new songs and modeling liturgy. While a conference isn’t a Sunday morning gathering, we try to put together songs, Scriptures, and prayers that reflect the rhythm and flow of the gospel. I’ve listed below what we did this year at WorshipGod15: TRIUNE, including three songs from our upcoming album, Sooner Count the Stars, due out Sept. 30. I’ve also provided links to the audio and video of the main messages. Clicking on the linked titles will take you to …

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Planning Sunday after an Unexpected Tragedy

Last Thursday at 10:06 AM, Brian Chesemore, a pastor at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, texted me and the other pastors. He informed us that one of our members, 42 year old Wade Stephenson, had been in a “very bad car accident” and was on his way to the hospital. An hour later Brian simply texted: “He’s with the Lord.” I wept uncontrollably. Wade was a gentle, grateful, generous, godly man, a musician and leader who was loved and respected by everyone who knew him. He left behind his dear wife Rebecca, three young daughters, and a soon to be born son. The tragic news spread quickly throughout our three year old church plant …

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Doxa Coming to WorshipGod15: TRIUNE

A few years ago I heard about a church in Philadelphia that was clearly proclaiming the gospel in the midst of the city, right near my alma mater, Temple University. It was called Epiphany Fellowship, and Eric Mason was the senior pastor. It excited me to think that the “city of brotherly love” was benefiting from one more solidly evangelical, gospel-preaching, servant-hearted church. It wasn’t until later that I heard about the music they were singing and producing. It was theologically informed but combined elements from gospel, jazz, neo-soul, R&B, and CCM (Contemporary Christian Music). That got me interested. While I’d …

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Why You Should Come to WorshipGod15: TRIUNE

If you read WorshipMatters regularly, you most likely help plan or lead the music in your local church. First, THANK YOU for serving God’s people! I thank God for your faithfulness in contexts that most people will never even see. Second, I know there are a gazillion conferences every year that you can go to. I wanted to give you a few reasons why you should consider registering for WorshipGod15: TRIUNE. 1. We’re local church musicians serving local church musicians. Sovereign Grace Music isn’t a conference production machine.We’re all part of local churches and are serving in local churches. We get the day in day out challenges …

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