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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How Exciting Should Our Sunday Meetings Be?

Not too long ago a friend who leads the music in his church mentioned to me that his pastor wanted their meetings to be more exciting. Webster’s says exciting means “causing great enthusiasm and eagerness.” Certainly, nothing should cause greater enthusiasm and eagerness than meeting with the church to recount what God has done to save us from his wrath through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. All our sins are forgiven! We have been adopted into God’s family! Jesus has triumphed over sin, death, and hell! We are new creations! We are part of God’s  unstoppable, unchangeable, unrelenting plan to have a people on earth who …

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Worship God UK 2015, The Forum, Bath, UK

Reflections and Resources from WorshipGod UK: Gathering Around the Gospel

Before we get too far away from WorshipGod UK, I wanted to share a few thoughts on our time together in Bath. About 300 folks came from 15 nations and 135 churches for 2 1/2 days of fellowship, singing, prayer, teaching, seminars, laughter, starting and renewing friendships, and having our eyes opened wider to the glories of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. There were a number of things about our time together that made me very grateful. 1. I’m grateful that Sovereign Grace Music partners with local churches to serve local churches. The driving force behind WorshipGod is Nathan Smith and the church he pastors, Grace Church …

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A Call for Musically Gifted Pastors

In 2008, I suggested in Worship Matters that the title of “worship leader” needed to be defined to be helpful. So I defined it this way: A faithful worship leader magnifies the greatness of God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit by skillfully combining God’s Word with music, thereby motivating the gathered church to proclaim the gospel, to cherish God’s presence, and to live for God’s glory. I still like that definition, but I’m less sure the term “worship leader” is serving us. It’s taken on a life of its own and continues to be associated with stardom, predominance, the spotlight, good looks, hipster-ness, and in some cases, …

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Dave Gobbett on Sovereign Grace Music & WorshipGod UK

I first met Dave Gobbett in 2000 when he was in the states. His love for the Savior and the church were almost palpable. He was bursting with enthusiasm for God’s gospel, God’s people, and God’s work. He also had an appreciation for Sovereign Grace Music that he shared freely once he got back to the UK (as you’ll see below). He played a key role in my leading the music at Word Alive in 2011. Dave now serves as the Lead Minister at Highfields Church, Cardiff, and is a trustee of Word Alive. I’m grateful that Dave will be teaching a seminar at WorshipGod UK this year called “Secure in Christ.” Recently, he answered a few questions …

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How Michael Reeves Helped Me Love God More

Through the years I’ve been grateful for the many books God has used outside of Scripture to expand and deepen my relationship with him. In the late 70s my wife, Julie, gave me Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Studies in the Sermon on the Mount for my birthday. As I read through it, my eyes were opened to the necessity of humility in the Christian life and the profound effect of expository preaching. In the mid-90s I read Desiring God by John Piper for the first time. It rocked my world. In fact, as a recovering legalist, the book didn’t make sense to me. I thought that my actions only pleased God as they were displeasing to me. I couldn’t …

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Interview with Ben Slee

Last year at WorshipGod UK, a number of guys came from Christ Church Mayfair in London. I’ve had contact with them during the year, and they suggested that Ben Slee be included this year in the conference. So he’ll be sharing  a couple songs at WorshipGod UK. In the meantime, he was gracious enough to answer a few questions. 1. What is your history of leading in the church, musically or pastorally? Before coming to Christ Church Mayfair as Music Director this year, I was a church apprentice in South-East London for two years where I was trained in music leading through the youth group and in Sunday gatherings. 2. What encourages you about …

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Interview with Rob Spink from The Crowded House

I’ve never met Rob Spink, but my good friend Tim Chester recommended that I contact him to share some songs at WorshipGod UK this coming May.  Rob was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. Among other things, I appreciate his comment that the local church is a place where we can create culture rather than just consume it. 1. What is your history of leading in the church, musically or pastorally? I’ve been a member of The Crowded House since 2002. I’ve served as an Elder since 2007 and as well as being Community Pastor, have been Music Director since July 2013. So as well as leading in our gathered worship, we’ve been …

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Simon Brading Reflects on WorshipGod UK

I’ve known Simon Brading for a number of years now and been encouraged by his thoughtfulness, his passion for the gospel, and his heart to see music used in the church for the glory of Jesus Christ. Last year at WorshipGod UK he sang a couple songs  and I was struck by his desire to pastor the people he was leading. At this year’s conference, I’ve asked him to lead the music for a main session and participate in a seminar called Planning for Sundays. Simon kindly took some time to answer a few questions about himself and WorshipGod UK, coming to Bath 7th-9th May. 1. What is your history of leading in the church, musically and …

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