Tag Archives | leading worship

How Does a Worship Leader Cue the Congregation?

A while back I received an email from Paul asking: One of the central roles of a worship band is to help the congregation to sing. Do you have advice on how a worship band can best cue the congregation? What kinds of things could I tell my instrumentalists and singers to do to help the people come in on the first words of a song or verse? How would you in general encourage congregational singing? Paul’s question highlights one of the differences between leading a group of people to praise God from their hearts and simply playing and singing music for them. While people can certainly join along as we play our songs, it’s helpful when we make …

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What Do You Say When You Lead Worship? Part 3

I’m aware that for many people reading the question posed in the title of this post, their immediate and firm answer is, “Nothing!” I, too, have been the victim (and the perpetrator) of comments during corporate worship that are more distracting than helpful. That’s why I want to list ten practical aspects today that hopefully will keep a well-intentioned, zealous leader from misinterpreting what I’ve been saying. 1. Recognize that God’s words outlast ours. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions …

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What Do You Say When You Lead Worship? Part 1

Last year at the WorshipGod conference I had the opportunity to teach a seminar called, “What Are You Talking About? What to Say When You’re Not Singing.” I wanted to address the age-old question of what to say, if anything, when you’re leading people in congregational worship. What words can inspire people to worship God as we sing, and what words might hinder them? I began by sharing that our first focus isn’t what we say in public, but what we pursue in private. Saying the right things without having the right heart leads to hypocrisy. We shouldn’t expect the church to be affected by truths that we ourselves haven’t been affected by. I …

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Open the Eyes of My (Face), Lord

Paul Baloche’s song, “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” has been sung by millions of Christians throughout the world. It’s a song based on Ephesians 1, asking God to open our spiritual eyes that we might know him better. But I wonder if those of us who lead congregational worship shouldn’t be asking God to open our physical eyes, too. Why do leaders close their eyes so often? Not just for a few moments, but for 5, 10, even 15 minutes. I’ve seen leaders and vocalists keep their eyes shut from the first note we sing to the final “Amen” of the closing prayer. There are definitely some good reasons to close our eyes. We want to shut out distractions. …

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Helping People Glory in Christ at Christmas

This past Sunday I had the privilege of leading the singing at my home church. At Christmas time there’s sometimes a tension between choosing to sing songs that are “comfortably Christmasy” or songs that help people glory in the miracle of God becoming man. So here’s what we went with: Hark! the Herald Angels Sing Glory be to God free mp3 download (from the Savior CD) Emmanuel, Emmanuel (from the Savior CD) What Child is This? Before the Throne of God Above We started with Hark! the Herald Angels sing because it’s one of the most theologically rich Christmas carols we sing. After that, I shared that there are many things to love …

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Desiring God National Conference 2008

A few months ago I was shocked to receive an invitation to speak at John Piper’s National Conference, The Power of Words and the Wonder of God, at the end of September. Shocked for two reasons. First, that I was asked. Second, that it came on the last two days of my vacation with my family. I checked with my dear wife, as well as my friends, and everyone thought I should accept the invitation. Julie’s only request was that I fly back to the Outer Banks to drive home with the family on Sunday. I checked with John and he graciously accommodated my request. I’ll be speaking on the topic of “What Happens When We Sing?” Here’s the trailer for the conference. Desiring …

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Friday Night at WorshipGod08 – David Powlison on the Imprecatory Psalms

On Tuesday, I posted on the first part of the Friday evening session at WorshipGod08. In the final part of the evening I asked biblical counselor David Powlison to speak on the psalmists’ concern for God’s glory on the earth, expressed in the imprecatory psalms. Those are the prayers in the psalms asking God to punish, restrict, or destroy the wicked. For centuries, Christians have tended to confuse, ignore, or despise them. David’s comment on the imprecatory psalms were wonderfully biblical, insightful, and pastoral. He rephrased the focus to be the psalmists’ concern for what we do with evil. You can download an MP3 here. David shared that …

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Interview with Tim Smith of Mars Hill

No, this isn’t me interviewing Tim Smith. It’s Tim interviewing me, which he did this past March when I was out for the Text and Context conference at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Tim is a good friend, and someone who thinks carefully about what biblical worship is and should be. Although our church situations are different, we share the conviction that our job as worship leaders is to help people exalt Jesus Christ in their minds, hearts, and wills. We were able to spend some time together while he was here for WorshipGod08. The interview lasted over an hour, but was cut up into smaller sections. Tim just posted the shorter videos on his Doxologist …

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Choirs in Worship

In an earlier post I mentioned a question left in one of the comments. Collin wrote: With my limited experience I am able to lead a full band on Sunday mornings but it stops there. Our church has many capable individuals that would be involved in a choir but my limitations keep me from taking the plunge and just going for it with some simple choir pieces. Do have any suggestions, for someone with my limited experience, how to go about leading a choir? Should I hold off and wait until I have proper training in leading a choir? I know a choir would serve our worship time so it is something I would like to see on occasion on Sunday mornings. In …

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Great Training Videos for Your Band

Zach Nielsen, whom I’ve only met once but felt an immediate kinship with, hosted a Church Band Seminar a while back for church musicians. He invited three Nashville musicians (Tim Rosenau on guitar, James Gregory on bass, and Scott Williamson on drums) to talk about and demonstrate playing music for congregational worship as part of a band. While the video clips aren’t the best quality, you can hear what’s being discussed, and both the content and attitude of the players are worth checking out. They cover topics including Listening to As You Play, How to Play a Chord Chart, Leading in Rehearsal, and much more. To check out all the videos go …

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How Does Music “Work” in Worship?

This is the third clip from a longer video in which Tim Smith, worship pastor from Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA, asked me various questions related to worship. In this portion, Tim asked me about the relationship between music and worship. In it I talk about some of the factors that have made music such a volatile issue in the church today, and different ways that Christians view music. Just scratching the surface here…If you want to dig deeper, I’d highly recommend you read Harold Best’s Music Through the Eyes of Faith. I read it in the mid-90′s and haven’t found anything as insightful, helpful, and biblically faithful. …

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Encouraging Expressiveness in Worship When It’s Not “Cool”

This is the second clip from an hour plus interview that Tim Smith did with me when I was in Seattle last November. He’s asking me about an issue they’ve faced at Mars Hill Church, but one that I’m sure is common to many churches. How do you motivate people to physically express affection for God when they’re singing his praise, when their default attitude on hearing music is passivity and reservation? How do you keep from manipulating or commanding certain responses that are appropriate to biblical corporate worship? If you want to read more, I did a series on physical expressiveness a while back. You can find Part 1 here. …

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Worship Experiences and the Presence of God

Last November I was in Seattle at the Acts 29 Resurgence conference and had the opportunity to spend some time with the Mars Hill Worship Pastor, Tim Smith. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Tim and talking to him about topics including the Psalms, Jonathan Edwards, physical expressiveness in worship, and how to organize music teams in the church. I found Tim to be thoughtful, humble, and committed to searching the Scriptures to better understand what it means to worship God. While I was there, Tim took the opportunity to interview me on video for about two hours. Acts 29 posted a video on their site, but it’s over an hour long. I plan to …

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Non-Christians on the Worship Team?

Recently a discussion developed over at the New City Church blog about a paragraph in my book. Here’s the paragraph in question: Even though musicians aren’t necessarily “elders” or “teachers” their presence in front of the congregation week after week implies that their life is worthy of emulation—not flawless, but demonstrating the fruit of the gospel. When that’s not true, the church gets the message that worship is more about music than the way we live. Likewise, when non-Christian musicians are used, we’re implying that the art of worship is more important than the heart. (p. 230) The comments focused around the topic of …

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Free Copy of Worship Matters for Twenty Bloggers

Worship Matters, the book, has been out for a few weeks now, and I’ve been encouraged by initial responses. When I was writing it, I prayed that the book would be give worship leaders, pastors, and musicians a clear and practical biblical perspective on how they can most effectively serve the church in the area of corporate worship. Seems to be having that effect so far. A few folks have already reviewed the book on their blog. You can check them at Discerning Reader, Gospel Prism, and CROSS-eyed. In an effort to get word out I’m giving away 20 copies of Worship Matters for people who will review it on their blog. Just send me an email at the …

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