Category Archives: church

It’s the most wonderful time of the year?

It’s been on your calendar since January 1st. You knew it was coming. Every year it comes. You feel the impending rush of the “Yule-tide.”

Planning set lists in advance requires many worship leaders to start listening to Christmas songs in October, or earlier. So by the time December saunters in with its red and green, we tend to be all Christmas-ed out. Yet here we are with our annual chance to gift-wrap a few incarnation themed worship tunes for our merry congregations… but many of us just aren’t feeling “in the Christmas spirit.”

What do we do???

Let me start with an affirmation of your calling.  Leaders of worship are called to facilitate celebration, adoration and revelation.  Some of us sing. Some of us play instruments. All of us love Jesus.

No doubt you’ve heard the cliché line, “Remember the reason for the season.” It may seem rote and rehearsed by well-meaning followers of Christ, but don’t make the mistake of looking past this simple truth…

Jesus came! He came here! And for US! The doctrine of the incarnation should fuel our celebration of the “season” of Christmas.

There’s a principle that most student pastors know… (Go find your student pastor and take them to a nice lunch… Lord knows they need to eat something other than pizza and Dr. Pepper every once and awhile). At the heart of student ministry is the necessity of presence. Notice I said, “presence” not “presents.” Presence in the student ministry realm means that if you physically show up for a teenager, you are affirming who they are. They feel seen… known… loved. This is one of the many things that God accomplished by sending Jesus to us.

He came to us… onto our turf…. into our mess… to gift us the present of presence.  And by doing so we are seen, known and loved.

So here are 3 practical tips to navigate the holiday hustle around your church:

  1. Reread the incarnation story through a celebratory lens.
    • Matthew 1, Luke 2
  2. Make a list of ways that you have seen God work in the life and ministry of your church over the past year. (Enlist the help of your staff and team)
    • Choose worship songs that vocalize a response to the presence of God at work in and through your church.
  3. Listen to “non-Christmas” worship songs.
    • Utilize worship songs that have incarnational language in addition to the standard Christmas hymns to fully paint a picture of the work of God through the coming of Christ Jesus.

This Christmas season, resist the lure of working Mariah’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” into your setlists and instead focus of songs that tell the story of Jesus coming for us…

To see us…
To know us…
To love us!

Jesus came!

Clint Hudson

 

About the author:

Clint Hudson is a worship pastor, songwriter and touring artist/speaker. He has collaborated with artist and musicians from a wide variety of styles and backgrounds. He is the founder of 12th Man Ministries, an organization that focuses on helping professional and student athletes understand that their true identity is found in more than their athletic performance.  For more information, please take the time to visit www.12thmanministries.org.

Free Song: “Gloria (Our Savior Found Us)”

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We’re excited to offer you another free song for the next 7 days, in partnership with WeAreWorship.com!

The song is “Gloria (Our Savior Found Us)” is a track off Majesty In A Manger by Various Integrity music artist, which was released today. This album has Great Christmas themed worship tunes, so be sure to check it out

CLICK HERE to download the MP3 and the chord charts for FREE! – Oops, the offer has expired. But be sure to sign up for our blog to learn about more free music downloads!

What to Do When You Mess Up

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I hate messing up. In fact, as a recovering perfectionist, I can honestly tell you I used to be terrified of it. But, as I’ve grown as a leader, I’ve realized that the scariest thing isn’t making a mistake, it’s NOT making one.

Because if I’m not failing, then I’m not taking enough risks. I’m not being as productive or effective as I could be as a leader. If my main goal is just to avoid any error in my ventures, conversations, and leadership decisions, then I’m playing it way too safe. Messing up actually isn’t a plague to be avoided; it’s a regular part of being a growing leader.

If you examine the biography of any great spiritual leader, there will be plenty of mistakes in it: premature commitments, short-sighted calls, and immature mindsets – yet they were still inspiring and influencing their people for God’s Kingdom.

When you look into these stories even closer you’ll find that HOW THEY RESPOND to these mistakes and mishaps is the factor that makes the difference. Winston Churchill says, “Success is jumping from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm.” And Rick Warren reminds us, “Failure isn’t a character quality. It’s just an event. How you respond to failure is your character.”

So, what’s your strategy for failing forward? How will you use the moments you discover you’ve let yourself down to ultimately build yourself up? Here are three tips to ensure that you make the most of your mistakes, and let them help shape you into an incredible leader.

1. Admit it 

Leaders that can admit when they’ve been wrong about something inspire a culture of honesty and true humility. Often, the people you’re leading know it anyway, so cease the opportunity to acknowledge it and show them a good example of purposefully and publicly altering your course now that you have more data about what works – and what doesn’t.

What would happen if you just came out and said it in your next team meeting? My guess is, it may feel more liberating and respectable than you may have guessed, and you’ll be providing people with a chance to show you grace, to relate, and to see you as a “flawed protagonist” as they say in screenwriting. They’re more like-able than the perfect ones.

If there’s anything you can apologize for, do it. Even saying, “I apologize for my part in this” or “my ignorance of the situation” goes a long way! It’s a mature and respectable approach.

Side-note: This blog is more about mishaps and “green” decisions in ministry than big moral failures or secret sins. If you have a continual major struggle or have failed in a big way on the moral front, some more fitting advice for your situation can be found by seeking wise Christian counsel from a trusted leader or friend and with their help, beginning a more intensive healing journey than the scope of this article covers. Whatever you do – don’t keep covering it up.

2.  Make the necessary adjustments and try again

Take serious note of what you’ve learned from this event. There is helpful data for the future in this experience! Journal it, discuss it, read up on it, and remember it. Then, apply your learning to your next attempt! You have way higher chances of succeeding now.

If you took the wrong approach in a conversation, take that information to heart and plan your improved approach for next time.

If you started a worship night with your ministry team, and no one came after the third one, dig in and figure out why! Adjust the time, frequency, location, people involved, people leading, format, duration, and anything else that could help, and then re-launch.

That’s what the best leaders do when they mess up.

3. Learn to love the process

There is much to thank God for in the aftermath of mistakes. Process and growth are beautiful things, found all over creation, and it’s time we learn as leaders to enjoy the ride.

Don’t be embarrassed that you didn’t walk in to your leadership role already knowing everything. Let the people around you in on your story – use their feedback to fuel your development as a leader and influencer.

I love this little saying in James 4: “But He gives us more grace.” We do dumb stuff sometimes, but God’s power is available to us. That’s the reason we can persevere, learn, grow, and even thrive after messing something up.

Don’t be discouraged by a silly decision, hiccup, or mishap. Be encouraged that you’re now that much closer to your goal.

Andrea Hamilton Binley
Worship Director at Inland Hills Church and Songwriter at HopefulPop.com

New Partnership with South Carolina Baptist Convention

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WorshipPlanning.com is proud to announce our new partnership with South Carolina Baptist Convention (scbaptist.org). South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC) is a cooperative program-funded resource serving over 2,000 South Carolina Baptist churches and their work on a daily basis.

WorshipPlanning.com and SCBC will work together to extend WorshipPlanning.com‘s services to members of the SCBC. The partnership offers special benefits for SCBC member churches, including a 25% discount on subscriptions to WorshipPlanning.com.scbc and wp

“We’re excited how this alliance will bring a great offering to the members of the South Carolina Baptist Convention to help them better serve our Lord.” says Mark Powers, Director of the Worship & Music Office at SCBC.

For more information about the service offered under the partnership, go to sc.worshipplanning.com.

WorshipPlanning.com Announces Our Partnership with the North Carolina Baptists

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In case you missed it…WorshipPlanning.com is proud to announce our new partnership with the North Carolina Baptists (ncbaptist.org).

North Carolina Baptists (NCB) is an affiliate of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC). They work together with the Southern Baptist Convention to serve over 4,300 churches.

WorshipPlanning.com and NCB will work together to extend WorshipPlanning.com‘s services to members of the NCB.

The partnership offers special benefits for BSCNC member churches, including a 25% discount on subscriptions to WorshipPlanning.com.

For more information about the service offered under the partnership, go to nc.worshipplanning.com.

Serving with you.

Check out the quick virtual tour of WorshipPlanning.com:

Why Your Church Should Have A Facebook Page

Why Your Church Should Have A Facebook

The fact is we are in the digital age, but with most things The Church is behind the times. Sad, but true. Even with the most popular social media platform (Facebook) we have good excuses why our church doesn’t engage on it:
-We don’t have the time.
-We don’t have the resources.
-We don’t see the need for it.
-We want to focus on “real” ministry.
-On and on the list goes…

Here’s the reality: most people looking for a church will make a decision about whether or not to visit your church based on your online presence. That means that most people will never even step foot on your church campus if you don’t make a great first impression.

Your first impression in today’s world is your online presence. This includes your website and any other online platform you have. Let’s all agree, first of all, that it is a MUST that your church has a website…a nice website at that.

Second, I believe that every church should have a Facebook page. It’s a no-brainer…I hope. We cannot deny the fact that social media is a huge part of our American culture. However, some churches may still feel it’s not relevant to their congregation. Maybe their congregation is older. Just last week I was at the local Apple store and couldn’t help but notice a workshop that was going on in there on how to use your iPad. The workshop was full…with senior citizens. I’ve heard pastors say, “We don’t need a website. We don’t need to be on social media. Most of our members are old.” Sorry, you can’t use that excuse anymore. Even “old” people are on Facebook and surfing the Internet these days.

Still not sure if your church should invest time and energy into creating and managing a Facebook page? Maybe these statistics will convince you:
-1.23 billion monthly active users
-757 million daily active users
-Percentage of Internet users 65 years and older that use Facebook: 45%
-48% of users 18-34 years old check Facebook when they wake up
-There are over 54 million Facebook pages

Creating a Facebook page is free. However, I would recommend that you utilize someone who’s knowledgeable with creating Facebook pages and Facebook marketing to help you get started. As followers of Christ, we should go where the people are. Today, billions of people are on Facebook. Why should your church not be? Be where the people are. Engage with them. Encourage them. Use the technology to connect with the people and to spread The Good News!

One last thing: if you’re not going to do it right, don’t do it at all. Meaning, if you’re not willing to put the time and effort into doing Facebook the right way, it would be better for your church to not have a Facebook page at all.

Does YOUR church have a Facebook page? Feel free to share the link in the comments below!

-Wisdom Moon
Wisdom is a husband, father, worship leader, songwriter, podcaster, and social media consultant. He has been involved in worship ministry for over 20 years. He is the Founder of All About Worship and The Songwriter’s Cafe. You can connect with Wisdom on Twitter @WisdomMoon and Facebook.com/wisdomaaw.

How to Be Successful in Your First 90 Days on Church Staff

Joining a church leadership can be exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. Whether you’re joining as a paid staff member or an unpaid, volunteer staff member, there are a few things to keep in mind as you get started in the first 90 days.

1. Don’t Make Drastic Changes90 days
During your first 90 days, it should not be your goal to make huge changes in the ministry you are leading. (i.e. “firing” the entire worship team) Fast changes can impact ministries in negative ways and hurt people unintentionally. Take things slow. Think long-term.

2. Listen to Your Volunteers
A great goal during your first 90 days is to meet every volunteer in your ministry on a one-on-one basis. So much of ministry is about relationships. Make it your priority to build relationships and get to know those already on your team. Listen to their concerns and ideas. If you can take the volunteers out to coffee one-on-one during your first few months, it is an investment worthwhile.

3. Pray for Your Church
This is an obvious one, but in our excitement as we get started in our new role, it’s easy to forget to pray for those you are serving with and ministering to. Ask your volunteers, when you meet with them, how you can pray for them. We can never lose by praying for God’s church and His people.

4. Receive Feedback From Your Pastor (or Supervisor)
If you have the opportunity to receive feedback on your “job performance” on a regular basis from your pastor or supervisor, it will help you have longevity in your role. For example, if you’re a worship leader, it would be extremely beneficial if you and your pastor sat down on a Monday or Tuesday to review the past weekend services. It will ensure that what you are doing lines up with the pastor’s vision and will help you continue to improve.

5. Be a Team Player
Even if you are leading one specific ministry of the church, be willing and available to help in other areas. Churches are looking for team players, not lone rangers.

These are just a few things that will help you be successful in your first 90 days on staff at a church. What other things have you found helpful in your experience? Share in the comments below:

-Mark Logan

You Are A Theologian

In spiritual circles, few people are seen as intimidating as often as theologians. Theologians are scholars. Studied. Educated. Cultured. And they wear old-school glasses, vests and wool sweaters as they sit in an aged leather wingback chair in front of a stately, oversized bookcase in a home library with loaded oak bookshelves lining all of the walls, all the way up to the ceiling. (Whew . . . that was a mouthful!) Okay, maybe not all of them, but we like to think they do. The point is, when we hear the word “theologian” often we get an image in our minds that, at least in some way, represents the description above.

So what if I told you that YOU are a theologian?

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Well, if you’re a worship leader and/or worship songwriter, you are! Sure, perhaps you aren’t necessarily discovering any brand-spankin’ new theology. But, you are writing and/or choosing worship songs that speak a theological truth. You are communicating theology to your local church. This is why one of the most important things you do as a worship leader is pick out the songs for the weekend setlist.

Sure, key changes, arrangements, transitions, dynamics and flow are all important parts of what we do as worship leaders, but none of those things matter if we aren’t singing truths in our churches. It is widely known that ideas and messages are retained better in our brains when presented in song than by spoken word (a sermon). This is because our brains interact with music differently, thereby establishing a stronger retention of what we heard/sang. Why is this important?

It’s sad to say this, but most people don’t remember the sermon they heard last week or this morning, in some cases. Now sure, these days we have recorded sermons, sermon notes, etc. All of these allow us to go back and go through the messages again. However, overall there is a limited shelf life on the specific messages that are preached every week (hopefully the themes and lessons are learned and continue on!).

With music, however, things stick around a bit longer, including the lyrics of the songs themselves. These lyrics are a biblical message, just like your pastor’s sermon. The only difference is that yours is set to a music, may have some repetition, and may be more like 4 to 5 mini-sermons during a typical worship set. This is a big deal!

Why? Because what you sing in your worship times is going to stick in people’s hearts and minds longer than the sermon does. Therefore, it’s imperative that we sing songs that contain solid theology.

We basically have three options with the songs we sing at  church:

1. Lyrics that present false, inaccurate theology.
2. Lyrics that aren’t false, but are theologically weak and don’t really say anything.
3. Lyrics that present a solid biblical truth with rich theology.

PLEASE stay away from songs in category one. As for category two, there is nothing wrong with this category necessarily, but there are too many songs that fit this mold.

I challenge you to shoot for the third category of songs. Pick songs that are not only correct, but really drive home messages that your congregation needs to hear. One helpful way that I’ve found to pick more songs in category three is not just listening to the song on the CD (with the fancy production), but taking the time to sit down and read the lyrics without the music.

This is no easy task, but it’s vital! You are a theologian. A musical theologian. Don’t take that responsibility lightly. Invest the time into being intentional about the words that your congregation sings each week.

-Mark Logan

Worship Leader, Are You for the Church?

“Generation after generation stands in awe of Your work;

each one tells stories of Your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:4 (The Message)

Worship leaders generally struggle with the style of worship. Choice of music. Expectations of the congregation. There is, however, an unhealthy reliance on these ideas.  I recently heard a woman say that we focus too much on whether or not the church fits our needs. But the true question is: are we for the church?

generations

As a worship leader, it is often difficult to find songs that fit the style of worship, or the congregation sitting in the pews. There are cases in which a dying or struggling church needs a change, but if that is not the case, here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  1. What generation(s) participate(s) in your congregation?

  2. What song choice would fit all of these generations?

It is difficult to handle the multi-generational aspect of church. While it is biblical, there is such a thing as casting too wide of a net, which risks the quality of the music.

Some tips:

  1. Use one band/ leader; two at the most. There could also be a choir and an ensemble, but it could be a good idea to present these every now and then. This way, the multi-generation aspect is still revered, but doesn’t seem forced.

  2. Hymns: hymns are respected by all generations (even college students).

  3. The book of Revelation tells us that we will use old and new songs (Rev.15:2-3; 5:9). You should use songs that are fast-paced, but easy to sing along with. You can introduce the fast songs during special music or over the speakers as people are entering/leaving the sanctuary. Also, use songs that are reflective and high quality (Hillsong, Bethel, Jesus Culture, etc).

  4. Slowly introduce new songs, so the congregation (especially older generations) can grow comfortable with the song choice.

  5. Read the congregation. Look into their eyes! – We shouldn’t rely on the music aspect of worship too heavily, but the ability to read the congregation makes for a worship leader who is doing their job.

  6. Model authentic, transparent worship. I have found that this can knock down barriers that may come with a difficulty to connect with the music. It brings everyone together, fixing their eyes on Jesus rather than each other (or even the worship leader).

A worship leader’s job is to direct the congregation to the Almighty Savior. They are our flock, too. The question is not how can the congregation fit my needs. The question is: am I serving the congregation, or serving myself?

Kelly Puckett

Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Rock Concert Lighting in Church

These days, if you pay attention to forums or blogs, or anything similar, having to do with modern worship tech, you’ve heard a lot about advancements in lighting tech.  This stuff is cool.  Very cool, actually, when done correctly.  Can lights.  Spotlights.  Laser lights.  All kinds of lights.  We, as the modern church, are quite lucky to have such cool rigging and lighting available to us, as well as awesome technology with which to control all these wonderful lights.  It’d be a shame to not utilize this for our worship services.  BUT . . . we have to be careful.

concert lights

Many point out the trend in many churches that appear to indicate a movement towards “rock concert” more than “church service.”  Now, this is NOT meant to turn into a debate or opinion piece on styles of worship, denominational practices, or even “seeker-friendly” churches.  What I am more specifically looking at here is this: Where is the attention drawn?  Are there distractions?

You see, we can overdo anything.  We can overdo singing.  We can overdo pushing for the offering.  We can overdo being “dramatic” in our preaching.  We can overdo instrumentation (seriously, who needs 7 different guitars on stage during a worship set?).  And yes, we can overdo lighting.

At a rock concert, the lighting is meant to be part of the show. It’s meant to make you think the band is even more cool than you already think they are.  And THAT is the distinction.  In a worship service, what is your lighting scheme doing?  Is it drawing attention to the band?  Is it simply adding a “cool factor?”  Or is it intentional, with the purpose of bringing these worship songs and lyrics even more to life?  Do the lights help to draw people’s attention to Christ even more?  Using our sense of sight is a powerful thing, and can absolutely impact the atmosphere of worship.

As an example, let’s look at “Nothing But the Blood.”  This song is timeless, and powerful, and true.  It stands perfectly well on its own.  I can remember two specific times when we sang this hymn at conferences with very sophisticated lighting schemes.

One place had rapidly moving laser lights, big washes, and bright spots in random locations.  It was very, very cool.  And it was very, very distracting.  Even with my eyes closed, I could see the lights darting to and fro through my eyelids.  At a different conference, there were no dancing laser lights (at least not during this song).  All there was, primarily, was a massive wash of red lights all over the stage.  A sea of red.  And during this song about the blood of Jesus shed for our sins, seeing this wash of red visually enhanced this time of worship.  Not only was I singing about the blood, but I was visualizing the blood of Christ washing over everything.  It was very simple, but it was extremely impactful.

This is what I am talking about.  Laser lights are not a bad thing.  And they can be used very effectively in worship.  The key is this – what is your light “show” accomplishing?  Is it just something cool to add into your church’s “What to Expect” section of your website?  Or are you intentionally utilizing (and not utilizing, when appropriate) this technology to enhance the atmosphere of worship in your church?  Are you using it to make the messages of our praise even more real to your congregation?  In the end, are you using lights to point to The Light?

-Mark Logan

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