Merry Christmas from WorshipPlanning.com

WP christmas

“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:6-7)

For most church leaders this is probably the busiest season of the year. With service planning, Christmas programs, Christmas Eve service, along with finding Christmas presents for family and friends…it can get pretty exhausting.

We want to invite you to take 5 minutes today to pause and reflect on Jesus Christ – the true reason for the season. He came into the world as a baby, yet our Savior had no place to lay His head. We worship this humble, selfless King.

From all of us at WorshipPlanning.com, have a Merry Christmas as you celebrate the Lord’s birth!

What is God Worth to You?

Thanksgiving has come and gone. And, the biggest shopping day of the year is also over…for 2013 at least. I heard there were some great deals out there! For me, personally, I like to stay home on Black Friday and just relax and enjoy some family time.money

When we shop for things like Christmas, which is just around the corner, most of us try to find the best deals. That’s why Black Friday is so huge! We consider not only what the person likes, but also how much money we have to work with. Interestingly, in a way, we also look at how much that person is “worth”. Are they worth spending $20 on? $50 on? $100 on? Most of us don’t spend as much money on our friends or co-workers as we do our family members…because our family is “worth” more to us.

In the midst of this busy season, with all the shopping and festivities, I’d like to challenge you with a question that I recently came across: “What is God worth to you?”

In the book The Way of A Worshiper, Buddy Owens (Teaching Pastor at Saddleback Church) writes, “When we worship God, we declare His worth. But in order to declare God’s worth, we must first discover His worth.”

Then he presents the question: “What is God worth to you?”

What a powerful question! As we enter into this Advent and Christmas season, consider that question. It’s a question that all of us must ask ourselves.

-Mark Logan

The Worship Leaders’ Comparison Game

If you’re a worship leader, you’ve probably struggled at one point or another with the comparison game.

balance

You compare your guitar with the other guy’s…’His guitar looks cooler than mine. I bet it cost at least $500 more! I’ve gotta have a better guitar than that guy!’

You compare your church with the other guy’s…’Man, how big is his church? He leads worship for 4 services!? I wish my church was that big!’

You even compare your family with the other guy’s…’He has 5 kids!? We only have one. We are so behind! His family even seems more happy!’

It’s also easy to compare ourselves and think the other way:

‘I can’t believe he can’t even sing that song in the original key!’

‘Did his church even audition him before hiring him? I would never hire that guy if I was a church.’

‘His church is so small. I must be a better worship leader since I lead worship at a church twice the size of his.’

The comparison game is a very dangerous game to play. We can either get discontent with what we have and where God has placed us, or we can get prideful in what we have and our abilities. We must protect our minds from the comparison game.

Social media doesn’t help either. Most of us only post the highlights…the things that will make us look good. We like to show off and brag on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If social media causes you to struggle with comparing, maybe it’s time to delete your account, or at least limit your use.

Comparing yourself with others can lead to jealousy, coveting, pride, or even bitterness. God doesn’t want us to compare. He calls us to live in contentment.

Prayerfully ask yourself: What’s something I can do this week to protect myself from the comparison game? (Feel free to share in the comments below.)

-Mark Logan

Thank You For Voting For Us!

Editors PickReaders Choice

Here at WorshipPlanning.com we are dedicated to providing you a top-notch resource for your church’s planning needs. So, we are thrilled to be recognized in this year’s Best of the Best issue of Worship Leader Magazine!

We were honored with Editor’s Pick AND Readers’ Choice Awards, under the category of Planning Resources. So, thank you for voting for us! And, thank you Worship Leader Magazine for the recognition!

We are looking forward to unveiling more new features and updates soon! Stay tuned!

If you are not yet using WorshipPlanning.com, we invite you to give it a try for 30 days absolutely FREE!

Picking The Right Key For Your Congregation

I’m sure you’ve heard the jokes from male worship leaders saying they need to tighten their belt a few inches before singing a Chris Tomlin song.guitarist Tomlin, who happens to write many of today’s most used congregational worship songs, tends to write them in keys too high for most congregations to sing.

I’ve noticed that other worship songwriters are following suit. They write in a key that would give the most impact and dynamics to the song. However, that key may not be the best for your congregation to sing along to. In fact, even Tomlin has admitted to taking some of his own songs a whole step down from his recordings when he leads them live.

Have you ever been in a worship service where the worship leader was singing his heart out, but it was too high for most of the congregation to sing? Instead of leading the people in worship, it causes the people to stand there a bit frustrated and just watching the worship leader go for it for 20 minutes.

What? You can hit the same notes as Tomlin?! Great! More power to you! However, as worship leaders, we must remind ourselves that most of people in the church are not trained singers. And, they may not be able to hit the notes that you can.

So, what’s the right key for your congregation? Of course, it depends on the song, but I would suggest picking a key that most men in your church could sing comfortably in. Most women in your church will sing no matter what key you sing a song in. Women tend to be more comfortable singing along, even if it means having to find a harmony because the melody is too low or too high. However, if the song is too high, most men will not sing or they will get frustrated in their attempt and stop singing.

Kenny Lamm, senior consultant for worship and music for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, highlights ideal keys for some of today’s most used corporate worship songs in this post. He also gives these tips:

Criteria for determining congregationally-friendly keys:

  • The range should fit an average singer. The highest note should be a D with an occasional Eb allowable. The lowest note should be an A.

  • For songs with a small range that could be sung in a wide range of keys, the character of the song and the composer’s original key were considered to preserve the intended feel of the song.

  • Songs with a high tessitura may be pitched a bit lower even if the top note is a D.

  • A few songs on the list have ranges beyond the scope of an average singer. Those key suggestions are noted in parentheses with the best key(s) possible with the understanding that there are outliers in the melody.

Congregational worship is not a time for you to show off how wide your range is and how awesome you sound singing the latest worship song from the radio. It’s a time you are called to lead your church in worship through music. Don’t let your congregation be left behind. Make it as easy as possible for them to engage in worship.

-Mark Logan

New Updates – Song Mapping and Improved Text Notifications

We’ve update worshipplanning.com to include a new feature that we know many of you worship leaders will love:


ordering in song librarySong Mapping

This new tool allows you to easily map out the order of choruses, verses, intros, bridges, and more.  Each song can have a “default” mapping that is defined in your song library, and then it can be easily changed in the worship flow.

The mapping you set for a particular worship service is accessible by your team members via MyWP and many of the worship flow print options.

We’ve also create a brief video tutorial on how to use this feature.  You can view it here:
http://www.screencast.com/t/GZzI66VJK7xH

Improved Text Message Notifications

Text notifications from WorshipPlanning.com is nothing new (here’s how to do it if you didn’t know).  But in the past WorshipPlanning.com sent text messages using email-to-text gateways run by cell phone carriers.  And not all carriers were consistent about messages being delivered when sent this way (especially carriers in Europe and Australia).

With this update to WorshipPlanning.com, we’ve begun using an SMS expert service call Twilio.  If you already have text notifications set up and working for your account, you shouldn’t have to do anything for this new SMS service to start working.  But if it has not worked for you before, try re-setting up your text notifications in WP and it should work a whole lot better.

Privacy Info Defaulting to “Most Private” 

When creating a new Helper or Planner account, the default setting for “Contact Info Privacy” has been changed from “Visible to all helpers at my church” to “Hidden from all helpers”.  This setting has always been accessible to Planners creating the account and the person whose account was created.  But in the age of increased privacy concerns, it makes more sense to default it to the most private setting.

By the way, accounts that were already set up were not modified with this update.

Exporting 

The tool used to export worship flow to Word and Excel has been updated to work better with Mac OSX based computers.

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

Conference Season = Worship Hustling

If you’ve been to any worship conferences in the past 10 years, you’ve seen this scenario: Paul Baloche teaching a packed-out workshop. Workshop is over and…he has a long line of 20+ people waiting to talk to him. Half of them have a CD in their hand.

What is that CD? It’s probably a demo of their music that they want “discovered”. Many worship leaders seem to attend worship conferences with a box of their demo CD’s, with hopes that they will hand one to a well-known worship artist, like Paul, and be contacted by a record label the next week with an offer of a record deal.

Conference Season Worship Hustling.jpg

Is it a sin to take demos to worship conferences? No.

Is it strange to wait in line for 20 minutes so that you can hand your demo to Paul Baloche? Well…maybe.

In the world of “Christian celebrities” that we live in, it is no surprise that many worship leaders these days have the secret (and oftentimes not-so-secret) desire to become a “celebrity worship artist”. They see the itinerant worship leader lifestyle as glamorous. In their church office, after reading an email from a church member complaining about how loud the drums were on Sunday, the worship leader might daydream about being in a professional studio, working on their worship album, with producer, Ed Cash.

Many worship leaders have become hustlers at these worship conferences, so I have a new term for them: worship hustlers. The workshops are great, but these worship hustlers are distracted because they are anxious to get their demo into the hands of the workshop speaker.

Having many friends who are worship artists and music industry leaders that speak at these conferences, I know how often they get approached by worship leaders asking them to check out their music. I personally don’t know anyone who got a record deal (or even a song cut) from doing such a thing. I’m sure there are a few folks out there, but they are few and far between.

So, if you are reading this and you are a worship hustler, I want to challenge you with a few things as you attend a worship conference this Summer/Fall:

1. Make it your primary objective to learn and grow as a worship leader. Make it worth your church’s money (if they are paying for you to attend) and your time. Attend as many sessions and workshops as possible. Take TONS of notes. Glean from those who have been doing it a lot longer than you have.

2. Meet other attendees. I am often shocked when I talk to a worship leader who just attended a worship conference with a thousand people in attendance and they came back not having made one connection with another attendee. Don’t be anti-social (or a social media addict glued to your phone every time you’re waiting for a session to start). Get off your phone and introduce yourself to the people next to you.

3. Die to whatever dream you have of becoming the next big worship artist or getting a record deal with Integrity Music, etc. Don’t let your personal dreams distract you from giving your 110% to the ministry God has called you to at your local church. When you’re at the conference, look for ways to serve others, ways to take what you’ve learned back to your church, and ways to become more effective as a worship leader at your church.

4. Leave your demos at home. I believe in networking. I do a ton of that myself. However, if your secret desire to become the next Chris Tomlin is causing you to just use people as stepping stones to achieve your dream, you need to stop it. Don’t take your demo to the conference. Don’t wait in line to give your demo to Paul. Instead, wait in line to tell him how much you appreciate what he shared in his workshop and how his ministry is making an impact in your local church.

Now, I am not saying it is wrong to hand your demo to people at a conference. My point is: don’t let that become your false idol. Pray about it and if you really sense God telling you to go hand Paul your demo, do it.

But, in the meantime, be content and satisfied serving in the local church that God has put you in. When your life is over, God is not going to ask you, “How many people heard your songs on the radio?” “How many people knew your music?”

God has a purpose and a calling on your life. It is possible that your calling is being an itinerant worship artist, but don’t try to force it to happen. Be patient. Wait on The Lord. God wants to use you where you’re planted.

As you attend a worship conference this year, enjoy it. Meet fellow worship leaders who are in the trenches just like you. Keep your phone in your pocket in between sessions and focus on the people that are right there next to you.

-Wisdom Moon
A special thanks to Wisdom Moon, our guest blogger. Wisdom is the Founder of AllAboutWorship.com – a resource that exists to equip, encourage, and inspire worship leaders and songwriters

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