A couple of weeks ago, I shared this clip of Seth Dahl, a preacher at Bethel Church in California. If you haven't seen it yet, you'll find that it's an odd excerpt. As he's trying to explore the notion of "blaming God," he gets mixed up and even starts by saying that Jesus essentially asked for forgiveness.

As you can imagine, the video kicked off quite a comment thread on my Facebook wall. And like many of the preaching excerpts of Bethel Redding will do, it prompted to us to discuss theology, specifically this: can (or should) a church's theology be separate from the songs it releases?

But, I've realized something in the weeks since then, specifically about Bethel apologists. (This actually applies to most discussion about "endorsing" a church's songs, regardless of one specific church.) I find that those who defend Bethel's songs come from a BENEFIT-OF-THE-DOUBT approach - meaning we understand that people misspeak or preach stuff we don't agree with, but if those people love Jesus and they're trying their best, we should grant them grace and not get up in arms or try to take action. We should accept their offerings as brothers and sisters in Christ. I'm all for granting grace, 'cause I say the wrong thing ALL THE TIME!

But here's the thing; most worship leader friends of mine who subscribe to the BENEFIT-OF-THE-DOUBT approach, aren't nearly as gracious with their musicians. If a potential musician can't make it through the audition, they don't grant them grace and let them on the team. If a player or singer isn't learning their parts every week, these worship leaders won't rest until they've convinced (or intimidated) that person to shape up.

We're okay with teachers flubbing or preaching incompletely but we demand perfection from our musicians? Should we have the same expectation of excellence when it comes to preaching? If we're going to be gracious, let's be gracious to everyone who steps up to serve on that platform. If we're going to demand quality, let's make it a priority for everyone.

Which speaks to a bigger question - are music and preaching equal when it comes to expectation? Should we expect the same things from each? Would love to know what you think! Comment!


Below, you'll find two videos of the same song.

This is Good Good Father by Housefires. If you're a worship leader, you've most likely heard (or heard of) the song. Since it hit YouTube a year ago, the song has spread to churches everywhere. It's one of those rare songs that seems to work in worship context. (If you're not leading it, give it a try...the song connects.)

Now, here's another version.

This is the new album cut by the band Zealand. Minus a few extra chord changes, the mechanics of this version is pretty much the same. But the intensity is way different. The original version is a softer, more subtle performance and the new version is an anthem, complete with driving drums and a big chorus of "oh-ohs" in the turnarounds. You could like the original version to a living room song and the second to an arena.

There's a lesson for worship leaders in this, by the way. Regardless of which version you like (and would lead) remember this as you plan your services...YOU NEED BOTH.

Our corporate singing should be be passionate and anthemic, no matter what sort of musical context we have. But our corporate singing should also be pensive and quieter. Every song you lead doesn't have to get "big." Add some soft songs that don't go huge in the last chorus. Don't jump the octave. Build a set that makes room for a spectrum of attitude and response.

*And just cause I'm curious....which version do you like better? Why/why not?


This post falls into the category of "thinking out loud." From time to time, I use this site to ponder aloud about worship culture and what it means for the place where I lead. I don't know if I'm correct in the post below...I'm just wondering and thinking and trying to use my brain as I plan and lead my people. Feel free to weigh in with a comment or two, just don't yell at me.

I've noticed lately that many churches are moving to shorter setlists. Not too many years ago, it wouldn't be uncommon to hear 5 congregational songs, a choir special and maybe even a solo performance during the offertory. But now it seems that most modern churches in the megachurch model feature singing for 3 songs, max.

Every church has its own reasons, but from what I read and hear, it seems that this new "quicker" music portion of the service is designed to A) accommodate hard cut-off times due to multiple services and B) make services more concise for online viewing/interaction.

I'm sure there are more nuanced reasons for shorter sets, but on the surface, it seems to be primarily a time concern, not a spiritual one.

And that's why I'm worried short song-sets are becoming manipulative.

I am noticing that churches with shorter song sets are trying really hard to pack a spiritual wallop in a short amount of time. Song 1 is the rocker, Song 2 is heartfelt confession and Song 3 ends up being a 7-minute love song to Jesus. Is that enough time for our people? 

I've led worship for most of my life, and I've noticed that a lot of the people in church on Sunday morning aren't ready. It's a sad fact, but a human one. Many of the people I'll step in front of on song 1 are just now thinking, "oh, yeah, God..." And what about the lost? Someone curious about Jesus shows up and we're trying to get everybody to maximum spiritual impact in 16 minutes, grand total?

I don't know what the answer is, but I do think worship leaders bear a bigger responsibility than that. I don't think our job is necessarily to provoke a response. I believe my job (and your job) is to clearly present the good grace of God in the form of Jesus our Savior by the inspiration and empowering of His Holy Spirit; AND then to give people the opportunity to respond to that. To do that, we've gotta' take time to ascribe glory and acknowledge His Lordship and confess our inability to save ourselves and rightly understand the power of His death and resurrection and respond to His call on our lives and THAT'S A LOT OF STUFF TO GET DONE!

I see a lot of worship leader "tricks" in these short sets: constantly yelling come on or I can't hear you, giving a 4 minuted devotional/personal monologue before a song, *pro-level lights and sound, roaming around the platform. None of those are inherently bad, they're just things that tend to happen when we don't have enough time to do our job correctly. And when I see worship leaders resort to manipulation, I feel for them. That's a burden they simply can't carry.

Maybe you lead in a church with short sets and very controlled timing. How do you deal with it? What do you do to ensure you're leading in a way that's ministerial and not manipulative?

*Just to be clear, I lead worship in a metal building with possibly the worst acoustics in the Southern US and will happily let any of you underwrite a new building and sound system for us. I promise to use them for good and not evil.


I can't believe it's time AGAIN for another free song giveaway! You all have been so supportive of the previous two releases ("O Blessed Tree" and "Shield") and I really hope you like this new one, too!

This song needs a little setup, however. Unlike O Blessed Tree and Shield, the new song really is new - meaning I've never led it before a congregation. I prefer to record and release songs I've led because it gives me the chance to see how the works in a worship set before committing time and money to the production. But in this case, I believe in this song enough to release it as truly new material.

I like this song and believe it stands on its own, but if you've got the time, I want to point out three things about this song that you might be interested in.


Contrary to popular opinion, I'm not trying to be a "hymn guy." (I mean, yes, I love them and feel like hymns both new and old may very well usher in a great movement inside the American church, but...) And even though I love writing modern worship choruses, I have loved writing this song. I've been working on it since 2014 and even though it took me a long time to finish it, I've enjoyed writing this one maybe more than any song in the last two-three years. I guess if God keeps leading me to write hymns, I'll just shut up and keep doing it. He knows what to do!


There aren't a lot of Trinitarian worship songs being sung in the church today. And the few you find are pretty obvious; as if the whole song is saying "hey we're singing about the trinity in this song." I think the Trinity scares songwriters. (It certainly scares THIS ONE.) But I'm convicted to work toward finding ways to infuse God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit into our worship songs.

This song doesn't reveal anything astounding about the Trinity. But I am proud that each verse tries to describe the welcoming call of God in three distinct forms: the way the Father calls us, the way the Son calls us and the way the Spirit calls us. It's the first song I've written that was seriously focused on including all three persons, so I know I've got a long way to go. 


Somewhere along the way, modern worship philosophy started telling us that all songs had to be simple, that we needed fewer words and more repetition. This song is the opposite of that. It has a lot of words and very little repetition. But I'm okay with that. With something as beautiful and life-changing as God's call on our lives, we ought to sing a lot of words about it! 

As best I can tell, the music publishing world doesn't like long songs. Or songs with lots of words. Or complicated ideas. But that doesn't mean the church doesn't need them. I hope you'll download this song and I hope you'll share it like crazy so that believers just like you will be able to sing it and focus their minds and hearts on all the ways God welcomes us.


For the most part, all the details are the same as last time. If you wanna' download it for free, you can go to and click on the SONGS FOR SINGING 2015 button. Or if you wanna' keep floating around the blog here, just click the MP3s & CHARTS button and download it. The one change this time is that the song is also for sale on it's free release day. (We normally stagger this...) So for those of you who prefer to let iTunes/Amazon do your music management, you can search the song under the artist name Todd Wright Band

All this info is included in the lyric video attached below, so feel free to share that video on social media to spread the word!



"He Is Yahweh" is a Vineyard song written by Dean Salyn and published in 2001. I first heard it years ago on an indie worship album by a group called 1000 Generations.

I still remember a few things about the song. First, I remember that it was piano-based. That may not seem like a big deal, but in 2001, most every worship album was driven heavily by guitars of both the acoustic and electric variety. The fact that this tune used electric guitar as a texture and not the foundation was a big deal to me. Secondly, I remember the concept being very striking. If you've never heard the song, let me explain: each verse of the song is a list of questions about God ("who is standing on the mountain and on the earth below?" "who is He that brings me comfort?") and the chorus is a list of answers. More specifically, a list of the names of God. The chorus ANSWERS the verses and as a young songwriter, I found that very compelling.

I hadn't heard the song since the early 2000s and was surprised to find it last year on a new Vineyard album. On that collection, the song was led by The Neverclaim. It took me a minute or two of "where-have-I-heard-this?" but eventually my mind went back to 2001. It was a fun little jog down memory lane, but I quickly forgot about it.

Until three weeks ago.

That's when I happened on a YouTube video of worship leader, Cory Asbury, leading this song for Bethel Music. I was familiar with Cory's music from his IHOP days and thought perhaps this video of "Yahweh" was a new tune of his. Imagine my surprise when I realized it was this old song I used to love.

I watched the video a few times. Then a few more. I loved the arrangement and enjoyed Cory's vocals. Most of you know I'm not a huge Bethel Music fan, but I can appreciate the musicianship and delivery. most songs I enjoy and find myself listening to over and over, I thought, "Hmmm...maybe I should lead this song soon" and began my normal process of deciding on whether or not to lead the song. This is usually a long process for me as I try to dig into the song as deeply as I can before adding it to our catalog.

And then I hit a word in Verse 2 that stopped me. Here's the lyric:

Who is He that makes me happy?
Who is He that gives me peace?
Who is He that brings me comfort
And turns the bitter into sweet?


Why did I balk at the word, "happy"? Some sort of silent warning was going off in my head when I hit that word, but I couldn't tell why. Was it some sort of Spirt-led STOP-DO-NOT-GO conviction or was it something else?

It was something else.

I lead worship in a Bible church. A good, healthy, growing Bible church. And while my church doesn't wave the banner of "We're a Reformed church" or "Hey, we're Calvinists over here!" we do affirm God's sovereignty. In fact, if you were to poll our people, you'd find a lot of us - probably the majority - are Reformed (or Reformed-leaning) in our theology.

You wanna' know a word that Reformed churches don't use very much? HAPPY. In fact, I'd theorize that most Bible churches use that word in the negative more often than not: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOUR HAPPINESS or GOD ISN'T OUT TO MAKE YOU HAPPY. It's a word with a negative connotation. We'll use "joy" or "contentment" or "satisfaction" but not "happy."

I'm not sure I'm ready to throw out the word, but that's not the point of this (very long) post. The point is that words are tricky. The point is that every church has its words that we don't use. Maybe it's justified, maybe not. As worship leaders, we have to care about words. We have to think about think seriously about words. We have to evaluate them, and maybe even defend them. We have to be smart about semantics. We have to become very wise about language and what we want our people to be singing.

And you know what? Following God does make my happy. Much more happy than I'd be without Him.