The most recent episode of the Average Worship Leader Podcast is all about turning 40. (Which I did a few weeks ago...) So far, no mid-life crisis has set in, but I will admit that the past few weeks have been a little weird. There's been a lot of reflection and analysis and goal setting and the podcast this week is all about that.

Thought it might be helpful to either simplify those thoughts over here on the blog (or maybe make them more complicated, who knows anymore in this crazy internet world, right kids?)

These two or three weeks of soul searching have reminded me that my time (on earth, with my family, at my church, with my team, etc) is finite. I'm realizing that I won't lead worship forever and owning up to that has clarified some stuff for me.

I want to be more intentional about INVESTING IN THINGS THAT LAST. This is not easy. In fact, I think most worship leaders are backward on this concept. We tend to invest our time and energy into the very things that won't last. I don't know why we do this - but we do. This sort of investment can only happen as a by-product of honesty. When I'm honest with myself, I have to own up to the stuff that's not going to fade eventually and I need to be pivoting toward things that will endure - a commitment to God's Word, investing in my little circle of family and friends, being generous, being forgiving. Those are things that will make an eternal impact. Those are the things people will remember. They may not remember ME, but they might remember what God did because of how I lived.

Here are some specific things I'm doing to be invested in the eternal.

Simplify social media. I typically do a social media disconnect once a year and it's always good for my soul, but I want to do more than that this go around. I like social media a lot and I think it can have some unique benefits to guys in my position. Because of that, I'm trying to rethink my whole social-media life strategy. I want to simplify my output and my value for it.

Make more music. I have an EP coming out in late November. And when January 2017 hits, I'll start saving money for another one. I'm trying to write and record as much music as possible. I honestly could not care any less about getting artists to cut my songs these days and it's not like I'm going to have a worldwide recording career. But I do love songwriting and believe that a song can be one of the most powerful weapons for change we've ever seen. So I want to make more of them.

Take more creative risks. I don't believe God's done with me. And that means that I'm open to whatever he wants to do in my life. When God leads me to creativity and risk, I want to jump headlong into what He's saying. I don't want to be afraid of making things that feel out-of-the-box or "off brand." Plain and simple, I'm wanting to be obedient.

Hang out with my wife more. Maybe that sounds dumb, but Kristen and I are in what seems like the busiest two years of our lives. Truth be told, most of our busyness is due to God's blessing, so we're not complaining! But we're still figuring out how to balance a marriage and jobs and kids and a house and a dog. (Okay, the dog's not that hard to handle. But you get the drift.)

What about you? You ever intentionally simplified your life? What did you do? How did it go?


I'm leading a Wednesday night Bible Study in the book of Mark with Tim Keller's Jesus The King study guide.. Last week, we were in Mark 5 and the whole time I kept thinking, "Ooooh, this is good for worship leaders!"

Here's what Mark 5 says:

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus  had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.
The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.
And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” And he went with him.
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus[f] saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,”which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

It's a long passage, but one most of us know. Three miracles. All in a row. Overlapping each other. And if you know the stories, it's easy to just glide through that chapter without thinking about it. But here's what we know about God's Word - He's always telling us something about himself. So when we see three miracles back-to-back-to-back, they're not just there to entertain us. And if we'll read them as one story instead of three, we might just find out something about following Jesus.

In each of these stories, the headline gets confused. Think about it.


Jesus sets a man free - He casts demon of out a crazy person that no one could subdue or control. That's a miracle. And yet, what do all those people care about? PIGS. Two thousand wild pigs who run off a cliff and drown. It's actually a pretty big headline if you're a farmer. The demon-possessed man gets overshadowed by the pigs.


Jesus leaves the people and immediately is confronted by a guy named Jairus, who has a very sick daughter. He asks Jesus to heal the daughter and Jesus heads to his house. But he doesn't get there. He's thronged by people and in the chaos, a woman with a bleeding disease touches his garment, secretly hoping to get healed. And she does. Immediately. But then Jesus calls her out, stands her up and has a conversation with her. Which is not what she wanted, it seems. There wasn't supposed to be a headline to this story, and Jesus makes one of her.


Remember Jairus? In the story with the woman, it's easy to forget that Jesus was on the way to heal his daughter. But it's too late. While he's in conversation with this woman, Jairus' servants come and tell him the daughter is dead. A life lost. The story's over, right? No. Jesus tells the father to "just believe" then walks into the girls room and says "wake up." Not "rise!" or "come back to us." Just wake up.

What's the point of all this?
What do those three stories have in common?
What do they teach us about the God we serve?


A bunch of farmers see dead pigs, whereas Jesus is setting a man free for life.
A woman is not only healed but publicly esteemed by Jesus one-on-one. What must have her neighbors though! She was talking with Jesus.
Jairus thinks his life is over and Jesus shows him that death was never going to be the end result.

It's easy for worship leaders to get distracted by stuff. It's so common to come home after leading worship all day and think it was a complete failure. That nothing happened. That our people are stubborn and selfish. We confuse the "headlines" of we see and hear and consider than the only perspective.

You know what Mark 5 teaches us? That GOD IS BUSY. Those sets when it seems no one is singing along? God is busy. He's dealing with someone out there. Those times where your team loses a few players and your sound suffers? God is busy. He's making you all better musicians.

Hold on to Mark 5. The GOD YOU SERVE is not lazy. He's not surprised. And He's never got his hands full with just one thing. Hold fast to that promise. We serve a BUSY GOD!


Worship leading is one of those things that (unfortunately) can be easily faked. You can read a chart and play and sing without messing up, you can make sure the tech team is rehearsed, you can even seem like you're really into the music without that being true. That's why the skill-building and hard work rests on you! There probably aren't very many people in your life who'll remind you to put in the time.

So let Uncle Todd be the one to remind you. Get to work! As you get started this week, here are five things you can to instantly accelerate your worship leading! We're all working on developing life long skills in ministry, but don't forget that sometimes the simplest things can help us grow in our ability.



Grab an instrument, sing 'em in the car, it doesn't matter. Find a way to sing through the whole set every single day this week. Not only is it great for getting you warmed up, but it also means you'll show up to lead much more comfortable and calm about the songs.


Every leader has those things we do every time we lead worship because we believe they aid in worship. But we also have crutches...things we instinctively do because we like it or we don't know what else to say. Pick one of your crutches and DON'T use it this week. I promise the service will go on beautifully without it!


In your rehearsal/sound check, don't rush to end that song. Hang on a chord and let the band improvise over it some. Maybe even try singing something from heart while you play. You may not do this in the service, but it's an awesome musical exercise for you and the band. And it's fun!


Find one opportunity this week to talk about worship with somebody. You don't have to give a thirty minute speech about it - just find a way to verbalize what you believe about worship or, even more specifically, what you're excited about in the next set you're leading. Talking about worship in your day-to-day will help you to think about worship in your day-to-day.


I'm always surprised how many worship leaders start the service by asking a half-empty room if they're "ready to worship." They're not. They're getting settled and saying hello to people. They may be getting ready, but they're probably not there yet. Why not just start with the song this week as a way of letting folks enter worship at their own pace? Why waste one of your few opportunities to talk on a slot where hardly anybody's listening? You may find that starting without talking makes for a better set!


Remember, even the little things this week will help you get better at what you do! Don't wait until Sunday to work on your worship leading. Start today!


Ever feel like there's a disconnect between you and your congregation?

Maybe you've noticed that it seems like you and the band are doing a fine job on the songs but people in the crowd don't seem interested. It's a pretty lousy feeling, driving home after church and not knowing how to connect with your people.

But don't get discouraged! There are some things that you can do to be more intuitive when it comes to leading worship.


It's so easy to get into a rut when we're leading worship. (We stand up here, we say this, the preacher walks up at this time, etc.) That doesn't mean we shouldn't have a liturgy in what we're doing (we should) but it does mean that it's easy for us to do many of these things without thinking. Everything we do in that worship time should have a reason.

Song choice, prayer time, sound mix, video cues, announcements - all that stuff should be planned and led by people who are thinking "How does this contribute to the corporate worship of God in this time?" Some of those are easy to answer, but you might be surprised how many other things get done just because.


I love in-ear monitoring, but even with crowd mics, it's hard to accurately know if your people are singing. Even if you don't use in-ear monitors, it's likely your house mix (and/or wedges) are too loud for you to sufficiently hear if people are singing along. Look, don't listen.

I'm a big proponent of keeping music volume mixed low enough so that I can hear the congregation (and they can hear themselves) but that's tricky and we don't always have it figured out. But I can see. If I'll open my eyes and look at my people, I'll know immediately if they're singing or not. Yes, it's awkward for a lot of us, but it's worth it. You wanna' know how they feel about you, LOOK.


This is actually the premise of the most recent episode of the podcast and I encourage to listen for some practical tips on the subject, but let's talk about big picture for a second. One of the reasons we feel disconnected from our people is that we believe that music is the center point of the the worship set. Many of us think that we're supposed to build great product - songs that are compelling and singable and emotional and well-played and professionally mixed - so that the product will motivate and illicit response from our people, ideally worship. But I think that's wrong.

The focal point of your song set is the people. They're the ones we're trying to get to sing and focus their attention on the Father. The music we play should be the response to that. We should be leading in a way that responds to what our people are feeling, needing to say, etc. We get it backwards and when we do, people notice. People can tell the difference between giving them a product and responding to where they are in their lives.


If you want to lead in a more connected, intuitive way, ask God to help you reshape some of these bad worship-leading habits. He'll do it! He wants you to be good at worship leading, too!


  1. "All-day staff meeting on Monday. Starts at 8."
  2. "There's a conference this week. We need you to make sure all the tech is setup."
  3. "What do you know about these 'electronic drums'? They seem nice."
  4. "I can't be at rehearsal and I'm not going to be able to listen to the music ahead of time. See you on Sunday!"
  5. "Can I send you a song and maybe you do it this Sunday?"
  6. "Your budget is due tomorrow."
  7. "Could my nephew play guitar with y'all on stage? He's got a nice electric guitar. Like, NICE."
  8. "Would you come lead worship for our 8-month old class? We need about forty minutes of music."
  9. "I'd like you to plan a patriotic service."
  10. "Would you be on this committee?"