I'm a sucker for any inside look at the work habits of creative people. If I'm being honest, I don't think any of us are at the level of creative genius of the folks listed below. But we can learn from this sort of info.

This is an amazing list. Two things struck me. First, how diverse the individuals were when it came to their daily schedule. Can you imagine going to sleep at 6pm so you could get up at 1am to be creative?

The second thing is the hours. All of these people had the same amount of time as you and I. As diverse and disconnected as they might be, they're all still working from the same length of time that you and I have every single morning. You probably need more sleep than Mozart did, but don't forget to make sure every hour of your day counts.



One of my first “big” gigs was leading worship at a DiscipleNow weekend for a friend of mine named Brent. He had been at his first church for a little over a year and brought us in for his big youth event. I booked a drummer and a bass player and even asked a friend to play electric guitar! I was pumped. I worked up all the sets weeks in advance and just knew it was going to be the start of a very successful worship leading career.

It was a disaster.

We were too loud; we played songs they didn’t know; In addition to that, the senior pastor was awful. He was inappropriate and arrogant and, at one point, was quite suggestive to my wife. My friend felt terrible. He apologized constantly and kept telling me how great we were doing. I was miserable, but felt bad for Brent. So we kept our heads down and endured the weekend.

Weeks later, I was back at home complaining to a mutual friend about the trip. He had been in ministry for a long time and knew that Brent was struggling. After listening for awhile, he finally spoke up.

“How long has Brent been there?”

“Almost two years.”

“Yeah, it’s almost time for Brent to move on.”

I didn’t understand what he meant, so I asked him. His answer was nonchalant, as if everybody knew this fact about ministry. “Nobody lasts more than two years a their first church. Everybody leaves after two years. Your first church is just too hard.”

Most worship leaders hate conflict. When ministry starts getting a little too though, we immediately go to that list in our heads. You know the list I'm talking about...the list of other church other jobs that seem so much better than the one you currently have.

But here's the challenge - your people are wanderers, too. A lot of people in your congregation are quick to exit if stuff gets weird or convicting, and they need a worship leader who knows the value of sticking it out. Somebody’s gotta’ stay and invest in the church - it might as well be one of the ministers! Having wanderlust but staying faithful is like a worship leader superpower - it gives you a unique perspective that allows to you see gaps in the way your church connects with people. If you know this about yourself, you can be a better worship leader - and minister - because of it.

Some of you are struggling right now. Maybe your church is in identity crisis; maybe you're mad. maybe you're bored. But before you rush off, stop and asked the Lord if this is the exact reason why He put you there. Do wander...lead!


2014 marked my first official foray into "songwriting." Now, the truth of the matter is that I have been writing songs for most of my life with - to my mind - relative success.

However, this past year was the first time I ever tried to write professionally - trying to write songs for publication by other artists and labels. I've learned so much this year and probably need to share some of those lessons (good and bad) on the blog soon. But for this post, I'm taking a second to look back at what the songwriting of 2014 has been like.

I realize this site is typically focused on worship at Bethel, but if you'll allow me, I need to borrow the site to act as a journal for a little bit.

2014 STATS
A few lines on a bullet list doesn't do a very good job of representing the songwriting journey I've been on, but it's wise to celebrate the good stuff!

  1. Wrote/co-wrote 32 songs. (You can see the list of songs at the bottom of page)
  2. Signed 4 single-song agreements.
  3. Got 1 cut (album title and radio single).
  4. Released two original worship songs (Changed Everything & Redeeming Love).

It's easy for me to forget how awesome the year was. Maybe it's the songwriter's curse, but I find it's helpful to take these little gratitude breaks when I get down about the challenges of songwriting.

  1. The Newsboys cut was huge. I had hoped to cut at least one cut during 2014, but could have never imagined it would be with an anyone near the impact/notoriety of the Newsboys. Considering the song wasn't pitched by either Ross K. or me, it's fairly miraculous the song got where it is today.
  2. From the beginning, we were praying that the song would have a long-term impact in churches. It's too early to know that, but we have already received reports of the song being sung as far away as Thailand and Dubai. As a worship songwriter, this is the kinda' stuff you dream about.
  3. I'm also really proud of Changed Everything and Redeeming Love. Those songs didn't make any sort of big "splash" as a song release, but I still believe those songs are going to bless churches as well....someday!
  4. I got to write with some amazing songwriters. These writers are so good that I was writing better melodies and lyrics after just an hour or two with them.

One of the best ways to face up to your own frailty is to get what you want. For years I said, "I just want one song - one big song that somebody will record and reach thousands." Then that happened and I was content for about two weeks. Week three, I discovered that I wanted more. I was placing my faith in a human achievement to make me happy. I'm 38-years old and I'm still re-learning that lesson over and over. For 2015, I'm aiming for some balance in my goals.

  1. Write/co-write 35 songs in 2015. This isn't much of increase from last year, but it seems very daunting right now! I think 35 is plenty!
  2. One cut in 2015. (If more come, great! But if not, that's okay, too.)
  3. Pitch fewer songs to publishers. (There's a long, drawn-reason for this one...too long to post!) I've got to keep focused on writing songs for my church, my community.
  4. Start a new album. I've got some good songs from 2014 and some good ideas on how to do a new worship album. I'd at least like to start pre-production on a new worship collection before 2015 ends.
  5. Video demo every song I write on YouTube channel. May not seem like much, but it's good practice for me and allows me to share stuff so much easier.
  6. Focus on two specific genres...hymns (go figure) and country.

Okay, okay...that's enough selfish rambling for me. Thanks for enduring it!

*2014 Songlist
My One And Only (King/Wright), Fortress Strong (King/Wright), Broken Prayers, You And Me, Changed Everything, All Of Me, When Trouble Comes, Could Be Today, Redeeming Love (Black/Wright), Never Fail (Fields/Nicholas/Wright, Loved Me First (Cowart/Johnson/Wright), Speak To Me, Nothing Better Than Him, Pretty Good Liar (Black/Wright), How Could I Forget, Everything I Need, Shield, O Blessed Tree (Black/Wright), A Million Stars (Jackson/Wright), Miracle Man (Black/Wright), Beautiful Scars Of Love (Davis/Wright/Wynne), Mercy Please, Prodigal, Ghost (King/Wright), Say It Anyway, King Over All (Ellison/Wright), Where You Are (Davis/Wright), Everybody Know, Cross Of Mercy (Baxley/Wright), Bids Us Come, O Word Of God Incarnate, Get Some Livin’ In (Wynne/Wright)


A few days ago, I got a text from a musician friend of mine. He used to play at our church and we still get together from time-to-time for some very fun, very bluesy cover-tune jams. He's a great player, a smart guy and just one of those dudes who's fun to be around.

He texted me after leaving a rehearsal and the conversation was enlightening (and convicting.) In just a few short messages, we got on the issue of frustration - as it specifically relates to worship leading. As we talked, I remembered how many conversations I've had over the years with worship leaders who have consistently bad rehearsals.

It's natural - and expected - for worship leaders to leave rehearsals a little frustrated occasionally. Especially if you use volunteer players, since every week is potentially difficult. Maybe your team didn't learn their stuff very closely; maybe a musician was late; maybe the sound system would cooperate. As I was thinking about all the frustrations in leading worship, I realized that frustration doesn't have to be a two-way street.

I'm the worship leader. I'm supposed to struggle and toil and get frustrated now and then. Pastorally, I've got to face down the stress of a set that's shaping up to be difficult or a hard week of ministry. It's okay for me to be the one leaving practice still working, planning and thinking.

It's not okay for my team to deal with this. I firmly believe that your musicians and technicians should never leave a rehearsal feeling worried or stressed about the service. I know a lot of worship leaders run really tight rehearsals and consider themselves to be the coach of their musicians, but personally, I've never seen that work in the long run. Yes, you ensure some quality right off the bat, but you do significant relational damage in that pursuit.

Worship leaders, let's work to make sure our people feel encouraged and blessed to serve the church. (Because it IS a blessing!) Let's build teams that want to show up and practice - people who actually enjoy hanging out with their worship leaders!

When difficulties come, you BE THE ONE to face it down and sacrifice a little bit of your sanity so that community can grow among your team!


The podcast is back. Thanks to Toby and Caleb for sending in great questions! I also recommend two albums and a new single that I think will be a huge blessing to worship leaders and churches.

My hope is that this episode will help worship leaders get in the right frame of mind for Advent. Thanks for listening.


This 2010 YouTube clip continues to be one of the most beautiful, inspiring musical moments I've ever seen. I go back to this clip quite often.

Portuguese star pianist Maria Joao Pires was scheduled to perform with the Dutch Concertgebouworkest in Vienna. She showed up prepared, only to find once the concert started that she had rehearse the wrong concerto. The video has Dutch subtitles, but is spoken in English. You can faintly hear the pianist explaining what's happened to conductor Riccardo Chailly. From the perspective of the camera, we see the terror on her face.

Ever since I first saw this clip, I've been inspired to rehearse, to know my music and to work hard - because anything can happen up there. I am blown away by what Maria does. It's beautiful.

But the last time I watched it, something else hit me.

Watch it again, but focus on Riccardo Chailly. Does he look worried? See any panic on his face?

He's smiling. He's reassuring her. And that thing he says to her?

"You played this last year. You can do it."

This is what we do, worship leaders. We lead our musicians and we encourage them, even when they're freaked out. Yes, we work hard. Yes, we help get better. But we do more than that - WE BELIEVE IN THEM. We don't panic. We trust God and we speak life-giving words of encouragement and we stand back and let God move in those moments.

The next time you think your job just consists of picking songs and hitting the right cues, remember Riccardo Chailly. Cheering on our people...THIS IS WHAT WE DO.


Okay...you feeling like an absolute wretch yet? Now that your old buddy, Todd, is now blasting all your weaknesses as a worship leader? If you're thinking of bailing on this series, hang in there. I only hack on you because I've got all the same junk in my worship leading ministry. Let's just all be messes together, 'kay?

I was a slow-adopter of Hillsong tunes. (Still am, actually...) To me, the songs were fun to listen to but I didn’t imagine they would work in the service. Until I heard “Mighty To Save.”

I listened to it constantly! In my mind, I could see my congregation - hands uplifted, singing their guts out on Sunday morning. How could they not? It was such a great song! I made a chart, sent the mp3 to the band and we started rehearsing it. Rehearsals went great - especially that big ending when the band ended on the V and the crowd erupted in praise. This song was going to be so good! Except it wasn’t.

The song went great. As expected - we had rehearsed it enough! I could feel myself getting excited as we neared the end. This was it! The big finish! We ended that last bridge and hit that chord.......and nothing. It was pretty painful to realize "this was not a good idea."

There was no applause. No shouting. Just sideways glances from my band for making them do something so weird. Wasn't I supposed to know this congregation? I'm sure I recovered, but it was hard to ignore that chord ringing through the worship center. As Seinfeld once said, "That's a pretty big matzoh ball hanging out there."

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Most worship leaders I know work hard each week. Most of us have everything in place when it comes time to gather. We show up prepared and we invest in the people who make up our teams. Our laziness is a rare brand - it’s mental laziness.

We don’t read enough.
We don’t think enough.

We’re not good at asking “why” we do church the way we do.
We don’t make time to have a right philosophy.

Most weeks, we’re content to plug in a group of popular songs are and hit our marks just like every other set.

When we don’t carve out time to think about worship, something scary happens: we aren’t creative. We mimic what we hear on albums and what we see on videos, which many times fails miserably (V CHORD!) Your creativity extends to far more than buying all the right videos or developing a really good cover band. You've got to craft the service to meet the needs of your people - and that takes a lot of hard work. Try to build some time into your schedule each week to simply think about worship. No guitar, no Spotify, no YouTube. Get creative - not for the sake of being creative - but for the sake of the people you're leading.

(For other posts in the series, check the ARCHIVE.)


It didn't happen all at once. It was gradual. But when I realized what was happening, it set off shock waves in my soul.

I was working part-time at a church and we were three weeks into Advent. I had two small children, was way overworked and could not figure out how to give people what they wanted when it came to worship during Christmas. Every week seemed to be a constant disappointment to my people.

I was sitting on the couch (extremely stressed) when my wife said it.

"You used to love Christmas."

I don't know heartbreak can come through a person's voice, but it was alive and well in the living room that day. She didn't have to say why. We both knew - working in a church had made me hate Christmas.

It's a tough season for ministers of all kinds, but I think the challenges for worship leaders are especially strong. I don't think that worship leaders forget about Jesus coming to the Earth and the glorious miracle of Emmanuel; I think worship leaders let all the other stuff distract them from having their priorities in order. But there are some steps you can take to serve your congregation with a healthy perspective.

Congregational worship will always hit some bumps when there are heightened expectations. Some of your people will be busting out the Christmas sweaters and expecting Sundays to be a all day Christmas carol singalong like they used to do at Grandma's house. Others will be stressed and financially strapped and will come each week hoping that church won't remind them of how hard this season is. And your worship junkies will be livid that you've bumped their favorite songs to make room for Christmas songs because they "just can't worship to that stuff."

You have two choices when it comes to expectations; you can either fight them, or help reset them. Advent worship is a time where you may have to do more talking/teaching from the stage. Find ways to remind your people that we don't sing for nostalgia's sake and we most definitely worship because all the stores have more stuff we can buy. That may seem simple, but your people need to hear that. Helping them have a right view of Advent worship is supposed to be will head off some of the critiques that come at Christmas time.

#2. DON'T BE STUBBORN (musical or otherwise)
Some of this we bring on ourselves. Look, Christmas carols are some of the most well-known songs in the history of music. I guarantee more of your people know "Joy To The World" than "Oceans." In fact, if you spend most of the year complaining that your people don't sing, you probably should be a little bit more grateful when Advent rolls around. 'Cause people will sing.

But a lot of us won't let them because we're too stubborn about it. Yes, some carols are hard to play and yes, adding Christmas songs to your list may not feel as "cool," but your people need someone who can pastor them past the nostalgia and into the gratitude for Jesus.

You're going to be tempted to complain, but guess what? Everybody is stressed at Christmas time. Don't come home to your family and tell them all the reasons why your job is so hard. Don't bite their heads off when they ask you questions. You're going to feel stress, but if you want to protect the people who love you, you won't come home and unload every single thing that's hard about your job.

On the way home, take an extra ten minutes in the driveway to disconnect from the work thing. When people ask you how Christmas planning is going, tell them "Great!" Because I can promise you no one - your friends, family, congregants - wants to hear you complain about a job where you get to make music for a living.

If you're able, take some time off immediately after Christmas. Have a guest leader come in so you can get out of town or just stay home for a day or two. This will allow you to recharge and rest up, which will make you that much better of a worship leader when you come back to work.

And Christmas holidays don't count. Yes, they are days "off," but they're pretty busy. Find some time the week after Christmas to take a few personal days and recuperate. Your family and your church will be grateful for it.

What other tips do you all have for coping with Christmas?

SUIT CHURCH (or...what i learned from a sell out worship leader)

There was this worship leader. And he was cool.

He wrote great songs, had hair that spiked up just right and always wore black t-shirt, ripped jeans and combat boots. And he played a guitar I'd never heard of.

Like I said, he was cool.

He was also a little bit famous. At least in Texas, he was known as a great songwriter and worship leader and would frequently pop up at big conferences and concerts. I loved his CDs and, on a few occasions, even tried to write songs like him. (Big mistake, by the way.)

And then, he disappeared. He wasn't at summer camps. He didn't make records. He wasn't online. And worst of all, no one was talking about him. (Gasp!)

Then he showed back up. At a big church. Like, a BIG one. The guitar was gone. The hair wasn't as spiky. He was wearing a suit and leading songs in front of a choir, holding a microphone. I couldn't believe it. What a sell out, I thought. I couldn't imagine what had happened. How had they convinced such a super cool guy to become a company man?


I regret being so incredulous back then. Because here's what I've learned from that Sell Out Worship Leader...

God called him to suit church - so he put on a suit.

This thing we're doing - singing and planning and rehearsing and waking up early and going to meetings - is about the people. It's not about my personal preference. It's not about making sure my songs get applause. It's not about building a band I can take on the road.

I'm there to serve and lead the congregation - to craft worship that reminds them of God's mercy and calls them to live like Jesus did. And if I love my congregation, I'll happily sacrifice whatever is getting in the way of me accomplishing what God has for our church.

You see, I thought that guy was a sell-out.

Turns out he was a servant.


Well, it's that time again...time to give you another worship song for absolutely free!

This time, we're sharing "Redeeming Love," a song wrote this summer with my friend, Lee Black. Originally, this was a pretty simple song, but then I had an idea - what if I asked a producer friend (who's way cooler than me) to help me go a little bit outside the box on it?

The result is a hybrid: a hymn styled worship song in an electronic arrangement. Now, I'm not an electronic artist by any means, but I do love how this song turned out. I think it became something memorable and useable.

As a proponent of songs-that-bands-can-play, I was a bit nervous about such a new musical approach on this, but since I've already led this song live, I think it works in both simple - and complex - arrangements.


CHORD CHART (Key of D)    (Key of Eb)

AMAZON/ITUNES for those who want to buy



Now, that we've spent time talking about "knowing your pastor," it's time to take a good long look in the mirror.

Yep. If you're going to have a great relationship with your senior pastor, you've got to know yourself! I'll be honest; some of these may sting, but you can rest in the fact that all of us worship leaders are at least a little messed up. Good thing God uses messed up people, huh?

I’ve been a fan of U2 since I was in high school. Like most guys my age, the delayed electric guitar and Bono’s preening swagger fascinated me. I bought albums and watched the music videos and talked about them incessantly. I became a U2-evangelist. They were bold and different and played as if they believed in something bigger than just rock-star status. Long-time fans will know that eventually, the band's desire to poke holes into the rock star identity eventually did them in. In short, they became what they wanted to despise.

The band emerged from that struggle - and a few bad albums - with more than just sincerity. They seemed to get more honest about themselves and all the effects celebrity can have on a person.

A few years ago, they released a massive book chronicling their career. Imagine my surprise when Bono - maybe the most confident, bold frontman to ever make records - confessed that there has to be something wrong with somebody who needs to stand in front of 10,000 people every night to feel normal. But it did more than surprise - it convicted me.

If this surprises you about yourself, it shouldn't. Put us in front of a few hundred (or thousand) people and we’re golden - we’re engaging, happy, funny and wise. But let one person find us after service and complain about a lyric and we come undone. We can explain God’s grace all day long ,but we instantly forget that He’s got the same grace for us.

This gets dangerous because an insecure worship leader is a selfish worship leader. If we're not careful, we'll let our own needs start dictating what songs we sing and how we order the service. And the modern church context makes it easy for that to happen - there’s very little chance a crowd will see our frailty when we’re lit by lumens and buttressed by decibels. But opting to ignore our insecurities creates a dangerous ministry context:  one where we run the risk of leading worship to fulfill our own personal insecurities more than our calling.

But you can fight your own insecurities in two big ways: First, we go to God's Word and remind ourselves that He loves us and is working things to bring glory to Himself. That puts a whole new spin on the difficulties we face. Secondly, we put ourselves into situations where we get to know people on a personal level - and they get to know us. You can't just exist on stage. You gotta' have people who know the REAL you.

(For other posts in the series, check the ARCHIVE.)


If you're a songwriter who writes worship music, I feel your pain. Not only is it an extremely difficult songwriting genre (maybe the hardest), but the culture is also overrun with too many worship songs as is.

Let me encourage you to keep at it, though! If God's given you the gift of songwriting, He most definitely has a place in mind where those songs need to go! Keep listening and learning and praying - and keep writing!

I believe there are three types of worship songwriters. In my experience, these three categories cover the entirety of songs written for the church. Some of us write in all three categories, but most of us seem to be gifted specifically in one area. As you read, think about your songwriting and where you might land. Or even better, pass this post to a friend and ask them their opinion of your writing.

These are the songwriters who capture it. My wife says this all the time when she hears a great worship song: "It says exactly what I feel and think about God." Expressers' songs won't seem like much on paper, but they will perfectly capture truth and adoration without even knowing it. Expressers typically write from a very personal place about what they're thinking/feeling about God, but their songs end up reaching people because they fit what other people are thinking/feeling, too.

These are the songwriters who teach it. These songs won't be as personal as the "Expresser" songs, but they'll have much more in the way of sound doctrine. Proclaimers' songs will typically have longer lyrics and more predictable melodies. These writers create from a place of responsibility, crafting songs that will instruct and educate God's people as they sing. We are in desperate need for writers like this!

These are the songwriters who present it. As of late, there's been a recent increase in Arranger writers. These songs typically have deep, nuanced musical settings - extremely creative, unexpected song-orders and top-notch musicianship. You'll find Arranger songs in the ambient worship genre as well as the hyper-produced pop field. Arranger's lyrics may be much more simple than the other two categories, but will make their mark by creating unforgettable soundscapes.

Knowing your identity and skill set as a writer will help you to take on the right projects. If you know what you're best at, you won't waste time trying to write things that you're just not gifted for. We all want to grow as writers, but don't neglect the thing you do best!


Nobody likes mistakes. We should avoid them, if possible.

But mistakes make great teachers. We learn from them. Worship leading mistakes may seem like the worst kind since they're often committed in front of a large group of people, but let's be honest - is there a better place to screw up than with a bunch of people who love Jesus?

We need to strive for excellence, but we also shouldn't forget to analyze our mess-ups. Some things you just gotta' learn the hard way.

It's a universal truth: young worship leaders do too many new songs. I don't encourage it, but it does teach a good lesson. Adding lots of new songs will teach you that songs that are awesome on albums may not be awesome in real life. Overwhelming yourself with new material will quickly make it clear that a worship leader's got to know his people and what songs work (both musically and thematically.) It will also reveal the importance (or overemphasis) on musical hooks. You'll start learning that some songs live and die by very specific parts.

This is a thing we do. Many of us start out as worship leaders thinking that what happens on Sunday can be scribbled on a sheet of paper on the way to rehearsal. Not so. The hard lesson worship leaders learn is that every minute matters in a service. Planning sets last minute will quickly reveal your own personal worship leading "crutches" and will quickly devolve into boring, rote setlists. Yes, it's fun to do something last minute, but leading a service this way will quickly teach you that this stuff is too important to be an afterthought.

When you start out leading worship, your personal preference is all you've got. That's how you pick songs, schedule videos, recruit volunteers. But this is a mistake. Why? Because there's way more people than you. Young worship leader who do only the stuff they like will learn a good lesson about pastoring people. Because eventually, somebody's gonna' tell you they hate a song you love. And you're gonna' be baffled by that. But after awhile, you're going to realize all these people aren't coming to church to watch you get your kicks up there on stage.

Everybody wants to hang with their friends...especially worship leaders after a good worship service! (Let's go out to eat and talk about how awesome we are!) This mistake will eventually reveal itself when you realize you don't know many of the people you're leading. Apart from your tiny clique, you're a lonely worship leader without much context for the people you're serving.

Young worship leaders often think that their job is to make their church the coolest in town. This usually means that the worship leaders spends a lot of time and money finding out what other churches are doing and trying to duplicate (or even outdo) that. The problem is that trends are fickle. Just as soon as you install that new light rack or the drum-setup-of-the-day, it's not cool anymore. But because the church sub-culture is so commercialized, worship leaders do well to learn early that it's never about the "stuff" you can buy.


By all means, avoid mistakes. But if you do make them, make sure you can learn from what you've done!a

What were some beneficial mistakes in your ministry?


Haven't posted one of these in awhile, but a couple of worship albums have been grabbing me as of late. I've provided links so you can check these out and let me know what you think in the comments!

Robbie Seay Band - Psalms EP
I'm way late to these multi-volume EP projects from Robbie Seay. And even though I'm listing the newest, Volume 3, the truth is that I've been listening through all the EPs and enjoying them immensely. Personally, I dig how RSB builds groove. They've got a knack for finding the sweet spot between the modern worship stuff and more open, jangly almost alt-country attack. From a worship perspective, I love that good songwriters are now giving us the ability to sing the Psalms, something churches used to do a lot more. It's also not lost on me that writing songs directly from scripture is a massive undertaking. I can't imagine staying this close to scripture with this many songs. I think there's a lot to learn from this record...and a lot to sing! LINK


Laura Story - God Of Every Story
For the past couple of years, Laura Story's music has been some of those most convicting, soul-enriching stuff in my library. I can't explain it, but her songs hit me in a deep place that most music doesn't even touch. I can't tell you how many times her songs have moved me to gratitude and praise.

Usually, if I like a worship album, I'm constantly thinking "when we do some of these songs at church?" but Laura's music ends up being almost devotional for me. It's been my go-to for reminding myself what it means to follow - and worship - Jesus. LINK

Urban Rescue - Wildfire
This is, by far, the most out-of-character recommendation in a long while. A month ago, I came across a tweet from a UK worship leader about the new album from this band called "Urban Rescue." I went to check out the first single and was surprised to find it was a poppy, 80's era synth song. What was more surprising? I loved it.

Two things have me listening to this record over and over: First, the melody. The music is way creative and trendy and would be almost impossible for most bands to implement, but the melodies are fantastic. So much so that I think these songs would work with any musical setting. The second reason I liked it is that I had just finished work on a new song with a more "electronic" feel and was inspired by Urban Rescue's music. LINK


What are your listening to these days?


We've had a theme the past few months for our campus worship team: GET FREE.

My players are great. They show up prepared, they come with great attitudes, and they enjoy being around each other. But sometimes they're timid. They know the material and they watch the congregation very closely, but they're very often afraid to step outside the arranged order and improvise.

For the past couple months, I've been encouraging my team to be more bold in their playing, telling them that I trust them as musicians enough to let them be creative in the worship set. I think those can be powerful, Spirit-led moments and I want my people to have the chance to go after that.

But I'm reminded over and over that I have to do my part, too. I have to make sure my team feels safe branching out. I have to help them learn to discern those spontaneous moments and I have to teach them what to do musically in those settings. But most of all, I've got to reassure them.

I have to build some foundations for my team - some dependable elements that I'll take care of as the worship leader. As I free them up, I also need to model both the boundaries and dynamics of what we're doing.


Last week, we did a tune of mine called Hallelujah For The Cross. I told the team that I expected the congregation to sing out on the song and that we might stretch the ending of the song. I told them to feel free to go after the song...that if they wanted to keep playing the song, to go for it. And then...I realized I had to reassure them.

You see, the song ends with a tag. We tag the last three lines, going to the VI chord. I realized that if we kept going after the ending of the song, they wouldn't know if to play a "normal chorus" or the "ending chorus" with the tags. So I made a decision and told them during rehearsal...

"If we keep going on that song, I'll to the 'tag chorus' every single time. Know that!"

Now to some, that might seem like too much planning or preparation, but for my team - where they are now - that was just enough reassuring to free them up to play a bit more spontaneously than normal.


Leadership is never dictating. It's reassuring. That's the only way you're people will feel safe enough to take chances!


Working under the leadership of a pastor can be a lot of hard work, but with God's grace and a little wisdom, it can also be one of the most rewarding ministry relationships you'll ever have.

I’ll never forget the Monday morning staff meeting. We were sitting around, waiting for our weekly recap of our service but our senior pastor was late. Imagine our surprise when he stumbled into the room looking like death-warmed-over. His shirt was wrinkled and his hair mussed. There were dark circles underneath his eyes.

It had been a hard week. There had been quite a few counseling sessions that week, hospital visits, budget meetings and a big, busy Sunday service. We made small talk, but eventually went around the table so ministry leaders could review Sunday's ministries. When it came to the senior pastor, he looked up and said this,

"I slept with my shoes on. That's how I felt about yesterday."

There were snickers around the table, but I was baffled. He told us he got home from church, ate a sandwich, walked to his room and fell onto the bed fully clothed and slept for over two hours. Once we stopped laughing, he explained that by the time he got home, he was just done. For him, that was the best (and only) thing he could do to finish up a week of ministry. It was a necessary and honest reaction to the completion of a ministry week.

Pastors don’t feel the same as musicians after serving. Preaching is exhausting - way more exhausting than playing five songs. Here's why: Your pastor doesn’t have a team to cover mistakes. Your pastor doesn't have a group up there who can pick up the slack when something goes wrong. It's the pastor - up there, all alone. There's no high fives when they're done. No hangout in the green room over donuts like the band does. That’s why most pastors celebrate by disconnecting - a quite afternoon at home, a couple of beers before bed, a dumb action movie on their laptop. This seems strange to us - musicians wanna’ party after they play - but for most pastors, it's a survival mechanism.

It may seem harsh or weird, but I promise this tip will make for a better pastor/worship leader relationship: STAY OUT OF THE WAY AFTER CHURCH. Once the service is over, let the pastor cope and recuperate - don't add stress by demanding you both spend Sunday night talking about every aspect of the service. By respecting your pastors need for some disconnection, you'll build tremendous relational capital for when you meet back up during the week. Giving your pastor space is a great investment in your ministry partnership.


One of the bright spots in the worship leading world is the resurgence of hymns.

Now, hymns are just as good as they always were, but a lot of worship leaders (and churches, for that matter) decided to leave them behind at some point.

If you're a worship leader who doesn't use a lot of hymns - or even wants to up the quality of the hymns your church is singing, here are some things that may help you on your journey to introduce hymns back into your church life!

The categories below aren't the academic definitions. It's a list of the four types of hymns circulating in church life these days.

1. Known Hymns - These are your tried-and-true, beloved hymns. Sung the way they've always been sung. Consider "It Is Well" or "Blessed Assurance." These are the hymns people will recognize (and sing almost instantly.)

2. New Hymns - No, not talking about the Gettys here. These are old songs that your people haven't heard before. You find songs like this by going further back into hymn history or even exploring the hymns of other denominations. To most of your people, these songs would be brand new.

3. Retuned Hymns - These are "new hymns" that have been reworked musically. In fact, many old hymns have had so many different melodies that it's hard to find the original version. The retuned hymn movement seeks out old, unknown songs and adds new melodies and sometimes new song sections (i.e., verses and choruses.)

4. Modernized Hymns - These are typically known hymns that have been modernized with new melodies, edited lyrics and newer, "worship choruses."

Like lots of things in worship leading, you have to think about your congregation when choosing hymns. While we certainly don't want to pander, we do want to limit distractions when we lead. In some churches, a known hymn with a newly added worship chorus is going to be distracting. In other communities, an antiquated melodic structure may be an obvious distraction and departure from the flow of the worship. If you're wanting to use hymns, think more about the congregation's context than your own.

At my church, we do tend to focus more on Known Hymns and Retuned Hymns. A lot of our known hymn arrangements have different chord structures that are streamlined. (Although, I'm not above a big II major chord now and then!) However, I try to make sure than the melody stays the same. I don't think we gain anything by trying a new melody for "How Great Thou Art." I think it's distracting, even.

Because the retuned hymn movement is so big now, there's lots of options out there. In our case, we try to do a little bit of teaching before using those songs to give some historical context. In some cases, the vibe of the song may not sound like a hymn, but I think it's important for our congregation to know when we're singing something powerful and true...from hundreds of years ago!

Don't use hymns for nostalgia. Don't do them to make the old people happy. Sing hymns because they say true things beautifully. They remind your people that the battles we fight aren't new. The struggles we face aren't original. Jesus-followers who have gone before us faced the same challenges and found hope and purpose is songs of faith.

And what's more? Most of them are way better than the latest/greatest worship hit on the radio.