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All posts in Worship

What God Needs from a Worship Leader

Prior to Vertical Church I was a worship leader for 13 years. As a worship leader the tension I found myself dealing with was getting beyond the challenge of programming for JESUS rather than people. If you plan worship long enough you will eventually get to the place where you will be challenged by the desire to program in a way that achieves the desired results of the music. But the truth is…

What God needs from me as a worship leader isn’t good music – He desires a leader who can present supernatural worship.

Our music should be set apart and anointed by God. When we lead worship, that worship needs to hold within it the supernatural - the presence of JESUS, the power to break through all the junk that people bring into the house from their week. Let’s face it – they come in from all different places in life: some worshpers, some seekers; some broken hearted, some wholehearted; some offering all they have, some giving God one more chance.

We shouldn’t… NO! WE CAN’T just half-heartedly walk into worship acting as if we’re doing God a favor by showing up. This is especially huge for the worship leader, singer, band member and A/V tech – but you know it’s also important for the believer sitting in the congregation. After all, prayer and worship is not for God’s benefit (He doesn’t need our worship – He has created beings who were made for the purpose of worship who have and will worship Him for eternity). Worship and prayer is for our benefit drawing us closer and into the presence of our Father.

I am so thankful for the worship leaders God has given us at Vertical Church. One thing that I know that they understand is this concept – they demonstrate it weekly. But for all of my worship leader friends out there who read, maybe you need some encouragement in this area. May we all remember that what we do in woship is not entertainment – it’s our spiritual act of worship, singing to the ONE, the only ONE Who holds the power to break the chains that people have in their lives.

A Song is Still Lighting Me Up

This is one of those tunes that is still setting me on fire. I have listened very often for the past few months. I hope it blesses you as well.

Thursday Afternoon Break

Just love this song. You're welcome.


Do You Like Music? BUY THIS!

Jonlloyd If you're from this area you may be familiar with my friend, Jon Lloyd. Jon is a great worship leader and has a new recording that he has just released. I asked Jon if he could take a few minutes to join me here on Wholehearted so you would know about it.

Me: Jon, tell us about you.

Jon: I'm a worship leader, youth pastor, father of 3, husband of 7 years, and a native of Lumberton.

Me: tell us how you became a worship leader?

Jon: I was on a mission trip in the mountains of Jamaica with a guitar in 2004. I didn't really know much about worship leadership but had been asked to lead worship for this trip since I could play guitar. Throughout the week, I watched Jesus work in the lives of the students on the trip, and saw the effect of the music on their lives. When I came back from that trip, God made a place for me to be the new worship leader at my church, and I've been doing that ever since. 

Me: There are so many great worship leaders today who I love – Jon, who are your influences as a worship leader?

Jon: As far as musical stylings go, some of my influences are Casey Darnell, Carlos Whittaker, Eddie Kirkland, and many of my friends who lead worship at various area churches.

Alive Jon Lloyd Me: Your new EP is titled, "Alive", and I gotta tell you, I'm loving it. Tell us a about "Alive":

Jon: I spend a lot of time listening to sermons online, listening to youth pastors speak to kids, and just generally observing what the church is talking about these days. It occurred to me that so many people in modern-day Christianity are preaching about Jesus' death that we've forgotten that it doesn't stop at death. The reason we have to live is not because Jesus died, but because He rose – He lives – He reigns! Obviously, without death on a cross our story is incomplete, but if we stop at the tomb, we lose the very essence of why we live. These three songs explore the idea of truly being "alive" with the songs "Because He Lives," "The Lord is My Strength," and "Jesus is Alive." I had some amazing help with making this record – it was produced by Jason Hoard at Black Cat Studios outside of Atlanta, GA, and Casey Darnell (one of my worship leader heroes) co-wrote the second song with me. It was truly humbling to be a part of this project. But all the glory belongs to God!

Me: One of the songs on your new ep is "Jesus is Alive" – share with my friends YOUR "Alive" story:

Jon: The song, "Jesus is Alive" is sort of a representative idea behind my life. I felt for so long that my life was incredibly mundane – like it was literally going nowhere. I would look at myself in the mirror and see a failure. I thought that I would never really amount to much of anything. Once I began leading worship, things began to change. I started seeing people who were broken finding hope in something. I wanted to know that hope for myself – to know that there was indeed a plan in store. Once I accepted Christ, I started living as a new person. I started embodying Paul's words that "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." I felt alive for the first time in a long time. 

Me: did you have to fight Ron Kenoly to use the title, "Jesus is Alive"?
Jon: Ha! Nope. Oddly enough, it's a very popular song title. There are about 50 songs on CCLI with the same name.
Me: Seriously though, what is your hope for this EP?

Jon: My hope for the EP is simply that people would hear more than just songs – that they'd hear a message. The message of this EP is such a powerful one that is so needed in today's culture – I want people to realize the amazing life that's found in Christ.
Me: Lastly, Jon, will you share with us what you would love to see happen in the area of worship in our region?
Jon: My prayer is that our region would begin to realize the importance of worship, not as some rudimentary aspect of a Christian "checklist," but as a joyful opportunity to lift praise to the very God who created each of us. We should be excited about the ability to worship our God freely, and I pray that those I lead will experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Me: One last thing you would like to share?
Jon: I'd like to challenge everyone reading this to dare to be different – if you are truly alive in Christ, people will start to notice. People might stare at you. People might wonder what's going on with you. What will you tell them?


Jon's EP, "Alive" is available on iTunes – BUY THIS! You'll love it (and you can get it HERE)

10 “Be’s” – Part One

Be-logo-grey_tcm119-246782 Hyde Park is a lot different than it was 11 years ago. Now I know, some think it's awesome – a few argue that they aren't happy with the direction. One thing that we should all be able to agree on is that together we have touched a lot of people for the cause of Jesus Christ. For that we should all be thankful – honestly, I love you all regardless of your opinion.

Through the years as changes have come I have found myself adapting to the challenges of Pastoring in a fast moving, growing church. If you asked me what I would say to someone entering a position like mine has been at Hyde Park I would share the list below. This list has helped me to stay grounded that I might live out what I believe God has called me to – now matter how quickly the landscape changed (by the way: these are not in order of importance):

  1. Be prayed up: to lead it is imperative that you have a game-plan, a map that shows you the direction that you are to lead in – DIRECTION COMES FROM JESUS! Vision from God for your ministry (not someone else's that you've adapted from their blog or website) is the beginning of leadership. When I pray for and about my ministry I ask God for a Spiritual covering, Spiritual Guidance and Spiritual eyes. I remember many times thanking God in advance for what I believed in faith that He was going to do only to watch Him do that exact thing later. Be prayed up.
  2. Be excellent: to be excellent you must first define what excellence looks like. I have encouraged other church leaders not to define excellence by looking at sister churches (because unfortunately that may be setting the bar low). You must be excellent at what you do if you expect excellence from others. 
  3. Be Patient: You can't make too many changes too fast without trouble and when you do make changes it is imperative that people understand why the changes are necessary. This isn't a ministry principal – it's a life principal. More on this later. 
  4. Be Humble: This one is hard, especially if you're a leader type person. Truth is, for many people who do what I do, God has given them the ability to stand before people to lead/perform/communicate and it takes a certain amount of confidence to actually do that. If you don't watch out your confidence will turn into pride. DON'T DRINK THE KOOL-AID EVERYONE OFFERS YOU ("you're SO great! God is using YOU so much! You have such an annointing! You're the reason we come here!") I repeat: do not drink the Kool-aid! It tastes really good but it is poisonous (not to mention that when you do you literally are stealing God's Glory). Whenever someone does this point them back to Jesus.
  5. Be a worshiper: no brainer, huh? One of the most dangerous things in the world is to become a "professional worshiper". Joe Pace once said, "God is more concerned with your private worship on Monday than He is is impressed with your public worship on Sunday. Read this:

     21 "I hate, I despise your religious feasts; 
           I cannot stand your assemblies.

     22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, 
           I will not accept them. 
           Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, [a]
           I will have no regard for them. (We cannot buy God!)

     23 Away with the noise of your songs! (Without the heart the most Theological of songs is noise to You, O God)
           I will not listen to the music of your harps. (Amos 5:21-23 – NIV)

    It is possible to "do" the actions that represent worship without truly worshiping. The actions of worship without the heart of worship in nothing more than meaningless ritual.

I'll share the rest of the list tomorrow. Your thoughts on any of the points are welcome!