As I prepare to teach on Worship in a few weeks at INSIDE OUT, our Senior High Youth Group at St. Simons Community Church, I picked back up Greg Scheer’s wonderful book “The Art of Worship”. Towards the book’s end he talks about a few of the different ‘styles’ of worship leading – or ‘worship leader personality types’, if you will.

the CONDUCTOR – Leading the congregation almost like a choir, even beating the tempo through songs – often going hand in hand with churches which use primarily hymns during their corporate worship times.

the CHEERLEADER – Great at pumping up the energy of the congregation, a born encourager with an upbeat demeanor, often associated with celebratory praise style of corporate worship.

the ENTERTAINER – Most ‘popular’ worship leaders, like those in the CCM market: a ‘winsome lead-worshiper’ who can encourage those in the pews to follow their example.  These are often skilled vocalists or musicians, and would probably do just as well fronting a rock-band in a club as they would leading worship on Sunday Morning, and some even do both.

the ENLIVENER – Not necessarily the most skilled musician or vocalist in his or her congregation, but is quite effective at drawing others in to participate.  These are most common in ‘communal cultures’, particularly Africa & South America, but there are good examples of them here in the states as well.

Of course, an individual’s spiritual gifts will add other layers to any of these categories (for instance, one of my more prominent spiritual gifts is preaching/teaching, so though I am mostly ‘the ENTERTAINER’ with a little bit of ‘the CHEERLEADER’ mixed in, my preaching/teaching gift makes that look much different from someone else who may fit in the same styles, but have other primary spiritual giftings).

So, I’m just wondering – what type of worship leader are YOU?!


Let me start by saying – I LOVE MY CHURCH! I am happy and proud to be plugged into a church body that is Christ-Centered, Gospel-Driven, Grace-Filled, & Doctrinally Sound, with relevant teaching, wonderful times of corporate worship, and friendly people. Maybe that is why is saddens me to see so-called ‘Christians’ who are, as Josh Harris says, “dating the church”, rather than plugged in somewhere, serving and fellowshipping, committed first & foremost to one local body. Just this week Tim Challies wrote an excellent, powerful, and encouraging post called THEY WENT TO THEIR OWN about his commitment to a local body of believers. Adrian Warnock commented on Challies’ post in LOVE YOUR LOCAL CHURCH. One of my current favorite Worship songwriters, Stephen Altrogge, posted an very humorous excerpt of one of Josh Harris’ sermons, and the full sermon by Harris is available here: COMMITMENT TO THE CHURCH.

In other great church news, apparently there are many signs of revival occurring at Mars Hill Church in Seattle.   200 baptisms in ONE DAY alone!  God is on the move!

As it relates to music, Wisdom Moon posted a great new music theory resource, Milestone Worship added another helpful blog on Worship Songwriting, and a challenging post on SKILL LIDS was blogged over at I am an Offering.

And lastly, back to my church, Fred McKinnon, our music director, posted his thoughts on our Easter Service this past Sunday.

Blessings, and have a GREAT weekend!

Why music?

March 28, 2008

“…virtually all external expressions of worship ‘can be of no further use, than as they have some tendency to affect our own hearts, or the hearts of others.’ Consider, for example, the singing of praises to God, which seem to be ‘appointed wholly to excite and express religious affections. No other reason can be assigned, why we should express ourselves to God in verse, rather than prose, and do it with music, but only that such is our nature and frame, that these things have a tendency to move our affections.'”Jonathan Edwards, modernized by Sam Storms, from the book SIGNS OF THE SPIRIT: an interpretation of Jonathan Edward’s RELIGIOUS AFFECTIONS.

I’ve just listened to Nick Cave‘s new single, “Dig, Lazarus, Dig”, 4 times in a row, and I still want more.  Note: I NEVER listen to songs on repeat – NEVER.  Like a bad accident – it’s horrifying, but you can’t help but look – this tune is Cave’s attempt to intertwine the Biblical story of the raising of Lazarus with the various legends surrounding the life of the late Harry Houdini.  Why? – I have no idea, BUT IT ROCKS with such swagger and groove that I was instantly sucked in!

And for any of the other worship leaders who actually might enjoy Cave’s music at times, I found this 2004 article on his bizarre – but apparently ‘Christian’ faith – quite interesting.  Be sure to read the whole thing, as the highlights are all on page 3.

Enjoy…I think I’m going to spin the song again. 😉

Man, what a GREAT last couple weeks for blogging!

First, Sovereign Grace Music has announced their newest c.d., COME WEARY SAINTS.  They’ve put complete audio online to sample, and though it’s quite a bit darker than most of their material (the theme of the c.d. relates to God being sovereign in our adversity), I am particularly excited about the new songs “Every Day” & “You have always been Faithful”.

Milestone Worship has added two more installments in their Songwriting for Worship series: Reci-Tativ & Aria, & The Singability Quotient.

In a similar vein, I was excited to find an entire teaching series on Worship Songwriting from the IWarSchool.  There’s definitely some good stuff there.

Rich Kirkpatrick dispels the common myth that “Worship with hymns is more theologically rich than with modern music” as part of his excellent WORSHIP MYTHBUSTERS series.

Speaking of hymns, Tim Challies reviewed a number of great new resources for those worship leaders looking for a fresh take on hymnody.

And lastly – entirely off the subject of music/corporate worship (though the author of this blog is an EXCELLENT songwriter, himself) – Stephen Altrogge posted a very convicting blog called WHAT ARE WE REALLY TALKING ABOUT? – it’s all about calling sin ‘sin’, and not candy coating it and making it sound acceptable.  Good stuff.


Having been raised an Atheist, I understand the power of unbelief – it can act as a religion unto itself, and can be as much a world-view shaping belief system as the most controlling cult. Now, as a Christian, and a worship leader, I have recently recognized one of the hindrances to passionate, full-personed (heart, mind, soul, & strength) worship: unbelief. All too often our personal faith is based merely on experience, and though our personal experiences can supplement a deep, intellectual wrestling with facts to find the truth, even the Bible is FULL of individuals who had radical experiences of God, who later – sometimes quickly – turned from that very God whom they experienced. To truly worship God, we must KNOW HIM (experience) with our Heart, KNOW ABOUT HIM (apologetics/theology/doctrine) with our Minds, HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM ON A SPIRITUAL LEVEL (it is not enough just to have a spiritual experience once, and to like the IDEA of God – we must have a soul-level on-going spiritual relationship with Him), and actively WALK WITH HIM (walking out what we know is true). We must love the One we know about in an on-going relationship that results in living differently – that is loving God with your heart, mind, soul, and strength. And we can only do this if our mind is on board, which is why there are such a thing as ‘apologetics’.

I once told a former house-mate of mine that I was speaking at an apologetics conference – he said that he was very sorry. Maybe that’s you – but seriously, since I’m going to start this on-going series on apologetics I feel it only right that I should AT LEAST touch upon what apologetics are and why we should even bother, before attempting to DO apologetics. William Lane Craig, author of Reasonable Faith, defines apologetics as “that branch of Christian theology which seeks to provide a rational justification of the truth claims of the Christian faith.” So, for the uninitiated among us, “apologetics” is basically a “Case for Christ” – giving a “Reason for God”. Apologetics makes us ask the question, “How can I rationally defend my faith?” Though there are many passages we could look at concerning this, I’d like to glance quickly at just a few verses that I believe should encourage every one of us to recognize the importance of a having a good, personal apologetic, not primarily for the sake of sharing your faith, but MAINLY in order to make you a better worshiper.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Notice that at first this verse seems to encourage argument, which seems to be in conflict with much of the wisdom of the Old Testament Proverbs – after a closer look I believe the second half of this verse clarifies it’s intended meaning – the arguments and pretensions that we are to demolish are ‘thoughts’ – ideas that take root in our minds, planted there by life in this fallen world. This verse encourages us to develop our critical thinking skills, so we can grapple with the ideas we encounter, and sift them like wheat – literally demolishing anything that acts to hinder our faith. This is truly what it means to “love the Lord with all of your mind” – giving all your thoughts to Him, and seeing which stand true — studying that we might know the truth, and seeking to think more “Christian-ly” about the world in which we live.

Secondly, let’s look at a handful of passages from Luke’s sequel; the book of Acts 17:2, 17, 18:4, 19 say as follows; “Paul…reasoned with them from the Scriptures”, “…he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day…”, “Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks”, and lastly, “He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.” In every one of these verses, Paul is recorded as not giving just a simplistic Gospel message followed by an alter-call. Instead Paul put great time and effort into REASONING with non-believers. In Athens, in fact, he even uses a local “alter to an unknown god” to make a case for the truth of the Christian God. Another significant thing to note, however, is the centrality of the Bible to good apologetics; Paul didn’t just use fancy philosophy to convince people of the truth of Christ, but “he reasoned from the Scriptures.” It is important to remember that, even in apologetics, the Scriptures are central to what we do – if it is indeed true that “the word does not return void”, then we’d be foolish to begin elsewhere. Often, one of the things that leads us to doubt is that we are not in the Scriptures regularly, and when we are there, we do it merely as a chore – not expecting to meet God within its pages.

If God requires of us as believers to love Him with all of our “heart, mind, soul, and strength”, we should recognize the true Gospel appeals to the whole person AS A PERSON – not as merely a ‘sales pitch’, which is what has too often occurred. Though the Scriptures require of us to “always be prepared to give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15)our intent is not to merely win arguments – even with our own doubts – it is to lead ourselves and others to further see the greatness (and TRUTH) of God, so we can better worship Him, and be better ‘worship leaders’ (in the broadest sense of the word) to a world that grows continually more skeptical by the minute.

Thinking back to not only my own walk, but looking around at the spiritual walks of so many others, I think of the fire that so many of us had when we first met Jesus, which grows dim as personal tragedy and heartbreak hit, and we let ourselves grow skeptical. How can I expect to be used of God to set a room of worshipers aflame with passion for Him, if I, myself, am not on fire for Him? For that reason – both for my own soul, for other worship leaders with whom I have contact, and for the sake of those I am blessed to lead, I am going to begin a weekly blog entitled “Unbelief: roadblock to true worship”, which I hope to publish every Tuesday. I hope that in the process of your mind growing more convinced, that our hearts with grow more passionate, our spiritual lives will flourish, and that the reality of Christ will be undeniable in our lives – which IS worship lived out.

I hope you will go on this journey with me.

So be it.

Mid-March Blog Love

March 12, 2008

There have been some goodies as of late!

First, my “superior” Fred McKinnon posted a CONVICTING leadership nugget on “Vision Casting”.  As I told him at lunch on Monday – guilty as charged!  It’s a healthy reminder of the need to be pro-active in making sure your team is on the same team.  Read it and weep.

Chris (from Canada) posted a very helpful brainstorming tool which could be helpful in songwriting – at least I’ve often approached songwriting this way.  Be sure to check out his post New Online Brainstorming Tool.

Milestone Worship has recently posted a few helpful tips on Songwriting for Worship.

My friend, David Herndon, was interviewed by ABOUT CHRISTIAN MUSIC regarding his new c.d., Out of Danger/Into Rescue.  Not only is it a good disc, and an interesting interview, but David’s band, and I, will be playing at our church on Friday, March 21st at 8 PM.  Free Show.  More info forthcoming.

Lastly, most anyone who knows me or reads anything I write knows how influencial John Piper’s writing has been on my life.  Well, John has recently put his Kingdom-of-God-centered “God is the Gospel” ONLINE in it’s entirety!  Yes, it’s a hard read in places, but it will probably change your life.  Make sure you have enough paper in your printer, and get to reading!


Musical Flashbacks

March 11, 2008

So, I was eating with my family at Outback this past weekend, when I suddenly noticed a powerfully catching riff quickly above me coming from the speakers – I quickly excused myself from the table and moved around the room until I could better hear it. I was not wrong! It was “It’s a shame about Ray” by the Lemonheads – a song I used to have in regular rotation on one of my 3 different college radio shows back in the early 90s! As soon as we got home I went on an iTunes surfing fest from my early college days, and was engulfed by so many original, and fabulous melodies that I just had to share them, especially in light of my recent blog on Excellence & Creativity in Worship. Read the rest of this entry »

Blog Love Quickie

March 4, 2008

First, more on the opening of our new Church facility from Travis, Chris, & Justin.

In other news:
Stuart Townend on  How to Write Hymns
Bob Kauflin responds in For Music

Lastly…I’ve been doing a LOT of songwriting recently.  In fact, it is my goal this year to finish writing at least 12 new corporate worship songs this year – given that I’ve finished one so far, and have at least 3 more started, I think I’ll meet my ‘quota’.  Well, while rehearsing for this Wednesday’s INSIDE OUT meeting, we were going to play “Meant to Live” by Switchfoot as our walk-in music – a song many of us like.  Right as we began to rehearse, the whole band basically mass-vetoed the song, and suggested playing my newest, “Call me to Life“, instead.  THAT made my day!   Hopefully I can get a live-recording of it soon and pop it up online.

Thank you, Jesus.



March 3, 2008


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