Tommy Walker Ministries

Worship / Music / Compassion

Worship & Compassion

Worship: Giving our love to God
Compassion: Giving our love to others

My musical influences...

I was pondering the other day those who have influenced my music and thought I'd share:

  • The Eagles
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Kelly Willard
  • Andrae Crouch
  • Larry Carlton
  • Koinania
  • The Yellow Jackets
  • Sting
  • Matt Redman

Ten Ways to Engage Your Congregation in Worship (Part 10) – Don’t Burn Out

I am sharing ten practical ways to engage your congregation in worship. I have learned these methods through my many wins and losses as a worship leader.

My prayer is that these ten tips will inspire you to grow in your gifts, so that the church will rise up to its boundless, artistic, and powerfully anointed potential!

10. Don’t Burn Out

I want to conclude this series addressing the issue of burnout. There are many burned out worship leaders and I believe this sad phenomenon is preventable. If you’re like me, leading worship is not just a job but a calling, and you are planning on serving God in this way for the rest of your life. If you’re going to make it for the long haul, you’re going to have to pace yourself and watch out for these three main causes of burnout.

1. Unrealistic expectations
You must come to grips with the fact that worship is not going to be a “perfect 10” every week. When worship seemed to feel flat at my church, I would beat myself up and let the enemy tell me I was worthless and should quit. The fact is, life doesn’t work that way and we shouldn’t even want it to. As worship leaders, we’re not performing some kind of canned Las Vegas show that’s done precisely and perfectly every time. We’re leading people to connect with the living God! We’re talking about relationships here, and relationships that are real are never a 10 all the time.

Through the years I’ve learned not to let an “off weekend” destroy me and steal my joy. In fact, when I have a valley service I get excited because I know the mountaintop service is on the way! Don’t get me wrong, none of this is an excuse to not strive for excellence, but what I’m saying is -- if I know I have given the Lord my best and it has fallen short, I’m not going to beat myself up.

Also, many times what you think was your worst service ever was actually one of your best in the eyes of someone you lead. For them their life was changed. Why? "'Because it’s not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty." - Zechariah 4:6

2. Stress
Stress will tire you out like nothing else. There will always be stressful situations in ministry, but if you are working in a healthy way you should be enjoying the privilege of leading people into the presence of God.

Here are some causes of stress to watch out for:

Relational conflicts with your pastor or team members
Relational issues are stress factor number one. We’ve touched on what it takes to be the kind of leader people want to follow, and if we had to sum it up again I would say -- be a servant. Let your pastor know that you are there to serve him. Make sure your team members know that you’re not using them to platform yourself but that you get much more joy out of elevating the gifts God has given them.
Being a people pleaser
Leadership always requires having to make tough decisions. Usually these decisions will not please everyone. If you spend most of your time trying to come up with solutions that will make everyone happy, you will continually be stressed and you will often end up pleasing less people than you had envisioned. 

Being unprepared
Stress is added when we haven’t done our homework and are unprepared. Playing and singing the songs should be so well rehearsed that you don’t even have to think about it. This allows you to focus on what is happening spiritually.  

The music is too complex
Sometimes we bring unnecessary stress to our lives by having too big of a worship team. The bigger the team, the more possible distractions you will have. Simplify the music. It’s better to pick simple songs that you’re comfortable with and play them well than to pick something hard that you have no business trying to play.

3. An inability to authentically worship and enjoy God
The only way you will last in your role as worship leader is to not only serve but to learn how to receive in the process. I’ve been leading at Christian Assembly for over 20 years. For a musician to have been serving at one church for that long is a bit of a miracle. The only way I’ve been able to do this is because I have learned how to authentically worship God, enjoy Him, and let Him bless me while standing in front of all those people. You must learn this -- it’s life or death to your role as a worship leader. Not only will it give you longevity but it will also bring the anointing. Sincere authenticity and anointing always go hand in hand!

Final words for this blog series...

Be encouraged. If you are giving your best and truly want the Lord to be glorified, God is using you! We are in a select group of people on this earth that get to usher in the life-changing manifest presence of God to a desperate world. Though most of the real work God is doing through us will not be known or seen until we’re on the other side, God is at work! 

Be careful not to compare yourself with other worship leaders and their gifts or success. This is a trap. Worship music has become a popular part of Christian music, and I have to constantly turn myself away from the temptation of comparing. The truth is, God has gifted you in ways that He hasn’t gifted me and vice versa. We should learn to be blessed and celebrate the gifts of God in each other. Trust me, it’s a lot more fun that way. 

Have a clear picture of what success is? Success isn’t being at the biggest church, having the best record deal or writing a worship song on the top of the CCLI list -- success is determined by faithfulness. Be faithful to your local church and watching God move. If you showed up and your congregation responded to God in worship, you succeeded! Believe me, record contracts come and go, songs come and go, tours come and go, but God is eternal, and His church will stand forever. 

So stop waiting for the next thing. For most of you, God is using you right now. Start living in the moment and enjoying it! Learn to know His love and feel His smile. 

Lastly, music, songs, church buildings, seminars, sound systems, musical instruments, and everything else are just a means to an end -- and the end is Jesus! Make sure you’re getting to know Him and taking your people with you. There is no higher calling than leading people into their ultimate purpose and destiny of worshiping God!

Ten Ways to Engage Your Congregation in Worship (Part 9) – Be a Motivator

I am sharing ten practical ways to engage your congregation in worship. I have learned these methods through my many wins and losses as a worship leader.

My prayer is that these ten tips will inspire you to grow in your gifts, so that the church will rise up to its boundless, artistic, and powerfully anointed potential!

9. Be a Motivator

Every move you make and every word you speak will be communicating one of two things -- watch me, or worship with me.

Great worship leaders make people forget about them and want to worship. Worship leaders who have more of a performance-based mindset have a hard time leading people in worship. 

People instinctively know when you’re performing and when you’re worshiping. So how do you learn to worship while you’re leading? Learn to become unimpressed with the loftiness of man [whether you are impressed with yourself or somebody else] and become overwhelmed with the awesomeness of God!   

Assuming that we’ve got what’s happening on the inside straightened out, here are some suggestions/tips to do on the outside to motivate your congregation to worship. These “tricks of the trade” will help your congregation make a u-turn from being spectators into participants -- transforming them from a quiet audience into a massive worship choir!

Shut down the band and have everyone sing a cappella. This creates dynamics in your worship set. Not only does your congregation get to hear themselves, it can be nice to give everyone’s ears a break from hearing your band’s wall of sound. 

Tell them to sing again and listen to how beautiful they sound.

With the band continuing to play, tell the worship team singers to stop singing and tell the congregation you want to hear only them sing.This puts a healthy sense of pressure on them to sing.

Create hand motions on the chorus of a song. You might be surprised how getting peoples’ bodies involved helps them focus on what they’re singing. Also, when done right, adults are a lot more like children than you might think.

Have just the women sing a verse and then the men.

Sit them down after a couple of songs to rest, then stand them back up. Having people stand gets their attention.

Stand them up on that big chorus or modulation. Also, sometimes you just need to be aware of how the Spirit is moving and let people stand if it feels right. 

Ask them to give applause to the Lord. Applause can be a very worshipful thing and can sometimes help break people out of a stale moment.

Try doing acoustic services periodically. Some worship teams tend to overwhelm their congregation with intricate arrangements and too much relentless volume. Simplifying can be a good reminder that it’s not about the show and also an opportunity for them to hear themselves with less distractions.  

Next week, I’ll discuss how pacing yourself helps engage your congregation in worship and helps prevent burnout.

Ten Ways to Engage Your Congregation in Worship (Part 8) – Be Creative

I am sharing ten practical ways to engage your congregation in worship. I have learned these methods through my many wins and losses as a worship leader.

My prayer is that these ten tips will inspire you to grow in your gifts, so that the church will rise up to its boundless, artistic, and powerfully anointed potential!

8. Be Creative

We should feel a sense of responsibility to be creative because we have the Creator living inside of us. The devil is a thief and a counterfeit. He takes beautiful things that God has made, steals them and corrupts them. All the popular musical styles that we have today have originated from the church in some way or another. From classical music to the blues, these musical expressions started out as ways for people to cry out to God. It’s the enemy who has twisted them and used these and many other styles for horrible evils throughout the ages. So why are we copying the world’s rehashed versions of what was originally ours? We need to stand up and be the creative leaders again!

God has made many of us with a need to create. There’s something inside of us that gets bored easily. We get tired of the same songs quicker than other people, and we’re always longing to arrange something in a new way. We have these feelings because God has put us on this earth to create new and fresh ways of worshiping Him.

As a creative person, I believe creativity should be an important part of our personal devotions as well. Even in our prayers, we should try to communicate our heart to God with expressive, colorful words that have a sense of passion and freshness. Just like a spouse or a friend appreciates it when you say something that has been thought out and sounds sincere, I believe God does as well. 

So how do we become creative?

Look for the next thing
Creative people are always looking for the next thing. Some people are good at perfecting established methods, but creative people look to do something in a way that has never been done before.

Ask questions
-Why hasn’t anyone written a song about a certain subject?
-How come we never use reggae, Latin or country grooves in our worship songs?
-Why do we always do the fast songs first?
-Why not have worship after the sermon?

Listen, Listen, Listen
Creative people always listen and observe how things work. Keep yourself aware of new ideas that other worship leaders are trying, and listen to all kinds of music. This will help keep you out of those ruts we are all so prone to get stuck in. 

Take a risk
Creativity and risk go hand in hand, because creativity is all about trying things that have never been tried before. Risk is not easy, it’s often scary, and it’s why there are many more critics in this world than creators. But as I discussed above, we creators must take risks because God has made us this way. Here are a few “risks” that might help you keep things fresh:
- Teach a new song no less than every couple of months
- Try new arrangements of old songs and hymns
- Create new medleys of songs 
- Sing less songs and recite more Scripture
- Have a team member read a poem they’ve written about God

Next week, I’ll discuss how being a motivator helps engage your congregation in worship.

Ten Ways to Engage Your Congregation in Worship (Part 7) – Be Musically Prepared

I am sharing ten practical ways to engage your congregation in worship. I have learned these methods through my many wins and losses as a worship leader.

My prayer is that these ten tips will inspire you to grow in your gifts, so that the church will rise up to its boundless, artistic, and powerfully anointed potential!

7. Be Musically Prepared

To quote my good friend, producer and drummer Bob Wilson – <em>God has called you to be the best that you can be.</em> Your best might look different than my best or someone else’s best, but I believe we are all called to give Him our best praise. No matter who you are, how young or how old, beginner or pro, we should strive to give our best and keep growing and improving.

So how do we grow musically?

# 1.  Practice
Play those scales and rudiments as unto the Lord. Make it all part of your devotions to Him. The Lord may be planning on opening up new opportunities for you. It’s your job to be prepared when those open doors come. When you do something with excellence, it reflects who God is and gives you added credibility with those you are leading. 

Also, make sure your worship team rehearses. I’m amazed how often I hear that a worship team just shows up and tries to half-heartedly pull it off. Did you know that when major acts prepare for a tour, they will rehearse every day for weeks before attempting to let anyone hear them? I know that with the challenges of most worship team members working regular jobs this is impossible, but we should always strive to do our best with the singers and musicians we have. 

# 2.  Memorize
As the leader you should try to memorize everything. This will help you with your nerves and allow you to focus on the spiritual side of things.

# 3.  Song Selection
You should pick songs according to who is on your team. At my church I have different musicians playing on different weeks. I will only choose songs that I think that particular group can handle.

I will also select songs according to how much rehearsal time I have. Typically, our worship team rehearsals last for two hours on a Saturday afternoon. When we’re finished rehearsing we have a meal together. This creates a great time for relational connection and a cushion in case we need a little extra rehearsal time. If I’m teaching a new song, I will make sure the rest of the songs are simple so we can spend a lot of time on the new one. The last thing you want to do is teach a new song and have your team be unsure and timid in how they sing and play it.

# 4.  Tempo, Tempo, Tempo
Tempo is a big deal. Keeping a steady tempo puts your congregation at ease. Many churches play their fast songs too slow and their slow songs too fast. In the end all the songs end up being almost the same tempo, and this can make your set feel monotonous. One suggestion is to have your drummer play to a click on the medium and slow songs. Just let him or her lightly play their hi-hat to get you and the team going on the correct tempo. Just remember that if you do this, the drummer becomes the ultimate boss of the tempo. Learn to listen and follow him. In fact, one of the most important techniques in becoming a great worship team member is listening to each other. It’s the only way you will learn how to blend as a singer and play what’s needed as a musician!

Next week, I’ll discuss how being creative helps engage your congregation in worship.

Ten Ways to Engage Your Congregation in Worship (Part 6) - Be Spiritually Prepared

I am sharing ten practical ways to engage your congregation in worship. I have learned these methods through my many wins and losses as a worship leader.

My prayer is that these ten tips will inspire you to grow in your gifts, so that the church will rise up to its boundless, artistic, and powerfully anointed potential!

6. Be Spiritually Prepared

Don’t say anything if you don’t have anything to say.

Have you ever experienced that moment in your worship set when you knew something needed to be said but you didn’t really have anything to say? Have you started nervously spewing out all of your best religious clichés in hopes that the people wouldn’t think you were clueless and totally oblivious to what was needed in the situation? Well I have and unfortunately, everyone was aware of what I was doing.

Luke 6:45 -- <em>Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.</em> The reason we often don’t have anything to say is because we have allowed our hearts to be preoccupied with everything but our Lord. Being spiritually prepared is not only having a prayer or a short devotional thought planned out, it is living the lifestyle of a worshiper. Consistency in your personal times of devotion will definitely show up on stage. 

As I mentioned, it can be good to prepare a thought. One way to lose your worship leader job in a hurry is to talk too much. Don’t forget, in most cases there’s a whole sermon coming. All we need to provide is either a short response to how we feel God is moving in the moment, or a planned out thought or prayer. Make sure it’s concise, to the point and heartfelt. God can say so much with so little if we will just think and pray about a direct and concise way to proclaim His love.

Next week, I’ll discuss how being musically prepared helps engage your congregation in worship.

Ten Ways to Engage Your Congregation in Worship (Part 5) – Be Alert

I am sharing ten practical ways to engage your congregation in worship. I have learned these methods through my many wins and losses as a worship leader.

My prayer is that these ten tips will inspire you to grow in your gifts, so that the church will rise up to its boundless, artistic, and powerfully anointed potential!

5. Be Alert

As worship leaders, we must learn the unique skill of keeping one eye on heaven and one eye on earth. We must go to the mountaintop and authentically worship God, but we must also stay aware of what is required to take the people with us.

For example, if a song is working and you feel like you’re gaining participatory momentum, don’t just end the song because that’s how you rehearsed it; be ready to repeat a section. On the other hand, if a song isn’t working and everyone looks like they’re falling asleep, stop and move on. 

Also, make people aware of how God is moving. Years ago when the Lord would speak to me during the worship time, I always used to keep it to myself. I have since learned that what He was speaking to me was what He wanted me to share with the whole group.

For example, there are times when the Lord will remind me of the simple fact that He is near and He is with me. I need to say something like -- <em>Isn’t it wonderful that the God we worship today isn’t a far away God? In fact, He’s closer than the breath we breathe!</em> I believe that for the most part, if God is speaking something to me, that’s what He wants to speak to everyone, so I should communicate it. 

The people are waiting for us to lead them and take them to the presence of God. I call it taking them from point A to point B -- from self-consumed worries and fears to abandoned surrender. Be alert to what is happening so you can lead the people accordingly.

Next week, I’ll discuss how being spiritually prepared helps engage your congregation in worship.

Ten Ways to Engage Your Congregation in Worship (Part 4) – Be Confident

I am sharing ten practical ways to engage your congregation in worship. I have learned these methods through my many wins and losses as a worship leader.

My prayer is that these ten tips will inspire you to grow in your gifts, so that the church will rise up to its boundless, artistic, and powerfully anointed potential! 

4. Be Confident

Have you ever been led by a nervous worship leader? I know for me I can’t even look at them. I get so nervous for them I have to close my eyes. Having nerves isn’t a bad thing, it means that you care -- but the more confident you become, the less nervous you’ll be.

So how do we learn to lead with confidence?

# 1 - It’s being secure in God’s love for you.
Nothing could be more simple and childlike, but this is the most profound truth that will determine the whole of your life! Whenever you lead, you put yourself at risk for criticism. Leaders are on the front line and will always take the hardest hits, but being secure in God’s love for you will give you confidence as you lead.

# 2 - Remember that God has called you!
When I was 11 I sensed that God was telling me He was going to do great things through me. It wasn’t like thunder and lightning hit me, and it wasn’t even a calling in music specifically, but it was a sense from deep within that He was setting me apart to lead. I began to weep because my first thought was -- <em>You mean little ole me? Look how young and insignificant I am?</em> But then I just felt an indescribable feeling of gratitude that God would pick someone like me. I share this with you because whenever I feel intimidated or afraid in a ministry situation, I go back to that moment and remember that Almighty God has called me. 

# 3 - Lead thousands of times.
There is no substitute for experience when it comes to leading with confidence. If you are in the beginning stages of becoming a leader, I encourage you to lead whenever and wherever possible. 

I moved from Texas to California to go to music school so I could do “big things” for God. After my schooling ended, I found a church that needed a worship leader in one of their small groups. I remembered my Mom telling me once, “Tommy, make sure you’re giving your gifts away in one shape or another. Don’t wait for that perfect situation.” So there I was at Christian Assembly in Eagle Rock, CA leading in a small group. I said, “Lord, you mean to tell me I moved out here and educated myself to lead worship for a small group?”

Well as the story goes, after leading worship for the small group several times, I gained confidence and eventually started leading for our weekend services. To make a long story short, God has allowed me to do everything I have ever dreamed of by just being willing to serve at a local church. All of this to say, if you want to be a great and confident leader, start leading!

Next week, I’ll discuss how being alert helps engage your congregation in worship.

Ten Ways to Engage Your Congregation in Worship (Part 3) – Be Humble

I am sharing ten practical ways to engage your congregation in worship. I have learned these methods through my many wins and losses as a worship leader.

My prayer is that these ten tips will inspire you to grow in your gifts, so that the church will rise up to its boundless, artistic, and powerfully anointed potential! 

3. Be Humble

Here’s a scary verse for you -- James 4:6 --

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

Wow, just to think of all those times when I was trying to make people think some untrue, lofty thought about me while leading worship. I can almost weep on the spot thinking about how I made such a fool of myself and worse yet, how I brought such dishonor to God. All of that and to top it off, I am reminded here that the God of the universe was opposing me.

Ever led worship and been wondering what someone was thinking about you? Well, this issue is enemy number one. Sometimes we’re thinking about how great we are and other times we’re thinking about how horrible we are. Both are wrong and both block the blessing of God flowing through us as we lead!

People often ask me how I deal with the hunger for self-glory? I tell them first of all it is a struggle we will all have until we see Jesus, but it is a fight we must fight! The truth is, for me it is incredibly simple -- I must fix my eyes on the One who is greater than me. 

There have been many times after concerts when people will tell me I did a great job and when they tell me how God sincerely met them through my ministry. It really does mean a lot, but flattery of any kind is kind of like water on a ducks back, it falls off. We crave glory and go to great lengths to get it, but because we were not created to be worshiped, it soon fades away and we’re left searching for more. What we were created for is to give glory and honor to our God -- and when we do that, we have healthy and lasting joy. All of this to say, when I’m struggling with my pride, I worship! Suddenly I become impressed with Him and unimpressed (in a healthy way) with me. I’m reminded that He is God and I am not, and aren’t we all glad about that!

I know it’s obvious, but pride and worship don’t mix. If there is one ingredient besides love and respect that a worshiper must have it is humility! The very act of worship is all about giving worth to another. It’s saying that the object of your affection is so much greater than you. But hold on, before we get down on ourselves, let me say what I believe true humility is. It’s not being someone who hates themselves or always refuses a compliment. True humility is knowing truth about yourself and allowing other people to see and know the real you. 

Have you ever met someone who just seemed to be okay with themselves? They’re the ones who are comfortable and happy in their own skin. Those are the people that have the capacity to be truly humble. So the real question is -- how do we become a humble person? We know that the struggle for self-glory will always be with us -- it’s sin number one. (Satan told Adam and Eve they could be like God.) The good news is that becoming humble is found in being enraptured and consumed with the One who is truly great! When we fix our eyes on God two things happen: we become aware of everything He is and everything we’re not, and we are reminded that God loves and treasures us more than purest gold. While humility is the most important posture of our worship, true worship is our greatest tool in finding it! 

While on stage it is inevitable that we will make mistakes. How we recover from them can speak volumes about our humility or lack thereof. In fact, you can take advantage of a mistake and use it to your advantage. It’s the perfect opportunity to show everyone that you don’t take your self too seriously and that you’re not in front of them to impress them.

I can remember one time at my church when I started a song in the wrong key. The song had a huge range and it was already so high I could hardly sing the verse. I remember looking around at the worship team and my pastor and they were all kind of raising their eyebrows. I kept pretending that everything was okay but then the chorus came. I thought, “I have to go for it.” I reared back and sang as high as I could -- I wasn’t even close. Everyone stopped singing and suddenly what had been a beautiful worship time turned into an all out laugh-at-Tommy-fest. The band stopped playing and so I just joined in and laughed at myself. 

Here’s the point of this story. I went ahead and laughed at myself and then I moved on. That’s the key. When these things happen, let everyone know how undeniably aware you are of your shortcomings, but then move on. If you keep dwelling on your mistake then you start to make everything about you. If you recover from your mistakes with true humility, you can use those embarrassing situations to build great trust with your audience or congregation.

Next week, I’ll discuss how being confident helps engage your congregation in worship.

Ten Ways to Engage Your Congregation in Worship (Part 2) – Be Yourself

I am sharing ten practical ways to engage your congregation in worship. I have learned these methods through my many wins and losses as a worship leader.

My prayer is that these ten tips will inspire you to grow in your gifts, so that the church will rise up to its boundless, artistic, and powerfully anointed potential! 

2. Be Yourself

I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before -- no one is as good at being you as you are. If you think about it, all the great men and women of God throughout church history have been themselves. They have found the unique way that God flows through them and ran with it. The question is -- how do I figure this out? Well, I think we can discover it in two ways. 

First, it’s in discovering who God is. It’s kind of like people who are in a search to meet their biological father for the first time. They want to meet him because in a way, they’re on a search to find out who they are -- and one of the ways you figure that out is by finding out who it was that brought you into this world. No one knows you better than the one who made you, and no one is more like you than your maker. You see, we are <em>in part</em> what God is <em>in whole.</em> We are miniature, imperfect representations of our big, perfect God. You will never find yourself until you find Him. You will never know yourself until you know Him. You will never be at peace with yourself until you are at peace with Him. And you will never be secure in your earthly relationships until you find your security in His love for you! All that to say, get to know Him in the most intimate way imaginable. 

Pray Ps. 63:1

God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You. I thirst for You; my body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water.

The second way to discover how God flows through your life is to ask someone who loves you this question: When God is flowing through me in a powerful way, what does that look like? 

I remember asking my wife and my pastor this very question. They both told me very different things than what I was expecting they would say about me. In fact, I was kind of mad because the areas that I thought were engaging people were only turning people off. And I was completely ignoring the unique gifts God had entrusted to me. Simply put, my wife and my pastor could see me better than I could see myself. Since that time, I have been working on sharpening my strengths instead of relying on what turned out to be my weaknesses.

To conclude, be yourself when leading people. You will find that your life will bear a lot more fruit with a lot less sweat!

Next week, I’ll discuss how being humble helps engage your congregation in worship.

Ten Ways to Engage Your Congregation in Worship (Part 1) – Be a Worshiper

Over the next several weeks, I will share ten practical ways to engage your congregation in worship.  I have learned these methods through my many wins and losses as a worship leader.

My prayer is that these ten tips will inspire you to grow in your gifts, so that the church will rise up to its boundless, artistic, and powerfully anointed potential!

1. Be a Worshiper

This may seem obvious, but great leaders always lead by example. Your congregation is trusting you to take them to a place that you’ve been before. They’re not looking for someone that will hand them the keys to a place they’ve never been and then run away. They want you to usher them in. 

I believe like never before, people are looking for what is real and authentic. In this day and age, song leaders are the last thing we need. We need honest and passionate worshiping leaders! 

This is just a theory, but I think the reason why reality TV is exploding right now is because we all want to see how someone will honestly react in a certain situation. We’ve grown tired of seeing people say what they’re suppose to say when they are told to say it. We want to know what’s really going on inside their heart and then watch how it will manifest itself. This is one reason that it is so critical that we rise up and bring the world authentic worship. It’s because worshiping God is an “in the moment” experience. You can’t worship God yesterday or tomorrow, you can only give Him your love and adoration in this very moment! And when God is moving in your congregation, you get to communicate an “in the moment” genuine response to God and let hundreds of people see it. More than programs or perfection, people want to see you lead them to the place where God’s power is moving and changing lives!

Being a worshiper when you lead is your greatest weapon against burnout. If all you’re doing is providing a worship time for your church, you will last no more than a few years up on stage. Here is the secret -- <em>you have to learn how to let God bless you!</em> In 1 Chronicles 4:10, Jabez says, “Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my territory.” Putting it another way -- “Bless me, O God, so I can be a blessing!” Whether it is spoken or not, this is my prayer whenever I get ready to lead. Looking back on my life, it has always been those times when I’ve learned how to enjoy God and let Him flow through me that He has done the most powerful things. Don’t be ashamed to say, “Bless me, O God, so I can be a blessing!”

To conclude, worship is like a feast. We make people hungry when we eat in front of them and then offer them what we are having. I don’t think the psalmist could have said, “Taste and see that the Lord is good,” if he had never tasted himself. Learn how to experience God with a joy that is deep, and then our church, our neighbors, and the entire world will want to join the party!

Next week, I’ll discuss how being yourself helps engage your congregation in worship.

Five Things Every Worship Leader Wants to Say to the Pastor

Last week, we looked at five things every pastor wants to say to the worship leader. Below are five things every worship leader wants to say to the pastor.
Note: These are written from the perspective of worship leaders writing to pastors.

1. Be A Worshiper
The greatest way to affirm the worship leader is to let them lead you in worship and watch you respond whole-heartedly to the presence of the Lord. When the pastor worships, they are telling the worship leader and the entire congregation that what’s going on is important. Ultimately, the pastor is the worship leader of every church, therefore there is no way to have a worshiping congregation without a worshiping pastor!

2. Affirm My Role In The Church
It has long been said that we need to worship God to prepare our hearts for the Word, but it could just as easily be said that we need to hear God’s Word to prepare our hearts for the worship. God is at work when we worship in spirit and truth. Affirm to your worship leader that their role [of engaging people in authentic expressions of corporate worship] is of the utmost importance in a Christian’s spiritual life. When a pastor affirms the worship leader’s role in the church, it will inspire the worship leader to have a deeper sense of responsibility and want to give their very best!

3. Affirm Our Relationship
Befriending your worship leader is a great way to say, “You are important and I value you.” The kingdom of God should be thought of more as a family than an institution. No matter how big your church is, a great leader should be in touch with his fellow leaders. Pastors sometimes forget that the worship leader is often the second most visible leader in the church, so staying on the same page relationally can pay great dividends.

4. Be A Cheerleader
Be the kind of pastor that prays for and celebrates the successes of your worship leader. If you make him/her feel that you are watching out for them, they aren’t going to feel like they have to fight for themselves. Nothing will make your worship leader want to stay with you and serve you more than knowing that you are their greatest cheerleader.

5. Lead With Humility And Integrity
Be the kind of leader your worship leader will want to be like, follow and trust. If a church has an atmosphere where humility is valued, it will help deflate a lot of the egos, which can be a problem with worship team members. Worship leaders and musicians are watching to see if the church is all about you, or all about you serving the church. If they see humility and servanthood in you, they will want to give it back to you and others.

When We Worship God...

  • Faithless people fix their eyes on Jesus and find the author of their faith - Heb. 12:2
  • Hopeless people find that God is their ever-present help - Ps. 46:1
  • Proud people become humble before a holy God - Is. 6:1-5
  • People living in fear are gently led to the Prince of Peace - Is. 9:6
  • Workaholics are able to stop everything and know that He is God - Ps. 46:10
  • It causes many to fear and put their trust in the Lord - Ps. 40:3
  • Broken-hearted people will be reminded that God is near - Ps. 34:18
  • Sad people find fullness of joy in the presence of the Lord - Ps. 16:11 
  • Hard-hearted people receive hearts of flesh - Ez. 36:26
  • The rejected ones find His great love - Ps. 103:11
  • The fallen are lifted out of the miry clay - Ps. 40:1-2
  • Materialistic people are reminded that the greatest treasure in life is a touch from heaven - 2 Cor. 4:7 
  • Manipulative people are able to surrender their control to the trustworthy God who reigns - Ps. 20:7
  • Prejudice people come in contact with God's unbiased, amazing grace - Gal. 3:28
  • People that try to limit God fall on their knees and cry, “O Lord, our Lord how majestic is Your name in all the earth” - Ps. 8:1

Pride and Surrender

When you find out that someone doesn’t think you’re as great as you think you are, your pride turns to fear.

When you let fear take its grip, your fears lead to insecurity.

When you live in insecurity, you create relational trouble everywhere you go, and it destroys your life.

So what is the answer? – Surrender
But how do we surrender? – Trust

We let God and God alone be our Defender.

Psalm 18:1-3
Good News Translation 

How I love you, Lord! You are my defender. The Lord is my protector; 
He is my strong fortress. My God is my protection, and with Him I am safe.
 He protects me like a shield; He defends me and keeps me safe. I call to the Lord, and He saves me from my enemies. Praise the Lord!

We must believe that God always has our best interests at heart!

Being in the public eye, we are constantly susceptible to pride and insecurity. One day we will do something really great in front of a lot of people, and the next day we’ll do something that goes horribly wrong.

Our job is to be prepared, do our best and then be able to let go and trust that God did His good work through us.

Diversity in Worship

If you look at the diversity in creation and in the peoples of the world, don't you think God would prefer to see His glory displayed in church worship in the same diverse way?

I believe we need to embrace the people God has brought us and let fresh new sounds and expressions of worship ring out! Instead of worship teams all over the world doing a mediocre job of all trying to look and sound the same, let’s embrace our uniqueness and present it with excellence.

To bring the beauty of diversity it will take 4 things:

1. Discovering How Christ Uniquely Expresses Himself Through You
The more you get to know Him, the more you will discover how He uniquely flows through you. Religion is only following the rules so we can all look the same, but relationship is discovering how God has uniquely designed each of us for His glory!

Death -- being who you aren’t to try and please everyone.
Life -- being who you are and letting God minister to those He chooses through you.

2. The Courage to Let the Real You Be Seen
We are afraid of making ourselves vulnerable for fear of rejection, but the reason God made us all different is so we could glorify Him in a million unique ways.

Ask someone who loves you:  “What does it look like when God is flowing through me freely?”

3. Grace to Let Others Be Different Than Us
All of our relationships will be deeper if we can celebrate our differences! What a gift this would be in our marriages and our friendships! 

It’s what we all really want -- to have the sense that people actually love who we really are! Few things are more empowering than this!

4. The Discipline to Sharpen the God-given Gifts Within You!
The whole dream of diversity in worship falls apart if we don’t do it well. Simply put, <strong>pray, practice and read!</strong> We must keep growing spiritually and musically! 

Growth prevents burnout, keeps us sharp, inspires others, and glorifies God!

Why Christians Should Gather and Express Worship to God: Pt. 3

Why Christians Should Gather and Express Worship to God:
The Truth is Proclaimed!

When we sing, we proclaim the truth of the gospel. We reaffirm what we believe and declare what’s true about God over our lives!

Romans 10:17 says,

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

Words are powerful! With words, creation happened. With words, we confess with our mouth unto salvation. With words, we confess our sins to be forgiven.

James 3:3 declares,

The tongue is the rudder of our lives.”

Just as a negative person spawns negativity and defeat, a person who is constantly declaring God’s goodness is inviting God’s power and love into their life! 

~ Dale Walker

Why Christians Should Gather and Express Worship to God - Pt. 2

Why Christians Should Gather and Express Worship to God:  It Brings Unity!

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”

Psalm 133:1

When we gather and worship, we get to experience the power of hundreds of people agreeing and focusing on the goodness of God… all at the same time. Because of the rhythm and melody, we are very much, simultaneously affirming what we believe – together!
I’ve seen corporate worship unify Christians – from many different denominations and backgrounds – in very unique and impactful ways. Like the verse says, it is in unity that God bestows [gives] His blessing.


Why Christians Should Gather and Express Worship to God

Think about it:

To sing, raise your hands and shout to an invisible God is an act of faith!


Faith without works is dead.

James 2:26 

Worship is one way to bring action to your faith.

You could say that worship is like spiritual jumping jacks. We breathe in His blessings and breathe out His praise." 

~ Dale Walker



How many times have we entered the sanctuary full of doubts and left full of faith?

Fame or Faithfulness

Are we running after fame or faithfulness?

This can be a question for anyone to ask regardless of whether you want to be the most popular among a small group of friends or known around the world. It’s no secret that few things are valued more in our culture than fame. I must say though, of all occupations, isn’t it ironic that worship leaders can now be famous and seem to get caught up in striving for this enticing phenomenon? 

After reading the story of Abraham recently, something hit me. God said that He was going to make Abraham’s name great and his descendents would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. (Genesis 15:5) Talk about fame, Abraham had it coming! But when Sara couldn’t conceive they thought God needed a little help, so they came up with the idea of letting Abraham sleep with Hagar the maidservant. This is a classic example of not trusting that God would live up to His promise and taking matters into their own hands. 

Many of us in public ministry have big dreams, but we need to differentiate between the “fame dreams” and the “faithful dreams.” Our highest goal should be to simply be found faithful! Faithful in our relationship with God, and also in the circles that God has put us in -- our families, our churches, and our friends. It’s our job to be faithful with these things, and it’s God’s job to bring to pass the “fame dreams” if He wills it. When we take things into our own hands, oftentimes it doesn’t work and we leave a trail of heartache and trouble behind us. 

So be faithful in the little things, and focus on growing in your relationship with Christ and the gifts He has given you. Let God handle the rest.

From Mother Teresa...

"People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.

If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.

For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."

— Mother Teresa

Copyright 2014.