Chris Groat is a Creative Arts Pastor in Texas. He also writes a pretty great blog. Recently, Chris talked to Worship Links about pursuing excellence in ministry and leading when you’re the youngest guy on the stage.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for us. It’s truly appreciated! The first question is an easy one. Tell us a little bit about yourself in five sentences.
I’m Chris Groat, born and raised in south Mississippi. I was called at age 16 to be a worship leader. I went to college at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, MS, to study worship ministry. During my time in Hattiesburg, I worked at a really great church and completely fell in love with ministry. In May of 2015, I took a job in Pearland, TX, as Creative Arts Pastor at CrosspointChurch.tv.
How did you get started in worship ministry?
I played guitar in the youth band at church in high school. My youth pastor needed someone to sing on a consistent basis. He told me he needed me to do it. I tried to resist, but he wouldn’t let me. I credit him for forcing me to step out of my comfort zone and into ministry. From that day on, I’ve been blessed countless opportunities to lead others to the feet of Jesus.
What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?
I like to get with my Pastor and figure out the overall theme of the message, what series is going to be about, how we will change up flow and service order for this series… and I plan the songs accordingly. We usually do 3-4 songs per week. If there’s a new song we want to introduce, we will sing it two weeks in a row, take a break, and sing it one more week before adding it into our rotation.
Desert Island Worship Mix: You’re trapped on a desert island, and for reasons too ridiculous to explain, you can only have one CD with five worship songs on it. What are they?
- This Is Amazing Grace- Phil Wickham
- Unstoppable God- Elevation Worship
- The King Is Among Us- Elevation Worship
- Lamb of God- Vertical Church Band
- You Hold It All- Travis Ryan
What have you found are some of your greatest challenges in managing a worship team? How do you handle the balance between being a musician and being a manager?
I definitely think my age has been my greatest challenge, at least in my own head. I’m usually one of the youngest on my team every weekend. So, being the youngster and leading people twice my age can be intimidating. But, luckily I’m surrounded by a wonderful team who respects my leadership role and authority. Also, I hate conflict. Having to correct or discipline someone is never fun.
Being a musician is way less stress. You can kinda just show up with your part and do what you’re told. Being a manager, you constantly have to think about the bigger picture. Where you are going, what’s next, how this transition should go, who’s playing that progression wrong, how am I gonna fix this, the list goes on.
What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?
Romans 12:1 is my favorite. It’s speaks about what worship truly is: offering ourselves a living sacrifices.
Also I really love Psalm 96. “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name.”
If you could give one piece of advice to up and coming worship leaders, what would it be? Conversely, what’s some advice you wish you’d received earlier on?
Leading worship isn’t a right, or an opportunity to showcase your skills. It’s a privilege every time you step on a platform of any kind to lead a group of people in worship. Also, understand that it’s not about “how many” you are leading, but “who” you are leading. Take that very seriously.
What steps do you take to maintain a spirit of excellence on your team?
Excellence is in the details. I try to do the best I can to set my team up for success. Whether that means making a Logic Pro/Ableton (or any software you have) session to create click tracks/voice cues and loops to enhance the overall worship set, or creating detailed chord charts to help a team prepare for rehearsal… it’s by doing the little things and focusing on details that you make something ordinary, extraordinary. I also urge my musicians that rehearsal is not the time to be learning the parts. When the entire team comes prepared, you are able to focus on putting the set together, and making it your own… rather than figuring out that riff, or wondering if the chorus or bridge is next. Excellent teams come prepared. Most importantly your team needs to know that God deserves our excellence. He has given each of us a gift to glorify Him.
Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?
My friends at Seeker & Servant are making some unbelievable, innovative worship music. It’s what I hope all worship sounds like in the next 10 years. Go check them out.
Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?