Interview: Creative Arts Pastor Jared Bayless

Jared Bayless is a Creative Arts Pastor and musician in Wyoming. Recently, Jared talked to Worship Links about his new album, Metallica, and screaming for your congregation for the first time.

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.

My life verse defines who I am: “To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.” -Colossians 1:29. I’m currently the Creative Arts Pastor at Element Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming, for over three years now. I love creating/producing music, serving our community of Cheyenne with an amazing church staff and volunteers, leadership development, and seeing people coming to know Jesus on a weekly basis! My wife and I are truly blessed beyond what we deserve to be where we are.

How did you get started in worship ministry?

One word: Metallica. Not what you were expecting? I never played an instrument or sang in my life until I was 19. I had this desire to sell my video games off, buy a used electric guitar at a pawn shop and learn Metallica songs (high school friend always loved Metallica). While in college, some of my much more musically talented friends took me under their wing and let me play along during worship get togethers and fail miserably. One night during an outdoor dorm devo I said a simple prayer of “God if I do music, I will only do it for you and nothing else.” After that everything just took off. God has shown me how he honors spiritual disciplines and integrity in being obedient to him. Even though I’m doing worship ministry now, I don’t have a degree in it. I have a degree in Family Counseling, which I use all the time to help leading my team, our church members, and in the songs we write. If it wasn’t for Metallica, I never would have started playing music, which never would have let me find where my passion for worship was found. Crazy how God works sometimes.

What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?

I’m blessed to work with our Lead Pastor, Jeff Maness, who works way ahead and finds God blesses that discipline as well. We work on a 13 week out strategy overall with an outline of what he will be speaking on five to six weeks out. In doing this, we can prepare for set designs, talk through sermon illustrations, get videos prepared, and pick out songs that will fit his message and offer suggestions or make revisions with plenty of time if I come up with something better later. Our job is to set up the message and break down layers. I asked our staff and key volunteers to rate all of our songs in an Excel spreadsheet, on a 1-5 scale (5 being the best), letting me know which songs our people responded to best (not just their favorite songs personally). Once I had that, I grouped the 4’s and 5’s into a bank and broke them down into around 30 songs to pick from for a 2 month block with 3 slots for new songs. Those are the ONLY songs we will pick from and should we do a new song, we will surround it with our best participatory songs so that people don’t feel robbed of worship because they were unable to participate as much with the new one. They are more likely to get into the new song if they have had a chance to really dig in with the others in the set.

Tell us about your new album Front Lines.

Front Lines is unlike any worship album available right now. It’s a blend of hard rock, modern ballads, dubstep, old hymns redone to modern hymns. Every church is made up of all kinds of different people with different preferences of style. We wanted to create an album where all kinds of people could resonate with different styles and use it as an invite to their friends and family. We wanted it to be a conversation starter and their friends and family say “THIS is your church?? I want to go to your church!” There may be some styles not everyone liked, but they all have the same goal and it’s going to draw in a more broader audience of people from all walks of life. As long as they know every song and every theme and every heart writing the songs are pointing to Jesus, people stop caring about preference as much and start caring about its mission and purpose; and that’s so more and more people will say “yes” to Jesus through the mission of music which is the mission of the church. Our mission at Element Church is to help people experience LIFE to its fullest in Christ.

ElementMusic

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?

  • Nothing Else Matters by Metallica (not technically “worship” but a reminder of where God started in me in music)
  • Jesus Till You Come by Element Music (remind me of where I’ve come & what my mission is regardless)
  • Only King Forever by Elevation Worship
  • Man Of Sorrows by Hillsong
  • Son Of Man by Element Music

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?

Balancing scheduling, growth and burn out. Sometimes you need to take risks on people in order for them to grow. Sometimes you need to protect them from themselves and they need to spend time with their family even if it means leaving you with a gaping hole that week. Your team should never be a means to an end for you. If they know the only reason you talk to them is because of your need for them to help you get your job done that week, they will eventually bail because they know that their care is contingent upon helping you. They should know every time you talk to them, you aren’t going to always mention the church in some way. You are a pastor as the leader. Managing is part of it, but if you take care of the people, they will manage the team themselves. You become much more family than worship team, always looking out for one another.

What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?

Ecclesiastes 9:17 in the past year has been humbling. “Better to hear the quiet words of a wise person than the shouts of a foolish king.” We get frustrated when the crowd doesn’t respond the way we think they should or compared to us, but are our hearts one of speaking wisdom silently and letting God move the people or are we shouting like a foolish king, trying to heap praise on ourselves? Our worship should never be dictated by the response of man or else we devalue the goodness of who God truly is.

1 Peter 1:3-9, James 3, Deuteronomy 10, all for different reasons too long to get into here. There’s so many that don’t even mention worship which are so vital to worship as a leader.

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?

There’s several – sorry! Care about your people outside of church times, invest in them, take risks, challenge them to do things they’ve never done, and they will make the team, the environment, great. Don’t give more attention to the equipment, the processes, the work – it will always be there. The people won’t always be there. Always be sharing where you are at spiritually (both good and bad) with your team. How can they follow if they don’t know who’s leading them and where they are leading them to?

These are all things I wished I’d heard. I never had that “mentor” role specifically in my ministry career. I wished I’d had. I learned what and how I would lead people by doing it once I was given a chance to be the leader.

So, you’re also in a hard rock band. Tell us a bit about that. How does that influence your style in leading worship?

Yes, my wife and I have had a side band for about seven years or so called “Bayless”. We have a couple albums out on iTunes, etc. We’ve been blessed to open for bands like Thousand Foot Krutch, Disciple, Building 429, and LyBecker, plus we did an album with Jon Steingard of Hawk Nelson. He produced our Sabotage album and we got to go down and work with him in Nashville. Amazing memory for us. We are not doing what we used to be doing due to jobs and ministry, but still are working on a potential EP I’ll be producing this year comprised of dubstep, hard rock/metal.

The style does influence me. Element has been kind of the perfect marriage for me. We have a big rock edge to how we play songs, both originals, and songs other churches do. We say “Can we ‘Element’ it up a bit?” meaning we put our own rock vibe to it. Our people have just eaten it up, which is why we put the song “Front Lines” on the album which actually includes me screaming at the end behind my wife singing. For the album release night, I screamed for the first time in front of our Elementers and wasn’t sure how they’d respond. They went crazy and loved it!

Our church is made up of such a melting pot of people. Former addicts, burned by church, trying church for the first time, people wanting something different, people looking for something real and accepting of who you are as you walk in those doors but are challenged to always grow from there. So our style and ‘edge’ lends itself to the people who are coming. They want passion in their preaching, in their teaching, and in their church, so they expect and love that in their worship music too. We love Element and they have embraced my wife and I so much and we can’t thank them enough for the blessing they have been to my family and my worship team as well.

What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?

The opposite of what we have today! Haha! I say that because music, worship or not, rebels against itself. You watch over the years and styles that were trendy are followed by the opposite of itself. Everyone always wants “something new”. We are in a very melodic vibe in worship, more “soaking”, but we also are in a very digital, electronic vibe, too, so I’m sure we’ll maybe come back to more rock-ish or something more aggressive once we’ve tired of what we have now. That’s a guess. I don’t know what it will look like exactly. I just know that man is cyclical and chances are, we will be so again.

Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?

They aren’t super new I suppose, but I’ve really been enjoying Fellowship Creative lately. We are also trying to write some different type of styles at Element Music. We have started to talk about what album #2 would look and sound like so be watching for that too!

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?

Thankfully I don’t have a lot of worship ones, but I do have a preaching one. During one of my internships I was asked to preach. During my message I was setting up a story and giving some of the details, trying to be laid back and relatable. I got to a moment where I’m giving a “you know how…” statement and in the middle a guy lets out this little laugh, “ha” outburst, giving fuel to my story. I stopped after hearing it for a sec and said “This guy knows what I’m talking about!”, but no one laughed. I thought it was strange because I was merely drawing in the crowd and be relatable. Come to find out after the message there was an autistic man who had a certain tic where he’d yell out and make sudden noises. Everyone at the church knew this and was used to him, but I was new and unaware of any of this. Essentially I’d called out the autistic man during my message and I looked like a fool! Thankfully everyone was gracious but I definitely learned to exegete my audience better before going off script!

Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?

I can be reached via email at jared@elementchurchwy.com or to check out Element Music or Bayless, go to iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and search for us there. Look us up on Facebook (Element Music and Bayless) or Twitter (Element Music or Bayless). You can also go to Element Church’s website for more info about Element! Shoot me a message!

Interview: Worship Director Matt Dailey

Matt Dailey is a Worship Director in Florida. Recently, Matt talked to Worship Links about small worship catalogs, using Matrix Mode, and playing the keytar in worship.

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.

Thanks for having me! My name is Matt Dailey, and I’m the Worship Director at Navarre United Methodist Church in Navarre, Florida. I’ve been on staff here since 2013, but I took on the full-time position in early 2015. I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education at the University of West Florida (#fightingseashells), with an emphasis in piano and music theory. Outside of ChurchWorld, I enjoy baseball, comic books, and trivia. My wife Lisa and I are coming up on our fourth anniversary; no kids, but plenty of wayward worship musicians spend time on our couches!

DaileyWife

How did you get started in worship ministry?

My parents had put me in piano lessons when I was six, and I didn’t really enjoy it. Actually, that’s being really nice. I HATED IT. When I got near the end of eighth grade (you know, old enough to make adult decisions), I told my mom I wanted to quit. She respected my decision, but before she let me quit she bought me a book of Praise and Worship songs. Like the late 80’s, early 90’s contemporary stuff. SUPER cutting-edge. But I learned to play a few songs, and I was hooked. On my 14th birthday, I sat down behind the piano at church and led a worship song for the first time. I can’t even begin to describe what that felt like for me. It was like sitting down in your favorite chair after a long day at work. Like jumping into a pool on a 100 degree day. It was like seeing color for the first time. I didn’t know it at the time, but God designed me to do what I was doing that morning: to worship him through music. That day changed my life, and set me down a path that would eventually lead me here to Navarre. In high school, I began to lead worship for my youth group, then for church services and events around the Alabama-West Florida conference of the UMC, and then finally took my first position as a “worship leader” at my home church when I was 21.

What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?

I’m fortunate enough to have a pastor who loves advance planning. Six weeks before we start a sermon series, we sit down with our full ministry staff and have a creative meeting. That’s where we nail down the titles/topics for each week, and any creative elements that we want to include. After that meeting, I sit down at my computer, open Planning Center in Matrix Mode, (sidenote: if you’re a PCO reader reading this and have never used Matrix Mode, it will change your life. Do it now!) and look at the blank canvas. From there, I insert any new songs that we’re introducing, build backwards from there using the songs that have been resonating with the congregation lately, and then add a dash of the classics.

Dailey

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?

  • Oh God – Citizens and Saints
  • Death in His Grave – John Mark McMillan
  • Lazarus – Bellarive
  • Seen a Darkness – John Mark McMillan
  • Rising Sun – All Sons and Daughters

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?

Managing the disparate personalities of a worship team is always the biggest challenge. I’m fortunate at this juncture of my time at Navarre to have made it through some significant personality challenges. When I came on full time we were dealing with some mistrust, and a lack of personal responsibility. Now, we have a team that cares about each other, the congregation, and the Lord, and the way that we worship reflects that.

I think that all musicians are managers in some way – we’re uniquely wired to deal with different challenges that approach, from mastering a new lick to writing a new arrangement. We always have to be a step ahead of the music, and it works the same way with people. It’s crucial to anticipate problems before they happen. The best way I’ve found to do that is to really spend time outside of the church with your team.

What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?

Like any good worship leader, I spend a lot of time in the Psalms. My two favorite regarding worship are Psalm 100 and Psalm 13.

Psalm 100 is the basic blueprint for exhorting a congregation to worship. “Shout to the Lord, all the Earth! Worship the Lord with gladness!…for the Lord is good, and his mercy endures forever!”

Psalm 13 is the flip side of that. David spends four verses crying out to God in distress – he’s in real danger. His enemies are surrounding him and he feels helpless and abandoned. But despite all of that, in verse 5 he declares, “but I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” That speaks volumes for me, that even when the walls are closing in and we feel like God’s not there anymore, the promises of God still stand.

While we were setting up the interview, you mentioned that you have a keytar. Do you ever use it in a worship set?

I do, actually! I haven’t played it as much since we lost our other pianist, but I used to lead almost exclusively from it, from 2012 when I bought it until March of last year. Easy way to lay down a base of pads and still be able to interact with the congregation. I get asked about it a lot by the congregation – they miss it!

Keytar

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?

Take time out of your rehearsals to invest in the lives of your team. For me, I call that “cookie time.” It’s exactly what it sounds like: after the first half of our rehearsal, we take a 15 minute break and eat cookies (because who doesn’t love cookies, right?). We talk. We laugh. We spend time together without instruments in hand. You know, it’s funny – we used to start late because people would talk through sound check and have a hard time focusing in. Now that we have cookie time, we’ve never started late because of conversation. People know that they get the connection they crave, because we plan a real time for it.

As for advice I wish I had received earlier? That’s pretty easy. Jon Nicol wrote a book called The Song Cycle, which I highly recommend, and in chapter three he outlines three basic truths.

  • Your worship team can only effectively know so many songs.
  • Your congregation can only connect with so many songs.
  • You can make room for the best songs by eliminating those that aren’t.

When I started my full time position here, we had sung over 200 different songs in two years. Our congregational singing was non-existent, our band was never quite polished enough, and there was this feeling that we weren’t living up to our potential. But after reading Jon’s book, I came to realize that limiting the number of active songs in our catalogs leaves us room for adding truly great ones. I cut the song list to 30, and put a cap on it at 45. Once we hit our cap, each new song means tossing an old song, so I have to be choosy! Now, our band is tight, our congregation sings like never before, and worship is one of the things that our church does extremely well. Read Jon’s book! I wish I had those lessons when I started.

What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?

I think we’re going to see more churches choose a unique style that fits them. The Worship Wars are over, and as churches start to figure that out I think we’re going to see church cultures decide what kind of worshippers they’re going to be. Less us vs. them, more inter-church cooperation. Also, despite popular belief, the electric guitar won’t be dead yet!

Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?

I’m really enjoying what Fellowship Creative is putting out. Grace on Top of Grace is maybe my favorite fast song of the last 5 years, and Jesus is Alive is just a super solid declaration of the Gospel.

Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?

Thanks for having me! You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can also find me through our church webpage.

Interview: Worship Artist Crystal Campbell

Crystal Campbell is a worship leader and recording artist in Omaha, Nebraska. Recently, Crystal talked to Worship Links about being open to the Spirit, getting outside your comfort zone, and writing an album in the midst of chaos.

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 was born in raised in Nebraska. I have been singing and writing song since I was a young child. I pursued music for many years in Los Angeles, but instead of a record deal, God introduced me to worship, and I fell in love. I have recorded a handful of albums, but my latest album, Eyes on Him, has been the most exciting for me as an artist.

How did you get started in worship ministry?

When I moved to LA, I started looking for a church. It turned out the producer I was working with was the music director at a great church. Within one week I was leading worship. It was a natural fit for me, as I love God, love to sing, and am unafraid to lead.

What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?

My process has had to grow and adapt to the church and Pastor I’m working with. For instance, when I was leading worship at the church in Los Angeles the Pastor often had his sermons planned, and I could select music to work with the topic. That environment we liked to lead with a couple upbeat songs to get people engaged, then always lead them to a slower more worshipful set of songs. The church I’m currently at is much more Spirit lead, which is exciting, yet challenging. We may have a plan for the service, feeling God’s leading to sing certain songs. But once we get to rehearsal a certain song may jump out to you, and you know the Spirit is blessing that song for that week. Likewise a song you thought of singing, may fall flat. We always listen to the Holy Spirit in rehearsal. If the song doesn’t fly in rehearsal, it will fall in service. So, we don’t try to make it fit our mold, but stay open to what God is blessing.

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?

LOL! Ok, well my current survivor playlist is…

  • It is Well – Bethel (a spirit of peace moves in that song, and the harmonies are unending)
  • Ever Be – Bethel (because what worshipper doesn’t love singing that)
  • Spirit Break Out – Jesus Culture (it gets my spirit ready for a new move of God!)
  • Every Moment – Forever Jones (it is a healing balm to my soul)
  • Great is your Mercy – Donnie McClurkin (one of my all time favorite worship songs, the vocalists are all so anointed)

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?

LOL. Well people management is always tricky. There has to be a good balance between grace and accountability. I want my musicians to love to worship as much as I do, not be frustrated or overworked. So scheduling and getting everyone the information is key. But once we all get there, let’s have fun creating, and worshiping. I value creative input from my musicians, but ultimately I make the final decision. A clear leader makes things work smoother.

What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?

I see worship everywhere in the Bible; every verse is a worship song waiting to happen. But, my favorite scriptures are the ones were we get a glimpse into heavenly worship (ie. Revelation 4). I honestly can’t wait to get to Heaven, and get to sing to God on His throne. Can you imagine?

EyesOnHim

Tell us about your latest album.

My latest album is eyes on HIM. That phrase was really important to me during the writing of this album. The enemy was attacking me on different fronts. When I focus on the enemy, I was overcome by fear and anxiety. But I found that when I keep my eyes on God, He takes me around the enemy, and brings me peace. I wrote this album in the midst of my crazy life with four kids. Thankfully God allows me to create in the midst of chaos. So, I was writing at the ball field, doing dishes, in the van, with screaming kids in the back. I really wanted to include new things God was teaching me, or topics that had been on my heart recently. I talked to God a lot about this album, the creative process, and the marketing after. I asked God to be my Marketing Manager and open the doors to me, that He wanted me to pursue. I go where I’m invited, and am thankful when stations play my music. God, in His awesome way, got my music on a program that is heard around the world, and now people from around the world are getting to hear and buy my music. Only God. I can’t wait to see what He does next!

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?

Your relationship with God is so important. Spending daily time in His presence, not just reading about Him, but actually speaking to Him is so important. You can only worship Him in Spirit and in Truth when you have a relationship with Him. When God calls you to be a worship leader doors will open to you. Don’t try to kick down doors God hasn’t opened. It’s pointless, difficult, frustrating, and won’t do you any good. Just keep training your instrument, and building your relationship. He will eventually open the right door for you.

What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?

I hope there will be more freedom in worship. I have seen so many churches where there is no joy or freedom in worship. It’s like they are just singing words (if they’re even singing), and not really worshiping with their entire being. Worship should be a full body, all out, give your everything, type of event. If you’re not doing that, then you’re not there yet. Just keep reaching outside your little “comfort zone” box, until you have given yourself permission to freely worship God in every way: kneel, speak words of adoration to God, clap your hands, wave your hands in the air, jump, dance, shout, sing at the top of your lungs, smile, come on people! Freedom!!!

Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?

My favorite new find is Forever Jones. They have been a round a while, but they’re new to me. This family band had a great sound, and I love singing with them. Their songs aren’t necessarily Sunday Service Worship songs, but certainly individual worship music.

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?

Probably a wrong entrance. Coming in at the wrong time is always embarrassing!

Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?

You can visit my website www.CrystalCampbellMusic.com to get my CD, or get connected with me through social media. Blessings and love to you all. Praise the Most High God!!

Interview: Songwriter John Chisum

John Chisum has done a bit of everything when it comes to worship music. Through the years, he’s been a songwriter, worship leader, publisher, and performer. Recently, John talked to Worship Links about how to lead musicians, what real worship looks like, and knowing your audience.

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.

You’re welcome and thanks for this opportunity! The best part of my life is being married to Donna for 36 years now and having an amazing daughter, Aly – nothing better! I’ve had the privilege of being a songwriter, publisher, and worship leader for many years and have traveled a million miles in ministry – just getting started! I’ve served as a worship pastor in several churches and now Managing Partner of Nashville Christian Songwriters.

How did you get started in worship ministry?

I came to Christ back before anyone was called a worship leader! I was bursting with this new love I’d stumbled into in Jesus and just wanted to sing about him, so I did. It developed into a regional concert ministry, but some dramatic healing in my life made me want to sing more TO Him than ABOUT Him and that was the major transition from performance to real worship for me. I had become a professional Christian songwriter in Nashville and was on staff as VP of Publishing for a company owned by Bill Gaither and others that put out a lot of music. I left there and spent some years managing songwriters and developing product for Integrity Music. All along I’ve led worship, kind of on a dual track with business and ministry. I love the local church and have always been involved there, too.

What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?

I think every worship leader has their “go-to” songs and set list to pull from. The first thing I do is imagine what the service should look like, then scroll through my library of songs while imagining what it’s going to feel like standing there singing and leading those songs. If it feels like it makes me happy to imagine that particular song or list of songs, I sketch it out and run through them. If they hang together, I go with it, though I’m always open to adjustments in rehearsal or otherwise. It’s a feel thing for me, always.

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?

  • One Thing Remains (Your Love Never Fails)/Johnson, Gifford, Riddle
  • How He Loves/McMillan
  • Christ Is Risen/Maher, Fieldes
  • Your Name/Packiam, Baloche
  • I Give You My Heart/Morgan

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?

The greatest challenge for me has been thinking through what my volunteers really need to follow my leadership. I assume way too often that they have the same heart and vision I do for worship, when they’re really only trying to make it through their own struggles and play a little music for Jesus. The most common complaint I received is that I didn’t communicate what was in my head often enough or clearly enough for them to get it. I just assumed they could see what I see, but they don’t and they can’t – that’s why God calls us to be leaders, because we see big picture stuff. The challenge is in communicating well enough for people to follow without being cryptic or demanding. If people hear the vision and understand it, they will often bring their gifts to it willingly and with greater passion and joy.

What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?

The entire Book of Psalms, for certain, but the Book of Hebrews is a tremendous view into the High Priesthood of Christ that always speaks to me, too. In a sense, we enter into His worship of the Father by the Holy Spirit and Hebrews is such an awesome culmination of the whole sequence of history and Biblical pictures of the heavenly worship that’s happening continually.

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?

Develop your Emotional Intelligence. I could have been a much better leader and staff member had I worked harder at being emotionally intelligent when it came to the inevitable criticisms that fly at you from other leaders and the congregation. I took myself far too seriously and took the wounds way too deep in myself without getting enough emotional help along the way.

What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?

Real worship isn’t about songs or music or what happens in a church service. Real worship in ten years will look like it has for the last 2,000 years — a life totally surrendered to God by loving yourself and loving others as you love yourself. Nothing else is real worship. As for musical expressions, I think we’ll see a major shift towards simplicity and deeper meaning in our lyrics like the Gettys and other “modern hymn writers” are bringing. Not every song will have to be in a hymn style, but I think people will slowly become intolerant of lighter, fluffy Christian-like songs that don’t carry the weight of eternal truth.

John Chisum

Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?

Kings Kaleidoscope with the song I Know, for sure, and Liz Vice with her funky Abide. Awesome artists!

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?

I was leading at a very formal Presbyterian church once years ago and actually said, “I’m going to get you stuck up Presbyterians to worship if it’s the last thing I do!” Ice formed on the walls. I was never asked back. It was horrible.

Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?

My personal site is johnchisum.org and our new songwriter’s site is nashvillechristiansongwriters.com. I’ve got blogs and leadership stuff at the first one and a lot of great new resources on both for worship leaders and songwriters.

Interview: Worship Pastor Brent Dyer

Brent Dyer is a worship pastor in Houston, Texas. Recently, Brent talked to Worship Links about leading musicians, planning multisite worship, and memorizing your own songs.

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 am a husband, dad, and worship pastor at Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. I love to travel and dabble in a little photography when I have spare time. I also enjoy writing, and have written articles for a few online and print publications. God has brought me through a lot, and I’m pretty passionate about sharing my journey and story of God’s faithfulness both through music and the written word. It seems that every day I am surprised by what God allows me to do, and who he allows me to meet.

How did you get started in worship ministry?

My dad is a pastor and I grew up in the church. As far back as I can remember my life has been intertwined with the local church. I studied music at Baylor University, and it seemed natural for me to work in a church after graduation. So I did. For many years I was a professional musician who happened to work in a church… not a pastor. I was pretty good at it, too. But eventually my talent took me farther than my character could sustain. I was lost. I didn’t know what to do – I couldn’t fake it any longer. It was at that point, on the verge of losing everything, I found Jesus. Yes, I was a worship pastor at a church with 14,000 members and didn’t really know Jesus. But then… then something in me changed. I met the One who is, and was, and will be. I found Jesus. At that point, after some much needed healing, I began real worship ministry.

What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?

We have three campuses with 18 worship venues throughout week. In an effort to keep all the campuses thinking as one church, we do group worship planning with all of the worship leaders on staff. We pray together and discuss where we are in our journey as a corporate body, and then we plan. Our goal is to always have four weeks planned, knowing that most likely everything will change the week of! As a staff, we have chosen our “Top 60” songs – every campus and venue must choose from this list. This helps us stay focused, relevant, and keep all our attenders hearts going the same direction in corporate worship. Additionally, I meet with the Senior Pastor every Tuesday to discuss worship flow and the big picture.

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?

  • “Holy Spirit” – Bryan & Katie Torwalt
  • “Forever” – Kari Jobe
  • “Deepest Praise” – TaRanda Greene
  • “I’m Going Free (Jailbreak)” – Vertical Church Band
  • “On My Knees” – Champion Forest Worship

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?

Wow. Great question. As worship pastors, I believe we are in the people business. I don’t love the word “manager” because I believe leadership is simply influence – something you must earn, it’s not a right that comes with a title. So… to manage people well we must know them well. We must love them well. Musicians are a special breed. They feel things deeply. They love deeply. They are deeply passionate. The great thing about being a musician who “manages” musicians is you know how they think – because you are just like them!

I guess the greatest challenge I face is finding the time to truly invest in people. Pouring my life into their lives is my calling, not managing their rotation schedules. I hope when we are all old and can’t sing or play any longer, the musicians that worked with me will look back and say they were loved well, encouraged to use their gifts well, and were inspired to be all God wanted them to be.

What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?

Romans 12:1-2
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

This passage reminds me worship is not so much about what I do on stage, but more about who I am offstage.

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?

I wrote a whole article on this topic for Worship Leader Magazine… there is so much I wish I would have known!

I think the biggest thing is something I referenced earlier – don’t let your talent take you farther than your character can sustain. We must care as much about – and spend as much time developing our character and soul – as we do our instrument. Funny, but no one ever told me that. I wish someone had “seen” me, spoken into my life, and shown me how to grow as a believer.

Another big piece of advice I give worship leaders is to model what you want to multiply. If we want our congregations to worship with abandon, we must. If we want our teams to be good musicians, we must be. If we want our staff and volunteers to be hard-workers who are honest, transparent, and loving, then we must also do all of those things.

What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?

I’m encouraged about the future of worship in the church because I see a generation of men and women who passionately desire real, genuine, true faith. I think the future will hold less “religion” and more true Christ-followers.

Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?

Well, it’s a little outside my normal “box,” but there is a new group named Cana’s Voice just forming. They are about to drop their first record in May. The group is sort of a fusion of CCM meets gospel meets worship music meets several other genres. What I love about them is their story – it’s three broken people (TaRanda Greene, Jody McBrayer, and Doug Anderson) who have an amazing story of God’s redemption and faithfulness. I’m not sure they are considered “worship artists,” but I know when they stand in front of people and sing/lead the presence of the Living God is apparent in their voices, stories, and lives.

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten the lyrics. . . to my own songs. Songs I wrote!

Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?

I love to connect with other worship leaders, and have a passion to share the things I’ve learned a long the way! You can find me at www.brentandrewdyer.com, on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

Interview: Pastor And Worship Leader Holland Davis

Holland Davis is a pastor, worship leader, and author in California. Recently, Holland talked to Worship Links about his worship training book, understanding God’s grace, and the importance of having backup pants.

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.

​My name is Holland Davis and I’m the Founding Pastor of Calvary Chapel San Clemente. We started with eight people in a Bible Study on Valentine’s Day 2010 and today we’re a thriving church plant. ​​I’m married to Roxie Davis and our kids are Austin, Chase and Madison. I’ve had the privilege of ministering with some great leaders like Pastor Chuck Smith, Jerry Falwell, Skip Heitzig, Franklin Graham and many others. I don’t like long walks on the beach, but I am learning how to surf!​

How did you get started in worship ministry?

​When I was learning guitar at the age of 13, I was invited to a Young Life Group that was in my neighborhood. They found out I was learning guitar and invited me to play with them. They gave me a brown songbook with a fish on the cover. This was before I was a Christian, so in some ways I’ve been leading worship since before I was saved. After I received Christ I would spend hours in my room playing the ​songs from that book. I would close my eyes and sense what I know now to be the Presence of God. Back then I didn’t have words for it. I just knew I loved being there.​

At 16 I went to work for a Christian Bookstore in Vista, CA, where I lived. The owners, Chuck and Iva Eason, found out I played guitar and asked if I would come play for their Bible Study. They gave me 2 songbooks… Rejoice In Jesus Always and Praise. They also gave me Praise 1 – 4 from Calvary Chapel and asked me to learn the songs and start the following week. I started “leading worship” but really I just did what I did in my room. I would close my eyes and sing to Jesus until I sensed something different in the room. I would open my eyes and I would see tears in people’s eyes as they sang to Jesus. A month later Chuck Eason said we’re going to start a church. It’s called Calvary Chapel Vista and Holland is our worship leader. From that point on I’ve been involved in worship ministry.

HollandDavis2

What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?

​I begin planning a service in my prayer closet. I believe worship is our prayers set to music, so I spend time in prayer. I also like to have the message topic or scripture to meditate on. It helps me select songs that compliment the message. One key ingredient that I’ve only experienced with a handful of pastors is friendship. I love ministering with my friends and pastors are no exception. The more I can know a pastor’s heart for the people, for Jesus and for ministry, the more focused I am as I seek to partner with them in ministry.​

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 always changing… but right now my top five are

  • Since Your Love by United Pursuit
  • Good Good Father by Housefires
  • Resurrecting by Elevation Worship
  • Raised To Life by Elevation Worship
  • Offering Of Praise by Holland Davis

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?

​The biggest challenge for me is helping people to understand God’s grace and how they are loved by God no matter how amazing their talents or abilities may be. As musicians we believe we’re only as good as our last performance. So much of our insecurity is based on a belief that God isn’t for us, doesn’t want our offering because of the struggles in our life and is ready to replace us if we don’t measure up. When people understand grace and believe God doesn’t condemn them and nothing they do can separate them from God’s love, it sets them free to love God with everything within them.

I don’t differentiate between my roles… I’m the same all the time. At least I try to be.

HollandDavis4

What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?

​John 3:16 is my favorite verse on worship. For God so loved says it all… because He loves me, I love Him.​

Tell us about your book Let It Rise. What prompted you to write on the subject of worship and what impact has it had?

Let It Rise: A Manual For Worship was originally entitled Worship 101: An ADD Moment on Worship. I wanted to take all the workshops and conferences that I’ve taught over the years and put them into one resource for worship teams. I also wanted to write it in a way that would hold musicians’ attention. So it’s quirky, jumps around a bit, is visually interesting and presents the information in sound bytes.

I’ve been contacted by churches that have taken their worship teams through it. I’ve also been contacted by Christian colleges that have used it in their worship programs. The most impacting chapter has probably been the chapter on worship leader and pastor relationships because it tends to be a hot topic for nearly every worship leader. The second most impacting chapter is the chapter on the role of a worship leader and where we find it in the Bible. It’s the number one workshop I do when I present at Master’s level classes in universities.

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?

​Recognize​ ​who you are in Christ and minister from that place. Jesus anoints you being you. He doesn’t anoint you doing your best version of Chris Tomlin, Tommy Walker, Matt Redman or David Crowder… or Hillsong, Elevation Worship or Gateway or whoever your hero is.​

What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?

​I think people will do what they always have done. ​​They will worship Jesus with the sound that reflects the culture they live in.​

Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?

​I’m loving United Pursuit and Housefires. I’ve been watching them for some time. There is also an up and coming worship leader from IHOP in Kansas… Christine Reynolds. She’s one to watch. I’m also enjoying Izzi Ray, daughter of Crystal Lewis, who just released her first project. One more I’d like to mention is C3 Church in San Diego under Andrew Bennet’s worship leadership. This guy is anointed.​

HollandDavis3

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?

​The most embarrassing thing I’ve done is while I was setting up, I split my pants in front of the entire church. I had no back up plan. Long story short, the people got to know me better than I wanted to be known. Second embarrassing thing was doing a sound check without a shirt… unfortunately it was captured on film.

Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?

​My website is hollanddavis.com and my church website is calvarysanclemente.org.

One other thing that I’d like to mention is worshipsong.com. We provide an independent distribution platform for worship songwriters. It’s a way for songwriters to get their songs heard. Every day more than 3000 songs are heard by worship leaders all over the world. We also have an award winning multi-track band app… worshipsong band app… that is available on Apple and Android. It’s the only multi-track band app that lets independent songwriters put their custom tracks into the app and make them available for other churches to purchase through our store.​

Interview: Worship Leader LaCreasha Ruffin

LaCreasha Ruffin is a traveling worship leader currently in the process of putting together a family worship band. Recently, LaCreasha talked to Worship Links about the value of patience, missional worship, and being able to ad-lib when necessary.

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.

My name is LaCreasha Ruffin, and I am a worship leader, speaker, and blogger for CompellingCree.com. I love to sing and I have a heart for hurting people and those who suffer with mental illness and retardation. Worship saved my life, and believe that healing and transformation can take place when we worship Christ. I am wife to an amazing man and mother of four boys. We love Basketball and the Oklahoma City Thunder! #ThunderUp

How did you get started in worship ministry?

I have been singing in church for 22 years; however, worship ministry specifically probably started six or seven years ago.

What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?

Well, prayer is first and foremost, then I try to create a theme or create a journey where each song ties into the next. The next step is to make sure that I choose songs that are singable for the average person. After choosing the theme and determining whether the song is singable or not, I work on transitions and plan for what will be shared to the congregation through scripture, testimony, and exhortation.

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?

Man, this is so hard to narrow down. I think I would choose:

  • Jesus at the Center by Israel Houghton
  • Good Father by Chris Tomlin
  • Worth by Anthony Brown
  • One Thing Remains by Israel
  • Endless Praise by Planetshakers

When we we setting up the interview, you mentioned being recently churchless. What are your next steps in leading worship?

Since I no longer lead as a Worship Leader/Minister of Music for a church, I have decided to become a traveling worship leader who leads at various churches as I am invited. I am a songwriter as well so I hope to have my own worship CD and hopefully lead people to Christ as a worship artist.

What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?

Since worship begins in the heart, I would say Matthew 22:37 is the most complete in explaining what worship is.

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?

Wow, well I would emphasize that worship is easy but leading people is the challenge. I feel that most worship leaders’ hearts are in the right place, but you must develop your character in order to lead God’s people. Luckily, God is wonderful at taking over that responsibility. He will mold you into the leader you need to be. Sometimes the journey is painful, but you must let patience have her perfect work.

What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?

I am so excited about what God is doing in worship ministry as well as in the church. I believe that the church is going to take on a new identity, and that people will be their own “worship leaders” and will take worship outside of the traditional four walls of the church. I see worship becoming a missional movement and that will require more outreach and less of the typical lights, camera, and action that the church has embraced the last few decades.

Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?

Oh yes, Travis Greene has been a recent favorite of mine.

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?

LOL, I have said “sorry” out loud for making mistakes during worship. I need to learn how to play it off when I forget the lyrics. I need to use my skill of ad libbing to fill in those “blank spaces.”

Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?

I have a blog called CompellingCree.com, and you can find me on Instagram and Twitter. Thank you for the opportunity!!!

Interview: Worship Leader Travis Sinks

Travis Sinks is a worship leader, assistant pastor, and web designer in Florida. Recently, Travis talked to Worship Links about the importance of flexibility, ukuleles in worship, and singing in the wrong key.

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 was born and raised in Washington State. After graduating with my businesses degree, getting married, and working at my home church (Calvary Chapel in Olympia, WA) for one year, my wife and I moved to Delray Beach, FL, in September 2012 in order to assist with a church plant (Redemption Church). Since then, we’ve had a awesome little boy (James, now 6 months old), I’ve been ordained and serve as the main worship leader, assistant pastor, and general operations/finance guy. All this while also running my web design business (Tnsinks Designs) and helping my wife with her business providing resources for parents of elementary and middle school students (Tips from a Tutor).

How did you get started in worship ministry?

My very beginning inspiration was from a local church band called the “Three Wise Men” who would play at different Calvary Chapels in Washington State. I had been in a couple music classes at school, but it wasn’t until 7th grade that I wanted to play the guitar. I joined the middle school worship team after a couple weeks. I probably would have stopped leading worship in high school because I was too shy to ask, but a youth leader told the pastor I wanted to join the team and he strove to make that happen, even though people told him I wasn’t any good. I’m so grateful that happened.

What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?

Although some of the technicalities have changed, I’ve always (from mentor guidance) made sure there was a flow lyrically and musically. Usually, this means starting off with some song calling us to gather in worship, or simply focusing on God’s attributes followed by songs that describe and pronounce what we will be focusing on that day in the teaching part of the service. This sometimes fits better than others, but I’m always trying to make sure that the songs lyrically flow into the specific ideas that will be brought out in the sermon. Musically, this means making sure the keys flow well together, and also making sure we’re not in the same key for too many songs in a row (I try to have 2 or 3 songs be in the same key back to back). For changing keys, this means using the circle of 5ths, relative minors and other combinations to ensure easy key changes both musically and vocally.

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?

I think this answer changes fairly often, but as of today it would be:

  • Doxology (Amen) by Phil Wickham
  • Fall Afresh by Fresh Life Worship
  • Thirst by Phil Wickham
  • Holy Spirit by Bryan and Katie Torwalt
  • No Longer Slaves by Bethel

What are the biggest musical and technical issues you feel that worship leaders struggle with?

Being a good worship leader is very difficult musically. I’ve played with both worship leaders and people who only play in bands, and it’s much more difficult to play on a worship team. Not because the music is more difficult, but because there are so many songs, in many keys, and the set changes each week. Bands will practice the same ten songs in the same keys and then play them on tour for a few months. Worship leaders don’t have this leisure.

Because of the situation we worship leaders are in, I think the biggest struggle is being able to be flexible. Musically and vocally this means being able to play the same song in multiple keys, and as a band it means being able to suddenly have the drummer call out sick, or following when the main leader repeats a chorus that wasn’t originally planned. However, we can grow in these areas through practice, both together and separately, and through communication. One of the best things I’ve experienced is having a band who can tell what my different postures meant during a song and being aware of what areas of a song might change based on subtle cues I gave.

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?

Most worship leaders have to focus on four things: singing, playing, leading the band, and leading the congregation. In order to balance all of these things, I think of it in terms of playing at 80% of my musical capacity. This helps keep me from doing too much or from messing up and allows me to focus less on what I’m playing and more on making sure the band is working well cohesively while still focusing on leading the congregation.

For some people, these percentages might fluctuate based on what you need to focus on. I’ve had a large amount of experience leading many musicians so I don’t have to focus as much on them. However, depending on who I’m playing with, I sometimes drop down to even 50% of what I could play just to make sure I’m leading everyone well.

When it comes down to it, simplistic music has never made an experience less worshipful, but poor management and poor playing has. I’d much rather play extremely simplistic music but play it well, and lead better rather than to play complex music but have the quality of my leading suffer.

What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?

As far as leading worship, there are many such as Psalm 33:3 that encourage us to sing new songs and to play skillfully. I also love all the pictures of heaven and what our worship will one day look like. In regards to being a worshipper, I love different sections of doxology such as Romans 16:25-27 or Ephesians 3:20-21 as they’re so beautiful and get our eyes so fully focused on Jesus.

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?

The average musician on the team can do without much technical music knowledge, but I encourage all worship leaders to learn enough about music theory to be able to talk well about keys and musical structure. I took one year of music theory at community college and it has helped me beyond words with both playing music and especially coordinating others to play together.

I feel like I was given great teachers and inspiration for leading worship, but I wish I would have had someone to encourage me to really utilize dynamics and musical handoffs more. When I was younger I was playing with a great band of about eight people and although we had build ups and downs, I didn’t utilize each instrument as an individual near as much as I wish I did looking back on it.

What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?

I don’t think we even know about one year from now. Lately, the trend has been more melody with synth-like structure and heavy bass rhythm. I think that in ten years we’ll be moving towards a larger variety of instruments. You see some churches using brass or violins but this isn’t a huge trend yet. However, just in some recent conversations, I’ve heard of friends picking up ukuleles and banjos for the first time. With the increase in music interest I think we’ll begin seeing more musical additions rather than the recent standard of guitar, synth, piano, bass, and drums.

Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?

Fresh Life Worship came out with their second CD recently, and I love every single song. I think they did a great job. There’s been a rise in the church worship band CDs and original music recently and I think that’s where a lot of the new worship artists will be coming from.

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?

I remember in high school leading worship at a retreat and I sang the entire first verse in the wrong key. I had to stop the song and start entirely over (someone else had to sing the first line so I could get the wrong key out of my head). I’ve had to restart songs since then, but never that awkwardly.

Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?

Thank you! You can find my blog at travissinks.com where I write to encourage and equip ministry leaders (you can find more info on my web design business there as well), and you can find me on Twitter and Instagram at @travissinks.

Interview: Worship Leader Mal Smith

Mal Smith is a worship leader, songwriter, and recording artist in New South Wales, Australia (we previously featured him in a NoiseTrade Roundup). Recently, Mal talked to Worship Links about the next generation of minstrels, why he loves the Psalms, and why he’s thankful for a gracious church.

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 was born in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, as the son of medical parents involved in mission, and was honoured to experience the presence of God over a spiritual people. Our family returned home to Sydney, Australia, for high school, where I have lived until recently, learning the guitar, studying Horticultural and Environmental Science, and later Theology, where I met my wife. Since marrying, we have been involved in sharing the love and power of Christ wherever the Holy Spirit has lead us – to university students, the homeless, fringe communities in the inner west of Sydney, in the pubs of Newtown, and the lounge room. We currently live with our two kids on The Central Coast, NSW, where my wife is a full time writer under the pen name Melina Grace, whilst I assist young people generate employability skills, write songs and develop our music and worship team at Grace Community Wamberal.

How did you get started in worship ministry?

I bought my first guitar when I was 15 at a garage sale for $15, and started playing it 1-2 hours every afternoon after school. Shortly afterward, my mum asked a young man who was a musician and soundy in our church to teach me. He introduced me into the church music team after six months of lessons. I think it’s so important to encourage the next generation of minstrels.

What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?

I like to spend some time in His presence, playing, singing, listening, being, meditating.

My favourite questions are: “God what is your heart for your people this week?” “What songs are on your heart?”

“What do you want to emphasise?” “What do you want to release?” “Where/how do you want to break through?”

From here, I have a prompting from The Holy Spirit about where we are heading, and plan around it.

It’s not a rigourous and religious formula, but I generally like to start with celebration and thanksgiving, moving into high praise and end in adoration (Psalm 100 – enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise)

A friend and worshipper, Marty Mitchell, has written an excellent book which I have found very helpful on this topic, titled ‘Beholding The Glory.’

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?

It’s so hard to pick just five songs – these ones have never left me, and take me to a place of declaration, intimacy, adoration or thanksgiving.

  • How Great Thou Art – World Outreach Church Version. I’ve attached a must see youtube link below for a glimpse of the epic throne room celebrations we’ve got to look forward to.
  • Revelation Song, by Jenny Lee Riddle, from the album Consumed (Jesus Culture, Live)
  • What A Friend I’ve Found, by Delirious? from the album King Of Fools.
  • Break Every Chain, by Will Reagan and United Pursuit from the album In the Night Season.
  • Good Good Father, by Pat Barrett and Anthony Brown, from the album Housefires II.

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?

One of the most important challenges is developing a culture of honour. If we honour each other as team members, we will be a united worshipping front. We will sound better as musicians, and we will be looking out for each other’s hearts during the week. Getting the attitude in check is important – after set up, we hand the whole thing over to God. It’s His service, not mine.

I find my music takes a back seat. As a worship leader, my guitaring becomes a lot more stripped back and simplified due to everything that I’m aware of happening around me in the service. There’s a lot. “What are you doing Holy Spirit?” “Where are we going?” I’m trusting and listening, being directed as I direct. Doing the practice during the week makes this stuff a lot easier, and honours the other team members, the church and The Lord.

What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?

I love the psalms. I love their honesty, openness, wisdom and intimacy. Brian Simmons calls them “Poetry on Fire”. My heart, mind and being are lit up by encountering our Maker through the Psalms. Some of my favourites are Psalm 8, 23, 24, 46, 91, 100 and 139.

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?

Worship leading is never about a performance. Worship leading is about enjoying the presence of Christ, and welcoming His presence. Learning to love His presence during the week (Monday – Saturday) is the key to good worship leading on Sunday. (see The Practice of The Presence of Christ, by Brother Lawrence).

What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?

Over the past ten years, the church has had an identity shift towards a greater understanding of what it means to be sons and daughters of The King. The next ten years will see an unravelling of our identity as co-heirs of The Kingdom. I sense greater freedom, authority and release in worship where we will see an increase of The kingdom of Heaven being poured out on earth through supernatural healings, miracles, revival, joy, celebration, revelation and kids dancing on injustice. These things will become more normal.

Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?

There are some churches within Australia that I have great admiration for, and God is doing an awesome work through their heart of worship. New Earth Tribe (Byron Bay) have been undoubtedly my greatest mentor for worship. Also keep an eye out for Liberty (Gosford), Dayspring (Sydney), and Jubilee (Sydney).

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?

We’ve got a very gracious church, but every now and then I get a complete mental blank and can’t remember a song, how it goes, what the rhythm is, anything about it – even though we rehearsed it prior. I just stare at the paper blankly. I’ve learned now, that if this happens, not to panic, but just wait, or go to the next song. Earlier on I used to try and play through it, and nobody knew what was going on.

Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?

Thanks so much for your time. I hope the interview has been a blessing.

My web page is the best way – all the songs, social media links, contact details etc can be found from there.

Interview: Worship Leader Kim Krenik

Kim Krenik is a worship leader, recording artist, and songwriter in Central California. Recently, Kim talked to Worship Links about the power of prayer, being a student of the Word, and that time she totally froze.

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 a Mom of four miracle kids, married to a Senior Pastor and church planter. Central California is where I reside. Songwriter, worship leader and singing teacher are a few of my job descriptions. Very soon, I will release my first book/women’s bible study. Spending time traveling with my family is one my favorite things.

How did you get started in worship ministry?

The first experience I had leading worship was when I attended a Discipleship Training School at Youth With A Mission Montana. That was the beginning of it all.

What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?

I start by asking the Holy Spirit to direct me. Then I read through the passage the pastor is teaching – at Calvary Chapels the teaching is verse by verse. Sometimes I will have a song pop into my head randomly as well, and often the other team members suggest songs that are on their hearts. The pastor also sometimes suggests songs. All of that happens on a Sunday/Monday. On Tuesday, I sit at the piano and worship God with the CCLI Song Select website up nearby. During that time I pick songs. The media team needs songs by Wednesday so I have to have things ready by then, plus I practice through the set daily so I am able to lead strongly and memorize the songs.

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?

LOL! I hope I get a guitar on this island so I can make up some new songs. I suppose the coconuts and bamboo sticks could be made into instruments if need be. Okay, five songs…. yeesh….

  • “How Great Thou Art”
  • “It Is Well” (Bethel)
  • “10,000 Reasons”
  • “Amazing Grace” (Todd Agnew/Chris Tomlin)
  • “Always” Jason Ingram.

Yes, I was trying to be sneaky on one of those. But technically they are the same song (lyrically).

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?

The number one challenge is finding skillful players, who work hard and practice/learn the songs, and at the same time have a humble heart after God. That combination in a worship team member is award winning! My husband has pastored the church we are at for over 15 years now, and the greatest challenge for me hasn’t actually been balancing between the musician/manager. When I was solely focused on the role of worship leader, I enjoyed it and wasn’t overwhelmed. It got a little crazy when I started adding the babies to the mix, then became the our women’s ministry leader by default. Plus I was doing a lot of behind the scenes tasks. Thankfully we have had help come along just in the right seasons. What never ceases to amaze me is the power of prayer. You think I would learn the lesson, but I am super slow. When we have called out to God to provide help, He has always come through. I believe it is crucial for a team leader to scout out potential future leaders, and also to help people discover their gifts, and to delegate responsibilities out.

What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?

2 Chronicles 20 is a powerful picture of the power of lifting up the Name of God. Praising our God as a worship leader is a spiritual battle. I wrote a chapter in my book about this. The chapter is called “Warrior Pose.” I also wrote a song that goes with it. Our part is to plant ourselves firmly in the ground and to wait for the Lord. So often we associate waiting as passive, but it is more like a warrior, waiting with their shields (of faith) interlocked. As we lift up our eyes and direct the worship of our congregations, we are building their faith and our own. The act of worshiping God, lifting our voices in song, and singing the words in sincerity… it is a powerful act of faith. I believe without a doubt that God is on the move in churches that are worshiping this way. Another chapter that I love is Romans 12, which gives a very practical outline of what true worship is. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

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?

When I have the privilege of training up new leaders, these are some key things I like to instill: Serve others, we are servants, not rock stars, Be a student of the Word, and Be who God made you to be! (If you sing in a soft voice, make the most of it, pick the best songs and make it work! If you have a big voice, don’t try to hide it or be ashamed. Be a musician and study music and arrangements, because a team leader needs to know how to utilize their team members best in what their ability is.)

What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?

No idea. But I HOPE and PRAY we see a revival and that the Lord sweeps through the nations causing every knee to bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. I also hope with some of the vision and new college courses offered, that we will see a new era of worship leaders who grasp the calling of leading worship, and of being students of the Word.

Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?

I have a friend named Kenon Chen who God has been using locally to gather people and unify worship leaders in the SF bay area.

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?

Hmmm… ya… when I completely forgot the words to one of my songs. Rather than handle it with clever humor and make light of it, I froze. I totally froze. That was one of those, “let’s never let that happen again…” moments. (I blamed it on mom-brain later, since I had just had a baby a few months before…)

Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?

www.kimkrenik.com