Category Archives: Equipping

Nothing But The Blood

Written by Matt Howard

I’m not a journaling kind of guy. Never has it been my practice to write down what is happening in my life, good or bad. Some time ago I had the idea to open a wordpress blog just to keep my worship ministry informed into what was going on within me. I think I made it about a month of writing before life snuck in and stopped that cold. But I’m glad I had the chance to write this. And now I’m glad I’ve had the chance to read it again. Please indulge my sharing.

Recently God has been speaking to me through music a lot more than normal.  It is something that, oddly enough is somewhat foreign to me. Even as a worship leader I can often miss the back and forth of communication that should be happening during a worship song, or any song that glorifies God for that matter.  As I sit here writing this article, I am well aware that the music inside my office is wafting down the halls a little farther than it should (read: the volume goes to ‘11’).  And it probably isn’t what you may be hearing within the confines of your mind at this moment.

 

I am listening to the song “Nothing But the Blood.” This isn’t a normal version though. No, no, no. This might possibly one of the best expressions of worship I have heard in a long time. Andy Cherry has taken some words that have been around a while and updated the music behind them in a very surreal and simple way. But there is also a new chorus that he added to the song that, for me, takes it over the top.

 

I found this song on my way back from playing music for a wedding in Indiana a couple of weeks ago. It was overnight turn-around for us. (We didn’t get home until 1am.) The girls were asleep in the car so I had my headphones in while I was driving. This song came on and it made me want to stand up and start praising Jesus. It made me want to move. It made me want to sing. It made me want to be playing along with the guys on the record. It made me sad. Wait… hold the phone… you just said this was one of the best songs you’ve ever heard, why did it make you sad?

 

Sad. See, for me in this moment that tidal wave of pressure and self-doubt that had been taking hold in my life came around full circle and was staring me in the face.  Jesus and I were about to have a “come to Jesus” talk.  Jesus was about to teach me something. Jesus was about to smack me. Jesus was about to hug me. The new chorus of the song simply says “Because the blood of Jesus is enough for me.”

 

In this singular moment inside a rental Toyota Yaris (Read: car far too small for Matt to drive), Jesus and I had a real heart to heart. We met upon the battleground of my soul. Jesus has a way with words. Jesus only had one thing to say, really, one thing to ask. “Is MY blood really enough for you?”

 

Smacked. Hugged. Broken. Whole. Destroyed. Affirmed. All of that happened in the span of a moment. See, Jesus’ blood really is enough for me. And when that realization comes full circle, the rest of the junk in this world fades away in the light of His glory and grace. So here’s the question then… Is Jesus’ blood enough for you?

 

What was happening to me in the moment was burnout and discouragement. I am incredibly thankful for that song and that moment in a rental car. I was done, I was ready to give up. In May 2013, I did not know about something called the Experience Conference. In September 2013, I had the opportunity to attend my first Experience. And man am I glad I did. If that rental car moment was the beginning of a journey towards a resurgent ministry focus, the experience conference was the defacto end. If anything within you is tired and ready to give up, find a way to attend Experience in 2015. There are two opportunities, July 6-9 in Dallas, TX and one September 8-11 in Orlando, FL. Allow the blood of Jesus to rejuvenate you around 1000+ of your closest worship ministry friends.

What can wash away my sins?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

What can make me whole again

Nothing by the blood of Jesus

Track or No Track?

by Brian Nelson

As worship leaders in today’s music world, the question of track or no track is very real. Using programs to create and cover keys, percussion, or the elusive 2nd electric guitar part, is becoming bigger and more popular. What used to be something only artists did, has been simplified, duplicated, and spread around to the masses.

Tracks have become an incredible tool for many churches. They have complimented bands and made them tighter. They have filled holes created by sudden sickness (see 2nd electric guitar part) and helped bridges be the epic moments of worship they’re meant to be.

However, some leaders overwhelmed by the whole idea. To think about putting these tracks together is too much. Others are too busy. They oversee small groups or other ministries. Or they’re part-time.

Some have consciously decided they don’t need them. It represents a lack of “realness” to them. Having people in the audience hear things that they don’t see feels strange. Still others don’t like their inability to follow the Spirit’s lead (actually tracks can change on the fly, but many don’t know that).

So what’s the answer to the question? Should you use track or no track?

Of course, that question can’t be answered here for your church. But maybe looking at the way we get the answer is more important. How do we decide?

Deciding on tracks is no different than determining solos, lighting, clothing, band size, number of singers, use of choir, song keys, worship style, or countless other decisions (maybe slowly read that list again). Each must be closely examined and separately discussed. Each is important. Looking at other churches, reading magazines and attending conferences will help guide us. Gathering opinions from our team will shape our thinking.

But one question should always trump all other research. One question should trump cool. One question should dominate our prayer times. One question should be the MAIN question we ask ourselves and our team:

Will the people I’m leading worship God more deeply, in spirit and truth, because of my decision? Examine, think, pray, discuss.

If yes, do it. If not, pull it. Even if it’s cool.

Colossians 3:17 – Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

My Hope Is In Him

by Maya J.T. Dawson

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him…”

my safety and refuge is in God

The past year has been one of incredible transition to say the least. Let’s see…I got married, became a licensed ordained minister and left my job to explore starting my own ministry…Wow, did I just say start my own ministry???

Over the years I’ve learned that life is filled with change.  But with every change I am reminded of just how constant God is.  Till this day, Psalm 62 remains my “go to” passage when I feel overwhelmed or life as I know it has been interrupted.  With each reading, I am drawn to a different scripture and am ministered to in such a fresh relevant way.

I am reminded to WAIT…When I’m afraid…When I feel rushed…When I’m trying to figure out which way to go…When I feel like the rug has been pulled from underneath me. I am reminded to WAIT ON THE LORD.  To lay at His feet and bask in His presence.

I am also reminded that my safety and refuge is in God. I can come (sometimes run) to Him with ANYTHING! He really cares about the details of my life and wants me to pour out my heart to Him.  It’s not like He doesn’t already know, but He delights in our intimacy with Him.

I’m also reminded that the world in which we live is temporal. Success, wealth, image, status, possessions, etc. all will fade away in the light of eternity with God. Nothing is ever that serious and everything pales in comparison to the power of the cross.

I thank God for His word and the blessing it adds to my life with each reading. My prayer is that we would never take it for granted, but always treasure it as the infinite gift that it is. Never forget that in the midst of change, God is constant.  See you at Experience!

Loyal Yokefellow

By Rev. Vincent Putnam  Senior Pastor Trinity Lutheran Church and School

If you have never heard that word before, yes, yokefellow is a thing.  It means “a companion or partner” in ministry.  Some Bible’s use this word in Philippians  4:3 from the Greek σύζυγε.  In the Greek, the word refers to oxen that are yoked together and united for the same purpose.   While yoked together, each ox can lean on the strength of the other. 

I’ll speak for myself that I get discouraged in the work of Ministry sometimes.  There are moments when I feel like I have to pull the plow alone even when there are people all around me.  Church workers go through a lot of stress and heartache serving others, sometimes just to be criticized and even trampled by the sheep they serve.   In a moment like that I take great comfort in Colossians 2:2 “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.”

It is Paul’s desire and God’s desire that we too are encouraged in heart and united in love so that we may be full of the riches of Christ.  Do you feel encouraged, united in love, and full of the riches of God right now?  “Right now” is important because encouragement is something that all of us need continually and discouragement can sneak up on you.   If we are not minding our own hearts, we can find ourselves doing more harm than good in God’s church.  The temptation might be to isolate ourselves when we feel discouraged but this is not helpful.  Yes we can rest by ourselves but encouragement comes from the outside.  God’s Word encourages us and so can our fellow church workers.  If you don’t have a yokefellow to lean on, then find one.  Some suggestions are a college from a church next door, a mentor or friend in Christ.  They don’t have to be people in your church, in fact sometimes it is better if they are not. 

Honestly this is the main reason I attend the Experience Conference with my ministry team.  Yes the information we get from the conference is great but it is also a great source of encouragement for us.  We are built up in the Lord and renewed in our calling to baptize all nations and teach them what Christ has commanded.  We are also reminded in a powerful way what a joy it is to worship God and what a privilege it is to lead God’s people in worship.  These times are an investment in yourself, your team and your church that will pay off in big dividends for your people. 

So whether you go to the Experience Conference or not, find a place where loyal yokefellow can fill you with the encouragement of Christ.

Equipping the Saints

By Rob Sharp   Worship Minister at Ellerbe Baptist

This sounds like a very churchy phrase doesn’t it, “equipping the saints.” In Ephesians 4:11- 12 we see a list of servants: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers included is an explanation why these gifts were bestowed upon us.

“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

Where are the worship leaders and where do we fit in? I would say that pastor and teacher is a fair way to describe our position… if our focus is right. So how do we keep this focus on Him? Let’s ask ourselves some tough questions.

Go Deeper

  • Are you teaching your people spiritual principles or just music for times of corporate worship?
  • Are you teaching your people to be lead worshipers?
  • Are you teaching others your job? Are you multiplying yourself in others?
  • Are you training others to train others?

Go Wider

  • Worship is much broader than our cooperate experience, it’s a lifestyle.
  • What are you doing to teach this concept?
  • How are you encouraging them and providing accountability to this lifestyle?
  • Are you a good model for them?

Go Higher

  • Are we engaging our people in prayer?
  • Are we praying for those we lead?
  • Are they praying for who they lead as well?
  • Are we asking God to empower us, or are we doing this in our own strength?

Go Longer

  • Does our ministry stop at the church doors or are we carrying Christ to people beyond the church?
  • Are the people in our ministries ministering to their friends, families, neighbors, and co-workers?
  • Does the grace we sing about impact our lives resulting in an outpouring of compassion?
  • Are we compelled to bring more worshipers to Him?

Because every leader, music/worship ministry, and body of Christ is unique, the answers to these questions will look drastically different; likewise, solutions to these challenges will vary dramatically. But one commonality to these solutions is that all of them must begin with us being rooted in the love of Christ, so that we may be empowered by Him.

My prayer for us is that we will look past our musical skill set and rise to a higher calling of equipping the saints for ministry. It is so easy to get caught up in the busy work or preparing music/media needs every week and just pulling a product out of people. However, God wants more than musical excellence from us. God wants us to pour into His people, which means, He needs to be pouring into us. Are we making time for that?

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