Worship Leadership (Ministry)

Reflections on Bethel Worship Night

Bethel Worship Night Tour - Jacksonville, FL

Bethel Worship Night Tour – Jacksonville, FL

Let’s just say it’s been a while …

A while where I was free to dive head-first into praise and worship without the responsibility of leading
A while where I had an extended time to soak in an atmosphere that I was created for
A while where I was the one receiving fully instead of giving

And I’m here to say … “it was good”.  My soul is stirred and my spirit filled.

Fresh off the 2015 Iron Man Men’s Retreat from SSCC, I traveled down to Jacksonville to participate in the Bethel Music worship night tour.  Honestly, I was tired and although I was expectant, there was a part of me that was struggling with the “I’ve been there and done that” attitude.   It’s an attitude that comes up in my heart many times after attending and leading thousands of worship services.   It’s an attitude that has a stench of arrogance and price that God has been revealing in my heart.

It’s no secret that the worship culture at Bethel leans into what most would call a charismatic feel.  I’ve always hated that label for the very reasons of the imagery that probably comes to mind when you read this sentence.  Yet, that’s my background – that’s my home.  Passionate, unbridled praise and worship is my happy place.   Spontaneous musical flow where a brand new song and prophetic-filled messages come forth are deep in my well.

It’s also no secret that the 60-70 minutes of time we have at my home church on Sunday mornings isn’t modeled this way.   I knew that when I signed up.  There’s a philosophy of ministry here at SSCC that is true and it works and the Holy Spirit moves in powerful ways in our church. I’ve also been around the block enough to know that you can never compare a “worship night” event to most Sunday corporate gatherings for the simple reason that the people who attend a worship night are, for the most part, passionate about expressive praise and worship.

That being said, I felt myself remembering what it felt like to push further and deeper in my worship.   Those are the cliche’ words that people throw out that confuse people and if used carelessly, tend to cast judgment on a worship service that doesn’t “look or feel” like the Bethel worship last night.   For me, I simply mean I had that time through song and reflection (I sang a lot and I just got on my knees and listened a lot .. prayed a lot … ) to unwind and find myself progressing into a powerful encounter with God.

My heart was stirred … not to try and come back to St. Simons and recreate a blow-out worship night (although we do that several times per year).  My heart was stirred with the fact and reality that God’s Presence is available to me like that EVERY … SINGLE … DAY.   It simply requires my time and effort.  

I drove over an hour to get there.
I stood in line for almost as long as we drove — a line of expectant, hungry-for-God worshipers that wrapped around this huge facility.
I stood/sat/kneeled on that floor for a few hours.

Essentially, I used an event as a catalyst to pursue God’s presence.

I quickly realized that the deep, intimate place I found myself in was freely available to me in my home … in my car .. in my studio … on our beach … and I was grieved that I’ve allowed LIFE to rob me of consistently making this time of worship a priority.

At the same time, I was stirred to return … and prayerfully consider a venue or environment where I could flex those old muscles of leading from a more spontaneous, prophetic mantle for no other reason than ministering to God and allowing Him to minister back to us.  I am eager to setup a room, gather a few trusted musicians and vocalists who can flow, and invite whomever wants to come … and just worship.   Sing whatever songs come to mind.   Play and not sing.  Sing the new song.   Pray and respond to what God says.

Honestly, I’ve been a bit burned out on the produced, huge worship nights.   They are powerful and give us that mountain top experience, yet they are physically, spiritually, and emotionally demanding on our team.   I am ready to prayerfully start planning the next one … but at the same time, I want to chase after more of my own time in God’s Presence and a more casual, less-produced venue where the only real effort in making it happen is sitting down, plugging in, opening the door, and letting it flow ….

To the folks at Bethel … thanks for refreshing my soul.   I know from experience how HIGH you are, yet, how DRAINED you are.   You refreshed my soul and stirred my spirit.   You handed me a shovel so that I could dig up some wells that have been filled in for a long time.  (Genesis 26:18)

Forever grateful,


I’m A Sinner … or Am I?

Hey Gang,

all-sons-and-daughtersOne of my favorite bands right now is “All Sons & Daughters“.  I absolutely love their music, arrangements, and thought-provoking, heart-stirring lyrics.

One of their songs is called “Brokenness Aside”. As a Worship Pastor, I’ve been torn about whether i should use this song in corporate (or personal) worship because of one paramount lyric that is the hook of the chorus.  That lyric simply says:

“I Am A Sinner”

If you’re a Christian, how do you feel about that phrase? The song is beautiful, and in context, it still ministers to me.    I know that by definition, if you sin, you are a sinner.  However, there is the difference between being a sinner (one who sins, as we all have sinned, and will sin – [Rom 3:23]), and declaring that about yourself as an identity.

As Christians, I believe our identity is not that of a sinner, but as one redeemed by Christ.  (Paul says that while we WERE sinners, Jesus died for us in Rom 5:8) He sees us as saints (1 Cor 1:2) … even when we don’t behave that way.

Would you be comfortable leading a song that says “I am a sinner”?  I think it would at least take some context and explaining from a theological background.  Are you using the word by it’s simple definition or are you claiming that as an identity?  If we get that musical hook in our hearts and constantly repeat to ourselves “I am a sinner”, do we begin to contradict what the Word of God says about us?

First Sunday of 2014

Sunday SetlistsHappy New Year!

Yesterday (January 5, 2014) was our first Sunday of the new year.   We had a guest worship leader at SSCC, Ms. Hurley McGahon (aka Hurley Christin).  Hurley is a wonderful young lady who grew up in our church and had since moved off to study and minister at IHOP in Kansas City.  She’s still in Kansas City leading worship at a church.  She was home for the holidays and was gracious to share her gifts with us for Sunday, Dec 29 and Jan 5.

I enjoyed sitting in as a musician and vocalist.  I really enjoy those times where I’m not the leader but can yield to someone else’s leadership.  Hurley led us through a few familiar songs and some new.

Our walk-in song was “Happy Day“.  We then opened with “Our God“.  It was the first Sunday of the year and because of that we had an extended time of announcements.  There’s a LOT kicking off at SSCC and we needed some time to cover it.   The 2nd set of music included “Oceans” and a song called “Great Are You Lord” by All Sons & Daughters that I really came to love.

We had a guest speaker as well, who had a challenging message about abiding in God.  Hurley wrapped up with one of her original songs.

I’m back in the driver’s seat this week so have to hit the ground running today.  We have another guest speaker next week who requested some of his favorite songs — so here we go!  Looking forward to it.

I’m posting this recap as a part of the weekly “Sunday Setlists” event hosted by TheWorshipCommunity.Com.  You can view other church service recaps there.

How about your services?  Anything special or memorable?  Anything distracting?  Sound off … click to comment below!