Small Church/Big Worship

The Good (and Bad) News About Small Church Worship Ministry

The Good (and Bad) News About Small Church Worship Ministry

By Jon Nicol   |  January 9, 2013

The brutal truth I learned when I left two different churches...

Three Truths About Small Church Worship

Three Truths About Small Church Worship

By Jon Nicol   |  January 8, 2013

What I would say now to my 23 year old self working in a 60-person church...

Forget Excellence in Worship...

Forget Excellence in Worship...

By Jon Nicol   |  October 10, 2012

Three Big Problems in the Pursuit of Excellence

There’s word that’s tossed around a lot in conjunction with worship here in North America. It trickled out of the business world into the church. It makes me a tad nauseous.

The word is “excellence.”

Ugh. There it is. I just threw up in my mouth a little.

I don’t hate the concept of excellence. In fact, I think a lot of us could work harder at upping the quality of our musical offerings.

But it’s what the pursuit of “excellence” can cause to the worship leaders (especially in smaller churches) to feel:

“I can’t reach it.”

“I don’t measure up.”

Or the worst, “I feel like my worship and ministry is inferior.”

So why does the idea of “excellence” potentially send us down that road? Let me ask a few questions about excellence to narrow in on this:

Whose standard do we use?

If we use the excellence standards of the “North WillowBack SaddlePoint” kind of churches, then 95% of us are hosed.

Read the whole article, "Forget Excellence In Worship" at

Six Tips for Scheduling in a Small Church

Six Tips for Scheduling in a Small Church

By Jon Nicol   |  August 7, 2012

Some practical ways for smaller churches to make their musician scheduling process better...

10 Symptoms of

10 Symptoms of "the ME's"

By Jon Nicol   |  July 24, 2012

A small worship band is a ripe environment to grow the virus that causes "the MEs.”

If I sit on the same spot on the same stage and play the same instrument week after week, who owns that spot?


I’ve now got a case of the MEs: Musician Entitlement Syndrome. Forget about me being open to new members. They can take my spot, but only when I’m on vacation.

Below are 10 symptoms of the MEs. Not all of them necessarily point to Musician Entitlement Syndrome. But there's an awful good chance they do. People suffering from "the MEs" just may display the following symptoms:

1. Showing up late.

2. Showing up unprepared.

3. Not showing up at all to rehearsal, but still expecting to participate on Sunday.

4. Getting tweaked when someone else is given a lead part, solo, etc.

5. Getting territorial when a new person joins the team.

Often manifested through...

6. Gossip.

Gossip is a form of...

7. Seeking validation. I try to validate my low view of Person A by getting Person B to agree with that low view.

8. Not wanting a Sunday off unless I'm on vacation.

9. Gets upset when the status quo gets upset. People suffering from MEs don't often like change...unless it clearly benefits them.

10. Reads a list like this one and thinks the blogger is a complete moron.

The Good (and Bad) News About Small Church Worship Ministry

The Good (and Bad) News About Small Church Worship Ministry

By Jon Nicol   |  July 19, 2012

The unsugar-coated truth about worship ministry in a small church...

Three Truths About Small Church Worship

Three Truths About Small Church Worship

By Jon Nicol   |  July 6, 2012

Here are three truths about leading worship in a small church that I wish I had learned sooner ...

Three Worship Myths That Frustrate Smaller Churches

Three Worship Myths That Frustrate Smaller Churches

By Jon Nicol   |  April 24, 2012

Myth #1
We need a band if we’re going have modern/relevant worship music.

No, you don’t.

A band is nice. But two solid musicians creating good music will do more for your musical worship than a cobbled-together band. Take a look at what one acoustic guitar and piano did for the accompaniment for Kari Jobe.

If you don’t have anything, you still have voices. God doesn’t mind a cappella.

You might even try to sing along with tracks (anything from the original recording, an accompaniment CD, or even full blown loops run in Ableton).

No band needed.

Myth #2
We need to do modern/contemporary worship music.

Instead of thinking contemporary music, think contextual music – what works in your context. Think both about the people that are there, and the ones you are trying to reach. Those might be two different groups. But there might be a common ground.

I live in an area where country and bluegrass music is really popular. I’ve just added a violin, and I’m on the lookout for other instruments that we can flavor our music towards our context.

Myth #3
We need to do music.

Music is a powerful tool for worship. It’s a medium that connects with our emotions. But it’s not the only container in which we bring our worship before the throne of our King. If you don’t have the resources to "do" musical worship each week, explore other ways to worship a few Sundays a month.

And if your church equates worship with music, maybe its time to intentionally put a moratorium on music. Choose to worship together in other ways for a Sunday or two, or ten.

God has given your church everything you need right now to worship Him right now.

Unfortunately we’ve allowed the “big box church” worship leaders and signed recording/worship artists to set our expectations for worship.

You can do two things with expectations – meet them or change them. If you're leading a smaller church worship ministry, I'd say change them. You'll be far less frustrated.

If I Had An Award Show...

If I Had An Award Show...

January 26, 2012

I don’t have a Small Church/Big Worship awards show, but if I did, it’d have a crummy pronunciation: SCBW - “The Ess-see-ba-wa’s” Not quite as catchy as "the GRAMMYs." But despite the acronym, if I did have Small Church/Big Worship award show, I would give Proclaim the “coolest presentation software for volunteer-driven ministries.” (That’s another reason why I don’t have my own award show: overly long category names).

If you don’t know, Logos Bible Software has developed a new presentation program called Proclaim. Let’s face it: ProPresenter and Media Shout are the reigning royalty in this fairly saturated playing field. But Proclaim has just found a niche for itself. And who knows how big that niche could get.

Every product needs a USP – a unique selling point (or proposition). Proclaim has it, and it’s in the cloud. That means no packing and flash drives - it all stays centrally located online. And don’t worry about trusting your internet connection. It’s all run locally when you’re ready to go “on air.”

Having just endured almost three years as a solo worship pastor at a multi-campus church, I can tell you that this would have been handy. I made many last minute trips to “the other campus” with flash drive in hand to load or reload a packed MediaShout script.

Having just spent a few hours playing with Proclaim, I can see the possibilities it could offer larger churches, especially multi-campus ones. But I love what this could do for smaller ministries.

First of all, check out the price point: a church of less than 100 could use this program for only $10 a month (for the first year, $20/month after). Having served in a smaller church, this would have been far easier to handle than the $500-$600 price tags of the other programs.

And for the volunteer-driven worship ministry, the ability to collaborate is a huge part of Proclaim’s attractiveness. The “weekend warrior worship leader” is free to work at home after she puts the kids to bed. And the pastor’s still free to load his sermon slides in anytime he wants. And get this: your video tech for that week could log on at home and look over the flow of the service. How nice would that be to have your tech showing up actually prepared to run the graphics?

I'd say that's worth checking out.


People Aren't Coming to Your Church Because of the Music

People Aren't Coming to Your Church Because of the Music

By Jon Nicol   |  December 13, 2011

If you're in a church of 200 or less, this is the bad news: People aren't coming to your church because of the music...

Forget Excellence...

Forget Excellence...

By Jon Nicol   |  July 21, 2011

...think "remarkable" instead. Excellence is subjective and overwhelming. Remarkable is doable: a small tweak and improvement to the "normal" that surprises people. The pursuit of excellence feels like a never-ending journey. How do we know we've arrived?





Featured Articles

Popular Articles

Archive By Date

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest