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The Secret Sauce of Worship...

The Secret Sauce of Worship...

By Jon Nicol   |  August 27, 2013

Want to know what the secret sauce of worship is? You know, that one ingredient that, if you could only find it and mix it in, would take your worship far beyond where it is...

Four Reasons Coaching Can Help Grow Your Ministry

Four Reasons Coaching Can Help Grow Your Ministry

By Jon Nicol   |  September 11, 2012

I used to think people who hired a coach (for anything - weight loss, business, leadership, worship, blogging, etc.) had a combination of too much money on their hands and too little smarts to figure something out on their own.

I was wrong. Completely.

Let's talk about the money thing first. Does good coaching cost you money?


And it should. Sometimes a lot. But if the coach is good, you will see a return on that investment. Not always financially. Like in the case of hiring a fitness coach. Sure, you might get a financial return if you lose so much weight that you get modeling gig. But chances are that you'll be happy enough with just the health return on that investment.

So when it comes to the financial side of enlisting the help of a coach, there are two ways to look at it.

1) The initial cash investment.
2) The return of accelerated growth.

If you were to hire a coach to help foster a healthy culture in your worship ministry, it will likely cost you between $500 to $1500. Maybe more. But probably not less.

That's your initial investment.

But what you get on the flip side is accelerated growth. In this case, you're able to more effectively begin develop your team into one that is united around the mission/vision, respects each other, prepares, and truly worships Jesus Christ with their lives.

Could you have gotten there on your own? Probably. But maybe not as soon or directly.

And that was the second thing I was wrong about: people have the smarts to figure something out on their own. Most people, given enough time, research, energy and focus can discover the solutions to their challenges.

But when attach a coach to this equation of your time+research+energy+focus, it's with a division sign. You'll cut in half (or more) the time it takes you to reach your goal.

When I started doing Russian Hard-style Kettlebells to get into shape, I could have found a bunch of free YouTube videos to teach me. But hiring a coach was exponentially more effective. Not only could she teach me the right way in person, she could pinpoint exact areas where I wasn't using correct form. Plus, there was the added "kick in the rear" value of accountability. You can't get that from a YouTube video or Dummies book.

At it's heart, any good coaching is good stewardship.

Let me just finish up this post with four things a coach can do for you in your worship ministry, whether it's regarding technology, musicianship, team building, spiritual development, or developing your own leadership.

1. Coaches ask the right questions.

You might be asking the question, "how do I grow our team?" A good coach looks at the situation and may ask, "Why do you think your team isn't growing?" By processing the question honestly, you'll begin to see why you're not growing.

Good questions cut through the layers to get to the heart of an issue.

2. Coaches see blind spots.

Sometimes we just don't see stuff. As I was working with one worship leader, I could see the size of his vocal team (who all sang every week) was actually causing a few issues: over-singing, an over-filled stage, and an over-filled sense of entitlement. There essentially was no room to grow - physically or relationally.

3. Coaches aren't emotionally hindered.

Let's face it. Sometimes we're just too entangled in a situation to see it clearly. I was able to assess this vocal over-population issue without worrying if these singers were going to like me or not. And I was able to suggest a tough, but necessary, course of action: cut your weekly vocal team into two or three teams and begin rotating. If you know church vocalists, you know that was an emotionally charged decision.

An outside, voice (without emotional involvement) is sometimes needed to help make the tough decisions.

4. Coaches can break apart big problems into workable solutions.

I didn't just leave this worship leader with that big, hairy task of "cut your vocal team in half." We worked together on a plan that was vision-driven, involved workable steps through a defined timeline, and honored his current team's contribution by bringing them into the process.

Coaching really is an investment, both in yourself and your team. But not only that, it ultimately affects your whole church. If you're a better leader, and your worship ministry is stronger, your church will benefit and grow, too.

If you're interested in leadership or ministry coaching, let's start a conversation to see if it'll be a good fit for you.

Band≠Worship, Part 5

Band≠Worship, Part 5

By Tom Curley   |  August 20, 2012

Today's blog is a guest post from Tom Curly.

I'm With the BandWorship Team
How to keep your church worship ministry from becoming just another great band

If you have been reading along with us in this series, you know that we are focusing on how serving in a local church worship ministry is different than being “in a band”.

The last difference that we are going to discuss is that a band is about performing whereas a local church worship ministry (LCWM) is about facilitating.

A musician with a “band” mindset is interested in...

...having a place in the worship set for his Jack Black “School of Rock” guitar solo...

...shopping for his next “rock star” shirt to wear onstage, and...

...asking his buddies to make sure he is heard in the mix (and if not, to go to the sound operator and let them know of their ghastly oversight).

And his hoped-for response from the congregation is “The band sounded great today!”

For a worship team, facilitating worship for the congregation takes priority over personal musical preferences. The hoped-for response from the congregation is “Wasn’t God’s presence felt here in worship today!”

I tell my team to think of our church families as weary travelers who have spent six days walking through this broken and depraved world to make it to our sanctuary on Sunday. Our task is to wash their feet with our worship and lead them to the refreshing presence of the Lord.

Our worship service should begin with strong leadership that arrests the attention of every attendee away from the distractions of this world and its problems and lift it towards our glorious King who can solve any problem! And as we carefully guide our friends along the path to His presence, we purposely begin to become less and less visible so that all they see is their precious Savior. We must decrease so that He can increase.

At this holy moment, clever modulations are inappropriate, amazing vocal acrobatics are distracting, and impressive displays of instrumental virtuoso only cloud the view of One who is perfect and altogether lovely.

And so, my fellow worshippers, there is nothing wrong with being in a band if that is what God has called you to do. I am thankful for all the wonderful Christian bands that provide us with great music that inspires and lifts us up.

However, if you volunteer in a local church worship ministry, don’t approach your opportunity to serve with the attitude of finally “making the band,” but, rather, take on the attitude of Jesus who spent his last evening on earth washing the feet of his friends and, in doing so, provided a beautiful illustration of what true ministry is all about.

Tom Curley is the Christian Arts Pastor and Lead Worshipper at Northridge Church in Pensacola, FL, where he has served for 15 years. You can email Tom at tcurley@northridgechurch.org

If Worship is a Journey, What's Our Destination?

If Worship is a Journey, What's Our Destination?

By Jon Nicol   |  May 1, 2012

This is part of the Journey of Worship Series.

If corporate worship is a journey, then we need to figure out what the destination is.

In a lot of our churches, well-intentioned people would probably answer, “the sermon.” I mean, it makes sense, we sing, pray, read scripture, take an offering and then – the message.

I’ve known pastors who said the “worship” that goes before the sermon is a warm-up to the real thing. The appetizer before the main course. The preliminaries, if you will.

Can I say I’ve tried hard to avoid working under a leader like that.

And for the most part, I’ve succeeded.

But really, the sermon is part of the worship trek as well. At least it should be.

So if we aren’t heading towards the sermon, what’s are destination?

Isaiah 6.

If you’ve been a worship leader for 10 minutes, you know Isaiah 6. In the year that King Uzziah died…

Isaiah’s experience in the temple is a progression of encountering God.

vv1-4: God’s transcendence and glory experienced.

v5: Isaiah recognizes his sinfulness and his people’s sinfulness. His perspective has gone through a holy realignment.

v6: God provides healing and cleansing.
v7: Isaiah accepts it – his sin is atoned for

v8: Only then, did he actually hear God’s voice. He responded “send me” without knowing the how the story would unfold.

v.9: God commissions Isaiah to go back out to his people with a message

While I’ve designed worship experiences around this verse, I’m not suggesting that every service follows some step by step prescription. But there is a big picture progression to consider. Let’s start with the destination.

The destination is always God’s greatest glory.

God is glorified when creation (heaven & earth) worship him.

God is even more glorified when his people turn from their sin and accept his atoning work. (That’s a not a one-time event, by the way. We continually need to return to the burning presence of God to be made clean.)

God is then glorified when his people can hear his voice and respond.

God is glorified further when we live out our story walking the path that he has carved for us.

So often we don’t see more than the next step. But our heart, soul, mind and strength is surrendered and finding it’s wholeness, purpose and direction in Jesus Christ and His Spirit within us. That’s where God is most glorified.

John Piper says it like this: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

So how does this translate into an every Sunday experience?

If I could answer that with a 7-step process, I could probably get a publishing deal.

But I think that’s some of the problem. We create formulas for worship, combinations to unlock:

3 songs to the left
2 prayers to the right,
1 scripture and hymn/chorus mash-up to the left and

CLICK – the transcendence of God is unlocked.

So while trying NOT to create a crass formula, let’s break this down for worship:

  1. The destination is God’s glory through my redeemed life living out his call.
  2. We need to experience God’s glory and transcendence - his “otherness” to have a holy realigning of our perspective. In Isaiah 6, that came through a corporate worship service – albeit a heavenly one.
  3. Once our perspective is realigned, we recognize our need for the continual work of Jesus Christ in our lives. And we accept it and receive it.
  4. Then we can hear God’s voice and respond.
  5. Just like Isaiah didn’t stay in that worship service in the temple, we go out transformed, renewed, empowered, and on mission.

I don’t believe we have to “program” these five steps into each worship service we plan.

For example, I’ll occasionally design a time for people to deal with their stuff during our musical portion of our worship. But most often, I find a song or two into worship, I’ve experienced God’s presence to the point where I stop singing and start whispering words of confession and repentance to Jesus. Even while I’m leading. (Heck, by the third chorus of a song, the congregation doesn’t need me singing.)

Should I have “dealt with” that stuff before I lead? Maybe, but it’s that ‘holy realigning’ of perspective. When we come into God’s presence, we can’t help but see ourselves with clearer eyes.

As we talk more about the journey of worship, we’ll keep coming back to Isaiah’s experience and the destination that we determined from it.

But until then, let’s talk –
What are ways you see Isaiah 6 take shape in your worship services?
As you’re planning worship services, what are some things you’ve found effective in making it a journey towards experiencing God?

Free Team Devotional: Heart Check, 2

Free Team Devotional: Heart Check, 2

By Jon Nicol   |  February 27, 2012

Do I find that I'm critical of others on the team? Even just a little...?

10 Steps to Remarkable Video Storytelling

10 Steps to Remarkable Video Storytelling

By Jon Nicol   |  February 17, 2012

How to tell great stories with video...

1/2 off (almost) ALL Products

1/2 off (almost) ALL Products

By Jon Nicol   |  November 23, 2011

It's No Post Wednesday, but I wanted to let you know that Brother Turkey (who's kinda like Father Christmas, only more, um...bird-like) is giving 50% off everything...



November 16, 2011

"No Post Wednesdays" is a tradition I started awhile back. Like 4 minutes ago...

Three New Launches...

Three New Launches...

By Jon Nicol   |  September 30, 2011

Three new launches are taking place...

8th Grade Odor and Sucking Out Loud: 17 Ways to Build a Better Youth Band, 1

By Jon Nicol   |  August 22, 2011

I've been working the youth band at our church for last couple years. As a former youth pastor, it's fun to mix it up with the kids and NOT have to plan lessons or participate in lock-ins. Over the next few days, we'll look at some things I've been learning. #1. Start with who and what you have...

Reverse Sound Check

Reverse Sound Check

April 5, 2011

Kent Morris is a rock star. Actually, he's the AV genius behind rock stars. And he was in my neighborhood a month or so ago doing a seminar for Peavey's Sanctuary Series line of sound systems. (Ended up having lunch with him, which was fun. But that's f

3 Notes Per String Scale

3 Notes Per String Scale

April 5, 2011

Jon introduces 3 notes per string scales as a alternative to major position scales. This segment was actually cut from Jon's "Lead: Step One" training video. It will be developed...

Free Music From Praise Charts

March 22, 2011

PraiseCharts has another great giveaway . They've got charts and mp3s for several songs from Integrity. At the top of the pack (IMO) is Gateway's O the Blood with Kari Jobe leading. Another is You Gave Your Life Away by Paul Baloche. John Mark Mc

3 Songs I'm Loving for Easter

March 11, 2011

One of the things I struggle with each year are finding songs that are focused on the Resurrection and not just on the Cross. Don't get me wrong, we need songs about the Cross of Jesus, but His resurrection is equally as important as the cross (and some w

"Good Music--I Just Hate Looking at the Worship Team..."

March 4, 2011

I've been talking to my team, especially my vocalists, about stage presence. Team members from secular backgrounds (bar bands, musical theater, etc) bristle at the thought of infusing worship with the kind of "stage presence" they used in performanc

Small Church/Big Worship - 2 or 3 More Numbers That Matter...

Small Church/Big Worship - 2 or 3 More Numbers That Matter...

February 7, 2011

In the last SC/BW post, we talked about numbers . Numbers matter. We can't scale NorthWillowBackHillPoint down to 100 people. These large churches have more people on staff than most churches have, well, people. But there are a few numbers that are

28 Ways to Make Great Segues - An Intermission

February 7, 2011

We've just progressed through 14 different segues that can move us between songs. We're shifting now to look at segues between non-musical parts of the worship service.

Mangling Our Banner?

February 7, 2011

So Christina Aguilera botched the words to the National Anthem last night at the Super Bowl. One news site had a poll asking if "we forgive her?" Forgive her? Sure. I botch words every week when I lead. It's the running joke on my worship team. I even f

Great Song/Free Praise Chart

January 13, 2011

If you haven't heard People's Church or Natalie Grant's "Your Great Name," you need to. Praise charts is offering the leadsheet/piano/vocal and chord chart for FREE. It'll end soon, so grab it now! UPDATE: it has ended...but check out this song - it's

Small Church/Big Worship - Numbers Matter...

Small Church/Big Worship - Numbers Matter...

January 5, 2011

No one walks into a church of 100 and expects Hillsong United. But there is a slight disappointment when "Mighty to Save" isn't that, well, mighty. Numbers matter. I know I'm not supposed to say that. But when it comes to corporate worship


November 3, 2010

Every new adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem. ~Eric Hoffer I had the privilege this Sunday to introduce a new worship leader to our congregation. We didn't hire him. Nor did he transfer from another church. He's been here for a while--I just duste

worship planning tip #17

November 3, 2010

worship planning tip #17 Unless you have the same band and vocals week after week, always plan your songs with an eye on the musician* schedule. Look at the range the vocalists who may be taking the lead. Look at the strength of your scheduled band and d

Small Church/Big Worship - 10 Ways The Senior Pastor Can Make This Sunday Remarkable

November 2, 2010

I believe the senior pastor of any church is the CLW: Chief Lead Worshiper . He sets the tone for corporate worship. For the solo pastor of a smaller church, he may be actually leading the worship, or at least doing most of the behind-the-scenes wor

Small Church/Big Worship, an Introduction

October 26, 2010

Small churches. They're everywhere. Check out this excerpt from a great post I just read: Imagine you are looking down a very, very long street, and all the churches of U.S. are lined up along the left side of the street from smallest to la

May god wrap his arm around him and his family in ...

October 25, 2010

May god wrap his arm around him and his family in this time of need.. Sending my thoughts and prayers to him.. May god bless them..

Our community and our family is praying for brando...

October 25, 2010

Our community and our family is praying for brandon everyday and for the lord to watch over him and his family as the lord heals his wounds. I will be holding a benefit for brandon and his family if anyone would like the details please contact me @ moonch

Unless Chris Tomlin's Your Worship Leader...

October 25, 2010

...you probably need to lower the key on Chris Tomlin's songs. You may have one singer who can nail those notes. But most of your team can't. And your congregation REALLY can't. So you go to Song Select and print out a more congregationally-friendly key

Brandon Moore...

October 24, 2010

You don't know Brandon. Or chances are that you don't, unless you're from northern Morrow County, OH. But he's someone to get to know . Brandon goes to my church. He does video editing with me and helps out just about any other way he can. And I l

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