NEXT: Fresh New Worship – Oct ’16

screen-shot-2016-10-09-at-3-09-47-pmI’m sorry I’ve missed a couple of months. Oddly, Hurricane Matthew’s evacuation created the downtime I needed to finish this list.

If you’re new to “NEXT”, I know it’s hard to find new corporate worship songs – there is so much to sort through, especially if you want to dig deeper than the CCLI Top 50. Well, I’ve done the work for you – culling through current releases, both indie & label, curating a list of new material worth exploring. Be encouraged to let me know which of these songs you use, & how your church responds!

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Worshipping in the Face of Hurricane Matthew


the “Hope Farm” (Lewis homestead) right before Evacuation

This past week was one of the scariest my family has ever faced. The mandatory evacuation was announced, so we proceeded to clear our yard, board the windows & doors, & pack all of the important belongings we could fit into our vehicle, prepared to never return. The latest updates were calling for a direct hit – quite literally my house would take the brunt of the storm, washed away by a 9 to 12 foot storm surge, & hours of 140+ mph winds. With my children loaded into our overpacked van, my wife & I stood on the porch & thanked God for our little house which has served us so well.

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SEASONING: Finding your Voice

Photo by Chris Moncus Photography

(Photo by Chris Moncus Photography)

I can sing. I can’t even remember a time when I couldn’t listen to a song on the radio & not grab onto each individual part & join in. My mother has a beautiful, operatic voice, & would often sing, “The wind they call Muriah“, belting it around the house in the early morning. My Father could naturally match any Beach Boy on the oldies station. It turns out that even my grandmother once played autoharp & sang in Friday night neighborhood bluegrass jamborees when she was young. Even though I’ve worked on it, singing has always come naturally to me.

I’m very close to someone, however, for whom it has not been so easy.  Imagine your biggest dream being to sing – sometimes your ONLY dream – yet the natural voice just wasn’t there, then being reminded of it at every turn?  Whenever you sing, those present afterward compliment everyone on stage but you.  Some aren’t even so kind, commenting that so-n-so “sings so much better than you do”, and you wonder if they even have a clue.  So you take every opportunity to improve yourself, but it comes in slow, small increments.  You take lessons, and you learn more about your inner life – your heart – than you do about how to command your voice to do what you hear inside your head.  Then one day, you give up – you pray: “God, teach me to sing.”  And not immediately, but almost immediately, something ‘cracks’ when you are worshiping – volume swells up, and faith rises up in you saying “SING!”  It’s a voice you only barely recognize, and though not yet polished, it’s the voice you’ve always heard in your heart – raw, and in need of ‘shaping’, but it’s the voice, none-the-less:  YOUR VOICE.

You don’t need to sound like the CCM star you hear on the radio. You need to sound like YOU. Some of the most compelling voices in music don’t have polished, trained voices, but their voices successfully convey emotion, & move people’s hearts – & ultimately, that’s not that matters.

It’s been a beautiful story for me to see beginning to unfold, but it goes one step further to convince me of something I’ve always known deep in my soul.  EVERYONE CAN SING.  God made us for it, and though your voice may not win on American Idol, you have one – it’s strong, it changes a room when you use it, it says things that were made only for your mouth, expressing ideas that can come only from your heart.  God gave you that voice – it is especially for you: IT IS YOURS.

Never give up – USE IT!  I’ve absolutely no doubt about it: that is what you must do!

SEASONING: Hosting an effective Worship Workshop

WorshipWorkshopI’ve always enjoyed conferences. I come away from them rested (even in spite of getting no sleep), encouraged, challenged, and excited, with a fresh of vision of what I can do and how things can be.

Wouldn’t it be nice to take your whole team to a conference? Sadly, that’s probably not feasible – the complexities of work & family schedules, not even account for church finances.

A few years back I began putting on Worship Workshops for my teams & those interest in one day joining – ‘mini-conferences’. We held several for our youth teams, & they not only gave our people a fresh vision & a renewed passion, but also served as an opportunity to invest in future talent which we could then integrate into the team. [Read more…]

NEXT: Fresh New Worship – July 2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 12.14.00 AMI not only have a deep love of Jesus, & His people, but I enjoy serving God & His people through Gospel-centered song. I dig through everything that is released – from labels & independent – & find those unique gems you might otherwise overlook. Here are my picks from July – I pray they help you more effectively serve your people.

What new songs have you recently introduced? Share in the comments below!

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