Hello everyone, here are some samples of what I have been working on the last few years, coming together in this new release called “The Other Side.” For a limited time you can help fund the project and receive an autographed copy by clicking on my Go Fund Me project here:
Here are samples of most of the songs on the project. Do a right-click of the file name to save to your computer, or you should be able to click the play button and stream the audio on your phone or computer.
Here is what the play list will be on the CD. Most of these were written for congregational singing. A couple (“Bent on Conquest,” and “Breakthrough”) were written for conferences. One is a congregational song written by my good friend Betty Collins, “You Are My Everything.” Several are in the new “Songs of the Kingdom” book, but I hadn’t released any recordings of these yet. The versions on the CD aren’t the only way to do these songs by any means, but I had fun recording them the last few years. (Side note, one of my biggest grins is in hearing how different song leaders or worship teams interpret different songs I’ve written!)
Greater Worth Than Gold
Home with You
You Are My Everything
Shadow of Your Wings
White as Snow
Shine Your Light
Even Greater Things
Bent on Conquest
Lord of Heaven’s Armies
The Other Side
We Make It Our Goal to Please Him
He’s Got the Future
God Our Father
In the last several months I’ve had four or five different people ask me for this, and I’ve shared it with other over the years, so I thought I would post this today. This is a copy of a spreadsheet I use for all my worship service planning. It has schedules from all the way back to the end of 2006 and also includes various conferences and concerts. So there must be around 500 worship sets on here. (Don’t try to print it!) Every Sunday I copy the set of what we are doing out of this spreadsheet and paste it onto a blank page for that week’s schedule. I like doing it this way because I can easily click on the tab from a previous year and see what we did last Mother’s Day, or the year before. I can scroll back and forth and see several weeks at a glance really quickly (much more easily than in Planning Center – although that is also a great tool).
A few things you might notice as you look through this.
1. We try to keep the list of songs we are singing fairly restricted. I’ve seen situations where the introduction of too many varied songs hinders the church from really connecting. As I mention many times to worship leaders, we tire of songs long before the congregation does. For every one time they hear/ sing the song we have probably heard or sung it a half a dozen times, with all the prep and rehearsal that we do. Plus musicians tend to have shorter attention spans musically. So while I enjoy lots of other songs, we keep a pretty tight repertoire of songs that we keep recycling.
2. We sometimes retire songs we love for a while. So even given what I said above, there comes a time when you just a sense a song is done for a while. So there are many songs that I have even written personally (like “Be with Me Lord” or “I Need Your Love”, even “Praises Heard Around the World” or lately, “Anchor for the Soul”) that right now we aren’t singing. Doesn’t mean we won’t bring them back. I don’t mind “Sanctuary” any more, after we took about a decade off of singing it 🙂
3. We like a mix of types of songs. Every group is different, and different groups work for every group. My local congregation, the South Bay Church (part of the greater LA Church of Christ) has a little under 300 in attendance on Sundays. We are pretty diverse group in age, ethnicity, economic class, and spiritual age. We try to have a little gospel, a little contemporary Christian, some of our own songs, some hymns, and even some country once in a while. Other congregations may like one genre and stick to it. There is no right way to do it! I would imagine if we were to hear a worship service from the time of David circa 1000BC, even though the messages of the psalms are amazing – we wouldn’t understand them and the music might sound awful to our western-music-ears. I used to get a bit tripped up by trying to do it just right. But it’s like parenting: just when you think you have it figured out, everything changes and you have to try to figure it out again. Anyway, we like a mix. And we still try to make it flow.
4. When we intro a new song, we keep singing it. If it’s brand new, we might sing it a couple weeks in a row. Later, maybe once a month. There’s no rule to it, you just feel it out with your team. I make decisions but get lots of feedback. We talk in rehearsals about what is working and what is not. While I’d like to be democratic with the song choices, I think one person has to be making the final decisions as far as the service flow and overall objectives, and it’s just too hard if it becomes “committee based.” What I do is have people send me suggestions, I put them in my planning document, and sometimes we end up doing them at some point and sometimes we don’t. So you might see some suggestions or notes scattered through there. Finally, we almost never use new songs to open or close a worship time. We usually sandwich those in between familiar songs. Even catchy ones.
If you look at the last few Sundays you’ll see we are working on some of the stuff we are doing at the Reach Conference coming up in a few weeks. We have been trying out the flow of moving into some songs from others and things like that. Kind of test-driving a few things. If it works with my local worship team and my church of 300 it will probably work with the house band at Reach, the singers from around the North American churches, and the huge group of 20K people!
Finally I’ll say as I share this, that I’ve been feeling lately the desire to do more simple songs. The space that we are currently in is pretty dry acoustically, so it’s best suited for full band stuff. But I don’t want to lose some of the simple hymns and stripped-down singing. So I’m gonna probably work on writing more of those and incorporating more that others have written. It seems like we’ve been doing a lot of contemporary Christian songs lately, which is cool but I just want to keep a balance. I also want to do more to support the congregation singing in harmony. We do a midweek about once a year where we teach parts. I want to do more with that – there is something so powerful about hearing the congregation (not just the part-singers) sing in harmony!
So, without further ado, here it is – my planning spreadsheet! (I use Numbers, but I’ve posted it here in Excel form, hoping everyone will be able to open it that would like to.)
Today I’m posting a bit of an inside conversation from my friend and fellow minister and worship leader Jay Minor. One of the other brothers in the LA Church was asking for advise on planning the singing for a big outreach event for our college ministries. Jay gave him some input that was so specific and helpful I thought this would be great to share with a broader audience. I have learned so much from Jay over the years and always value his ideas, input and example. So, here you go: “Planning Seeker-Oriented Worship Sets” – by Jay Minor! Feel free to add any comments on this great material…
I do have some thoughts and suggestions, but do want to say they are only opinions, so please take what resonates with you. I thought the level of connection and engagement from the worship team has gotten better and better over the last few years at this event, by the way. Great job!
So, my thoughts…I like to look at worship sessions like this not as “music before the message.” Rather, I look at the whole event as something that is guiding people on a journey and taking them somewhere. As such, you need to have a unified direction, and I find it helpful to have one voice leading the people through how to think and feel during the musical worship. In my opinion, that should be you. That doesn’t mean that you are leading those songs, but the lead singer is not necessarily the worship leader. Think of it like a sermon, with songs scattered through the sermon to help accentuate and drive home the points you are trying to make. You do the talking, you guide people in how to think and feel in between each song. You can preach, you can lead, all in 20 second sound bites, while the intro is playing, or just with some pads behind you, or with silence. But there should never be silence between songs just because are you between songs. IF you do that, then the point is on the songs. The point is NOT the songs. The point is what is happening in people’s hearts, and the songs help people to get there.
You have to put a voice to the things that they may be feeling. Help them know what to do if they feel insecure – validate that those feelings are normal, but then give them an option of how to feel instead. Remind them of what we all have in common and can relate to – whether that be about praise (don’t you love the mountains, the beaches, chocolate, etc???) or about our need for a savior (haven’t we all felt alone at times, or haven’t we all struggled with sadness, or hopelessness? There is an answer for that IF we will let Jesus be our strength, etc…) Don’t be afraid to give them specific instructions (everyone take a deep breath, close your eyes, give someone a high five…) That helps them to feel like you are leading the whole church together and they are a part of it.
Be willing to pray between songs that God will help people to leave everything outside, and through these words we are singing, that we can draw near to him and feel his presence, etc. It doesn’t have to be an “official” prayer by someone walking out to pray (and everyone says “come on, bro! Pray it!”) Wrong atmosphere. YOU are the leader, you can pray two or three times in a 30 minute worship set, as you are leading people to lay down their burdens before the Lord.
So choose your set of songs that will take people on a journey. Begin with the end in mind. Where do you want people to be, and how do you want them to feel when the worship set is over?
Choose themes and musical styles that will help to pull them in, and then open them up, and then call them higher. This is an evangelistic night – that means the target audience is non-disciples. Choose your songs to be the most effective for them. A non-disciple may not connect as much to songs with a lot of hymn-type lyrics. Those are great for church services or disciple devos or worship times. But this night should be more about the guests – so choose songs that are easier to learn and pick up. Simpler lyrics. That doesn’t mean shallower. It just means simpler, with fewer religious words, and not a lot about “the blood of Jesus.” Themes about praising God, how great he is, how much he is there for us and will help us – those are the things that you want your guests thinking about and feeling as you go through the worship time. Do the hymns at another time. Find songs where you can even do a breakdown in the middle and vamp, then you lead people to pray, or meditate on the words, you can even read a scripture or have a spoken word piece in the middle of a song that accentuates the message of the song.
Don’t feel like you have to include lots of different people from different ministries. That is a good thing to do, but it is secondary to the bigger purpose. The PRIMARY PURPOSE of the night is to help people draw near to God, so you do what will help them. IF that means that you have the same band on every song, so be it.
Remind your worship team that this is not about them. Don’t expect to walk out on stage and have everyone cheer for you. That’s not what this night is about. Our job is to point people to God and then get out of the way. The ultimate goal for the night is that people would not remember that we were on stage, but they would remember an incredible time of connection with God.
Pray a lot with your band and singers about setting aside all insecurities, and not worrying about themselves, how they look, what people think about them. Their goal is to focus their hearts on God and have an incredible personal worship experience while encouraging and leading others to do the same. Let the Holy Spirit work through them. it’s not a performance. Have a devo ahead of time and ask them what the difference would be between a performance and a worship set. Have them have to put words and thoughts to how they can approach it differently.
Set up your keyboards more in front so that you can lead from there. Don’t have the singers in a line way in front of the band. That looks odd. Integrate the band and the singers together so they are one unit.
Well, I guess I had a few thoughts…anyhow, like I said, take what resonates and leave the rest. Pray for God to guide you and I know it will go great. Thanks for doing it!
A few weeks ago we had a bunch of ministers from our family of churches across the Southwest come into town for an annual retreat. We hosted the gathering at our regular midweek location and I put some songs together with some of the ministers who are also worship leaders. There was a stereo digital recorder set up in the back of the room to record the lessons by tapping into the sound system. However, the device was accidentally configured to record through it’s own microphone. So it ended up capturing the sound of the room instead of what was coming directly through the microphones. This made the lessons sound pretty distant but it was an unexpected treat for me because when I went to edit out the lessons I got to listen back to the voices of all the ministers singing.
I love these recordings because as a worship leader, this is exactly what I’m going for –listening to the voices of the brothers and sisters praising God, calling out to him, expressing their hearts for him. We try to be careful that whatever we are doing on stage is accenting and inspiring congregational engagement, encouraging the voice of the church and not drowning it out. Supporting, not supplanting. (There are certainly times and places for inspiring performances or loud concert-type worship music too, but I’m speaking of most of the time when I’m called to lead singing).
So these are raw recordings, but I thought I’d share them. I love hearing the voices of my brothers and sisters. I listed the names of the songs and the keys below. A few notes:
- The first worship set was with the women and men together, and then the women had their own program the rest of the time, so the other recordings are just the brothers.
- Ryan and Virginia Weekly and Gina Stickley were the other singers on the first set. I played piano on the first song and then moved to acoustic guitar. The other musicians were Jay Minor on piano, Marshall Mead on the second acoustic, and Ralph Lua on cajon. I like the mix and I love making music with these guys!
- You’ll hear in that first set a bit of a struggle on the song “This Is Amazing Grace” because I hadn’t set up the lyrics properly for that one. Ryan did a good job of leading the congregation through it anyway as the situation got corrected and it finished really strong.
SW Retreat Opening Worship Set 2016 – Ryan Weekly led most of this
Holy, Perfect, Always, Forever Cm
One thought on worship (to “exalt,” Psalm 145)
Scripture – Psalm 145:1-12
We Will Glorify E
We Praise Thee O God E
Great Are You Lord G
10,000 Reasons F
This Is Amazing Grace F
Scripture – Psalm 145:13-21
The Spirit’s Fire C
A Faithful Witness A
SW Retreat – How Great is Our God – Nick Galang led this one
SW Retreat – O Rock of Ages – This one was pulling a bunch of ministers back from fellowshipping –not an easy task, and you can hear it a bit in the recording from the back of the room. Still good though.
SW Retreat – Praise the Lord O My Soul – Second day, early morning worship. I thought this was just the brothers singing, but I’m pretty sure we captured some angelic beings singing along on this one as well. Where did all these harmonies come from?
SW Retreat – Stand in Awe – This one prominently features the brother doing lyrics who was singing right next to the recording device. Love it when the guy doing lyrics is belting it out!
Hey everybody. Happy Monday morning! Wanted to post a song today called “Set Apart.” Below is sheet music, teaching recording, lyrics, chord charts, and the recording from my latest album “Higher Ground.” But first, a little more to set up the song.
We’ve been doing a midweek series on holiness for the singles ministry in my church. Along with the teaching we’ve been reading a book written almost 140 years ago by J. C. Ryle called Holiness:Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots. It’s amazing that it was written in 1877 but is so applicable to today’s world! He has some great stuff on the difference between justification and sanctification. Both are fully dependent on grace. Both are a work of God. Justification is Jesus paying the penalty for our sins and all about his redeeming work. Sanctification is really about his grace displayed in us –how we respond to his sacrificial love, the choices we make, what our life reflects. The word translated “sanctified” in our Bibles could be literally translated as “holy-ized.” Made holy. Set apart. It happens at the point of salvation, but then is also a continuing process of becoming more of Christ and less of ourselves. It’s not about perfection, but about commitment, living in repentance, and continual renewal. And somehow the further on we get as followers of Christ, the more far-off from perfection we realize we are, and more in need of grace. I love this quote from the book:
…As to an absolute literal perfection, the most eminent saints of God in every age have always been the very last to lay claim to it! On the contrary, they have always had the deepest sense of their own utter unworthiness and imperfection. The more spiritual light they have enjoyed the more they have seen their own countless defects and shortcomings. The more grace they have had the more they have been “clothed with humility” — J. C. Ryle
That’s why we need Jesus! That’s why we need to cling to his grace and daily devotion to him. He has rescued me, ransomed me, and he’s making me holy. He is set apart as Lord in my heart.
(This video was posted on YouTube by the site that sells my CDs. Cool, I didn’t even realize they were doing that. Subscribe to that channel if you want to get all the tunes.)
Born of promise
A new name
Stars of light
Shine within us
Jars of clay
We’re set apart
Jesus as Lord
Is reigning in our hearts
We’re bathed in blood
Redeemed in mercy
We’ve been set apart
We were dying
You reached out
From the heavens
You stooped down
Made us great
One man hangs
Torn in pain
For this hour
From the grave
We are gathered
All those born
Of his grace
Called by his voice
We’ll see him
Face to face
D / D / G / A
D / D / G / A
D / A / G / A
D / A / G A / D
To start the year off, I preached a sermon on prayer, and all of the songs in the worship service were prayers to God. As part of the worship set we sang a medley of these two prayer songs I’d written, the first one about 20 years ago and the second one just a couple years ago. I used the groove of “Shadow of Your Wings” for both. I made a demo recording for our worship team to be able to prepare and thought I’d share it with you for your own listening / downloading enjoyment or if you’d like to do the same arrangement some time. By the way, Shadow of Your Wings was written on ukulele (see this earlier post), but most Sundays I just play guitar. So this is a good demo to use if you would like to use the song and want to hear it on guitar instead of ukulele. Happy New Year!
I NEED YOUR LOVE
G D / G / C Em / D
G D/F# / Em / C D / G
C Em / D / G D/F# / Em
C Em / D / G / G/F
C Em / D / G D/F# / Em
C Em / D / G C/G / G
THE SHADOW OF YOUR WINGS
Em D / G C
Em D / C D
G D / C D
G D / Em C
Hello everyone, today I’m sharing again a demo recording I originally posted about 6 years ago. I still really enjoy this arrangement. We’re putting on a huge Christmas play production this weekend called “Night at the Nativity” and this arrangement is included. We also sang it yesterday at our service.
I love this scene from the Christmas story depicted by this song, ordinary shepherds, nothing special, but chosen to witness an incredible angelic display as word become flesh and heaven and earth collided. Hidden from the emperors and kings and prominent figures of Roman society our Lord’s birth is heralded to the lowly. Kind of like you and me and what we get to see and hear. How lucky we are to get to “come to Bethlehem and see…”
Here it is again:
ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH
E / B / E/G# A / B
E / B / E/G# A / B
E / B E / E / B E
E / B E / E / B E
E c#min / f#min B
c#min A / B
E / B
E c#min / f#min B
c#min A / B
E / B
c#min / c#min / A / A
E / E / B / B