Tag Archives: Contemporary worship

The New Song

The New Song

Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. – Psalm 33:3
That’s my mission statement as a worship leader!

Sing A New Song
I was brought up in the Catholic Church – singing hymn after hymn. By and large, many of the same great hymns that I sing today in the Lutheran Church.

God’s Blueprint
But God had a different blueprint for my life. It turns out that there is more to church music than hymns from a bygone era. A lot more. There is freshness, there is creativity and more importantly, there is something referred to as “a new song” in scripture. Honestly, when I sing the newer songs, I do not feel the deep emotions that I get from the great hymns of faith, but, and it’s a big but, something else comes alive in me and I just know in my very core that I need more of it.

A New Song?
To me a “new song” is something that I have never experienced before. In the context of worship, most well written new songs have a magnetic pull on me, like a Tesla coil. Something gets into my bones. It’s like I’ve ditched some baggage that had been holding me back for decades. I feel connected to something larger than myself, larger than my denomination, even larger than the church at large. I’m quite sure that it is the Holy Spirit himself. God has been faithful to guard this little spark of faith in me and to fan it into a flame of faith, happiness and confidence. Ten years later and it’s still flickering in me. No, it’s raging. I am now singing to God in a way that is authentic to me. Amen to that! It’s who He created me to be. I am enamored with the idea of expressing my worship in as a true a form as possible to that which I am.

Speak to Me!
The first time that I sang this newer music I knew that I had encountered God in a very special way. I was home. On every level; personal, spiritual, emotional, and musical. I had come alive and I knew that things would never be the same. God speaks to me through this music. He touched me through the very notion of contemporary music. A new expression of worship was rising up within me. God had inspired me to become a better worshipper by singing a new song to Him.

Copyright (c)2015
My faith seems so real when I sing contemporary music that I can feel it between my fingertips. I was once told by a Pastor that singing “a new song” has nothing to do with music; it is in fact the Gospel. With all do respect, I am sorry but this just can not be correct. The word “song” implies music, because there is no such thing as a song without music. A “song” without “music” is a poem at best and dribble at worse. It is probably one of the furthest things from the Gospel. Let’s face it, a “new song” is a new song. This isn’t rocket science. It’s music. It’s a song written today for today’s generation and God wants this to continue with every generation. Don’t let it stop at your local church. Use a song this year copyright 2015. I think this is important to us all. The onus is on this generation to write the next “Amazing Grace.”

Sing a new song,
To Him who sits on,
Heaven’s mercy seat!
– Jennie Riddle


We meet no ordinary people in our lives. – CS Lewis

I am a worship leader and I grew up in my church! Most worship leaders (musicians in today’s vernacular) do come from within the church. Unlike pastors, staff ministers and youth pastors, many worship leaders have attended their church for years, sometimes decades, before serving on the staff.

For me, this is good because:

1. I know my congregation and they know me. They are comfortable with me. They often volunteer to help sing or play an instrument with the band. They are the very people who have helped me to get to where I am in life. They have provided me with opportunity, strength, stability, friendship and endurance.

2. They know me from attending worship, bible class and fellowship events. They know my track record of faithfulness.

3. I know the history and personality of the church. I know it’s vision. I know the people. I know the culture. I know the community. I know their strengths and weaknesses. I know the church’s doctrines.

4. I know what musical styles the congregation is comfortable with.

God had a hand in placing me with these people and joining us into a friendship and fellowship of believers.

Four things a man must learn to do If he would make his life more true:
To think without confusion clearly,
To love his fellow-man sincerely,
To act from honest motives purely,
To trust in God and Heaven securely
– Henry Van Dyke

The Burned-Out Worship Leader

The Burned-Out Worship Leader

 To the volunteer musicians and worship leaders reading this, I would just like to say….

Thank you for serving the people of God faithfully.
Thank you for carefully choosing songs and for singing like there’s no tomorrow.
Thank you for the endless hours of research and practice.
Thank you for caring about your church and for giving your time to lift up His glorious name.

I know you may not feel appreciated.
I know that you may feel overwhelmed.
I know that you may receive more complaints than compliments.
I know there are people who call your beautiful instrument the devil’s instrument, and refer to your worship as “happy clappy” or as “7-11” songs.

The stress of ministry can be tremendous. This is a cross to bear.

But know that you are making a difference!
You are not simply an entertainer or a “warm-up” to the message.
You are pointing people to Jesus.
The Holy Spirit is wonderfully using you to create an environment where lives are being transformed.
You are raising up other musicians and worshipers around you.
You are making disciples.
You do this simply by example.
The Spirit is alive and well in you.

You are pleasing to God.
He loves your voice, your musicianship, your professionalism and your songs.
He loves your dedication and your prayers that no one else sees.
He loves to hear your voice.
He knows your heart.

While others may not notice or see all that you do,
God certainly does.
This is the beauty. This is the goal. This is your calling. This is your life. These are your gifts. This is your worship offering.

Don’t give up.
Don’t give in to burn out.
Don’t allow frustration to overwhelm you.
The work you are doing is vitally and critically important.
The work you are doing is necessary.
The work you are doing is appreciated.

Bottom line…
You have been called by God and we need you to lead us.



“To play a wrong note is insignificant, to play without passion is inexcusable.” – Ludwig Beethoven

I know a thing or two about passion. I sing contemporary music with passion. I wish I could sing hymns with passion, like most Pastor’s I know can do. But God, for reasons known only to Himself, has not given me these gifts. So I cope.

But it is a blessing to know your passion. I am blessed and I am grateful. It took me 50 years to find this passion. Who knew?

Many people work their entire lives and dislike what they do for a living. In my life I have served every Church Council position invented. I wasn’t very good at any of them in spite of my best efforts. I finally found my passion when God led me into the position of leading contemporary worship with a guitar. Passion happens when your gifts and your talents line up.

I have learned that you cannot fake passion. Passion makes you do crazy things. It is the fuel that drives your dreams and makes you happy to be alive. It invites you to worship your Maker wholeheartedly for stirring these passions within you.

Your life will turn around once you find your passion. It will be filled with purpose, hope and fulfillment.

My passion feeds my faith. I look forward to Sunday worship like never before. I read my bible like never before. I pray often. I listen to Christian music all the time. I can feel the Holy Spirit working in my life like never before. I understand our church’s doctrines like never before. My passion has become my life.

I really don’t know how to direct you to find your passion, but perhaps this will help:

  1. Think about what you naturally do well.
  2. Look to the bible for insight and wisdom. If you don’t know where to start, consider reading a few proverbs a day. It will change your life.
  3. Pray for help in discovering and honing your passion.
  4. Get out of your comfort zones.
  5. Don’t look at what you need. Take inventory of what you already have and strive to master it.
  6. Don’t let anyone discourage you, especially if you feel that it’s God’s will for your life.
  7. You are God’s handiwork. Don’t get discouraged by what others might say.
  8. Determination, humility and persistence are good things to have.
  9. In what area do you want to make a difference?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11

“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. ” – Hebrews 13:20-21

Have you witnessed passion in worship?

How the Traditional Church Does Contemporary Music

How the Traditional Church Does Contemporary Music

1. We do it well. Everyone sings confidently and whole-heartedly, not just the band.
2. We don’t use smoke machines or special lighting, in fact you might not even see the band as they are in the back. They are not the focus.
3. We don’t introduce new songs every week. We teach new songs when needed. We develop a library of great songs that we rely on.
4. We choose songs based on their lyrics; to match the day’s scripture readings, to match the theme of worship, to fit into the church season, or to speak a truth that is timely and needs to be heard and sung.
5. We chose music that is singable for the common worshiper.
6. We chose music that is catchy, relevant, biblical, Christ centered, grace-filled and truthful. We chose music that our worshipers will sing after leaving the church.
7. We don’t put all of our music into a set. Music is strategically used throughout the service to serve a special function and for appropriate responses.
8. We don’t just project lyrics onto a screen because words are hard to sing without the musical notations. We either project lead sheets or provide hard copies including the musical notation. We obey copyright laws because it is sinful to do otherwise.
9. We pray over song selection, so the Holy Spirit has a say in our song choices.
10. We have our Pastors review the song choices and especially the lyrics prior to use.
11. We plan weeks, sometimes months in advance.
12. We pray that you do the same or better as we are still learning.

How Can We Keep From Singing Your Praise?

How Can We Keep From Singing Your Praise?

Attention WELS and ELS Churches Using Contemporary Music!

I would like to create a database of churches in our fellowship that are currently using contemporary music.  As this list grows, we can use it to contact one another for help, for prayers, for resources, or just to have someone to talk to that share your beliefs.

I am calling this project “How Can We Keep from Singing Your Praise?”  Because…

God has put a new song into our hearts!
We can respond to the Gospel with a new song!
We are kindred Spirits!
God blesses Unity!
We see the same truth!
We sing the same truth!
How can we keep from singing your praise?

Recently, a WELS worship leader in TX asked me who else was doing contemporary worship in the WELS besides me.  I knew of only a handful of churches and none near TX.  How pathetic is that?  Hence the need for this list.

Please consider adding your name to the list and also feel free to pass the link to other WELS/ELS churches that you know are using contemporary music.

If you need a definition for using contemporary music and worship I would try this test out. Have you used the Getty and Townend song titled “In Christ Alone” and accompanied it with anything other than an organ (as in piano and guitar)?  Have you heard of Chris Tomlin? Have you hosted the Branches Band at your church?  If you’ve answered “yes” to all these questions, then go ahead, be bold and sign up. Oh you can just go ahead and sign if only one of these are true and you want to belong to this group because we are not exclusive!

You can add your contact information at the following link:


Thank you and may God continue to bless your music ministries!

PS – This list of contact information will be kept private and will only be shared with those people who sign-up.

22 Essential Traits of a Great Worship Musician

22 Essential Traits of a Great Worship Musician

These are in no particular order but are all important when auditioning a new potential band mate:

1. Is a member of the church and attends regularly
2. Takes direction well
3. Humble
4. Easy to work with
5. Skilled at one or more of the following:
a. Playing an instrument
b. Lyric writing
c. Singing
6. A worshipful heart
7. A thankful heart
8. Prays regularly
9. Positive outlook
10. Caring and sympathetic
11. Loves the Lord, the team, the Pastor and the congregation
12. Views the music as much more than a gig
13. Has integrity
14. Loyal
15. Devoted
16. Authentic; is the same person off-line vs on-line
17. Dependable
18. Consistent
19. Reads the bible regularly
20. Serves with gladness
21. Listens to Contemporary Christian Music in their free time
22. Embraces change and all things new

New songs, new day, new start, new hope, new mercy, new possibilities, new ideas, new ways, new people, new heaven, new earth, new covenant, new self, new heart, new command, new creation … new, new, new! Everything is new!

A Gathering Litany – Revisited

A Gathering Litany – Revisited

Here’s an example of what worship leaders do and how they put things together for use in the church.  You will note that the three contributors from this post live thousands of miles apart.  Today’s technology is amazing.  Thank you God.

Several months ago I posted a gathering litany for use as an opening to worship.  Heidi Martz, the organist and keyboard player at “Lamb of God” Lutheran Church located in Phoenix, AZ wrote to me to let me know that they are using the Gathering Litany in a special way.  They have combined my responsive reading with the singing of Tim Bode’s arrangement of “God, Himself is Present” (CW 224).  This is a very powerful and effective combination of music, song lyrics, and responsive reading to prepare God’s people for gathered worship.

Here’s how Lamb of God combined the two:

Musicians play softly in the background during the responsive reading:

P:         God is uniquely present as we gather to worship Him this morning.
C:        He is present in His sanctuary.
P:         He is present where two or more have gathered in His name.
C:        He is present to edify.
P:         He is present to save the lost.
C:        He is present to restore.
P:         He is present to open blind eyes.
C:        He is present to make friends from enemies.
P:         He is present to soften the hard-hearted.
C:        He is present to give life to the soul that is dead.

Congregation sings verse 1 to guitar/keyboard accompaniment
Musicians continue to play softly in the background during the responsive reading:

P:         He is present to welcome the prodigal and the lost back home.
C:        He is present to bless the poor in spirit.
P:         He is present to bless those who mourn.
C:        He is present to bless the meek.
P:         He is present to bless the merciful.
C:        He is present to bless the persecuted.
P:         He is present to feed those who hunger and give living water to all who thirst.
C:        He is present to forgive.
P:         He is present to love.
C:        He is present to build us up

Congregation sings verse 2 to guitar/keyboard accompaniment

Tim Bode is the Minister of Music at Christ the King Lutheran Church located in Southgate MI.

Check out his website at this link:


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The Rainbow

It came from nowhere,
As it stretched across the expansive sky
A refractive dispersion of sunlight mist
As glorious arched as it was high.

The heavens opened up,
As it poured on that sunny day.
It surely stopped me in my tracks,
As I tried to stroll along my way.

Noah would have been pleased,
As I stood in silence; with a strange feeling of peace.
Just to witness this breath-taking sight,
Which one day ended a horrific 40 day plight.

Our steps are indeed ordered,
For only within minutes, could I adore.
This magnificent mist, and sign from God,
That He would flood the earth no more.