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  • How To Establish A “Team Culture” With Your Worship Leaders (No. 114)

    The worship leaders at your church probably rarely meet together. Oh, they see each other at church. They may occasionally play on each other’s teams. They might even be a part of the same small group.

    But they just don’t journey together as worship leaders.


    (read more...)

  • I'M SORRY, BUT YOU CAN'T SING WITH US 😭 (No. 113)

    I recently received this question from a pastor:

    "How do you describe the minimum level of vocal ability that a person needs to possess before they will perform on a Sunday morning? As you might guess, this is prompted by a church member who very much wants to sing with the team, but frankly probably falls below the standard of what we would like to have on stage...."

    Important question, right?! A simple, unemotional, yet empathetic, clear criteria is so important in this area. The way I like to go about it is something like this:


    (Read more...)

  • Buy a dB meter...for the CONGREGATION! (NO. 112)

    Have you ever tried to actually measure how loud the congregation sings?

    You may have heard of dB meters or decibel meters. They're little tools that audio techs can use to measure how loud the sound system is. (to be fair, that's an oversimplification...there are many factors that can make a reading of 82 dB sound much worse than 92 dB...but that's a different Fertilizer, or you can ask Chris to go deeper)


    But have you ever, EVER(!) considered using a dB meter to track the congregation's volume output rather than the loudspeaker's volume output?


    (Read more...)

  • What happens next is up to you (No. 111)

    Each week, you receive this Fertilizer. It helps your thinking about worship. It equips your hands to play better. It helps you keep the main thing the main thing. It nourishes your life as a worshiper and team member.


    That's our hope in giving it to you!


    And yet, maybe you're a worship leader that is caught in the unrelenting cycle of leading weekly worship gatherings while managing songs, arrangements, schedules, teams, relationships, and life.


    (Read more...)

  • Serving The Song (No. 110)

    The best way to play better music, get along with your teammates, serve the congregation well, and enjoy it all is...what? How would you answer that?


    I answer that question with a little phrase I once heard called "serving the song."


    We're heard of serving the Lord, serving our congregation, serving our team, serving our leaders, but...serving the song? Isn't the song just a tool?


    (Read more...)

  • Did We Buy The Wrong Model? (No. 109)

    The measure of a worship leader’s success is not better services, but building worshippers."


    Today I'm sharing an article written by my friend Tony Stoltzfus (and yes, I had to check that I spelled it right). He's a coach, author, and a long-time subscriber to the Fertilizer.


    This one may make you ask questions you haven't asked before or they may give voice to a growing discomfort you have deep inside. It might make you uncomfortable. You might really disagree with what he says. I trust that it will help you think well about leading worship.


    (Read more...)

  • The Secret To Piano For Modern Worship (No. 108)

    I'll get right to the point.

    If you want to play piano in modern worship, there's one primary word to help you: LESS.

    Sometime when I'm worshiping at the piano, my kids will join in. Here, Clementine was sitting on my lap...singing (read: melting her Dad's heart!) With one hand I played. The other was wrapped around her.


    (Read more...)

  • What Would Happen In Your Church If You Sat Down? (No. 107)

    The worship leader announced the song, started it, and then sat down in the pew with the rest of the team. The lyrics kept scrolling on the screens. Would the congregation keep singing?

    What would happen in your church?*

    Worship requires something from us.


    (Read more...)

  • How To Lead A Room That’s “All In” (No. 106)

    We ended the song with the entire room singing loudly. It was a reflection of what was happening in their hearts – they were “all in!” 


    If you’ve never experienced leading a room like this, run and sign up to lead at a pastor’s meeting, or have a dozen worship leader friends over, or volunteer to lead at the next National Worship Leader Conference. (just kidding about that last one)


    But experiences of gathered worship like this “ruin us for the ordinary.”


    (Read more...)

  • How To Practice Your Instrument Without A Band (no. 105)

    At a recent conference, we were asked the following question:


    How do I better prepare to play bass without a team so that I can show up to rehearsal prepared? (I feel like I'm more prepared when I get to play with the team)


    (Read more...)

  • Get The Paddles Out (No. 104)

    I was leading worship at this church. I greeted the assembled worshipers and… got back a very wimpy response. I felt like I was looking at a room of corpses. It wasn’t that I was expecting them to cheer, but I did want the Body of Christ that had gathered to have at least a breathing expectation that God would meet us. This is what I did next.


    (Read more...)

  • Actually Believe (No. 103)

    This is unscripted and unpolished. A bit passionate, it's from my awakened heart. I hope it propels us into faith-filled action!


    (Watch the video...)

  • Hymns Are Old Burned Up Plastic Bottles (No. 102)

    But before you unsubscribe, let me tell you a little story.


    I was tucking my son into bed the other night, and I noticed some trash on his bunkbed shelf. It was the remains of an old, burned up, plastic coke bottle.


    (Read more...)

  • Worship Team Retreat (No. 101)

    Happy New Year! Lots of possibilities lie ahead for us as we begin a whole new year together. Here's one of my favorites: Worship Team Retreats!


    (Read more...)

  • How Healthy Is Your Team? (no. 100!)

    As we approach the end of 2016, I encourage you to take a moment between sips of 'nog (stay tuned for a killer recipe) to reflect on the state of your team's relationships.

    Use these simple questions to jumpstart your process:

    • Do you eat together? When was the last time you had a team member over for dinner?
    • How do you feel at the end of a rehearsal or service?
    • How do you hammer out arrangements as a band?
  • Survive Christmas (No. 99)

    If you're at a "Christmas-Programming-Heavy" church, you might need this perspective from my beautifully bearded&bald friend Mike O'Brien. It's gold!


    (watch it here)

  • Why (Else) Do We Sing? (no. 98)

    I recently flew to Nashville. During the flight, I was reading the Psalms out loud to be a witness to those around me. No, not really. But as I read (silently), something lit up inside.

     

    Have you ever wondered why we sing as Christians? Sure, to praise God. And this is certainly accurate and fitting. He is eternally worthy of every song of praise that will come from our lips!

     

    But wait, there's more!


    (Read more...)


  • How To Get Your Techs To Show Up Early (No. 97)

    The audio tech is likely the most under-appreciated, yet most vital roles in a church worship service. I know the times that I've filled that role, I leave feeling like I wasn't even at church that day...there was so much to pay attention to!

    Being an audio tech has two main components:

    1. Technique (the science, the art, the know-how, the ear)
    2. Attitude (the I-love-people, the I-really-care-about-the-details, the I-get-totally-stressed-out-if-I'm-not-set-up-in-time-for-when-the-band-shows-up, the is-there-anything-else-I-can-do-to-help-you-feel-more-comfortable?)


    Technique is pretty easy to teach. Attitude? (exhale) Sometimes all you need is a little metaphor to help the tech understand.


    (Read more...)

  • HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO "WORSHIP" SINGING O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM?! (NO. 96)

    Last Sunday marked the end of the Church calendar year.


    This Sunday launches the beginning of a whole new year of celebrations, feasts, and..."ordinary time." But first, we start with Advent! It's a season of anticipation.


    Advent has its own music...and with it it's own joys (and concerns). Some of us love Christmas music. Some of us love singing it in church worship services. Some of us can't bear the thought.


    (Read more...)

  • 7 Fundamentals Of Great Worship Music (No. 95)

    On the night the 2016 World Series kicked off, another sport began its season. I've always been a big Spurs fan. Even when they were terrible. Like before the David Robinson era terrible. In the 80's, my small Christian school basketball team played against another school on the Spurs' court and then got to stay to watch Spurs play. I was hooked.


    (Read more...)

  • I can worship better when I'm on stage (No. 94)

    "I can worship better when I'm on stage." Have you ever said that? I have. Most worship team folks I've talked to echo the struggle that they have in those (sadly) rare moments when they're standing in the congregation for worship.


    But wouldn't we be able to lead more effectively if we learned what it takes to be engaged when in the congregation? Everyone we're leading, after all, is...in the congregation, not on stage. Stay with me...it's really going to help us lead better.


    (Read more...)

  • cross pollinate (no. 93)

    Seasonal allergies aside, I think this is a great idea.


    Do you have a traditional and a contemporary service with separate teams for each?Get your teams together! Have a team gathering with everyone that serves in BOTH services. See, right now it's likely that there are two cultures, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.


    (Read more...)

  • Be Together (no. 92)

    Be Together. What if this was the banner over your music and tech teams? Not likely the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking about church tech and music teams, is it? We more likely think of these when we consider our production values for weekend gatherings:


    Be Better. Be Excellent. Be Unique. Be Relevant. Be Bigger. Be Amazing. Be Passionate. Be Inspired.


    “Be Together” looks a bit like the youngest, smallest brother of the big, obvious choices above. But being the “David” of the group may be just what God has in mind.


    (Read more...)

  • We Need Hills (No. 91)

    Over the winter, I'd been riding my stationary bike. It gave me time to watch teaching videos on my iPad while getting some much needed exercise.


    I got the bike for free on Craigslist, so it's a pretty simple bike. I can raise or lower the resistance by two up/down buttons on the handles. But I treat those level buttons like your average rookie church sound guy - I set it and forget it. (but that's for a different Fertilizer)


    I keep it one manageably consistent level.


    (Read more...)

  • Draw Near In The Wildie (no. 90)

    I found an old recording of a journal entry of mine from 20 years ago. Seems like I was in a wilderness.


    Then it hit me: I'm in a wilderness season now! About 18 months ago I responded to a call that was clearly from the Lord, and it's landed me smack in the middle of a classic wilderness. It would've been a harder choice to get on the bus if the ticket would've said "Destination: Wilderness" on it. Nevertheless, here I am. Has this ever been true for you?


    What do I know about the wilderness?


    (Read more...)

  • 1,300 Little Finish Lines (no. 89)

    My pastor is a college prof and he just finished the semester. He turned in his grades and closed the book on a job well done. He felt so great that he baked bread. That's how you know when he's really celebrating and is experiencing euphoria. He bakes cinnamon swirl raisin bread. And it's heavenly...I'm told. (let's see if this works)


    But when was the last time you felt like that as a worship leader?


    (Read more...)

  • Your rescue from despair: Isaiah 9 (no. 88)

    What's your go-to when things are swirling around you? Take five minutes and let this settle you.


    (Watch video...)

  • What A DJ Taught Me About Leading Worship (no. 87)

    I had tears coming down my face. In fact, I almost had to pull over. The song on the radio had taken me to a place with Jesus of nearness and love. I was singing right to Him...to the very last note.


    Have you been there?


    But then, my moment was shattered. The DJ burst on the air giving THE NAME OF THE ARTIST AND SONG, THE STATION CALL LETTERS, AND THE PROMISE OF MORE MUSIC...AFTER THIS! It’s like he wasn’t even listening to the song. He clearly didn’t know where I had just been. It felt insensitive and violating.


    (Read more...)

  • DON’T CONFUSE AN ELEPHANT WITH A CRAB (no. 86)

    It sounds impossible, but it happens every week at your church. You try to create music in a style that is different from the one in which it was written. You try to play modern songs with traditional ways of thinking. And it’s not pretty.


    I was listening to my friend Geoff Twigg teach a band workshop at last month’s training event with The Worship Link, and he said something that articulated a pitfall I’ve seen over and over. It was brilliant, really.


    (Read more...)

  • 5 Marks Of A Worship-Driven Church (no. 85)

    Maybe you’ve never wondered if your church should be “worship-driven.” In Matthew 16, Jesus asked His disciples how relevant to the culture He was. Then He got in their faces and asked them what personal revelation they had of Him. Their testimony? “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” He proceeded to make a standard-creating, normative statement. I’m going to build My church on My revelation and not even a church split will be able to defeat it. Sure that’s my paraphrase, but you get the idea.


    (Read more...)

  • The archives: Worship Fertilizers No.2-no.84

    Where's the rest? Well, we're slowly bringing them over from our old pages, but you can get access to all of them here: http://bit.ly/WFArchive

  • Leading Change (no. 1)

    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less." 


    I mean ouch, Dave! This quote from General Shinseki in Tom Peters book "Re-Imagine!" always challenges me to fight through the pain so I can enjoy the fruit that embracing God-directed change brings.


    (Read more...)