Cram & Perform

The first time I led worship in Spanish in Costa Rica, I was doing so with my wife and a guitar in a small church. It was low-pressure but felt a bit high-pressure.

I hadn’t led worship in several months, and it had been several years since I’d led in Spanish.

About 15 minutes before the service started, they casually told me that two of the songs (the Spanish versions of Jesus We Love You and What A Beautiful Name) were NOT in the computer. So we’d just go without. That meant that they hadn’t sung them at the church.


Don’t freak out, Dave. (And don’t kill me for bad planning, y’all!)

When I led those songs, I figured that they had at least heard Beautiful Name before.

But for Jesus We Love You, I figured that they had never heard it. So I taught them the chorus first. Then we proceeded to sing the song from the top. There were no words on the screen but by the end, we did a couple of acapella choruses with the congregation singing out loudly!

How could this be? We had no words!

I think this worked for a simple reason: 

I couldn't wait to teach Jesus We Love You BECAUSE I have worshiped with it in my devotions so often. It was a heart-song. It was part of the asphalt that paved the highway to Zion in my heart.

 (Psalm 84:5)

That made me think of how different my approach to this song was from what we normally do: Cram & perform.

Whether you’re the leader or in the band or serving in the tech booth…how many of the songs we do fit in the category of heart-song, a well-worn path in our hearts? And how many of them do we just do…and kinda know?

Sure, there’s an ability to “sell a song” if we know it well, or a confidence in singing and playing a song we have down. But there’s a real heart-integrity in sharing a song from our well. And even if it’s not “one of my favorites,” the time I’ve spent in the secret place in song carries it.

So what would it look like if we’d stop cramming and performing our songs, and actually lived with them and loved them more often?

Oh ,and you thought I was just talking about the band. It’s even truer of the congregation!

- Dave

ps. My friend Jon created a great tool to help you with this. Click here to learn more. Scroll down to “SongCycle: Avoid the Monster List” - it’s a tool that I’ve used for years!Cram & Perform