This year, Catalyst Atlanta is going to be out of this world. I plan on going and hope to see you there. Please don’t miss the Early Bird Rates that end today! Register HERE.
Often I get asked by a pastor or worship leader what I’m listening to and worshiping with. They realize that I travel the United States doing church secret shopper consultations and that I probably experience music and worship in more churches yearly, than just about anyone else to be honest.
So I hear a wide variety of styles and song selections. But I do have my personal preferences and songs that really move me and help me to connect to God. I bet you do, too. I’d like to introduce you to some that are my favorite (if you’re not already aware of them).
For the past 2 to 3 months, I’ve put YouTube on my TV and watched 2 artists, which I consider to be the best worship music in the United States. I think Elevation Worship is the best worship music in the US. I think Bethel Music is a close second. And they are very different, but I love them both.
Here are the songs that God has really used to minister to my heart and soul. I hope you’ll worship with them personally and consider them for corporate music.
Take Courage – Kristene DiMarco and Bethel Music
*** My current favorite song! This song is brand-new and isn’t even on iTunes yet.
Call Upon the Lord – Elevation Worship (My current 2nd favorite song)
Resurrecting – Elevation Worship
Here As in Heaven – Elevation Worship
O Come to the Altar – Elevation Worship (great response song after the message)
King of My Heart – Bethel Music (I know Saddleback Church has done this several times recently)
Ever Be – Bethel Music
No Longer Slaves – Bethel Music
It is Well – Kristene DiMarco and Bethel Music (for more traditional churches that want to breathe new life into an awesome hymn)
*** I’d love to hear from you. What’s playing in your earbuds these days? What songs move you?
I don’t usually share much about my family on here, but I will today. I have three teenagers. My only son is 13 and he’s a handful. He argues with everything I say and shows great disrespect. I’m told this is normal and I remember going through a similar stage of adolescence when I was 15.
I was bringing my son before the Lord in prayer and I sensed God saying, “Kill him with kindness.” You may not realize it, but this has great personal meaning to me.
I have a book coming out in the Fall entitled Secrets of a Secret Shopper. In the introduction, I give the Biblical mandate for hospitality and why it matters. I also remind us of when we’ve been served well. I recall every time I’ve been to Chick-fil-A and thanked them, they would say… Say it with me! “My pleasure.”
So in the book, I encourage you to “kill them with kindness” when it comes to serving others and showing hospitality. In God’s own way, He reminded me of my own words and is leading me to out love, out father, out give and outlast my son by surrounding him with kindness. May the fruit of the Spirit be evident in my life and in all of us as leaders, spouses, and parents – and may we love unconditionally like we are loved by a Holy God.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23
In the midst of unspeakable darkness and trials, I’m calling on the Church and her leaders to rise up and shine forth. Be unifying in your words and actions. May God guide us as we shepherd His people. I’m praying for you.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. – James 3:17 (ESV)
About five years ago my family and I went to dinner with a key family in my church. The objective of the dinner (besides fellowship and strengthening our relationship) was to have a hard conversation. I had seen all the warning signs and the shepherd side of me could not sit back and do nothing. What was happening you might ask?
I could see that the wife and mom I had asked to dinner was on the edge of burnout.
When I first started as pastor at my church three years ago, I was on a mission to recruit leaders, volunteers and build teams – and that I did. I identified and placed key leaders in every ministry in our congregation. Our church started to grow and it was evident God was blessing our community of faith, so why did I get concerned?
I noticed one particular person (a very sweet woman) that was showing up on too many of my ministry teams and leaders lists. She was a teacher in our kids ministry each Sunday. She was a small group leader for our youth group each Wednesday night. She was (along with her husband) an adult small group leader and they hosted the group in their home (I could do another post on why it’s overwhelming to both host and lead a small group, but others have covered this). She was also the point person and face of our Serve ministry.
The first three she was already doing. The last one was one that I had asked her because I thought she’d be a good point person and face for our Serve ministry. What changed? I noticed stress in her eyes, her voice, her family and she always seemed liked she was on the verge of crying when I talked to her. It was obvious she was overwhelmed, but she didn’t know how to say, “No.” So I arranged this dinner with our families and I set out to intervene before she burned out, broke down or quit the church all-together.
Here are some key concepts to consider as I look back on that preemptive conversation:
- The person is always more important than the program.
- Just because someone says “Yes” doesn’t mean you should let them.
- Some people need help saying “No.”
- Be sensitive to people that always volunteer when the request goes out.
- Don’t take advantage of someone’s kindness or lack of boundaries.
- Set limits and boundaries. We asked people to worship (attend church), grow (be in a small group) and serve (volunteer in or lead a ministry).
- Show your people you care for their souls and prioritize their spiritual life and family life above your ministry need.
- If you’re always needing more and more volunteers for new ministries, maybe you need to simply. I’m a huge believer in being a Simple Church.
- It takes guts to make “the ask.” It also takes guts to believe God will provide when you give someone a break. Read that again.
- Focus on broadening your volunteer pool/team. Don’t always go to the same people.
- You may have heard “20% of the people do 80% of the work.” Don’t buy it. Don’t accept it.
- Teach the value and reason for service and expect a dream team of servants to carry the load. (A good case study is to look at Church of the Highlands up-close and their use of their Dream Team)
- Care more about church health than church growth. It will be better in the long-run. Don’t miss understand me. Growth is good – just don’t do it at the expense of church health.
- Be an Ephesians 4 leader and raise up and empower other equipping leaders. I talk about this in my book Church Leadership Essentials.
- Ask your staff and ministry leaders tough questions and be on the lookout for ministry burnout.
- Pray for wisdom, direction and discernment daily.
- Pray that God would bring to mind new people to serve.
- Teach your staff and team leaders to always thank people that serve and let them know you care for them. Our staff sent out weekly, hand-written thank you notes. I write about this in my book, too (shameless plug).
- Be proactive in giving people an “out.” Maybe have people sign-up to serve for a set time length (like 3 months or 6 months or for the summer).
- Set the example. If you are spread too thin and on the edge of burnout yourself, you can imagine the example you set for your congregants.
- Above all love and lead well. You’re a part of a bigger story than building your own kingdom.
What was the result of the hard conversation? The family thanked me for my concern and the woman cut her four ministries down to two and is still serving to this day. Be on the lookout friends and pastor your people well.
“The harvest is so great, and the workers are so few,” he told his disciples. “So pray to the one in charge of the harvesting, and ask him to recruit more workers for his harvest fields.” – Matthew 9:37-38 (TLB)