girls like us.

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These are the girls we used to look up to. And now we are them.

With the long flowing hair.

The sense of style and grace that no one could place where it came from.

The girls who had so much confidence that it bled through every interaction with them.

And even some of that confidence went home with you.

These are the girls I wanted to model myself after.

And now I am one of them.

The question is not how did I get here, but how long will I be here to enjoy this?

The question is not where those girls went, but who they became.

The question is not whether I should still look up to them, but rather… who is looking up to me now saying “that’s the girl I want to be like?”

You Won’t Be Single Forever

Over the years I’ve heard this phrase directed towards me & so many others regarding the desire to be married one day.

“That’s nice, but remember: You won’t be single forever.”

At some point in my life, I completely questioned that. And what if I will be single forever? Is that really so bad?

Unfortunately a lot of comments that single people get about their singleness often feels like a backhanded compliment. I’ve heard people say that marriage and kids are the end goal, and if you’re not at that point then you’ve got this “curse” of Singleness. Thankfully, plenty of godly people have spoken into that in my life and have reassured me that singleness is not a curse.

Since understanding the truth and blessing of my singleness, I’ve come up with a few things to encourage those of you in this season! And let me tell you… it’s a beautiful season when you treat it as such!

You Won’t Be Single Forever, So…

1.Take advantage of SILENCE.

When we add other people into the equation of our lives we also add noise. The noise of not only our issues, celebrations, and messiness, but also the noise of all of those things in someone else’s life. Enjoy the times you get to be alone, in self reflection, and being able to have time to just be. This can allow you to get the most out of your quiet time with God as you grow in this season. Silence is not a bad thing.

2. Follow your dreams.

I’ve heard couples mention that they wished they could have enjoyed their singleness more and taken the time to do the things they wanted to do. Not because they wouldn’t want to share it with their spouse, but sometimes your future spouse won’t be into those things or the finances, time, or space just won’t be there. One of the best things I’ve been advised to do is to take that trip, do that internship, write that book, start that nonprofit, and follow that dream now. If you’re waiting on someone else to be in your life to make that thing happen, you will be waiting forever. We are meant to compliment each other, not complete each other. Be your own person. Follow your dreams.

3. Work on your current relationships.

It’s beyond me why we think that we will suddenly make a 180 and be these perfect spouses when the time comes. If you didn’t already know, no marriage is perfect. No married person is perfect either. We’re all human beings and we make mistakes. We have relationships around us currently that are challenging and beautiful all in the same. This is how it is when you’re in relationship with anyone. Learn how to forgive your family so you can learn how to forgive your future spouse. Practice patience with your friends so you can have patience with your future spouse. Make a list of qualities you want to work on, and go for it! Take it one step at a time. This will gear you up for your future!

4. Learn to trust God.

No one has got this perfectly down. Trusting God is a lifelong process of being on mountaintops and in valleys all the while finding hope and faith to hold onto in the midst of it all. When you learn to trust God, you learn his characteristics. He is faithful, and you may learn that through a time when things seem to be falling apart everywhere. It’s all in His timing and His plans.

5. Seek after God with EVERYTHING.

Surrender everything to Him. Ask Him to purify your heart. Desire to be transformed by Him and submit all your plans to Him. Read your Bible, set up a plan (if that helps), worship and dance in His presence, and follow where He calls. This is not a secret formula to finding your future spouse, but it will definitely help you head in the right direction towards surrounding yourself with godly people.

Overall, singleness is nothing to be ashamed of. Own it. Believe that this season is not by mistake. You are here on purpose and for a purpose. You are in a season of growing, learning, refining, and leaning on God. It’s always been in His hands. He loves you & has only the best for you!

If You Must Hate Anything…

Do not stand for injustice. Do not stand by while hate tries to dig its insidious claws into your life. Do not allow pain and apathy to dim your light or your passion. If there is anything we must not stand for, it is evil.

Pray for those who hate you. You know why? Because this is all a spiritual battle. It’s not against people. People are not our enemies! The Enemy is our enemy! Stay prayed up, fight against evil with your prayers. Stand strong for what is good, my friends.

What’s the Opposite of Anxiety?

What if the opposite of your anxiety isn’t necessarily peace?

What if the opposite of anxiety is actually FAITH, which produces peace?

So often we pray that God will soften up our situation, but not that he would teach us something. We see bad things as just that: BAD, bad things.

What if God wants to teach us something in our “bad stuff”? What if our opposition is really an OPPORTUNITY to grow to be more like Jesus? To grow to love God more? To have more faith in Him? To be better for our friends and family?

I encourage you this week to see your “bad stuff” as an opportunity to grow and learn to have FAITH in God. Believe that He will do what He said He will do. He can move the mountains! Let your anxiety and worry be ceased by your faith that God WILL come through… and let that faith produce peace in your life to trust in the One who will never fail you. ❣️

Interview Video on Th1rteen R3asons Why (And Why I Won’t Watch It)

First off, I just want to thank everyone who supported me & shared my original post, “Th1rteen R3asons Why (And Why I Won’t Watch It)”. It’s never easy to share something so close to your heart, but I knew it must be said. Thank you to those of you who disagreed politely with me and the conversations that were birthed from that. I did a follow-up interview video with Sean Fenner of YMA (Youth Ministry Awaken) & The Creators Culture. Check it out & let me know what you think!

 

Th1rteen R3asons Why (And Why I Won’t Watch It)

If you’ve been keeping up with some sort of pop culture recently, you may have seen the Netflix original series “Th1rteen R3asons Why” pop up. However, if you’re like me, you may have actually waited 9-10 years to see if the Jay Asher book that you loved so much would become a movie or show, and then got way too excited to find out about it becoming a Netflix Original. Either way, most have heard of it or seen it by now. Maybe your students, children, or friends are watching it. I would caution you to advise them to press in and learn more before continuing their binge watching. Here’s why.

“Th1rteen R3asons Why” by Jay Asher was my favorite book in 7th grade. I read it all. Twice. The story follows Clay Jensen who receives tapes from his high school crush who had recently committed suicide. The series of tapes are front and back (A & B Sides) telling 13 reasons why she killed herself: all reasons because of people. She tells those listening to pass it on to the next person that is talked about on the tapes. Can you see how this might be intriguing & damaging at the same time? When I read this book, I was already depressed and suicidal. It spurred me on to write my own list of “thirteen reasons why” I would kill myself. I remember sitting in math class holding back tears as I wrote my own reasons. It burdened & hurt me so much that halfway during class I asked to go to the bathroom so that I could harm myself. I don’t blame the book for my suicidal attempts; however, I will say it did not give me any reasons not to. “Wouldn’t it be awesome for people to know the things I couldn’t say to their face? For me to end my life & for everyone to feel bad for what they did to me?” These are the thoughts I had. Yes, they are incredibly selfish thoughts. But I saw no reason to think otherwise.

Eventually, I attempted suicide and I thank God that He did not allow it to be fulfilled. I found help & healing in Jesus and He made me a new person. It doesn’t mean I never dealt with depression or suicidal thoughts again, but it means that I was able to know where my help comes from and to remember the promises & hope given to me through Jesus Christ.

Fast forward to April 1st of 2017, I realized that the long-awaited Netflix Original Series was finally out. I began to watch Tape 1, Side A of Th1rteen R3asons Why.  I left to go to bed afterwards feeling so strange. That night I had some strange dreams. The next day went on, I didn’t think it had affected me, but looking back on it I can see how I was impacted by watching that episode. Not thinking it then, I went home & watched more episodes. I fell asleep watching one and woke up on my couch to a dead-silent house in the dark, no light was on anymore. I went to bed with some crazy nightmares. When I woke up the next day, I felt extremely depressed & hopeless. I had no idea why at first. After trying to hold in tears all morning, I finally sat on the bathroom floor and wept. I felt almost exactly as I had felt when I was depressed as a teen. Similar thoughts & emotions ran through my head. Things such as: no one cares about me, why didn’t I take my own life, I have no purpose, etc. The mistake I made as a teen was not speaking up. I knew that I needed to say something this time so I sat down with my sister & was honest about how I felt and not really knowing why. As I spoke, I knew it was from watching the show. That was affirmed as my sister responded that I should stop watching it. She had seen some clips of it & I had talked to her about it while I watched it. We both knew immediately that it wasn’t right. Even she experienced feeling strange afterwards.

The rest of the day was spent singing worship songs, remember who Jesus is, rebuking the lies of the enemy, and trying to stop the tears from rolling. It is only the next day after experiencing this that I am writing to you. I am not saying that the exact same thing will happen to you if you watch this show. This is a story from my experience, someone who dealt with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. If I didn’t have anyone to talk about this with, a hope that is real, or a God who helped me to see the truth in the midst of lies, I would not be writing this to you today. I would be more depressed than I was the day before. I advise & caution you not to watch this show out of best judgement. Here are 7 more reasons why:

  • Lots of vulgar language — Different from the book by far, this show includes lots of cursing and crude language.
  • Sex scenes/talk — Part of the story talks about some tough things that happened to Hannah Baker (the girl who committed suicide), and these are the brought-to-life versions of those parts in her story.
  • Glorifying sin — Just watching the first few episodes, there were times when sin did not look “bad” by way of the perspective of Hannah & Clay.
  • Teen drama — This already goes on so much in society, school campuses, in the home, etc. There is no need to fill your life with more of this. It will drain you.
  • Sarcastic underlying tone — For some odd reason, people can be drawn to this type of underlying tone that glorifies apathy and sarcasm. You will not leave this show the same way you came. It was so overwhelming that I felt it in the words I spoke.
  • Somber feeling/leaves you empty — Again, this is not a show full of optimism. In fact, I don’t believe there is an ounce of real hope in the whole show. The story goes, Hannah kills herself. Everyone relives it & realizes why. There is nothing you can do to go back in time & save Hannah. So the hope that you feel that maybe you could bring her back, or maybe the plot twist is that she’s not really dead… that is false hope. It truly feels Hopeless.
  • Everything you see/hear will embed itself in your subconscious — You may not immediately recognize it, but the things we hear and see impact us daily. That’s why we must be intentional about what we allow in our minds. Garbage In – Garbage Out. What we put into our minds/hearts is what flows out of our mouths. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

 

If anyone was looking forward to this show, I definitely was. However, I hope you can see the damage that this show can do and the weight of depression and hopelessness that it can bring. Please, I caution you, guard your heart.

“The Fallen One” (VIDEO)

I have always wanted to create music that matters; music that inspires; music that changes things.
I composed a short piece today entitled, “The Fallen One”. In this, each movement tells a story. The beginning starts with a tune you may be familiar with, until you hear it fall away. This is symbolic of the slow fade of an angel that began to feel drawn to pride rather than God. As the piece continues, you hear what sounds like a struggle meeting darkness. This is evil entering into the heart of the angel as they begin to lose all desire for God.
The second movement meets a woman who is easy tormented by this evil that invades her life. She makes a downward spiral into depression, hopelessness, and fear.
The third movement meets another woman who is brighter, happier in spirit. She puts up a good fight, but is eventually drawn into the same place as the previous woman. She experiences hurt that leaves her ashamed.
The fourth movement finds a third woman who believes she can put up a good fight and nothing can harm her, yet as evil enters into her life she finds herself in a similar position as the two previous women. She cannot escape her pain. Her fall into depression is ugly. She stumbles down into a dark pit that she feels is inescapable.
The fifth movement follows a woman of God. Declaring praises and promises of God. Even as darkness tries to overtake her, she keeps singing. As her praise gets louder, her faith grows stronger. She fights back her enemy with a double-edged sword.
As she continues to sing these praises, she is joined by a community that lifts her up. She feels the presence of God with her. This encourages her to keep pushing forward & to not give up hope.
She runs into the previous women, sharing her story & the power that is in Christ to overcome the darkness. As she shares, these women begin to light up. They are filled to the brim with peace & joy.
The sixth movement enters into a new dark time for each woman. They experience betrayal & hurt; yet, they are still filled with hope. It ends with the hope and promise from the praise brought forth by one woman of God.
Here it is:

10 GIFS That Accurately Describe Your Day At Church

We get it. We know what it’s like to be at church all day. We know what it’s like when your parents say you’re leaving but stay talking in the parking lot to the other church moms for 15 more minutes. We hope you enjoy our top 10 gifs to accurately describe your day at church.

1.When you finally choose the right outfit for church.

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We all know what it can be like trying to choose the perfect outfit. But when you finally get it right, the feeling is great. It makes you want to do a little dance like Pooh… Except I don’t know about all that head turning around your body. We may need to hold a prayer service for that type of thing…

2. Pulling up to church and seeing your friends like:

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Sunday might be the one time you get to just relax and hang out with your friends. Everyone gets busy during the week with school, work, and family. Sundays can be a great time to catch up and talk about your weeks!

3. When your friend does a solo during the worship and you are so proud.

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You know that “proud mom” moment when someone you know is giving a testimony or leading worship & you break out your phone to record every second of it while you ask the person next to you to take pictures so you can post it on every social media platform to support your friend. Yeah, we get it.

4. When the Holy Spirit is hitting you with that revelation that you were trying to avoid.

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This is the worst & best moment of church! Jesus be like, “You already know Billy isn’t good for you, girl.” And you be like, “But Jesus! … you ry, you ry.” We’ve been there before.

5. When your church friends are in front of you making plans to go out for lunch and don’t ask you.

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I mean, I get it. We sometimes have meetings, small groups, or counseling with a pastor after church, but… COME ON! I want to go to In-N-Out, too!

6. When you come into church with a bad attitude but then someone compliments you.

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You can feel when that church mom or super sweet acquaintance approaches you, it’s about to go down. They’ll compliment, encourage, and prophesy over you. Then all of a sudden you realize what happened before church really wasn’t that big of a deal.

7. When the band plays your favorite song during worship.

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“OMG, OCEANS!” Don’t try to lie… you all know you love that song!

8. When the preacher asks the keyboard player to stay on the stage while he talks.

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You already know he’s about to preach when this happens. Prepare yourself to be at church longer than you expected.

9. Or when the pastor gets up and says “I’m not gonna preach”.

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Honestly, I still don’t know why preachers say this. We all know this actually means I’m going to preach because I’m really on fire about what God is showing me to speak to the church, so prepare to be here for 25 more minutes than usual. Which is fine with us! That’s when you know your life is about to be changed because God’s sparked something in your pastor. Even if it means 25 extra minutes of a grumbling stomach… Ha! 😉

And lastly…

10.  That feeling you get when you go home after church knowing that you have a wonderful community around you & a God who loves you forever.

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No matter what your church looks like, the style of music, or your location, you know that your church family is forever and loves you! This is the best part about being a part of a community of believers: genuine, real, honest fellowship. It’s great being united by the Love of a Savior and growing to know Him more and more each day. God is good!

This post has been a collaborative effort by Kimy Brennan & Olayinka Bamidele.

PUSH | GRIND | HARD WORK

These four words have been on my mind since last November when I began to plan for this year. I know that I’ve made sacrifices to get to the place that I’m at now, but in many ways I’ve been playing it safe. There have been times where I’ve attained extreme courage from Christ & been able to be bold in making moves. However, many instances have not been like that. Are we living by faith if we have a back-up plan “just in case” God doesn’t come through?

In any case, I know that I haven’t always put my best foot forward in growing in Christ, my gifts, & my relationships. But as I made moves & plans for this year, I remembered these four words…

PUSH | GRIND | HARD WORK

In many of my conversations with friends recently, we’ve talked about not giving up. Pushing past barriers & boundaries that hold us back from God & our potential. We’ve mentioned this idea that you have to PUSH, you have to put your nose to the floor & GRIND, and that anything worthwhile is HARD WORK. PUSH has been correlated with our intimate & personal relationship with God… how we grow in our knowledge & love for Him. GRIND & HARD WORK has been the subject of how we walk in faith.

I love the acronym that some pastors have used for PUSH… Pray Until Something Happens. Keep praying! Have FAITH! Persevere! DON’T give up! You have to push past the feelings that are not true into God’s truth and declare to your negative emotions that they cannot control you. You have to rebuke the enemy & his lies. You have to PUSH past the haters and do what God is calling you to do even when it doesn’t make since.

Allow your relationship with God to not be based on your feelings, but upon the Truth. Push for the truth. Push forward into love for your enemies. Push past pain into healing. You got to push.

The everyday grind looks different for everyone, but I’ll say that we all need to realize that things won’t get done, we won’t grow, relationships won’t develop, etc. if we don’t pray & seek God’s will and then ACT upon what He says when He calls you to go! Maybe you are called to preach the Gospel in foreign countries. If so, what daily deposit are you making into your life’s “bank account” to move towards that? How are you making moves to walk on the path God is paving for you? We often times “hope & pray” that God will fulfill the desires He put in us; but how often do we believe in FAITH that what He said is true and listen to Him when He says to go since He’s already before us? Please hear me… I am not saying to go forward & act upon your own will to “get things done”. I’m speaking to those of us who are scared, nervous, anxious, or doubtful of what God has spoken to us. We may not be “sure” that it’s what we are supposed to do because our fear is telling us it’s not safe when GOD has already told us to go because He’s before us. So we must GRIND when God says “Take that internship. Practice your gift. Read and study my word. Go and don’t look back.” Because anything worthwhile takes HARD WORK.

I’ll give you my personal example:

I’m a worship leader, assistant youth minister, music teacher, social media intern for a Christian organization, blogger, & lover of learning. Choosing to be intentional and work hard everyday is not easy. There are days when I don’t want to invest in my talents and gifts because I want to watch the rest of Season 1 of Gilmore Girls (yes, I’m on the bandwagon). There are days I want to skip meetings, early morning tasks, practices/rehearsals, etc. Sometimes I just want to sit on the couch & watch Netflix and nap. But I have made a conscious decision everyday to work on my knowledge of music theory & musicianship so that I can grow my gift as a worship leader. I watch videos of worship leaders I look up to so that I can study them and see what might work in my context. I have to take a part songs and decide where to put a harmony and which harmony could be done there. I have to read books about teens & how to handle certain situations that pertain to their everyday life. I have to check the news & read articles to understand what kind of information our students are being fed on a day-to-day basis. I have to research new teaching methods for cultivating my music students & their gifts. I have to look at design websites, social media platforms that attract many followers, and continue to be innovative & creative. I have to read other blogs, study their website design, and find ways to make my videos/posts/site aesthetically pleasing & creative. I have to read, learn, and grow in the small questions that I have and want answered. My everyday might look different than yours, but this is what it means to GRIND & put in HARD WORK. Cultivate those things God has given you. Allow Him to refine you through conversations with trusted friends, family, & authority in your life. You can’t sit back doing nothing & hope that God just makes you into the person He has made you to be. GRIND, read His word, follow through in the ways He’s called you to accountability, community, & to take MANY seats and LEARN.

So I want to leave you with this idea… How are you pushing, grinding, and working hard to go after what God has put in your life?

The Temptation to Forget Your Calling

Have you ever felt like you knew your calling, but yet it felt so unattainable at times? Have you ever wondered, “What if I didn’t do those ‘big’ things and just settled for the ‘easier’ stuff?” If you have, you’re in good company.

There have been many times in my life where I’ve doubted my vocational calling or thought it would be impossible to make it to that place. I’ve thought, “Instead of being a speaker, I’ll be a secretary. Instead of being a worship leader, I’ll be a veterinarian or hairdresser.” I may have had these thoughts because maybe I felt more knowledgeable or comfortable with these other areas. I thought that I felt more in control and aware of my competency to figure out how to do these other things. But it was only moments later when I realized that those things are just as difficult (if not more difficult) than what I’m shying away from. They also present a whole set of new challenges.

So to the young woman who believes she could never be an engineer; to the young man who thinks he could never play guitar in front of people; to the woman who thinks she is not equipped to teach; to the man who believes he could never have enough money to own his own restaurant… Believe Again! Dream Again! If God has called you to something, He will provide a way! And no vocational calling is “greater” than any other. Each one of us has a purpose beyond ourselves that is specific to our design by Him. He chose to use us in the ways He has chosen for a reason.

We get it wrong so often… that fulfilling our calling is on our shoulders. God will take care of things when we submit to Him, pray for direction, and yield our hearts to listen to Him. Yes, we must work hard but the way will be paved by our God. Do not believe your calling is impossible, because in Him all things are possible!

How Your New Years Resolutions Might Be Hindering Your Growth

Many Americans (myself included) come up with a few great resolutions to push us forward into the new year. However, I’ve found that many of these resolutions do not always project us forward. Rather, they often will set us back.

Why is that so?

Think about some of the resolutions people come up with. According to Nielsen, within the top 10 new years resolutions are:

+ Stay fit & healthy

+ Lose weight

+ Spend less, save more

+ Get organized

+ Read more

Now at first glance, these look great! Who wouldn’t want to be healthy, wealthy, & wise?

Here’s the problem… We don’t create realistic goals to get us to the places we want to be at. Often times, we will have the future in mind but not the present. If you already do not exercise regularly, becoming fit and healthy will be a challenge for you (at least at first). I am including myself in this! For years I have set unrealistic expectations of myself with no vision as how to move toward this. This eventually led to self-pity and despair, which leads to my next point of how your New Years resolutions can be hurting you…

If you have already tried being healthy in previous years and watched the desire to do so fizzle out in your life, it’s probably caused you to rethink this year’s resolutions. “I already tried being healthy and that didn’t work, so instead I will just focus on my finances.” Here’s the thing: if you do not set realistic goals and expectations for yourself, you will become discouraged and give up. My hope for you is that you do not give up on bettering yourself. Here’s how I’ve overcome the discouragement & despair and moved into freedom.

1.Dream as big as you can about your resolutions this year!

Know that nothing is impossible with God! If you have a dream to be healthy by the end of 2017 or lose some weight, you can do it! This may sound counter-intuitive to the preceding statements, but take the time to dream for yourself. Be prayerful about it.

2. Focus in your energy to a list of about 3-5 ideas.

Studies have shown that the average person can focus on about 3-5 things at once. To be effective, I believe this is a good amount of ideas to focus in on. Think about some main areas in your life that you desire to grow in. Attempt to grow holistically this year: in intellect, social, spiritual, mental/emotional, and physical ways. Assess what is most important to you in those areas.

3. Create realistic goals to get you there.

This is the hardest part for most people! What is a realistic goal for me? How can I get to where I want to be from where I am? You have many options here. Look at where you’re currently at. If you are currently exercising 0 minutes a day, try 30 minutes once a week. Schedule a time to go to a local park and walk around. You can bring a friend along for accountability (and maybe even burn off some calories with some laughs). Decide what will help you get where you need to be. If you’re having trouble doing this on your own, find a trusted friend who knows you well enough to create expectations with you. Or, send me a message here for some more tips!

Overall, have fun with your goal setting and remember to enjoy the journey! It is hard work, but when you give it to The Lord, He will help you to see them come to fruition as it lines up with His plans for your life. You can do this!

“Ask the Lord to bless your plans, and you will be successful in carrying them out.”

Proverbs 16:3 

The One Mistake Every Worship Leader Has Made (And How To Fix It)

Have you ever heard a worship song & thought, “Wow, this song would be great for our congregation”?

Chances are, you have. As worship leaders, we are always looking out for new songs… Especially when that one student comes up to you saying, “Are we doing Oceans AGAIN tonight?”

In our search to create the perfect database of songs to choose from, we find ourselves running into this one problem: Choosing the “perfect set list” & having it become a trainwreck.

“We create worship sets with songs in mind, not our team”

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Our mistake is often that we create worship sets with songs in mind, not our team.

If your youth band consists of one guitar, one singer, & a cajon, don’t do songs like “Alive” (Hillsong Young & Free) with the expectation that it will sound just like the original.

Similarly, we need to have our teams in mind when creating a set list for our services.

For example, if we are doing Oceans or another song in a higher key, I will be sure to schedule a male vocal to cover the tenor parts so that our worship set is not top-heavy (soprano-heavy).

We need to keep our teams in mind when creating sets. If we do not, we will become discouraged; our team will become discouraged; and ultimately our congregations will feel our discouragement.

To be successful and effective for the Kingdom in worship, assess the skills & talents of those on your team. Release them to add their strengths to the team, and be sure to encourage them to grow in those areas that are weak. Delegate responsibilities to youth leaders and students (yes, students) on your team with the anticipation that they will grow in maturity & responsibility. Create a culture of worship & teamwork on your team, and their hearts will flow out of that during a worship set.

Each team has been created uniquely in terms of people, gifting, and personalities. What has God called your worship team to value? Who has He called your team to be?

If you would like to book us for a worship team training/workshop event, contact us!