34 Tips for Creating Powerful Worship Experiences and Vibrant Worship Teams

In the spirit of Throwback Thursday we’re featuring one of our most popular posts. If you are kicking the creativity up a notch or simply trying to do a better job bringing glory to God on Sunday morning, this one’s for you! Please share with your worship leaders.

We go to seminary, study Greek, learn about computers, eat casseroles, visit hospitals, and do 10,000 other things as leaders. But isn’t it amazing that simple, practical truths can make or break our ministry? Standards and principles are things that must start out intentionally, and then, after a while, they become instinctive. Here are a few of those values I learned from pastors, deacons, worship leaders, my dad (lots from my dad!), and, yes, my wife and kids.

These aren’t new concepts to creative planning, but they are surefire truths that will keep you and your team growing over the long haul of team planning and worship development.

1. Study Your People

This is a simple concept that is rarely done. So often our calendars, agendas, to-do lists, and book studies overshadow the people we try to bring into the presence of God. Strategies and action plans are all great things, but we can get so focused on our plans that we forget who our people are. So, it’s important to study your people. What do your people do? What inspires them? What makes them laugh? Who makes them laugh? When do you see them falling into never-never land on Sunday morning? Study them. Ask them. Get feedback. I’m waiting for the helmet cam for children so we can see worship through their eyes. People have issues! I know, that’s turned into a major catchphrase of the new century, but it is so true. Find out what their issues are and help them discover, or rediscover, God in the midst of it all.

2. Ready, Fire, Aim

I learned this from an old country pastor before it became a popular business strategy. Simply spoken, take a shot at new stuff in a small way. See if you hit the target and then aim accordingly. Many churches spend half their time, resources, and emotional energy aiming. They aim, and aim, and aim some more. They go to Chicago or Los Angeles and aim. They read a book, take a nap, get up, and aim some more. Then when they finally fire, they fire at the point of no return. A ton of money has been spent, subcommittees have slaved over the issues, then $20,000 and 13 business meetings later the strategy is unveiled. If it backfires after so many hours and meetings, then the entire leadership feels demoralized. So, start small. Fire experimental peashooters before you pull out the thermonuclear version.

3. Create a Vision for Your Worship

Know where you are going and how to get there. Very basic. Just remember: “No Vision, No Life.” That’s as old as Proverbs 28:19. Make your vision work through teamwork. Create ownership and multiply the buy-in through vision casting.

4. Reignite Your Passion for God

If you don’t have a passion for God and a passion to lead people into worship, then sell life insurance or market cereal. This is God-stuff. Passion isn’t just a strong emotion. It is a commitment to a dream in which you’re willing to lay everything on the table and say, “Lord, I don’t care what the cost is. I want to see You in all Your power and glory. I want to experience worship and ministry that is truly transformational. I’m tired of the regular song and dance. I want to see You high and lifted up. I want the holy smoke and fire that accompanies Your presence.” As the church of Laodicea reminds us, if we have no fire, no passion, we leave a bad taste in God’s mouth.

5. Never Kill an Idea Before You Write it Down

During brainstorming worship ideas, as well as church growth ideas, we need to be careful about trashing other people’s ideas before they have been fully communicated and considered. Lay down a ground rule: there are no bad ideas at first glance. Why? Because we all have bad ideas from time to time. If you are facilitating a brainstorming meeting and immediately give a thumbs-down to every new idea, you will cultivate timidity and self-consciousness in your team. No one likes to have their ideas body-slammed three seconds after they speak. After this brainstorming period, you can begin the process of appraising what ideas work and what ideas are simply…well…ideas.

6. Don’t Count on Success, but Never Expect Failure

Yes, this seems very ironic. But if your team is counting on home runs every time they try to lead people into worship, then frustration will soon follow. In the same breath, we must do everything we can to achieve our goals. It’s true: God doesn’t ask us to be successful; He asks us to be faithful. Results are a God thing, not an us thing.

7. Do Something Each Month in Worship that Frightens You

If you want to grow, you should be prepared to risk. As a rule of thumb, do something every month that scares you. If you grow in your faith and tenacity, do something every week that scares you. It might be asking a 7th grader to pray the benediction. It may be singing in the middle of the sermon. It may be asking a visitor about his relationship with Christ after a service is over. If you’re shaking in your boots sometime during your ministry, you might feel uncomfortable, but at least you know you have a pulse.

8. Think About One Person in the Congregation and Plan a Worship Service that Allows that Person to Truly Worship

Like the culture around us, we have become a politically correct body. So many churches fail to reach anyone because they are afraid they might exclude someone. Don’t sweat speaking directly to youth in adult worship. We are a family, and sometimes transformation happens through overheard proclamation of truth. Sometimes we truly can’t see the tree because all we can see is the forest. Minister distinctively to one person in the body, and, chances are, the ripple effect will transform the entire church.

9. Don’t Try to Turn Smallville into Willow Creek in One Month

It’s the old Sunday after youth camp effect. We got go to conferences, great conferences. Great ideas! We have the passion! It’s all good. We are ready to hurdle every obstacle to make the cover of GC, then reality sets in. We changed, but the people are the same peo- ple from whom you flew away the week before. I love the ancient Chinese proverb: “Oh snail, climb Mount Kilimanjaro, but slowly.” In other words, shoot for the stars, but realize that the warp-drive technology is not quite there yet. Be intentional and smart with your changes. And, of course, choose the hill on which you are willing to die. Jesus is patient with you; be patient with your people. Lead them through the process and help them understand the reasons for change. Baffle them with your grasp of common sense.

10. Don’t be Afraid of Emotions, but Don’t Try to Manufacture or Manipulate the Worshipers Emotions, Either

Our obsession should not be: “How can I really tear ’em up this Sunday? What could I do to give those people a really misty eyed, three-tissue sniffer moment?” Your focus should be to bring people into an encounter with God. On the other hand, how can a person who understands this incredible grace mes- sage avoid getting emotional? Some people in your congregation grew up in a paradigm that said emotions are weakness. Don’t cry. You aren’t a man if you cry. Don’t shout, or dance, or laugh. It just isn’t spiritual. Worship leaders need to realize this is not a biblical precept. In truth, it’s a very errant stance. I suppose it’s fine to offer your community unemotional, cerebral, fact-only worship, but I don’t think you’d want to classify it as biblical. You’ll end up painting yourself into a corner.

11. Don’t Take the Name of the Lord in Vain

As we all know, I didn’t come up with this on my own. Basically, the tip here is that when we lead in worship and plan worship in a team, perhaps the quickest way to sabotage the work is to give vague vetoes and blame it on God. Example: Pastor Dave walks into the sanctuary where the ensemble is practicing their part in worship. Dave, after a long sigh, says, “Folks, I don’t think God wants us to use that song.” That might work once or twice, but, after a while, people catch on to the fact that God is your fire escape rather than your Shepherd. I know there are times when we do get a specific word from the Lord, but God more often works when we meet Him in our planning meetings.

12. Most Great Leaders and Creative Thinkers are Untamed Monomaniacs, with a Streak of Obsession, Who Believe Strongly in Their Ministry

Want to have an impact? Discover the obsession for ministry. Everyone should have a standard for which they are willing to bleed in this mission. What’s yours? If it didn’t pop into your brain the moment you finished reading the question, then it might be time to grab your Bible and your toothbrush and head to the wilderness until you do.

13. Read Your Plan Out Loud

This is very practical and very simple. Most people will not read your plan; they will hear your plan. Close the door and read your plan out loud. How does it sound?

14. Exile the Left Brain When Beginning Your Work

Whenever you are working alone on a sermon, a project, a poem, a dramatic sketch, or an idea, your creative side (the right brain or the artist) needs to be able to work without the detailed side (the left brain, or the editor) looking over his shoulder. The important thing when you begin to work is to keep creating without assessing what you are doing while you are doing it. So many times the right brain is stifled because the left brain is asking: “Did I spell that right? Do I really think this will work? I don’t know if this is good enough. I wonder what Roger, the chairman of the church council, will think?” The left brain needs to leave the right brain alone; otherwise, the right brain will never get anything done. After your artistic work is complete, begin the tough, painful left-brain work. It’s important late and fatal early.

15. Keep Toys Close to You

You are at your best when you are like a child. Jesus reminded us of that. Give yourself space, and don’t take yourself too seriously, or you will miss the joy of walking in grace. One way I keep fresh, alive, and responsive is to keep a toy within arm’s length. It’s a fact that you need short intervals of time where you can disengage. When you have the opportunity, play! Also have some fun as a team. It will increase the esprit de corps of your team.

16. Don’t Just Sit There, Write Something

Make it a goal to write something every day. A great way to do this is to take a calendar and try to fill up each day’s space. Write about everything. Try writing a story. Write about things you love. Write about things that annoy you. Write about your passions. Write about your day. Write your prayers. It will be a priceless reminder in years to come of God’s grace. Write anything. Just keep the pen moving!

17. Set Small Goals and Reward Yourself When You Achieve Them

If you finish a task, reach a goal, or see transformation take place in worship, ministry, evangelism, fellowship, or discipleship, celebrate it. Let everyone on the team in on small victories and achievements. As in the story of the 10 lepers, don’t be like the 9 who received transformation and forgot to thank God. Have few secret victo- ries. Rejoice with those who rejoice (Rom. 12:15). Set visible, reachable goals and let the benediction be party hats and confetti.

18. Avoid Lip Worship

Lip worship is worship that is totally auditory. A person who totally relies on lip worship will fail to powerfully communicate to 95.86 percent of the crowd. (Sounds scientific, right? Did I just make up that stat? Uh…well…yep.) But seriously, we have a plethora of learning styles in the congrega- tion. Some people are auditory learners, but many are kinetic learners, natural learners, verbal learners, logical learners, physical learners, concrete learners, emotional learners, visual learners, olfactory learners, musical learners, gustatory learners, interactive learners, analytical learners, and so forth.

19. Avoid Tip Worship

Tip worship is worship in which the sole driving force of worship is life application and very little Bible. This is currently a very popular strategy, which works effectively if it is biblically based. The Bible is very practical. When the application fits, by all means, communicate it. But may we never turn worship into the Oprah Winfrey show.

20. Avoid Rip Worship

Rip worship is when we load the congregation down with guilt and shame. Our duty in worship is not to rip the congregation or to use worship as our personal bully pulpit. Who wants to be part of that? I don’t believe families spring from their beds on Sunday morning saying, “Hey! This is the day the Lord has made! Let’s get ready and go to church for our weekly flogging! This is our chance to feel totally inadequate. Let’s go!”

21. Avoid Flip Worship

Flip worship is worship that is done without acknowledging what a vast and important responsibility worship leadership really is. Flip worship is a kind of worship that says, “Let’s get this thing over with so we can get home in time for the Colts’ game.” Flip worship doesn’t ever get nervous. It never sheds a tear. It reeks of sarcasm and apathy. God, protect Your people from the poison of flip worship and flip worship leaders.

22. Avoid Hip Worship

Hip worship is worship that is totally (as the old saying goes) from the hip. Things unexpectedly happen, not because God came, but because there was not a plan or even a thought. Granted, there will be times when God will call on you to shoot from the hip, but usually shooting from the hip will do little toward developing trust in the ensemble.

23. If You’re in It for the Money, Go Home

Capitalism has no place in the church. If you base your ministry on the financial litmus tests, you will miss out on every spiritual victory. Jesus didn’t knock over the tables in the temple by accident. He made a whip to defend God’s people from charlatans who were trying to turn the temple into a corporation. The “pastor as CEO” paradigm is about as old school as Ahab.

24. Be Prepared to Record Ideas While Driving

If you are like me, you get lots of ideas when you are driving from your personal Jerusalem to Jericho. Take a micro-cassette player with you. I am convinced that great ideas invariably occur between lane changes.

25. Once You’re Through Reading, Then You’re Through Growing

What book is next in line after you finish the one you’re on right now? If you don’t know the answer to that question, beware. Books are a lifelong source of inspiration and mental enhancement. The right books build strong leaders and will help you avoid spiritual osteoporosis.

26. Prevent Right Brain Freeze

If you are stumped on how to communicate a concept, if you are running out of ideas and strategies, or if you are running out of options in creating that aha moment in worship, you may want to take a time-out and disengage. Try listening to music, walking, reading aloud, dialoguing with a friend or associate, lying down in the church lawn for a minute, changing pens, or any approach that might pull you out of the ordinary, so you can jump-start your creative synapses.

27. Early Planning and Creating Gives You More Room for Improvement

One of my mentors once told me there’s no such thing as an overnight success in ministry. In other words, God’s work is planned long beforehand, if not by us, certainly by Him. Do a quick character study of Bible heroes. Was Moses an overnight success? Try telling him that in the wilderness of Midian! Or would Joseph consider himself an overnight success as he reflected on his exciting days in a jail with a baker and a cupbearer? Or what about card-carrying, AARP members like Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, or a 67-year-old Daniel in the lions’ den? In the same way, we need to have slow, persistent, diligent, day-by-day, tenacious, mustard-seed planning. In ministry, you’ll usually lose when you use a no-huddle approach in worship.

28. Write Ideas Without Thinking of What Vehicle You’ll Use in the Final Process

Don’t immediately think of a vehicle before you think of a concept. Great team planners will see the message first. We shouldn’t say, “Golly, we haven’t had a monologue in a while. Let’s try to do one this Sunday.” That’s a backward approach, which caters to form rather than content.

29. Weave Your Worship and Plan Your Pauses

Your worship should be seamless. Work on transitions. For instance:

  • The pianist begins playing during the last four lines of the script.
  • The ensemble approaches the microphones during the last chorus of the hymn.
  • The reader approaches the pulpit during the prayer.

Make your transitions smooth. This is a pet peeve of mine. I’ve had the blessing of visiting hundreds of churches. I’ve had some astounding worship experiences. But, very few churches have effectively pulled off transitional moments. When transitions aren’t attended to, the service is like driving a car with a bad transmission. The flow becomes jerky and predictable. I love planned silence in worship. Reflective times can be very insightful and emotive, but 15 seconds of awkward, no-clue, ambivalent nothingness is abhorrent.

30. Prepare Well

Getting to Sunday morning is the dessert of the process. If a worship team is prepared, then even the platform people are liberated from the tyranny of self-consciousness and escorted into the pres- ence of God, along with those who worship. Constantly worrying about what’s next and whether you can pull off your plans makes you a “dish-cleaning Martha” instead of a “worship- driven Mary.” Let’s choose the better.

31. Realize the Worship is Difficult

As my grandfather would say, “This ain’t tiddledywinks, my boy!” Worship is a lifelong work of art. No one ever arrives at the ultimate worship plateau. Watch what happens when you think you have arrived. God always seems to remind us of the reality of our own infancy. It is truly a process, not a destination. We are being transformed from glory to glory to glory.

32. Use Technology, Keeping in Mind That Only You can Prevent Lousy Workmanship

In other words, you can have all the bells and whistles of 21st-century worship technology and still crank out mediocrity. Leaning on bells and whistles to replace perspiration is a formula for failure.

33. Become a Workaholic

Become addicted to glorifying God on Sundays. He is worthy of our worship. A minister who doesn’t worship is like a surgeon who faints at the sight of blood. Do I want that man to operate on me? No way! If you can’t wait for another chance to experience God in corporate worship, then your people will follow your hunger for passionate, holy worship. By the way, may I rant for a sentence or two? If I see one more pastor flipping through his Bible, checking notes, and not singing or worshiping during the service, I think I’ll scream. What an insult to the team! What an insult to God! (Sorry about that! I just had to get it off my chest.) What that behavior says to a worship team and to the congregation is that corporate worship is just all fizz. My part supersedes everything else. The same is true of musicians who take a trip to la-la land during the message. Wherever we are, there we should be. All of us! That’s what worship should be.

34. Every Now and Then, Do a Post Mortem of the Worship Experience

(What did we do well, or badly? Where could we have improved?) Learn from mistakes and, as a team, talk about how to avoid the mistakes. Laugh together, and don’t turn the postmortem into a gripe session.

Ask these questions:

  • Did it work?
  • Was it adequate?
  • How could we have improved?
  • Did we offer people an opportunity to be trans- formed?
  • What feedback did you receive?
  • Are we in a rut or on a roll?
  • Did we, as leaders, worship?
  • Did we improve the mix by using more than two or three communication strategies?

Pray, asking God to continue transforming people through the experience, worship, and truths that we experienced.

What are some tips that have helped you create powerful, creative worship? We’d love to hear from you! We are all on the same journey.

Worship is …

The Christmas story says a lot about the nature of true worship. We can say that God sent Christ into the world so that we could have unfettered opportunity to worship Him. However, worship is misunderstood today as a place and time (“the Worship Service starts at…”) or an experience or element of a gathering (“the worship was great today”). We find a great definition of true worship in Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55.

Worship is humble surrender born out of knowledge of God. 

Mary’s worship demonstrated three things:

  1. Humility – “It’s not about me.”

Real worship starts with the reality that life is about HIS value, and then wonder that I can be accepted, cared for, given to, by such an incredible God. Mary says, “my soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant” Luke 1:46-47. Mary demonstrates for us that the proper attitude in worship and in life is, “It’s not about me. It’s about Him.” And, “Who me? I get to be part of this?”

  1. Surrender – “Lord, my life is Yours.”

Mary was a true worshiper because her heart was surrendered. In Luke 1:38 she said, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your Word.” In Luke 1:48, she again calls herself “His servant.” The word here is literally bond-slave denoting one that has intentionally surrendered themselves to be in servitude to another. To surrender is to make your whole self available to God for whatever He desires. It’s to say to God, “Your way is best. I’m listening. I’m ready to respond with yes.” The opposite of surrender is to resist, to fight, to struggle, to run away, to make our way best and essentially ourselves god, which is idolatry. Mary’s worshiped with a heart that was without resistance.

  1. Knowledge of God – “He has done great things for me, and holy is His name” Luke 1:49.

In this song, Mary shows us that she knows God’s word, has a deep understanding of God’s purposes, knows His work in history, and that she’s internalized His promises to be for her and all that has led her to worship Him.

What has God done for you? How has God worked in your life? You can’t worship what you don’t know. Humility and surrender will open your life to know and experience God, which will lead you to a life of worshiping Him.

So, is life all about you? Is there resistance in your heart when it comes to the will of God? Can you point to God’s work in your life? If not, during this Christmas season, humble yourself, surrender your heart and will, and get to know His story. Worship Him.

7 Declarations to Make Every Day Thanksgiving

If every day was Thanksgiving, I think we’d all be quite a bit heavier! Wouldn’t you agree? There’s a reason we should only celebrate it once a year.

Still, for a moment set aside the turkey, the pies, and the cornbread dressing and make a declaration to make every day Thanksgiving day.

In other words, live a life of continuous gratitude and worship.

It’s hard, especially after the floods, elections, conflict and crises we’ve experienced.

Here are 7 declarations that will send you on your way to Thanksgiving every day.

  1. Today I’ll live a life of celebration. The brooding life is not holy. To many, it might look holy but a grave-digger and skeptic do not a Kingdom make.
  1. Today I’ll simplify to remove distractions. Our inability to hear God is directly linked to the static of modern life. It’s perhaps the greatest plague of the church. We are uncomfortable with silence. The things we place before our eyes, the multitude of messages we receive on a daily basis, even the food that we eat potentially blocks our reception of God’s voice. We often expel the voice of God through texts, emails, Facebook, radio, TV, and music.
  1. Today I won’t tolerate negativity. If you find yourself surrounded by negative, whiney, sarcastic people, consider the architecture of you life and think about doing a little renovation.
  1. Today I’ll meditate on Holy Scripture. Don’t just read it.  Become preoccupied with it! Stuff your self full of holy words and you’ll see it bring a blessing of peace over your life because your eyes and ears are open to His Word.
  1. Today I’ll follow God’s heart and not my own. Keep in mind what God thinks of your heart: it is deceitful. Culture says, “Follow your heart.” Please don’t. It’s a dead-end proposition. Discover the heart of God and follow His.  Stop all self-promotion campaigns. We are all involved in a throne battle. Ask yourself: “Who will I place on the throne of my life? To which king will I bow down?”
  1. Today I’ll clarify boundaries in my personal world. The ability to hear God is directly related to our ability to say ‘no’ to lots of things in your life- even a few good things. We understand that we are not capable of doing everything for everybody. Your closest friends will not understand it. Some will be disappointed in you and others will think you are a prude, but celebrate your boundaries. If you understand the purpose you have been created to achieve, saying NO (sometimes in bold and all caps) is not just recommended, it is required.
  1. Today I’ll seek discernment regarding my day. Every morning, ask for wisdom and courage.  You need them both in order to discern the voice of Holy God and to do whatever He tells you to do.

Remember…

The very best moment in life is today. Today is a gift which is moving forward faster than thoughts or plans. Today is where I am right here and right now. Today is an opportunity to change the little things.

Today is closer. Tomorrow is a promise and yesterday is an eternity from anything I could attain.

Today is most noble.

Today is most daring.

Tomorrow hopes but today is.

God holds the future and redeems all of yesterday but today is closer and today is where I find God.

I hope when you read this you will be grateful for this moment … grateful for where you are and what an amazing concept today, right now, really is. I hope that today you aren’t planning a siege on your enemy. I hope you aren’t wasting this moment trying to prove that you are right. I hope you aren’t swallowed up in regret. I hope you aren’t poisoning your time with trivial, toxic thoughts of wealth, vanity or revenge. None of that really works, anyway.

I hope you are in the moment because this moment is sculpting your destiny.

I live therefore I am … here … TODAY!

No matter what the day brings, if I rest in these declarations, thanksgiving becomes a lifestyle – not an annual event.

6 Ways You Can Choose Wonder in 2016

2015 turned out to be a different world than 2014 and this year promises more change. That’s guaranteed!

• The state of our world is as uncertain as it’s ever been and all bets are off when it comes to what it will look like five years from now.
• Will we face an even deeper economic collapse?
• Will we face more threats from well-funded lunatics and military mercenaries?
• Is this the kind of world that you’d want to bring a kid into in five years?
• Should we be investing in the market or stockpiling spam and green beans in our closets?

Uncertainty is certain but one thing remains: our desire for wonder. Wonder is imbedded in the core of our soul. Very few seek a boring life, with so-so relationships, a mediocre romance and a take-it-or-leave-it career. We yearn for wonder. But how do we get wonder? Is wonder something we can capture like a trout at the end of a fly reel? Is wonder a formula? Is it a myth like the legends of Middle Earth, Sasquatch, or honest politics?

Time and time again in the Bible we get a view of wonder – how to lose it and how to seize it today. We see heroes who struggle – just like us. We see ordinary people who doubt – just like we do. And we see God compelling them to be all they never thought they could be. It all begins with preparation.

Chances are, this season of your life is all about preparing you for the next season of life. If you are anything like me and my church, you have big dreams and little budgets. Like a slingshot, you are being stretched to the limit in order to propel you into all the other phases of your life. This stretching time can determine your career, your lifelong friends, your financial future and ultimately, your spiritual direction. (No pressure.) While so many celebrate with a series of mind-numbing parties and shallow, surface-thin relationships based on all the wrong things, God wants to lead you through the threshold of wonder, bliss and amazement that will last for eternity.

In order to experience the wonder of this amazing walk with Jesus, make a few commitments:

• to not take yourself so seriously
• to not win arguments
• to love the people nobody seems to be loving
• to connect on a deeper level with your friends
• to be honest in your conversations
• to treat yourself like Jesus treats you
• to leave people alone when they want to be left alone
• to not “fix” your family
• to laugh more
• to dream more
• to give more
• to treasure sleep
• to weep without shame
• to rest when you’re tired
• to celebrate the accomplishments of others
• to live wholeheartedly
• to never judge
• to always love
• to be present
• to be available
• to put people above agendas
• to live in a perpetual state of gratitude

Jesus tells a story about a guy who finds an amazing buried treasure and then sells everything he has so that he can have the legal rights to this secret trove. Can’t you just hear his friends, family and neighbors? They didn’t know about the treasure. Can you hear them gossiping about his foolishness in selling his home, boat, donkey, family heirlooms, his shoes, pottery collection, tickets to the games in Rome … everything! I can just see him with a mischievous grin as he hears them mock and sees the smirks. He takes all this abuse because he knows something they don’t. He prepares to sell it all and get so much more in return. This is a metaphor about consecration. He goes on a huge sell-off in order to get that pearl – the prize of his life.

What will you choose?

Here are Six Ways to Choose Wonder

1. Seek out private worship. Having a daily time of worship and Bible reading places you in the zone of the supernatural. Shoot for seven days a week but hit at least five. See what God begins to show you.

2. Connect with one other person who is in agreement with you to follow God and seek Him daily. Meet once a week with that friend.

3. Make a difference in one person’s life. Pastor Andy Stanley says it like this: Do for one person what you wish you could do for everybody.

4. Set boundaries on frivolous spending and activities that disrupt your spiritual journey.

5. Give up trying to control people. Simply love them and work on yourself. It’s amazing what happens when we allow people to experience the consequences of their actions. Instead of trying to fix people, just love them and let them see you live with integrity.

6. Look for God’s hand and you’ll be amazed! There are miracles and unexplained mysteries all around us. Once you find them, you’ll bolster your faith to ask God for big things.

DIY Announcement Screens for the Budget Conscious Church

An announcement loop seems to be a mainstay in the 21st century church. Being able to give people a glimpse of the opportunities to grow and serve in their church should never be taken for granted and should be done with excellence.

Just because it needs to be done well doesn’t always mean you need to spend a lot of money. Here are the materials you will need to acquire in order to begin.

Project List

  • LED/LCD TV (preferable 42” or greater)
  • Flat screen TV mount
  • WD TV Live Media Player Wi-fi 1080p
  • Small flash drive (4gb or more)
  • Industrial Velcro
  • 1.5ft. HDMI cable
An excellent announcement screen doesn't need to be expensive

An excellent announcement screen doesn’t need to be expensive

Steps

  1. Hire an electrician to provide a power outlet in the area of the wall where theTV will be mounted
  2. Mount the TV following the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the mount. (Monoprice.com has great prices on mounts and HDMI cables)
  3. Take your industrial strength Velcro and adhere the WD TV Live to a flat surface on the wall or back of the TV.
  4. Connect the HDMI cable to both the TV and the WD TV Live box
  5. Use Microsoft Powerpoint, Adobe Photoshop, or Adobe Illustrator to create slides that are sized at 1920px x 1080px. You can do smaller slide dimensions but the suggested dimensions will give your images the maximum clarity.
  6. Take your thumb drive and load these images you made as well as a few songs to loop while the slides are going.
  7. Plug your flash drive into the WD Live and power it up. You will be able to access your slides and songs from the flash drive using the WD Live and begin your loop. Please consult the owner’s manual if you need assistance.
Behind the TV view of the WD Live TV box with USB drive

Rear TV view of the WD Live TV box with USB drive

Extra idea for the more advanced

You could easily repeat these steps for a two TV setup inside a lobby or corridor by adding a few additional items. A Kramer 1:2 HDMI distribution amplifier and two 50ft. HDMI cables would give you the ability to have the same exact image on two different TV’s at the same time. Sometimes this is desirable just so the ads are looping in unison. This gives a very polished look but is not absolutely necessary.

Thanksgiving to God- A Responsive Reading

Here’s an easy, creative responsive reading/prayer you can use this Sunday to thank God together!

Leader: In times of trial and grief,

Congregation: You remained faithful to us.

Leader: In times of heartbreak and uncertainty,

Congregation: You were the fortress we ran to.

Leader: Some of us have fought cancer and illness.

Congregation: Your hands guided us. You are the Good Shepherd.

Leader: When our children were born,

Congregation: You rejoiced with us.

Leader: In those times we needed wisdom,

Congregation: Your Holy Spirit renewed our mind.

Leader: When discouragement and responsibilities weighed heavy on our hearts and weary bodies,

Congregation: You lifted the burdens and placed them upon Your strong shoulders.

Leader: Our gifts seem so insignificant, our words so frail, when we seek to bring Thanksgiving.

Congregation: But hear our hearts, O Lord. We thank You. We love You. We praise Your Holy Name.

Free Easter Resources: Seven Last Words

During this Easter season we are praying that the message of forgiveness will shake the lives of the unchurched in your house of worship. We want to help you in any way we can. On this page you will find tools that are absolutely free to use and modify in any way you see fit.

As we approach the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, we realize the eternal importance of this season for two reasons.

  1. It is the complete expression of our faith. The price has been paid, the tomb is empty and Jesus is alive!
  2. We are know that if someone who is unchurched is to come to church one Sunday out of the year, chances are, it will be Easter Sunday.

Seven Last Words – PowerPoint

Here’s a PowerPoint presentation of text and graphics based on the seven last words of Jesus.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Free backgrounds are also available that can be used on PowerPoint, ProPresenter, Keynote or any other presentation software.

Let’s spread the news with excellence. He’s alive!

Download Seven Last Words Powerpoint .ppt

Background Images

Want to download the high resolution background images used in the slideshow? Simply right click on the image below and click “Save-As”, or download the zip file below.

Download Complete Easter Image Pack .zip

For more free Easter resources, check out these links.

Easter Sunday Reading Creative Presentation

Easter Sunday Reading: But He Lives

Responsive readings are many times boring, awkward and confusing for worshipers. Here’s an easy worship addition that requires no shuffling of pages and very little direction.

Use this easy responsive worship piece on Easter Sunday morning.

All the congregation needs to say is simply: “But He lives!” This energetic moment gives everyone the opportunity to say what Easter is all about. If the leader reads it enthusiastically the worshipers will follow his or her lead!

Feel free to download and print the script from your computer. To save it to your computer, right click on the download link and click “Save As”.

Download But He Lives . PDF

Free Creative Presentation: Passion

Looking for a free creative presentation for the Holy Week?

Check out this simple and yet powerful remembrance of Christ’s life and sacrifice. You’ll have a powerful presentation that refuses to be forgotten!

This drama could be performed as a shadow play and a dramatic reading. For the shadow play, Jesus and a few other actors stand behind a scrim. If you don’t want to use a scrim, it will work well just as a reading.

Feel free to download and print the script from your computer. To save it to your computer, right click on the download link and click “Save As”.

Download Passion Script . PDF

What is Lent? “The Season of the Cross”

This week marks the beginning of a major religious celebration around the world called Lent. In our area it means FRIDAY’S ARE FOR SEAFOOD!

What is Lent exactly? In brief:

For Roman Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and other liturgical protestant denominations (those with a continuous history before AD 1500), Lent is the forty day period from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday. It is to be a season of soul-searching and repentance. It can be loosely traced to the early days of the church, but was certainly less formal (most scholars believe the time of fasting was two to three days and not forty) and of course much more spiritual. Lent, as we know it today, originated in the fourth century and has changed in practice throughout the years. In AD 325, the Council of Nicea discussed a forty day season of fasting and preparation for new converts to be baptized. In the seventh century, Gregory the Great moved the beginning of Lent from Sunday to Wednesday, now called Ash Wednesday. He is also credited with beginning the ceremony of marking foreheads with ashes, as a symbol of repentance taken from the Old Testament. The practice of fasting during Lent has become more relaxed over the centuries and in 1966, the Roman Catholic Church restricted fast days to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Having moved to South Louisiana just 10 years ago, I have observed that Lent is practiced but not understood by many. Even many irreligious people will give up something of value (if you count chocolate, certain adult drinks, coffee, or some other modern convenience that doesn’t really affect a person’s way of life as valuable) and will abstain from meat on Friday. When asked the purpose behind this, the person will say, “I’m not sure,” or take a great guess that would fool everyone if they were playing the board game Balderdash. Herein lies the problem with modern spirituality – it’s long on activity and short on meaning and understanding.

Too often we use religious expression, such as Lent, as a means to fit in, to feel better about ourselves, but not to understand and conform to God’s desire for our lives. In many ways Lent illustrates our lack of understanding about God and His will for humanity. Many people give up for forty days what they know they shouldn’t be doing anyway. In the 2002 movie 40 Days and 40 Nights, a single man vows to stay celibate during Lent, but meets the girl of his dreams and regrets being unable to rebel against God’s commands concerning sexual purity (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8) and to “let the marriage bed be undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4) until Lent is over. As this movie illustrates, some people may see Lent as a window of time to be serious about their faith. I tend to believe God deserves and expects 365 days of devotion and obedience, not just forty.

A somber season of soul-searching and repentance, which includes fasting, is necessary for our generation. I don’t search my soul when I give up my favorite commodity but when I understand and get a glimpse of what God has done for me through Jesus Christ. His suffering, His sacrifice, and His love should make us forget modernity for awhile and focus ourselves on repentance and new life that Christ’s death and resurrection make possible.

So how should we view Lent? One 19th Century preacher called it “The Season of the Cross.” I like that. It’s the cross that is the centerpiece of our faith (1 Corinthians 15:3) and it’s the cross that we are called to carry (Luke 9:23). So, join me during the season of the cross and do more than just mark your calendar and do without some material luxury. Let’s increase our awareness of Christ’s love and His desire for our lives. We may find ourselves gaining more, spiritually, than we could ever give up in 40 days.