Ready for the storm?

With all of the news about Hurricane Isaac the last few days (and a close call here in South Florida) it seems that everywhere I turn I hear people saying, “You need to have a plan.”

I agree . . . after 10 years of living in NYC and now living in South Florida, my family and I are big believers in having an emergency plan. 🙂

And that started me thinking . . . The best way to ride out the storms of life (and ministry) is to have a plan for how to deal with them BEFORE they come.

Chances are you are in a storm right now. I dare say that many worship leaders are in the midst of a hurricane of their own.
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How a Worship Arts Reception Can Help You Find New Volunteers

This Sunday I have the privilege of hosting a Worship Arts Overview Reception at our newest Journey campus here in South Florida.

If you are familiar with the How to Double Your Worship Team in a Day resource, you know that the Worship Arts Reception is one of the KEY STRATEGIES that I use to involve new people in ministry on our Worship Arts Team.

It’s basically a short, 30-minute party that I host twice a year after the service and invite people who are interested in serving on the Worship Arts Team to attend. Read more

Experience is NOT the Best Teacher – Leadership Lessons for Worship Leaders

Contrary to popular belief, “Experience is NOT the best teacher.”

This is a lesson I was taught early on in ministry.

Simply going through a difficult challenge doesn’t mean that you learn from it. Doesn’t make you a better leader. Doesn’t prevent you from going through the same difficult experience again.

Like Wile E. Coyote, we’re destined to fall over the cliff again if we haven’t learned from difficult challenges.

No, experience is not the best teacher, but … Read more

What Can Your Church learn from the Olympic Opening Ceremony

Did you catch the Olympic Opening Ceremony over the weekend?

It was hard to miss (at nearly 5 hours long), but I think the ceremony actually holds a great lesson for you and I.

If you watched the Opening Ceremony you know the work, effort, creativity, and planning that went into the show. It didn’t come together in a day, much less a week, a month, or even a year (they started planning the London Opening Ceremony in 2007 – wow!).

The show was written by a group of skilled writers. The music was composed and sung by British legends. When the show was finally written, the most talented singers, actors and dancers were cast.

After months (even years) of rehearsal and technical planning finally that one show is performed, and if it’s great, it will be talked about for years to come.

Now – contrast that to what you and I do every week.

In most churches, the worship order is written not months, but days before the service (sometimes hours – ha!). The best talent isn’t available when the volunteer positions are assigned. The budget of the church is nowhere near the deep pockets of the Opening Ceremony (they spent $42 million). When the service is finished, you put it to rest and start all over again.

Seems a little unfair doesn’t it? Here’s the rub . . .

Most churches live in a world where they wake up on Monday and it occurs to them, “Hey, we have a worship service this Sunday! We should start planning.”

I call that the Week-to-Week Mindset. You know you have it when you just can’t see past this Sunday to plan for next Sunday, or the next month of Sundays.

It’s a terrible place to be in ministry, constantly battling to bring the service to life this week, feeling the frustration of not being able to relieve the stress and get ahead. It leads to burn-out, stale services, and missed opportunities.

If I may, I believe this is an area where the church NEEDS to learn from the entertainment world – be it the Olympics, Hollywood, or Broadway.

Now – I know that the worship services in our churches are not the same as these shows. In fact, our services are more important. The decisions that people make to follow Christ in our churches every week far outweigh the entertainment value of a show or concert.

But because of the importance of the work we do, we need strong systems for planning our services, just as our counterparts in show business do.

What would it look like if you had a preaching calendar that laid out what you would teach on each Sunday over the course of the next year? Think of the freedom that comes with that kind of prayer-soaked planning.

What would you be able to do to teach God’s word more effectively if you knew exactly the types of creative elements in a service 4-6 weeks from now? Would you find a great testimony? Find new media to use? Empower the creative people on your team to brainstorm ideas for how to make each Sunday life transformational?

Too many of us have a “what do we NEED to do” mentality of Sunday, as opposed to a “what COULD we do” mentality?

The first says, “As long as we have some songs and a sermon, we’ll be fine.”

The latter says, “What could we do with what God has given us to make this Sunday something special?”

To do that requires time, prayer and planning . . . it requires a desire to break the Week-to-Week mentality and get to work on not just this Sunday, but the next month or even year ahead.

Here are 3 things you can do to get started breaking the Week-to-Week mentality:

#1 – Hold a 30-minute (or less) meeting with your Pastor this week to discuss this Sunday’s service.

#2 – Plan a time in the next 7 days to plan for the next 2-3 Sundays. Put it on your calendar. Prayerfully plan worship orders, song selection, creative elements, etc. Discuss it with your pastor.

#3 – Create a system that will allow you to plan your services weeks, months, even a year in advance.

A good system is the key to breaking the Week-to-Week Mentality.

In my new book, Engage: A Guide to Creating Life-Transforming Worship Services, which I co-authored with my Lead Pastor, Nelson and I teach you the fundamentals for developing a worship planning system that will keep you planned in advance and relieve the stress of weekly thinking. We wrote this book to help you plan, implement and evaluate effective, life-changing worship services.

Engage is based on 9 years of planning and evaluating these systems at The Journey and in hundreds of churches around the country.

I encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself and anyone on your staff who is involved in the worship planning process.

Engage is available in bookstores everywhere. But, the best price is on
* Engage – Paperback Link
Engage – Kindle Link

This small investment in your team can make a big difference in your Sunday service.

Your partner in ministry,



PS – You can create life transformational moments EVERY Sunday with thePlanning Worship Services for Life Transformation Workshop.

In this powerful, six hour workshop, my Lead Pastor Nelson Searcy and I will teach you the proven principles and practices that have made The Journey Church one of the most innovative and effective churches in America. 

In this resource you will learn:

  • How to maximize the worship time you have each weekend
  • How the pastor and worship leader can effectively work together
  • How to plan dynamic and effective worship orders
  • How to use media, drama and testimony that captures the heart of your people
  • How to create a healthy and focused team environment
  • How to use feedback that ‘‘builds up’’ and makes every service better
  • How to plan ahead so you can break the Sunday to Sunday tyranny
  • How to build all the elements of the service around the message
  • And much more!

This 6-hour workshop will teach you proven principles and practices to increase your worship planning effectiveness.

Recorded LIVE, Planning Worship Services for Life Transformation Workshop also includes more than 15 additional resource files, including:  

  • Fill in the blank workshop notes
  • Sample worship orders
  • Sample band notes
  • Sample message transcript
  • Sample planning notes, calendars and assignments
  • Sample ideas and resources
  • And much more!

This is a nuts and bolts resource that will teach you to make the most of your weekly worship times through effective, God-honoring planning.

Secure your 6-CD set here:

Download your copy here and save $100.00: