“Daily encouragement, inspiration, FUN, and real talk about the #WorshipLife. By worship leaders/musicians for worship leaders/musicians.”
Sin is an Inhibiter of Worship
A helpful insight God has been teaching me deals with the minification of our efforts.
Here’s what I mean:
God rewards diligence, hard work, dedication to the task, dedication to his work, etc.
However, God does not reward constant sinful activity; in other words, we have the ability, in our humanity, to inhibit our blessings.
Here’s a tangible example: Giving.
Nobody likes to talk about it, but it’s interesting. Pretty much very person I know who makes a consistent habit of regular and abundant giving reports that they are profoundly blessed as a direct result of it.
And yet, so many—myself included—tend to clench tightly onto our time and our money.
In this way, we inhibit the blessings of God. He wants to bless—but will do so in accordance with our faithfulness.
So it goes in your efforts as a worship leader or musician.
Ask yourself a serious question:
Are you living a double life?
As I wrote just yesterday, sometimes we fail. Yes. But that is NOT an excuse or a license to live in a consistent habit of failing God.
God convicts of sin—are you so used to it that you are numb to his conviction? Really think about it.
If our task is to adore God more (again, see what I wrote yesterday), it’s going to be hard to do that when our blatant sinfulness and disobedience is getting in the way.
Take inventory of your life. Are you serving him well? Are you living consistently behind closed doors with the person you are in public?
I can almost guarantee you—if you are wondering why others seem to get ahead, are more successful than you, etc., this is a good place to start. Where you are inhibiting your own blessings?
P.S. The Worship Guys offer a course on how to completely transform how you think about and play worship music. We would love to walk alongside you and teach you a new way to play. Learn more here: www.WorshipByNumbers.com
Your Failure and Your Worship
As someone who has lived in the “public eye” in different capacities over the years…I understand something about failure, hypocrisy, and imposter syndrome.
Lots there to unpack.
Here is what I am getting at:
It’s easy to think less of ourselves…or that we have no right to lead others in worship…if we fail at worship ourselves.
I’m not talking about being a “bad musician” or anything or the sort.
No—I am talking about that visceral feeling of hypocrisy you experience when leading others in worship because you perceive yourself to be a failure at it.
Of course, being Christians, we have a worldview.
In that worldview, all human beings have a fundamental flaw called sin. Sin manifests itself in a variety of ways…but arguably, the root of all sin is pride.
Pride and haughtiness keep you from having a humble attitude and a teachable spirit.
These thoughts seem disjointed; let’s connect them:
You are not the lone person who struggles with failure to DO that which they are called to TEACH.
As a worship leader and/or musician, you are a teacher. You are tasked with demonstrating how to worship. Never thought of it that way before?
To worship is simply to adore. Thus, the more we adore God in different aspects of our lives, the more we worship him.
This means that, by simply practicing the adoration of God often, you are “winning” at worship. In turn, you will have more confidence when leading others in the worship experience of God—you are simply bringing your adoration of God into the realm of music.
See that? See how simple that really is?
Many—myself included—struggle with this ethereal notion of worship that many hyper-contemporary church environments promote. Y’know, the whole “putting people in a trance” they do with transcendental repetition and such the like.
(Btw, not all music is created equally.)
Don’t buy into the lie that that is what defines worship.
- Practice worship by adoring God often.
- Think of reasons why you adore him in different contexts of your life: work, family, church, hobbies, etc.
- Channel your adoration through music on Sunday.
Don’t make worship hard. Even though we all fail, the remedy is simple: Adore God Often.
P.S. Worship By Numbers is a program we designed to help you radically transform your musical chops. You’ve never played music like this. Check out what I mean: www.WorshipByNumbers.com
How to Learn a Worship Song While You’re Playing It
Readers of the blog have probably learned one, very important thing about me by now: I think sheet music is dead.
Now—I realize that makes me unpopular amongst the musical purists.
However, I also recognize the utility of the Nashville Numbers System—which is why Worship By Numbers is based on that.
What utility, you might ask?
Last Sunday evening, we had a special out-of-the-ordinary church service. (Complete with chili cook-off afterward, I might add.)
For the service itself, we played a few worship songs, and in-between, had a time of testimony and sharing what the Lord has been doing in our lives.
There was a plan for the songs we were going to do.
And, as some of you may know, sometimes things don’t go “as planned.” Pastor Jake had a different idea for some of the songs we should sing, so we went with them.
Yours truly did not know one of the songs.
So I could have…
- Put my instrument down.
- Pretended to play.
- Learned a new song on the fly.
Options 1 and 2 weren’t necessarily the best—so I went with option 3.
Now—had I been relying on sheet music, I would not have had a prayer.
For one, the sheet music was not available. But even IF it were, I would have needed YEARS of honing my skills as a sight-reader to even have a prayer.
It’s just a bad, bad, bad system in this kind of context.
Instead, I learned the song on the fly…
- I listened through the first verse. Admittedly, there are rare times where this will not work. However, many songs are such that the first verse (and maybe even first chorus) could be played by only the keyboardist. This was one of those times.
- I memorized the numbers while he was playing. With a bit of ear training, you can easily identify what number is being played.
- I listened for tonal cues. Matt happens to be an awesome keyboardist. One of the things about awesome keyboardists is they are very expressive, and there are certain sounds to listen for when they are making a transition to a particular chord.
Did you catch that? Here’s how I would summarize what I did: I listened.
Turns out, to be a great musician, you have to become a great listener. Being a great listener—and using a system that promotes learning new music, like Worship By Numbers—you can learn how to play any new song (even on-the-fly).
Join today to get access to “Secret #5: The OTHER Best Kept Secret in Nashville” where I devote 5 entire lessons to learning how to do this.
Here’s the link: www.WorshipByNumbers.com
On Hiding God’s Word (In Your Heart)
There are certain “pastorisms” and other cute little sayings you hear when you grow up in the church.
Sadly, many times, these become almost second nature and are therefore easy to ignore…
I am “relearning” what it means to “hide God’s Word in my heart” these days.
A couple of days ago I wrote about the new app I am using to sing the Scriptures. It’s working out really well so far for me! It really is amazing how memorable music is. Almost effortlessly, you can begin recalling information—Scriptures—that calm your spirit and give you rest.
In this crazy time and place where we live, that has been nice.
I am currently working on writing a book called How to Fall in Love with the Bible.
The idea is this: It’s awfully hard to love something you don’t understand. So, there’s a chicken and egg problem. People don’t love the Bible enough to make the effort to understand it. But because they don’t understand it, they never fall in love with it.
See the catch 22?
However, hiding God’s Word in your heart—specifically, through singing the Scriptures—may be a way to circumvent the catch.
Think about it:
If Scriptures is being ingrained in your heart through music, it will be on your mind more often.
You will simply think about it more!
This means, in your thinking, you will constantly be driven back into the Scriptures. At least, that’s what seems to be happening for me.
So I get it—there’s almost nothing harder for a Christian to do than establish a habit of Bible reading and/or study.
But it’s vitally important. And, being the musically-inclined person you are, I figured you might just appreciate this musical approach.
P.S. It would not be out of the question to design your own way of singing the Scriptures in your church context. Worship By Numbers can help with that. Get in for free here: www.WorshipByNumbers.com
Singing the Scriptures
There is an age-old practice known as singing the Scriptures that aids in memory retention.
As Phil Collins (sadly, no, not that Phil Collins) writes for Bible Gateway:
Memorizing Scripture is at the heart of Scripture engagement. Memorizing allows a passage to be on your heart and mind at all times. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” Memorizing Scripture is intentionally sowing your thoughts on God’s Word. Having Scripture memorized in song form both helps in the memorizing process and, if the tune is well done, enhances the emotions of the passage as well.
He’s right, ya know.
It strikes me that, in terms of worship music, it would be hard to imagine music any more worshipful than the Scriptures themselves!
That I know, maybe with the exception of one or two common children’s songs, this is not done very widely in the context of the church. At least, not here in the Western world.
For myself, though, I am working on changing that trend. Guess what?
There’s an app for that.
Actually, there are a few.
But here’s a link to the one I found most recently that I am REALLY enjoying: https://www.scripturesinger.com/app.html
Here are some reasons why I like this app:
- The music is not distracting; it’s very tasteful and serves the words of Scripture, rather than bending the words of Scripture to fit a musical genre as some other options do.
- Although this is not stated anywhere that I can find, the app follows the KJV except where, for musical necessity, a line is added or slightly altered. (It’s always intentionally obvious when they do that.) I like this because I think it is easier than modern translations to memorize thanks its natural lyricism.
- There are topical playlists to choose from. This is a new feature, and HUGE in my opinion. This takes the question of “where do I start” out of the picture. Start with a playlist that is most applicable to your walk with God right now.
What I would recommend is working this practice in your corporate worship context if at all possible.
We all know that we should hide God’s Word in our heart, yet we all know how difficult that can be from day to day.
This is a GREAT way to make it a natural part of the worship experience—and, of the life of your church members.
Btw, you may desire to come up with your own arrangements. If so, I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of using a system like Worship By Numbers to guide the process.
It makes composition SO much easier; and if the whole band is on board, easier still.
Check it out here: www.WorshipByNumbers.com
Being Filled with the Spirit
If I was a bettin’ man, I’d bet you struggle a lot with pride.
“Steve, how did you know?!”
Because you, like me, are a human being. And at the core, human beings struggle with issues of pride.
This was the very first sin of humanity, and according to the Bible, is humanity’s fundamental problem.
Unfortunately, we often skew our thinking about pride.
Here’s what I mean:
It’s not bad to be prideful in the sense of, say, proud of yourself or one of your children for accomplishing a big goal. It’s also not bad to “take pride in what you do”—so, as a worship musician, to be proud of your role and to do a good job.
The problem with pride is that it is very sneaky. It blurs lines.
At its heart, a prideful spirit is one filled with self-aggrandizement.
And so today I ask you a simple question as it relates to your role as a worship leader or musician:
What is your motive?
Are you just “doing the job”?
Are you filled with the Spirit, or puffed up with yourself?
These are super hard questions to answer. Not in the sense that you don’t know the answer. Because you do. We all do.
But moreso in the sense that you’ll have to come to terms with your heart—and that, friends, is often not easy.
Being filled with the Spirit is the only path to real success in doing what God has for you to do.
Service without the Spirit = failure.
Don’t merely serve. As my pastor recently remarked: “Be, then do.”
P.S. Worship By Numbers is an online membership program we created for worship leaders and musicians wanting to take their musicianship to the next level. Right now, we’re offering access for 14 days FREE before you owe a dime. Here’s how to get it: www.WorshipByNumbers.com
The Worship of Spiritual Beings
When it comes to the Bible, I’m a bit of a nerd.
(Actually, I’m the Bible Nerd. That’s the name of my ministry podcast.)
One of the topics I am quite interested in involves the existence of spiritual beings other than the God of the Bible.
I’m not talking your standard “Angels & Demons” stuff here…
I am, but there’s so much more to it than that.
The worship of spiritual beings (other than Yahweh) is a huge theme of the Bible, is always cast in a negative light, and is something that pervades the Scriptures in ways you’ve probably never even thought of.
Today, you’ll often hear pastors talking about the worship of money, sex, and false ideologies.
Interestingly, in the biblical worldview, these were not just conceptual ideas—rather, they were actual deities.
For example, Mammon was the god of money. Here’s what I’m NOT saying—if you are someone who loves money, you are worshipping a literal “god” who is not Yahweh.
However, there was a time and place in history where such a thing is true according to the Bible. The term elohim does not only mean “God” in the sense that we define it, but is used to reference all sorts of inhabitants of the spiritual world (see here for more: (https://www.steveschramm.com/divine-council)
And yes—that does mean that spiritual beings—who are not Yahweh and stand in opposition to him (though they are NOT his equal)—still exist today.
So, what’s the point?
The point is that you must see your role in leading the worship of Yahweh as a very real thing; actually, as a divine duty.
Your worship of Yahweh—“spirit and truth” worship opposed to “other gods” or “self” worship—is spiritual warfare.
You’re not just a guitar player…or a bass player…or a singer…or a keyboardist…
You are leading the way in a battle against the forces of evil.
How cool is that?
P.S. You should prepare for battle. Here’s how: www.WorshipByNumbers.com
The Day Chad Learned How to Count to 7
My buddy Chad is one of my favorite examples when it comes to Worship By Numbers.
If you don’t know, Worship By Numbers is a membership community and training platform where we, The Worship Guys, work with people in a group setting to become better worship musicians.
(You can join for free here: www.WorshipByNumbers.com)
Around the time I initially had the idea to put something like this together, I decided to try it out on my friend Chad.
Chad has been playing guitar for a little while now…mostly, he was using guitar tabs and chord charts to learn new songs.
The problem is that every single time he wanted to learn a new song, guess what he had to do?
Start from scratch.
Can you relate?
Once Chad got one song figured out, that was all well and good. But the minute he wanted to learn a new one, nothing he learned the last time mattered.
He could not “transfer” that information from one song to the next.
And there lies the problem with guitar tabs and other “traditional” ways to learn new music.
So when I first showed him that all you have to do to learn new music is understand how to count to 7…he was hooked.
Actually, he was a bit flabbergasted. Most of all, though—he got it.
It made sense to him. And that’s more than I could say for anything else he had tried.
Now, is Chad perfect today? No. Am I perfect today? No. Are you perfect today? No.
But if you want to get closer to worship musician perfection, dare I say there’s nothing more impactful you can learn than simply how to count to 7.
Here’s how: www.WorshipByNumbers.com
A Reminder: You are NOT God’s Gift to Worship Music
If you’re anything like me, you have a bit of a “hero complex.”
If you don’t know what that is, first of all, thank God.
Second, it means, basically, that there’s this prideful idea floating around in your thick skull that God needs you in order to get something done.
God is the creator of all, and though he desperately wants your participation (for your own sake, by the way), he doesn’t need it. God will get done what he needs to, with or without you.
In the context of a worship band, there is a delicate balance.
You are important. Your role matters. Without you, it is not the same. HOWEVER—the worship happens with or without you. If you are not there, God will still be glorified. The people will still be blessed. God will accomplish precisely what he intends to.
I was reminded of this yesterday when I missed church because I am sick.
I hate missing church; for a number of reasons, but among them is my participation in the worship band.
I want to be in my place because (1) I believe God wants me to be, (2) because I believe I have something to contribute (if I didn’t, I wouldn’t do it!), and (3) because I legitimately love being a part of the band.
All of that to say, I was pretty bummed when I couldn’t make it out yesterday.
But God reminded me of something very important.
While my role does matter, what matters more than anything is that God is glorified. And God does not need me to be present in order to be glorified. That will happen with or without me.
Please know, I say none of this to give you permission to play hooky on your bandmates.
You absolutely should be in your place if at all possible.
My point is, God is God, and you are not his gift to worship music. You are someone that, in his grace, he has saw fit to use. Don’t take that for granted, and never forget it.
P.S. We would love the opportunity to personally help you grow and develop as a worship musician. Here’s how you can get signed up: www.WorshipByNumbers.com
Your Story and Your Worship
Worship pastors, leaders, singers, musicians — what is your story?
Do those you serve with know?
Do those you serve know?
It’s hard to be vulnerable…
Especially in a context where you spend so much time with the people around you—and people who look up to you and respect you at that.
But you know what’s interesting?
Your story—your vulnerability—that’s exactly how people identify and connect with one another!
What I’m saying is this…
Don’t be averse to letting others into your story…
What God has done for you…
How God has brought you through hard times into better times…
How you’ve failed God before and how he helped you in spite of that failure…
Remember—we are all about creating the worship experience.
Part of true worship—a huge part, mind you—is opening up to the truth of God’s Word and letting his Spirit heal our hearts.
That cannot be done without vulnerability. Plain and simple.
Share your story, and share it often. It will help people.
The proof is in the pudding, too. In fact, my story is the very second lesson you’ll find inside of our Worship By Numbers course. Want free access?
You can sign up for the “WBN Jumpstart” here: www.worshipguys.net
Three Characteristics of a Great Worship Song Bridge
Do you ever write your own music?
I know that not many churches do this. In fact, ours doesn’t…at least not yet.
But having some previous songwriting experience I wanted to share something that I thought may be useful should you ever decide to try writing your own worship song.
Enter, the BRIDGE.
What is a “bridge” in music?
This term is used to denote a period in the song that is somewhat thematically different—yet (in most cases) overall consistent—with the rest of the song.
It will typically come between the last two choruses. So, you might have something like this:
This adds an extra layer to the song and also provides a “pattern interrupt.” It helps to get attention.
Masterclass.com provides two reasons for thinking a song might include a bridge:
- To provide variety. A song that simply toggles back and forth between verse and chorus can become a bit predictable. Inserting a bridge can mix things up and keep the audience from falling into a lull. Often, the best way to do this is to assign a new key, tempo, or meter to the bridge to make it stand out from the rest of the song.
- To connect sections of a song. Think of the word “bridge” in its primary, most literal meaning. Just as a physical bridge is used to connect two places together, so too can a musical bridge connect two sections of a song. In this use, a bridge often comes before or after an instrumental solo. A bridge can connect that instrumental solo to a primary section of the song—which, in the vast majority of cases, is a chorus.
Ok — so you’re going to write a new worship song, and it’s going to have a bridge!
What should it be like?
Here are three suggestions:
While there is no rule for what chord a bridge should start on, there are a couple ways you can make it stand out right from the beginning.
You could make the first note of the bridge to be a 7 flat or a 5 sharp. These are both attention-getters because they live outside of the major scale boundary lines, but can easily be integrated into a song that otherwise uses elements only from the major scale.
Another way to make a bridge surprising would be to add musical variety in. For example, maybe you briefly change the entire style of beat of the song. Stranger things have been done!
Another great tactic you can use in crafting a bridge is to make sure the music builds throughout it.
This could be accomplished by having the drums build throughout the bridge to ramp up the intensity from the previous chorus.
Or—you could even have the music totally die down going into the bridge, build throughout it, and then make that last chorus HUGE!
Want to spice it up a tiny bit more? Add a “mod” (meaning, modulation — key change) to that last chorus. Even moving up one half step will help ramp up the intensity and really bring something powerful to that last chorus.
If you’ll pardon my lack of technical precision here, I think a final great characteristic of bridges in music is that they lend themself to becoming somewhat of an anthem.
Often, this will be repetitive, which might make some uncomfortable. But you wanna know who else was a bit repetitive? Biblical authors. Ever read Psalm 136?
One of my FAVORITE songs in the whole world is “Behold Our God” by Sovereign Grace Music.
The bridge of this song confidently repeats:
You will reign forever (let Your glory fill the Earth)
You will reign forever (let Your glory fill the Earth)
You will reign forever (let Your glory fill the Earth)
You will reign forever (let Your glory fill the Earth)
What an amazing promise, right? Why not sing it a few times and let it really sink in? In this way, it becomes almost like an anthem. Something that, while it is not the main point of the song, makes it easy to remember and really makes the song come alive.
Applying one or more of these characteristics to the next song you write just might make the difference for you. Try it out, and let me know how it went.
P.S. If you want to learn more about creating great music, join our Worship By Numbers program for free today. We train help you understand music in a way you never thought possible before, reduce your rehearsal time, and have you learning new songs in 30 minutes or less! Here’s the link to join for free today: www.WorshipByNumbers.com
The Careful Art of Trying New Music
In our church, we introduced a new song the other day that was…interesting…in a good way!
Now—mind you, this was not a song for congregational singing.
And admittedly, it was a bit “different” from what you may typically hear in a church…
But as our pastor said right afterward, “Y’know, there was a lot more Bible in that song than in many songs you hear in church!”
He was right.
As we’ve discussed before, what matters most about a song is its biblical faithfulness.
When compared with Scripture, does the song stand up to scrutiny? Even if the message is a bit more abstract?
If so, then it may be a song at least worth consideration for some context in the church.
It strikes me that another very important thing to consider is this: Don’t. Get. Attached.
What I mean is…let’s say you’re the worship leader, and you have found a new song you think will work well in the context of your church.
You take it to the pastor…and…he shoots it down. Maybe he gives good reasons. Maybe he doesn’t.
If you truly believe God has entrusted this man with the leadership of your local congregation, you will act in accordance with that belief—which will often mean submitting to his leadership even when it is unclear why.
So trying new music is really an art form.
Some new music will bomb…
Some new music will be warmly accepted…
But you should always try to introduce newness into the worship experience at your church.
With so many wonderful songs written about Savior, I see no reason to sing the same 10 songs over and over again.
There’s a case to be made for familiarity (more on that another day)—but all familiar songs were once new.
P.S. Real quick — did you know that you can join our Worship By Numbers program for free right now? Here are the details: www.WorshipByNumbers.com
A Daily Discipline of Worship
I have a confession to make…
I do not regularly listen to worship music.
I should…but I don’t…
So today’s thought is not profound. It is not meant to incite some sense of guilt. It is also not meant to make you feel sorry for me or for yourself
It is just what it is…an admission that I need to get better about being surrounded by my craft…
Could you say the same?
I honestly believe that being a regular consumer of new worship music is, in itself, a way to become a better “producer” of it!
Also—while I’m at it, you should listen to stylistically diverse music.
So, I don’t listen to worship music regularly. But I do listen to it frequently enough, and I have a regular diet of other kinds of music, including movie scores and soundtracks.
The reason I don’t listen to much worship music is simply because I’m either (1) working, when I prefer movie scores or classical music or (2) doing something mindless, where I prefer to listen to content-heavy teaching like a podcast or audiobook.
Today, then, I’m asking myself (and you!) a question:
Where in my schedule can I fit regular consumption of worship music?
Have some thoughts? Reply to this email or leave a comment on the website.
P.S. If you want to learn how to play worship music, this is the resource you need: www.WorshipByNumbers.com
The end of guitar tabs
While I’m busy declaring the end of “traditional” music education practices…might as well get this one out of the way.
I have a love/hate relationship with them. Here’s why…
When I first started learning—indeed, they helped. They really helped.
But as I began to grow as a musician, I asked myself a question…
What did they help?
They helped me learn a song. Slowly…but surely.
So when I was not sure how to play a song I wanted to learn, I would look up the guitar tabs. Lo and behold, I’d usually find one.
But the process to learn a song this way was very, VERY time-consuming.
And the worst part?
When I wanted to learn the next song, I had to start from scratch.
In other words, I was not actually learning anything about music—which, I mean, doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?
That’s why everything changed for me when I learned the Nashville Numbers System—which is the underlying method I use to teach our Worship By Numbers course.
In Worship By Numbers, I show you exactly how to learn new songs in a way that helps you grow more as a musician with each and every song you learn.
Yes—everything you learn about one song is immediately transferable to what you learn in another song.
That is literally impossible unless you have a method that allows you to learn a new song but be able to change things on the fly.
For example, if you learn a song in the key of A…but the worship leader needs you to be in the key of B.
If you learned with guitar tabs, you’re out of luck. If you learned with sheet music, you’re out of luck.
If you learned with numbers…just move that capo, and play the same thing.
“But Steve, it just can’t be that easy.”
I understand your skepticism…
So why not put me to the test? Here’s how, for free: www.WorshipByNumbers.com
The End of Sheet Music
You might consider it a bit audacious to declare the “end of sheet music”…
And you would be right.
It is a bit audacious, I admit.
However, I really do mean it—at least in our context.
The fact is this: Sheet music will always be around. Certain kinds of music will always require it. I get that.
However, I can think of very few times any member of a worship band will need to be able to read a piece of sheet music.
I have two friends right now who are incredible keyboardists, and neither of them can read a single note of sheet music. It’s like Chinese to them.
Fact: I can just barely read sheet music (basically not at all), yet I have been performing with—and even instructing—worship bands for the last 10+ years of my life.
And there’s just no reason to.
After all, numbers are the new kid on the block.
They’re not really new though…
Musicians have used numbers to play music for decades and decades. In fact, that numbers have a large role in understanding music is something even classical musicians of centuries gone by realized…
But only in modern times have the numbers 1-7 been systemically utilized to provide an entire framework for song composition that allows musicians to quickly—and easily—learn any new song.
(What if you could learn a new song in less than 30 minutes? What would that make possible for you? Would that have a positive impact on your life?)
If you’re interested in learning more about how it all works, here’s the link: www.WorshipByNumbers.com
Thank You, Russell
Today I write something that is both painful…and yet joyous at the same time.
Departure is never easy; but the hope of the Christian is life eternal!
One of my absolute heroes went to be with Jesus yesterday.
It was the privilege of a lifetime to get to travel on the road with Russell, James, and Edd—the Easter Brothers—full-time for around 6 years playing gospel music.
If you’re not sure who they are, here’s a clip from a trip to Dallas to film with DayStar TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ag1qg3zuQ60
I learned so much about Jesus during that period of my life.
There is no way possible that, in a short blog post, I could say what truly needs to be said…so I know I will leave out some amazing details about Russell and his life and ministry…
But in remembering Russell and the impact he had on me, there was some things he absolutely LOVED. I thought, perhaps, a great way to honor his legacy would be to talk about a few of the things he loved.
He Loved Music
This should go without saying, but Russell Easter was a storyteller like none other. He loved everything about music. He loved playing music (although he did not play much anymore by the time I got to know him). He mostly sang and wrote.
Most of all, he loved writing music.
He was always working on a new song idea.
I guarantee you, Russell Easter has set better songs to the side than most writers will pen in a lifetime. He was a great writer, his thinking was always Bible-based, and his hooks were always catchy.
He gave his life to Jesus and served him through gospel music…and in my opinion, no one did it better.
He Loved Business
My own love for business and entrepreneurship has no doubt been impacted by his.
A long time ago the group decided that Russell would essentially “lead” the band (although there was always mutual respect between the brothers) and that he would be in charge of business decisions, etc.
Russell just loved making deals and being a part of the business. He always had the latest Mac computer and was doing graphic design work for album covers, posters, and whatever else he could!
For Russell, that stuff was never a chore or a burden; he loved it.
He Loved His Grandkids
Obviously…Russell loved his entire family. Very much so.
But there was a distinct smile on his face…one that would light up a room…when one of his grandkids or great-grandkids would come by.
He loved giving gifts, he loved having them close, and he especially loved when they took an interest in music.
This is especially impactful for me, because he very much treated me like one of his own grandkids, and I very much felt like one.
Even more than getting to play with music him, to be treated like a grandson by Russell is one of the distinct honors and privileges of my life.
He Loved Jesus
Most importantly, Russell loved Jesus more than anything in this world.
Think about it…collectively, the Brothers penned over 400 songs…all about Jesus.
The millions of miles traveled and lives impacted…all to tell one more person about Christ.
The Apostle Paul informs us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).
Russell, as we speak, is with Christ…the One he wrote about and sang about every day for the last 60+ years of his life.
What legacy could one hope to leave any more significant than that?
As far as I’m concerned, Russell Easter literally changed the world. He was a pioneer in gospel music.
But there is nothing more important to know about Russell than this: He loved Jesus, and wanted so badly for the rest of the world to love him too. That’s what matters.
Although nothing I write can wholly or adequately express how I am feeling…I just want to publicly say how grateful I am for the life and ministry of Russell Easter.
Here’s a wonderful video that was recorded a few years back now in tribute to The Easter Brothers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4nsjSDtMS8
I am grateful God gave me the opportunity to know them so intimately.
Thank for your everything, Russell.
Make worship fun again
One of the most dangerous things you can do for a passion, hobby, or even a duty…
Is to rob it of everything that makes it fun.
Think about it:
I don’t know very many people that have fun at work AND hate their job.
I don’t know many people that spend HOURS learning a new subject that aren’t having fun while they do it.
I mean…anything you do…if it is not fun for you, you are not going to give it very much time or effort.
And if you do, it will not last, because you cannot sustain doing something you hate for long periods of time. We’re just not built to operate that way.
As we write about literally every day, being a worship leader (that includes musicians, by the way) is a very serious, and very biblical calling.
We OWE thought, time, and attention to this craft…because we owe it to those we’ve been called to serve week in and week out.
But we also owe it to them to transfer our enthusiasm for the craft.
Sometimes, I’m unintentionally a bit animated when I play. Not in a distracting way (at least I don’t think)…
But it’s obvious to people that I enjoy what I am doing.
Every so often someone will come up to me and say something like, “Ya know…I can tell you REALLY love what you do. It seems so genuine and I really appreciate that.”
“Ministry” comes in all shapes and sizes.
The fact is…
Even your demeanor on the platform is a ministry.
Every single movement ether adds or takes away from the worship experience…but make no mistake…it makes a contribution.
So, while it’s important to hone your craft and do your best to become a better musician each and every day (which our education program, Worship By Numbers, can help with)…
Don’t forget to have fun. It matters…
DON’T OVERPLAY – Don Moen Speaks Truth to Worship Bands
Matt shared this awesome video with our worship team the other day…
Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6Y3PCYgjkg
I know I harp on this all the time…
But it is literally one of the very most important concepts to understand when it comes to playing music.
Seriously…the “secret” to playing well as a band: Great musicians who COULD play whatever they wanted to…but choose to play to the song instead.
Check out the video above for more on this from Don.
And if you want more free teaching along those same lines…don’t hesitate to sign up for your free Worship By Numbers™ account today. You only pay after 14 days…so don’t wait!
You can get started today transforming your music for good. Or not. You can stay stuck in the same place. The choice is yours.
Choose wisely: www.WorshipByNumbers.com
The Characteristics of a Great “Go-To” Song
A couple days ago, I mentioned to you that we have a “go to” song at church.
We use this song in various cases…
Obviously, after a service where that song is appropriate… But also, just as a general anthem that we sing to the Lord as a church dependent upon him.
So I thought we might take some time to discuss what the characteristics of such a song may be.
Now, this will not be an exhaustive list…
… But these three simple things will give you an idea, to get started, about choosing a “go to” song for your church￼￼￼.
First, of course, this song has to be true.
You will not get very far along in this process if the song you are singing is not true.
So, what could it mean for the song to be untrue?
Well the most obvious example is if this song is not biblical…
There are many songs that are sung in church that are not biblical… Now, that’s not to say that they just talk about things that are just not IN the Bible…
No, I mean they actually contradict the things that are in the Bible!
We won’t go into what those might be… At least not now.
But you should watch out for that, because it happens more often than I’d like to think.
Another obvious one is if it’s just not true to the way the world really is.
If the song does not describe reality or use a parable of some sort that teaches a principle that is true to reality￼, then the song is not true and should be avoided – especially in the context of church, where truth is taught.￼
It also helps for the song to be tremendously simple.
This avoids worrying about complex vocal parts, etc., and instead allows the congregation to focus on the adoration of God.
Additionally the musicians should not have to work hard to reproduce this song.
Again, it should be something that flows very easily, is simple to play, is simple to sing, and allows everyone involved to focus on God alone.￼
Finally, the song should be spiritually compelling. By this I mean that this song should compel the hearts of the people to take action.
Our “go to” song is not always, but most often, used in the context of an invitation after the service.
Again, this is not done in some sort of a “pressure tactic” type of way…
No, not at all.
Rather the idea is to worship God in spirit and in truth, and move to take action if compelled to do so.
Maybe you have sin you need to confess to God.
Maybe you have a need that you need to ask God for.
Maybe there’s a loved one in your life who needs him and you just want to pray for them.
Whatever the need is, the “go to” song should be the kind of spiritually compelling song that allows people to take action and get help for their needs.
One of the things that we teach in Worship By Numbers is the other importance of “getting out of the way” as a musician.
That may sound confusing… But it’s a sound point: the best musicians are the ones who know when not to play, and when to keep it in the background.
Check out the link here to get started for free: www.WorshipByNumbers.com
The “Go-To” Song
There’s a concept that works really well in our church…
That I’ve never personally seen in any other church I’ve been in.
And I’ve been in a lot of churches.
It’s a sort of…anthem…I guess you could say for our church.
When it’s time to extend an invitation, no matter what the message was, this song works to motivate the hearts of those in our church.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll write more about the characteristics to look for in a “go-to” song; for today, though, I just want to get you thinking.
Ours is Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher.
This particular song is a reminder of one simple—yet life-altering—truth: In everything we do, we need the Lord.
There’s not an ounce of good done under our own power. As I wrote about yesterday, it’s this concept of “Yet Not I” but through Christ in me!
This carries over into every area of life!
Have a burden that needs bearing? Take it to Jesus.
Thankful for a recent promotion at work? Take it to Jesus.
Feel God calling you into a deeper role in ministry? Take it to Jesus.
See, it extends into every area of life, which is why our “go-to” song is so versatile.
As I write this, we are move headfirst into fall (it already feels like Winter…ah, that’s North Carolina mornings for ya…).
Which means—yep—Christmas music prep time. Believe it or not, some Christmas music is really hard. Like, surprisingly so.
Worship By Numbers, our worship music training program, can help make it WAY easier. Want to check it out? It’s free for the first 14 days and there’s absolutely no obligation to continue. Here’s the link to check it out: www.WorshipByNumbers.com
Want to ditch the Sunday morning butterflies and FINALLY feel like a confident worship musician? Our FREE video training will show you exactly how.
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