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Christmas Music & Worship. What Story Are You Telling?

I love Christmas, but over the years, as a worship leader, there has always been a struggle to sing the great carols while leading the people to worship.

The tension is this: most Christmas songs talk ABOUT Christmas (tell part of the story of Christmas)…

  • the manger
  • the star
  • the baby
  • the night
  • the wise men
  • the King
  • the shepherds
  • the angels
  • the town

…but as worship leaders, we want to help point worshipers TO God. Many of the songs we lead the other nine months of the year are vertical in nature… prayers to God (songs that tell the story of our need for a savior directed directly to Him).

So, if you desire a stronger worship experience, look for the songs you can use that include include both the story of Christmas and the story of the worshiper.

1) Consider taking the core of a worship song that your congregation knows well and use it a the end of a Christmas song.

2) Try using the refrain of “O Come All Ye Faithful” with other text, such as “We give You all the glory,” “For You alone are worthy.”

3) Find common worship songs that include some of the Christmas story (light, peace, glory)  and some of the worshiper’s journey (the need for His light or His peace in their life).

  • “The splendor of a King clothed in majesty” (How Great is Our God / Tomlin)
  • “Beautiful Jesus” (Stanfill)
  • “Glory in the Highest” (Tomlin)
  • “Light of the world” (Here I Am to Worship / Hughes
  • “You are peace, You are Peace (Forever Reign / Hillsong)

It will take time to plan, but will help engage your congregation in worship while celebrating our Lord’s birth.



The Lord Looks at the Heart

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. I Samuel 16:7.

As you lead worship or serve in ministry this week, seek to have a heart AFTER God, letting go of the things that do not need to be in your heart and seeking to pour more of Him and His Word into your heart.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways….
Psalm 139



David Walked Before the Lord…

And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you.” I Kings 3:6

A heart of worship is a heart after God.

David walked before the Lord in…
…uprightness of heart

How is your walk today?

walking with GOD
intentional about every moment
for his honor and glory

Why Do You Do It?

There is a recent blog post from Seth Godin that caused me to stop and think. It is full of questions to ask yourself as the leader.

It reminded me of worship leaders and how we get in the busyness of doing all the things to make Sundays happen. Eventually, we can just be going through the motions trying to meet all of our pastor’s demands and our own expectations. When does it all stop?

If you are the worship leader, the one in charge, why do you do it? Why all the time and headaches?

Your TO DO list may include:
stage time
playing your guitar
creating a worship experience
saying no to those who are not strong enough musicians
searching for new music
arranging songs for your musicians
picking the right key
writing charts
balancing songs they know with the new

You have your own list.

Take some time to reflect on the WHY of your job. I encourage you to read Seth’s post “QUESTIONS FOR A NEW ENTREPRENEUR” and stop and think about the WHAT and WHY of your job.

It was good for me. Maybe it will be good for you.

Walk as Children of Light

In Ephesians 5 we read:

“Be imitators of God…”
“Walk in love…”
“Let no one deceive you…”

“Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”

It is good to stop and just rest in the Lord…
…seeking to be imitators of God.
…seeking to walk in his love in every step of your day.
…seeking to let no one deceive you, but to walk in his truth.

Are you leading with the fruit of light? (all that is good and right and true)


Are you deceiving others as you lead, hiding things that are not good, not right, and not true?

I love the lyrics of the song “HERE FOR YOU” that say “nothing here is hidden.” Each time I hear these words in worship, I have to stop and check my heart. I have to look deep inside to make sure nothing is hidden as I come before the Father in worship.

What about you?

Can you lead “Here for You” and truly express those words from your heart?
Are you willing to let go of everything that is not pleasing to him so he can use you like never before?

Spend time with the Father this week totally surrendering your life to him. Allow him to be the Father of Lights (James 1:17) as you seek to live as a child of light (Ephesians 5:8).

Continually seeking YOU as the Father of Lights
Continually living for YOU as a child of light

Read Ephesians 5 each day.
Listen to “Here for You” (Tomlin or Redman)
Get alone with God and surrender everything to him.
Repeat this every day for one week.

Plan a Journey

You need a plan if you are responsible for selecting worship songs, coordinating the order of worship, selecting those who will lead worship, determining the arrangements of the songs, and speaking scripture and spiritual truths to the congregation during worship.

Step back from the worship experience and consider where you are going. What do you want the people to walk away with? What is on the heart of your pastor? Where are the people spiritually? What do they need to hear?

As you plan worship, select one song that is the heart of what needs to be said. Don’t choose it because you have already have memorized it or because the band knows it. Choose a song that will be the foundation of what needs to be said from the heart of those worshiping.

Maybe the one central focus is:
following him
drawing near to him
letting go
eyes looking up to him
seeing him as KING, SAVIOR, WORTHY
bowing hearts to him in full surrender

Find the ONE song that truly speaks to the ONE focus.

Then, make sure you and your team really KNOW that song. Memorize it. Know it in the regular tempo. Be able to slow it down for a response time. Be able to take the chorus or a bridge out of the song and sing it separately. Determine the best way to teach the song if it is new.

As you select the rest of the songs for worship, find songs that will share some of the same message. Find songs that will flow easily into another song. Find songs that you and your team are able to lead.

Use scripture and prayer in some of your transitions or even in the middle of a song.

Personal time with the Father and quality time in preparation will make the journey sweet as you lead your people to worship.

Developing Leadership

Recruiting and developing new worship leadership is crucial as a part of the responsibilities of the worship pastor. Even if you have quality leadership in place now, do not neglect keeping your eyes open for more vocalists and instrumentalists who have a heart after God, the willingness to be coached, and the musicianship to lead.

Focus on mentoring and developing those who are not the top leaders. One day they will be.

Endless Hallelujah ~ Redman

Take time this week to worship while listening to Matt Redman’s ENDLESS HALLELUJAH.

PERSONAL WORSHIP: Read Revelation 4 and Revelation 5 before, during and after you listen.

CORPORATE WORSHIP: If you lead an arrangement similar to Matt’s, consider options for the band break. You may want to use scripture on the screens, spoken scripture, or maybe names or characteristics of God which focus on names such as LAMB OF GOD, WORTHY, HOLY-HOLY-HOLY.

Allow God to speak to you as you are still, listening and waiting on the Lord this week.

Top Down / Bottom Up

A friend recently shared with me a concept that he has learned in leadership. The basic concept is this:

As you lead your organization, event, church, or team towards making a significant change, there are two important considerations. Both the top leadership and the bottom leadership must be ALL IN! Top level leadership must filter down through their influence and lower level leadership must work up through their influence.

If you don’t have buy-in from the top AND the bottom before you begin the process of change, you may want to reconsider your decision.

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