How to create a worship culture

Creating a worship culture takes more than just pulling off a "good" service. It take more than having great music.  

It takes a music team that is relentlessly pursing God.

It takes a music team that has a passion to serve their church – not just their musical aspirations.

It takes a team with a commitment to excellence. 

Do you agree or disagree? What would you add?


Sunday's Mumford-style worship

We got lots of great feedback this past Sunday for our Mumford-style worship offering at Liquid Church. Seems a lot of our church community loved the style and format we used to give our normal modern pop worship a folk-edge.

It was a fun change-up that really engaged the church - regular attendees and guests - which is the point of worship afterall, right! 

Here's a list of the songs we played at all campuses this past Sunday (with links to MP3 downloads):

Freedom - United 

Forever - Chris Tomlin

10,000 Reasons - Matt Redman

Did you enjoy the folk worship?


Worship set for 'Love Doctor' wk 3

Want more info on the songs we selected to play during Week 3 of the Love Doctor series at Liquid Church? Here's the full list (with links to MP3 downloads):

Forever Reign - Hillsong

Take Heart - United

One Thing Remains - Kristian Stanfill

Amazing Grace - Chris Tomlin


Why an outside leader can help your team to new heights

This past week we had a guest worship leader serve at our Liquid Morristown campus - Obi Fernandez came to bless us with his exceptional talents. 

Not only does Obi have an amazing voice, he is also a gifted leader. Having an outside leader like him come in gave the team a new perspective and a new voice. Here are some of the things our team learned from Obi this week:

  • Worship is about purpose. Don't just play songs, assign a purpose to the music.
  • Worship leaders need to understand the music and lead the team as a producer
  • Coaching is everything
  • Vocalists need to feel they are part of the worship team
  • Musicians need to listen to each other and communicate on stage
  • Worship teams need to engage the church and take them on a pre-deterined journey during the music
  • We need to assume our church guests don't know the songs we sing
  • Team unity is everything. Do whatever is required to ensure it's strong

Obi is a good man. Here is the team in action with him at the helm.

Worship set for 'Love Doctor' wk 2

Want more info on the songs we selected to play during Week 2 of the Love Doctor series at Liquid Church? Here's the full list (with links to MP3 downloads):

Your Love Never Fails - Jesus Culture

Our God - Chris Tomlin

How He Loves Us - John Mark McMillan

The response song we used to call out Jesus as a the cornerstone of any relationship was Cornerstone by  Hillsong Chapel - fitting. 


For the response song we reprised Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.


Worship set for 'Love Doctor' wk 1

Want more info on the songs we selected to play during Week 1 of the Love Doctor series at Liquid Church? Here's the full list (with links to MP3 downloads):

Awake My Soul - Chris Tomlin

We Are Hungry - Jesus Culture

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

10,000 Reasons - Matt Redman

For the response song we reprised Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.


Worship set for 'Samson' week 3

Want more info on the songs we selected to play during Week 3 of the Samson series at Liquid Church? Here's the full list (with links to MP3 downloads):

Blessed Be Your Name - Matt Redman

Scandal of Grace - Hillsong United

Spirit Break Out - Kim Walker-Smith

For the response song we played Break Every Chain by Jesus Culture which fit perfectly with the sotry of Samson breaking the chains as he turned his eyes toward God. 


3 steps to creating a worship culture at your church

Creating a worship culture takes more than just pulling off a good service. It takes more than just nailing a worship set. It takes more than just having everyone in the room raise their hands in response. Here's what it takes:

1. It takes a team that is relentlessly pursing God.

2. It takes a worship team that has a passion to serve their church – not just their musical aspirations.

3. It takes a team with a commitment to excellence. 

How are you and your team doing with this? 


Why new worship songs don’t work at your church

All too often, I’ve seen worship leaders introduce a new song to their church and in the process “ruin” the song for most of the community. They do this by making a simple mistake. 

Since the days when hymns were first sung in church, Christian songwriters have penned tunes that express a truth about their faith. Whether it’s teaching people about Scripture, drawing their attention to an attribute of God or helping them make a deeper connection with Jesus – there’s a message behind the melody and music.

But when it comes to introducing a new song to the church, most worship leaders ignore this message and simply teach their community the melody or the rhyme.

Think about it. When was the last time you introduced a new song to your church? Why did you choose that song?  It’s probably because the message of the song connected with you. Sure, the melody and musical hook was probably a factor, but most songs I want to teach our church are songs that have ministered to me in some way.

Yet what I see too many worship leaders do is to introduce a new song by saying something like: “I wanna teach you a great new song today. It’s got a really simple melody that I’m sure you’ll pick up.” Then they come off stage scratching their heads about why the song didn’t connect with the church.

If you want that new song to have an impact then you have to teach your church about the message of the song and tell them why/how the song connected with you. “We wanna teach you a new song today that expresses a deep truth about the freedom we have in Christ. The truth of this song helped me this past week deal with … (authentically fill in this gap).”

Yes, worship leaders need to teach people the melodies, but we also need to lead them into making a connection with the lyrics by telling them how the message of the song moves us. This gives them permission to connect with the song themselves and then apply it to their lives. 

Are you a worhsip leader? I'd love to hear your thoughts on why songs do or don't connect with your church.

Worship set for 'Samson' week 2

Want more info on the songs we selected to play during Week 2 of the Samson series at Liquid Church? Here's the full list (with links to MP3 downloads):

Kingdom - Jesus Culture

Let God Arise - Chris Tomlin

10,000 Reasons - Matt Redman

For the response song we played Mighty To Save by Hillsong as a reminder that depsite the turmoil and troubles that we face, God is continually might to save us.

Introducing Scandal of Grace was a big win. Our church community really seemed to connect with the song, and it was good to see them engaging with the team. 


Worship set for 'Samson' week 1

Want more info on the songs we selected to play during Week 1 of the Samson series at Liquid Church? Here's the full list (with links to MP3 downloads):

Freedom - United 

10,000 Reasons - Matt Redman

For the response song we played With Everything - Hillsong as Pastor Tom called out the nedd for us to worship God with all that we have. 


How I worshiped God this week

One thing I've learned as a worship pastor is that whenever I love my family, I'm worshiping God. 

John 14 verse 23 says: “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” When I worship God, I'm expressing my love for Him ... and this verse shows me that I also love God (worship Him) when I obey him. 

So when I obey Ephesians or Colossians that say I'm to love my wife, I'm worshiping God. When I obey verses in Ephesians that say I need to be a gentle dad, I'm worshiping God.  

So I worshiped God this week by taking a day off work and driving to Washington for the Cherry Blossom Festival. I walked with my family. Held hands with my girls. Played on the National Mall. Took them to a museum. Ate lunch with them by the water. Told my wife she was beautiful. 

How have you worshiped God this week? 









Worship set for Easter services

Want more info on the songs we selected to play during our Easter services on Sunday at Liquid Church? Here's the full list (with links to MP3 downloads):

All Because of Jesus - Fee

Hosanna - Paul Baloche

For the response song after such a clean and concise presentation of the Gospel by Pastor Tim, the band played a celebratory version of Happy Day by Tim Hughes that closed out the service. The whole hour connected so well to the Easter message of hope. 


An audience of one? Really?

Hang around a worship team long enough and you’ll hear someone say the team’s purpose is to play for “an audience of one”.

I’ve used it. I would pull it out whenever some naysayer questioned why I was so contemplative in worship or why I had my eyes closed for the entire set. “I’m playing for an audience of One” I’d declare in a victorious tone. I thought this was an honorable and humble goal! Not anymore.

I think this cliché is an excuse we use when we’re not serving the church in the way we worship. Let me explain.

Corporate worship in the church is about participation - God’s people coming together in His house to worship Him together. When musicians “play for an audience of One” they’re not inviting the church to worship. We’re saying the community should simply watch us play our instrument or sing our song just to God. That’s not worship leading.

Think of it like a game of football. The worship band is the coach. The congregation is the players. God is the audience in the stands.

We all – the band, the congregation – are playing for an audience of one. But the as the coaches, the band has a specific role to play. As the coach, we need to lead the players – show them what to do, give them the game plan, help them to play their best. Then the congregation participates in the action and we all (coaches and players) play for an audience of One.


This requires the band (the coaches) to engage with the congregation (players) and invite them to participate. If we’re just in our own individual contemplative worship of God and not engaging the people in the pews, then we’re not serving the congregation. We’re not helping them worship.

Too often, we turn corporate worship into something that serves us and in no way serves the church. And, we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re honoring God and being humble in the process. 


Praise vs worship?

I often get asked what the difference is between praise and worship. It's like people think there are two different brands of music in church - one is energetic and lively ... and the other is slow and contemplative.

The question for me is not about the tempo of the music but about connection - to God and the church community. Singing in any church needs to connect with that church community. The music needs to connect with where the people are when they walk in on Sunday, where God is leading them through the teaching and what new guests are expecting. If that connection doesn't happen then the tempo is not important - the music has already missed the mark. 

Check out these three videos that are all different tempos but all connect with the auidences.



What are the similarities between these songs? It's not tempo - it's connection. All the songs connected with the audiences. The teams were connecting with the audience - no heads down! The energy connected. The lyrics connected.

The other similarity is intensity. Even the slower songs were played with intensity. 

If you're asking what the difference is betqween praise and worship then you're asking the wrong question. The real question is about connection. 


The History of Worship

Worship leaders often take themselves very (too) seriously But sometimes you gotta be able to laugh at yourselves - especially if you've been doing this worship thing for a long time. 

Props to Church On The Move for their creativity. 

SeedsConf 2013 - The History of Worship from Church on the Move on Vimeo.

Worship set for baptism services

Want more info on the songs we selected to play during our Baptism services on Sunday at Liquid Church? Here's the full list (with links to MP3 downloads):

Your Grace Is Enough - Chris Tomlin

All My Fountains - Chris Tomlin

How Great Thou Art I Have Decided - Starfield

This was such a fun, upbeat and celebratory set that captured the mood of the baptim services at all of our campuses where more than 100 people took their next step with God!


Worship set for 'FAQ' service

Want more info on the songs we selected to play during our FAQ service on Sunday at Liquid Church? Here's the full list (with links to MP3 downloads):

Cornerstone - Hillsong Chapel

With Everything - Hillsong Chapel

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) - Chris Tomlin

We played the set completely unplugged with just two instruments and vocals, which created a powerful environment for personal and corporate worship. We got great feedback after the service ... and awesome participation during it. 


Worship set for 'Water Sunday'

Want more info on the songs we selected to play during our Water Sunday on Sunday at Liquid Church? Here's the full list (with links to MP3 downloads):

Here + Now - North Point Live

Search My Heart - United

Hosanna - United

At the end of this message, we played through The Solution by Eddie Kirkland as our church community commited to being part of the solution to the water crises around the world. This is a great song off a great album. 


Being creatively creative

Ever since we used a click track, digital music director, synced video and pre-recorded rap artist at Liquid Church to play Chris Tomlin's Awake My Soul during worship ... we've had a lot of interest in how we created this on a shoestring budget (read $0!). 

Churches from around the country and internationally have reached out to us to request the files - which we've been more than happy to provide ... but as the saying goes, we wanted to teach you guys "how to fish".

I posted about this last month, but here, our video producer Nick Chislett and I discuss how we were creatively creative in coming up with the idea, the process and the execution. 


Worship set for 'follower' week 4

Want more info on the songs we selected to play during week 4 of our new series 'follower' at Liquid Church? Here's the full list (with links to MP3 downloads):

Freedom - United 

Closer - Bethel

The Stand - Hillsong United

At the end of this message, Pastor Tim gave an invitation for people to receive more of the Holy Spirit. As he made this invitaiton, our worship teams played through Spirit Fall - Chris Tomlin. People were coming forward to receieve prayer in what was a powerful moment in our church. 


Prayer tip for the right-brained

This past weekend, I spoke at a Liquid Church young adult retreat in Pennsylvania. During one of the sessions I spoke about the tallit – or Jewish prayer shawl. 

The tallit was part of Jesus’ life and ministry, and there is so much richness in the history and meaning of this garment. The word tallit has several meanings – one of which is “little tent”. It’s like a small portable version of the tabernacle – the place where God dwelled with the Israelites when they were in the desert. 

The tallit has tassels on its corners. Each tassel is made up of eight strands (this number represents salvation to the Jews) tied into five knots (representing the Torah or law of God). Between the five knots are four spaces representing the name of God – YHWH. When Jews go into their “prayer closet” by wrapping the tallit over their heads, they hold the tassels as a tangible act of holding onto God, His Word and His salvation.

For those of us right-brained, this is a tactile way to experience prayer … and a great way to stay focused as you hold on to the tassels and talk with God.

The corners are important, because the Hebrew for “corners” is “kanafim” which means both corners and wings. When priests gave a blessing they would hold their arms our wide, making the tallit resemble a set of wings. This is what the prophet Malachi means when he says the Messiah will have “healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2). The woman with the issue of blood knew this prophesy when she reached out and touched Jesus’ kanafim and was healed.

After I taught through this, I asked people to come forward to be prayed for under a tallit. The response was powerful.

Kosher, 100% woll tallits from Israel are easier to get – especially through Amazon (JUST CLICK HERE ) ... so if you want a way to change up your prayer life, why not give this a try. 


Your passion for music vs your passion for worship

By Cory Daniels

As a Christian musician I’m constantly trying to find the line between my passion for music and my passion for worship.

When my focus is not on worship, the quality of music determines my overall experience. But God doesn’t care about the quality of our music. He desperately wants our music to become secondary to His Presence. Our worship songs are only avenues through which He invades our lives.

As a musician I’ve had incredible performing opportunities, but that’s exactly what they were: performances. You can’t put a human being on stage with an audience and expect him to be 100% genuine - not while the audience is expecting to be entertained.

So the line between our passion for good music and our passion for worship gets blurred.

My favorite song is this one - Burning Ones by Jesus Culture.

The bridge declares:

“So let this love be like a fire
Let our lives be like a flame
Fill our souls with Your desire
Let our passion bring You fame”

You can see that its not meant to be just a nice rhyme backed by a cool guitar riff. It's a conversation with God. As we sing we’re letting Him know that our PASSION is for Him and not the song.

At times I struggle to allow God to take over the spotlight. I want my church and my friends and family to have an incredible sounding worship experience … but then God nudges me back to my knees and reminds me what’s really going on.

Music has the incredible ability to influence our emotions - but only God has the power to transform us. 

What are you more passionate about – worship or music?


A quick way you can make scripture come to life

By Ebony Cleveland

I had Matthew 19:14 come to life right in front of my eyes recently – and what an experience! Wait a minute … let me rephrase that – what a revelation!

As a worship team we had the privilege of bringing something new to Liquid Kids about a month ago - LIVE WORSHIP! I’m apart of the adult worship team and absolutely love helping in leading the congregation into the presence of our Lord, but it is nothing like leading in Liquid Kids.

You see, sometimes as adults we tend to take a little longer to let our guard down and let God work in us. But these kids have clay for hearts, so they're ready to be shaped and formed. That’s what Jesus means in Matthew 19:14 when he says: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." 

There is vulnerability, openness and a willingness to receive when kids are worshipping God through music. This can often be missing in the adult services.

When we got to our last song of the set – Here I Am To Worship – I stepped back from the microphone and with tiny hands lifted high and voices raised, everyone was singing with all they had.

"Here I am to worship. Here I am to bow down. Here I am to say that you’re my God".

I knew then that this was a worship service I want to be apart of. It was even more exciting for me to see generations coming together to worship their Creator. And the best part of all was knowing that in that moment, the Father was looking down and smiling upon us.

So my worship experience in Liquid Kids was much more than an experience - it was an encounter with the words of Jesus. He asked us to not leave the little ones out and to never underestimate their ability to love on their heavenly father.

I am so excited for what God is doing in Liquid Kids and can't wait to see how He moves as we continue to serve "His children"


What is LOVE today?

It’s Valentines Day … and it seems everyone is thinking about LOVE. Today $17.6 billion dollars will be spent in the US as we try to express our LOVE through flowers, chocolates, jewelry and stuffed animals. But do we know what the word really means?

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In the 80s, Foreigner sang that they wanted to “know what LOVE is.” It’s a question we’ve been asking since the beginning of time. In our search for a definition we’ve written poems about it. We’ve tried to capture it on film. We’ve sung songs about it. But I still think we miss it.

Christians will often say that “God is LOVE” but that doesn’t define it clearly, does it.

Anyone know the first time the word LOVE appears in scripture? Most people think the Garden of Eden … but it comes much later. It appears in Genesis 22, when God tells Abraham to "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you LOVE, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."

The first time a key word appears in scripture is typically what defines that word throughout the rest of the Bible. So what is the Bible's definition of LOVE? A father willing to sacrifice his son.

See also Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 9:35 and John 3:16.

How does this change your view of the word love?


Worship set for 'follower' week 2

Want more info on the songs we selected to play during week 2 of our new series 'follower' at Liquid Church? Here's the full list (with links to MP3 downloads):

I Am Free - Newsboys

Forever Reign - Hillsong

Mighty To Save - Hillsong

At the end of this message, Pastor Tim gave an invitation for people to take the next steps in the spiritual journey, and as they did, the worship team played Saviour King by Hillsong United. This is a powerful song with amazing lyrics that sum up what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It fit perfectly. 


What can you do in 17 minutes?

Whenever time gets cut from the musical worship part of a service, it’s usually accompanied by much weeping and gnashing of teeth – and that’s just amongst the worship team!

This is what we’ve had to do at Liquid Church’s Morristown campus this month. This campus is booming. We’ve had sustained growth throughout the first two months of 2013, and things aren’t slowing down. We’ve added a third service there to fit everyone in … and we probably need a fourth! More than 1300 people have been coming to this campus each week … and that number is going up and to the right.

As a result, we’ve had to streamline our services down to 60 minutes to ensure enough turn around time between services. This affects every element of the service. Pastor Tim has cut his messages from an average of 45 minutes to 30. The campus pastor spot has been reduced … and the musical worship has been reduced from 20 minutes to 17 at the most.

Naturally there was some groaning about this from the worship team. We love what we do – leading people into God’s presence and setting the table for the message. But there’s a lot that can be done in 15-17 minutes. When I checked out some other growing churches, I was surprised to learn how much time they spent singing – even the church most widely know around the world for its worship.

Hillsong – 22 minutes (this surprised me a lot!)
Northpoint – 12 minutes
LifeChurch.tv – 18 minutes

Now obviously the whole service is worship … but I believe we can do A LOT in 15-17 minutes. We can sing three or four songs, be creative in worship, reveal the Holy Spirit at work in the room, connect with people, pray for and with them, introduce some to God and set the table for the Gospel to be presented.

What can you do in 17 minutes? 


How to write a worship song

I saw a video blog this morning that gave me an uneasy feeling. It's a video I laughed at sheepishly because of it's accuracy ... but I'm also offended by it because of what it misses. Check it out before I go on.

There's so much of this video - which you can see the original post about by clicking here - that rings painfully true, right. The chord structures, the rhymes, youth group-friendly inclusion of "whoas" and even the way the lyric slides get screwed up (almost my favorite part). The truth is a lot of worship songs have become little more than this. 

But there's also an ingredient to those memorable worhsip songs produced by Hillsong United, Jesus Culture, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Elevation Church, Northpoint etc etc that go far beyond the formula this video pokes fun at - and that's the inspriation of the Holy Spirit. 

I song like With Everything for exampe has the chord structure, rhymes and even the "whoas" mentioned in the video ... but it inspires, encourages, brings hope and tears not because of the structure of the song - but because of the Spirit's place in the heart of it. 

That doesn't come from a formula ... but from musicians who live their lives worshiping in spirit and in truth.

What are you thoughts on the video? Do you like it? Hate it? Are you offended by it or inspired by it? 


Liquid worship set for 'follower' week 1

Want more info on the songs we selected to play during week 2 of our new series 'follower' at Liquid Church? Here's the full list (with links to MP3 downloads):

Exalted One - Elevation Worship

Hosanna - United

No One Higher / The Stand - Steve Fee

As we kicked off a new series that talks about following Christ, we wanted to put together a worship set that created a moment at the end as we sang that there is "no one higher, no one greater, no one like our God." It was a powerful time to see hands raised across the church. We follwed Pastor Tim's message with I Will Follow - Chris Tomlin which worked perfectly as a response. 


Ever worshiped in reverse?

Hey worship leaders – have you ever had one of those worship set lightning bolt ideas that went beyond your expectations? That happened this week.

This past Sunday at Liquid Church, we experimented with a “reverse band”. The idea was to start with a full band playing an big, upbeat song, and slowly remove musicians as the set progressed until there was a single instrument on stage.

I thought the idea would create a worship experience that started full of praise … and ended in intimate worship. I didn’t expect it to produce such a diverse experience for the church - and the reason had nothing to do with the music.

The set was solid – you can read about it here – but it wasn’t the songs that were the key. The highlight was when each band members came off stage at their allotted time, they walked off via the front steps and stood in the front row singing with the congregation. This communicated a lot. It told people that the band was with them in worship. I told them that the musicians we’re just there to be onstage … but were there to worship.

It was great to watch the barrier between the people on stage and those in their seats come crashing down and the church truly sing in one voice.

What ideas have you tried in worship recently?