Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - 7 Ways to Create an Invitation To Worship...

Today, we're posting from Halifax, Nova Scotia! We just wrapped up the New Brunswick leg of the tour with a concert and workshop in Hampton, which was the inspiration for today's post.

How do we bring our congregation into worship?

As worship leaders, we've rehearsed the songs, studied the lyrics, and we come to church with an enthusiasm and a readiness to worship. But so often, we meet a congregation who is not in the same place as us. They seem reluctant to join in the Sunday celebration.

Here are 7 thoughts on creating an Invitation to Worship:

#1. Where Are They?

When we're leading worship on a Sunday morning, our early hours are filled with preparation - vocal warm ups, Bible devotional, prayer, set up and rehearsal. But our congregation hasn't had the same kind of morning. We can't know what they've all experienced, but we know for some of them, it was probably a challenge to get to church that day. Perhaps their littlest one had a temper tantrum, and the breakfast table became a battle ground. Maybe they had a fight with their spouse on the drive over. Perhaps they haven't slept because they know they might lose their job this week, or maybe they're coming in hungover from a later Saturday night. Or maybe they don't even believe in "this stuff" and someone is dragging them to church today.

That's our congregation. That's who we need to lead into worship. Our first step is to recognize this.

#2. Pray.

We always encourage both individuals and teams to pray before worship. In your prayers, lift up your congregation. Remember that they're struggling. You may not know each person's challenge, but God does. Pray that you may be used to lead them into God's presence, and that they may feel God's love and grace today.

#3. How Do We Set The Mood?

Each church handles those pre-service moments differently. Some prefer silence, and other use that time for announcements. Some play instrumental music, while others lead a sing along of favourite hymns and worship songs. Brian Doerkson talks about "stirring the waters" - a gentle improvisation of all the instruments in the band. It's not a song, but simply sounds that start to tune the congregation's ear to the music.

Find the right pre-service moments for your congregation that will meet them where they are, but will also prepare them for a time of worship.

#4. Issue An Invitation.

This sounds obvious, but it can't be underestimated. Find some way - through words, images, music, or movement - to shift the mood and actually invite them into worship. I'm a big fan of using the Psalms to bring our focus into praising and glorifying God. Sometimes, I may issue an invitational prayer while Gerald underscores with gentle guitar. Other times, we've had slides showing different images of the majesty of creation, with accompanying prayers or music.

Don't be afraid to be direct. There are times when I'll pray something like, "I know many of us have come here today with burdens, things that are filling our minds with worries and concerns. Let's lay them aside for the next hour, and allow ourselves to experience the love and grace of God." 

In each case, we want people to recognize that this isn't the rest of the week - this is sacred time, and they are invited into that holiness.

#5. Now, We Get Them Singing

We've chosen different kinds of songs for our opening worship song - sometimes we start gently, other times we get them off to a rocking start. In either situation, we always choose a well known song. As musicians, we forget that most people don't sing on a daily basis, and now we're going to ask them to spend the next hour singing! Allow them to start with vocal confidence on a familiar song or hymn.

#6. Don't Hit Them With The Wall Of Sound

Often times, worship teams can get so excited to play together that they knock their congregation over with the 'wall of sound'. This is our term for when everyone plays every note of every song and it's LOUD! It can come from enthusiasm, but it can be fixed with some good arranging. Allow your songs to build. Start with one instrument, add another on the chorus. Sing unison in the verses, build into harmony. Give your congregation a way to enter the song, and then take them on a journey.

#7. It Starts With Love

Bringing people into worship is an act of trust. Love your congregation. Get to know them. Attend coffee hour and start conversations. Join a small group or outreach project. Build relationships both within and outside of your worship team. Encourage your band and choir to do the same. Break down the us-them walls. Let people know your love of God and your passion for worship. Because when that trust has been built, we can help bring people into the presence of God, and experience all that is waiting for them.

How do you invite your congregation into worship?
Please let your thoughts in the Comments section

Our new CDs - 
How The Light Gets In and Tonight, Everywhere Is Bethlehem
- are now available    

Listen and purchase music at

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - Holding Sound In Our Hands

It's official - our 2 new CDs are finally here!

Last Monday, we received boxes and boxes from the manufacturing plant. It was amazing to crack them open and see row upon row of CDs, ready to share.

How The Light Gets In and Tonight, Everywhere Is Bethlehem

The next morning, we loaded the car and started out on our 2-month East Coast Tour. It's been a whirlwind start, traveling through 3 provinces, 2 countries, and performing 5 concerts in 5 days.

Today, we've finally had a bit of time to upload the new music to our website. 
You can hear samples of the music HERE.

It's hard to describe the feeling of holding your new CD in your hand. Some people equate the process to giving birth. Many people feel completely drained by the process. Others experience a burst and energy and excitement.

For us, it's probably a combination of all these things. We decided to record because we had so many songs that were crying out for a home. We'd perform them in concerts, and when people requested them on CD, we knew we were singing the stories that needed to be shared. From the writing to the song selection to the actual recording, it's been an intense and emotional season. We've been a little antisocial, and probably should have taken a few more days off, but it's been worth it all.

Our greatest joy now is sharing the music! We're so excited to put these songs into the hands of listeners, and soon, we'll even start sharing our music on radio.

We are so grateful for everyone who supported these projects - those who shared their creativity, their financial support, and their emotional and spiritual encouragement. It truly takes a village to raise a CD!

We would love for you to take a listen
and maybe even purchase a CD or Download.

We also want to share the artwork with you today:

Photos by Simon Chambers.

We pray that in sharing our journey with you, you may also be inspired and encouraged with your recording project. In our experience, it's one of the biggest creative challenges an artist can experience. 

But as soon as it's complete, the only real question is, 
"When can we do this again?"

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - The East Coast Tour Has Begun!

Everyone in Ontario has been complaining about the cool summer. Funny thing - when you spend your entire summer inside a vocal booth, you don't even notice the weather...

It's amazing to find ourselves in September, 
and at the start of our East Coast Tour!

Over the next 2 months, we'll sing 30 events in 4 provinces! 

As we head out on the road, we're always filled with great excitement and inspiration. We love traveling and making music, and the first moments of every tour are filled with all the possibilities that lie ahead of us.

And as with all things, we start with prayer.

We've been praying over this tour for months. We've prayed that we will connect with the churches who need us, and that their leadership will be open to the opportunity. We've prayed that calendars, schedules, and distances will balance to keep our route easy and efficient. We prayed for clergy and volunteers as they've prepared their churches and communities for our visit.

Now, our prayers move to the practical, the immediate, and the spiritual:

  • We pray for safety, our car, and good weather.
  • We pray for good vocal and physical heath.
  • We continue to pray for each church, community, clergy, and volunteer.
  • We pray for individuals and families who will be coming to the concerts and workshops.
  • We pray for our emotional and spiritual heath, both as individuals and as a couple.
  • We lift prayers of thanksgiving for our new recordings, and for the opportunity to use our talents to bring a message of hope.
  • Above all, we pray that everything we do over the next 2 months will honour God, and serve God's people. We pray that everyone involved in these events will come away with a renewed sense of God's unfailing mercy, grace, and love.

If you feel comfortable, we would love for you to join us in these prayers on this tour!

"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."
Matthew 18:20

You can follow our East Coast Tour by visiting this blog, our calendar, and Facebook!

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!