Singing Mission Trip to Grand Cayman

Wanted: Singers to join our singing mission workshop to Grand Cayman.

Praise & Harmony Workshop in Grand Cayman

We especially need basses and altos.

If you enjoy singing and ministering through song and would like to participate in this trip, join us for an mission of praise and harmony to serve the churches in Grand Cayman with a P&H Workshop on December 6, 2014.  Those who choose to join us will need to learn their harmony parts on the selected songs from the Everlasting God CD.

You will be making your own arrangements and will be responsible for all your travel details. 


December 4, 2014    Depart Fort Lauderdale, FL 

December 5, 2014    Rehearsal

December 6, 2014    Praise & Harmony Mission Workshop in Grand Cayman

December 7, 2014    Group Worship time

December 8, 2014    Return to Fort Lauderdale, FL

During the workshop, we will sit in sections according to the four parts: Bass, Tenor, Alto and Soprano. One of the primary objectives of the Praise & Harmony Workshop is to help first timers learn how to sing harmony "by ear."  This is done through preparing ahead of time in groups (sitting in sections), and through the reinforcement of learning by daily use of the vocalist training disc, supplied with every P&H CD package.

In addition to learning the assigned music and praying for this mission opportunity, participants are also invited to donate to P&H Missions to help facilitate this and other workshops around the world.

Step One: Order the Everlasting God CD and song book to learn the songs in harmony.

Step Two: Make your travel arrangements, starting with contacting Jake at Caribbean Cruise Line.

Jake / Princess Cruises / 1-800-901-1172 / extension 41604

Inform Jake that you want to join the Lancaster group.  You are responsible for your own transportation and travel details throughout the entire trip.  Keep in mind that the ship will be using tender boats to go ashore, which means handicap limitations.

Posted on October 10, 2014 .

Living, Active, Breathing Word of God

How are the Scriptures presented in your assemblies? When people are assigned to read passages to the congregation, do they prepare and present the Word with passion?

We enjoyed an area-wide singing at the Park Plaza Church in Tulsa. After hearing some of the most inspiring singing ever, I was moved by the numerous comments, not about the singing, but about the power of the Scripture presentation.

Posted on August 5, 2014 .

North To Alaska

I've visited the beautiful state of Alaska many times, but haven't visited Fairbanks. Next year, I'm scheduled to lead worship for the Alaska Statewide Lectureship, preceded by a Praise & Harmony Workshop in Fairbanks.

Photo by Bobby Ross Jr., Chief Correspondent for The Christian Chronicle (Pictured with his new friend)

To read more about this year's Lectureship, check out this article in the Christian Chronicle.

We look forward to returning to this rugged and beautiful state. Our prayer is that our workshops and worship leading will bless the Alaskan churches in early May 2015.

Posted on June 7, 2014 .

Lift Every Voice

"Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord." - Psalm 150:6

Professional music has been a major focus of my life.  A career of creating beautiful harmonies through a cappella music required developing an ear for pleasing, quality sounds.  It's no surprise that churches seek out worship leaders who possess this kind of formal experience in music. After all, if you know what sounds good, you must know what is good, right?

Certainly God deserves the best we can offer, but in our quest for musical excellence, I think it's easy to to elevate musical quality above quality of the worshiper's heart.  Without admitting this prejudice, countless Christians belittle those without musical ability.  As we should remember, God desires to hear the voice of all His children, and everyone's voice is precious, including - or even especially - the so-called "tone-deaf."

For this reason, I have made it our ministry priority to encourage everyone to participate wholeheartedly in a musical offering of worship, especially those with no perceived skill.  Listen to the comments of this precious brother who considers himself "tone-deaf," yet reminds us again of how God loves everyone's voice.

Everyone's voice is important!

Continuing this conversation, he went on to share that although they don't speak their thoughts, often he senses pressure from others with musical skills, looking down upon his inability to hear and match tones. Are we inadvertently discouraging members of God's family?

Posted on May 6, 2014 .

Leading Singing without Overpowering

One of the first things that song leaders learn is the reality that churches naturally drag the tempo. Countless well-intentioned song leaders start strong, only to immediately be drawn into an ever-slowing pull of the congregation, causing us to wonder who is actually leading - - the song leader or the congregation?

Seasoned song leaders learn that in order to be more effective, they must actually lead and not succumb to following the congregation. One way that leaders take charge is through volume. After all, it is difficult for people to follow what they cannot hear.

Although volume is a necessary tool for effective leading, the tendency is for strong leaders to overuse this strategy. Far too often, the result is an improper balance in which 50% of what is heard is the church, with 50% being the song leader's dominating voice. This is disheartening if the ultimate goal is to focus the emphasis on the combined voices of every worshiper.  For example, if a church of 500 is led by an overpowering song leader, the result can be that half of what you hear is one person (the song leader), while the other half is the 500 other voices. This is out of balance!

The solution is not simple. Sufficient volume is needed for song leaders to take charge and lead effectively. However, the problem arises when the volume is sustained from beginning to end. The volume does not need to be the same throughout the song. This is what I suggest for leaders:

1. Use volume to lead, but vary the volume as needed.

There are critical times when volume is most needed - - For example, the beginning of the song and the beginning of verses. Other challenging moments include challenging words, new songs and tempo changes. There are special points in the songs when clear leadership is needed and volume is necessary.  However, the ultimate goal is for the song leader to back off (in volume) and become more transparent as the congregation responds to the leadership.

2. Direct the tempo to provide visual leadership.

Visual directing is an effective way to keep the church on track without dominating them through volume. Although not easy, this strategy can become essential in helping a church stay on track without having to overuse volume.

At the Worship Leader Institute, we teach leaders how to use microphone technique to reach an ideal balance of volume in proportion to the congregation, varying the volume as needed. The ultimate goal is to move toward hearing the congregation without the song leader, while keeping the tempo on course along with dynamic changes.

Let's encourage leaders to actually take charge and lead, but to do so in a way that moves the leader into a masterfully blended role with the entire congregational choir.


The Beauty of A cappella Music

Countless times I've heard the question, "Aren't you the group who prefers worship without music?"  

Without "music"?  I understand what they mean, but I'm reminded again of the incomparable beauty of vocal "music." This common question makes me appreciate the repeated choice of words by an instrumentalist who was exposed to beautiful a cappella singing.

An organist for a local church attended one of our recent Praise & Harmony Workshops and sent an encouraging note to the host church. Here are some excerpts from the letter she sent, describing the weekend:

"I thanked God for giving me ears to hear such beautiful music."

"I wish we would do more music without instruments."

"I pray your church knows how special the music is . . ."

Praise & Harmony Workshop - Baytown, Texas

What are you doing to promote and encourage great singing (music)?  The organist continued by saying, ""I wish we would do more music without instruments, but it would take a lot of practice."  How right she is!  She went on to say that she would pray for the church as they train the children.

Every worthwhile goal requires an investment and commitment. Do you believe that beautiful, participatory a cappella music is worth such an effort?

"Come we that love the Lord and let our joys be known;

Join in the song with sweet accord."

Posted on April 25, 2014 .

Lively Praise in Laurel, Maryland

The Laurel Church is certainly alive with praise as they prioritize worship and the introducing of new songs. No congregation that we have worked with through Praise & Harmony Workshops has learned more songs than this church.

Photo by Myron Harper

"Some think singing is for singers.  Singing is for believers!" declared Michael Ray, preaching about the privilege that everyone can possess when they join the song of worship.

I'm always encouraged to work with the Laurel Church for so many reasons, including:

1. They don't simply talk the talk, but they walk the walk when it comes to racial harmony.

2. Public reading of Scripture is taken seriously. For example, Kevin Caldwell read from Isaiah 53, barely composing his voice as his heart was broken by the message about the Lamb of God. This is a far cry from the way many churches approach public readings.

3. The church brings an obvious passion to worship and singing, as evidenced by the times I saw people video taping the congregational singing with their phone cameras.

Here is an example of a new song we worked on, "Jesus Rose With All Power."

Posted on April 12, 2014 .

Mobilizing Praise in Mansfield, Texas

It was our second Praise & Harmony Workshop in Mansfield, Texas, building upon the momentum of the previous year's weekend experience.  Here are some of the many things that the Mansfield Church covered very well:

1. The church mobilized all their members to understand the value of participation.

2. Through singing classes, the Mansfield Church taught the new (assigned) songs with an emphasis on how to sing harmony (including beginners), utilizing the training CDs for daily reinforcement.

3. Preparation for the Praise & Harmony Workshop was taken seriously.

4. The singing moved seamlessly from unison to harmony.

5. Tempos and dynamics were varied throughout the session with the aid of musical directing.

6. Emphasis was placed upon singing with passion.

7. Medleys were planned to flow from song to song.

            Video: "YOU ARE THE ONE FOR ME"

This is a great song to introduce beginners to ear-training; especially those who have never attempted to sing harmony before. Those who learn to sing alto, tenor or bass for one short, simple section of this song, will quickly master the entire song.  The words change with each verse, but the music remains the same -- other than the unison-melody introduction.

In this video, the Mansfield Church flows directly from the song, "Lord Rein In Me," into the Keith Green song, "You Are The One For Me."   Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6

Posted on April 5, 2014 .

Area-Wide Worship in Lubbock, Texas

The Lubbock Civic Center was packed to the point of standing room only as churches joined together on a beautiful Sunday evening. When the singing began, I was reminded of and transported to similar moments of unity, worship and harmony enjoyed in places like the Tulsa Fairgrounds Pavilion, Pepperdine's Firestone Fieldhouse, Lipscomb's Allen Arena, Oklahoma Christian's Hardeman Auditorium, Gatlinburg's Convention Center and Abilene's Moody Coliseum. Participating in these moments from the vantage point of the "best seat in the house" is an overwhelming experience!

Lubbock Civic Center - Photo by John Moore III

My favorite times when leading singing in these settings are when I drop the amplification of my hand-held microphone to hear only the combined voices of everyone in pure praise. The sound is indeed spine tingling.

Lubbock Civic Center - Photo by John Moore III

I only wish that more regions would make the effort to bring churches together on common ground to experience unity and worship. We celebrated our bond in Christ through a "season of prayer," teaching, singing and worship. Dr. Ken Jones presented the message and the Children's Home of Lubbock was highlighted.

Lubbock Civic Center - Photo by John Moore III

Lubbock Civic Center - Photo by John Moore III

Through the years, my life has been richly blessed by Christians from the Lubbock area. What a treat to be invited to lead worship for this unity event tied to the theme, "God Is On Our Side." Here is a video of one of the theme songs, "Had It Not Been The Lord," which I originally learned from the Zoe Group.

One of my dreams is to see large gatherings like this select songs ahead of time, encouraging everyone to learn the arrangements of newer songs ahead of time. This requires extra coordination, but the results can be heavenly. After all, isn't heaven going to be a combined assembly?

Posted on March 31, 2014 .

Beyond Vicarious Worship

Vicarious adjective:

"Experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person."

Recently a friend shared something very special with me. He has a family member whose singing voice can only be described as discordant, lacking all qualities of what most would call "beautiful." This family member sings out with abandon, however, and by doing so, she is, as my friend sees it, upholding the integrity of worship assembly. Perhaps even more so than the singers with "pretty voices." And this because God has asked His whole family to sing, not just the musically gifted.

It's so easy to misplace our priorities on Sunday morning. We might feel distracted by the guy in the pew behind us as he croaks a monotone jumble out of rhythm. Maybe we even feel offended by the shrieking soprano who seems to be singing another song altogether. Worship is supposed to be beautiful. They're ruining it, right?


Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The beauty of Christ's victory is that access to God is no longer mediated through other human beings with exclusive talent/privilege. When we withhold our voices or discourage the voice of another, we make singing the prerogative of the musically gifted, and we rob God of His praise in the process.

Temple noun:

"A place where deity dwells."

Priesthood noun:

"Those who serve as mediatory agents between humans and deity. Priests also have the authority or power to administer certain rites."

We have to think: how do these ideas relate to us today?  Do we fully appreciate how richly blessed we are in not having to experience worship vicariously? 

The New Testament ushered in profound changes in the ways that God's people can and should approach Him.  Worship is not limited to a building, or a person. Jesus ushered a new avenue for every seeking heart to foster a direct relationship with God.

Consider the Lord's Supper. Simple and universal elements are employed for an inclusive, unifying purpose. No complicated restrictions. No prescribed personnel. No territorial requirements. God-seekers have been provided unbelievable access to the Almighty through universally available means. It stirs my heart to know that the very first meal of astronauts on the moon was our Lord's communion.  Simple, yet profound. Inclusive and direct.

I consider singing as a simple, profound and a 'more excellent' way.  Instead of requiring the skillful mastery of musical instruments, God invites every member of His family to offer the fruit of their lips from the bottom of their hearts.

There's a myriad of arguments for the institution of a cappella congregational singing. Some claim that God never authorized musical instruments in the Old Testament, while others paint the use of mechanical instruments as totally evil. By focusing so much on what's kosher for our assemblies, however, we miss what's important about them.

James Sanderson of Saginaw, Michigan offers wonderful insight into the importance of 100% participation in this video:

As much as I love to play musical instruments, I'm thankful that the New Testament specifically directs believers to sing.  No believer is left out due to the lack of musical gifts or skills. Everyone's offering is important and is not restricted by others' aesthetic judgment. The symbolic beauty is only enhanced when musical "laymen" offer up their voices.

The Word says, "You are the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you . . ."  

 "But you are a chosen people, royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession . . ."

Let's move beyond the world's obsession with vicarious experiences and approach the throne of grace in confidence.  "Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise."


John 4:22-24;  1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; 1 Peter 2:9, 10; James 5:13; Ephesians 5:19;  Colossians 3:16

We learned of the moon-communion story through Angel Quake Ministries. Here is a link where you can read more about communion on the moon.

Posted on February 28, 2014 .