February – Blog Goals Recap

March 14, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

Eep! Yes, I know March is halfway over and I’m just getting to my February blog goals recap. Get your money back at the door!

I set out at the beginning of 2013 with three pretty significant blog goals – something I’ve never done before. I love writing this blog as a way to serve worship leaders, to help you find resources and tools to help you lead worship better and more effectively. Serving more worship leaders and sharing more resources and tools is definitely the big goal for 2013 and I’ve broken those down in to three smaller targets.

Blog goal #1: I looked at my stats from the last few years, thought about some new things I wanted to try this year and decided that my target would be to see 100,000 unique visitors to the blog in 2013.

For some of you, 100,000 is chump change. For others, 100,000 is stratospheric. That’s not the point. The point is that I wanted to be able to serve a significantly higher number of people this year through my blog and that’s the number I landed on.

So.. how did we do in February? Thanks to Google Analytics, here’s what I can tell you:

Number of visitors in February 2013: 6,847

One month’s target to reach 100,000 unique visitors in year: 8,333

Over/under that target number in February: Under by 1,486

Number of unique visitors so far in 2013: 10,600

Over/under the cumulative target for 2013: Under by 2,949

Blog goal #2: Write and release three ebooks this year. I’m a third of the way there although you won’t find the ebook on the site (yet!) but I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow!

Blog goal #3: More series of posts. The only one this month was continuing the Final Friday Guest Post with a great one from Phil Cooke on Offending Church Members.

The beauty of setting goals like this? I’m already way beyond what I would have expected for a typical year and it’s forcing me to think of new, creative ways to generate unique visitor traffic to the blog. Check back tomorrow for an announcement about one new way that I’m trying to do that! It’s a bit of an experiment but I’m willing to try it.

Have you got any blog or social media goals this year? I’d love to hear what they are and what you’re doing to achieve them!


Seeds Conference – Church on the Move

March 13, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

Last week I had the incredible opportunity to participate in the Seeds Conference at Church on the Move in Tulsa, OK. I don’t say this often but you need to know that Whitney George and his team hit it out of the park with their conference and gave everyone an incredible gift.

Photo by Andy Barron

There is nothing better than hearing about a quality, being promised a quality event and then experiencing a quality event. Church on the Move and the Seeds Conference team delivered!

Seeds Conference auditorium

I’m working on typing up the TWENTY FIVE PAGES of notes that I took during the sessions but here are some quick takeaways from Seeds Conference:

  • Find lots of twitter talk and instagram photos with the #SeedsConf hashtag.
  • Did I mention that I took 25 pages of notes? There’s an incredible amount of wisdom in there.
  • When you get a team of people pulling in the same direction, you can change the world
  • There’s nothing quite like pulling out of your own world for a few days, dropping into someone else’s and learning about why they do what they do
  • Church on the Move has the outward appearance of the healthiest staff culture of any church I’ve seen – I say outward appearance and I believe that it’s rooted much deeper than that

Photo by Andy Barron

  • Listening to the music at Church on the Move makes me want to do two things: 1. Quit playing music. 2. Never stop playing music.
  • On Saturday I got to watch their service run through and was more than impressed with their dedication to quality which comes from a place of serving their congregation.
  • I tweeted this: “Experts work harder than anyone. Being good doesn’t mean you have it easier. You get better, you work harder.”
  • The team at Church on the Move have an incredible ability of bringing inspiration and clarity together when they show you what they are doing. There is as much over the top, above my head, forget about it, never gonna happen stuff as there is “yeah.. I could get there.. with a few tweaks.. and some great vision.. and lots of work.. I could get there!” This is a very unique mix.
  • Photo by Andy Barron

    Photo by Andy Barron

  • Oklahoma barbecue is incredible. Oklahoma barbecue with friends is even better. Wow.
  • I’m a big believer that social media should lead to in the flesh relationships and I’m thankful that many of these came to life this week. I got to meet more than a handful of people that I’ve known only through twitter or facebook and they are now “real” friends of mine.
  • Conferences like these are best experienced in team. I’m thankful that I got to hang out with friends of mine at the conference but to have had other people from my church there would have been priceless. Hoping for that in 2014.
  • Yes, I’m planning on being there in 2014. You should too.


Sanctus School for Worshippers – Student Visit Day

March 4, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

Sanctus School for Worshippers is a unique education opportunity for post-secondary students in Toronto. Sanctus is a two-year accredited post-secondary Christian college that prepares students in areas of Christian character and spiritual grounding as a preparatory step to specific vocational training.

Sanctus School for Worshippers

I had the chance to meet Dave Pedde a while ago and got to hear his heart for God, his heart for ministry and his heart to see students grow to be authentic, capable leaders. I’m a big fan of what Dave is doing and if you or someone you know if looking for a next step in education towards ministry, Sanctus may be a great option.

Dave and his team at Sanctus are putting together a Student Visit Day on March 21. Info and rsvp details below:Sanctus Student Visit Day

Bible Series by Mark Burnett – Premiere tomorrow night

March 2, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

THE BIBLE is the epic 10-hour miniseries from executive producers Roma Downey (Touched By An Angel) and Mark Burnett (The Voice, Survivor, Shark Tank, Celebrity Apprentice) which premieres March 3 on History Channel.

Lots of talk leading up to this miniseries and how Mark Burnett was really focused on creating a high quality visual experience for the audience.

Are you planning on watching this?

From Executive Producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett comes The Bible — an epic 10-part miniseries retelling stories from the Scriptures for a whole new generation. Breathtaking in scope and scale, The Bible features powerful performances, exotic locales and dazzling visual effects that breathe spectacular life into the dramatic tales of faith and courage from Genesis through Revelation. This historic television event is sure to entertain and inspire the whole family. “The Bible” Series premieres this Sunday, 3.3.13 on History Channel at 8/7c. Visit http://www.bibleseriesresources.com for more information.


Darlene Zschech – Victor’s Crown

February 27, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

Darlene Zschech (web|twitter|facebook) is a name familiar to everyone within the modern worship movement. From her time at Hillsong Church in Australia, as the writer of “Shout to the Lord” and many other songs, and now as one of the senior pastors of Hope Unlimited Church Darlene Zschech along with Kari Jobe and Israel Houghton have given us an incredible new song, Victor’s Crown.

victor's crown

If you are still looking for that one last song to add to your Easter Sunday service, this may be the one.

I have been listening to this song for a couple of weeks and it continues to give me chills. The lyrics are powerful and the truth of these words is deep. Connect incredible words with a homerun melody and the result is that Victor’s Crown is a song which will be sung by churches all around the world for a long, long time.

I can’t get past the bridge – so powerful!! Something about the movement of the chords underneath, the strength of the lyric and the reality of who Christ is and what He has done that all work together to create a beautiful, powerful moment right there.

I’ve gathered together some resources you can use to help do this song in your church.

Here are the lyrics for Victor’s Crown by Darlene Zschech, Kari Jobe and Israel Houghton:

Victor’s Crown
Verse 1
You are always fighting for us, heaven’s angels all around
My delight is found in knowing that You wear the victor’s crown
You’re my help and my defender, You’re my Saviour and my friend
By Your grace I live and breathe to worship You

Verse 2
At the mention of Your greatness, in Your Name I will bow down
In Your Presence fear is silent for You wear the victor’s crown
Let Your glory fill this temple, let Your power overflow
By Your grace I live and breathe to worship You

Chorus 1
You have overcome
You have overcome
Jesus You have overcome the world

Verse 3
You are ever interceding as the lost become the found
You can never be defeated for You wear the victor’s crown
You are Jesus the Messiah You’re the Hope of all the world
By Your grace I live and breathe to worship You

Every high thing must come down
Every stronghold shall be broken
You wear the victor’s crown
You overcome You overcome

Verse 4
At the cross the work was finished You were buried in the ground
But the grave could not contain You for You wear the victor’s crown

Darlene Zschech | Israel Houghton | Kari Jobe
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Hillsong United Zion Giveaway

February 25, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

Hillsong United releases their new album Zion tomorrow! It has been over two years since their last studio album so anticipation has been building for this. I’ve had the chance to listen to a preview copy of this CD for a few days and I will tell you that while Zion is certainly a new direction for Hillsong United this album is full of great melodies and songs which will find their way into churches around the world.

hillsong united zion group photo

Much more layered, more complex arrangements, no more thick driving guitars, this is a matured, grown up version of Hillsong United we hear on Zion. This album is going to find a new audience but I don’t think that was their intention:

To label Zion as a fresh sound is to understate its originality. “In the aftermath of Aftermath, we all took a little break and in that time caught a fresh vision for what it is that we do, why we do it, and what it means to be a part of the church,” UNITED’s Joel Houston shares.

Matt Crocker continues his growth as the primary worship leader for these albums – from the opening Relentless to the first single, Scandal of Grace to the closing King of Heaven.

If Hillsong knows anything, it’s how to spread the word and get people excited about a new project. They’ve done a great job of releasing resources for this album even before the songs were available so you’ve probably come across one of the lyric videos like this one for Scandal of Grace:

I wanted to share this album with you and thanks to the fine people at EMI we’ve got TWO copies of this CD to give away. Instructions are below in this little widget but you’ll get entries into this giveaway by liking, sharing, following and tweeting. Since there are TWO copies to give away you can win one and your friend can win the second copy!

This is a quick giveaway – we’ll close the contest Friday, March 1 and announce winners that day. Good luck!

Worship Songs and the Christian Industrial Complex

February 25, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

Being aware of some of the activity and pressures behind some of the decisions we make is a good thing. If you know me, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of the church – there really is nothing quite like her. Because of her uniqueness, the church is sometimes susceptible to pressures and influences which need to be examined in a unique way.

To be honest, this is the main reason I don’t listen to Christian radio. Having my worship leading decisions influenced and pressured by what is being marketed to Christians becomes dangerous ground to tread. Songs which do well on radio are not necessarily songs which I want to use to lead worship for my church yet the pressure and the influence of those songs is certainly present.

I am not one to come down hard on marketing or outside influences having their way in the church but if we equate radio/marketed success too closely with the favour and blessing of God we walk a dangerous road.

I came across a series of videos from Warren Cole Smith where he talks about this issue and I wanted to share with you just part of one of these videos because it relates to you as a worship leaders and how you choose the songs you use to lead your church in worship.

Watch this 3-minute video just to be reminded of some of the influence and pressure behind some of the decisions we make and consider if any of this is at work in your own ministry. I’ve also included a transcript of Mr. Smith’s words below this video.

You’ll want to jump forward in this video to 5:14.


Have you ever considered why we don’t sing ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’, a 500-year-old hymn in our churches, but we will sing a modern song that might have been on the radio a couple of months ago?

Well, part of the problem, or part of the reason we do that (and again I’m not making a judgement at this point as to whether this is good or bad – I’d just like to ask you to consider the question), is that the songs that we hear on the radio today produce a revenue stream for somebody.

In fact, they often produce a revenue stream for many people, so the songs that we hear on the radio today are actively promoted to pastors and worship leaders all across the country, whereas a song like ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’ is not.

Without making any judgements about which one is better or which one is worse, let me simply say that it’s interesting that we could sing songs like ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’ for almost 500 years in our churches, but in the course of 30 years that song has almost completely disappeared from the menu of our churches.

Whether you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing, it’s an interesting thing, and I don’t think it happened by accident. The reason it happened is because the Christian Industrial Complex is at work – it’s always promoting the next new song, and usually these new things are given to us by Christian radio.

I’m not talking about just music, but I’m talking about the latest speakers, the latest books – everything comes to us via Christian radio. Christian radio is listened to mostly by Christians, but about 30% to 40% of folks who listen to Christian radio are non-Christians.

So we’ve got an unfortunate situation in America today where we have non-Christians having a major role in deciding what songs and what content comes on Christian radio, that creates a revenue stream for us or for the folks that produce that content that allows them to promote that material into the churches as well.

Once again, I’m not asking you at this point to say that that is a good thing or a bad thing – I’m just saying that it is a new thing, it is a different thing, it is an interesting thing that we need to be mindful of as we consider how we as Christians are to behave in a media-saturated world.

I think this is important theologically for a couple of reasons. One (and probably the primary one) is what I have in this last bullet here – it says that we need to be ever mindful of the fact that we are not consumers, we are humans.

We humans are not consumers who need to be satisfied, but we’re sinners who need to be justified before a holy God.

I believe that whenever we allow industry to thrive and ministry to suffer, that we confuse those two realities, and I think we do so to the peril of souls and to the danger of the church overall.

Final Friday Guest Post: Phil Cooke

February 22, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

I’m excited to share with you this second instalment of the Final Friday Guest Post series. Last month Daniel Bashta wrote about awakening the dreamers and today I’m excited to post this great article from Phil Cooke.

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Phil Cooke (web|twitter|facebook) is this really unique combination of brilliant, hilarious and talented. It’s pretty scary, actually. He’s one of my favourite follows on twitter, I’ve had the opportunity to hear him speak in person and the proof of his dedicated creative ability is in the pudding, so to speak. I’m so thankful he wrote this article that I’m able to share with you. Read it – you’ll be challenged and encouraged – and then connect with Phil online and continue learning from him. I know I do!

PC blog headshot










An internationally known writer and speaker, Phil Cooke has actually produced media programming in nearly 50 countries around the world.  In the process, has been shot at, survived two military coups, fallen out of a helicopter, and in Africa, been threatened with prison. And during that time – through his company Cooke Pictures in Burbank, California – he’s helped some of the largest nonprofit organizations and leaders in the world use the media to tell their story in a changing, disrupted culture.

Should We Worry about Offending Church Members?

In my new book, “Unique:  Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media” I explain that “branding” is essentially a compelling story that surrounds a product or company.  Corporate giants like Apple, Nike, and Starbucks have built powerful brands that tell persuasive stories about their products.  But the truth is, it was Christianity that invented the principles we now call branding.  But today, Christians are rapidly losing our ability to share their story in a compelling way.  As a result, the church continues to slide into cultural irrelevance.

Lately I’m reading Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957). She was one of the famous “Inklings” – the group of writers at Oxford that included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.  In her book, Letters to the Diminished Church, she writes:

“First, I believe it to be a grave mistake to present Christianity as something charming with no offense to it.  Seeing that Christ went about the world giving the most violent offense to all kinds of people, it would seem absurd to expect that the doctrine of his person can be so presented as to offend nobody.  We cannot blink at the fact that gentle Jesus, meek and mild, was so stiff in his opinions and so inflammatory in his language that he was thrown out of church, stoned, hunted from place to place, and finally gibbeted as a firebrand and a public danger.”

In our present day efforts not to offend, I wonder if that’s taken some of the distinctiveness out of our faith.  Granted, most of the people Jesus offended were the religious folks.  When Jesus was confronted by sinners or the suffering, he was far more tender and gracious.  He saved his most fiery volleys for the hypocritical types within the church.

Also, understand that when I talk about offending, I don’t mean for stupid reasons.  Wildly colored hair, prosperity preaching, Jesus junk products, cheesy, out of date approaches and styles – no one has the right to be stupid in their presentation of the Christian faith.

But today, we hear pastors try everything in their arsenal to defend a point of doctrine without actually using the scriptures.  We think the audience will “relate” to it better, when it may actually be positioning the Christian faith as just another lifestyle choice, and not the raging fire that transformed the Western world.

I wonder in our well intentioned desire to embrace the culture, if we’re losing the very heart of the greatest story ever told?  Are we trying so hard to be hip and contemporary, we’ve lost sight of the fact that the Christian faith is compelling, not because it’s nice, cool, or positive, but simply because it’s true.

I think if we really believed that, it would dramatically change the way we present the Christian message.

unique book cover

Phil Cooke’s new book, Unique – buy it now!

Facebook and the Power of Suggestion

February 21, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

You probably have a Facebook account (mine is here), your church probably has a Facebook page (ours is here) but I noticed something pretty incredible on Facebook yesterday that I hadn’t seen before. Facebook is taking recognition and recommendation to a whole new level!

You know how it works: You post a link on your Facebook page, your friends click the link or like the link, they might share the link with their friends. Great.

But what if the link is related to someone else’s content or page? What if Facebook could recognize the content of the link and recommend a page where you can get connected to more of that person’s content.

People of the internet, welcome to the future!

Facebook recommend

Now I know I’m not the smartest guy around but I’m pretty sure this is a new thing for Facebook. If not, I still think it’s incredible!

Think about this: My friend Shannon posted this link from YouTube, not from Chris Tomlin’s page or his website. Facebook was able to recognize the link, that it was content from a Chris Tomlin song and then recommended that I like Chris Tomlin’s page on Facebook.

Does this not seem crazy to you? Am I alone in thinking that this is actually pretty incredible? I hope not.. because I actually think it’s pretty incredible!

So why does this matter? Let me give you three big things I noticed about this:

  1. There are actually more links to Chris Tomlin’s Facebook presence than to the actual link on YouTube. Clicking play on the video itself would play the video within that window on my Facebook news feed. Clicking the title of the song would take me to YouTube and play the video there. Clicking Chris Tomlin’s name would take me to his Facebook page and clicking the Like Page button would keep me in Facebook and give me another opportunity to click through to his Facebook page. Final score? Facebook: 3, YouTube: 1. That’s pretty good considering the link actually originated from YouTube.com!
  2.  Facebook is essentially driving more traffic back to itself rather than having users click through to outside sites. Think about your church – what if someone posted a sermon audio link or event promo on their Facebook page. When it shows up in their friends’ news feed there could be a link below that with a direct link to your church’s Facebook page as well as the call to action Like Page button. Essentially a friend-generated sponsored story promoting clicks and likes for your page.
  3. Facebook never stops changing. You may or may not think this is an improvement. You may not think it’s even that big of a deal. The point is that Facebook never stops developing, never sits still and is always looking at ways to generate more likes, more clicks, more engagement, more users and more minutes on their site. Your Facebook strategy (if you have one) must evolve and change along with the platform.

Hillsong United and Elevation Worship – TODAY!

February 19, 2013 | Get free updates of new posts here

Two beautiful examples of the power of technology to get new creative content into the hands of worship leaders all around the world quickly: Hillsong United is streaming their new CD “Zion” on iTunes and Elevation Worship is streaming the DVD of their new CD “Nothing Is Wasted”.

hillsong united zion group photo

Here’s how Hillsong United describes the new CD “Zion” –

The whole point of this album is the realization that God is doing His thing, and He has already done it, He is establishing His Church, and it’s through us.

The album was birthed out of our cry, “God I want to be a part of what it is you’re doing, if that means write a song, we’ll do our best to write the best songs we can. If it means serving the poor and those who are hurting, then we’re going to do it better than we’ve ever done it before. If it means just being a great son or daughter, brother or sister, mum or dad – wherever it is we find ourselves – then let’s do that better than we’ve ever done it before.

Go here to stream the new Hillsong United CD “Zion” in iTunes US & Canada.

Elevation is releasing the newest Elevation Worship album “Nothing Is Wasted” and today ONLY they are streaming the DVD of the album live on their site. Another great use of technology to get these songs directly to worship leaders all around the world.

Elevation Worship - Nothing is Wasted


Visit the Elevation Network site to watch the stream of the new Elevation Worship CD “Nothing Is Wasted”.