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Brian Campbell Music is the worshiping community led by worship artist Brian Campbell. We create music, experiences, training seminars, projects, and events that celebrate the exchange of God meeting with and changing His people. Our hope is that you simply meet with Jesus through this journey. 

Songwriters Write Songs: Practical Steps to Better Writing 

About 2 years ago, I attended a conference in Nashville designed specifically for songwriters. There was a panel that discussed a number of really good topics, but there was an “aha” moment for me when one of the panelists spoke: the simple fact of the matter is—songwriters write songs. Not just some of the time. All of the time. Songwriters live, breathe, sleep songwriting.

This is pivotal in an age where it seems like everyone does something; many artists and musicians I meet love the idea of writing, but when it comes down to it, they’ve spent very little time honing their craft. Others feel that the steps to becoming prolific in their writing are too difficult or overwhelming when it comes to songwriting. Let’s be honest: when you hear of an artist who writes a 2-300 songs in a year, it’s hard to contextualize that in a way to move in that direction. You may be just trying to complete one idea of 6 months. Maybe you feel like: how is that ever going to turn in to consistent writing?

The last few decades have seen many musicians and artists enter the world of commercial songwriting. As a standard, if you’re a commercial songwriter, that means that you are delivering at least 50-60 songs yearly to your publisher for review.

For many, that’s a seismic step, and often one that discourages many. But it’s an important step for you as a writer and artist for a number of reasons:

- Consistent songwriting hones your craft. You’re not simply writing when you feel inspired—you’re learning to write great songs on days when the well of inspiration feels like it’s dry. That galvanizes your writing so that when inspiration comes, you have the tools to write even more amazing music.

- Consistent writing helps create distance from your art (that’s a good thing in this case). Many artists feel like one of the biggest obstacles to creating is the fear of rejection: writing more songs actually lessens the pain of that all too familiar feeling. Think for a minute: if you’re sharing the one idea of your last 2 months and it gets rejected, you’re going to feel completely crushed and ask if you should be doing this music thing at all; if, however, you share the same idea in the context of 8 or 20 or 60 ideas in the last two months, it doesn’t make the stakes as high. Good ideas will be shown over time to be really good ideas, or they’ll get replaced by even better concepts for songs and writing.

- Consistent songwriting acts as a sort of night watch for your creativity. In and out of season, if you’re diligent in creating, you’ll have a vehicle for inspiration to really take hold when it comes. You won’t necessarily write the most incredible song every time you sit down to write, but you’ll be ready to capitalize on that potential when it does come.

So I’d like to give some practical tools for writers who are looking to take that next step step in getting serious about their writing. If you want to be or consider yourself a songwriter, here are some things that can jumpstart your creating:

1. Co-write. Let people in to your creative process. I’ve written some of my best songs in co-writes and it’s not (necessarily) because I’m a poor writer: creating together will always hone your craft, even with a weaker songwriter. Co-writing also blasts through those ideas that used to sit in your head or in your notebook for months and months. Share them in a co-write, and that idea will very likely be a song in the next 2 hours.

2. Schedule your writing. I heard Jason Ingram share, in a year where he had some of his most successful tracks, that he didn’t write a song that wasn’t scheduled on his calendar. If you want to write consistently, carve out the time and be tenacious about sticking to your schedule.

3. Chronicle what inspires you. If I sit down and just try to be “inspired,” I very rarely write anything good. I’m a slow processor when it comes to writing, and what that means is that I often need to get a running start with inspiration. Whether it’s moments in the shower in the morning, driving in the car, being with family or friends, have a way to record the things that inspire you. Maybe it’s a melody, a chorus, a phrase, a subject, but whatever it is, have the tools ready so that your mind doesn’t have to be what remembers it. I use my phone’s notepad and recorder for almost all the ideas I bring to co-writes. Keep your heart and ears open for those moments, and then you can come back to them later to develop them.

4. Find your writing pace. Think about this: say you choose to write a song a week for the next year. You schedule your co-writes as one a week, and you stick to it. I don’t care if you have written two songs or 200 songs before this, the reality is that in a year’s time you will have greatly increased your body of work—and your songwriting skills. You don’t have to necessarily have a sprint of 30 songs in 2 weeks to have a body of work at the end of a year. Songwriters make writing a part of their life. Do it often, and do it well.

If you’re feeling like you’re wanting to move to that next level in your craft, the reality is sometimes you just have to do it. But it’s not as difficult as you’d think. For many, artistry has become synonymous with lazy, because creatives like us generally need to forcibly develop discipline or it just doesn’t happen. This may be a moment where you’re being called out to more in your writing. The world needs what God has put in you to give, but it needs you to take it seriously enough to hone and develop it to the best it can be. Take the time today to get on a schedule to become a better writer. Write well and write often. You’ll be amazed at how fast and how far you’ve gone in just a short time.

Play Like a Pro - For Musicians 

We are in week 2 of our 6-week #oneworthitall fall tour, and I’m reminded of how easy things go in everything music when you have a team that is as prepared and musically talented as these guys this fall. It’s really freeing to know you have musicians who know their parts and will, more than anything else, consistently bring music that points inspires people to worship and allows them to get lost in the experience of encounter.

It’s also reminding me of the challenge many local church teams face in the area of excellence. Excellence can be an illusive thing: when we are honest enough to take inventory of our teams, we can easily see musician limitations. Very few of us week in and week out lead teams that look like #elevationchurch or #christomlin ‘s team at a #passionconference. Conversely, many of us serve in teams where there is an element of excellence (maybe the heart or the head, but not both), but we see the whole package as something just out of reach. I have seen many incredible musicians be worship leaders and similarly struggle with finding true excellence across their church’s platform.

In talking with musicians and volunteers, many have a strong desire to be the best at what they do, but feel as a team they are missing the mark in terms of the intangibles. Often I’ve found that musicians want to improve, but their not sure how. If you’re a musician at a church and have felt this frustration, you’re not alone; I’d like to go through a couple of areas where you can focus on to begin to develop a culture of excellence in perspective as you serve in the area of music and worship at your church:

1. VISION. VISION. VISION. Lead the Worship
Teams that are musically excellent often fail to get the heart right, and I think part of it is because in our pursuit of musical excellence we can quickly lose site of the EXCELLENCE that we so desperately need in terms of leading worship. There are not stages to this: if you’re on stage on Sunday morning, you’re leading worship. There is no way to get around it. What you do, your body language, your facial expressions, your preparation—or lack of it (we’ll get there)—will lead people either to Jesus or to something else: but it can’t be ignored. I think one of the healthiest ways to pursue excellence as a worship musician is to catch the vision that you are a worship leader. Just like there are no sideline seaters in life and in calling, worship team is an active participation in leading worship. That’s a high calling! If my task in that is playing guitar, I can ask myself: did I invest time this week as leader of worship in my role in a way that my Heavenly Father would say “well done?” It doesn’t mean you have to be the next John Mayer or Jeff Beck to be an excellence worship musician. It does mean you have taken the time to understand the vision of God’s calling. There’s a line in the movie “Kingdom of Heaven” where the priest asks:

Does making a man a knight make him a better fighter?

Yes.

Is the obvious response. Have a vision for the high calling on your life and your teams’ ministry, and the intangibles will follow.

2. PRACTICE. PRACTICE. PRACTICE. (Did I mention, practice?)
You can’t avoid it. You can’t escape it. It may come faster for people, but you’ll ultimately need to get serious about practice. I know… None of us need that… Nobody at first enjoys practice, just like most people don’t enjoy exercise—until they see the results. Consistent practice will both (1) unleash your God-given abilities and talents and (2) create and develop new areas of excellence you never knew you existed within you. It’s a simple thing that we all think we can get around, but the truth is most of us will never learn a song—and even fewer, that song well—unless we take the time to learn the ins and outs of our parts. If you’re a drummer for instance, here’s an effective method for approaching practice:

- Find an mp3 or video of the song with an order close to what you think it will be
- Get a piece of paper and divide the song into different parts on your paper (VERSE, CHORUS, CHORUS 2, etc.) so that there is a list. Organize it as a two column thing with space between each
- Go through each of the parts you’ve just listed and write down what beat the drummer on the recording is doing. What will help you remember, make the paper your own so that you can read it and remember it.
- Practice the parts for each, then begin putting the parts together, ultimately going in the order of the audio file.
- When you practice with the team, ask the worship leader for a song order that you can generally follow.

As a standard both at church and on the road, our teams always come with a knowledge of the songs ready to play exactly as the mp3 is played; while we may change the order in practice and they may not always get the fill or the lead exactly, there is an understanding that everyone comes with a strong knowledge of the song and where it is going. As a worship leader, it also pushes me to know the songs well and where they will be going.

Practice can easily be dismissed away with excuses like: It’s for The Lord anyways, so let’s just do our best [which often really means whatever is left at the end of the week] and let God do the rest. I think that’s a fundamental flaw in our understanding of both Grace and God’s heart. Preparation and excellence resound throughout the Old and New Testaments, and second best is never something God desires or delights in. If you are someone who has let something like this define the way you prepare for worship, I would take a hard look at the approach and ask yourself: is that something God would do for me? Would he prepare for something in my life with that kind of carelessness? Would I want him to?

Practice matters. Enough said :)

3. OWN IT. INNOVATE IT.
When we have a vision for the high calling of our role and have taken the time to know our craft, our music, and our Creator, we get to enjoy this amazing place of creating. Pros learn the music and then have this amazing way of making it their own. It’s this incredible thing where they can play the notes or the fills, but they know the part so well that how they play it changes—it becomes a part of them. When we take this kind of ownership as musicians, we get to enjoy together the wonderful realm of music creation, which is by far one of my favorite aspects.

Bands who don’t do the first two things and end up trying to create typically make mediocre and/or mission-less music. Musicians who try to create but have not taken the time to practice or be inspired in their craft tend to draw attention to themselves through weak leads|solos and|or out of place solos and parts.

Your church needs you to be the best you can be as a lead worshiper through your craft. Learn it as best as you can, trusting that this kind of “best” is something God honors and delights in. Excellence is within reach, much closer than we typically think.

Leading Worship: What’s on Your Mind 


 

Leading Worship: What’s on Your Mind

If I’m totally honest with myself, a million things can be going through my mind when I’m in front of people singing songs and praising God—thoughts like:

- is the click track loud enough in the ears?
- is the backing track too strong in the house?
- is the way I’m standing distracting people?
- am I over singing?
- are people able to read the words and engage?
- is my team able to clearly follow me with this next transition?
- is this song fitting with the heart of where people are at in this moment?

And millions more.

From unimportant to critical, from useless to essential, flurries of thoughts can engulf our worship times. I think for young worship leaders, it can be a question of what to focus on in the midst of all the details. Here are a couple of things I’ve found helpful:

REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE
I’m not a worship leader first and foremost: I’m a child of God and I’m a worshiper. I was created worshiping, and my leading worship will come from my place of personal worship. If I have trouble leading people in worship, I need to spend more time one on one with my Heavenly Father—off stage and then on it. True leadership will first come from simply worshiping.

ASK: WHAT IS GOD ASKING ME TO GIVE IN THIS MOMENT?
What does he desire of me for himself? What does he want me to give to those I’m leading? How can I best serve in this moment? Worship was modeled by
Jesus through service, picking up the basin and the towel and washing stinky feet of his followers. How am I serving my team? How am I serving the people we are leading in providing a place they can honestly seek God’s face? How can I encourage them to move further up and further in to the country of the Kingdom of God?

REMEMBER: MUSICAL EXCELLENCE WILL COME THROUGH PREPARATION. EXCELLENCE IN WORSHIP IS ABOUT THE HEART
Know your content well enough that you do not have to think about it when you are leading. Your heart needs to be the main area of engagement when you are leading, and it will call out to others. If your team is having trouble doing this, practice more so that you can. Get to know each other relationally, musically, spiritually so that you can flow together as God leads.

In those times when I have all the thoughts coming from all directions, remembering why I’m there pulls me back to reality: I’m leading so that people can be led to a place where they can lead their own praise and response to God. When that happens, I can just be lost in the same place and let God change me and make me new.

Grand Rapids, MI 



Had an awesome hang on this Monday with some of the guys from Take Hold Church in one of our favorite tour stops: Grand Rapids, MI. I’ve come to terms with it being the most underrated city in America. Definitely the one of the high points of our tours. Sitting around the table with this man is something I’m always looking forward to. Monday well spent.

How Do We Respond When The World Doesn't Go Our Way? 

The last few days have been really good to reflect as a team on the summer, and as I looked forward to a trip with Compassion to El Salvador, I was envisioning holding young kids, hearing testimonies and stories of God in the midst, and celebrating what God is doing through the amazing ministry of Compassion. But plans changed quickly when we found the parcel with my passport had been sent back to our home in Ohio. It was one of those perfect storms where a series of actions yielded a lost package and no way to remedy it.

Tons of “could’ve would’ve should’ve” scenarios played again and again in my mind: I should’ve went back for it while we were still in Ohio… I should’ve double confirmed the destination address which was off by a single digit… I could’ve checked the status of the package a day before…. 

I was reminded today as I called Compassion and cancelled my involvement in the trip by the great man of God Tim Thompson of this truth: our response to situations is infinitely more important than the existence of those situations in our lives. How we choose to live is more important than what comes into our living environment. And I think worship is forged in the context of this.

How do we respond when things don’t go according to plan? What we do when no one is looking and we have every right to be angry? Do we feast upon our rage? Do we choose to surrender, to release, to forgive, and to bless? Why is it so difficult for us to forgive just a fraction of the way that we have been forgiven?

I believe hashing out the workings of this is where worship is most often found in our lives. Our expectations are sometimes that somehow we get an easier road when we choose to follow Jesus; Jesus gives us a simple guarantee: in this world you will have trouble. Life will be difficult, things won’t go according to plan. Your hopes and dreams, however big or small, will ultimately fall short of reality. But there’s a beautiful caveat: “Take heart: I have overcome the world.” Do you face difficulty? God is greater. Do you see impossible circumstances that cannot be overcome? God is able. Do you feel that you do not have strength to carry on? God is gracious and God is enough.

My hope for you and I pray your hope for me is that we would learn to live worship. God, teach us how to live each day trusting in you, utterly devoted to your will done in our lives and your Kingdom come. Show us how to release, to surrender, and to forgive, moment by moment, and minute by minute.

Some of our more memorable moments from summer 2014 















Here are some of my more memorable moments of the summer: moments with great friends, moments of incredible times of worship, moments where God showed up tangibly. As we head into the fall, I’m reminded of some of those moments from this summer and how thankful I am to do what we do. It’s such a joy to daily have things to be so easily thankful for, to hear testimonies of God changing lives, and to see Jesus displayed so powerfully.

Scripture reminded Israel’s people to remember the works of God. Constantly, present, God is continually working and renewing things. Sometimes, we have to remind ourselves of what God has already done to see He is faithful still today.

Wherever you are, there is reason to be thankful and to worship. There is reason to give praise. I guess for me today: I’m reminded of the gift of remembering.

Asbury University and The Start of Something Good 

I can’t think of a better place to start off the ONE WORTH IT ALL Fall Tour than with Asbury University. Kicking things off here following Labor Day weekend, seeing over 1.200 students and staff worshiping their Creator is a sight that I never get tired of: this is a group of people who love to worship.

Our time at Asbury is always one where we see old friends as well. Last year, I came and led worship with a team of worship arts students and it was one of the highlights of the fall 2013. We ended up teaching “Lamb of God” to the campus, and it was a moment for me personally where I saw that these songs could be used in corporate worship: not just as a special moment, but as a staple to return to again and again. This year was much about reconnecting with some of these great friends and catching up on all God had done in the past year.

Creativity always finds it’s fullest and richest expression in the context of community. Want to write great music? Live well among others. Pour your heart and your life out in to them and let them do the same to you. Open yourself up to be challenged and stretched. Own your insecurities and fears. Find something better than what you could have created on your own.

Super thankful for the time with these wonderful people. Our home in Kentucky will be sorely missed, but I’m grateful for the awesome week here in Wilmore, KY. abandonmusic creationfesttour

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