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. 

Your Next Project: A Quick Guide to Pre-Production 

Of all the things I see happening in worshiping communities around the world, few things encourage me more than the mass move of churches around the world towards songwriting for their communities. There is something unique and beautiful and good in a group of people honestly and creatively expressing what God is doing through and among them, and it’s nothing short of thrilling to see communities catch that vision.

Many, however, struggle with taking the next steps into a studio project. The wheels often come off when they start to ask the question of where do I begin? Artists and bands struggle with much of the same: many a band has entered a studio having paid hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars for a day’s time and leave with very little because of a simple fact: pre-production is often overlooked—and it matters. A producer can’t and shouldn’t write your songs for you the day you enter a studio. As an artist (and if your church team is entering the studio together, you are the artist), it’s your responsibility to be the creative energy behind a project: that is much more about the way you communicate your ideas than the volume of those ideas. If you think a project is just going to happen as a result of you being in the studio, it likely will happen in some form, but it will be much more costly and much less worthwhile than had you taken the time to plan out things ahead of time.

And so we arrive at pre-production :)

When we are talking about pre-production for a song, we are talking about the foundational elements that make that song unique. But we’re also talking about the elements that make that song a song—BPMs, chord structures, builds, crashes, breakdowns, should all be included here. When you do pre-production well, you have a map of a song that (a) you can record to in the studio with a similar vibe and energy to the finished song, (b) will allow your team and musicians to practice to before everyone hits the studio, and a song that (c) will allow your engineer to hit the ground running and maximize your precious studio time. Choose to make pre-production a priority and you’ll have much more time to creatively explore the songs in a studio space; fail to make pre-production a priority and you’ll be paying $1000 a day for songwriting.

As an artist going into the studio, there are many ways you can best utilize your pre-production time and energy so that you can hit the ground running. Here are a couple things to consider adding into your creative flow:

1) Create a creative flow. Find a method that works for you to bring your song ideas consistently to recorded works. Put parameters in place to gauge the value of a song to you as an artist and filters to sift through finished songs before they go into the studio. This is foundational, and if you don’t have it, you’ll be in that time and energy wasting space.

2) Build a demo. For me, I make a demo of every song I write in a co-write as a reference in terms of meter, structure, strum patterns, and general energy. You can make a rough demo with the voice recorder on your smartphone—and you should. If you have access to a studio or recording facilities, add in that drum beat or that synth lead that makes the song. Many times the demos are actually what you use to build the track when you go into the studio. We’ve used demos as the foundation for studio tracks built the first day in a co-write.

3) Cast the vision. Pre-production should cast a vision for what you’d like the song to be. Is there a breakdown in the song where everything drops out except for the vocals? Is there a building section that empties in to a full chorus? Build these into your pre-productions of the songs and then build the instruments around them. Your artistic vision can be shown in post-production choices, but it’s the pre-production choices that give them the parameters to work from. Spending the time doing this first step well gives you so much more time for the often more enjoyable parts of song creating.

4) Get a producer. Producers don’t just sit back and “watch the magic happen.” These are guys who are experienced in creating projects and will help you through the process flow in a way where you best utilize your time, energy, and resources. A good producer is worth much more than what they ask because they’re the one championing your project and helping you navigate the details in the studio you simply cannot do well as the artist.

In either case, pre-production will dramatically improve your studio experience. You’ll find the studio being much more of what you’ve always dreamed it could be.

Menomonie, WI 


Menomonie, WI

We met these incredible people this summer at #sonshinefest, and on our way back from South Dakota we stopped by for one of the most unexpectedly wonderful nights of the tour. Underneath a church in Menomonie, WI resides #blindmunchies, a coffee house with those #americanpicker sort of signs everywhere. Tom and Becky run the place, and their heart is for college students at the university in town. We were absolutely floored by the turnout and the participation: what we thought would be a chill worship night with 15 or 20 turned into a full on worship singalong with almost 100 that packed the place out.

Finishing up the American tour this week, I’m reminded of those unexpected moments that go so far beyond your expectations. I’ve learned on this 6 week journey through America to enjoy the ride more than I have ever done before. I’ve become more thankful for surprises—good and bad—learning to simply receive them as part of the adventure and value them for what they are.

Again, it all comes down to character I guess… God doing something in us that is good and makes us more at ease in His love for us and our love for both Him and others. Grateful for wonderful nights like this Monday in Menomonie that restore my soul.

#worshipis #mondayfunday #oneworthitall

Lindstrom, MN  


In Lindstrom, MN tonight at a church we were at this summer following #sonshinefest. Weekends like these are some of my favorite: 2 solid days with a church and the team where we talk worship, life, and ministry. These usually finish off with a night of worship.

In planning our sets, I think many of us as worship leaders can easily handle a 3 or 5 song set: opener. 3-song set [2 up, 1 down]. offering. closing response. Easy.

But I think we often struggle to communicate worship well on a “worship Sunday,” where music is the main element of content in this special service. We get glimpses at holidays and the like, but it really comes out when our pastors ask us to lead a full service. Maybe you’ve even wanted to do that, and your church leadership has said yes, and now you’re planning for it, and you’re feeling overwhelmed. There are definitely elements that make it a unique animal in itself.

To encourage you, you’re not alone; for us as a team, this area of “special service” is the world that we live in. There are a ton of ways you can go with it, but I think there are some core ideas that may help in planning these special services:

1) Think stations, experiences, and environments. Much like a sermon or a teaching should be designed to engage people in different ways and with regard to different learning styles, 45-60 minutes of music should be dynamic. Think if you have a message where someone preaches at monotone voice from notes for an hour: they’ve lost half their audience in the first 7 minute and will lose another 40 % in the next 5 according to the experts. It’s the same with music to a strong degree: if you play the same thing for 30 minutes, people are not going to be engaged, and as a worship leader, your primary responsibility to the people is to provide an environment where engagement happens, where we individually and corporately can connect with God and be changed. Instead of thinking of an hour of music I have to fill, ask: how can I create experiences and environments where people can uniquely connect with God—both individually and corporately—through the elements of a service? Liturgy helps here. Look at different liturgies and maybe create unique experiences in light of them.

2) Be open to other ways if communicating worship. Adding scripture reading, a testimony, a story, a video, a different leader for a song, can really help to “reset” the attention of people as you’re going through your service. On extended Sundays, these can help provide a buffer between times, transition from praise or higher energy moments to worshipful or more reflective moments—or back.

3) Ask yourself: what am I trying to communicate? I believe that the Holy Spirit will often use things even when we haven’t planned for them. But I also believe that a chief way the Holy Spirit works in many of our services is through our prayerful planning. Take the time to seek The Lord on his purpose for this special service; catch the vision and communicate it through well thought out and executed creative elements.

One final thought: on these special Sundays, we are essentially doing mini worship services back to back. Look at each on as part of the greater whole, but don’t feel like you have to communicate everything in each of these mini-services. Maybe it’s taking a larger point (God Loves You) and defining it through the elements (1. God is holy and merciful. 2. Forgiveness is found in Jesus 3. Jesus gave it all so you could live. 4. We have full access to a loving God)

These special services can really be defining moments for your community, and it’s worth the time you invest in planning and preparation. Bring team members into the process with you, and have fun with it!

#worshipsets #worshipsunday #worshipsethowto

South Dakota 


South Dakota

We had such a blast this week in South Dakota — it was the first time I’ve ever been to Nebraska and SD, and we were so blessed by the people we met here at University of South Dakota. Friends from a conference we did in Florida were the ones who invited us to come out this way on the #oneworthitall Tour, a reminder that this journey is continually growing through friendships. We head to Minneapolis for the weekend, very excited to be back so soon after Sonshine.

Someone posted this picture yesterday from the summer, I’m reminded of the fact that prayer is essential to everything we do. Are you feeling the weight of life? Are you unsure what steps to take? Pray. When things get the toughest, that’s a perfect time to hit the ground and seek The Lord. When things are going great and you’re thankful and full, seek The Lord. Prayer is something we need to make a part of our every moment, that we never leave that place, but instead carry it with us into the darkest circumstances.

We head into the final week of the fall US Tour, and I’m grateful for God’s continued guidance on this journey.

Stay strong—and pray today!

THE ONE WORTH IT ALL Tour heads to Europe in November 

This year, we have some exciting news: our Fall US Tour is becoming our Fall Europe Tour November 5 - 25: THE ONE WORTH IT ALL Tour will be in cities in the United Kingdom, France, The Netherlands, and Germany throughout the month. While the team has been part of events in Europe since 2007, this is the first tour with a full team since FOR THE HUNGRY, with a schedule of:

Nov. 6-8: London, UK

November 9-11: Paris, France

November 12-13: Amsterdam, Holland

November 14-16: Siegen, Germany

November 17-18: Frankfurt, Germany

November 19-23: Southern England

November 24-25: London, UK

A full list of venues and churches will be available soon on the events page.

Please pray for the team and the churches we will be serving while in Europe. It’s a beautiful place that the team always loves coming back to, and we’re excited for the lives that will be changed through this tour and the ministry God continues to do.

Uprise Fest - Shippensburg, PA 


Uprise Fest in Shippensburg, PA was such an awesome festival: it was a huge honor to be there. We ended up playing a morning set, which are usually much more low-key… The crowd was so in to it though, and what started as maybe 150 people quickly turned into almost 1,000. A really incredible day all around. Super grateful to be there, thanks so much to everyone who came out and supported us! #oneworthitall #heartswake #uprisefest #bcampbellmusic

Grove City College - Morning Chapel 


Great morning on campus @grovecitycollege. To speak to over 1,300 students and faculty on leadership was a huge honor. I wanted to share the message with you all as well:

The Place of the Presence is the Place of Leadership (Exodus 33:7-11)

You have been called to purpose. You and I have not been made to be people who wander through life without an understanding of who we are and what we are called to. You and I have been called to lead. Leadership takes many different forms and it will look different for each of us in this room, but the fact is that each and every one of us will lead in some way through our lives: it may be a small group of friends—it may be a single friend—it may be our families or our colleagues, it may be nations or companies, hospitals, businesses, universities, in culture and in justice. But the fact is that you sit among a community of leaders.

Many of you came to this place with an understanding of that. Many of you feel that you don’t have a bone of leadership in your entire body. Regardless, God wants to give you a vision for leadership because he has created you to be ministers of his Kingdom here on earth. He’s created you to be a person who uniquely displays his glory on this earth in a way where people come to know Jesus.

But you and I often struggle in the next steps: we see the destination—sometimes so vividly—but the question remains: what do I do to take the crucial and initial steps today to move toward those dreams? I see the end, you say. I have this passion inside of me and I know I’m called to something significant, something good, and something great. But how do I get there? What do I do today with what I’ve been given.

I’ve got a simple point for you today and it’s this: The place of worship is the place where God develops leaders. I want to take a moment this morning to look at a young Joshua because God prepared Joshua in the place of the presence, this place of worship, and ultimately made him a leader of a nation.

But before we do, Let’s pray…

We pick up on Joshua’s story at this place of the tent of meeting. First, Joshua is mentioned as one of the spies sent in to the Promised Land. There are a couple of points I see in the early Joshua that I think help us understand who is:
1.) He was passionate, tenacious, and uncertain of his destiny
- This was the man who entered the promised land which looked more like something out of a Marvel movie and said of the giants that he saw—we can take ‘em! When the majority said no, Joshua said yes, simply because God said yes. He cast his lot with guys like Caleb, a man who in his 80s asked for the land where the fight was the greatest as his inheritance.
- These were risk takers and they were zealous, but who they would be had not yet been revealed. They were in a state of becoming at this point in their lives
2) This is a man who has learned to follow
- Joshua is a man who checks his passions with Godly authority. He’s content to be the glory-less number 2.
Now the position of being No. 2 is one that every proven leader will ultimately carry. It’s a position where he or she has much of the responsibility but none of the honor. It’s where God galvanizes leaders and strips away so much of our false selves so that all that’s left is simple things like faith, hope and love—for God and people. We all love recognition for our leadership—we love to be affirmed in what we are doing and what we are sacrificing. The No. 2 receives little to none of this: None of the acclaim, but there is still work to be done. She leads primarily through her serving.

This is critical to understanding Joshua. He had seen the Promised Land! He had tasted and experienced this glorious inheritance that God had given his people, and He had even answered the questions correctly! Can you imagine that for a moment: to make the right decision and to lead in the minority? Joshua did everything right, and yet for the next 40 years, he was forced to walk with a wandering people who had made the wrong choice. He knew what his God had called his people to: he knew the inheritance that was theirs to receive. Yet he had to wait without the glory, he had to serve without the recognition, and he had to lead through his service. Joshua at this point in his life likely has a million questions of who he should be and what he should do, because this sort of leadership ultimately leads you to that place of self-awareness. You begin to ask the questions of identity: who am I? Why and I here? What is God calling me to be?

That brings us to a final observation I see in Joshua’s early life: Because you see,
3) Joshua knows where to get the answers
He may have those questions, but he knows that if anyone knows, that person is the God of the universe. Sometimes he probably had no strength at all to lead himself, let alone others, but he knew that there was a God who knew where they were going. There was this God who knew how to get out of the wilderness. There was this God who before the foundations of the world knew him and loved him.

For a number of you, you may be in a similar place, questioning your purpose or identity. Maybe you have these dreams of what your life will be and you can’t wait to set out to accomplish them. Maybe you have these passions in your heart that you just know will change the world, and I’m telling you that they will because those passions are seeds of eternity that God has put inside of you. Maybe you have a dream that is so big you’re not even sure where to begin, and so you try to contextualize it with your studies, and you change your major again and again, but it’s just not really you and your head is spinning and you’re crying out: God! What am I supposed to do with my life? Why on earth am I here???

I believe that God is the one who leads us to that place, first and foremost because he cares about us deeply. God is infinitely more concerned with who you are becoming as a person than what good things you can do for him. The entire message of Mercy in the Gospel is the simple truth that while we were powerless and stuck in our sins, Christ came and did what we could not do so that we could be called sons and daughters where we were once enemies. My best efforts to change the world did not impress God when he chose to save me from sin and from death. My most noble aspirations did not earn some deserved favor on my life. God chose to save me in the midst of my sin and to begin a work of making my life one of surrender and dependence on a Great Provider. More than what you do, God is concerned about who you are in Him. Some of you simply need to be reminded of that today.

Intimacy is what God is after. It comes from that face to face encounter with a living God who knows you deeply. Joshua found intimacy with God in this place of the presence, this place of encounter. He stayed when others refused to enter in. Others wanted to arrive at the destination—the Promised Land. But Joshua knew that the only way to arrive in safety at the end of the line was by first knowing his God, the only one who could really tell him who he was. It was no doubt a painful place to be, this place of the presence, but it was also the place where raw leadership could be imparted.

If you’re in that place, you’re not alone. You’re in a place where countless leaders through the ages have been. And be assured that whether you feel it or not, God is calling you to lead. It may be your family or your community, it may be a country, it may be a company. But regardless, leadership is a part of the Kingdom. Think for a moment: why would it be called a kingdom if there weren’t governance and leadership? It’s not like we cash this stuff in at the end of our lives here on earth for a heavenly condo and harp. God is creating an eternal Kingdom and what you learn today, what you learn in this lifetime is truly preparation for eternity. Leadership is a fundamental part.

But some of you may be there right now, in this season on this wonderful campus, where you’re asking the questions of what am I supposed to do, and who am I supposed to be. How do I begin this adventure and what are the first steps?

Personal Testimony
For me, it began here in 2005 in the spring semester of my freshman year on an ICO to Italy. What I thought was essentially a 10-day service project in a beautiful country turned out to be a return trip less than 3 months later. I had grown up playing piano and guitar, but we had moved as a family when I was in late high school and I thought music for me was finished. I had actually only picked up guitar a few times in that freshman year. But when I got to Italy and I spent the summer with students who all loved music and wanted to start a band, I found myself teaching them Tomlin songs and surrounded by worship music. I fought it. I was a history major at the time, I wanted to be a professor one day. This wasn’t my plan, God! I thought music was finished for me! Why now with these kids?

That summer witnessed a profound spiritual awakening for those kids and also for me: I came back to Grove City with a huge vision of who God is and a desire to know Him intimately. It started with journalling in my dorm room, and just spending time with God in worship. I’d put music on or strum my guitar, and I’d write my prayers as I met with the God of the universe. It was that place that I can only really describe as the presence, where I could meet with God personally and intimately. And it happened in chapel too, and with friends, time to be with God together. But these times began to form and reform me.

I had changed my major to international business so that I could learn a language and go to the mission field with skills needed. And I loved my courses! But what I didn’t see was that the place of the presence was where God was training my heart and weaving these pieces together to lead in a way I hadn’t expected.

From the journaling came song ideas. From the song ideas came the opportunity to lead on campus and create a worship project. From the worship project came a worship pastor position at a church following college. Then another. Then opportunities at other churches. Then around the world with songwriters, artists, churches, festivals. God used every bit of it: I use my international business degree on a daily basis; but the reality is: I had no idea this was where my passions and my heart would be molded to God’s passions and heart in 2005. All I knew was that worship was the place where God met me, that place in His presence where He changed me, my dreams, and my vision.

Joshua didn’t know he was going to be the next leader of Israel when He sat in the tent of meeting. He didn’t know that He was going to be the one to see the Promised Land and to conquer. He simply knew that His God was near, and that was where He needed to stay.

Close: Some of you will be presidents of companies, leaders of churches and worshiping communities. Some of you may be adventurers and writers, artists creating at the forefront of a redemptive cultural revolution. Who knows? You may be the next attorney general of Virginia! But for most of you, the question today that is most pressing is this: God who really am I and what is my purpose? The place of the presence holds those answers because the place of the presence is where your Creator is, waiting for you to know Him.

I’d like to close with a point and a story. The point is that intimacy with God will fundamentally change your life. The story is this: My grandfather grew up in the river hollers of the Susquehanna river valley in Central Pennsylvania to a mennonite father who was also an alcoholic. At 21 he was drafted into the US army to serve with the occupational force in Europe in the city-state of Luxembourg. He came back to the states rough around the edges, and met and married my grandmother, and he worked as a logging man felling huge trees in the hills above the river. He wasn’t interested in spiritual things, but a year into their marriage, they started attending a home group with another couple who were planting a C&MA church in the their town. With his background, my grandfather rarely came into agreement easily, and he challenged everything. In terms of his faith, he resolved to not go forward for an altar call unless he knew it was God calling him. When he finally went forward in a small church on a commitment night, he fell on the altar so hard it broke. He never looked back.

The next 65 years were a story of faithfulness, leadership, servanthood, and redemption. Raising 4 kids on a farm above the river, this man led his family and community from a place of humility. He was generous in his dealings with people and showed the embodiment of love to those he met.

What kept this man strong for 65 years was a daily pursuit of God. His heart was captured by a gracious God that night on the altar and from that day onward, he chose to know this God deeply. Battling the final test of dementia ending this past August was a man who knew the God of the universe as the Lover of His soul. And it changed him. It showed him how to lead. By simply choosing intimacy every day he left a heritage of leadership that will echo through generations.

Friends, may we press in to fall in love with Jesus. May we be people who don’t simply wait outside our tents, but go into the place of the presence and find our purpose. May it be said of you and I that we were ones who took the time the know the Lord. Let’s pray…

Freedom to Worship: Re-Engaging the Heart 

There’s a lot of discussion (or, at least, there has been in certain circles) on the approach to and the order of worship. It’s definitely an important topic; our vision of who God is matters, and our understanding of his character and how he desires to be known by us ultimately matters for a number of reasons: for one, if God is the object of our worship, the way he desires to be approached really should affect our approach. If it says in Scripture that in prayer we should let our words be few (Eccl. 5:2), then we need to change our prayer life to accommodate that heart. If it says in Hebrews that we have full access to God and to His presence (Hebrews 10:19-22), that should fundamentally affect our view of intimacy with God. There are some big nonnegotiable’s, but my experience has been that for most churches and worship leaders, there is an element of uncertainty in knowing what I’m allowed to do in terms of worship. I have personally seen worship leaders get torn apart in the push and pull of cultural pressures in a church community—if we’re not careful, we can all very easily get eaten alive by the demands of individual agendas.

That can be a dangerous tyranny when our theology hijacks Scripture. Our theology always has to be kept in check by the word of God, and our theology needs to be rewritten when it’s heretical.

Here are a couple things that we know that worship is:
1) Worship is eternal - we get a couple glimpses in Scripture (Isaiah 6, Rev. 4) of worship in the context of heaven. It seems as though there is this parallel reality where worship is going on nonstop, forever. It’s dynamic, it is passionate, it is reverent. It is such a powerful experience that when temporal things touch it, they are changed for the rest of history.
2) Worship is seeing God as he is and responding — there is an exchange that happens, where we literally behold the God of the universe and we can’t stay the same. Moses was changed at the burning bush (Exodus 3); Paul emerged from the man Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9); Simon saw Jesus as the Christ and became Peter (Matthew 16). We receive a vision of God as he is, and something about that realigns our purpose with the way that it should be.
3) Worship is dynamic — Jacob wrestles God (Gen 32), David cries out in agony, praises naked in the streets, questions the length of his trial. Believers sing hymns in the Acts, an eternal cloud of witnesses lies prostrate for over an hour in Revelation, then erupts with the cry: WORTHY.

This next and final point is why I wrote this reflection on worship today: all of these elements should remind us that in the context of God being glorified, worship is an experience that we enter into with immense freedom. I may not understand all of the elements in a Catholic or Anglican liturgy; I may not personally feel the tugging of the Holy Spirit to raise a physical banner over a group of people or blow a ram’s horn (both are biblical images in worship by the way—my acoustic guitar isn’t). But I can say that God has used these and many more experiences, images, instruments, formats, and elements to draw people to him and see them changed.

We can talk about our own communities culture and how to best serve people in the context of our city or region, but it’s a good reminder to remember these things bear absolutely no weight when it comes to what is ok to do in worship in the eyes of God. It’s freeing to know that God is not limited by our formats, and yet at the same time, he chooses to honor himself—and us—through them.

My prayer is that if you have been burdened with the question of what is pleasing to God in worship, that you are released to worship as he leads you and rest in the truth that he is pleased with you as His beloved son, His beloved daughter, through the work of Jesus.

Teach us, God, to honor you above all else, to run to you,
To be changed by your heart and your glory
As we see you face to face

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?


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 :)

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.



Join our mailing list for the latest news