Whom Shall I Fear?

by Louie Giglio


In the midst of the fray and fury, keep your eyes on Jesus. He is fighting for you. Emmanuel is near. Though accusations fly and the enemy assaults your thoughts, though people try to cut you down and drag your name through the mud, though schemes are launched and temptations roar, though your flesh fails and screams for revenge—your hope is in the One who fights for you. You are safe in God’s love and in the power of His mighty name.


Fear Not to Trust Me in the Storm

Fear not to trust Me in the storm,
I’m always very near.
I come thy needless fears to calm,
Then, weary ones, don’t fear.


Fear not, I am with thee,
Fear not, I am with thee,
Fear not, I am with thee,
Am with thee all the way.

I may not always seem so near
As thou wouldst have Me be;
But in the calm and in the storm,
I all thy dangers see.


Fear not to trust My mighty arm;
It bro’t salvation down.
I suffered much to give thee life,
To give to thee a crown.


J.W. Howe, Stanzas 1–3


Father, in the middle of the storm I am setting my hope on You. You fight for me and You are greater than all my enemies. Nothing I face today is more powerful than You. You are the solid ground beneath my feet. Thank You for surrounding those who surround me. Give me peace in the presence of my enemies, knowing that You see me and defend me in Your love. Amen.

Louie Giglio is the pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and founder of Passion Conferences—a global movement of college-aged people living for the fame of Jesus Christ. A dynamic and effective communicator, Louie holds a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Shelley, live in Atlanta.

God Works While We Wait

by Louie Giglio


If we are honest, we all hate to wait. In fact, most often we say something like, “I can’t believe this is taking so long; it’s costing me time I don’t have!” That’s because most of us consider waiting to be wasting. But it’s not so with our God.

God works while we wait. Even when you can’t see what He is doing, God is always orchestrating the events of heaven and earth to accomplish His purposes for your life. Trust in His unfailing love—love that moved Him to send a Savior from heaven to restore and rescue you. God’s plans for your life will not be thwarted. Wait patiently, knowing that waiting is never wasted when you are waiting on God.


Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Charles Wesley, 1707–1788


Father, I am here waiting for You. My heart and hands are open to Your purposes and plans for my life. Give me the patience I so desperately need and lead me in my waiting. Though my feelings may not be there just yet, I believe You are moving on my behalf right this minute, protecting, defending, preparing, providing. Give me grace to keep trusting in You in the face of the gale force winds of doubt that are blowing all around me. Anchor my heart in You. Amen.

Louie Giglio is the pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and founder of Passion Conferences—a global movement of college-aged people living for the fame of Jesus Christ. A dynamic and effective communicator, Louie holds a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Shelley, live in Atlanta.

What God Wants Pastors and Worship Leaders to Know

by on October 12, 2015 in —Defining Terms, —Worship and the Pastor

IMG_2467_FotorRecently I posted on What Pastors Wished Their Worship Leaders Knew and What Worship Leaders Wished Their Pastor Knew. Today I’d like to finish by suggesting a few things I think God wants both groups to know. These points certainly aren’t everything that can be said, but they might be helpful to keep in mind as we work together to serve our churches and bring glory to the Savior.

1. The church belongs to Jesus, not us. (Mt. 16:18)
Rivalry and disunity contradicts what Jesus came to do – make us one (Jn. 17:11, 21-22; Phil. 2:1-2).
If we think the other leader is taking away “our” time, the primary problem is the way we view our role.
Even though we’re on the same team, Jesus has appointed pastors to teach and lead in the church. At the end of the day, the worship leader should follow the pastor’s lead.

2. Our musical leadership and preaching are meant to flow from a life of worship. (Rom. 12:1-2; Heb. 13:15-16)
No amount of public fruit can make up for a lack of private devotion or the ongoing practice of sin.
If your devotional or family life is consistently suffering because of the time you give to public ministry, it’s time to take a break and get help.
God values our lives more than our gifts. He can use us, but he doesn’t need us.

3. We’re on the same team and have the same goal – to see God’s glory in Christ magnified in people’s hearts and lives. (2 Cor. 4:6)
Pastors use words while worship leaders use words and music.
In general, musicians need to remember to aim for the mind while preachers need to remember to aim for the heart.
The goal of our efforts should be to hear people say not, “What great worship!” or “What a great sermon!” but “What a great Savior!”

4. No leader will be effective apart from the the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word and the gospel. (1 Thess. 1:4-5; 1 Thess. 2:13; Rom. 1:16-17)
Neither our musical chops or our communication skills ultimately determine our effectiveness. God has established the means He works through and only He can bring the fruit.
We can’t add something to Scripture or the gospel and make them better than they already are.
What we win people with is what we tend to with them to. Rather than seeking primarily to make the music/preaching more creative, unusual, or innovative, we want to be faithful to make God’s Word and the gospel clear and relevant.

I pray that whatever role you serve in, pastor or congregational worship leader, you’ll find great joy in knowing that Jesus himself is building his church and the gates of hell – or challenging relationships with those who serve alongside you – will not prevail against it.

Bob Kauflin currently serves as the Director of Sovereign Grace Music for Sovereign Grace Ministries in Louisville, Kentucky.

What Pastors Wish Their Worship Leaders Knew


shutterstock_92514370_FotorThis past week I had the privilege of participating in the Cutting it Straight conference in Jacksonville, led by H.B. Charles, Jr. and hosted by Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church.

H.B. started this conference, now in its second year, specifically to influence African American pastors to preach expositionally. I was invited to be part of the worship track. H.B., along with his music pastor, Joe Pace, hopes to see more black churches singing songs that are theologically rich and gospel-centered. Not gospel like “black gospel,” but gospel like “Jesus bore our sins on the cross to purchase our forgiveness” gospel. While our cultural backgrounds are different, we share a passion to see the Word of God proclaimed in song in the power of the Spirit, and to see churches singing songs that enable the word of Christ to dwell in us richly.

For two of the seminars I was assigned the topic of “What Pastors/Worship Leaders Wish Their Worship Leader/Pastor Knew.” It was a little challenging because pastors and musicians vary widely in terms of their theology and practice. But here’s my attempt to pinpoint “What Pastors Wish Their Worship Leaders Knew.” Although this post highlights areas that might be problematic, pastors should regularly communicate support and evidences of grace in their worship leader before pointing out things that could be better. For the sake of this post, I’m using the term “worship leader” to describe a non-elder who leads the music during the gatherings of the church.

1. Pastors, not worship leaders, will give an account to God for the people in their church. (Heb. 13:17)
Pastors are ultimately responsible for the teaching and song diet of the church.
Pastors should know in advance what songs will be sung, and should play a part in choosing them.
If you want a pastor’s trust, you’ll have to earn it.

2. God’s Word to us matters more than our words to God. (Is. 66:2; Ps. 19:7-11)
Music ministry is Word ministry.
Don’t underestimate the value of proclaiming God’s Word passionately.
Seek to know your Bible better than your instrument.
Lead us to sing the Word, hear the Word, see the Word, and pray the Word.

3. We are what we sing. Therefore, choose our songs and lyrics wisely. (Col. 3:16)
You are discipling the congregation through your song choices and words.
For better or worse, our churches will remember more words from our songs they sing than from the sermons they hear.
Build a repertoire of songs that enable us to express the many varied aspects of God’s glory and the many appropriate responses, and make sure we’re singing them.

4. While song introductions can be helpful, the worship leader is not the preacher.
Your primary role is to enable the word of Christ to dwell in us as we sing, not to preach.
When speaking, typically less is more.
Choose good songs, and let the songs do the teaching.

5. Prayers are corporate conversations with God, not filler.
Don’t pray simply because you feel awkward or don’t know what else to do.
Use your prayers to speak for the congregation, not just yourself.
Model what theologically informed, engaged, Christ-exalting prayer looks like.
Don’t mix up the members of the Trinity, and don’t pray as though God has forgotten his name.

6. Your job is to support congregational singing, not overwhelm or replace it.  (Eph. 5:18-19; Rev. 5:9-10)
Make sure your sound man knows the value of the congregation’s voice.
If you constantly sing harmony, some of us will have a hard time knowing what the melody is.
Don’t assume your instrumentalists have to play constantly.
Pull back from your vocal mics sometimes, stop playing your instruments, and let us sing a cappella.

7. Truth matters more than tunes, but that doesn’t mean we should sing great theology to bad melodies or accompaniment.
Choose songs the congregation enjoys singing and can sing.
Occasionally try changing the arrangement, tempo, or feel of a song so the congregation can hear the lyrics in a fresh way.

8. Keys that serve the congregation take priority over keys that make you sound good. (Phil. 2:3-4)
We don’t come primarily to listen to you sing, but to lift up our own voices.
If you have to sing higher, try occasionally adding fills that heighten the impact and meaning of the lyrics we’re singing.
Congregations get weary if they have to sing a lot of high Ds and Es. If we’re singing F#s they’ll probably drop an octave or faint.

9. Don’t teach us so many new songs that we never learn them and so few new songs that we fail to benefit from them.
Learning about two songs every three months is doable. Learning 4 songs a month isn’t.
We have access to more songs more immediately than any time in history. Teach us the ones that we will feed our souls for more than a few weeks.
If your aim is to serve us, you won’t have to try to impress us.

10. Blaming sin on being an artist/musician doesn’t make it any less sinful.
Moodiness, over-sensitivity, procrastination, pride, irresponsibility, and laziness aren’t due to having a certain temperament but to indwelling sin.
Getting to know non-musicians in the church can provide perspective and encouragement.
If there’s anything in your life that might hinder or disqualify you from serving in your role, please let me know. I want to help you.

11. Your goal in leading isn’t performing, but pastoring and participation.
If the people in the church generally aren’t singing, you’re performing, not leading congregational worship.
Your job isn’t done just because you practiced. People have to actually sing.
Leading with your eyes open most of the time will communicate your care and help you gauge how people are responding.

12. You’re not the Holy Spirit, but you can depend on Him.
Music can’t open the eyes of our hearts, illumine our minds, our change our lives. But God’s Spirit can.
You don’t have to tell us to “sing louder” or “sing it like you mean it” or exhort us with “C’mon!” Give us doctrinal fuel and for our emotional fire and trust the Spirit will do the rest.
When you spend time in prayer asking God to empower what you do, you’ll lead more often with a humble confidence that is easy to follow.

13. Ultimately, Christ is our worship leader, not me or you. (Heb. 2:11-12, 8:1-2)
You don’t have to bring us into the throne room. Christ has already done that. (Heb. 10:19-22)
You don’t have to feel pressure or be anxious about leading us. Christ perfects all our offerings (1 Pet. 2:5)!
The more you point us to what Christ has done and is doing for us, the less we’ll see you and the more we’ll benefit from the ways God has gifted you.

If you’re a pastor and identify with some or many of these points, don’t keep it to yourself. More importantly, take your musical leader out for a meal and express your appreciation in specific ways. Then talk about what could be better. Who knows what God might do?

What would you add?

(Image courtesy of shutterstock.com)

Idolatry on Sunday Mornings, Pt. 4

By Bob Kauflin

I’d like to continue addressing a topic I began a couple weeks ago, that is, identifying the idols we may serve in our hearts even as we gather to worship God with His people. In previous posts we looked at music, tradition, creativity, experience, and liturgy. Here’s one more (well really, two).

Biblical Knowledge
I hesitate to include “biblical knowledge” as a potential idol. The reason I do is that we can wrongly pursue a knowledge of doctrine that is distinct from a knowledge of God Himself. We have to acknowledge this possibility or we easily fall into the error of the Pharisees, who took more pride in their “rightness” than in their relationship with God. We too, can be more impressed with the accurate theology in our songs than the fact that God has shown us mercy in Jesus Christ.

Doctrine and theology, humbly studied and applied, always lead us to fear, love, and worship God more, not less. For that reason, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for pursuing a knowledge of Scripture that didn’t lead to Him. “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40, ESV) As we grow in our understanding of and love for God’s Word, it should always produce a corresponding humility and godliness in us. How tragic that those who defend certain ways of worshipping God most vocally often disgregard the humility God esteems most highly. (Is. 66:2)

Biblical Ignorance
On the other side of the coin, we can exalt our ignorance of Scripture as we worship God, claiming that “words get in the way of worship.” At some point in the future I plan to share on the primacy of God’s Word in our worship. For now, it’s enough to say that when we don’t intentionally value God’s Word as the controlling influence and primary substance of our worship, other authorities rush in to fill its place. We are not more spiritual, nor closer to God, nor more mature if we think we don’t need words to communicate with God. God has always placed His Word at the center of our communion with Him, whether that be through song, prayer, or preaching. Through God’s Word we best come to know Who He is, who we are, and how we are to relate to Him. (Ex. 20; 1 Kings 8:9; Ex. 34:6-7; Josh 1:7-8; 2 Chron. 31:2-4; 34:29-33; Ps. 119; Ps. 19:7-11; Mt. 15:8; Acts 13:48-49; Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 4:13)

Bob Kauflin currently serves as the Director of Sovereign Grace Music for Sovereign Grace Ministries in Louisville, Kentucky.

Being Above Reproach

By Greg Brewton

above reproachAs a worship minister serving in the church, we must always seek to be above reproach. Our work is a holy work and deserves Christ-like leaders. It seems every month or so, I hear of a minister who has fallen and is forced to leave the ministry. I don’t believe a minister consciously sets out to destroy his own ministry by falling into sinful habits or practice. It is a slow drift that can be imperceptible at first yet takes a minister way off the path in a short while. Being above reproach is a constant fight on the part of the minister. We are in a spiritual battle for our ministries each day and if we do not recognize the spiritual warfare, we too will fall.

When thinking about how to be of above reproach, a good place to reference is Titus chapter 1. In verses 5-9 the Apostle Paul gives us a list of qualifications for elders in the church. Though every worship ministry position may not be considered an elder-type position, these verses should function as a checklist for the worship minister. Here is a quick listing of the characteristics of an elder: husband of one wife, children are believers, a steward of God, not arrogant, not quick tempered, not a drunkard, not violent, not greedy for gain, hospitable, lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, disciplined, holds firm to the Word of God, gives instruction in sound doctrine, respectable, not a recent convert, and well thought of by outsiders.

This list is really all about the character of the minister. The church leader must be free from sinful behaviors that would prevent him from being a Christ-like example for his congregation. The call to ministry is a call to holiness. Robert Murray M’Cheyne, well-known Scottish preacher from the nineteenth century said,

It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God. What my people need most is my personal holiness.

Though no follower of Christ is without sin, those who are ministers in the church must be willing to live to the high standard that is set forth in Titus for an elder. Ministers who will not live above reproach should not go into ministry.

Here are 7 guidelines to practicing being above reproach.

  1. We must be under constant nourishment from Scripture. Ministers who do not spend daily time in the Word are already drifting. It’s a dangerous thing to think that we do not have time for God’s Word in our ministries. (Psalm 119: 11, 105)
  2. We must reserve time for prayer in our ministries. Perhaps the single most important influence we have as ministers is being a prayer warrior for our homes and ministries. (Ephesians 6: 18-19)
  3. We must guard our hearts. Be on the alert for improper thoughts or emotions we may have towards another church member or staff person. Never be alone with a person of the opposite sex that is not your spouse. If you think you are strong and above temptation, you will be the first to fall. (I Corinthians 10: 12-13)
  4. We must avoid the appearance of evil. Think about how an action or activity may appear to another church member or neighbor. It may be an innocent activity, but if it looks improper, perhaps you should not be involved. Don’t destroy your witness for something you think you have a right to do. This is being above reproach. (I Thessalonians 5:22)
  5. Don’t put yourself in places of temptation. You know how you are wired and where your weak areas are. Run from these places. If you are viewing pornography, you must escape this sin immediately. It will destroy your family and your ministry. Put in safeguards to prevent you from slipping in this area. (Hebrews 12:1-4)
  6. Get accountability. Sometimes ministers can be the loneliest people. We must have friends and build relationships with someone who can hold us accountable. (Romans 1:8-15)
  7. Never handle money at your church. Always get someone else to collect money or get money deposited. (I Timothy 6:6-16)

Being above reproach can seem like an impossible task outside of the work of Holy Spirit in our lives. I need to be reminded daily how weak and desperate I am in my own strength and how easily I can fall. We are called to be holy ministers for Christ. We can’t do this in our own strength. Every morning before we leave our homes we need to seek the Spirit’s power to live the life of a minister that is above reproach.


Greg Brewton is an associate professor of worship and chair of the Department of Biblical Worship at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY


Storming the Castle – Preparing for Worship


By Dr. David W. Manner

CinderellaCastleOur daughter was five years old the first time our family vacationed at Disney World. After months of planning and days of travel, the final preparations for and anticipation of the first day at Magic Kingdom were almost too much excitement for her to contain.

She selected and laid out her clothes the night before for a quick change the next morning. Sleep eluded her with the anticipation of what was to come. She awakened early, quickly dressed and inhaled breakfast so she would be ready to depart hours before the park even opened. All conversation traveling from our resort to the park entrance centered on what she would observe, experience, eat, participate in, enjoy and then take home at the end of the day.

As we pushed through the turnstiles of the park entrance…she saw it…the icon of Magic Kingdom…Cinderella’s Castle. She, along with thousands of other children dragged their parents by the hands and screamed, “C’mon mommy, C’mon daddy” as we all stormed the castle like medieval knights.

What if our preparation for and anticipation of our worship gatherings exuded a similar excitement that could not be contained? Understanding the necessity for personal worship preparation is radically different than abdicating that responsibility to our worship leaders to create worship through song selections and worship actions.

Consider the following three suggestions for worship preparation from Norma de Waal Malefyt and Howard Vanderwell, Resource Development Specialists for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship:

1. Internal preparation of heart. Each worshiper carries the responsibility for personal preparation of his/her heart. If God calls us to worship him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), then we must ask questions about the state of our spirit. Yet, how often do we ask ourselves questions about our readiness of our hearts for worship?

2. Pre-arrival preparation. We may want to call it “pre-Sabbath” preparation. We can learn from the Jews who believe Sabbath begins at sundown. Our activities on the evening before worship will have a formative affect, positively or negatively, on our readiness for worship on Sunday morning. Also, our personal schedule between rising and the beginning of worship on Sunday morning will have a great deal of influence on our readiness of spirit.

3. Pre-service preparation. The short period of time between our arrival at church and the beginning of the worship service is also a critical period of time. Our interaction with friends reminds us that we are here as part of a body in relationship with others. A short while to quiet our spirits will enable us to leave some distractions behind and center ourselves in God. A time of reflective prayer can open our spirit to engage in conversation with God. Even the visual appearance of the worship space will have an impact on our readiness. How conscious are we of these critical minutes?[1]

Since worship does not start when we enter the worship service, it should not stop when we leave. With that understanding I would recommend a fourth suggestion to their previous list:

4. Post-service continuation. Worship continues as we leave the worship service. It continues in our homes, at our schools and through our work. This final step leads the worshiper in a continuous circle back to step one. Harold Best calls it “unceasing worship.”[2]

An old proverb states, “We only prepare for what we think is important.”


[1] Malefyt, Norma deWaal and Howard Vanderwell, Database online. Available fromhttp://www.calvin.edu/worship/planning/insights/13.php

[2] Harold M. Best, Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003).

Dr. David W. Manner serves as the Associate Executive Director for Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists with responsibilities in the areas of Worship, Leadership and Administration. Before joining the convention staff in 2000, David served for twenty years in music/worship ministry with congregations in Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Oklahoma Baptist University; a Master of Church Music degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and a Doctor of Worship Studies from the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies.