Song Story: Love to Tell

Hey you guys! It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here! I’ve been taking some classes and also working on songwriting!! Which I am suuper excited about! I’ve added a Music page to the main menu, which I will use to gradually post videos of my original songs, but may also add some here individually along with the story behind the song.  As a worship leader, these will most likely be songs of praise and worship for the church to sing! I hope you enjoy them! And if you’re a worship leader and ever feel like one of these will work well with your congregation or Bible study group and/or etc., then please message me via my Contact page and I’m happy to send you the chord chart!

Acts 3:6-10-“But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”

A month or so ago at my church, we were finishing up the book of Acts and our lead pastor was talking about how we, as believers, all have stories of encounters with Jesus. Not just the recounting of how we came to a saving faith in Christ, but also all of the times the Lord has been and continues working and moving in our lives and on our behalf. juri-gianfrancesco-655957-unsplashThe tendency can be to think that only those people with really radical testimonies have anything worth sharing, but that just isn’t true! All of us who know Jesus have stories of His faithfulness. Of His patience and compassion. The way He comforts and pursues us. Of how He works in even the smallest of details. Of how He gets our attention or how He sometimes redirects our course. The stories are as endless and varied as his people!

I love the above account from the book of Acts. First, the disciples are willing to share Jesus…it starts there right?  This man is aware of his own need and is willing to hear and receive what they say, and he believes and is healed. Then his immediate response is to get up and boldly go about showing and telling others of his encounter with Jesus as he leaps and praises His name. Followed by the people who saw and knew him being filled with wonder and amazement! Maybe we haven’t received a dramatic physical healing like this man, but we are no less broken apart from Jesus and our stories are no less remarkable! And you never know who might need to hear yours! May we be filled with renewed excitement over the Lord’s work in our lives and be bold about sharing our Jesus stories! And may we be quick to offer up praise to the One whose love for us is relentless.

 

Michelle Haywood Smith is a Jesus follower, image bearer, ezer, worship leader, vocalist, acoustic guitar player, aspiring poet & songwriter, blogger, reader, perpetual learner, chocolate acquisition specialist;)….and also a daughter, sister, wife, mother & friend. 

 

 

Cafe image by Juri Gianfrancesco, on Unsplash
Featured Image by ItsPortAdelaide, on Unsplash 

Gear Talk: What’s In The Bag

Hey worship leaders! Ok so let’s talk gear. I like to be prepared. Nope. I like to be over-prepared! Haha! Just ask my tribe. They’ll confirm this. Honestly though part of good leadership is planning and preparation. In an effort to serve the people on my team and the ones in front of me I like to be in the habit of anticipating every detail as best I can. It’s important to have the musical tools that you’ll need on-hand. Eventually you’re going to show up at church and you’ll realize you have a dead battery, or you bust a string, etc. Or maybe you’ve arrived at a new place for an event or retreat or you’re leading as a guest somewhere and their setup isn’t quite what you have at home. So to avoid potential issues I’ve learned to bring a lot of my own stuff with me. Obviously, this list will vary depending on what instrument you play, and on whether or not you have other elements planned like tracks or pads. And over the years this list has gotten bigger as I’ve added new equipment or figured out the hard way that there was something I missed.

I lead on an acoustic guitar and generally run pads too, so with that in mind, this is my current list.

  • Um.. my guitar. Obviously. haha! But actually if I’m going to be the only acoustic player then I’ll also tend to bring along a spare guitar. This is especially true if I’m going to be out-of-town.
  • Guitar Stand… nearly everywhere I go they have guitar stands. That said, I’ve been places where there weren’t enough of them for the entire team. But even if there are, I bring my own anyway because, well, I really like my guitar stand. I even take it to church with me every weekend just because I like it so much better than the standard ones we have on hand. Mine is this auto-grip stand from Hercules. The guitar hangs on it from the headstock. Which actually, over time, is better on the instrument. Plus the U-shaped base on the standard ones always seems to get tangled up with my cable and/or strap. User error on my part?  Ha! Maybe. But this one is heavy-duty and suuuper stable,  and for me was well worth the money.
  • A pedal tuner. Mine is the Boss TU-2. Plus an iSpot power cord. It can run off battery power too but I prefer to plug it in.
  • A wind-screen for my vocal mic. This is just one of those black foam ball sleeve thingys that slides right over most standard handheld vocal mics. They’re inexpensive and washable. I like them for a variety of reasons. They make using shared microphones more sanitary. So there’s that. But mainly I like them because they soften the ‘p’ and ‘s’ sounds, inhibit wind noise if you’re outdoors, and they allow me to sing right up against the mic without having to worry about bumping into the metal cover of the mic itself. Every time I work with a new sound engineer I always let them know that I’d like to use it and get their opinion on it. I’ve never had one ask me not to. Actually they all seem to prefer it.
  • Extra guitar strings. as alluded to earlier. Also a peg winder and needle-nose pliers/wire cutters.
  • Extra 9-volt batteries. And a battery tester. I’m in the habit of checking my guitar battery every time I’m leading. We have four services at our main campus (one on Saturday evening and three on Sunday morning)..and a dead battery in the middle of a service would be a major bummer. I unplug the instrument cable from my guitar following the Saturday evening service so I don’t drain the battery overnight. But if I forget… then I have fresh batteries on hand. The tuner pedal mentioned above can run off a 9-volt too. So if I end up in a situation where I don’t have access to plug it in, then I can always throw a new battery in it instead.
  • Speaking of instrument cables, I always bring at least a couple of my own, plus a patch cable for the tuner.  Any cable can eventually go bad, but at least I know my cables are in like-new condition, and are properly re-coiled after each use. On occasions when I’m bringing my piano along…then I throw in a few more. If I’m going some place new and unsure of the set-up, then I’ll tend to make sure I bring along some longer ones too, just in case.
  • My iPad.  Because whether I’m working with charts or just a set list, I use my iPad instead of paper. That said, I also bring along extra paper copies for myself.
  • I run my iPad hands-free so I also bring along my Bluetooth controller pedal. And the micro usb cable I use to keep it plugged in. It contains a rechargeable battery but I prefer not to depend on that, especially through a rehearsal and multiple services.
  • A mic stand holder for my iPhone.  As mentioned above I tend to run pads, which I am currently doing from my phone..(you can refer to my previous post on the subject for more details on that..), so I purchased this mount so my phone is at my fingertips.
  • A male to male, 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch connector cable to connect my phone to the system via a direct box.
  • Lightning cables and a dual wall adapter so I can keep my iPad and iPhone plugged in.
  • Extension cords.. in two different lengths. (Mine have three outlets each.) I never want to assume that any place I visit will have an extra one.  And you never know how far away the outlet is going to be…hence the two sizes to choose from. Also when I’m traveling I will tend to pack a power strip. All of these are black, btw. So they’re not overly noticeable or unsightly on stage..
  • My IEM’s (in-ear monitors). Extra tips, And a headphone extension cable.
  • A couple of capos. (in case one breaks…).  Pro hack: in a pinch you can use a pencil and a rubber band and make your own capo. Haha! I’m serious! Personally though I’d rather have a spare.
  • I make sure I’ve packed my guitar strap. And bring along extra guitar picks! Somehow they always ending lying around the house in the strangest places, or still in the pockets of all your skinny jeans, except for the ones you’re currently wearing of course.
  • Don’t forget the chord charts for your team! At least in my case I’m the only one who’s paperless. So I print copies of the charts out for everybody else. Including for the sound engineer and whoever is running the lyrics. And one last tip: if your service is outdoors then place the band’s charts in thin 3-ring binders. Your team will appreciate it. And so will you when no one’s music is blowing across the lawn in the middle of the service. 🙂

I think that’s it! At least for now. Like I said before my list keeps growing and changing as I add new elements or discover new ways that I can be better prepared and/or better serve my team. I’d love to know what some of you have in your gear bags!

Blessings on you as you continue to serve our Lord Jesus by leading His people with excellence! ~ Michelle

 

 

Michelle Haywood Smith is a Jesus follower, image bearer, ezer, worship leader, vocalist, acoustic guitar player, aspiring poet and songwriter, blogger, reader, perpetual learner, chocolate acquisition specialist;)….and also a daughter, sister, wife, mother & friend. 

 

Cover photo by Haley Powers from Unsplash.

So You Want To Be A Worship Leader?

“This is a trustworthy saying: ‘If someone aspires to be a church leader, he desires an honorable position.'”  

So you want to be a worship leader. It may not be what you imagine.

Being a worship leader can be pretty awesome. Those of us who have this responsibility recognize how blessed we are that the Lord would allow us to serve Him and His people in this way. That we get to serve Him doing something we enjoy so much is truly remarkable.

Being a worship leader can also be really hard. Preparation is time-consuming. We miss out on time with family. The tools of the trade can be expensive. It’s impossible to please everyone, even though we wish we could. As worship leaders we’re on the spiritual battle front-lines and Satan doesn’t want us to succeed. There is so much more to the job, as critical as it is, than the 30 or so minutes spent on that platform each week. So. Much. More.

Being a worship leader is a calling. It may or may not be your occupation too. If it is that’s great. But the source of your paycheck is irrelevant and has no bearing on whether or not you are called and gifted by the Lord to pastor His people as a worship leader.  Yes, the worship leader role is a pastoral one! And according to the verse noted above from 1 Timothy, desiring to serve and lead His church is a good thing! Not every Christian musician or vocalist is necessarily called to lead worship though. There are a variety of worthwhile ways that a person can use their musical and creative gifts to serve the Lord and other people that don’t involve leading in an organized church setting. And I’m so grateful for that! What a bummer it would be if we didn’t have Christian creatives using their gifts to glorify and honor the Lord across the spectrum of artistic fields!

Music is one of my very favorite aspects to God’s creation! It’s amazing! We see throughout Scripture God’s people utilizing music in praise and worship. But worship isn’t about music. Instead it’s a tool that we use. It is important that we play and sing with skill (Psalm 33:3), but it isn’t for the sake of impressing other people. It’s about honoring the Lord with our best. Because He is worthy of nothing less. Most people don’t realize that for the average congregational worship service, numerous hours are spent in preparation each week. And that’s how it should be! We want to lead well!  And that takes time, skill, practice, commitment, planning and constantly seeking the Lord in prayer.

Everything worship leaders do behind the scenes impacts the congregational gatherings of corporate worship, which is a vital element of church body life. Let’s unpack that a bit.

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We’ve touched on a few of these already.  Effective worship leaders will be mature believers and will possess skills in… pastoring, creativity, vocals and/or playing an instrument, music theory, music technology, theology, teaching, communication, administration, organization, stewardship and mentoring. A good worship leader will be willing and able to train and equip others to lead too. They are detail oriented, frequently called upon to troubleshoot a myriad of issues, and ideally will have at least a basic understanding of music production and live sound engineering. They must be adept at planning and preparation, and just as adept and flexible in responding to those last-minute, unforeseen issues or changes that always seem to come up. They should approach everything they do with humility and a shepherd’s heart, and with the understanding that no matter how much they know, there is always room for continued learning and growth.

So. You want to be a worship leader? Pray about it! Spend time in the Word and in private worship of the Lord. And then pray some more! Find an experienced worship pastor and talk to her or him about it! Ask the Lord to confirm that it’s what He’s calling you to do. And ask Him to place you where He wants! Scripture tells us that His plans for us are far more than we can imagine! So even if leading worship isn’t His plan for you, then whatever else He does have for you will be amazing! Evaluate your heart and motives! Also, take an honest assessment of your skill set then prioritize and make a plan for improvement. Consider the possibility of going to school or seminary to study and equip yourself. If you’re already a worship leader then the same thing applies! Prayer, Bible study, heart-checks, skill evaluation and training should be on-going in the life of the worship leader. You have a unique purpose in His kingdom! Pursue Him and be in the habit of cultivating the gifts and skills He’s given you for the benefit of His church and for His glory.

Ultimately none of us are worthy to serve the Lord. But by His design, grace and relentless love for us, it’s what we get to do.

Let’s do it well.

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Michelle Haywood Smith is a Jesus follower, image bearer, ezer, worship leader, vocalist, acoustic guitar player, aspiring poet and songwriter, blogger, reader, perpetual learner, chocolate acquisition specialist;)….and also a daughter, sister, wife, mother & friend.