A Season of Busy Blessings

Many things have changed in my life since Easter, and I realize that I have been moving so fast that I have not stopped to take the time to process and share it here on my blog. I want to be able to look back and remember what a blessing this season was, so I remembered this morning that it is time to share about what my family is involved in these days.

Back in the beginning of the summer, I was offered the opportunity to get involved in the college ministry at Westside Baptist Church. I am still the Minister of Music, but this is a connection group that had a need and the opportunity to teach was made available to me. I would say that I have been eager to teach a connection group class here at Westside since I arrived over 7 years ago, but the opportunity has not presented itself until now. Katie and I have partnered with another great couple to teach and lead our college ministry. The Lord blessed us with instant growth and success, for which we are so thankful. We have seen the class grow by nearly 200% on an average weekly attendance. I told the college students from the very beginning that I was excited to serve with them because they have a little bit more freedom and a little bit more money to go out and do things. We have already had a wonderful time getting to know these young adults and we pray that God will multiply our church through the energy, enthusiasm and servanthood of our young adults.

In addition to that new area of responsibility, I was also blessed with the opportunity to jump in as the interim youth pastor at Westside for a brief season while we seek a new youth pastor for our church. This has been a great reminder of a very sweet season of ministry that I was able to be a part of at Suncoast. We have already done great activities like Ichetucknee Springs, Summer Camp, and a few Game Nights. I have loved getting to know these students while encouraging them to live for Jesus and stay in Gods word!

Another item that has been on my plate has been the opportunity to lead some worship consultation for another great church in town. They were seeking their next worship Pastor and through a series of event, they hired DWC who selected me to be their consultant. Over the last four months I have experienced so many blessings and new friendships with pastors and potential worship candidates. Long story short, when I began to get discouraged, the Lord brought the exact candidate that He wanted for the job. We began a series of interviews and meetings and in the end, the church was thrilled to hire their new worship pastor. He had his Pilot Service Weekend this past Sunday, and he did a great job and was so welcomed and loved by the church. I am so thankful that the Lord used me to be a part of that process.

On Tuesday this week, I met with a Dean of Education about the possibility of joining the teaching staff at a Bible College. If you know me, you know that I have a great desire to teach in an adjunct role for Liberty University some day. So this is right in the same vein, as it would provide an opportunity for me to gain some experience and learn the ropes of teaching at a college. There are many details that must be measured and approved before this opportunity can fully flesh out, but it is encouraging to see the Lord work by opening doors.

What is the takeaway, or application for this post? Through all the busyness, I cannot allow these good things to distract me from the main thing. I must be diligent in my quiet time with the Lord. I also must be diligent to manage these responsibilities second to the responsibilities at home with my family. I believe we are doing well right now. That is a blessing. I heard a quote recently that said, seasons have a start and an end, if your busy life does not have a start and an end, then it is not a busy season, it is a busy life. Therefore, I seem to have more of a busy life, but that is how I like it. That is how I maintain energy. But I cannot allow my appreciation for busyness to rob my family of what is most important. As a result, we are very intentional to guard certain days and times together so that we enjoy this brief season of life together with our children. Surely the season of parenting has a beginning and an end. I like fast living, but I want that part to SLOW DOWN. Thanks for reading!

Happy Easter 2022

What a day at special day at Westside!

Just yesterday I was reminded about a great discipline I did for years early in ministry. Each Sunday night I would take a little time at the end of the day to give a Sunday Night Review of how God worked in our church that day. It is still neat to go back and read about those services and see how God worked in our ministry in the early days. I regret that I have not been consistent with that practice, however, when we have a weekend like we just experienced at Westside, I cannot help but share about what God did.

1500 People came to church! We had 7 people baptized! 8 people joined the church! 2 people made decisions to follow Christ. Great preaching! Great Musical Worship! It was an incredible day from beginning to end!

Our Musical Worship Setlist included:

  • Ain’t No Grave (Alive Forever Amen)
  • Christ Is Risen
  • O Praise the Name
  • Forever
  • End of the Beginning

A Great Day Because So Many Great People: Here are a few that stood out to me!

  • My Music and Media Staff
    What a team! I am so thankful for these people. They put in countless hours of preparation for Easter weekend! From media, to lighting, audio, instruments, vocalists, and everything in between, they hit it out of the park. So thankful for their service, their passion, and their leadership.
  • Justin and Patty Raymer
    Their son Jacob was baptized on Sunday, and they were so eager to be involved in our worship, serving both in the choir and orchestra that they asked Grandpa to come be with their son in the baptistry so they could do serve in their place. What a sacrifice. That would never be expected of parents to do, but it speaks volumes to their commitment to their place of service. I was blessed by it. I also got to meet their sweet grandmother who came and worshipped with us. Ruby was 97, and she said she loved the music!
  • Robby Youngblood
    This young man is a game changer. I am so thankful for Robby, his talent, his servants heart, and his passion for elevating everything he is involved in. Robby is a young leader in our church who goes all in to lead elements of lighting, technology and media. Robby was at church all day on Friday and Saturday installing lights and programing lights for Easter. He could be in many other places doing many other things, and we are so blessed that he serves with us at Westside.
  • Samuel Henry
    Another young leader in our church. Samuel is a senior in High School, and this guy is a servant, flexible, and skilled. He ran our first ever live feed wireless camera on stage, and he did it on Easter! He captured some incredible shots for the livestream! He served in a clutch situation and did an incredible job! So thankful for him.
  • Shawn Williams
    This guy, so faithful to come to all the choir rehearsals, and then on Easter Sunday he was needed to serve in the children’s ministry, and he skipped out on the main worship service to go serve where there was a greater need. I was sad that he wasn’t with us, but also inspired that he would be willing to sacrifice so much to serve others.
  • Brandon LaRochelle
    This guy is so talented, and he is always willing to serve and share his gift anytime he is asked. I am so thankful for all the amazing moments that he captured on Easter Sunday during our worship service.
  • Kindle Simmons
    Kindle is such a gifted young leader, she could have led almost every capacity of music on Sunday, and she was willing to sing with all her heart in the choir. She makes herself of no reputation and is willing to serve wherever she is needed.
  • The Encouragers
    So thankful for so many worshippers young and old who shared how blessed they were by our worship on Sunday. It was a moving and powerful service and I am so thankful the Lord uses us and blesses us through our worship.

Watch our service here and be blessed!

Welcome to Metro 2

About 5 years ago a handful of worship pastors told me about a special group of worship pastors called Metro 2. They discussed what a huge encouragement it was and so I looked into it. When I first called, there was a waiting list, and it took a few years to get the call. When I finally got an email accepting me into the group, I was told that I had to attend their conference, but the date did not work with my church calendar and therefore I could not attend. No attendance, no membership. So, I tried to get in the list again, and this year all the stars aligned. This past week I was blessed to attend my first Metro 2 worship leader conference. Let me tell you, it exceeded every expectation, and in 4 days, I was literally blessed with the opportunity to make new life-long friendships. It was such an incredible blessing for me personally and for my ministry. Let me use this post to highlight some of the most obvious takeaways from the last few days.

The Word of God was Fresh and Powerful

I was blessed and challenged by several different messages brought from the word of God. Chris Winford Brough us a devotion from II Samuel 6 that asked the question, Are you in a Spiritual Quarantine? We were reminded that our most important discipline must be spending time in the presence of the Lord through prayer and time in the Word. Loved the fun explanation that David danced before the Lord in his underwear in 6:14. There were many takeaways from that message, the most memorable being:

The worship leader must stand before the Lord, before he stands before the congregation.

We must confess when we are peering out the window in judgment of others instead go dwelling in the presence of God.

I was also challenged by Psalm 103, Matthew 21, I Chronicles 14, 20, Isaiah 30, Ephesians 6, so thankful for the emphasis on the Word of God this week.

Resources

One of the greatest blessing this week was a whole new collaboration of resources and ideas from worship leaders who are in a similar context to mine. It was unbelievable to meet 55 other worship pastors from large churches with a choir and an orchestra. Sometimes it is easy to feel like the style God has called us to minister with at Westside is unheard of anywhere else, and it was nice to meet several guys who are serving in a similar fashion with passion and excellence.

We had many great breakout sessions where we discussed everything from preparing for retirement to audio broadcast, we discussed choir ministry outreach, generational worship, staff meeting strategies, managing a large music staff ministry, Ableton, Music Publishers, Spiritual and Physical Disciplines.

One of the most practical takeaways were this list of questions to ask in staff meeting:

  1. What was good about this past Sunday at WBC?
  2. What was bad about this past Sunday at WBC?
  3. What was missing this past Sunday from WBC?
  4. What was confusing this past Sunday from WBC?

I believe if we ask ourselves these questions each week, we will continue to move forward in every area of our ministry.

New Friends

There were so many incredible elements of this past week, but nothing was more overwhelming than the warm and friendly welcome that these worship leaders gave to me over the 4 days we were together. I do not think I have ever been in a more welcoming and gracious group of people. I met men who made me feel like we have been best friends for decades. There was one particular man who I noticed greeted every single person that he walked past, and made every single person feel special and appreciated. I want more of that in my life. I met guys who do massive $200,000 Easter event and they were so down to earth and humble about how God is using them in their ministry.

Everyone was willing to share anything they had. Ideas, resources, cell phone numbers. It was remarkable. Finally, there were a group of about 5-6 first timers who came without our wives and we were able to spend extra time together getting to know each other, talk ministry, music, people, and theology. It was a tremendous blessing for me.

Thank you, Lord

In conclusion, I will just say, thank you Lord for this group of men. They have made a significant impact on me personally and in my ministry within just a few days together. I will be taking the things that I have learned and putting them into practice in the weeks and months ahead.

Lets have a SUCCESSFUL 2022

It is almost too late for a Happy New Year, start the year off right kind of blog post. I am sure that many people have already begun and already quit their resolutions for 2022. Well, here is something that I am focusing on at the beginning of the year that I believe will make this year a very special and encouraging year for me, my family, and my ministry.

The beginning of the year is a time for reflection and hope. I almost always have a feeling of hope when starting a new year. It is surprising that I can still be so optimistic at the beginning of the year even while so many years do not finish out the way that I planned then from the beginning, however, I remain optimistic and hopeful that this next year will be the year that I am more disciplined, more organized, more efficient, and more like Jesus.

I was listening to a podcast this week by Craig Groeschel (Listen to it here) and he explained that we often fail because of three main reasons: 1. We focus on the what, but we don’t understand the how. 2. We generally don’t see results fast enough. 3. Our negative self-perception sabotages our success. This podcast is really excellent and I believe that it will guide leaders to determine and establish systems to achieve a higher level of success in the year ahead. 

A few other takeaways that I captured from this podcast were some quotes I have heard Craig share time and time again, and yet, I needed to hear it again.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.”

In other words, just saying you want to accomplish something will not make it happen, instead, you must evaluate what measure of discipline is required to become who you want to be.

“My life and leadership is the sum total of all decisions”

We often think that the small decisions don’t matter, but they make all the difference. Success is based upon consistency in big and small things!

“Successful people do consistently what others do occasionally.”

There are so many disciplines in my life that need to be practiced more consistently.

Running. Eating. Contacting People. Blogging. Reading. Learning. The list goes on and on…

At the end of the podcast, Craig encourages his listeners to create 3 Leadership “I Am” statements that answer the questions: “Who do I want to become?” Here are the three four healthy identities that I want to achieve for 2022.

I am neat.

My wife would really love it if this creative man of hers would be a little neater. I will create systems that will encourage her in this area of my life.

I am growing.

I love to listen to podcasts and read books, but I go through seasons of ups and downs where I want to and I don’t. I will aim to have more ups than downs this year. 

I am healthy.

I need to say no more often when it comes to sweets and snacks. I am so good at saying no to a run, and so bad at saying no to an ice cream sandwich. Let’s change the systems that lead to this behavior.

I am influencing young people.

One of the most encouraging areas of my life is investing in two different student groups each week. I love my time with them and want to continue to make that investment a priority. 

Thanks for reading! I hope that you are excited and optimistic about 2022. One other goal is that I have at least 26 weeks of blogging at least 3 days a week. Wow! That will be a challenge! Thanks for sticking with me through it all!