Your Expression Matters


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I’m so excited about this resource post that I’m just gonna preface Dan Wilt’s fantastic blogpost and get out of the way.

Dan, in the teaching post “Smile: Why Worship Band Faces Matter”, gives some incredibly wise coaching about the power of our physical expression in corporate worship. Everything we do when we’re on the stage can invite our family into moving communal experience with Christ. We must reject the teaching that our spiritual and physical selves are two separate things and that only one of them matters in our worship.

Seriously, PLEASE click here and stew on this formative lesson from good ole’ Dan Wilt. There is SO much good stuffed in this post, and so much of it is practical and easily applicable with massive impact on community. We’ll be talking more in the upcoming weeks about how we facilitate communal worship experience and get ourselves out of individual ‘worship cubicles’.

Have a fantastic rest of the week, we love you guys!

Building Trust as a Worship Leader


“Worship leading is all about trust. Think about it. Worship is one of the most vulnerable acts in the universe.”

That quote and this week’s resource post comes from worship leader, blogger, podcaster, David Santistevan.

In his article, “7 Traits Of A Trustworthy Worship Leader,” David gives some fantastic reminders about what we’re really doing as believers leading believers in worship of Jesus. Our trustworthiness and worshipful lifestyle are just as critical as our musical ability. David lays out these 7, practical traits for us to be cultivating with Christ’s help:

1. Become a People Specialist
2. Spend Time With Jesus
3. Get Outside
4. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
5. Do The Work
6. Know The Scriptures
7. Exude Confidence

Santistevan goes into detail with each characteristic, so take a minute to read the full article here for some great teaching nuggets. Remember that trust in Christ should grow trustworthiness in His leaders.

Have a great rest of the week!

‘Orderly Spontaneity’



Alright worship team folks, this week’s resource post comes from Zac Hicks (blogger, teacher, and worship minister at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church).

Zac gives some really cool insight into our task, as worship leaders, of being obedient to the Holy Spirit. We believe that the Lord speaks to us and that we are called to listen for the Spirit in every part of our worship life. In both the diligent practice and the in-the-moment audible, the Spirit is equally present. Planning and spontaneity coexist as we try to discern where Jesus is moving in our worship spaces. Hicks does a fantastic job at looking into this beautiful balancing act of obedience in praise.

Read the article here and have a fantastic weekend!

Accountability In Our Worship Culture


Happy Friday, Worship Team!

This week’s resource post comes to you in the form of a FANTASTIC little blog post from Stephen Brewster. Stephen tackles the difficult, beautiful, and critical task of fostering accountability culture within our ministry family.

Genuine accountability is a “healthy and necessary requirement to any culture that plans to grow, succeed, and steward momentum.” (Brewster)

This team effort is often misconstrued or defined incorrectly in church circles, which commonly leads to a breakdown of the encouragement we need so desperately from one another. This is a problem.

So take just a second and read some wonderful thoughts about how worship team accountability “helps build good culture and puts equity in our relationship tanks.” Check it here!

Love you guys and we hope you have a stellar weekend,
– Matt & Grady

Talking To Your Drummers


Happy Friday, Vineyard worship family!

Today’s little resource post features a short but helpful article called “How To Speak Drums” written by Chuck from The Church Collective.

Communication is a massive and critical part of any worship ministry, and it is imperative that those of us that lead songs or sing can efficiently express what we need from our lovely drum folks.

Take a second, check out the article here, be praying for Sunday, and keep being awesome!

Worship Resource Smorgasbord


What’s up everybody! First off, I want to apologize that we didn’t make a resource post for you last week. That one’s on me (Grady). So to make it up to you, this week’s learning post is gonna be a smorgasbord of helpful links, articles, and resources for you. I’ll quote my favorite line or chunk from each piece below, but you should do yourself a favor and read any and all of these articles this weekend. There are some killer bites of wisdom to be found! Thank you for all you do as part of our church family, and for just being awesome (especially if you’re not a member of the Maryville Vineyard worship team but still like to read these things – you guys rock!)

Stewarding Ideas – Stephen Brewster
“We should never take our ideas for granted. Every idea comes with the responsibility to bringing that idea to life, share it with someone else, or save it for a more appropriate time.”
This quote is followed by one of the BEST lists I’ve ever seen of important reminders. Read here.

In-Ear Safety – Andy Swanson (of The Church Collective)
“It might seem counter-intuitive, but in-ear monitors (IEMS) are actually safer for your ears when used properly than earbuds or over the ear headphones. The reason for this comes down to air, or the lack thereof. How is this possible?”
Whether you love them or still wish we would ditch them, IEM’s are the bomb and protect you. Read how here.

Why Going Through The Motions Isn’t Such A Bad Thing – David Santistevan
“I’m super fickle. One day I can feel like reading my Bible and the next it’s the last thing I want to do. Having a daily ‘motion’ of Bible reading is healthy for me because I do it whether I feel like it or not. I go through the motions and I’m changed on the inside. We are shaped by our habits. We are what we repeatedly do (Thanks Aristotle, for that). If that is true, the motions we choose to go through are of utmost importance. They are shaping who we are.”
Wonderful post on discipline and remembering that it’s a GOOD thing. Seriously, read it all here.

The Fraction Principle: How To Make Beautiful Music By Playing Less
“In other words, if there are 7 people playing in the band, each band member only plays 1/7 of what they could play if they were on their own. If the sound adds up to 7 – i.e. everyone playing willy nilly what they would play if they were on their own, the music is dense, frenetic, and often downright stressful to listen to. When musicians are making space for one another, the music starts to breathe. And breathing space in the music… is beautiful.”
This principle is CRITICAL to what we do. Read further here.

And finally….

You Can Get Better – Stephen Brewster
“You have an opportunity. No matter what has happened in the past…you have the chance to get better today. Did last Sunday suck? Good. Make this Sunday better. Did your last presentation bomb? Awesome! Learn from it, adjust, refine, PRACTICE, and kill the next one.”
Never let mistakes or struggle cause you to quit or lose heart. Click here for to read the whole post.

I hope any and all of these posts are encouragements you’ll return back to. Bless you and have a great week!
– Grady Milligan

Intro to Nashville Numbers


Today, we’re going to look at one of the most helpful tools in the worship musician’s arsenal: the NASHVILLE NUMBER SYSTEM. If you’ve ever heard one of your worship leaders call out seemingly random numbers in the middle of practicing a song, when all you asked for was clarification on the next chord change, you’ve been exposed to the number system.

Simply put, the system uses the numbers 1 through 7 to represent notes and chords that are relative to the root note / chord of a song’s key. The root note / chord (G in the key of G, for example) gives us the starting point to understand this musical shorthand. Take a look at this visual, which starts with the note G and applies the number system.

1 = G
2 = A
3 = B
4 = C
5 = D
6 = E
7 = F#
8 (same as 1) = G

Since many of us in the worship band deal more in chords than single notes, it’s helpful to see this in relation to chords, like this:

1 = G
2 = Am
3 = Bm
4 = C
5 = D
6 = Em
7 = F# dim
8 (same as 1) = G

In the key of C:
1 = C
2 = Dm
3 = Em
4 = F
5 = G
6 = Am
7 = B dim
8 (same as 1) = C

It’s crucial to notice, when dealing with standard chords of the major scale, that the 2, 3, and 6 chords are minor. The 7 diminished is rarely used in contemporary Christian music.

To give a practical example of how this works, imagine you’re practicing an interlude in the key of G that will take place after a sermon. Your worship leader doesn’t want to make the next song super obvious or distracting, so he tells you to just repeat this pattern: 4 1 2 5. Before you panic, take an easy win. The 1 will always be the same chord letter as the key your playing in, which is G in this case. So now the pattern is 4 G 2 5. To fill in the other chords in the pattern, you would think of the visuals above and count up the musical alphabet from G to find the other chords. To find the 4 chord you count up from G like this: G, A, B, C and land on the C major chord. Counting from G to A is easy since it’s just the 2 of the scale, but you have to remember that it’s an A minor chord.

So with a little work from your brain and pen, you’ll hopefully land at the chord progression C G Am D

Another helpful activity that many, many teachers and leaders utilize is to simply write the number value of each chord next to every chord change on your worship charts. This visual practice helps to solidify the number equivalents of each chord you play and the goal is to write fewer and fewer numbers until your brain is doing all the work quickly. There are countless other drills and practice techniques, so explore the web or try things like quickly writing chords next to a list from 1 – 8 (like we used above). Whatever works for you.

I know this may seem like a lot to take in, but I can’t express how helpful and even necessary it is to get this system in our brains. Below are two links for an incredibly helpful video by The Church Collective and fantastic blog lesson from the one and only Dan Wilt. Both of the resources are phenomenal and probably explain all of this better than I can. Being able to change keys at a moment’s notice takes practice, but the Nashville number system is one of the best tools to help you show up and play with any group of musicians. And more importantly, this is one of many skills that allows us to get to the heart of worshiping Christ and past worry and insecurity. Hope this was helpful, check out these links (seriously), and worship Him as you grow.

Video: Introduction to Nashville Numbers: from the Church Collective

Blog Lesson: Dan Wilt on Nashville Numbers & Worship

Pray, Watch, Listen, & Remember


I was searching through the world of worship blogs this week, looking for something helpful from which to draw a helpful resource post, when I was struck by one line in particular:

“It’s not just about playing the drums, it about ushering in the presence of God with the gifts He has given you.”

Chuck, a drummer and worship leader from Lifepoint Church in Crestview, Florida and writer for Church Collective, penned that quote in an article titled “Four Tips For Drummers In Worship”.

Apart from just practicing and excelling at our musicianship and instrumentalism, Chuck encourages worship musicians to do four things:

& Remember

Whether you drum, sing, play guitar, or otherwise, I encourage you to read and reflect on each point, found here in Chuck’s post. Be blessed and thanks for seeking the Kingdom together through worship!

Worship In The Space


“People need open spaces to converse with God. Those spaces can be created with songs, but also with simple music played repetitively and without flourishes, and with silence.” – Dan Wilt

The quote above is from an article by Dan Wilt, an incredibly wise worship pastor and teacher in the Vineyard USA community. The article, titled “Kill The Music: When Music Gets in the Way of Worship” has tons of pertinent insight about one of the most important aspects of worship leading: opening space.

As members and leaders of a music ministry, we walk and worship along a narrow line. We balance artistic beauty, in response to the beauty of God, with a high value placed on space and simplicity, facilitating deep conversation with Jesus. Our hope and our call is to lead our brothers and sisters into spacious moments arranged for Kingdom encounter.

“It’s in those moments prayer can occur – a woman struggling with depression can taste God’s nearness, a man who’s mistreating his family can hear some straight talk from the Spirit, or a desperate soul who needs physical healing can be prayed for by others.”

It is critical, if we wish to facilitate this kind of worship space, to practice and study the art of listening. Just like learning the right guitar lead or having consistent drum set tempo, the ability to lean into a worship moment with keen awareness comes with training. And it is in the personal pursuit of Christ that we grow this skill. As Wilt writes, “We can never replace leading from the heart with leading from the music, and the heart can only be cultivated in the secret place – when no one but God is listening.”

Dwelling in the presence of God, learning to imitate our Father in the way He makes time and space for us, must become our delight and our priority.

If you would like to meditate further, I encourage you to read all of Wilt’s incredible article here, as well as any of the multitude of resources found all over Dan is a wonderful teacher, seeking to help others pursue Christ and lead their communities well.

Speak with Christ this week. Ask the Lord to grow your ability to recognize what He desires in each moment of worship. Practice listening in holy space by listening in holy space.

Peace to you,
In the name of Jesus.

Stretching Our Worship


We talk a lot, as a ministry team, about how the simple and subtle things we do can make all the difference during times of corporate worship. Everything, from keeping our eyes open so we can see what’s happening to repeating a chorus one more time, becomes a significant piece of what Jesus is doing in the room. As such, we should always be striving towards growth and training our worship leading muscles. Whether we’re on the stage or not, fostering a lifestyle of worship is critical to being able to call our church families into the presence of Jesus.

So what are some things that we can be doing on a regular basis to make worship a natural and effective part of who we are, as individuals and as part of a team? Practicing our instruments, memorizing lyrics, and knowing our stage tech are things that help us make the music of worship, but what other training habits can help us stay focused on the heart of what we do?

Tanya Riches, an Australian worship leader and student at Fuller Theological Seminary, wrote an article titled “Beyond Comfort” containing 10 fantastic practices for leaders of worship. Below is a list of the things that Tanya reminds us are exceptionally helpful to bear in mind:

  1. Cultivate Love For God’s Presence
  2. Keep The Right Audience In Mind
  3. Work Towards Unity Within Church Leadership
  4. Teach Your Church To Worship, Not Just Sing
  5. You Don’t Have To Be Perfect
  6. Get To Know Your Community
  7. Find Out How New People Experience Your Church
  8. Church Isn’t The Building
  9. Practice Love After The Service
  10. Be Open To Change

If you click here, you can read all of the “Beyond Comfort” article and study further. Take time this week to speak with Jesus about what you are doing well and also where your worship blind-spots might be. It is a joy and an honor to lead God’s people in praise, so let’s celebrate the Lord’s gifts while letting Him grow us more and more.

Blessings and peace to you, in the name of Jesus.