Worship Essentials

About the Book

I was excited to get this new book by Mike Harland called Worship Essentials. I always enjoy listening to Mike’s segments regarding worship on the Rainer on Leadership podcasts with Thom Rainer, and from his own WorshipLife podcast, so when I heard Mike was coming out with a book, I knew I had to read it. The title sounds good, but the subtitle was actually what intrigued me!

Worship Essentials: Growing a Healthy Worship Ministry without Starting a War is organized around four values that are necessary for any church that desires to have a healthy worship ministry.  Mike shares his wisdom from past experiences and failures, and from his time as Director of Worship at Lifeway Christian Resources.

What To Expect

Before getting into the four main values that shape the book, Mike takes one chapter of introduction. He talks about what defines true worship, and then brings up the ongoing but unfortunate topic of worship wars that have been going on in the church for far too long.

Then, Harland begins to describe the four necessary values, beginning with “Tell the Story”. First, he challenges the church to have a complete and thorough biblical understanding of Jesus, and have songs that songs that teach about Him and admonish and encourage the church from His Word. He also speaks about the importance of testimonies and stories from God’s people about God working in their lives to build faith.

The second value is to “Make True Disciples”, not only with those in the worship ministry, but with the entire congregation through the songs that we sing.  Mike described the power of music, when you combine the melody of the song with the truth of God’s Word. He stressed, though, how making disciples needs to be about more than just the music, but building into the lives of others, and making strategic decisions.

Then, in the third value, Mike gets more practical as he discusses ways to “Engage the Body” so that the worship service is not just a performance, but something where congregational engagement is valued and practiced. Mike gives some great tips for worship leaders about how to put together a worship services that doesn’t ignore or leave out the congregation, but is designed for them to engage in worship. Harland also touches on the issue of worship desecration, and why there is value in bringing the generations together.

Finally, Mike challenges leaders to “Aspire with Purpose”, by valuing excellence and eliminating distractions. He concludes by challenging leaders to lead like Ezra, to study, obey and teach.

A Must-Read for Worship Leaders and Pastors

Worship Essentials is a great resource that all worship leaders and pastors should read. Mike said that many of the calls he gets are from pastors asking for help with their worship ministry. This book is definitely a resource for senior pastors, to help them understand more about worship, and what it takes to grow and maintain a healthy worship ministry. For worship leaders, this book is a great challenge to make what you do more than just about music.

“We are not called to make music – we are called to make disciples” (p. 69). That was one of my favorite quotes from the book. It is so easy to have music be the most important thing because it is the most urgent. We need to plan setlist every week, rehearse the band every week, and that is the most visible area of our ministry to the church. But, it has to be about making disciples who use music to glorify Him.

There was only one chapter that left me with more questions than answers. That probably isn’t a bad thing, but I guess I was looking for answers in this area. In his chapter on “Worship Desegregation”, Mike describes how we ended up segregating the generations in worship, and talked about the dangers of having a service that is aimed at a specific generation with music and other elements.  He also writes about how a blended service may not be the answer, either.

In his response, I appreciate and agree that instead of having musical styles be the main concern, we need to develop a culture where we care about one another and the main concern is about developing a “healthy, disciple-making, legacy-building community of faith” (p. 121). I agree that it is better to have the generations together in the same room, instead of separated, and that music should not be the main concern. We have adopted this Unified Worship strategy in our own church in the last year, combing different types of service styles into one unified service.

I know it shouldn’t be about the music, but yet, we still need to sing songs in our gatherings. If it’s not blended, and it’s not age-segregated services, then what should a worship service look like that combines all the generations? What music should you include? That’s the only missing piece in this chapter that I would have liked further exploration and suggestions.

Over all, though, Worship Essentials is an excellent book that all should read! I finished reading the book and have a renewed fervor for implementing these four values in our worship ministry. I can highly recommend this book!

Barry Westman

Title: Worship Essentials: Growing a Healthy Worship Ministry without Starting a War
Author: Mike Harland
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group (2018)

Buy it at: Amazon

True Worshipers

True WorshipersI am always looking for great books to recommend on worship, and True Worshipers by Bob Kauflin is definitely on the list. If you have been involved with worship ministry for any length of time, you probably are already familiar with Kauflin’s previous treatise on worship, Worship Matters. Where Worship Matters is aimed more at those in worship leadership at their churches, True Worshipers can be read and appreciated by anyone, whether you are in worship leadership, on the worship team, or someone just sitting in the pew.

True Worshipers: Seeking What Matters to God approaches the topic of worship from the point of view of the everyman, since everyone is engaged in the activity of worship, whether they realize it or not. Anyone who is involved with music at their church in any way, whether you are singing songs in church from the congregation, on the team, or leading the ministry can pick up this book and learn something about what it means to be a true worshiper.

What To Expect

In True Worshipers, Kauflin explores many of the issues related to worship that he has seen Christians struggle with over the years, many related to our worship gatherings. Starting with the familiar passage in John 4, Bob explains what worship is, and that a true worshipper is someone who worships the Father in Spirit and truth. He explains how worship doesn’t begin with us, but that it is a response to who God is. Worship is ultimately about God, not us.

From there, Kauflin explores what worship looks like in the church, and makes it clear that worship is not only about music, but how we live our lives. We are to exalt God in both our heart and in our actions. As the church gathers, worship is both vertical, as we exalt the Lord together, and horizontal, as we build up and edify other believers.

Kauflin then goes into the very practical elements of worship, focusing mostly on singing. Why should we sing? What happens when we sing? He even addresses some of the questions that people in the congregation have about singing, like “What if I can’t sing?”, “What if I don’t feel like singing?”, “Why do we sing so many old and new songs?”, and many more practical questions.

Kauflin ends the books by talking about what it means to be in the presence of God, both here on earth, and concludes with a preview of what worship will be like in Heaven, when we are face to face with God.

A Great Resource for the Church

True Worshipers is an excellent resource all worshipers. Pastors should encourage their congregations to read this book. This would make an excellent book for a small group to go through together. Worship Pastors should definitely consider using this book with their worship teams! It would make an excellent Bible study on worship for teams to go through together. There is even a free study guide available at Crossway.org with questions for each chapter.

Bob Kauflin has once again given the church in True Worshipers an excellent resource that teaches people about a right theological view of worship, the importance of gathering for corporate worship, the value of praising God through singing in all circumstances, and the promise of worship in Heaven.

Title: True Worshipers: Seeking What Matters to God
Author: Bob Kauflin
Publisher: Crossway (2015)

Buy it at: Amazon

Finding Favour Coming to Bethel!


Finding Favour

I’m excited to announce that the group Finding Favour will be coming to Bethel for a concert on Friday, May 12th, at 7:00 p.m. You may not recognize them by name, but you will definitely recognize their songs that are being played on Life 102.5, K-LOVE and other radio stations around the country.

Finding Favour’s most recent album, Reborn (2015) includes their well-known songs “Refuge”, “Cast My Cares”, and “Say Amen”. Lead singer Blake Neesmith says that the song “Say Amen” is “a reminder of God’s undying faithfulness. He’ll never leave us! He’ll never forsake us! So let us take the good and the bad and remember that God has a purpose and a plan. In the fire, in the storms, or even in the calm we can stand and say Amen!”

Spotify Concert Playlist

When you go to a concert, it’s great if you know the songs that are being sung, and can sing along! So, I created a playlist on Spotify with music from several of the groups that will be part of this concert! Just search for the “Finding Favour Concert at Bethel” playlist on Spotify to get familiar with their music, or just click the link and it will take you right to the playlist.


In addition to Finding Favour, there will be three other groups appearing at the concert – Carrollton, Bonray, and Jamison Strain! The group Carrollton has been getting more airtime on the radio recently with their songs “Tell Me” and “Let Love Win.” Carrollton is a worship band made up of four men, and their latest album Sunlight and Shadows “presents an honest faith and an unwavering hope in God.”



Bonray is a younger group, and actually a family band, made up of four siblings! They have been together as a band since 2014 and enjoy playing and travelling together as a family. “The heart of our band is relationship with Jesus. He is the inspiration of our lives and music and we’re giving it all back to Him.”


Jamison Strain

Finally, solo artist, worship leader and prolific songwriter Jamison Strain will be appearing at this concert as well. Hailing from Houston, Texas, Jamison released his first full-length album in 2010, and his latest album, Beautiful Beginning in 2016.



Tickets for this full night of music and worship are on sale now at iTickets.com. If you go to their website and just search for “Janesville” our concert will come right up. Or, the direct link to the ticket sales page is: https://www.itickets.com/events/374651

Tickets are $15 if ordered in advance, and $20 if you purchase your ticket on the day of the show. There will also be a small service fee added to each ticket. So, buy your tickets early! Since our sanctuary holds around 330, and this concert will be advertised to the surrounding cities, buy your tickets early if you want to be sure to get a seat.

If you’re not comfortable ordering your tickets online, you can also call 1-800-965-9324 and order your tickets by phone.

I hope you will plan to attend this concert with these four tremendously talented artists, all whose goal is to glorify God with their music and talents. This also would be a great outreach event to invite your friends and neighbors to. God often uses concerts and music to reach people for Christ in a way that is unique. Hope to see you there!

Get your tickets here!

Pastor Barry Westman
Worship Pastor
Bethel Baptist Church
Janesville, WI

Pokemon Go and Your Church


Have you noticed random people coming to your church with their cell phones out, just walking around or hanging out? They’re probably playing Pokemon Go! That’s because most churches are designated places for Pokemon players to go to as part of the game.

Churches have a unique opportunity to reach out and connect with their neighbors because of this. I was asked to write an article for WeAreWorship.com about what our church has been doing to take advantage of this Pokemon Go craze at our church.

Here’s a little snippet…

“Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few months, you have probably heard about Pokémon Go – the game that is taking the world by storm. Based on the popular video game of the ‘90s, this mobile version gets players out of their house and leads them to various points of interest around their town to capture renegade Pokémon and store up on Poke balls and other items.

What does this have to do with church and worship, you might ask? Well, quite a bit actually, considering that pretty much every church in your town, including yours, probably, is either a Poke stop or a Poke gym. This means that random people from your community will be coming to your church to play this game. Since it a GPS-based game, people actually have to be within a short distance from your church in order for them to be able to activate the Poke stop or battle their Pokémon at your gym.”

Check out the full article here to find out how your church can take advantage of this unique opportunity to reach your community.

Barry Westman


Chad’s India Trip updates

Version 2
The team!!

June 21, 2016

The team left Bethel at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, June 21st, for India!


June 22, 2016

  • Update from Pastor Andrew: Hello everyone from Delhi! We all are alive, but a bit sleep deprived. Sharon met us when we arrived at the YWCA here and we ate breakfast and now showing getting clean before we go explore the city. Be in prayer for Abby as her luggage did not make it here. 😦 Be in prayer for tomorrow too. We have an early train to catch tomorrow too. Praises: Tired but attitudes are great. Great weather. AC in our rooms. Our team is excited to get to our retreat and meet everyone. Thanks for praying everyone. Update hopefully in another 24 hours.


June 23, 2016

  • Picture of Chad and Will posted today in India


June 24, 2016

  • Update from Pastor Andrew – Good morning from Musoorie. Internet is very poor and hard to connect to. I apologize for delaying a bit in our communication. Thursday was a crazy day. Most of us slept ok that night but the jet lag took a lot out of us. We woke up around 5:00am and loaded into our van and we were off to the train station. Arriving there about 30 minutes later we were surrounded by men grabbing bags and fighting each other for Sharon’s bag. Sharon just laughed and said “Isn’t this just exciting” and she had the biggest smile. For her it might have been but maybe not the word our kids would use. The train station was packed with people. Everything, the people, sounds, smells, vehicles are different. Sharon told us this is how it would be for us. Every street corner, every new road would be something new for us and that is completely true! Kids peeing in the road, street vendors, dirty, beauty and the TRAFFIC! I can’t go into details until we get back. It makes my driving look perfect! We took a 6 hour train ride up to Derha dun and that actually was pretty fun. They gave us tea and cookies, breakfast, tea and cookies again. Traveling the countryside did show the beauty of the this country and as we arrived in Derha dun it sat at the base of a huge mountain. The Himalayas. So, parents where this retreat center is having to be top 3 most beautiful places I have ever seen. The drive up the mountain was just amazing and unreal. The height and valleys and villages just perched on top was so cool. We are now at the retreat center and it is an old but big building. Build sometime in the 30’s if I am remembering right. Beds are ok, temperature is PERFECT!!! Last night we had a short session where they blessed and welcomed us, sang and had fun. Kids went to bed pretty quick after that. In our debriefing meeting everyone was struggling to stay awake. Today it officially starts! Sessions, games, worship-everything. Continue to pray for our health. All have been pretty well. Ambar and I were horribly carsick on the way up here but after she threw up- all better! Haha. Pray that this retreat is a blessing to everyone. I will try and update again tomorrow if possible.

June 25, 2016

  • Update from Sam Mall: Talked to Sharon this morning. The retreat is going well. Everyone seems to be  enjoying. Small groups really bonded with games and interaction. Enthusiastic sharing of testimonies. Saturday night dramatic climax happened with superb worship, singing, and dancing. Our tonight (their Sunday am) worship is expected to be awesome. Monday activity will include baptism celebration also. Hardships, limited amenities, monkey invasion on campus did not dampen the enthusiasm. Overall report is very uplifting.  Thanks for praying.  Couple of delegates were not well and needed some medical care. Our team is doing well. – Sam

June 27, 2016

  • Another update from Sam:  This morning I talked to Sharon again.  The team is down the mountain at a hotel with relatively better amenities  compared to the retreat center.  They came through safe and sound away from the monkeys. The monkeys are noisy and amusing. But as it is with all wild life, they can be unpredictable and appear unfriendly (not always cute) at times. Our team has done their part in building some good memories of God’s grace for many young people and leaders alike. They had a fellowship meal and a visit with Tree of Life team this evening (Our morning). I look forward to their first hand report of the experience and the trip.  Let us pray them home safe and sound.
  • Here are some pics of the monkeys that visited the retreat center they were at:


June 28, 2016

Lots of updates today!! They are back in area with better wi-fi:

  • Update from Sharon Mall:

    Written two days ago…we are now down the mountain and having some down time before heading back to Delhi. Tomorrow I take the team to a city of temples and pilgrimage on the Ganges where they can get some more understanding of Hinduism. This city is famous as the city where the Beatles went many years ago. Tomorrow evening we take the train to Delhi.  Keep praying still much ahead. So far it has been an amazing trip. The verse Lauren gave me when I left has been so significant. John 7:38.

    Dear Friends,

    Greetings from the beautiful Himalayas! We just closed an amazing youth retreat here…that was definitely an Ephesians 3:20 retreat! The teaching, worship, fellowship and games were awesome. The Indian youth and American youth mixed well. Today was closing day with pictures and send off in different directions in North India. As we sent them off we knew they had been filled up, refreshed, and were overflowing. We pray that from these young people Rivers of Living Water will flow to the parched places of India.

    The youth travel team that came with me is healthy and enjoying experiencing a new culture and making new friends. Today After lunch we went on a hike to the top of a mountain where there are Tibetan prayer flags. The view was awesome.

    Tomorrow one of the Indian youth is following the Lord in the waters of obedience. Our group will leave here after breakfast and do a bit more sightseeing and then head down the mountain to a very cold mountain stream. I am so thankful to be here because we have known this girl since she was a baby. In fact, Sam and I personally sponsor her schooling. She calls us grandma and grandpa in Hindi. She has one more year of high school left. She has become quite a young godly leader. Isn’t God amazing…to allow me to be here at this special time!

    Well, monkeys are jumping on the roof now. That has also been entertaining!

    I have several more days with the youth. They leave early Friday morning. I will visit network friends in Delhi then fly back to Kolkata for a couple of closing days.   …

    Please continue to pray. Much is still on the agenda. Pray also for Sam and for stability for my Dad. I will leave India in July 4th night. Thanks for partnering to bring freedom and release to captives.
    When you celebrate the 4th—Pray for true freedom for all who are oppressed!

    Love and prayers!

  • Some pictures sent from Chad (text and Facebook)
A selfie from India
The team!


June 29, 2016

  • Update from Sam Mall:  Talked to Sharon today,
    After getting done in Dehradun with a fellowship dinner with TOL families, the team had a good rest and in the morning they went to Rishikesh for a visit. They were able to visit with some of the retreat youth on their turf and in their fellowship setting. They  were able to develop friendships and witness the real life experiences of young believers and their families in the field. The very presence and  sharing to bring encouragement they ministered God’s grace as a team. They also did some sight seeing in the area and got to dip their toes in the river Ganges (No swim).  They visited the holy city of Haridwar (Look it up on Google) by the river Ganges and saw some of the temples and the city sites on the way to the train station where they boarded their train for Delhi. I talked to Sharon and Pastor Andrew before they got to the train. I talked again with Sharon while they were already on the train and as they reached the next stop on the way to Delhi. They sounded great and thus far healthy and positive. Today late morning our time (11pm for them)they arrived in Delhi and resting now in real time. till may be 9:00pm for us). Some last minute closure and shopping outing is scheduled while we are asleep here tonight.  The team will be ready to go to the airport to catch their flight home.  Please pray them through with safe travel and return entry. First hand rendition of the journey with juicy tidbits and personal touches will be upon us soon. – Sam Mall


Next Level Worship Conference with Dwayne Moore

I know that worship leaders have so many options when it comes to conferences, especially this time of year, but I would like to invite you to bring your worship team to a conference at our church on Saturday, April 9th – the Next Level Worship Conference with Dwayne Moore.  I have known writer, speaker, and worship pastor Dwayne Moore for several years, and I’ve appreciated his teaching on worship so much! His Bible study Pure Praise is an excellent Bible study on worship, and a very practical tool for worship teams. Continue reading Next Level Worship Conference with Dwayne Moore

NWLC ’15 Workshop Schedule (Alternate Layout)


Later this month, I’ll be leading a team of 5 members from our Worship Ministry at Bethel Baptist Church down to Kansas City for the National Worship Leader Conference. We’ve attended this conference for the last several years, and I would highly recommend it! It really is a highlight of my year, and I’m looking forward to another great year in 2015!

The workshops that are offered at the conference are always excellent, and a great way to dig in and improve your understanding and knowledge in several areas. For the past several years, I’ve been putting together my own version of the workshop schedule, and handing it out to my team. The NWLC team has done a great job offering an app and online schedule, but this version just lays it out a little differently, making it easy to see at a glance when each workshop is offered throughout the conference. I’ve had a few people in previous years see it, and ask if they could get a copy as well, so I thought I would make it available for anyone else who would like to use it.  Feel free to download this version of the workshop schedule for your use.

Click on file below to download the workshop chart:
Workshop Chart 2015 (Alternate layout)  (Excel version)

Workshop Chart 2015 (Alternate layout) (PDF Version)

If you’re going to the conference this month in Kansas City, I’d love to connect with you! Here’s my contact information:

Barry Westman
Facebook: facebook.com/barrywestman
Twitter: @bkwestman

Hope you have a great conference!

Worship and the Great Commission


The Great Commission, found in Matthew 28:18-20, commands all believers to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Song and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.” Another important command in Scripture is often referred to as the Great Commandment, found in Matthew 22:37-40, which says, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” These two passages are at the heart of evangelism and of worship.

It is easy to keep these two activities of the church separate in our minds, but they actually are not separate elements, or at least they shouldn’t be. One of the books I am reading for my Personal Evangelism class is called Worship and Witness: Becoming a Great Commission Worshiper. Our main goal as followers of Christ is to glorify God. This is done as we live lives of worship individually, and as we come together corporately on Sunday mornings. However, another way we glorify and worship God is to obey His commands and live a life of obedience. Obeying the Great Commission by making disciples brings glory to God. Also, regarding the Great Commandment, the authors of Worship and Witness say, “He called us to glorify God with unyielding allegiance, but our worship isn’t complete unless we also love our neighbor. If we fall in love with Christ and seek to glorify His name, we’ll also love others and lead them to worship with us.” (1)

Coming together on Sunday mornings to express worship together as the Body of Christ is a wonderful and necessary thing. However, our worship cannot stop there. “If the heartbeat of worship is obedience, then it is impossible to be a true worshipper without being directly involved in the command of evangelism” (2) found in the Great Commission. We are called to be Great Commission worshippers. We should love the Lord with all our heart, and love our neighbors enough to tell them about the love of Christ. Great Commission worshipers are those “who are so in love with Jesus, so committed to worship Him, and so devoted to obedience of all His commands that they simply cannot restrain themselves from telling others about Him.” (3) That sounds like a great goal!

1.  David Wheeler and Vernon M. Whaley, Worship and Witness: Becoming a Great Commission Worshiper (Nashville: Lifeway Press, 2012), 12.

2.  David Wheeler and Vernon M. Whaley, The Great Commission to Worship: Biblical Principles for Worship-Based Evangelism (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2011), 13.

3.  Wheeler and Whaley, The Great Commission to Worship, xi.

NWLC ’14 Kansas – Workshop Schedule (Alternate Layout)

On July 13th, I’ll be leading a team of 8 members from our Worship Ministry at Bethel Baptist Church down to Kansas City for the National Worship Leader Conference. We’ve attended this conference for the last several years, and I would highly recommend it! It really is a highlight of my year, and I’m looking forward to another great year in 2014!

There are so many great aspects about this conference – including the inspiring times of worship, the challenging speakers and the practical workshops! For the past several years, I’ve been putting together my own version of the workshop schedule, and handing it out to my team. The NWLC team has done a great job offering an app and online schedule, but this version just lays it out a little differently, making it easy to see at a glance when each workshop is offered throughout the conference. Last year, a few people saw it and asked about it, so I thought I would make it available for anyone else who would like to use it.  Feel free to download my version of the workshop schedule for your use. The information includes the most recent updates on 7/1. Hope you find it helpful, and maybe I’ll see you at the conference!

Click on file below to download workshop chart:
NWLC ’14 (Kansas) – Workshop Chart (Alternate layout)

If you’re going to the conference, be sure to let me know! I’d love to connect with other worship leaders!

Barry Westman
Twitter: @bkwestman
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/barrywestman

NWLC ’12 – Alternate Workshop Schedule and Registration Discount!

In a little less than a week, we’ll be taking a team of 6 people from our worship ministry here at Bethel Baptist Church down to Kansas City for the National Worship Leader Conference. I’ve been to this event for the last several years, and it really is a highlight of my year! I’m looking forward to another great year in 2012!

If you haven’t already registered, you can get a great discount from my friends over at All About Worship! When you register, use the code “AAW15” to get 15% off the registration price!

There are so many great aspects about this conference – including the inspiring times of worship, the challenging speakers and the practical workshops! For the past several years, I’ve been putting together my own version of the workshop schedule, and handing it out to my team. The one that’s included in the conference booklet is great, but this version just lays it out a little differently, making it easy to see at a glance when each workshop is offered throughout the conference. Last year, a few people saw it and asked about it. So, I thought I would make it available for anyone else who would like to use it.  Feel free to download my version of the workshop schedule for your use.

NWLC 12 – Workshop Schedule (Alternate layout) (includes changes sent out by Suzie on 7/10)

If you’re going to the conference, be sure to let me know! I’d love to connect with other worship leaders!

Barry Westman