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


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

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.

Sunday Recap – May 13, 2012

Contemporary Services

We had a very full morning with our four services, Mother’s Day, Worship Choir and everything else, but it was a very good morning!  “All My Fountains” is so much easier to play now that we’ve added the click track!  “Bless the Lord” is a great upbeat song of praise from Jared Anderson and New Life Worship.  This was our first time using “One Thing Remains”, from Bethel Live, and based on the response from the congregation today, it’s one that will catch on. We also used a very cute Mother’s Day video from Steelhouse Media Group called “A Very Special Mommy”. It was a big hit with the moms!  Pastor Tim continues his series on Galatians from chapter 4, which deals with two mothers – Hagar and Sarah. You can watch the video of this service and see the Planning Center details.

Cafe Connection Service

Zack led the team in the Cafe today. The team did a super job (minus one with a sick child). It’s so good to continue to see new young families and others come to this service.  You can see the Planning Center details for this service.

Traditional Service

  • “The Church’s One Foundation”
  • “Praise The Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him”
  • “He Leadeth Me”
  • “His Eye Is On the Sparrow”
  • “Mother’s Day Hymn”
  • “Take the Name of Jesus With You”

It was nice to sing some hymns we haven’t used in a while. We’ve used the “Mothers Day Hymn” for the past few years now, and it is one that always seems to be appropriate, although different verses are more appropriate as time goes by. You can watch the video of this service and see the Planning Center details.

This post is part of the Sunday Setlists blog at The Worship Community, where worship leaders share service recaps and setlists from today’s services.  Thanks for reading. Happy Mother’s Day!

Sunday Recap – April 15, 2012

Contemporary Services

I guess it was a Matt Redman kind of morning! I didn’t realize until I typed this all out that our second set, “10,000 Reasons” and “You Alone Can Rescue”, was written by the same duo! Jake did a great job on the mandolin solo for “10,000 Reasons”!  This was the week after Easter, and I’m not exactly sure why, but my voice was shot! For the early service there was hardly anything.  God is faithful, though, and my voice lasted through all 3 services.  I was so grateful for the rest of the team today!  You can watch the video of this service and also see the Planning Center details.

Cafe Connection Service

We had four songs planned, but ended up doing only three.  This was the service my voice was still not there, so thanks for Brenda and Denise for stepping up and taking the lead!

Traditional Service

  • “Blessed Assurance”
  • “God of Grace and God of Glory”
  • “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust and Obey”
  • “Be Thou My Vision”
  • “My Jesus I Love Thee”
  • “Rejoice the Lord Is King”

Since I was leading in the Cafe, Cherry led the team in here from the piano today. It was great to have Paul and Annette back from wintering down south! You can watch the video of this service and see the Planning Center details.

This post is part of the Sunday Setlist blog at The Worship Community, where worship leaders share their recaps and setlists from this past weekend’s services. Hope you had a great Sunday!

Easter Weekend Recap – 2012

Good Friday Service

This Good Friday Service was one of my favorites services we’ve done! I’m not sure what it was, but the whole service as an event seemed to flow well and everyone did such a great job on their parts.  It was a combination of music, 4 dramatic monologues of characters who were there at the cross (Peter, Simon who carried the cross, Mary, and the thief on the cross) and communion. We had three huge crosses at the front of the stage that were the focal point.  We used a video called “Scars”, too, which was very powerful!

A small thing that we did was to turn the lights down in the congregation and up on the platform. Seems like a simple thing, but I think it made a huge difference in the effectiveness of the evening, although I can’t really explain why.

I loved using three new songs from Paul Baloche’s The Same Love CD at this service! We’d already introduced “All Because of the Cross” in a service earlier so people sang out on that one. We used “The Same Love” as an opening special, and “Your Blood Ran Down” during Communion.

Linked Files:
Planning Center details

Easter Sunday – Contemporary Services

What a great time of celebrating Christ’s resurrection this morning!  The Band, Worship Team Singers, Worship Choir, Tech Crew, Pastors and everyone did such a great job in leading us in worship! We opened with Travis Cottrell’s “Alive Forever Amen”, which is such a fun song to sing! We pull it out about once a year on Easter, although it’s certainly a song you can sing any time of the year! My girls were singing the mouthful of lyrics on the bridge of this song all day long!  We ended the service a bit differently.  After the closing prayer, as people were walking out, we played “Like A Lion”. It was a new song for our church, so I didn’t want to introduce it on Easter, but I thought this would be a great way to use it. Several people stayed around and listened or sang along with the team as we did it. Eric did a super job on the solo at the start, and we were all rocking out by the end! As our sound guy said – he kind of likes the “5th Quarter worship”! Does anyone else do this type of thing?

Pastor Jamie did a great job on the Children’s Message (which is not something we typically do, but worked great!) and Pastor Tim’s message was great too! We used “A Very Special Sunday” video from Steelehouse Video Group right after the kid’s message. It was so good!

Linked Files:
Planning Center Details

Easter Sunday – Cafe Connection Service

Marv picked some great songs out for the Cafe yesterday and the team did a great job! Patti and Cafe Crew did a super job with the food too! It was hard, though, smelling the cinnamon rolls that were baking all morning for the youth group fundraiser!

Easter Sunday – Traditional Service

  • “Alleluia! Alleluia”
  • “Christ The Lord Is Risen Today”
  • “Worship Christ The Risen King” (Lyrics by Jack Hayford)
  • “Christ Arose”
  • “Because He Lives”

This was a nice way to start the morning today, with singing these familiar Easter hymns. Rick sang “The Easter Song” as a special, and everyone did a great job!

Linked Files:
Planning Center details

This post is part of the Sunday Setlist blog at The Worship Community website, where worship leaders share recaps and setlists from this past weekend. I hope you all had a wonderful Easter celebration this year!!

Sunday Recap – March 11, 2012

Contemporary Services

We started our message series focusing on the cross leading up to Easter today.  It also was Worship Choir day today so we had about 16 extra singers join us today!   Things went well, and all did a great job. The last song was added Saturday night by our senior pastor, and the team did a great job adding it in the last minute. You can watch the video of this service and see the Planning Center details.

Cafe Connection Service

Marv led the team in the Cafe this week, and picked out some great songs. The Cafe service is already super early at 8:00 a.m., so with the time change this weekend, these guys are super-dedicated and did such a great job!  You can see the Planning Center details for this service.


Traditional Service

  • “God Our Father, We Adore Thee”
  • “Be Exalted, O God”
  • “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”
  • “I Believe In A Hill Called Mount Calvary”
  • “Hallelujah, What A Savior”
  • “The Old Rugged Cross”

This crew had a very early morning, too, with Daylight Saving Time this weekend.  Even so, they did a great job, and everything went well.  You can watch the video of this service, and see the Planning Center details.

This post is part of the Sunday Setlists blog over at The Worship Community, where worship leaders share recaps and setlists from this past weekend.  Thanks for reading!