10 Ministry Tools for the Non-Musically Inclined Pastor.

YouNot all of us pastors have the luxury of having a full worship band, pianist and an ear for music. Let’s face it, some of us reading this article right now can’t carry a tune in a bucket…and that’s okay. We don’t all have to have the gift of music. Scripture even points out the various gifts that we are all given and appointed with (Eph 4:11, 1 Peter 4:10-11), and just as the focus on speaking in tongues can become an issue, so too then use of music. Don’t get me wrong, music in worship can be most beneficial to the body of Christ, but it should be viewed as a conduit to deeper worship, not the desired end result.

Today, let us focus on this element of worship with the non-musical pastors in mind. If you fit this mold, then take note. My wife is very, very talented in other areas of ministry, but she will openly admit that music is not one of those talents.

There are many, many pastors in small churches or corps that do not have a musical bone in their bodies, and that’s okay. I want to help you find some tools to use within worship that will assist you and your congregation within and even around the conduit of music on Sunday.

1) YouTube Videos/YouTube Video Downloaders.
If you are not musical at all, you might utilize a plethora of Christian worship music on YouTube. There are even Youtube downloaders that you can use to have the videos accessible in places of worship where WiFi and the internet are sketchy or nonexistent. Using a video on YouTube could include modern top 40 Christian songs, a movie clip, or numerous other topics other than just music.

Don’t neglect the power of videos and or worship songs in your Sunday services. Feel free to be creative and intentional in the planning of your service theme too. Caution: This will take time, so don’t just throw everything together on Saturday night and expect amazing results…intentional planning takes time and hours. We are all busy people, but not taking the time to find the appropriate videos and/or music, is noticeable in our services (I’ve been guilty of this too).

2) iSing Worship (app)
This is a great app that does cost a little bit, but is a tremendous tool if you have a portable device like an iPad or iPhone. The app is free, but the songs will you about $3 a piece, which is only a dollar more than what you would pay for songs you currently buy on Google Music store or the apple iTunes Store. When you buy these songs, you then have the ability to include all of the elements of the song (i.e lead vocals, guitar, drums etc.). So, for instance, if you wanted to lead the song you could turn the vocals down and sing with the music like it was Christian Karaoke hour. Or iSing worship could become your worship band in a box by simply hitting play. Be sure, however that you plan the songs you are going to sing ahead of time and have the words either printed or displayed on the screen for the congregation to sing along.

Just some of the songs I have purchased and used in my services.The nice thing about iSing Worship is that once you select the songs you want to present on Sunday, it comes up on the display in front of you with the Lyrics as you lead the song.I highly recommend this app if you are willing to invest a little bit of money for the songs.  It adds an element of intentionality into your worship, even if you’re not musically inclined.
3) Recruit & Delegate
One of the challenges for many pastors, regardless if they are musically inclined or not is the use of other people in worship services.   Do not be afraid to ask other people to help out, or lead elements of the service.   In fact, a shared worship experience with other people leads to a better all around worship service.  If you’re at all like me, perhaps you are a control freak and you want to ensure everything goes according to plan, perhaps we have to come to the conclusion that we must trust the Holy Spirit as well as other people.
When we share the worship experience with other people, we share ownership.  Be picky when you select, recruit and delegate people to these tasks, make sure you are selective and intentional.  Find people who have potential as future leaders or already established leaders.  It’s okay to fail or have rough worship experiences with these individuals, that’s a part of the learning & discipling challenge!
4) Utilize your Youth

The apostle Paul told Timothy not to allow others to look down on him because he was young (1 Timothy 4:12)…the same can be said about young people in our churches and in the worship setting.  Use your young people, don’t discount their willingness and abilities to lead.  Teach them, disciple them as the future leaders by investing in them now within your worship services.  Have them help by reading a prayer, or scripture verse, a skit, or even by leading a song.  Some of your young people might be more musically gifted than you are – so cultivate that gift and use it in your worship service!Also, don’t let older people in your congregation overly criticize your young people.  We do not want to discourage their growth as future leaders, we want to encourage them.  Unfortunately most churches have the old grouches who grumble at anything new – even young people.  Don’t tolerate that behavior from any member of your congregation.  We need to disciple our youth, and this is a great way to begin to do that!5) Set the Stage (don’t neglect this!)

Regardless if you are musically inclined or not, we can become more creative in our church decor.  Don’t neglect the aesthetics of your worship space!  Take into account the seasons, the topics you are preaching on and use your worship space to reach all of the senses of the worshipper.  Use smells (plug ins, or spices, candles – but don’t let it become over-powering.  Use sites – place artwork up, or banners, build sets out of styrofoam and paint it…there are many links of Pinterest and other websites to explore and tap into our creative sides.
Use worship songs at the beginning of the service through cd/mp3/computer…set the stage with song (even if you aren’t musical).
When we actually plan the scenes of worship within our worship spaces we introduce our congregations to a living and moving God.  The stages and worship places are concerts or performances, but there is something to be said about being intentional with the sights and sounds (and smells) or our spaces for the purpose of ushering our congregants into the very throne room of God.6) Worship Band in Hand (app) 80F2AEDA-13F8-4F91-9073-5EC1C971B0E4
This app also costs some money in terms of purchasing the songs that you want yo use, but it comes with a lot of features and abilities.  You get one free song included upon installation of the app, it gives you the opportunity to try in it out and see if you like it.7) Auto Pad(app) DB7C4580-E865-4E70-90EB-D6A043897404
This app will cost you $2.99, but there are many features that this ambient sound pad contains that could set your worship onto a new plain.  Perhaps you use this during your sermon and the use of tone and ambient sounds can deepen the worship experience.   Using such a tool might require you to include/recruit others to help you operate the app while you preach or read scripture.  Give this app a try and experiment with its use in your worship service!8) Lead a Messy Church instead!  messy church 2
Do you want to break up the monitany of the worship experience?  Do something different.  Some have begun to do dinner church, while others have started to incorporate Messy church into the worship experience.  Messy church can be a great way to reduce your music phobia by utilizing stations through this very practical, teachable methods.here is a link to a few that we have done over the years – https://pastorsponderings.org/category/messy-church/9) Conduct A Quaker Service7256EF73-FB9D-41F8-A2CB-50ABA8C4E724
A Quaker service generally is not focused on music, but instead the recitation of poetry, prayers, and the element of silence.   This type of service might be a stretch to many of your congregants, even more so than Messy Church because of the use of silence.  Despite the drawbacks, using this type of worship setting, but be just the thing your church or corps needs in order to have everyone dig a little more deeply into their hearts and minds.

Here is a link for more information on the Quaker service

10) Prayer Stations/Artistic Approach
20A21EF5-8630-4240-9045-86461F35EDE7Conduct a prayer service with stations.
If you want to get creative, you can go onto Pinterest and explore the many ideas expressed there when it comes to Prayer Stations.  This approach takes the focus off of the use of music and onto a hands-on prayer service.  You could quietly play worship music in the background through your sound system and encourage everyone to spend the next 45 minutes at the many prayer stations that you have intentionally set up in your sanctuary.  Here are some links to help guide you in this:
Prayer Loom
Thy Kingdom Come
Scrabble Pieces
More Pinterest Ideas

These are just 10 suggestions to help the non-musical and musical pastor a like, for the purpose of creating a deeper, more meaningful worship service.  These are not exclusively ‘it’ for worship ideas, but just a primer for more exploration and worship developement in your corps & churches.

Please tell us what you use in your churches that help to make your worship experiences more meaningful and helpful to you and your congregation?  Post your commends below, we want to hear from you.

Something more for all of us to Ponder today.
To God be the glory!

Being Joyful In Hope…A Way Of Living

hopeThe List Of “Maybes”
<You are going through a tough time right now.
            <You are just having a bad day.
            <You have been in this dry, barren desert from some time now. 
            <You are on the brink of giving up.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” -Romans 12:12
Here is some encouragement for you today, and let me unpack it for you.Romans

Hope isn’t some wish that is granted by rubbing a genie bottle.
Hope is not about “Wishing” my day would get better.
Hope isn’t about dreaming a “better you” either.
Hope isn’t found by fully relying on one’s self.  Hope is provided. It is bestowed upon us.  Hope, like grace is a characteristic of God.  He gave us life, and now He is providing us a way to live it to its fullest.  Faith has a way of stretching us.  It propels us far beyond our comprehension of “what’s possible and available” to us.  Faith, not in ourselves, but in Christ plants the seeds of hope in our heart.  When we have this rootedness in Christ, we will begin to finally see beyond the temporalness of life.  We can begin to see a bigger picture.  We can start to scratch the surface of a hope that comes from God.


Patient in Affliction: 
Joy isn’t about being happy.  Sure, happiness is great…but sometimes it’s a limited time run.
We do go through difficulties in life.
We will not always be happy.
It is a myth that Christians MUST be happy all the time.
How is that even possible?  It would look awfully strange at sad events like funerals to be laughing with happiness in the corner wouldn’t it?
We will experience sadness as Christians.
We will endure afflictions too.
Happiness is not the same thing as joy.
Joy, like Hope is provided to us by the source of joy – God himself.
So that despite the situation, both good or bad, we might still retain joy within our souls.

simplicity-1-728The Heart of the Pondering Today:
I do not know what you are going through today, but I do know that despite the turbulence of life, despite the upheaval that happens from time to time – Hoping in the Almighty provides us joy and endurance through it all.  Can you trust in a God who is overall?  Can you hope in an everlasting joy instead of a temporary fix of happiness?  I’m not saying don’t be happy ever again, but we can tap into something so much more powerful and lasting than short bursts of a disappointing type of instant gratification happiness.

To begin, we have to be willing to let go of the things we cannot control.
It isn’t easy to let go of anything, let a lone a perceived type of control in life, yet, through prayer, through faith we will begin to see a hope that will restore our souls and place us completely submitted to God…in everything, every area of our lives.  This is probably the hardest thing for any of us to do, but when we do let go and when we submit to His purposes for our lives, the dynamic changes and we can experience this  joyfulness in hope.

Dear Lord, I pray for so many today who are experiencing doubt, despair and depression.  I pray for strength in my own life today.  Please provide us endurance as we place our all before you in complete submission.  Teach us what being joyful in hope looks like.  Reveal to us Your joy even in the midst of our dark valleys, Lord.  Be near us, and help us to live this life that you have called us to.  -Amen.

Something more to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

Finding Freedom…stop the madness!

What are you 
                            Enslaved to?

ImageWhat holds 


So many victims…
                                          so many chains.

Enslaved to the things we own…
                                                  or is it the things which own us?



Image what is it that is clasped to your life
                                                                   threatening to drown you?   Image


How the pressure builds and builds

What holds us back, keeps us chained
refrained and sometimes

Wouldn’t you rather be 
set free? 

To find relief.
                    from the grief, 
                                        the chaos
                                                      this burden?  







I don’t want to lug this anymore…
To push and pull 
and never improve this lot…


Why would we EVER
be satisfied with this? 
When there is real Peace
                       real Hope
                       real Life
                       real Freedom Image …

The burning question is…
Why do we still live like we are still enslaved

                                                 still imprisoned
                                                 still chained…?  


Something to ponder today…and find freedom, live freedom, be freedom for others still blind and chained.  


“My Ten Best Books of 2013” Via: DesparatePastor.blogspot.com

My Ten Best Books of 2013 (#2)

Bob Hostetler is a Writer and Pastor who also blogs at DesparatePastor.blogspot.com

Today’s post is the second in a series in which I ask pastor friends to list the “Ten Best” books they read in 2013 (to date, of course). Feel free to comment about any choices you agree with…or not.

Scott E. Strissel is a pastor and Salvation Army officer currently serving in Brainerd, Minnesota. He blogs at Pastor’s Ponderings. Here is his “ten best” books of 2013:

10. The Poor Will Be Glad 
Peter Greer & Phil Smith

Currently reading.

9. What We Talk About When We Talk About God
Rob Bell

Currently reading.

8. Jimmy Stewart: A Biography 
Marc Eliot

Currently reading.

7. Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from World War II 
Larkin Spivey

This is a good daily devotional reader which shares personal stories from soldiers who endured and survived World War II. This devotional both inspires as well as challenges our faith and also provides evidence of God’s hand of protection and guidance to men and women of faith. 

6. River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana’s Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon
Buddy Levy

This is a historical look into the European Explorer Gonzalo Pizarro and his Lieutenant Franciso Orellana who made their way through the Amazon. I love historic non-fiction books and when you throw in the investigative style with the awe of mystery, you’ve got a good read on your hands. 

5) The Way of Holiness 
Steve Deneff 

I received this book last year as a gift and I was blessed to pour through its pages! It speaks to the heart of our need for Christ-likeness in our lives, the process, and spiritual disciplines all the while personalizing it for the reader without making it read like a textbook. It is definitely worthwhile to read! 

4. Odd Apocalypse
Dean Koontz

I will admit some of favorite novels are by authors who not only provide suspense and action but those who write about victory with an underlined spiritual theme. Dean Koontz is one of my all-time favorite fiction writers because of his knack for writing in a way that engages the reader with humor and severely likable characters. 

3. Falling in Love with God
Bob Hostetler

Every time I read the book of Hosea in the Bible, I am challenged by its words. Bob Hostetler presents the love of God for His people and their wandering ways in a very simplistic yet thought provoking manner. Falling in Love with God was a page turner which also challenged my faith. 

2. Lincoln’s Battle with God
Stephen Mansfield 

Lincoln has always been a figure in American history I have always admired. To read Mansfield’s biography on Abraham Lincoln’s light and his spiritual battles was a challenge for me but also very enlightening with much that I did not know about this famous president. 

1. The Pursuit of God
A. W. Tozer

I must admit that this isn’t the first time I have read Tozer’s Pursuit of God, nor will it be my last. It has become a guiltless pleasure to re-read and seems to always find its way back onto my reading pile. Each time I read this book I am captured by God’s desire for us to know Him more deeply and this challenge to be like Christ in both word and deed. It is, without a doubt, my “go-to” book on the topic of spiritual disciplines.

Lost Passion in Ministry?


There’s an old joke that goes like this:

“A mother went to wake her son for church one Sunday morning. When she knocked on his door, he said, “I’m not going!”

“Why not?” asked his mother.

“I’ll give you two good reasons,” he said. “One, they don’t like me. Two, I don’t like them.”

His mother replied, “I’ll give you two good reasons why YOU WILL go to church. One, you’re 47 years old. Two, you’re the pastor!”


 The problem:

There are, in reality, many pastors who feel this way.  They’ve either burned themselves out by working long hours, or they have simply lost the passion.   When some of us started out as young, vibrant, on fire for God pastors we could do anything!  We could face giants if we had to…but little by little over time some of us are at that point where we just can’t seem to go on anymore.

No one enjoys faking it in ministry.   No one wants to put up a front in our ministries and pretend it’s alright when at times it’s all wrong.  Some pastors will get to the end of their rope and walk away from the ministry, burned out and disillusioned.   While some others will hang on at the end of their rope but they are only going through the motions and passion is lost.

Can you identify?  Have you been there?  Are you there right now?  It’s a very uncomfortable place to be indeed!  Having no passion to get up in the morning and minister to people that you may find hard to love and lead.   Many pastors who are here and try to gut it out by working longer hours and striving harder often find themselves in depression and marital troubles.  Why?  Because the balance of ministry and family has been altered to over compensate for lack of passion.

How do pastors who are in this situation recover?  How do ministry leaders face their flocks when this personal crisis comes along?  Some pastors have friends within their congregations but it is often very hard to divulge personal issues with a member of flock.  Leaders who go to church goers with their issues can create separate troubles after all.  It is very hard to find peers when in a ministry or ‘appointed’ to a location that isn’t home to the pastor in question.


 The Solution: (or at least 5 of them)

Steps to Recovering the Passion:

Here are a few suggestions that might help a pastor who is in need of finding their passion and way again:

1.  Take Vacation or a Sabbatical:

One of the top reasons pastors find themselves ministering without passion is because they have worked themselves to the bone.  Some are working 50 or more hours a week, striving to be ‘Super-Pastor’.  This passion over-compensator is very, very common within ministries of all kinds.  It’s not that work is to blame, but when one fixates on tasks instead of the purpose of the tasks we polarize our ministries.  Getting some perspective, collecting your breath is very important to reclaiming lost passion.

Someone once said that if God rested on the seventh day why do we think that we don’t need rest?  And this is true!  We as pastors need rest!  We can’t work seven days a week and expect to not suffer from burn out or family issues.  Ministry is requires a balance of pastoral and personal time and reflection.

Get away.  Plan a vacation without cell phone attachments or laptop involvement.  Do something that requires you to leave your work at home.  Spend time with your family.  Focus on improving these vital relationships.  Your family is your lifeline and anchor.  Without it in your ministry you might float away.  Invest in your family by resting together on vacation.

If you are able to and vacation just isn’t enough, ask your church denomination or district for permission to take a sabbatical.  Many times a sabbatical lasts between two months and a year. You might laugh at this notion, but which would you rather have a passionless ministry for the rest of your life or a concentrated holiday away for a relatively short period of time?

Rest is a vital component to recovering and reclaiming your lost passion once again.

2.  Read

The topics of our reading may vary but here’s an important tip:  Read both fiction and non-fiction books.  We all need an escape from the tasks of life, and sometimes reading a good fiction novel is a healthy way to take a break.  But don’t just stop in the fiction section; move on to challenging yet inspirational nonfiction.  There are many theologians and pastors out there that write excellent books for pastoral demographic.  Read up on their insights.  Take notes, highlight pages, find topics that inspire you.  Ask your peers and other pastors for some good books to read.  There is even websites now devoted to the recommendation of good reads.  Invest some time in reading more.  This investment has the potential of reversing the course of a passionless ministry.  Obviously don’t forget to consult ‘The Word’ as well in your search for good reads.  God’s word can be a salve in times of need and the Lord can speak to us through its reading.

3.  Join a Bible Study

Pastors and others in ‘the ministry’ often spend so much time shepherding and tending to the flock that they forget that they themselves have to be fed spiritually.  Even Jesus got away from time to time to be fed by His Father in Heaven.  Many pastors suffer from burn out and a passionless ministry because they haven’t taken the time to sit under someone else’ ministry.  We need to be fed like any other sheep in the pen.  Finding time to do this is difficult, of that I know!  But when we allow the time to find a fresh source of spiritual nourishment for us, we possibly reinvigorate our passions.

Perhaps there’s a church in your local area that conducts a bible study that fits into your schedule.  If nothing fits, then again look at your schedule.  Perhaps you’re so consumed with ‘the ministry’ that you are headed down the road of burn out…and that is not healthy!  Find the time!  Get to a group that you don’t lead!

Another danger in finding a bible study group as pastors is that we can either want to take control or become overly critical of the leader.  Be careful you don’t attend an ‘outside’ bible study solely with this attitude of ‘take control’ or ‘criticism’.   You will not be fed within this context and you will undoubtedly cause resentment either within yourself or others attending.  Instead enter a bible study group under someone else’ leadership with a humble heart and mind and listen for God to instruct you through these lessons or small group ministries.  Finding inspiration and passion in ministry has to have a source of fresh water and life, so to speak.

4.  Find a Pastor’s Group/Accountability Partner

Don’t pick a friend, or one who will say ‘yes’ to everything to share with them.  Find a mentor or another pastor who is possibly longer in the years of ministry than you are.  This may not always be the case, but it helps to create a disciple/discipler atmosphere.

Pastoral associations are okay sometimes…other times they run the risk of becoming a gossip group or a whine session.  Avoid these scenarios if you desire to restore your passion in the ministry.  Find not only one who challenges you but will pray for and with you as well.  We need to be challenged and listened to.  Being able to share our struggles with some in a confidential setting is also a vital must!

A Pastor usually can’t go to church member with issues.  It just doesn’t work.  Pastors, don’t neglect your times of being shepherded!  Allow others to come along side you in your times of need.  Seek out mentors on your own and learn from them.  Share and pray together as well.

There are times when pastors possibly need more than mentor as well.  Don’t be fearful of finding a counselor or a Christian therapist either.  It’s not a sign of weakness to seek out professional help, many people do.  Don’t let old stigmas of counseling keep you away from finding help in the midst of depression or other psychological needs!

5.  Pray

Do not underestimate the power of prayer in your lives and in your ministries!  Prayer shouldn’t be a ‘last resort’ tool, but rather a primary weapon utilized in our daily lives.  Jesus prayed.  We should also!  Remember the only source and power that will keep us going in our ministries is the power of God.  In order to be connected to the power daily and even moment by moment we have to be in constant contact with Him through prayer.  It’s our conversation and relationship to Him that ought to keep us going; our love and devotion which propels us onward.  This Christian life isn’t easy, and when we add the responsibility or leadership to that we find ourselves facing even more challenges.

Don’t live in a passionless ministry!  Don’t simply go through the motions when you get burned out or burned up.  A passionless ministry usually indicates something in life is either missing or out of place.  Face it.  Address it.  There are obviously more remedies than the five that I’ve listed but begin here, and my prayer for you is that you find your passion once again!

Additional Reads:







And the ministry of Mindy Caliguire


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