You know what it’s like. Somehow this week everything has been against you, a litany of troubling stuff – the kids, the car, the plumbing, the electrics, the traffic, the job, the shopping, the bank balance – and they all add up to leave you feeling wrecked, empty, frustrated and down. And of course you are on the rota to lead worship this coming Sunday.

You now have perhaps three basic options.

1 you cry off leading worship

2 you lead worship as if everything was fine

3 you recognise what’s been going on, so you lead from a place of brokenness.

1 is dangerous. God has called you to this. Don’t give up on your calling. Press into God for His strength to pull you through. That advice comes with a red flag of its own. Are you at a breaking point? If so the right advice might be to plan a break, a holiday, some quality rest, even some spiritual input, a worship conference perchance. Not this week, but very soon! We have to wise up about the state of our metal health, but balance that with a steadfast faithfulness that will not give up easily.

2 if you are a leader, this might be you normal option. You get your game face on and get on with the job. It’s not quite living in denial but it is summoning the strength to rise to the occasion – that amazing opportunity to be a part of that which lifts the spirits of the congregation that you serve. You will most certainly feel better after a worship session like this and God will honour you for your servant-heartedness.

3 is also an incredibly important option. This is you being vulnerable and hopefully curating songs to lead people through your pain and out into hope, recognising that there will be many who will resonate with your experience. You can certainly see this at work in some of the Psalms. Beware though of this becoming a pity party or of leading people into hopelessness. Even from a pit of despair we still look up in hope, after all, Salvation is a much broader word biblically than how we tend to use it these days. But of course vulnerability is also a close relative of authenticity. You must be authentic, otherwise what you are offering is not really worship. It’s how you do that when you are in front of the congregation. Maybe you need a personal worship time, just you and Jesus where you can lay all the cares and woes before Him. Then come before the congregation to lead them from the place of the renewed strength you have received.

In the meantime whether you are feeling like option 1, 2 or 3, if you are at a point of breaking, you need to be talking with your pastor and exploring options for moving forward. You are not indispensable after all! Together, can you identify someone who is or can be a part of your team who would be able to lead worship in your stead? If so, great – develop them and learn to delegate to them. Or are there worship leaders around the town or city who you could call on to cover? If not, there are tech means these days to provide a competent someone with the tools to provide some music for sung worship (I’d suggest this is the emergency backup option!). It will be different but importantly you’ve planned it and put it in the diary and you get to have a well-earned break.

There has always existed a confusion about the identity of the Church, at least to those looking on and even to many who are involved.

In the UK, we are surrounded by everything from the tiniest chapels to the biggest, grandest Cathedrals and they all fall under the rough heading of ‘Church’. The confusion exists because these are just buildings – often built very lovingly, creatively, beautifully and with a desire to model the glory of God, but still just buildings. The church is not now, and never has been, a building! The Church is the people – the living stones, the body of Christ and his bride to be. The buildings are there in Europe to keep us dry, and warm in winter when we gather together, and as spaces to welcome us as we gather.

It has been observed in this season of lockdown that the church has been closed. Well, no – the buildings have been closed for many, but the church has carried on meeting by a huge variety of means. Technology has been mastered to provide us with virtual meeting spaces. We are so grateful for the likes of Zoom, Teams, YouTube and Facebook Live (other platforms exist!) which have enabled this. We’ve also learned a lot about getting things to sound and look good so that visitors and regulars alike are engaged rather than put-off.

Importantly, together we have learned more deeply what it has meant for our own homes to be places of worship and the centrality of our own family altar. Worship is so much more than a song, so much more than a musical performance. The Holy Place is not about geography it is about an attitude of heart.

Since lockdown began I have been aware that I need to model the altar of worship in my own home; to welcome the Lordship of Christ into my own living space and to offer him my devotion. This idea sparked a conversation with my son about how we might do that together, capture the results, and then invite you to worship with us. So we set up our lounge with a keyboard, a guitar and a vocal mic and we picked 9 songs that I’d written, stretching back over the the years and sang and played our hearts out together. There were moments of joy and laughter and moments of deep worship. There we praised! It was a special afternoon – we had a lot of fun, and God was with us in the room.

Once we had had a good cuppa, we reviewed what we had done and saw that it was good, we also realised we could do something more with it. Thus began the painstaking process spread over many months, working around two very busy schedules, to add other guitar parts, vocal harmonies, pads and organs, drums and bass until we had really full sounding songs. The final mixes sound so fresh and contemporary, despite the oldest being 20 years or so old!!

Our invitation to you will be to join us as we release them after Easter 2021 and enter the Holy Place where you are to worship Almighty God – let us honour him together.

See you there

It seems like for years that a main thrust of those of us who teach and train worship teams has been to bring an excellent performance ethic into an already overflowing heart of worship. It comes as something of a surprise then that in our current COVID shaped landscape congregational sung worship has been chained (limited by governments fearing churches could become super-spreaders of the disease) with the result that the sung worship we’ve been training for has become diminished in its scope. Our on-line services are valiantly streamed with songs embedded in the hope that at home people will be joining in with gusto. But have you ever tried doing congregational worship on your own accompanied by your laptop speaker? Immersive it is not! Even with the rest of the family joining in, I suspect that there will be an abundance of self-conscious worshippers.

In thinking and praying about this I wonder what the future direction might be? As a result, I have some ongoing thoughts which I hope may help, particularly those in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches.

  1. All of that excellence must not be forgotten but needs to be channelled into getting the one or two songs you as the worship leader will sing as polished as possible. Yours may be the only voice heard. Let it be in tune and in a key to suit your voice. Let the music support and embellish that vocal. Let it breathe in order that the gathered few allowed in the building (depending on the size of that building) can at the very least reflect on the goodness of God and the depth of the sung lyrics (as opposed to being offput by a shoddy piece of singing or playing)
  2. If it is up to you to choose, pick songs which draw you to worship or praise, or which draw from the depths of your spirit offerings of thanksgiving. Be authentic to the gift that is within you. After all, people cannot in this current time join with you in song. But they will join with you in an act of worship if you are worshipping.
  3. Repetition in this season is of limited point. So pick songs which are already lyrically rich and which allow your congregation (both in the building and watching on-line) to reflect upon the depth of meaning of a song. This isn’t a plea to return to classic hymnody, but you would certainly find some rich veins to mine there.
  4. Since the congregation are currently not allowed to sing, there may be a case to find songs that they don’t know which are nevertheless worshipful but away from the normal staples of current public worship. CCLI has Hundreds of thousands listed. If the congregation don’t know them, they will be less tempted to join in regardless. Oh, and by the way, if they do join in, that could cause quite a headache for your pastor…  
  5. If they are not allowed to sing, what else can they do?
    I think spoken recitation and spoken prayer can be done – masks on please!
    How about reciting a Psalm? (Choose wisely!)
    How about doing a call and response prayer?
    How about borrowing some formal liturgy?
    In this season your job as worship leader isn’t just about choosing songs and singing them in services (not that it ever was though) but it is about finding ways to engage the congregation under your care so that they worship God. When the music fades worship leaders step up and still manage to create a space where worship happens, it’s just not sung worship.

This is a difficult time for worship teams and musicians. Perhaps it’s time to lay it all down again in an act of sacrificial worship that at the right time we will be renewed and ready to serve.

God bless all of you in this season

There rages a controversy across the world of worship leaders and singers. It can be summed up like this: we are here to lead worship, not to perform! This is taken as an immutable and reverential truth. Of course, it is just plain wrong! Before I dig down into what I think is a healthy and a right way to perform as a worship leader, let me first give you some background colour.

Step back to the era around the time of the reformation. Church was a pretty divided community. You had the priests along with the choir who would perform the services, and who would do so behind a highly decorated, tall wooden screen, by the high altar. The music was fabulously complex, often taking a couple of pages just to convey the first syllable of the word Hallelujah! Songs were sung over a congregation, not by a congregation. On the other side of the screen were the gentry, the peasants and all other communicants. Cathedral worship was a spectacle and in a world prior to TV, often the only visual entertainment to be had freely. Cathedrals themselves were remarkable spaces, filled with great creativity both in architecture and in art. Stained glass windows wrought ever changing beauty throughout the days and seasons both inside and outside.

Into this world strode the great reformers. Their understanding of scripture, freshly translated into vernacular European languages from long hidden Greek texts, brought new insight across the world of theology and its practise. One of the five principles they championed was The Priesthood of All Believers. For them there was no division between congregation and priesthood. We are all one in Christ – a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation. Another hugely important principle was the pre-eminence of the word of God. Gone were the books of traditions from previous teaching. The scriptures were no longer the preserve of the educated Latin trained priests – no, they were available in the common spoken language of the people. And gone were the elaborate songs. Instead, hymns of praise were raised using the language and music of the folk who attended. Martin Luther famously put fabulous lyrics to German beer drinking songs, the familiar tunes aiding the spread of this new Lutheran, reformed theology.

As this new theology settled across Europe and the New World, it resulted in some interesting ecclesiological developments. In reformed churches there were no screens – no division. Buildings were simpler and deliberately not ornate or embellished. In order to show the pre-eminence of the word, pulpits were often tall, but designed so the preacher was not viewed easily. It was after all about the words spoken, not the speaker. Music was congregational and theologically rich. In essence it leaned far more heavily on the ancient synagogue model of worship than that which it replaced.

The flaw (you can see it can’t you!) is that the church God designed is for people and people have personalities and faces. Indeed, recent studies have shown that human communication is 7 percent verbal, 38 percent vocal and 55 percent visual. If you only listen to a voice without seeing a person, you dip out on over half of what is being communicated. Over half! Remember these statistics because they will be important in a moment.

So, we exist today in this dichotomy of reformed theological thought: we need to see someone in order to understand the totality of what they are saying or doing, but we don’t want to see them in case we are distracted or misled by them in some way. We are thus left in this awkward spot of thinking that performance is a bit of a dirty word when it comes to leading and being led in sung worship.

A worship leader’s role is to select songs, and in conjunction with the Holy Spirit’s leading take a group of people on a musical journey into an encounter with the heart of God. In doing that they are operating in a manner not so far removed from an ancient OT priest. Why do they get that role when we are all priests – surely, they can’t claim that role? Yet in church as we know it, they get to do what they do usually because they are musically and/or vocally gifted. They are on the worship team because they have demonstrated character over and above plain gifting. So if you are more musically gifted and can demonstrate character in spades, get on the worship team and serve in whatever way you can; musically, vocally, words, tech, lighting, set design, costumes…. I run ahead of myself here!

That worship leader’s job is only so much about music, only so much about the spiritual aspect too. It has a lot to do with leadership skills and communication. It is a part of their role to be a significant part of the welcome someone gets. They draw people into community through shared songs and experiences. They also draw them along on a journey, a story arc of song, striving to avoid musical manipulation and working hard to keep their intention pure. In order to do that most easily they take their place on a platform designed for visibility so that through their leadership, the congregation they are serving can follow them along sacred paths of anointed music. If their direction is unclear, there will be those who falter. If their example is impure then there are those who will be distracted.

The question then has to be posed – how does a worship leader lead?
They do it skilfully, prayerfully and they do it through their performance. When they sing, their voice lives every word of the song. If their voice does, their face should also. Their body language needs to match the song meaning, conveying the nuances of a deep personal life of worship and devotion put into practice. Put baldly, if it’s an exciting song – they dance. If it’s an intimate song they kneel. If it causes their spirit to rise, then they raise their hands. These are very simplistic examples. But recall our earlier statistics – body language conveys a huge amount of information to those who are looking on. The message the leader demonstrates will help the congregation on their journey of worship. To list all the options is probably not helpful here but I say to worship leaders that their leadership needs to be visible. They need to be the living embodiment of every song they are singing. (It’s worth mentioning that this goes for the whole worship team as well)

As I watch worship leaders and teams do their thing, I realise that it is this visibility which is so often an issue. To take an incredibly intimate part of you and put it into the public domain brings a level of vulnerability and exposure that many find uncomfortable. So, the ‘rabbit in the headlight’ stare is common, as is the ‘eyes closed- all the time’ security blanket! Could it be that a part of the root cause is that these worship leaders are having an internal monologue as to whether they should even be there? They know that they are stood in front of people and that means they are performers but, that deeply rooted Reformed theology suggests they should not even be seen – they are thus in conflict. I think it is time that we recognise that leading worship successfully is often down to performing well, an area that is often ignored when training is given. That means the worship leader is attentive to musical issues, lyrical issues, communication issues, spiritual issues, service connectivity issues, relational issues and so on for the team and for the congregation, in fact everything connected with a good performance. If I am training people to lead worship, then that must be a core part of their understanding – they are performers communicating with and leading a congregation.

Training to lead worship must then surely look similar to training as a performer. A musical performer, perhaps a singer/songwriter writes a song about some major emotional turmoil they have gone through. It then costs them to sing it because every time they do, they will be re-living an aspect of that emotion. But they do it because they realise that there will likely be someone else in the crowd who will have felt something similar. If they do not sing that song authentically then the song falls flat, and people don’t connect. For that performer it will likely mean a loss of sales. So they put their emotions on the line and sing – be it happy or sad. Their chief aim is to communicate, to resonate with their audience.

So it is with worship leaders (and worship teams). They will have had some intense moments, caught up in the presence of the most high God. Out of those experiences perhaps songs or groups of songs have tumbled. For them to sing those songs is to explore those spaces where their lives have been (and are) laid open before God. And sing they must – with all the emotional possibilities that might ensue. There is an open possibility that the designated worship leader could be too overcome with God’s presence to even stand up. As they perform a song with all that it entails, the leader puts themselves into a position of openness before everyone else. Maybe rehearsal will have prepared them for the possibilities but often these moments meet us in surprise.

I trust this has drawn for you a form of parallel so that you can understand some of what is going on in a worship leader’s heart and mind. They stand in the role of communicator, connector, far more than just a singer or musician. In order to do that best, they must perform with all the skill that they have learned – and yes, performance is a learned skill – an art form in itself. Worship leaders – accept this truth – you are performing, and you stand before the King and before his people to perform – so do your very best. It may appear that a worship leader uses similar tools to a secular performer – but the secular artiste’s goal is to get everyone’s eyes fixed on them. Our tool kit might be the same, but our objectives are wildly different. The worship leader’s role is to use whatever means they have at their disposal to point people to Jesus. He’s the famous one and the absolute focal point, let nothing and no-one get in the way of His glory.

In late 2018 I had a chat with Andy Baker who was looking to stir up more songs from within the local church for the local church worldwide.

I felt that this was something whose time was right and I opted to join in with a group of songwriters who were helping to build some momentum for Homegrown Worship. You can read more of Andy’s heart and the story of Homegrown Worship and this link will also allow you to join their mailing list to stay informed about the future developments. You can catch the story of the various writers there too as their songs go public throughout the year.

Then, in a flurry of late year activity we submitted demos and started working on polishing, upgrading and re-recording them for radio ready release in 2019.

I was rather humbled to discover it would be me who would be picked to spearhead the new batch of songs for 2019 with ‘I’ll wait for You’. I was subsequently completely delighted to find that the song has been so well received, being taken up by many websites and making the Premier Christian Radio A-list playlist. You can catch it below – be sure to listen to it all – surprises await.

The intention for these songs is not just that they will provide you with a great listening experience but also that you can be equipped with all you might need to play it for yourself – here then is the lyric/chord chart.

I’ll wait for You

If you pop over to Homegrown Worship you’ll be able to access more detail about the song and how I wrote it.

Deep Joy


Though the day is long (Score)

Here is a basic topline/chord chart for this song.

For anyone who is fearful for the future, or who is feeling lonely, or who is under the weather, the circumstances and the struggles of life – this song is for you. You may face all kinds of issues but you need not face them alone.




Christmas is a season to be jolly.

 It’s also a season when your average church musician and worship team is probably at its busiest, and often not that jolly as the image, borrowed via a meme on Facebook, shows! It’s usually because they are struggling with the songs of the season. For some their difficulty is with unfamiliar carols that contain music which is strange and difficult to play. For others, the issue is with songs which over the years have become too familiar and the difficulty for them is to bring new meaning to classic carols. And of course lastly everyone is struggling with lyrics which are, to put it politely, formal English and full of deep theology (for ‘deep’ read no one understands them)!

 Three challenges then.

 1. What about these strange Carols then?

Carols often feature music which would have been Organ driven and that means to keep the movement and the pulse in the music, the chords change every beat of the bar. Not so tricky if you are playing on a piano, but hard, hard work if you are a guitarist. Those passing chords are out of our normal comfort zone.

Things to try

Practice – every year towards the end of November I actually spend time playing carols in my personal rehearsal. I want them to be familiar. I want to own them. That way I can if necessary conquer those speedy chord changes.

Simplify – if there are too many chords to squeeze in, simplify the arrangement. Cut out those swift changes. Notice that by simplifying the chords you will automatically have modernised the arrangement. Shift them to keys which work for you.

Reharmonise – try experimenting with different chords or variations under the same tune.

Rehearsal – the team need to immerse themselves in these songs too. If you change the arrangement, the team need to be on board with it.

 2. How to refresh carols.

There are some carols which are worth just leaving alone and accepting that they are what they are. But there are plenty of options for you otherwise.

Things to try:

Tempo – take a fast carol and slow it down, or a slow carol and speed it up. Sometimes a shift of 10 BPM can be enough to change the feel and freshen the song.

Groove – it’s not just the tempo, but also the groove, the feel of the song. Try a funky groove, a rock groove, a steady slow groove, a bit of gospel, some RnB – if you can pull off any of these, give them a go. If they feel like a good idea, rehearse it until it is great.

Listen – get a hold of what other people have done with some classic carols. I always loved Christmas albums which gave new twists on the ways carols could be played. One of those is Tijuana Christmas – Carols played on brass, with swing! What’s not to like. But it was one of those albums which challenged then changed my idea of what could be done. Of course, other Christmas albums are available, but listen to them and how the music fits together. It’s worth remembering that a Carol was a medieval dance tune to help celebrate the feast of Christmas.

NB. This is a skill which is worth using more widely since if you can tackle carols, you can tackle classic hymns.

 3 Theological or strange lyrics.

The lyrics of Carols can be a challenge due to their strangeness coupled to theological richness. Singers, there is only one way to conquer this:

Read – first off, Read the whole carol all the way through. It is remarkable how many people know the first verse of most classic carols but know almost none of the other lyrics. Read them all.

Mark – where are the awkward lyrical moments, and where are the bits you just don’t understand. If you don’t understand, you cannot sing with meaning! So, in our information rich age you can do some research on what that word or phrase actually means.

Learn – go beyond knowing the first verse. Learn them all. Maybe you look down a list of 20+ carols and that looks like too big a challenge. Well, break it down. Learn 2 or 3 this year, then refresh those each subsequent year whilst adding more to your learned repertoire.

Inwardly digest – the Christmas story is so enriching. To digest it is to understand it and to understand it is to live it.


So to all the musicians and singers out there, may I be among those who lift you up this Christmas. Thank you for all your hard work each year. And if these thoughts have come too late for this year, start planning now for next year, the make Christmas different next year plan! Sounding good already. Let’s work smarter next year and give ourselves a Silent Night 🙂





If you think the website has been rather static for the last while, you’d be right. I’ve been focussing on studies for an M.Th. and I should get the results back soon. But here’s me leading a stalwart band of fabulous musicians, singers and technicians at Malvern Priory for the 2016 Graduation of Regent’s Theological College. I will be suitably robed and doing my fair share of ‘doffing’ next year.

In other news, not only is Glory & Fire available by CD, but it is available through all of the usual on-line sources. You can search for me on any of your favourite digital music providers and you should find me. Yeay!!

I also took the decision this year to make “This side of Heaven” available on-line as well. You can feel all warm and fuzzy this year listening to the marvellous Welliesongs of Christmas through your on-line providers, be that iTunes, Amazon or . . . That means digital copies available right to you pretty much anywhere in the world. You’re welcome !

You could try this YouTube video for starters:




The feedback we’ve been having from emails, letter and messages has been incredibly positive. The comments have come in from the USA, Australia, India, Kenya, Brazil, Sweden and many other places including the UK.

This CD is great is the common theme, so you definitely need to grab a copy.

To get a CD

We’ve made it even easier for you since you can now buy it from the Buy Now option at the bottom of the page

But you can also email us at

with your postal address. You can pay  via Paypal, cheque or BACS.

£11.50 which includes P+P

Just last weekend we got the good news that will make it so easy to get hold of in all of the far flung corners of the world.

The CD is now available to download

Here is a link to the album on iTunes.

 also available on other digital media world wide.