Great Music AND Transformative Leadership

Here’s what the path of least resistance often looks like for some of us who lead worship communities:

We surround ourselves with the best musicians we can find and sing the most popular songs available. As things come together, we experience a rush of emotion and satisfaction. But this fades over time as tips and techniques become more important than prayer and time with God. We end up wondering why we’re not more appreciated, happy and loved. So we crank everything up another notch–hoping the intensity will increase the sense of intimacy with God we’re longing for. But it doesn’t, and we risk becoming another statistic: one more choir director/worship leader who stays less than 36 months in one church… just long enough to figure out where the good restaurants are.

Or, we can pursue a more excellent way:

1. Make Prayer the First Act Rather than the Last Resort.
Jer. 33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” When we make prayer a priority, God can lead us. This is essential when making decisions for a worship community. What songs should we choose? Pray! Who should be on the worship team? Pray! How can we create a worship experience that is challenging and life-altering? Pray!

If you’re a worship leader, make daily prayer as regular as eating and sleeping. If you’re searching for a worship leader, find someone who lives out this priority.

2. Focus On Our Prayer Life Before Our Set-List.
A well-conceived set-list is important in the same way a well-constructed sermon is important, but it’s no substitute for a committed prayer life. If anything, it’s the result of one!

A leader with a vibrant prayer life will inevitably develop an awareness of God’s presence. Unfortunately, many worship leaders today feel pressured to simply sing the latest, most popular songs as if these have power to conjure up the presence of God. Again, there’s nothing wrong with new songs–but it’s essential that we prioritize actions that will actually affect outcomes.

If you’re a worship leader, consider investing more time in preparatory prayer and see what God does!

3. Learn to Worship Away from the Stage.
While a few hours on Sunday morning may constitute our “worship service,” our “true and proper worship” (Ro. 12:1) happens the other 165 hours or so a week when we are intentionally living for God’s glory. Jesus said his Father was seeking those who would worship Him in spirit and truth. Both are necessary for God-honoring worship. We worship Him based on the truth of who He is and the truth of who we are in Him. We worship with our whole heart and in total submission to Him. When we practice worship this way, we declare that God is worthy of our reverence.

If you’re a worship leader (or even if you’re not!), learn to live—not just lead—worship.

Prayer does change things; but mostly it changes us. There are lots of talented people in the world, but that doesn’t mean they have the capacity to lead and love a congregation and build long-lasting relationships. If we really want to take our music ministry to the next level, this will–more often than not–require us to spend more time on our faces before God. That’s when we’ll start to see true transformation.

Talk is cheap…but doesn’t have to be!

Worship leaders often ask me how much talking should be included during a worship set. Like you, I’ve been in worship services where there was a mini-sermon between each song. Other times, the music felt more like a concert where nothing much was communicated except the songs. So here are three simple thoughts about talking through transitions:

1. Only say something if you have something to say. Let that sink in: only say something if you have something to say. Our role as worship leaders requires discernment. We’re not cheerleaders with megaphones. We’re not party-hosts at a casual 4th of July barbecue. Rather, our collective worship is to be a profound experience where we are connected to God and to one another through song, prayer, Scripture and spoken word. What we say matters.

2. God’s Word can be the perfect word. And if we’re going to speak, remember that there’s often nothing more powerful than a short passage of scripture, especially when we invite the congregation to read it aloud with us. It can do more than just connect the songs together with the sermon, God’s Word actually transforms us as we focus on worshiping Him.

3. Even though we’re onstage, it’s not about us. My friend Vince Wilcox blogged about the importance of not being glib as we engage the congregation [Read “How Y’all Doing!” article here]. His point wasn’t that we shouldn’t greet folks with joy and enthusiasm–because we obviously can and should. Rather, his point was–as worship leaders–we should care more about loving our people and praising God than falling prey to the power of the microphone..

So let’s use our words meaningfully and sparingly as we lead. To paraphrase John the Baptist in John 3:30: “As we decrease, we can allow Christ to increase.”

God Sings

Can you imagine hearing God sing over you? Can you picture Him rejoicing over you? What must that sound like? Look like? Take a moment and close your eyes and imagine. Allow your mind to picture the God of the Universe dancing, rejoicing and singing. Over you! Several years ago I didn’t know a verse existed that mentioned God singing. But tucked away in the third chapter of Zephaniah, verse 17, it was there all along.

“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Wow. Think about it. Why would God, who is perfect, sing and rejoice over us when we aren’t? I know we’re his children but as kids I don’t think any of us remember our parents singing and rejoicing over us right after we disappointed them. Do we? I love that His promise isn’t based on what we do. It’s just what He does.

This article is purposefully short. It doesn’t come with 3 points and a prayer. It’s simply here to remind you of the great truth found in this verse. If it’s the first time you’ve been introduced to the idea that God sings, welcome to another one of God’s blessings.

Put your trust in Him and know that even when you’ve had a tough day, or when you’ve failed him, He still sings over you.

Holy Rain

Growing up in the South, we always referred to a slow rain as a sprinkling. Others called it a mist or a drizzle. Whatever you call it, it gets everything wet. If you watch the grass or a bed of flowers during a sprinkling, it seems like the flowers take on a different personality. And the grass seems to spring to attention as if the rain has somehow caused it to realize its full potential.

I love the rain. I love to listen to the rain.

When I was eight years old my grandparents lived in an old farm house surrounded by pecan trees and gnats. There were many afternoons when the sky produced clouds and an afternoon shower. After a shower the evening became muggy or cool, depending on the time of year. But one thing was certain at any time of year: the rain changed everything. There was nothing quite like sitting on my grandparents’ front porch in their old gray wooden swing, listening as the rain poured onto the tin roof. Years later, I still enjoy a good rain. Not the kind that comes with harsh winds, thunder, and lightning, but the gentle kind: sprinklings, afternoon showers.

Sometimes I experience an altogether different kind of rain. I can’t see it. I can’t touch it. I can’t smell it. But I can feel it. It permeates every nook and cranny of my being. I call it a holy rain. I don’t know why, really. I guess because the same God who causes the rain outside to fall also has something to do with this rain as well, and it feels very similar.

Have you ever been in the middle of a bad or difficult situation where you didn’t know what to do but then you felt calm around you? Have you ever experienced peace when your mind was in turmoil? I have, and it’s really much like the rain in a way. If you imagine peace falling just like the rain, all around, soaking your entire being, bringing gentle comfort and unexplainable peace, that’s the rain I’m talking about.

Growing up I used to hear people talk about God being right beside us. I wasn’t really sure what that meant. Fortunately, my son seemed to grasp it better than I did. When he was four years old, my wife told him that God is everywhere. A few nights later, he had her look under the bed to see if God was there. He was so certain that God was there that he expected my wife to find Him under the bed or behind the door.

Many religious groups have their gods in clear sight so they can touch and see them. But we pray to and worship one who we can’t see. We know, however, that when we pray or worship God, He smiles. There’s also a little scripture well hidden in Zephaniah 3:17 that says God rejoices over us with singing. That’s powerful. No other god makes that claim. The reality is He is always near us, longing for our conversation and worship. We need to have the ability, like my son, to feel certain at all times that God is right beside us.

When it rains these days I can’t help thinking that God is blessing the earth so that it may flourish. That is exactly what He does in our lives. He rains down grace, mercy, faithfulness, healing, or whatever blessing He sees that we need. He is a gracious God who loves us more than we could ever imagine. Regardless of the circumstance, time of day or year, there is always something to give God thanks and praise for. And it’s that belief, that awareness of His really being there, just as real as the rain, that allows His holy rain to soak our lives, helping us to reach our full potential.

Get Your Armor On

Bottom line: The enemy is after your soul. Scary? It’s just truth. He seeks to destroy all that is good. And it doesn’t matter how long it takes or what hoops he has to jump through. The chance of taking you down is the fuel that keeps him motivated. However, most of us live in a bubble that feels relatively safe. Our minds are rarely on the fact that a roaring lion is on the outskirts of our safety net. It’s not that we should live in fear. But we must be mindful of an evil presence that desires our worship and our very lives. This isn’t a middle school scuffle we’re talking about. This isn’t some tall tale. This is a life-or-death fight to the finish. (The Message, Ephesians 6:10-12) Apathy. Neglect. Carelessness. Fear. Anger. Passiveness. Busyness. Pride. Lust. Cheating. Addictions. When these words are present in our life, we’re inviting a powerful and persuasive spirit into our safe area.

We MUST use every weapon available. The shield of faith. The belt of truth. The breastplate of righteousness. The helmet of salvation. The sword of the spirit. Right about now you may be picturing a group of 1st graders at a little Christian school singing an out of tune, cheesy song. Hear this; God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. We MUST fill our minds and hearts daily with His Word so when it’s all over we are still on our feet. (The Message Ephesians 6: 13-18)
Be shaken! Not fearful! But shaken! If you aren’t then read this again and again until you feel the seriousness of the situation. It’s time to get our armor on.


Worship Without Limits

Worship shouldn’t have limits. However, when worship is placed in a box only to be taken out for the Saturday or Sunday weekend service, worship loses its flow. Psalm 150 says, “let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” We’re also told to “pray without ceasing“. And Psalm 34:1 says that our lips and life should offer praise continually. Continually means recurring regularly or frequent. Not interrupted. Steady. If we set boundaries around worship only to be visited certain times of the week, we miss out on an opportunity to experience the relationship with God we were meant to have.

It’s so important for you and I to live out worship every day. That’s more important than any song we can sing. This is a call to take down the fences and walls that divide and separate us from God’s presence.

Let’s throw away the box and let worship roam free. That’s the way it was meant to be.


Healthy Snack

A recent report says only 1 out of 10 Americans eat enough fruits and veggies. Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber and they are low in calories. There are many studies that prove eating more fruits and vegetables help increase our health and also help control our weight and blood pressure. It also lowers the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. So it important we make eating veggies and fruits a daily ritual!

The important thing to remember with veggies is eating them raw is always beneficial. When you cook vegetables, try to not overcook and look for recipes that are heart healthy. For years I ate veggies the southern way which meant lots of butter or deep fried. Today I’m thankfully more conscientious about what foods I should and shouldn’t eat.

Here’s a nice snack to consider. If you like Hummus here’s a very simple recipe that at first may seem bland but it grows on you.


1 Can of Chick Peas (low sodium)

1/2 Lemon juiced

Ground Pepper

Paprika *optional

Drain the can of Chick Peas and rinse thoroughly. Place in a blender and puree. Transfer to a bowl and mix your fresh lemon juice and add a bit of ground pepper. Taste and decide if you’d like more lemon and pepper. Enjoy with fresh carrots or another veggie.

God Is So Good

I thought I’d share a lyric about God’s goodness today. He’s been So good to me and I just wanted to tell someone. So, here’s a song I wrote with Jeff Bumgardner. I trust the words will be an encouragement. Regi

God is So Good

Regi Stone / Jeff Bumgardner

Verse 1:

Does anybody here want to stand and testify

and tell about His love

a love that carried you through

Does anybody here want to lift a hand up high

and tell about a time

when the Lord rescued you


He’s worthy of all our praise

let’s celebrate… and give him the glory


God is good

Yes He is

God is good

He’s always been

He is my everything… my rescue and my strength

I’ve got tell all that He’s done for me.

God is good

Yes He is

God is SO Good

Verse 2:

So, when you’re in the middle of a situation

you say you’re holding on

but He’s there holding you

His promisees are true and He is able

And Yes He’s faithful

There’s nothing My God can’t do

Repeat Channel / Chorus

Worship Focus

Recently, at 38,000 feet comfortably seated in 15D, a thought crossed my mind. Am I any closer to God than when I’m on the ground? Probably not but when it comes to airplanes, I tend to pray on the way to the airport, while I’m waiting to board, as I’m walking down the Jetway and then once I’m seated, and when we’re heading down the runway, and when we are going through the clouds and then I relax once the bumps subside.

This is similar to the way we live life isn’t it? Trouble comes and we stress. We pray. We worry some more. We say Jesus a whole lot. Then when things become calm we go about our business as if nothing ever happened. That is until the next storm blows in.

Why is this?

It’s about relationship and we have the capacity to change it. But it’s probably one of the most difficult things we’ll ever attempt.

When I fly I feel closer to him not because I’m 6 miles off the ground. I feel closer to Him because I’m focused on Him.

If you’ve ever attempted anything challenging and succeeded you know what I’m talking about. Running a  1/2 or full marathon takes courage, persistence and focus. Relationships need love, persistence and focus. Learning to play an instrument takes practice and focus. Worship is the same. It takes desire, surrender and focus.

But, how often do we focus? Really focus on God? We sing songs to Him in church but many times before we find our focus the song is over. One reason is, we usually come to church ‘to’ worship instead of ‘with’ worship. But what would happen if we found our way to His presence more often? Daily?

I encourage you to find time this week where you can focus all your attention on Him. Make it a habit and before long your relationship will grow and you’ll develop a desire to be in His presence daily. And, I promise that will change your worship.

You Still Have Something To Give

Most days you can find a church somewhere looking for a worship leader. After reading the requirements you often get this picture. Looking for someone in their 20’s who plays guitar, sings the absolute latest worship songs available, wears the coolest jeans, and has a new haircut that would rival any rock star. But what happens if you only fit one or two of the above requirements? Do you have any business leading worship? Well? Probably not at that church. What if you’re 40 something? 50 something? Are you no longer relevant? Some think not.

I believe when a church is searching for a worship leader, “looking for someone passionate about Jesus who is also gifted in leading others in worship” should be at the top of the list. If not, then what you may end up with is a good musician. There are lots of people who look the part, play the right songs and have no idea how to take a group of people past the song they are singing.

Leading in worship is more than being able to get through a setlist of 3 or 4 songs. 

So, if your church is looking to hire a worship leader, start with the heart. I’m not saying you shouldn’t look for a talented individual. Obviously they should have an acceptable skill level. But find someone who understands worship doesn’t mean when the lights go on. Rather, pray for someone who sees worship as a part of their every day. Then you’ll land your worship leader.

And, if you’re reading this blog thinking you’re done, there’s a good chance you still have something to give. Regardless of your age, make Jesus the center of everything you are. It’s okay if you’re hip and cool and wear awesome jeans too.