meet_paul2-2.jpgToday I sat in on a live and interactive webinar with song-writer and worship pastor, Paul Baloche – you know, the guy who wrote such great praise songs as Above All and Open the Eyes of My Heart! Paul downloaded some amazing insights onto all of us in this class, which was offered by Worship Leader Magazine. Below is a brief synopsis of everything I could jot down during that hour-long – yet brief! – webinar.

Do yourself a favor and check out Paul’s incredible resources at his website, http://www.LeadWorship.com/. And oh yea, while you are doing yourself favors, try this one: Go to http://www.WorshipLeader.com/ and click on the Training tab for more great webinars by folk like Rory Noland and Tim Hughes! (You’ll even find my name sandwiched in there!)

Thanks, Paul, for your heart to help us worship leaders/pastors! And thanks, Julie Reid and Suzie Stablein at Worship Leader, for offering such a wonderful resource as these cutting edge webinars on worship! – Dwayne

The following are some excerpts from my notes during Worship Leader’s webinar with Paul Baloche:

What is most important for worship leaders to do?

Paul: Keep our on hearts pure. It’s so easy for church to become just a job. We figure out how to push the right buttons. But it has got to feel real in our hearts. We are trying to lead our people on a journey. We can put songs together, get technical things right, but every day or two days we must be reconnecting with the Lord. We must have a few friends that are pressing into God. Always be asking yourself: what are the things that keep you inspired with God?

Tell us about the times you spend blessing the Lord as a worship leader. 

Paul: For me the process is just sitting down with my guitar and going into our worship auditorium, then opening my Bible, and singing out some spontaneous songs and some familiar songs. It’s a good way to keep my heart inspired, For me, a helpful process is taking the Word of God and a guitar and just trying to honestly connect with an invisible God.

What are some ways you keep a good relationship with your pastor?

Paul: Try to come along beside, support, be a friend. Once a week grab lunch if possible. Over a relaxed lunch, get into their lives, not just church stuff. Talk about life, their kids, their marriage. Create a real friendship if possible. Put our egos aside; let them know we’re here together. Say to them, “You have permission to speak into my life. If there’s anything you feel I can do better or is inhibiting in any way, let me know.”

How do you balance family, ministry and your relationship with the Lord?

Paul: I’m trying not to answer the way we are always expected to answer this question… I pray that God will give me wisdom to balance all the roles. Every morning when I wake up, I first try to realize I am God’s kid, then I kick that over into my marriage, kids, church, etc. God is involved with all these roles. I’m not just punching a clock. I’m walking with God 24/7. “Practice turning your heart back to the Lord a thousand times a day” is one of my favorite quotes and thoughts. In whatever we are doing, we are learning to walk in the Spirit. That’s what He’s been after from the beginning – a relationship with us.

How do we take the focus off ourselves and the people on stage, to achieve transparency when we lead others in worship?

Paul: There are different styles and not just one way to lead. But personally for me, I want to earn their trust immediately. I want to let them know I’m real. I’m anti-climatic. I walk out and want to take away the hype. Rather than get into our auto-pilot worship, I sometimes have people turn around and introduce themselves. Or I’ll say, “Hey before we get started, let’s sing, ‘O Come Let Us Adore Him.'” Then I move into my set list. I’ll quote a verse about how it’s a good day to praise the Lord. Then we kick in on the lights, smoke, but first we make that human connection.

How can the other people on stage know they are worshiping together with you, not just sharing a stage?

Paul: Remind them that we are all leading worship. How we look, act, respond helps lead others. I remind them through a prayer or some simple way – not too heavy. Continue to remind them they are leaders, even if you are the sole person on the mic. Blame it on me. Tell them you heard me say to do this during this webinar. There are still people on my team I have to remind about their leadership role even after 15 years at my church.

What does it mean to be a worship pastor instead of a worship leader?

Paul: There are five callings listed in the Bible. Worship leader isn’t mentioned, but pastor is. Music serves to help people connect with God and grow with family, etc. Sometimes before we start our practices, I’ll say, “Hey guys, before we practice let’s look over these empty chairs and pray for these people and try to get God’s heart for those we are serving.”

Is seminary required?

Paul: One size doesn’t fit all. I never went to seminary. I went to the school of hard knocks and did a lot of Bible studies. I got an honorary doctorate last year. It can never hurt to get more theology training, not just developing of our musical skill set.

How do you feel about the Bible as a means for writing?

Paul: The Bible is language of worship. We try to be poetic, and try to speak the lanquage of people and engage them. But equally important is staying with the scriptures. I’m reading a children’s Bible right now. Get rooted and grounded. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Get in the Psalms especially. Take several translations. Read them out loud to yourself. You’ll begin to find little rhymes and phrases and ways to put it into song. We need to learn a little something about crafting a song. For example, Psalm 92 says, “It is good to make music to your name, O Most High.” Do you hear the “m’s” in that sentence? They feel good to sing.

What comes first, lyrics or melody?

Paul: Whatever comes first at the time. I’m just glad to get something! Be always looking for a melodic thing, a groove thing, maybe your pastor said something that stands out. Find a way to capture that. Get a tiny recording device to keep with you at all times. Look for “aha” moments that are worth repeating in lyrics or melodies.

As a songwriter, how can you read the Bible to look for God rather than just looking for songs?

Paul: Here’s my thing: There were times in my life when I got really hung up on that. The Bible says, “Pray without ceasing. Set your mind on things above.” Keep God-thoughts going in your mind. The best way to do that for me is to keep songs ideas in my head. One of the greatest things to keep my mind on God and His word is to chew on melodies and words. It keeps Him on my mind all the time.

How should you collaborate long distance, especially if you don’t know the other party? And how do you start a creative song-writing team?

Paul: Regarding the first question: Read the Worship Leader Magazine issue on collaboration in writing (March 07). You’ll find out if that works. Try to create art for God. Don’t think about what will work on some album. Rather, can I picture standing up in front of our people of 20-somethings to senior adults and them learning and actually singing it? About starting a creative-writing team, keep your ear open and hand pick a few people. Start meeting once or twice a month and pass paper around with those people’s ideas on it. Ask three questions: “What feels good about it? What feels funny about it? How can we make it stronger?” Start positive because it is a very sensitive thing. Also, it’s hard to undo a group so be careful who you invite in – it’s easier to build a group than remove people. Take pressure off yourself about writing. Say, “This next year we’re just going to get together and create some art for God that might work with a congregation.”