Live Talk Ep. 27

Choirs in Worship and Transforming Worship with John Bolin and Rory Noland

This week on Live Talk with Dwayne Moore, Dwayne welcomes two very special guests. First, Dwayne speaks with John Bolin, Worship Pastor at Kingsland Baptist Church in Katy, TX. John informs us about the upcoming Music Houston conference in July, and explains why the worship-leading choir is so important in churches today.

Then, Dwayne speaks with Rory Noland, worship author and speaker. Rory’s book “The Heart of the Artist” has been used by countless worship teams around the world. Rory and Dwayne talk about his new book, Transforming Worship.

Watch the full video of this week’s episode here!

LINKS:
Music Houston: www.worship3217.com
Worship Convergence International: https://worshipconvergence.com
Rory Noland’s website: www.heartoftheartist.org
Next Level Worship: www.nextlevelworship.com

Dwayne:

Hey everybody. Welcome back to Live Talk. We’ve got a dear friend. I think that’s a really good way to describe Herb Armentrout. Now Herb, we didn’t even know each other up until about four years ago, but over the last few years, it’s become a dear friendship to me, and I want to welcome you to a Live Talk today.

Herb:

Glad to be, man. Glad to be here.

Dwayne:

Yeah. It’s Dr. Herb Armentrout, and you are at Broadmoor Baptist church in Shreveport, Louisiana. It looks like you may be sitting in your, maybe a staff meeting place or could be your office, but you’re probably at church now actually.

Herb:

I am. I’m in my office.

Dwayne:

Yep. Yeah. All right.

Herb:

By the way, I think of you as a good friend too.

Dwayne:

Well, I appreciate it.

Herb:

It’s cool how God [inaudible 00:00:55]

Dwayne:

It’s very cool. I have to look back and I think about how God brought people like you into our lives, our ministry, and it blows me away. Doctor Jodi Dean, whose birthday is today, by the way. Today is Jodi’s birthday, but Jody, on our board of directors, but also at the time at least, I’m not sure what he’s doing now with that, but he was over the adjunct professors of New Orleans Seminary. My understanding is that you were in a meeting because you are one of those adjunct professors, so you were in a meeting and somehow you guys started talking about worship ministry, and I don’t know how it came about, but Jodi basically recommended next level worship to you. Is that how that happened?

Herb:

Right. Yep.

Dwayne:

Yeah. I’ll owe him [crosstalk 00:01:45]

Herb:

I got to read the book.

Dwayne:

Okay. Yeah, the book. Yeah. The Pure Praise book, that’s right. That was a part of that connecting process. Yeah. Okay. Anyway, I remember that. I don’t know who reached out to who, but I remember talking to you for the first time and thinking, “My goodness. This guy is incredible.” Then you had been reading our book I guess at the same time. One thing led to the next, and I mean next thing I know you’re using, I think you used the book to mentor some young worship leaders, which is your heartbeat. I love how you do that, to mentor people. Then I didn’t hesitate to invite you on a trip up pretty soon, and you came with us, thankfully. I don’t think you could come that year. I think had to work it out with your church schedule, but the next year you came with us on a mission trip to Zimbabwe. That’s how I remember things happening. Just every time we’ve been together, it seems like it just really strengthens our friendship and our relationship, so thank you.

Herb:

Yeah. My blessing.

Dwayne:

Well, let’s talk about some things with you. First of all, not everybody, we’ve had you on podcast things in past, but I want to remind those who hadn’t seen it, don’t know who you are, tell us about your family and also just about your church ministry there. Just give us a window into who you are. Let’s let’s do that.

Herb:

Okay. Well, let’s see, been married to the stunningly attractive Jan Armentrout for about 38 years.

Dwayne:

Awesome.

Herb:

We have three children ages, 33, 31 and 29, Jordan, Casey, Katie, they’re all married and they have godly spouses. The ones that we’ve been praying for since before our children were born, God has provided, and very importantly, we have three grandchildren now all under the ages of two and a half. We’re having a great time. Maybe one of the few things in life that is not over overstated. It’s a great, great blessing.

Dwayne:

That is awesome, man. Yeah, we don’t have that blessing yet. Our kids aren’t married, but one day. One day. Wow.

Herb:

One day.

Dwayne:

I’ve heard so many say that very thing. Grand grandkids really are grand, so it’s pretty awesome.

Herb:

We have just a, an incredibly beautiful family. We’re so thankful, and been in our church here in Shreveport for about 22 and a half years, coming up on 23 years. Love our church. We love our pastor. Our pastor preaches God’s word without apology, without compromise, and he’s a man of integrity and a guy like that at the helm, man, I’ll follow that guy anywhere. Because of his faithfulness to God’s word, our church been blessed in terms of well in every, on every level. Thankful to the Lord for being part of this staff and having a pastor like that. I’m actually the worship pastor for the traditional service at Broadmoor Baptist Church. We have a contemporary worship service and also Hispanic worship service, and each of those groups is very much autonomous. We work together in partnership in terms of creative planning and so forth, but our worship services are completely standalone. On occasion, we combine for different big events, but we do have creative team meetings together where we share ideas and we share some of the same resources in terms of video production and worship planning and so forth. Have an amazing team, great ministry assistant, and a great choir and orchestra ministry. They’re number of folks that work with us that are contracted. Our orchestra director, children’s choir director, middle school director, and folks like that. Yeah, that’s what’s going on.

Dwayne:

Yeah. Okay. Well, I wanted to talk with you today, well about a couple things. I want to, since you brought it up, let’s go ahead and start with the structure internally, but then I want to move it outside the walls because that’s one of our favorite topics when we get together and talk about, I know you recently went to a prison or maybe more than one. I don’t know, but anyway, I want to hear about that. I know our folks are going to want to hear about that. We have people that watch, obviously here in the States, but also in Asia. It’s broadcast, not only in Facebook live and a couple places here. It’s on Spotify as a podcast, those places, but also it is broadcast every week in Asia on satellite television. We also have people watching that are in different countries, some of which can’t even understand us speaking. Can you imagine that? They watch, although they don’t know what we’re saying. I can’t imagine that. I don’t know, but that’s what we’ve been told.

Dwayne:

Anyway, we’re praying Lord allow us to have it translated into Urdu so they can understand it better, but for now we’ve got people watching that can understand us and maybe a few that can’t. But all those who can understand, I’m hoping that they would glean from your wisdom today, especially those who work in churches for this first part of the conversation, but also the challenge of just how to live a Christian life and be a witness. I want to hear that from you as well because our audience is not just worship leaders and pastors. We have others that watch.

Dwayne:

Let’s start with, for our pastors and worship leaders’ sake, those watching that lead in churches in an elder position or whatever, let’s start with that, that side of things. You have been there, as you said many years, and you’ve seen a lot of changes over the years, but yet you’ve stayed there and you’ve got staying power, which I think is incredible nowadays, to have someone do that and to continue to be effective. Were you always the traditional leader, or was there a time in the past that you did all of it and would love to hear how that progressed and became what it is today?

Herb:

When I first came here 22 years ago, there were three worship services. They were all blended. In point of fact, the traditional service I lead is a blended service, so we have a praise band and all those kinds of things, praise team, and contemporary worship songs. It’s just morphed over the years. I think probably 15 years ago, we started a separate contemporary service, and so that’s grown. It’s a very large service as I said. Now, we have basically four services every Sunday morning, two contemporary, one traditional and one Hispanic.

Dwayne:

Are they simultaneous? Are they happening [crosstalk 00:08:48]

Herb:

That’s kind of… Sorry.

Dwayne:

Do they happen at the same time? How does that work? Are you spread out different campuses, different parts of the campus?

Herb:

Different places on campus. The contemporary worship service happens in the south part of our campus in a room there. They have a 9:45 and 11 o’clock service. There’s a 9:45 traditional service in the middle of the campus, and on the other end, it’s Hispanic worship that meets in chapel there. It’s all happening. There’s also a children’s worship service that happens also. There’s a lot of worship events every Sunday morning.

Dwayne:

Wow. Wow. Wow. Okay. You started, when you first came, you said you had three blended services. Were they identical at the time, or did you have to plan [crosstalk 00:09:39].

Herb:

Yes.

Dwayne:

Okay. What we mean by that, those who are watching, we mean did they have the same songs, the same order basically, different people, but the same order. You’re saying yes, they did. You did do that. Okay. But now, I heard you say earlier that you guys have some creative planning meetings together, but you’re autonomous in that you don’t do the same songs necessarily.

Herb:

Right.

Dwayne:

Okay.

Herb:

Right. Right.

Dwayne:

Obviously, that works well. You’ve been doing that a while now.

Herb:

It seems to be working well. There’s so many positives to that. There’s some challenges in that for the church to feel really unified. It’s difficult because we don’t have any really super large gatherings where we’re all together. Although sometimes we even share some of the same songs, they’re very unique services. It’s just part of where we are right now.

Dwayne:

Sure. I know several churches that do that very thing that you’re describing. Does your pastor simulcast in some way, or is he, I can just imagine him running from place to place all morning. He must be a really tired man after Sunday.

Herb:

Now he preaches, usually he has a series. He has a plan where he preaches in different rooms, different days. When he is not with in the traditional service, he’s in contemporary service, there’s just a slight time delay, and I wait to see that our pastor’s already preaching in the other room. Then I get just a note at the top of the screen, in our worships services, that says he’s ready. We will extend our musical worship until we’re ready to receive the video feed from the other room. It works the same way. It usually works pretty well. Sometimes it gets a little crazy.

Dwayne:

I bet.

Herb:

We’re waiting for that little note to come up.

Dwayne:

When you said sometimes we extend, I thought, “I’ve been in that situation,” you have to extend and extend and extend. Okay.

Herb:

Yeah. Yeah.

Dwayne:

Again, putting it in, I realize we have people that haven’t been in this experience before. Basically, when it, and the way that actually could happen, I mean, it does, it has for me at least, is we basically end up singing that chorus two or three times, or four, or we’ll take a moment and we’ll speak again and encourage them and quote a Bible verse, then sing it again.

Herb:

Right.

Dwayne:

That’s what you mean, and that’s fine.

Herb:

We always plan more than we need when our pastor is in another room.

Dwayne:

That’s what I’m about to ask you. Do you just actually go ahead and tell your tech people and your folks, “Hey, be ready. We might need to sing an extra song or might need to repeat a verse?”

Herb:

Oh, yeah.

Dwayne:

Okay. Yeah. I guess, [inaudible 00:12:27] Okay. After a while doing it, I guess they expect that anyway. Right?

Herb:

Yeah. Right.

Dwayne:

Now I’m trying to imagine being in one of your creative planning meetings with these different groups, autonomous services happening, but yet you’re planning together. I’m just curious how often do you plan and what does one of those meetings look like? What do you talk about in those?

Herb:

We have some new team members that have come on recently, so that honestly is still developing. Some of the things that we feel are important to share are video testimonies. In other words, if somebody has something [inaudible 00:13:08] baptism videos, those kinds of things that the church all needs to celebrate. In other words, it doesn’t work it well for us to have a really dynamic testimony in the traditional service and those folks of course, that are going to visit with people in their Bible study class they say, “What a great testimony,” and folks in the other service have no idea what you’re talking about.

Dwayne:

No idea what you’re talking about. That’s smart. Yeah.

Herb:

Right. We talk about doing that. If there are elements of worship, particularly if there’s a strong theme and we can share ideas about even room design that would be the same or similar in both places, then we talk about that.

Dwayne:

Oh, okay. What do you try to do? You just mentioned the videos, obviously that’s a unifying factor. What are some things you do to try to make them feel like a part of the bigger picture of the church. They see videos of other services and things that are happening…

Herb:

Baptisms.

Dwayne:

Baptism.

Herb:

We [inaudible 00:14:14] Baptisms, and on two or three occasions we’ve really just worked super hard months before for Easter Sunday, where we will actually at the exact same time, using a click track, we will use the choirs and the praise teams from both rooms and sing the exact same song, the exact same time.

Dwayne:

Wow.

Herb:

Traditional service, the praise team and praise band from the contemporary service on a song like Man of Sorrows. We’ll both hear the same count in, and we’ll do it all at the same time. It’s a pretty special moment. It takes a lot of work.

Dwayne:

That’s awesome. Yeah. Well, to explain what Herb means, a click track is literally in your ear. If you got a little ear button in your ear and you can hear a click, click, click, click, and it’s right, it could speed up or slow down based on the song, the tempo, it’s a tempo of the song. You got a click in your ear, a metronome basically, keeping a time. You sing along with that so it syncs it up, it lines everything up. That’s what he’s talking about. We try to do that, and we want to do that with our international meetings, but there’s such a delay, a latency that we haven’t figured out yet how to do it. Refocused just two weeks ago while you were going, I think to Houston doing the prison ministry, you guys couldn’t be involved with Refocused because you were out there. We were in Pensacola at Olive Baptist Church doing Refocused. We had had best we can tell about 1300 people involved from 16 countries. It was awesome. Huge. We wanted to all sing together, but as soon as you unmute the mics, it doesn’t work because they’re singing four seconds later than whatever. It just the latency issues. It’s fascinating to me any church that could pull off what you just said. That’s awesome.

Herb:

Well, it takes a lot of work in planning. Your experience sounds like something from Acts Chapter Two.

Dwayne:

Well, we had the artist at the end, we always try to climax with an artist, someone we bring in. This year was Tasha Layton, and Tasha is this phenomenal vocalist, but also what a heart for missions and the Lord. She fit really well into our setting because that’s who we are too. We love missions and we love worship as a lifestyle. She gets that, so she came in and so what we wanted to do, she’s got this big song called Look What You’ve Done. It’s a beautiful, huge hit for her, and it’s got a choir with it. We said, “Oh yeah, we got to do that.” We just couldn’t figure out how to really make it work, but we’re going to keep on trying till we finally get that done.

Dwayne:

We actually, had we been able to have the choir from Trevecca was going to try to, Trevecca Nazarene University, they were trying to come down with about 50 voices and they couldn’t work out transportation because of the gas issues and all going on. Liberty was going to bring a group down, Liberty University. Had they been there, we’d had people live in the room to sing with us, which would’ve been really good. We’re praying for the future, but anyway, I went all the way around and chased a rabbit there to say, it’s impressive if you can have multiple services and occasionally sing together. I can see how powerfully unifying that may feel to your people.

Herb:

It is.

Dwayne:

You do that occasionally? Is that a quarterly thing or once or twice, or pretty often?

Herb:

Maybe once a quarter we can pull it off. There’s so much involved.

Dwayne:

So much.

Herb:

It really, we want it to be special too. We don’t want to be routine.

Dwayne:

Right. No, no. Right, right. I get it. What are some other commonalities? Just the reason I’m asking this because we got other churches is that have the same situation where they don’t know how to unify their people, make them feel like a part of the bigger picture. I mean, do you ever have a theme song? What is, anything you sing across the campuses? Not campuses, I’m sorry. Across the services?

Herb:

We have and our contemporary worship pastor’s written a song before that we’ve used for a theme period to unify us. We would sing in all the services, which has been good.

Dwayne:

Yep.

Herb:

Those are probably the biggest ones that. We really plan separately. Sometimes we’ll see that without even talking that we’re using some of this same songs, not many, but on occasion, but the testimonies are a big deal. Baptisms are a big deal so that the church can celebrate those things together.

Dwayne:

Oh, that’s a big deal. Yeah. That’s huge. I mean, even if I don’t know the people, I just like to watch baptism services. It just makes you, just fills you full of joy. If you know the Lord, you want other people to know him too, so that just draws you together. Well, your local church is obviously a very, very, very big part of who you are and that’s your ultimate calling is being there, and your family and then your church locally. But your church locally supports you going out to other places too, and I know we’ve had that conversation before, but I’m just wondering about that. How did the culture of that come along that you have the freedom to go to Houston like you did a couple of weeks ago? Obviously, your pastor must support this as well. There must be a culture in your church of missions outside the walls. Correct?

Herb:

There is. I think, well, one of our mantras is everyone on mission, which means it’s not about a trip, this is about living a life on mission.

Dwayne:

Okay.

Herb:

Being in conversations and relationship building. In fact, right now we’re doing a thing called One More, and since our church is Broadmoor, M-O-O-R, we’re doing a deal which is one more conversation, one more relationship. We just have a three month plan leading up to Easter where we’re intentionally developing relationships and having conversations, and then one more salvation with the idea that all of us are trying to, first of all ask God who would you place on my heart? Then that second would be now, let’s see if we can have a conversation that’s spiritual in nature and develop that relationship. Then finally, hopefully we’ll have that conversation where we can lead them to Christ or at least present the gospel. Those things come along periodically for us.

Herb:

For the music ministry, just years ago, God just nailed me with the realization that there are folks sitting in our pews, but there are way more people outside the walls of our church who are going to hell. For us to sit with our arms folded in our churches, without an awareness of that, without an intentionality that’s present the gospel to them using whatever resource, be it musical or whatever, is absolutely disobedient on our part. God has entrusted these resources to us to build his kingdom, certainly to worship him, so I think folks who come into the music ministry here understand right off the bat that our first goal is to lead our church family to worship, but right behind it is to very regularly, in fact almost quarterly, to have some type of mission effort.

Herb:

That runs all the way through children’s, through student and adult ministry so that there’s a culture. I think that’s, I don’t think it starts in children’s choir. It starts with children’s music ministry and in their worship. They’re looking at doing a couple projects a year where they go out with a children’s choir to the hub ministry, or they go somewhere where folks don’t know the Lord. Of course, their parents go along with them and they sing, and then that is developed more in middle school and then high school. Our kids even like to being involved in a missionary trip with our student ministry. They have to achieve a certain number of hours of mission efforts, and most of that is not musical. They have to really, middle school have three mission events required, five for high school. That’s a basic bottom line expectation.

Herb:

They’re involved in helping with a 5K race, they’re involved in doing an outreach project with one of our local centers, they’re involved in doing mission events in places like juvenile correction facilities. They’re going to be singing at a skilled nursing unit, they’ll be singing at a special needs facility, they’ll be singing in city parks. All those things are going along, and usually we’ll package those. We don’t just do one every month. We will have a a focus time where we’ll just stack one or two things in a weekend. Students are so busy. Everybody’s busy that we try and prepare a small repertoire songs, maybe four or five songs that can form a concert that will outline the gospel, and then share testimony or two. It’s not complicated. It just means thinking about, “Okay, we’ve got some songs ready, and this is a goal that we’re headed towards.” Then with the adult choir, it’s the same thing, and the orchestra. The orchestra’s getting ready to do an outdoor concert in May where folks will be invited from the community and in that the gospel will be presented.

Dwayne:

Wow. That’s awesome.

Herb:

We’re just…

Dwayne:

I mean, you guys came with us, your youth choir, student choir came with us to New Mexico last year. It is wonderful place, it’s a ski resort town, but there’s not a lot that you could do during the day. You found things to do. You sang at our event in the evening psalm, and you went to some other places, but I mean, you guys got out there and found ways to minister, and it was really powerful. The one thing you did was go to a neighboring city, Red River I think it was called, and you did a concert and it was raining, it was not a lot of people coming through because it was pouring down rain, but it didn’t stop you guys. I love your students. They just sang their hearts out, shared their testimonials. It was very powerful, and I loved how you weaved that in and out. It was well organized. Everybody knew, seemed to know when it was their time to do what they were doing and felt like it was preassigned. It was so natural, and it was so much joy that exuded from them. Brother, I appreciate what you do there. I love it. I know that’s making a real impact for those who are exposed to that. It’s bound to impact the choir members too.

Herb:

Well, that’s the goal, brother. The goal is not a concert in the community. The goal is for folks to constantly be thinking how can I share my faith, not musically. How? I mean, when I go to work, because very little of our lives are spent in the church building, or even in mission projects with our church. The rest of it is with our family and our friends and our hobbies. It’s the golf course, it’s all, it’s everything else, it’s school. If we tag these things potentially along the way, then hopefully it will get in folks’ minds to go, “Oh, this is, I’m supposed to be living these songs.”

Dwayne:

Amen. Amen.

Herb:

Not just singing them.

Dwayne:

Wow. I’m just letting that soak in. One of the things we’re hoping and planning to do this year with our team, Next Level Worship team, we have members, team members here. We consider you to be one of those people that help us, ambassadors for what we’re trying to do, but we also have international leaders that are out there in different countries, but we want to bring them together and have some maybe John Maxwell calls it raising the lid or lifting the lid kind of thing. Where you’re just trying to be more effective with what God’s given us basically. One of the things I’m just sitting here and thinking is I’m inviting you on air here, I hope you’ll be okay with this, but I think it’d be really powerful in one of these meetings that we’re planning to have over the next few months is to have you come in and challenge us for, take 20 minutes or whatever, just challenge us to do the way you challenge your own team. I think we should hold each other accountable among our leaders in NLW.

Dwayne:

What are we doing to go across the street to neighbors, what are we doing? Because we can talk about whole lot of worship, and by the way, those of you are watching and don’t know what we believe. I’ll tell you what we believe about worship is that worship starts on the inside, flows from a heart that loves God, truly loves God, amazed, and I just memorized the verse in first John chapter two that says, I actually memorized first six verses so I’m plucking one out of it that says “Those who obey God’s word truly show how much they completely love him.” I think those who obey, so there’s an obedience that flows out of that love, and that’s a part of worship and expressing it and praise and clapping and singing is part of it. Worship includes sharing your faith and sharing with other people. We can talk about it, but even though we’re a part of a ministry that believes that, we have to be challenged to do it.

Herb:

Yeah. I think the measure of our worship is what transpires after we leave the sanctuary. That’s a measure of our worship, how we been transform in a way that produces fruit because if we can do all the things in worship but if it’s not born out, and man, I love your heart. Brother, for the impetus for our worship of the Lord is a deep love for him and gratitude for all he’s done. When that’s the case, it’s, undaunted by external circumstances, even personal things. We’re going to keep pouring out worship.

Dwayne:

Well, and that’s yeah. Let’s talk more about that. I’d love for you to, I know you’re a very, really busy guy. Just having you here today as an honor because I know you got a lot going on with overseeing this ministry that you do there, but just a little bit of time pouring in our team would be a blessing to us. We might look at working that out in the future. You are also hopefully going to be able to go with us to Kenya, all that works out in the middle of August. I just don’t remember the exact dates, but it’s whatever the dates we’ve discussed, but that’s to go and do another intensive school. Now you’ve already done two or three with us I know. There was Zimbabwe, you’ve been to Kenya, but thank you for that too. Where we go out and we go and pour into pastors and worship leaders for a week of intensive training, but we also do vacation Bible schools in Kenya. We went out and ministered over 100 Muslim children every day in vacation Bible school or backyard Bible clubs, if you’re not sure what that term means. Thank you for the partnership, Herb, that allows us to work together in these capacities.

Herb:

Man, it’s my pleasure. My blessing actually, very much my blessing.

Dwayne:

Yeah. Well, one of the things that I really enjoyed us doing last year was remember in Kenya, at the intensive school, and we’ll try to show a couple pictures of this so people can see visually what we’re talking about, but it’s when we, you and I, and I think we had a translator or two up on the stage with us. We were going through just how to share your faith, just how to share your faith. I had some people afterwards come up to me and say, I had some pastors that were there, say, “I’ve been in worship leader meetings before, and no one’s ever trained worship leaders on sharing their faith.” I think that’s a sad reality, but I think that is the case sometimes. I was glad to get to do that with you and challenge our people, and then remember how we had them divide up into pairs and share their testimony with each other. We’ve actually, I don’t remember if we did in that setting, we’ve actually had people get saved in those settings, even though they’ve been singing in the church for years.

Herb:

Yeah. Yeah.

Dwayne:

They didn’t have a testimony. Isn’t that amazing? Wow. We’ll pray that the Lord will bring it together, we can do it all, we can do it again.

Herb:

Absolutely.

Dwayne:

Tell us, I don’t want to keep you too long, but I just want to hear about Houston, man. I want to hear about the prison ministry you guys went and did, and I think I’m right. I think you went to Houston. [crosstalk 00:31:29] Tell us about that.

Herb:

I want to do that, but can I just share something with you that was said just as a part of a prayer? I was praying with a guy named Joe at Broadmoor Baptist Church, and man, this may mess me up. I might, anyway. We were praying. It was a missions prayer meeting, and he said these words and they have echoed in my mind ever since. This was three weeks ago. He said, “Lord, help me run to the chariot to see like Philip did, that Ethiopian, know that God’s calling there. Help me not to stand still and disobedience or debate. Help me to run to the chariot.” I don’t know if that means anything to you, but God has brought up to my mind again and again. When I do a mental battle, I know God’s whispering in my ear, “You need to tell them about me. This is the time.” Help me run to the chariot. Don’t know if that means anything to you or anybody.

Dwayne:

Yeah. Just in context with those watching, and forgive me, I think it’s acts eight or nine, right in there somewhere. I can’t remember, but anyway. It’s where Phillip was caught up in the spirit and suddenly he was in this different place and he was right? That’s what you’re referring to.

Herb:

Yeah.

Dwayne:

There was this Ethiopian Munich that was there reading I think the book about Isaiah is I remember. This is totally off the top of my head. If I’m wrong on something, a detail, please correct me. He asked, he said, “I don’t understand this. Can you help me?” and Philip shared the gospel with him. It was like, God put Philip where he needed to be, and Philip was obedient to do what this man needed to hear the gospel. If you understand the context of what Herb’s talking about, that’s a very powerful statement.

Herb:

Oh man. Yeah. So much about that I need to be reminded of. First of all, to be sensitive, to go where God leads us. Secondly, when the moment presents, don’t step back, step forward and then follow through. He presented plan of salvation and baptized the guy right there.

Dwayne:

He did. I forgot about that. That’s right.

Herb:

Yeah. What hinders me from being baptized right now? There’s water. Let’s go.

Dwayne:

I forgot that part. I need to go back. I hadn’t read that story in a while. I need to go back and read it.

Herb:

Anyway, it’s been greatly convicting for me. Well, I’m about to bust to tell you about our prison experience.

Dwayne:

Yeah. Let’s hear about it.

Herb:

Well, let me tell you. First of all, we’ve done this a number of times, and this year is different, partly because we were there two years ago in Southeast Texas. We sang five concerts I think in three days. They were in prisons, and so things went so well. Then COVID hit the Monday after we got back.

Dwayne:

Oh wow.

Herb:

Two years later, we’re finally able to return, but things look different, particularly from a chaplain and warden’s perspective in these different facilities. I was really struggling, and so two weeks before this trip, I just got, I came before a choir and orchestra and I just, I said, “I need to be transparent and tell you. Right now for a three day trip, we have one event. One, because folks are not returning on phone calls or emails. I’ve worked for this for four months, and we’ve come to two weeks out and I don’t know where we’re going. I can tell you I’m doing everything humanly possible,” and it was as if God was saying to me repeatedly, “You need to trust me.”

Dwayne:

Trust me.

Herb:

I invited the choir on this journey, rather than say I’m a poor organizer or I’m trying to do all this, but it’s just not working. I just need you to partner with me. I think God wanted the choir and orchestra to join in that journey of preparation.

Dwayne:

Yeah, and of faith really. Yeah.

Herb:

Right, and so that we could all see God answer those prayer together. Normally, it’s really singular or team pursuit in setting up all these details, but this time, apparently God wanted everybody to be and they were praying. Now, I think when we arrive at a point of desperation with the father, he maybe leans back and said, “Well, finally. You’re not going to trust your instincts or personal agenda or your creativity. You’re going to trust me only. Now, I’m ready to show you what I can do,” and he did. Just, I mean, within 12 hours we had two more prisons that were very excited about us coming. One guy said, “Our warden wants you to come. Our warden wants you to come.”

Dwayne:

Woo. Praise God. Within 12 hours. Wow.

Herb:

Yeah. Within 12 hours.

Dwayne:

It happened that fast.

Herb:

I’ll try and be succinct, but the first prison we sang at was the oldest prison in the state of Texas, it’s called the Huntsville Unit. First place they did executions in our state, in the state of Texas.

Dwayne:

It’s famous for that.

Herb:

It is. It’s iconic, actually probably in the country used to be called the Walls Unit. Chaplain there has been a real champion for us, and so we went there, sang for a couple hundred guys who are eager to worship. In these prisons, these chaplains have worked to be very intentional about first of all leading men to Christ, developing co-ministers within their network there, as they arrive, they began to core their lives into these men, if you will disciple, a very intentional discipleship approach. Then these guys develop ministry skills, some of them even have education opportunities within the prison to pursue college degrees in theology. Then they start witnessing and developing other leaders. When we came in, they even had a choir, they had a 30 voice choir that sang the paint off the walls. These guys were incredible. So well directed, it was gospel style. Well done.

Dwayne:

That’s awesome.

Herb:

[inaudible 00:37:31] guys, tatted up guys with veins popping out of their neck and forehead singing for all their worth the gospel. Our choir, blown out of the water. Blown out of the water. We cheered for them, and we just had church.

Dwayne:

Praise God, man. That’s awesome.

Herb:

Anyway, we sang. The concerts we prepared basically have 10 songs with testimonies woven all through it. All of those testimonies utilize a verse from Romans. They hear the Roman road present or the path towards salvation as presented Romans and they have an opportunity to be invited to express their faith in Christ. Then the chaplains are there, and those team leaders to follow up. We did that Friday night. Saturday morning, we didn’t have a prison so we went to a place that God provided in Conroe, Texas, where our orchestra, there wasn’t room for the choir and orchestra, so the orchestra gave away thousands of pounds of food in baggies to people who were coming through that ministry. While they’re waiting in the holding area, our choir just sang a continual concert. We had a new audience every 15 minutes.

Dwayne:

Really? Well, that’s interesting. Never heard of that.

Herb:

Intriguing and so gratifying. We sang a concert Saturday night to maybe 300-400 guys. They came in, and to be honest, some guys are revved up rate of worship, some of them stand the whole time with their hands in there the entire hour. Others come with their arms folded, just grateful for an opportunity to be outside their cell for a few minutes, but it’s interesting to watch those men’s expressions morph, usually over an hour period, as they see us be vulnerable and pour out praise. It’s quite an experience. It’s an ordeal to get in to these places as you would understand, being usually there’s electronic wands, we’re being frisked, all of our equipment’s gone through thoroughly, but even there, we have opportunities to share the love of Christ through our kindness with those guards and with wardens. Our folks understand that it’s not just about the prisoners, it’s about every touch, every restaurant where we go in route.

Herb:

At least for 72 hours, we’re thinking every moment matters. Hopefully, that transitions, and then the last…

Dwayne:

It does.

Herb:

The last prison was a miracle. I mean, these guys were on a lockdown. A lockdown in prison essentially means for a period of a week or two, you are in your cell for 23 hours a day while they go through your bunk, your locker, every thing and they find contraband. These guys, for a week and a half, have been locked up in lockdown. That warden decided to end the lockdown early to permit us to come in. There’s a guy who’s been incarcerated for 38 years. He said he’s never seen this transpire where a lockdown ends early to allow a group to come in. When we came in, the warden emptied those dorms out to bring them out onto this courtyard, this basketball courtyard.

Herb:

We had planned to do one concert. He said, “Can you stay and do another concert?” This is the warden and chaplain asking us to do this.

Dwayne:

Oh my God.

Herb:

[inaudible 00:41:03] the concert did two of them, and there were hundreds of guys. There weren’t chairs for all the guys, they were standing. That was the last concert of the weekend, and we didn’t know was going to transpire a week and a half before. That’s just, God. That’s just God. The choir was a part of all of that, and they saw that faith journey developed in their own prayer life, and they watched how God answered way beyond our expectations.

Dwayne:

Oh, man. I’m so glad to hear that. I’ve been wanting to call you and ask you how it went, but I thought, well, we’re going to be interviewing so I just wanted to hear, let everybody hear it together. I’m hearing this for the first time too. Wow. Wow. Wow.

Herb:

Well, the choir members, it’s counterintuitive to think that so many folks would join the choir, but when people get back, they’re so moved by their personal experience, they can barely articulate it to someone else. People see what takes place in their lives and they go, “It doesn’t matter to me if it’s prisoner or where it is. I want be in the middle of what God’s doing.”

Dwayne:

I want in on that. Yeah.

Herb:

I want to be in the middle of it, and that’s what that book, Experiencing God, by Blackaby, he says, “Find out where God’s at work and get in the stream. Don’t wait for him to come to you, find out where he is already at work.” God’s at work in our prison facilities in our country, and these chaplains are pouring it out every day. For us to come alongside them once a year, and validates everything that you’re saying to these men every single day. Anyway, it wouldn’t have to be that. Could be wherever God’s… God’s working somewhere in our community, somewhere. If we use our resources and align with him, with other churches, and that’s the other thing we do. I know you notice is that we invite a couple smaller churches to partner with us in the preparation and the trip, and the idea is helping them develop mission outreach spirit, utilize their own resources and their own churches to do that.

Dwayne:

Actually, I don’t remember that you do that. Wow. That’s powerful. Yeah. That’s kingdom-mindness, beyond your own congregation. Building up the kingdom. Wow. Herb, you are a blessing, man. I knew that this was going to be a tremendous conversation. It always is when we get with you, so thank you for sharing your heart today and your experiences. Man, we appreciate you. I just want to tell you that.

Herb:

Thanks for allowing me to be a part of that.

Dwayne:

Well, you’re very welcome, and I do hope we get to work together in Kenya this year and some other things. I’d love to work, I’d love to our ministry to be more involved with the prisons. I’m still praying that the Lord opened ups and doors for that. We have an invitation, we’ve just not been able to utilize it. It’s been on the table now for two or three years of putting books that we’ve written into the prison, the US prison system. A few in each one I guess, I’m not sure, but basically one book, the stats they were explained to me two or three years ago, that one book that you donate to a prison would be passed around I think an average of 30 times people would read it. That’s fascinating. I would love to do that, and I’m still believing the Lord’s going to provide the finances we need to provide those kind of materials.

Dwayne:

Man, it’s just getting around you and hearing these things make me want to do it even more. We appreciate everybody watching. If you want to reach out to Herb, I’m sure there’s a way to do that. Maybe through your website or something, I don’t know, but somebody want to reach out to Herb and connect with you directly, maybe we can share something about that so people can reach out to you, or you can just reach out to us at Next Level Worship and we can get you in touch with Herb. Thank you, buddy. You really are a blessing, and it’s good to see you. Good to talk to you.

Herb:

You too, my friend love you, man.

Dwayne:

All right. Love you too.

Herb:

Bye.

Dwayne:

We’ll be right back with more Live Talk in a few moments. Great. Awesome. Thank you. I’ll just wrap it up with the outro and let me stop the recording.