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Pocketful of Faith Album Cover

Tim Hughes is one of the most consistent and influential worship songwriters out there today. I mean, you can just close your eyes and pick up anything that he releases—whether it's a solo project or a collective record with Worship Central. So a request to review his material is no doubt exciting!

According to Tim, "Pocketful of Faith" is a collection of songs that captures his journey of shifting from his regular church in London to Birmingham where he has been instrumental in planting a new church.

About the songs

The album opens with the powerful "Here With Me" declaring that God is our help and hope in every time of need—easily one of the best songs on this project.

"Only the Brave" continues these themes further, after which we get to listen to the title track. "Pocketful of Faith" encourages us to step out in faith now—instead of waiting too long and live in regret later because of missing out on the adventure God has in store for us today. The song is also interestingly arranged starting out with simple piano work and then exploding into an anthemic bridge full on, it's great!

"Symphony" describes the restoration we enjoy because of the love and grace of God. "Set Apart" from last year's worship central project follows and it sounds just as great as it did there—if you haven't added this song to your master song list by now, please do yourself a favor and do so right away—it's brilliant!

There are more worship goodies—"Arms" is a beautifully crafted song about trusting God and finding rest in Him. "Sky High" celebrates God's majesty and His inexhaustible love. Two more fine songs from "Set Apart" find a place here—"The Cross Stands" and "The Way". in fact, there are two versions of the latter including a sweet acoustic one.

"Hope and Glory" is a moving intercessory song calling on God's mercy and power to revive us again. The album closes with "Hallelujah" motivating us to remain in God and worship Him continually.

Must-have songs?

"Here With Me", "Hope and Glory", "Set Apart", "Pocketful of Faith", "The Way" and "Arms".

What stands out throughout this project is the heart of the songwriters—especially the willingness to be transparent about their vulnerabilities, fears, joys and worship God in every season.

So is this my favorite Tim Hughes record? No, but then it'd be a tough task to better a record like "Love Shines Through"—even for Tim!  However, this project does deliver on what Tim does best—singable church-friendly songs, many of which should easily enter set-lists of worship leaders worldwide.

And now, for the giveaway!

Leave a comment below (don't forget to fill in your email-ID) listing your favorite songs written by Tim Hughes for a chance to win a digital copy of "Pocketful of Faith"—there will be two winners.

"Pocketful of Faith" by Tim Hughes - Review and Giveaway!

By Gangai Victor →

SONG-SELECTION-WORSHIP

I believe 50% of good worship leading is all about good song selection—the right songs by themselves will influence worship positively and reduce the pressure on the worship leader. So, it goes without saying that dropping the ball on song selection will usually shipwreck the worship!

Constructing an effective set-list requires diligent praying, meticulous planning and prudent prep-work. Here are five habits of worship leaders who deliver effective set-lists consistently:

5 Essential Habits to Create Powerful Worship Set Lists

Habit #1: Listen to worship music… a lot!

As a matter of fact, I only listen to worship music… and no, I don’t miss any other music!

There’s an avalanche of new songs to pick from today—anyone who plays an instrument with a computer + Internet connection can create and release songs. The problem is in navigating the flood of material out there and discarding the low quality stuff to collect the songs that are best suited for your congregation. Some of the best sources of songs are:

  • CCLI’s lists of top worship songs is a good place to start finding out songs that are trending around the world
  • WorshipTogether is a great collective of songs, videos etc. from a wide variety of worship artists and labels
  • Your favorite songwriters/labels who have consistently provided songs for your previous set-lists. Paul Baloche, Matt Redman, Vineyard Music, Chris Tomlin, Israel Houghton, Matt Maher, Tim Hughes, Passion and so on
  • Song Discovery CDs from the folks at Worship Leader magazine
  • Worship artist channels on YouTube
  • WeAreWorship is another excellent resource worth checking out for new and old music

Make listening to new music a consistent habit—but don’t try to keep up with everything that gets released either—that’s a race nobody is going to win! Prioritize a few good and consistent sources and check out others whenever possible.

Lastly, don’t ignore the songs that you might be writing too—be faithful to the craft that God has gifted you with and pursue it joyfully.

Habit #2: Maintain a Song Base

Apart from listening, whenever you come across a song that stands out, add it to your Song Base, which is basically a master list of usable worship songs.

When maintaining the song base, be purposeful—don’t add every ‘nice’ song that you hear. The standard should be as high as possible to add only the best of the best songs—as for me, I probably add just one new song to my base on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.

The song base should also be neatly organized with theme, lyrics, chords, preferred key and any other aspect that is important to you.

Habit #3: Care about God

The best set-lists comes out of asking two critical questions, the first one of which is “What do people need to sing to the Lord?”, the key word being ‘need’.

When we place words and prayers into the hearts and mouths of our people through the songs that we select, we should seriously consider if the words are worth singing to the Lord. Are the lyrics authentic, rich in theology, coherent, expressive and reverent? If the answer is not a resounding “yes!”, please pick another song.

Habit #4: Care about people

Here’s the second critical question: “What can people sing to God?”, the key word being ‘can’.

We also need to consider if it’s singable for the average person in the congregation and if it’s playable for our worship team (they are people too!).

Look for songs that are simple, engaging and easy to learn. For example, no matter how beautiful the song is, if I cannot learn it in five listens, it won’t get into my song base.

Simplicity beats complexity any day.

Habit #5: Think fluidity

I’ve explained the various factors to consider when planning the flow between songs in my ebook “Creating Flow—Simple and Practical Songs Transition Ideas”—it’s FREE if you subscribe to my blog, go get it now!

Or better still, you can get “The Worship Kenbook”, which explains in greater detail, most of what I know and practice in worship ministry including song selection—you may have seen it in the list of Top 100 books on worship published by WorshipTheRock.

Okay, shameless sales pitch aside, connecting the songs with prayers, scripture etc. apart from musical concepts like key, tempo and so on is highly significant when putting together a worship set-list and should not be overlooked or ignored. Planning transitions could be the X factor in delivering an engaging, full-of-life worship session, trust me!

Most importantly, we need to spend time in prayer regularly seeking the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and guidance. Remember, prep-work cannot replace prayer and prayer cannot replace prep-work!

What do you focus on when selecting songs for worship? Do leave a comment and share your thoughts and ideas.

Nail Your Song Selection For Worship With These 5 Essential Habits

By Gangai Victor →

feedback-worship

Your hairdo was distracting… the drums were too loud... you talked too much/little… your jeans were too tight…

We worship leaders face our fair and sometimes unfair share of feedback, right?!

While constructive feedback is essential for our improvement, receiving negative feedback is not the most enjoyable pastime for anyone! Let’s remember that when we also give feedback to others—so that we may be responsible, kind and fair.

So how can we critique without hurting/offending?

6 tips for productive feedback sessions

Good things first

“Compliment in public, criticize in private” is a golden rule here—never, ever get into the negative stuff when there are other people around.

Always start with what went well and express the good stuff honestly.

Then get into the areas of improvement.

Specificity beats fuzzy opinions

“I just couldn’t get into that song that you led” is fuzzy opinion—doesn’t help anyone.

“The 2nd song that you played today… I think it needs a little more work to make it friendlier for our congregation. The tempo felt rushed and the key was a bit out of our range….” This is specific, and constructive and probably won’t hurt the worship leader’s feelings.

So, as people of God, it’s our duty to open our ears to know what our worship sessions are doing to our congregations.

Converse, don’t demand

“I didn’t like the way you jumped into the slower songs, make sure you avoid that next time!” That’s more of a demanding command or a commanding demand!

Person giving feedback: “What was the tempo for ‘Everlasting God’?”

Worship leader: “Around 100bpm or so.”

Person giving feedback: “And the song that you played next, “You Alone Can Rescue’?”

Worship leader: “Hmmm… that was around 74bpm I guess.”

Person giving feedback: “Aaah I see, that’s why it felt like a plunge… don’t you think that’s too much of a drop… 100 to 74?”

Worship leader: “Yeah… probably… maybe we could have included another medium tempo song in between?”

Person giving feedback: “I think so… or maybe a 6/8 song—that can also make the landing easier….”

You see? Conversing together to come up with solutions is the way to go.

Listen

If you didn’t like something about the worship, ask the worship leader why it was done that way? Understand the other’s point of view instead of jumping to hasty conclusions.

By asking questions and listening, we might also learn something useful. Let’s not presume that we know everything. We do not!

Also, don’t forget to thank the worship leader for his/her ministry and for the time to have the feedback discussion.

All of these are things I’ve learned through experience—as much as I’ve received unfair feedback at times, oftentimes, I’ve also been guilty of critiquing others harshly.

Hopefully, these tips will help you as much as they’ve helped me.

Have you ever given feedback to worship leaders? Why don’t you share what went well and what could have been done better in the comments?

6 Good Practices to Slay the Unpleasantness While Giving Feedback

By Gangai Victor →

Lent-Worship1

This is a follow up to my earlier post listing out songs suitable for worship during the Lenten season.

Let's get to the list right away (in alphabetical order):

  1. 40 Days (A Song for Lent) – Matt Maher
  2. Beautiful, Wonderful Cross – Matt Boswell
  3. Bread of the World in Mercy Broken – Zac Hicks & Cherry Street Worship
  4. Come and See – Jason Ingram, Matt Maher, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin
  5. Create In Me A Clean Heart (Psalm 51) – Keith Green
  6. Great Redeemer – Paul Baloche
  7. Here I am to Worship – Tim Hughes
  8. How Great is the Love – Paul Baloche, Meredith Andrews
  9. Humble – Audrey Assad
  10. Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer – Keith Getty, Margaret Becker
  11. Jesus Remember Me - Jacques Berthier (Taizé)
  12. Lord Have Mercy – Steve Merkel
  13. Love Ran Red – Chris Tomlin
  14. Now Behold the Lamb – Kirk Franklin
  15. O the Blood - Gateway Worship
  16. Stay with Me – Jacques Berthier (TaizĂ©)
  17. Surrender – Lincoln Brewster
  18. The Same Love – Paul Baloche
  19. The Victory – Phil Wickham
  20. What Have We Done? – Joe Day
  21. Your Blood Covers It All – Allie Lapointe, David Moffitt
  22. Your Cross is Enough – Worship Central

Here's a YouTube playlist to get you going:

"Lent is the perfect time to learn how to love again. Jesus—the great protagonist of this holy season—certainly showed us the way. In him, God descends all the way down to bring everyone up. In his life and his ministry, no one is excluded." - Pope Francis

What are your favorite songs for Lenten worship?

Image: PixGood

22 More Meaningful Songs for Lenten Worship

By Gangai Victor →

50-shades-worship

"50 Shades of Grey" is probably a landmark crossover movie of sorts of our times.

I mean a crossover of porn into mainstream cinema—a concept that was sure to materialize especially after movies like "Blue is the Warmest Colour" were acclaimed in the recent past.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Dakota Johnson even wins an Oscar for her role as the sexually abused (yes, BDSM is abuse, no matter how the media loves to paint it otherwise) lead female character. The media will of course celebrate her for the “boldness” to take up this “challenging” role.

With normalcy steadily bowing out and depravity firmly setting  in, what is a worshiper of Christ ought to do?

Avoid it of course and spread the word why.

I believe that choosing to not watch "50 Shades of Grey" is also an act of worship

Here’s why

1. Obedience

We are obeying Christ’s words to be in the world but not of it (John 15:19).

Obedience is worship (1 Sam 15:22)

2. Offering

By refusing to be part of the acclamation of sheer immorality, we are willing to not be conformed to the standards of the world. Instead, we would rather be offering our minds to God.

This is an important ingredient of spiritual worship taught by St. Paul. (Rom 12:2)

3. Holiness

By self-controlling our senses for the cause of holiness, we demonstrate that we truly know our God (1 Thes 4:3-5).

Holiness is worship.

4. Honor

By refusing to watch the  movie, we honor all the women that we are called to love starting with our mothers, wives, daughters and so on.

I believe practicing  honor of those who should be honored pleases God and is also worship (1 Pet 3:7, Eph 6:2, Heb 13:4, Rom 12:10)

5. Real love

We choose not to support the abuse of women, which is exactly what this movie glorifies.

Make no mistake, abuse is never love.

Standing up for real love is worship. (1 Cor 13:6)

And btw, did you know that OutreachMediaGroup has published a thought provoking video on this subject recommending us to watch “Old Fashioned” instead? Check it out.

Come, let's worship the Lord.

It is the duty of every man to uphold the dignity of every woman. – Pope John Paul II

Do you agree? How can we foster a counter culture that stands for what is honorable instead of celebrating the deplorable?

What is worship? Not watching "50 Shades of Grey"—5 Reasons why

By Gangai Victor →

creative-worship

Creativity in worship has become a buzz word of late—especially among worship leaders. We all want to lead worship 'creatively'.

But most of the time, it only means that we want try out something new, something musically/vocally challenging, or something bigger and usually that something bombs the worship badly—the worse part is we even fail to notice the crash landing and try again next time!

While creativity maybe good, it needs to have the right substance and the right intent to actually foster participative worship—the kind that that keeps the focus on God and not the creative idea itself.

So how can we channel creativity rightly?

Here's what I believe: The source of creativity is more important than creativity itself.

In one word?

INSPIRATION

Not the inspiration that comes out of watching YouTube videos and imitating what you see there—Christian or otherwise.

I mean the keeping-it-real, being-yourself kind that comes from the Holy Spirit.

It's that sudden flash of lightning that hits your gut when listening to a song and you just know the arrangement changes that would make it work with your congregation. Or that unplanned prayer that you normally wouldn't think of but it just appears out of nowhere. Or that nagging feeling to linger in a song for awhile even to the point of dropping a song from your set-list.

I can go on with this, but you get the idea, right!

So how do we know it's Holy Spirit inspiration?

Well, we don't... at least not until we do what we're inspired to do and experience the tangible boost it gives to the worship. Else, it probably wasn't inspired—that's the acid test.

For good examples, check out this guest post by my blogging buddy Alastair Vance on inspired creativity in worship.

Is it possible to cultivate inspiration?

Yes, I  believe we can. Here are 3 good practices that can help:

1. Yield

Yielding is a continual, daily process of submitting to the Lord. It's He who forms our heart, transforms our lives and leads us in ministry—so easy to lose sight of this truth especially when we are experienced worship leaders.

That's why we need to constantly remind ourselves that without the Holy Spirit we are nothing  but broken and empty vessels and keep turning back to Him.

2. Listen

Some of us prefer to hear the Lord's voice only when we are selecting songs or when on stage—other times, we only want to do our thing.

And the Lord in His mercy even goes along with us so many times when we minister!

But a disciple trains to listen all the time. A consistent, daily prayer life and scripture reading are of paramount importance in this regard. So is learning to be comfortable with silence. The more we learn to listen, the more we will hear God and know His voice.

3. Follow

When we are familiar with the Lord's voice, it becomes easy over time to be sure during moments of inspiration that it's from the Holy Spirit.

Then we wouldn't hesitate to follow. And when we follow Him and not ourselves, the payoff is amazing—after all, He happens to be the most creative Person ever!

The principle that I am advocating is creativity must not take over worship; rather worship must take over creativity.

When we are rooted in Holy Spirit inspiration, then the creativity that flows out would be anointed , real and facilitate deeper worship and not just a cute Christian music show.

How do you inculcate God-focused creativity in your ministry? Would love to hear from you in the comments.

Thoughts on Cultivating God-Centered Creativity in Worship

By Gangai Victor →

andoid-presentation

A band shouldn't have to bring along a computer just to display lyrics—that's the thinking behind LyricsPro, probably the first Android app to manage song projection entirely from a tablet.

I kinda agree—at least for worship in small groups.

What do you need to use LyricsPro?

An Android tablet running version 4.2 or above with video-out functions like MHLChromecast's mirror function would also suffice.

What does it do?

Create a program with multimedia content—song slides, images and videos (mpg, avi, mkv, m4v, and mov) and project to a secondary monitor.

3rd party apps are also available to import PowerPoint files also, though I would have preferred this feature to be available natively.

You can create song lyric files by typing them out or import from azlyrics also to save time.

What kind of presentation features does it have?

Most of the basic features are covered: Font options, fading slide transitions and ability to use any type of backgrounds—plain color, image or motion video.

Is it good enough to replace your existing presentation systems?

Frankly no—not at this point. However, this is a pioneering project that I believe should be encouraged. I see a lot of potential if the developers continue to keep it at.

The main challenge with these kind of apps is content creation—to an extent, lyrics import from azlyrics works, but needs more such options and maybe a companion desktop tool too.

Are you aware of similar church projection tools for mobile devices?

LyricsPro - A Church Presentation Software for Android Devices

By Gangai Victor →

top-worship-songs-2014

Of course I did not listen to every single worship song released in 2014!

So this isn't a definitive, scientifically researched list by any means—just my personal list of songs that I loved listening to the most last year. Here goes:

Top worship songs of 2014 (imho only!)

 

In alphabetical order:

Hope you liked the list

Here's wishing you a blessed new year—thank you for reading my blog!

What are your favorite songs from last year?

Image: educat yourself

Top Worship Songs of 2014

By Gangai Victor →