Leading From The Seats – Audio & Notes

I recently had the opportunity to speak to our church dream team on the subject worship. Our dream team is made up from everyone who volunteers, at any capacity, at STORYCHURCH. These are the people who are invested in the vision and life of our church.

I had such a fun time sharing my heart on this topic. What seemed like an eternity at the time turns out to be only 12 minutes and 48 seconds! I’m not sure how Jeremy and Joel can throw a 30-35 minute sermon together in a week!

I am so thankful that I get to be a part of what God is doing in Durham through STORYCHURCH. I’m thankful for the team that God has placed alongside me and I’m thankful for the congregation that I get to serve.

One of the highlights (and not available on the audio download) was getting to hear feedback on how music has impacted lives in our church. That was super encouraging for me and the team to hear.

I promised to publish my notes from the session, so here they are. I have also attached the audio recording if you wish to listen to it.

Leading From The Seats

Download MP3 // File Size: 12MB // Length: 12:48


Why Do We Sing

But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter. It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. (John 4:23 MSG)

When Jesus talked with the woman at the well about true worship, it was clear that worship was much more than some ritual. It was a matter of the heart.

Jesus said, “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God”.

There will be some of you relieved to find out that we can (and must) worship God without having to sing. However, we’re going to look at why singing is an meaningful way to worship when we meet with other people to seek God.

The Call To Worship

If you have ever read the psalms (silent p, silent l), the largest book in the bible, you’ll have come across numerous calls to sing to God! Throughout the 150 chapters we are encouraged many times to sing out our praises to God.

Sing God a brand-new song! Earth and everyone in it, sing! Sing to Godworship God! (Psalm 96:1–2 MSG)

I’ll often jump into the psalms for a quick pick-me-up. They are full of God’s praises and help me to align my heart and mind to worship.

On Earth As In Heaven

In the book of revelation, John describes a vision he received of heaven. The throne was surrounded by thousands of angels, singing and declaring together God’s praises.

I looked again. I heard a company of Angels around the Throne, the Animals, and the Elders—ten thousand times ten thousand their number, thousand after thousand after thousand in full song: The slain Lamb is worthy! Take the power, the wealth, the wisdom, the strength! Take the honor, the glory, the blessing! (Revelation 5:11-14 MSG)

In other words, we better get used to some singing, because it sounds like heaven has it’s fair share of it!

Singing Promotes Unity

Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20 MSG)

“Sing hymns instead of drinking songs!” – I love that. No one will be surprised if I tell them that a room full of people singing drinking songs is no quiet affair! Quite the opposite! They are giving it everything they’ve got – whether they know all the words or not.

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. (Colossians 3:16-17 MSG)

So, let’s sing our hearts out to God! Let’s sing like we mean it. Let’s sing together and lift up the name of Jesus in unity with each other.

I believe a unified group of believers is a very powerful thing for a seeker to witness. It shows we have each other’s back and we support and love each other. It portrays a kind of community, that deep down everyone longs to be part of.

Singing Helps Us Express Our Worship

We are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking
(John Mark McMillan, How He Loves)

Not only do we have the bible, in particular the book of Psalms, but God has also gifted modern artists and songwriters with the ability to pen words that we can sing as our own. These songs help us to express ourselves in worship using language that may not come naturally to us.

The lyric from How He Loves often brings a tear to my eye. The imagery that John Mark McMillan uses throughout this song helps to bring these truths to life in new ways and impact my heart and mind.

Singing Helps Us Remember Truth

“A song will outlive all sermons in the memory.” Henry Giles

As children we learn the alphabet by singing it to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and we remember the number of days in a month with a rhyme. Melody and rhythm help us remember lyrics.

This is why it is important to sing songs full of biblical truth. Songs that give hope, build us up and encourage us. Songs that stay with us during the weeks and months.

Singing Helps Us Engage Emotionally

“The voice is never more emotional than when raised in song, as the meaning of words is heightened, becoming something larger than what we want to say; the melody and form at the pinnacle of what humans are capable of, tuning in to beauty itself.” – David Rothenberg

God made us, along with our emotions. Emotions are not something that should be left outside the church. In fact, singing without emotion is an oxymoron – especially when worshiping God. Singing engages our emotions, our whole being,  connecting the truth that we sing with the passion in our hearts.

Singing Brings Freedom

Along about midnight, Paul and Silas were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God. The other prisoners couldn’t believe their ears. (Acts 16:25 MSG)

One of my favorite stories in the bible is when Paul and Silas were imprisoned and despite their situation sang praises to God. In was in that very moment God moved and shook the prison with an earthquake releasing all the prisoners inside.

We want to see God move in us as we worship. We want to see spiritual chains broken. Relationships mended. Stress lifted. Clarity received. Peace given. Illnesses cured. Anything is possible if we trust and praise God despite what we are going through.

Leading By Example

At STORYCHURCH our Weekend services are deliberately tailored for the unchurched. When we’re planning the sermon, and service elements, we always try to view it through the lens of a visitor – someone who most likely has not grown up in church and is currently far from God.

When we’re teaching from the platform on Sunday mornings we’re careful not to make assumptions of our congregation’s biblical knowledge, so extra explanations are provided to ensure everyone is able to follow.

Everyone stand up and worship!

New guests always arrive early and are always in the room, seated and waiting for the service to start. If a lot of our regular people still in the foyer when the service starts then our guests can feel a little lost and exposed.

So when we start our services with a song, why do we expect new guests to know what to do? Chances are, they’re not sure.

They are going to want to look around to see what everyone else in the room is doing. That means they are looking to see what you are doing, and how you are expressing yourself in worship!

We Need To Model It

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

As people, invested into the life of STORYCHURCH, new guests will recognize you and look to you for examples of how to live out their faith and that includes how to express themselves in worship.

This makes us all worship leaders in a sense. It is our (collective) responsibility to shape the culture of worship at our church. It is us that define the boundaries – negative or positive – to how people express themselves.

If we want a church that worships well (and I hope we do), then WE need to model it – and model it well.

[Solomon] knelt in full view of the whole congregation, stretched his hands to heaven, and prayed. (2 Chronicles 6:13 MSG)

Unleash Your Emotion

Let’s not be afraid to unleash a little emotion when we gather together to sing. We’ve already discussed how emotion helps us to connect deeply with the words – by marrying the passion we have for Jesus with the words leaving our mouths.

Imagine singing “Oh No You Never Let Go…” with zero emotion. Who is going to believe those words have any merit? Who is going to believe that God has never actually left you?

Don’t fake it – that would be worse. Be authentic and vulnerable before God. Let Him work through you when you worship. Your emotions will kick in automatically.

God Wants Your All

Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. (Romans 12:1-2 MSG)

God wants our all in worship. He wants us fully engaged – all in. God in turn will have permission to do a work in our life because we have surrendered to Him. We will be changed from the inside out! The passion, excitement and joy will bubble out of us and will be CONTAGIOUS!


New EP – Tuned To The Key Of Praise

Tuned To The Key Of Praise” is a new EP that I was privileged to be involved with. The project was put together by Gangai Victor, a worship leader from Chennai, India. You can find out more about the team involved here.

I recorded my vocal for one of Gangai’s songs and sent it to his team for them to work their magic. I love how it turned out. You can download the whole EP from noisetrade now (free download).

It was exciting to collaborate with other worship leaders across the world and I hope we can do that again.

STORYCHURCH Set List – 23 Aug 2015

Screenshot 2015-08-23 at 17.14.45

  • I Am – Crowder (C)
  • In Christ Alone – Keith & Kristyn Getty (C)
  • How Can It Be – Lauren Diagle (G)
  • You Make Me Brave – Bethel Music (Eb)
  • Waiting Here For You – Martin Smith (D)
  • Forever – Bethel Music (G)

Really good morning. We played You Make Me Brave for the first time. It is such a good song – LOVE it. We maxed out the stage with musicians which was awesome. Blessed to serve alongside a great team of people week after week.

Live stream here.


Join Us for our first Worship Night Event!


On Wednesday, 2nd September 2015 at 7pm, we will host our very first Worship Night at STORYCHURCH.

What is Worship Night?

It will be an extended time of music and singing led by the STORYCHURCH band. We have a great set planned, crammed full of our favorite songs. We can’t wait to worship with you and pursue God’s heart together.

So, plan to be there and bring some friends! We will not have childcare unfortunately. However, children who wish to participate with us are very welcome.

Share it

Please help us to spread the word on social media by sharing this blog post (using the share icons at the bottom) and/or using the following images:

STORYCHURCH Set List – 16 Aug 2015

Tackle Box - Week 2

  • This Is Amazing Grace – Jeremy Riddle (A)
  • Come As You Are – Crowder (A)
  • Mighty To Save – Hillsong (A)
  • Never Gonna Let Me Go – Kristian Stanfill (A)
  • The Same Power – Ben Cantelon (D)
  • Lead Me To The Cross – Hillsong (D)

Today’s stream can be viewed here.

Meteors and Poop

We all went outside close to midnight last night to watch the meteor shower. I attempted to take photos, but struggled to get my camera set up correctly. Disappointingly, most of the photos of the sky turned out blurry, with absolutely no evidence of meteors.


Since I was having no luck photographing the sky, I turned the camera on my kids instead and armed them with a flashlight.

This is Katie’s photo below. She started out writing something and then… well, a 25 second exposure is a really long time for a kid, so she ended up just going crazy with it.


This next photo is Noah’s. He tried to be a bit more intentional with it but his picture turned out to be Poop. Well, if he wrote it the right way around it would be, literally.


STORYCHURCH Set List – 09 Aug 2015

2015-08-10 15_29_09-BoxCast __ a smarter way to stream

  • King Of Heaven – Paul Baloche (G)
  • God With Us – Mercy Me (G)
  • Oh You Bring – Hillsong (G)
  • Let Your Kingdom Come – Alastair Vance (D)
  • Scandal Of Grace – Hillsong (B)
  • God Of This City – BlueTree (B)

You can watch the service here.

The Lure Of Apple Music

I’m struggling with temptation.

In the past I have not been interested in music subscriptions. I could not see the value in spending $10-15 per month to listen to music I can hear on the radio, or from my own music library.

Now I’m not sure why it tempts me so.

I recognize these feelings of temptation from when iTunes Match was first launched. At first I believed I didn’t need it. I mean I can just sync whatever songs I want to listen to. Right?

Nope. After a few weeks of humming and haa-ing I finally gave in. And now I could not go back. Having every song in my iTunes library available to me wherever I am is so invaluable to me.

Then the new Apple Photos app arrived and dangled the new iCloud storage options in front of me. Every photo I have on every device wherever I am? Think about all those #tbt Instagram posts I could upload!

I tried to resist. I did. Eventually I signed up, once more.

Not long after signing up, Amazon Prime offered unlimited photo storage for free with Amazon Prime membership. I seriously considered switching but it just doesn’t fit perfectly in my Apple ecosystem.

Now my latest deliberation is Apple Music. So far I have even resisted participating in the 3 month trial. Silly, right? But I know if I start the trial the chances are I’m not going to be able to leave. Apple knows this.

I am wondering however, if the $10 per month will reduce the need to buy as much music as I normally do? Again, as a Prime customer, I have Prime music available to me, but the library and playlists have always felt quite limited.

For those of you who use Apple Music already, here are some questions:

  • If I subscribe to Apple Music, do I still need iTunes Match? Will my current iTunes library still be available to me with an Apple Music subscription only?
  • Are there any artists/albums you listen to that are not available on Apple Music?
  • Does the content have an expiry date, like Netflix & Prime movie content, etc?
  • Worship Leaders: Is it a good resource for new worship music and discovering new songs for church?

STORYCHURCH Set List – 02 Aug 2015

  • Only King Forever – Elevation Church (C)
  • Emmanuel – Martin Smith (C)
  • Forever – Bethel Music (C)
  • Hope’s Anthem – Bethel Music (C)
  • Oceans – Hillsong (D)
  • Great I Am – Jared Anderson (D)

I really enjoyed leading on Sunday. You can watch the archived live stream at the following link. Pastor Jeremy closes out the Bridezilla series with “Sideways Energy” based on Ephesians 6:10-20.


It’s been exciting to see our online service grow, to see our hosts get excited and engage with new people each week. Don’t forget to share the online service link with everyone you know.



Academy Street Bistro

academystbistroThis is the second post of a series highlighting places Liz and I like to go eat and hang out. In some way they’ve impressed us with their food, their service and/or ambiance.

Liz and I visited Academy Street Bistro in downtown Cary last month, on our wedding anniversary. It happened to fall during the Triangle restaurant week, where restaurants all over the triangle offer special fixed price 3 course meals.

There is indoor and outdoor seating available and the weekday evening we were there had live music outside.

The staff were fantastic and we really appreciated getting to chat with Chef Brian a couple of times during our meal. They really looked after us and made our anniversary special.

The food was amazing. I especially enjoyed the duck salad (pictured). It’s hard to find duck on a menu here in the states, never mind cooked to perfection.

I also took advantage of the wine pairing with each course which I highly recommend.

For our budget, it’s a little on the expensive side for regular dining, but for special occasions or random splurges we will definitely be back to Academy Street Bistro.