Here is a list of tools that are used in my worship environment for mixing together, blowing up and other various fun things we help our congregation experience and respond to the story of Jesus.
Worship Planning Resources
- The Worship Sourcebook- Calvin Institute of Worship: This is a great book full of prayers, calls to worship with the entire book in a searchable .pdf which is great for searching key phrases or seasons.
- Psalms for All Seasons- John Witvliet: The psalms were the original worship hymnal and this resource gives musical settings for all 150 psalms, background information on each psalm, as well as creative poetic or ideas for their use.
- The Jesus Storybook Bible- Sally Lloyd-Jones: This is primarily a children’s bible but I love that it points out the foreshadowing of Jesus in the main stories of the bible so it makes a quick research tool.
- The Bible in Rhyme- Kyle Holt: I can’t imagine what it took to take the entire bible and translate it into rhyme but Mr. Holt has done it. We’ve used this to tell the Genesis and Christmas stories in a new and fresh way.
- NIV Application Commentaries: The strong point about these commentaries is that each section of scripture has 3 parts: the original context, bridging the context and a section on present application. Great for figuring out what responses could be for the congregation.
- The Divine Hours: Phyllis Tickle: This is a great way to incorporate intentional times of prayer into your day as well as a treasure trove of rich prayers that can be used for corporate worship as well as personal.
- Common Prayer- Shane Clairborne: Another book for practicing the divine hours throughout the day but with Shane’s well known bent for simplicity and social justice.
- The Revised Common Lectionary: We have a tendency to preach and read through the same scriptures over and over again. The lectionary forces us to read all of the scriptures over a three year period.
- Celebration Hymnal: The people who put these resources together intentionally sought to compile a balanced worship diet that spoke to the totality of Christian theology and emotional expression. In addition there are responsive readings, scriptures that go along with the songs. Alternative lyrical settings (“come thou long expected jesus” to the tune of “come thou fount” for example)
- Biblegateway.com: I am constantly cutting and pasting as well as looking at different translations of the bible (The Message, CEV,Amplified)
- The Voice: I love this translation of the bible. It picks up with fresh language much like the Message. It reads well for corporate worship and causes those who have grown up in church to listen closer.
- The Transformation Study Bible: This bible is great because it has built in questions and descriptions if you need to spur on creative thinking through biblical passages.
- Serendipity Bible: If your small groups are geared around the topic from each Sunday, this is an invaluable tool because it has questions specifically designed for small groups. Also a good conversation starter when brainstorming a service based on scriptural passages.
- Rhythms of Grace- Mike Cosper: This is a great book because it takes some of the best books out there on worship and brings them all together in an approachable and easily understood. I’ve begun using this as the crash course on worship design for all of my interns.
- Christ-Centered Worship- Bryan Chapell: Great overview of worship orders and their similarities and differences. In addition it spells out the biblical heart responses that are present regardless of style or form.
- Worship Matters- Bob Kauflin: Theologians that can translate knowledge practically are rare and Bob Kauflin has written an honest, helpful and challenging book.
- For the Beauty of the Church- W. David O. Church: I was challenged by the fact that the Church has become very utilitarian in it’s use of art and likes to pigeon hole “religious” or “Christian” art. In addition I think the idea of a patronage system for the development of art and artists is intriguing.
- Pure Praise- Dwayne Moore: A great book for personal or team devotion that helps people to grow outside of their comfort zone in expression and understanding of worship. I like that it takes worship outside of the building.
- Engaging with God- David Peterson: If you’re looking for a comprehensive book on theology of worship, this is the book for you. It definitely reads like a textbook and I know it has been used that way in quite a few Christian colleges but it is hard to beat in the depth of information.
- Worship Words- Debra and Ron Rienstra: The words we use can transform if we are purposeful in putting them together. From a free or “low” church background that uses spontaneous prayer it helps us to see how shallow and confined we might actually be.
- The Worship Architect- Constance Cherry: A great book on worship design using the metaphor of building a house. The major take away for me was the major thematic elements that are present in Christian worship such as covenantal, corporate, Trinitarian, etc.
- Curating Worship- Jonny Baker: Jonny speaks from the post Christian environment of Europe and has some incredibly insightful thoughts and practices that should be taken seriously in this interactive, personally customizable society where people want to be able to shape their own experiences.
- Ancient-Future Worship- Robert E. Webber:
- Worship is a Verb- Robert E. Webber: This is the very first book I ever read on worship and it forever changed my thinking and set me on a search for more.
- Worship by the Book- D.A. Carson:
- Steal Like An Artist- Austin Kleon: There’s nothing new under the sun said Solomon just creative remixes. There’s a lot more to this book and well worth the read.
- Taking Flight with Creativity- Len Wilson & Jason Moore: Great book on leading creative teams. I found the defining of roles within a creative team really helpful.
- Made to Stick- Chip Heath & Dan Heath: I heard these guys speak at Willow Creeks Arts Conference and they have really nailed it with how to make our messages more memorable by being simple, unexpected, concrete, credible as well as others.
- The Creative Habit- Twyla Tharp: Cultivating a habit of being creative sounds far fetched but there is a science to this art. The idea of scratching for ideas has been invaluable, maybe even one of the defining things I’ve ever learned as a creative.
- Emotional Intelligence 2.0- Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves: Let’s face it, reading, understanding and responding to our own emotions as well as others is something we can all get better at. This comes with a handy dandy test to show you where you need to grow in social and personal awareness and short powerful tools to begin relating even better right away.
- The Longview- Roger Parrott: Too many of us are looking for the short term wins and losing in the long run. The chapters on ego driven leaders as well as helping others to shine are probably the most convicting and inspiring chapters I’ve read in a long time.
- Simply Strategic Volunteers- Tony Morgan & Tim Stevens: Loving and caring for people and setting them loose to experience joy, passion and service is what we’re about and this book is jam packed with great tips.
- Heart of The Artist- Rory Noland: Classic book about being an artist from an artist. He takes head on the strengths and weaknesses we have and encourages us to see them in the hands of the ultimate artist.
- Work The System- The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less- Sam Carpenter. If you don’t understand how to get organized and set others up to confidently use their abilities to serve and fulfill the vision of your ministry this book is priceless.
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People- Covey. Other than the bible and the Holy Spirit, you are the biggest tool you bring to the table. Learn to manage yourself well and effectively serve with others. A classic.
- Less Clutter Less Noise- Kem Meyer: We live in a media and information saturated world and often the Church is just adding to the noise. Kem is one of the most prominent and wise voices in Church communications. Just Google Church communications manual and see how many churches have tweaked Grangers manual that she created.
- Granger Communications Forms- Pay and Download (worth it): This includes the communications manual that I mentioned above. Don’t recreate the wheel, just make it fit your own Church car.
- Outspoken (Conversations on Church Communications): Imagine getting in a room full of the best Church communications people and listening to their wisdom. That’s what this book is. Each chapter is written by a different author and presents tested and proven methods to help you communicate clearly and more professionally.
- Platform (Get Noticed In A Noisy World)- Michael Hyatt: Michael is THE name in communications, blogging and promotions. His book and his website will take you to the next level.
Sheet Music & Chord Charts
- praisecharts.com: My go to resource for vocal sheet music for almost any worship song you can think of. They also sell horn parts and finale files.
- lifewayworship.com: My favorite think about Lifeway is their supercharts which are .pdf files of a song in every key so those of us who transpose almost everything can find a key we can use that fits our congregations voices.
- worshiptogether.com: When the passion artists (Tomlin, Stanfill, Redman, Crowder, etc.) put out a song WorshipTogether almost always will give away free sheet music for it so I check back to this website regularly. They also have video clips that show the artists talking about the songs and why they wrote them or what they mean.
- musicnotes.com: When we go outside of the congregational worship realm to a performance piece I usually check this website. It’s a great resource for pop music.
- sheetmusicplus.com: Another website for pop performance sheet music.
- kingswayshop.com: Sometimes all of the above websites will fall short in helping you get vocal sheet music for some of the European artists and Kingsway has the corner on that market.
Loops & Multi Tracks
- loopcommunity.com: Check these guys out first when looking for loops. They are a community, like their name indicates, of people who are creating loops for the local Church within the Church. They sell Reason, Ableton, and mp3 files and make sure no copyright laws are broken. I sell my files as part of this community.
- multitracks.com: The coolest thing about multitracks is that many times they have the actual masters from the recordings we love that have been made available to you. Imagine, having Lincoln Brewster’s actual guitar solo played by him on the recording playing along with your band. They are pricier than Loopcommunity but still a great company.
- praisecharts.com: While they specialize in charts and lead sheets they also have Reason files for a lot of songs. If Loopcommunity doesn’t have it I’ll check here.
- free-midi.org (import midi files into reason) When I’m looking to do a performance piece like “Secrets” by One Republic I’ll check to see if there is a midi file here that I can import into Reason and update the sounds and then export them as my own versions.
- karaoke-version.com: I love this website for performance tracks because they have the option of making custom karaoke tracks for most of the stuff you’ll hear on regular radio. You can choose which instruments you want in the track and what key.
Technology & Gear
- Godin XTSA Electric Guitar: This is my go to guitar. I bought it because I’m a tech geek and loved the fact that it has a piezo pickup that emulates an acoustic guitar as well as the built in midi pickup.
- Takamine TAN15C Acoustic Guitar: I’ve played a lot of high end guitars and although this one is just over a thousand, it sounded as good as some of the $2,000 dollar Taylors and Martins.
- Korg Triton Extreme: Ever since I got my very first Triton in 1998 I’ve been a fan of their pads and synths. This lives permanently on stage at our Church.
- Old School PODxt Live (Lincoln Brewster Patches): It’s old school but I love the patches and honestly it’s held up better than my X3 did.
- Radial Switchbone: I switch between acoustic and electric guitars regularly and this pedal works really well for a single cable input and switchable outputs with a built in mute switch.
- Pageflip Cicada Bluetooth pedal: This is a Bluetooth pedal for turning pages on my iPad using the musicstand app from planningcenter. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about this thing in addition it’s much cheaper than the air turn.
- Criskenna Xclip iPad clip: When I bought this it was the most reasonably priced of the clips for iPads. There are a number of new ones out that are about the same price but I’ve had really good luck with mine.
- Fishman Aura Spectrum DI– Awesome direct box with Acoustic modeling to beef or sweeten up your acoustic tone. I use this in conjunction with my piezo pickup on my Godin to fatten up and make the acoustic simulation more realistic.
Recording & Loops
- Ableton Live: This is the most powerful playback and creation software for using loops live. I primarily use it for playback on Sunday mornings. It’s not cheap but in this case, you get what you pay for.
- Propellerhead Reason: My go to software for creating loops and tracks. In the last version they combined their Record software and now it’s perfect for tracking midi instruments and live instruments side by side. I use it to record backing guitar and vocal tracks along with my loops.
- McMillan Softstep Midi Controller: Once you’ve got your software in place and your tracks created it’s important to have a way to trigger them live. The Softstep is perfect for those guitar players who are used to stop boxes as well as great for letting you control the tracks instead of them making you follow them.
- Loopcommunity Softstep presets: It’s not always simple getting into the midi programming realm if you’re new to it, so save yourself some time and purchase the presets created specifically by worship leaders for worship leaders.
- North Point Ableton Worship Template: North Point Church is one of the most innovative Churches in the country and they have done us a great service by setting up a template to help save hours of setup getting Ableton up and running.
- Cubase SX6: I used to use this software much more before Reason integrated live recording. However, there are times when Cubase’s robust features are just more suited for certain projects. In addition, this is the software we use for recording audio of our sermons.
- Presonus Firebox, Firepod & Audiobox: Over the years I have become a fan of presonus and their recording interfaces. They are workhorses and work almost immediately out of the box. I’m still using my Firebox that I purchased over 8 years ago and it’s going strong.
Presentation and Video
- Adobe Creative Suite Cloud (Premiere, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc): The professionals tools of choice. This is a huge upfront cost but with the adobe cloud option if you can swing $50 a month you’ll never have to shell out obscene amounts of money for yearly upgrades. I use this for sermon series design, video announcements, testimonies and everything media related.
- Partical Illusion: I bought this program through a deal that Digital Juice was running and have loved it. I’m a fan of anything that puts high quality professional effects in my hands without hours of programming. Use this program to add flames, fireworks, smoke and other great animated effects.
- Renewed Visions Pro Presenter5 (w/master module): After using MediaShout for years and envying my brothers with Mac’s they finally released a PC version of Pro Presenter. There is not software without bugs and we still have some hang ups but all in all, PP5 is 20x’s more powerful than MediaShout ever dreamed of being as well as more volunteer friendly. We use the master module to control two computers (1 for lyrics and 1 for environmental projection). We will be adding the Matrox Triplehead2Go and the multiscreen module very soon.
- Vimeo: We upload all of our sermons and promotional videos to Vimeo. For the cost and ease of use as well as the lack of advertising with the pro account it was a no brainer.
- Movavi Convertor: For those times you need to convert a video from one format to another quickly this is a cheap and helpful program.
- Roland VR-5 Video Switcher: As we added TV’s, digital signage and screens to our facility, it became more important to be able to mix camera sources, lyrics and presentation software and the Roland VR-5 was a great solution. It’s volunteer friendly, records directly to a smart disk. The only issue is that we will have to replace it when we upgrade to HD projectors and cameras.
- Canon XL2: Great prosumer level camera. We needed something that had XLR inputs for getting good clear audio for testimonies.
Video and Graphics Sites
- istockphoto.com: The standard for stock video and photo resources. They’re great but really expensive.
- videohive.net: My new favorite site. They have stock video files but are a stock pile of downloadable Adobe After Effects files. These are great for creating sermon series branding, bumpers and promo videos. They are affiliated with a whole host of websites that include royalty free audio as well as other things.
- worshiphousemedia.com: Basically the Walmart of Christian video resources. They are great for sermon illustrations and motion backgrounds.
- bluefishtv.com: The beauty of Bluefishtv is their video based studies. However they have some good video illustrations as well.
- centerlinenewmedia.com: I went ahead and purchased an annual subscription with these guys because I found myself gravitating towards their sermon illustrations and video backgrounds on Worshiphouse and in the long run it saved me money to download everything they make.
- floodgateproductions.com: Another annual subscription service because they have awesome motion backgrounds.
- gracewaymedia.com: This service has been a lifesaver. They offer a subscription service for motion backgrounds and graphics but the biggest feather in their cap is the ability to download their Photoshop files. I use them for promotional materials for events and some for sermon branding. This saves a ton of time creating things from scratch and makes a nice starting point.
- churchmotiongraphics.com: These guys do a great job and also have subscriptions that are incredibly affordable. If you’re looking for a better price you won’t find one.
- creationswap.com: Creationswap is a combination website that allows artists to give away and sell their graphics. This is a place I go to for inspiration as well as free graphics to slap into a promo in a pinch.
- sxc.hu: A royalty free stock photo website. Some really nice large format files here for textures.
- lightstock.com: These guys are newer to the scene but basically it is istockphoto for the Church realm. They have a much deeper base of certain images that istock such as for Easter, the cross and Christmas.
- stufficanuse.com: Free teaching series graphics from Southeast Christian Church. Really great stuff and you can’t beat the price.
- resources.elevationchurch.org: More free resources from another one of the most creative places in the country. Including videos and graphics.
- open.lifechurch.tv: Free resources from Lifechurch with Craig Groeschel. I especially love their sermon series called “you’re dead, now what?”
- overnightprints.com: I have used this printing service for over 8 years now and still haven’t found anyone that comes close to price and quality. We use them to print our bulletins, postcards, tickets and other promotional items.
- isco.net: Also known as Independent Service Company is who we use for large format banners. We’ve done everything from 30’w x 13’t banners for our stage to double sided banners for outdoor signs. I highly recommend them. I’ve never been disappointed over the last 8 years.
- Evernote: I cannot say how much this app has revolutionized my life and ministry. It is my digital filing cabinet, to do list and resource bucket for planning. Read More…
- Planning Center Online: Online Planning, scheduling and rehearsal web service. Don’t even want to think about doing ministry without it. Read More…
- Itunes: I don’t buy CD’s anymore. With the cloud option I love having my entire music collection available that is too big to fit on my iPhone. Great for creating playlists of potential songs to introduce. Read More…
- Noteburner: Need a song from your iTunes music but in an .mp3 or .wma? This is a virtual CD burner that will allow you to do just that.
- Dropbox: I have a shared folder set up for my creative team that has planning resources and forms and policies. Additionally, by using the public link in the public folder you can send links to files that are too large to email. This is great because it can be a temporary link if you decide to delete or move the file later.
- Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, Publisher): Not sure how you can use a computer and not use these programs. I do have a great system though set up for song set planning using Excel though. Read More…
- PDF creator plus: This is a great virtual printer that allows you to print files and turn them into a .pdf.
- Logos Bible Software: Again, I can’t imagine designing worship services without really digging into the word of God and this software is expensive but priceless when it comes to learning the deep truths of the Bible.
- Kindle Printer: When I preach I like to use my iPad instead of paper. However, I don’t like accidentally scrolling so I use the Kindle printer to turn my manuscript into a Book in my Kindle app. I found this helpful little tip on Guy Marquardt’s blog
- Reflector– This program by airsquirrel is an awesome way to put what is on your iPad and mirror it on your PC or MAC desktop.
- Camtasia– this is a screenshot capture program that I use for creating all of the tutorial videos.
iPhone & iPad Apps
- Planning Center Online
- Planning Center Music Stand: I hate wasting paper so this is perfect. In addition I can make notes about what loop to fire or who is singing what with the annotate function. I’ve found there are some tricks to setting up your charts to minimize having to scroll through a ton of pages. Read More…
- Kindle: I’ve quit buying paper books because I love having immediate access to my library on my iPad or iPhone or computer. One of the handy little tricks I’ve learned recently is how to turn my kindle books into .pdf’s. I’m not sharing them with anyone but putting certain ones in Evernote for quick searchability. Read More…
- Dolphin Browser: This handy little browser directly integrates with Evernote and allows me to clip articles and put them into the folders I want them in so I don’t have to organize them later.
- Informant Pro Task Manager: I have become a list maker over the years if you can’t tell from this list you’re looking at and have found that if I don’t write it down and keep track of it, it won’t get done or remembered. Informant Pro helps me keep synced between my Outlook calendar, task list and digital devices.
- GoToMyPC: I can’t count how many times I’ve been at home or away from the office and needed to get a file on my work PC or our network. Absolute necessity for me.
- Outliner: I had a friend turn me onto this program and I’ve gotten addicted to creating outlines. It’s simple to use and you can share them with others who have the app as well. I’ve used it for calendar outlining, service design planning and a ton of other things.
- iThoughtsHD: Another mind-mapping app. This one is even more robust than I have gotten into but have seen it be great for sermon series planning, note taking and brainstorming.
- CloudOn: Caught in the in between world of Mac-vs-PC? This is a cloud based app that allows you to edit Microsoft office word and excel files on your Mac device.
- ProRemote: Want to control ProPresenter from your iPhone? Done.
- Youversion Bible: The most famous bible app that integrates with YouVersion Live.
- SoundCue: I now use SoundCue as a backup loop player. I make sure that the loops we are using for Sunday morning or special events are loaded into this app. Works great when you do a split .wav file with click and cues split left and the house tracks split right.
- BeatMaker 2: This is what I’ve started using to run loops from my iPad and iPhone and it can be customized to trigger with a midi controller or footpedal. Check out the tutorial.
- Ambiance: This is a sound machine app that is primarily used for relaxation but I’ve used it to get Sound FX to record for various things like Thunder, Rain, Fire, Rooster Crowing etc.
- Social Media (twitter, facebook, pinterest, linkedin, instagram)
- Sweet MIDI: A MIDI playback app for checking out whether a midi file you might want to use in Reason is what you’re looking for.
- Songwriters Pad: The name says it all. I love the rhyming dictionary and the ability to record sections of songs and store it with potential lyrics.
- DMXDIPster: For those times when you need to figure out what combination of dip switches gives you the DMX address you’re looking for when working with LED lights.