Jimmy Fallon and the Worship Leader

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon - Season 4I have to admit that I don’t normally stay up late enough to watch The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. (If I am up that late, I’m probably catching a basketball game.) I have been known to watch some of his lip sync battles online and I marvel at the caliber of TV and movie personalities that Fallon is able to get on his show. I watched (after the fact) his Super Bowl of lip sync battles which featured Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. There was a surprise appearance by Drew Barrymore. Needless to say, it is apparent that Jimmy Fallon has connections in Hollywood.

Last week I saw a link on Facebook to an article about Jimmy Fallon as one of the best worship leaders in the world. The title captured my attention, but the content was solid. The writer of the article, Josh Maze, made some great points that apply to those who lead worship. He made five observations that I found myself thinking about this past Sunday during our service. It is definitely worth reading. It is posted on Josh Maze’s blog and I have pasted it below.

5 REASONS JIMMY FALLON IS ONE OF THE BEST WORSHIP LEADERS IN THE WORLD

No matter the guest, they’re the “absolute best” on the “absolute best” TV show or film. Isn’t it amazing that every. single. night… Jimmy’s “favorite” person is on the show… and we believe him? I believe him. I follow him. All the way to the desk where he is absolutely enthralled by the special guest. Completely engaged. As a matter of fact, he’s so engaged – I’m engaged. I’m engaged through him. All the sudden I find myself interested in the guest / the subject / the conversation. Through Jimmy’s excitement & passion, I find myself involved. I never knew that I could become such a fan of some random C-list celebrity… but seeing Jimmy as such a fanatic about this person, here I am. Participating.

Here are 5 things every worship leader in the world should learn from Jimmy Fallon.

1. He’s always smiling.
This may be the most important and underrated aspect of Jimmy’s career. He smiles. A lot. Like… constantly. And that’s really good because, he’s in our living rooms and our bedrooms. And we want happy / positive people in our home. Smiles break down barriers. Smiles invite you in. Every worship leader who doesn’t smile while singing about Love… Grace… Hope… Jesus… is completely missing the mark. If you’re not smiling, you’re not winning. If you’re not smiling, you probably don’t look friendly. You might even be coming across too serious, overly spiritual, or arrogant. Let’s avoid that at all cost.

2. He’s got great energy.
It’s rarely hype. It’s always excitement. He loves what he does, and it’s obvious. But check this out… Jimmy Fallon has bad days too. He’s a human being. But you may never know it. We don’t see it. He presses through and does his job… making us feel at home. People need a confident leader to bring the energy to the room. Energy is contagious. Bad / low energy is contagious. Great / high energy is contagious. Be yourself, yes. Be vulnerable, of course. But get excited about what you’re doing!

3. He’s humble.
I’ve heard a ton of different people make comments about Jimmy. “He’s awesome… He’s the best… I love him… I have a crush on him… He’s literally perfect…” (And those are just from my wife… ūüėČ But I have never heard anyone say anything about his ego, his pride, or his arrogance. Yet – he’s one of the biggest stars in the world. He’s self-deprecating. He knows his strengths – He knows his weaknesses. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s quick to laugh at himself. That’s endearing. I like being around people like that, don’t you? With his ratings up 27% in the households & up 40% in the 18-49 demographic. Yes. You do. We do.

4. He’s prepared.
Monologues, singing, dancing, bits, sketches, dialogues, interviews… he does it all. And he’s ready. We think we have something to get ready for on Sundays? Once a week? Imagine having to be fresh, funny, smart, & interesting 5 nights a week. He nails it. And yes, he’s got a great team around him that help him prep. What can we learn from this as worship leaders? What can we take away? Very little excellence happens in life without proper preparation and planning. Let’s do our part to prepare, and let God do what only He can do.

5. He’s relevant.
‘Relevant’ isn’t my favorite word ever. But let’s remind ourselves… It’s a real word:

Relevant adjective rel¬∑e¬∑vant \ňąre-l…ô-v…ônt\ relating to a subject in an appropriate way

If I tried doing what we do at Highpoint at the big Episcopal church down the street, it wouldn’t work. I’d be dead in the water. You have to speak the language of the people you are speaking to. You have to relate. You have to know who is in the room and have an idea of where they are coming from. Jimmy’s show is so relevant, it’s ridiculous. The monologues are literally centered around the day’s news, the day’s gossip, and even the day’s tragedy. The interviews are centered around the film or TV show that just premiered or is about to premier. Why do so many churches miss this? We at Highpoint have decided to teach timeless truths in a timely way.
That’s a Non-negotiable.

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So, all in all, while Jimmy is leading us in the worship of the people he adores – like Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Tom Cruise, Justin Timberlake, or Brad Pitt, we still have a lot to learn. And if we are leading people in the worship of JESUS, how much more than should we be smiling, energetic, humbled, prepared, & relevant? Jimmy, if you’re out there, I for one, am inspired to be a better worship leader. Thank you.

Top Worship Songs at WCC in 2014

worshipPrompted by a blog post from a worship leader a couple of years ago, I listed the top songs we used in our worship services.  I created a list for 2012 and 2013 so I thought it would be interesting to see what that list looked for 2014.

There are some songs that our congregation really responds to and you can tell by the volume of the singing. ¬†We try to introduce new songs that will enhance our services and fit our congregation. ¬†I can remember one we introduced a couple of years ago that we used twice and decided it just didn’t fit us. ¬†There was nothing wrong with the song; it simply wasn’t a good match for our congregation.

While looking through the songs we sang, the song we used the most was God With Us.  It was a song our choir did in a Christmas program and really seemed to fit our congregation, both as a Christmas song and throughout the year.

The other top songs were 10,000 Reasons, Christ Is Enough, Glory to God Forever, Lord I Need You and This is Amazing Grace.

There were three songs we sang for the first time on 2014: This is Amazing Grace, Keep Making Me and My Heart is Yours.  We did also use Oceans and Beautiful Things, but they were presented as a special number rather than for congregational singing.

Here is the rest of the list (in alphabetical order). ¬†They made up the regular rotation of songs, but don’t include all the songs we did.

  1. At Your Name (Yahweh, Yahweh)
  2. Awesome is the Lord Most High
  3. Change My Heart, Oh God
  4. Cornerstone
  5. Draw Me Close
  6. Enough
  7. Everlasting God
  8. Forever
  9. Here I am to Worship
  10. Holy is the Lord
  11. Jesus Messiah
  12. Keep Making Me
  13. Let Everything That Has Breath
  14. My Heart is Yours
  15. Not to Us
  16. Our God
  17. Shout to the Lord
  18. Step By Step
  19. Unchanging
  20. We Fall Down
  21. Worthy is the Lamb
  22. You Are My All in All
  23. Your Grace is Enough

Music selection is subjective – everyone has different tastes and preferences. ¬†It’s always a challenge to find those songs that help lead a specific group of people to sing out in worship. ¬†As we move through this year, we will continue to look for songs that will accomplish that purpose.

The Rippling Effect of Influence

churchYesterday we combined with another church in our community for our Sunday morning worship service. We are a predominantly white church and they are an African-American church and we worshiped together with a third church joining us about a year ago. For our service yesterday, some of their praise team members joined us for the music portion. Since our churches have different styles of music, they had to learn the songs “our way.” One of the songs was brand new to them (or at least most of them) and they had less than a week to feel comfortable with it. They were great!

A large portion of the service was given to testimonies and we had several individuals share. A recurring theme was how the influence of our church (which has been around for over 50 years) made a difference in the lives of people.

Here are a few examples:

– one gentleman who shared is in leadership in another church in Wilmington. He came to faith sometime after his teen years. He said some of the early seeds of faith were planted in him at the High School Prayer Breakfast our church offered when he was a student.

– another testimony was given by a man who recently moved back to Wilmington and has found a place of acceptance and support in our men’s group called “The Cave.” During his testimony he shared how he remembered coming to church here as a young boy. Now he is back and his kids are involved in our children’s ministry.

– one of our elementary aged boys was baptized near the beginning of the service. He was baptized by his grandfather who is a retired Baptist preacher who is serving as an interim minister at a local church. He meets with our pastor and several other pastors for prayer each Wednesday. He said he came to Wilmington to retire, but instead found revival. The father of the boy who was baptized grew up here at the church and has several family members who are still a part of our church family. He and his wife also serve in our student and young adult ministry.

I was impressed with the idea of how God has used this particular church family to influence so many individuals and families. While our church is far from perfect (just like any other church you would visit), God has used her to be a place of growth and life change for many individuals. Sometimes it is good to stop and celebrate who God is, what He has done and how He uses people to accomplish His purposes.

A Worship Leader’s Perspective

For the last couple of years, I have had the opportunity to lead worship at our Sunday morning services. ¬†Being on the stage almost every Sunday gives a unique perspective that most church attenders don’t have. ¬†I see when people are moved by what’s happening in the service, when people appear bored and even when people are texting or talking during the service.

This past Sunday as we were moving toward our time of communion, we used the song Jesus Messiah. ¬†While our church family isn’t overly expressive in our worship (compared to other places I’ve been), I saw many of our people respond in a worshipful way during the song. ¬†Some simply raised their hands. ¬†Others stood. ¬†Some did both. ¬†Some smiled as they sang. ¬†Others closed their eyes.

As I looked around our auditorium, I was struck by the fact that God loves and uses all different types of people. I know gathered that morning were sinful, broken, wounded people who were expressing their thanks that Jesus is our ransom, our redeemer, our rescue. ¬†It wasn’t because the praise team was so good. ¬†It was the power of the truth of that song. ¬†It reminded me that God loves me in all my shortcomings and allows me and others into His presence.