Worship Experience: Reflections from April 21

I’m a little late getting to this post, but Sunday was an especially draining day physically and we just started revival at the church. Life happens. Ministry happens. And blog posts get pushed back. It’s not the end of the world.

Here’s this week’s Worship Experience!

Sunday Morning Reflections

I need to learn more hymns. Well, it’s not that I need to “learn” them per se, I just need to practice, update, and actually sing more of the hymns that I know.

I lead two hymns and I alternate them two every other week. Victory in Jesus (page 120) and We Shall See the King (page 120) are very good songs and we do them well, but I’d really like to mix it up a bit more every now and again.

I love to do hymns in a traditional style, but I’d really love to modernize some hymns and do them on a regular basis.

Worship leaders, how have you done this? How do you stay respectful to the song that many generations grew up singing while updating it to fit the modern mold? I’d love to hear some incite.

Sunday Morning Setlist

  • We Shall See the King
  • Counting on God
  • Let it Rise
  • There is a River


(Disclaimer: The use of this clip does not in any way equal an endorsement of this ministry. It was the only usable clip of this song and you’ve gotta admit the spanish subtitles are wicked awesome.)  


Sunday Evening Reflections

I knew Break Every Chain was going to be a powerful song for our church in this season when we learned it last year.  The song and the anointing on it in this season has been nothing short of amazing at our church.

As a singer, I know my limitations. I know how high and how creative I can be with my voice under normal circumstances. But “normal circumstances” are out the door when it comes to singing under the anointing. And singing this song under the anointing is a rush physically and spiritually.

I feel the anointing more often than not on stage, but there are times, mainly when my physical body is tired or stressed, that it’s much more difficult to get into that anointed flow. Sunday night was not one of those times, even though I was quite tired physically.

During the song, I felt a strong unction that God was breaking chains of intimidation off of someone in the church. I spoke that word and have since received confirmation that those specific chains were indeed broken during the worship service.

That’s the power of worship. It’s not a song, or a style, or a singer. It’s God rushing into an atmosphere that is saturated with His praise. As Hebrews 2:12 says, Jesus, our brother, even proclaims the name of God in the midst of a worshiping congregation.

According to that Hebrews reference, in an atmosphere that welcomes His presence, Jesus walks among those engaged in worship and literally speaks the names of God into our spirit.

Do you need a healing? Worship and He’ll speak Jehovah Rapha. Are you stuck in a financial bind? Worship and He’ll speak Jehovah Jireh. Are you battling a spirit of intimidation? Worship and He’ll speak Jehovah Nissi.

There is incredible power in your outward expression of worship.

How has God used you in a worship service? Have you felt His presence and left the building changed after a time of intense worship and praise?

Sunday Evening Setlist

  • Super Victorious
  • This is how we overcome
  • I Am
  • Break Every Chain

Worship Experience: Reflections from April 14

Sunday Morning Reflections

Ah, Hymns of the Spirit. When the old regular red back won’t do, there’s always Hymns of the Spirit. I have fond memories of singing from the songbook, which coincidentally is also red. I have seen the book in green as well, but I digress.

My memories of Hymns of the Spirit come from our time at the Boynton Church of God over two decades ago. I was young, quite young in fact, but when I hear songs like “I’m Glad He Lifted Me Out” and the classic “I’d Tell the World” my mind automatically shoots back to the early 90’s when we’d sing those songs over and over and over again.

When I heard my mom singing “Come and Dine” this morning as Sunday School was dismissed (Yes, we still have Sunday School. And don’t judge. Sunday School is only a slightly less hip way of saying ‘Small Groups’.), I just had to ask her to lead it as our first song of the morning.

Despite the blank stares from many members of the praise team who couldn’t quite recollect the song from deep inside their inner hymnal memory vault, we sang the song to a fairly good response.

I felt the spirit in the song and I thought it was the perfect opener for a Sunday morning.

Sunday Morning Set-List

  • Come & Dine
  • Promises One by One
  • Can’t Nobody
  • Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)


Sunday Evening Reflections

As a member of the Church of God, I’ve had to refrain from learning, partaking in, or otherwise orchestrating non-spirit-led choreographic routines in our worship services. That is, until we learned Deep Cries Out by Bethel Worship.

Granted, there’s not a ton of choreography that goes with the song, but we move to the left and move to the right a few times in the song. Not quite Electric Shuffle level, but close.

Truth is, I love the song. Our young people love the song. And I’m pretty sure the worship team loves the song. So, we do the song.

We learned a new song in practice as well. “We Give You Glory, Glory” by Bryn Waddell went over really well during the service. The band and I sang this song as a special because we haven’t practiced it with the vocalists yet. Needless to say, I cannot wait till this one is ready to sing in worship.


Sunday Evening Set-List

  • Friend of God
  • Deep Cries Out
  • Heaven on Earth


Worship leaders, how was your worship experience Sunday? Have you learned anything new recently? Do you do hymns anymore? Have any recollections of past hymns and worship services? Come on and share in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!


Are you listening to Kingdom Voices?

There are so many voices in today’s culture. Anyone with a laptop or even a smart phone can lift up their voice with little to no repercussion or accountability. People are saying many things and there are many delivery methods for those voices to be heard.

What are you listening to?

Are you listening to opinions about politics, sports, and/or religion? Are you listening to the many voices attempting to confuse your mind about the truth?

With so many people trying to speak into your life, how do you know who to siphon off and who to open up to?

Do we just go with the flow culturally and allow all these voices to take up valuable real estate in our heads? Are we all so desperate to hear some new thing that we just allow anything to infiltrate our spirits?

I believe it’s time that we begin to shut-off some of the noise. There are some voices that have no legal right to be in your head.

Most political voices in this day and age serve to distract and divide—two things a kingdom person should never allow in their anointed mind. Many religious voices in this culture want to deceive and deploy false doctrine into tickled ears. Other cultural voices want to offer idols and those voices will even teach you how to worship those dumb idols, as Paul called them in 1 Corinthians 12:2.

In Romans 12:2, the Apostle Paul also said to not be conformed to this world’s superficial customs, but to be transformed by the continual renewing of your mind. If that happens, you will be able to prove, discern, and detect what is that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.

We must listen to kingdom voices in this age. We must not allow the world’s culture to invade our thought process, our doctrinal values, or our churches.

But how can we tell a kingdom voice from a cultural voice? Truth. You won’t hear truth taught by culture. According to culture, there is no truth. Everything is relative.

How do you determine truth when mainstream religion has even become a source of falsehood? You determine truth by the Word of God. Not by your personal theology or by the experience your friend had at the hip new culturally relevant church down the street.

You must continually renew your mind on a daily basis by hearing, reading, & studying the word. It must become a part of you.

When that happens, not only will you recognize a kingdom voice you might just become one yourself.


Social Media Discretion Advised for Kingdom People

Lately, I’ve been a bit disturbed at the speed and ferocity with which Internet rumors are posted and re-posted via Facebook and Twitter by supposed church folks.

Before you know it, some off-the-wall falsehood about a preacher has spread to thousands of people with the mere click of the “Share” or “Re-Tweet” button.

I’m to the point where I must ask, what purpose does it serve to spread this story? Whether you had insider info from your cousin’s, best friend’s, ex-boyfriend or not, we as kingdom people should not have the desire to spread false news about someone else within the kingdom. That goes for outside the kingdom as well. Rumor and gossip in all its forms is wrong—very wrong.

But something is especially discouraging when folks who are supposedly blood bought, sanctified Christians get some kind of rush out of posting and re-posting the latest juicy rumor regarding Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyer.

Unfortunately, preachers and kingdom people are not the only one’s to fall into the cross-hairs of fellow “Christians.”

In this hyper-aggressive, super-disrespectful age of political discourse, politicians fall prey to falsehoods and misrepresentation by our always-eager-to-expose-some-obscure-Satanic-agenda, uber-evangelical brethren as well.

Case in point is this mis-represented story that went viral in a hurry.

Let me point out that I’m as uber-evangelical as the next guy. I don’t agree with much of what certain mainstream televangelists have to say. I certainly don’t identify myself as a political liberal.

But we hurt our cause, our name, and HIS kingdom when we post, repost, tweet, and re-tweet stuff that simply is not true. And even if it is true, why would we take joy in seeing a ministry fall, provided that ministry was teaching even a shred of truth?

I’m all for calling out heretical preachers and wingnut politicians when the story is from a reputable source. But this ministry-bashing based on internet hoaxes and vicious viral sharing of politically charged lies really needs to stop.

Especially when it’s God’s people fueling the fires.

Worship Experience: Reflections from Sunday, April 7

Worship Experience will be a weekly post at joelabarker.com. As a worship leader, I want to share with others what God is doing in my church with the worship team.

My hope is that “Worship Experience” will become a hub of sorts for worship leaders everywhere to share their Sunday experiences, set lists, service recaps, etc.

Now, for this week’s Worship Experience.

Worship Experience: April 7

Sunday Morning Reflections

Ever get that feeling that half the congregation stayed up way too late on Saturday night? Yeah, thought so. I get it every week, too.

But that’s part of the burden and the joy of being a worship leader. You start out cold and tired and by the time you hit the final note, people are really expressing their love and emotionally lifting up their Savior.

This Sunday was no different. And, as usual, by the time “How Great is our God” ended, our folks were there, in that wonderful, service-tone setting, atmosphere of worship.

No matter how many times that song is sung or how much weight is added to Chris Tomlin’s wallet when we sing it, there’s almost a ready-made atmosphere of worship by the time we finish up.

Sunday Morning Set-List

  • Victory in Jesus
  • Promises
  • How Great is our God

Sunday Evening Reflections

Sunday evening services are almost always polar opposites of Sunday morning. Folks have had a chance to eat, rest, and reflect on Sunday morning for a while.

The atmosphere of worship is usually set before the worship team even begins its first song on Sunday evening. Our service starter, Missy Tallent, usually prays down an atmosphere before I even get the mic.

Those are the fun services. We, as the worship team, can just step right in and flow.

On Sunday evening, we started off with “Break Every Chain” because the flow was already moving that way.

Typically, I follow the Worship Leader Manual by starting off with a fast song (I have no idea if such a manual exists, but I imagine if it does the first chapter contains only the words “OPEN WITH A FAST SONG”), but sometimes—usually on a Sunday evening service—there’s no need to get folks pepped up with a one of those mind numbingly-clap-on-the-off-beat-to-feel-the-Spirit kind of songs.

So, we moved the fast song all the way down to No. 2 on the list.

The song that really resonated was Israel Houghton’s “Your Presence is Heaven to Me.” God has used that song incredibly in this current season we are in at Joyful Sound Church.



Sunday Evening Set-List

  • Break Every Chain
  • Oh Happy Day
  • Show Me Your Glory
  • Your Presence is Heaven to Me

How did you feel about your Sunday worship service(s)? What songs are you singing in this season? How does the congregation react when/if you go against The Manual? Do you even care about The Manual?


I lead worship at the Joyful Sound Church in Chattanooga, TN.

Introducing Joelabarker.com | Worship, Church, Community, Kingdom

Welcome to joelabarker.com! I’m so excited to get this blog launched. As I said in the first post “Ready. Set. Go!”, this site is nearly one year in the making.

Over the last year, I have basically had to relearn blogging. After five years writing about sports for various websites and publications, I figured I should take my time in venturing out into a new area of the blogosphere.

Yes, sports was and still is a favorite hobby. Yes, I still know way more than I should about the 4-3 defense, 40 yard dash times, and the MLB trade deadline. But, ministry and the church is my life.

The content that will be covered here is hardly new to me, but, believe it or not, there is a difference between writing about quarterback hurries and church communications.

So, what will I cover here at joelabarker.com? Let’s refer to the site header for starters.


If you’ve read my about page you know that I am a worship leader. If you’ve been in church longer than a minute you should know what a worship leader does.

I may cover new songs or worship service experiences in this space from time to time, but more than likely I will cover worship in the deeper sense—the lifestyle of worship.

After all, what we do on Sunday is merely an outward expression of an inward attitude.


No, I will not be critiquing church services, preachers, pastors, etc. Way too many blogs have taken on that fools errand.

I will blog about the church. You know, that whole pillar and ground of the truth thing. (1 Tim. 3:15)

I hope to cover topics ranging from the state of the church to church communications to marketing and planting. My plan is to go as in-depth as possible on issues like church benevolence ministries and outreach.


The word “community” in the context of a blog or website is quite different from the use of the word in a church context.

Sure, I want to build an online community around my site. But my ultimate hope is to play my small part in inspiring leaders to really effect change in the way they view their real-life communities. I’m not just talking about their local neighborhoods, but I want to see communities of believers, churches, pastors actually working together for a change.

We should be sharing ideas, best practices, and resources. Like the Acts 4:32 church.

That’s not to say that I’ll be preaching at or grumbling about the inward-focused churches or pastors who’d rather eat their own shoe than collaborate with other ministers (Yes, there are plenty of them out there). That’s not what I’m about and that’s definitely not what this blog will be about. I want to see John 13:35 lived out loud.


Ultimately, I want to be all about the kingdom. I want this site to be all about the kingdom. I want everything I do, say, write, preach, and sing to be all about the kingdom.

If it’s for the kingdom, I’m all for it.

Everything written on this website will have a kingdom mindset at its very core.

Hopefully that brief overview explains my starting point for this website. I’d love to hear your input on the ideas presented in this introductory post. What’s your take on the worship > church > community > kingdom topic?


image courtesy of flickr creative commons user jayneandd

Ready. Set. Go!

If you call yourself a writer, it only stands to reason that you actually write from time to time.

For five years I called myself an aspiring sportswriter. During the last of those five years, writing about sports—football in particular—was how I made money. Not much money, mind you, but money nonetheless.

Then something strange happened. I completely lost my desire to write about sports. Totally stopped, almost cold-turkey, and decided that was no longer going to be my path.

During the last year I’ve barely written at all. To say that the decision was all mine wouldn’t be completely accurate.

For years I struggled between desiring a career in sports media or pursuing the call God had placed on my life. Almost exactly one year ago, I decided that God’s call was far too important for me to ignore.

Of course, my freelance pool drying up and my being forced back into the “real world” to make money had something to do with that, but looking back I can see God’s hand orchestrating those circumstances into place.

Part of that calling is this blog. Writers have to write. It’s just what we do.

What will this blog be about? Honestly, I’m not totally sure myself. I know what I think it’s going to be. I know the direction I feel to begin with, but the ultimate purpose of this blog is still somewhat of a mystery to me.

It will begin as a place for me to share thoughts on the church, ministry, worship, and the advancement of the kingdom of God.

I should be able to cover countless subjects based under those headings.

Good writers tend to keep things entertaining and thought provoking at the same time. I’ll certainly give that my best shot on this site.

Bare with me on these first few posts. As I said earlier, I haven’t written regularly in nearly a year. There’s bound to be some rust.

I plan to publish at least two articles per week here at joelabarker.com. If you want those posts automatically delivered to your email inbox, you can subscribe to the blog in the sidebar.

Feel free to comment and/or leave feedback.

I want to start a conversation and I want you be a part of it.