A Tribute To Shelton Kennedy


My friend Shelton Kennedy went to be with Jesus one week ago today, a few hours after playing for two of our morning worship services.  He is one of the only people that I have ever written a devotion about.  I thought I would share it with you today.

Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Shelton plays the synthesizer for one of our worship teams. When it is time for a rehearsal to begin, he is always in position ready to go. When we need for someone to play at another campus, Shelton is always willing to drive the extra distance to help out. When Hurricane Katrina destroyed our church sheet music library, Shelton produced a copy of every song that he had ever played with the band. He had saved them for years.

Last week, I noticed a crutch on the floor next to Shelton, so I asked him, “Shelton, is that yours?”

“Yes,” he answered. “I’m having some problems with my knee.”

“Are you o.k. to play?” I asked.

He smiled and said, “Yes, I’ll be fine as long as I’m not walking.”

Later, when asked asked again if he was sure that he could play. Shelton, smiled reassuringly and replied, “I’m on this team and a team’s a team.”

Whenever I think of Shelton, I will remember Psalm 133:1  “How good and pleasant it is when brothers can live together in unity!”

Lord, help us all be more like Shelton.


3 Simple Tips For Worship Leaders To Improve Their Leadership


Here are 3 simple ways for worship leaders to improve their worship leadership, regardless of their style of worship music:

1.     Memorize the lyrics to the songs you are leading.  If you don’t have time to memorize lyrics, then you aren’t spending enough time in preparation.  The confidence monitor, lead sheet, hymnal, or cheat sheet might seem like your best friend, but it can also become your worst enemy.  Use it as a reference, not as a guide.  People want to see your eyes looking toward them during worship, not glued to the words.

2.     Smile.  People want to worship with a pleasant leader who enjoys the experience of leading them into God’s presence.  A frowning worship leader is a distraction because his/her demeanor puts the attention on himself/herself instead of on the Lord.  A smiling worship leader can point people to God simply through positive facial expressions.

3.     Worship privately.  If you aren’t regularly spending time in God’s presence, you aren’t going to be able to lead others into His presence.  People can tell if you don’t know the way.  They can tell if you’re faking it.  Spend so much time with the Lord that it’s evident to those around you that worship is an important part of your life.

Related Post – What We’ve Forgotten About Worship

Why Pastors Should Tell Personal Stories

tell them your story

 I was an 11-year-old kid in a sea of senior citizens.  Bored to tears, I stared at the back of the old wooden pew.  The pastor was preaching, but I was clueless as to his topic.  Suddenly, he paused, took a deep breath, and said, “I’m sorry, everyone.  I keep thinking about something that happened to me this past week.  I was sitting in a restaurant waiting for my hamburger to arrive when a lady across the room passed out from exhaustion.”

Suddenly, he had my full attention.  I listened intently as he shared with the congregation about how he helped the lady even though he was tempted to ignore her plight.

Before that day, I thought my pastor was an old dude who never left his study.  Suddenly transformed, he was a man who ate hamburgers in restaurants and helped people in need, even though he secretly didn’t want to.

Because of his story, my pastor became much more interesting to me and I cared a lot more about what he had to say.

As I reflect on his words some 30 plus years later, I see a lesson for pastors and speakers:  We should tell personal stories.

Here’s why.  People don’t want to trust pastors and speakers.  Think about it.  If they trust us, it seriously complicates their lives.  They know we might tempt them to question their own belief systems.  We might share something with them that will change the direction of their lives.  We might persuade them to risk love, offer forgiveness, admit failure, abandon success, or give money.

To combat this, pastors and speakers should share inspiring true stories filled with good intentions, right actions, and positive outcomes.  True stories build faith in our people, which builds faith in our leadership, which builds faith in our future together.  Faith helps people believe their best and give their all.

In the end, people don’t want more information.  They’re already drowning in a sea of information forgetfulness.  They can get free information online without having to get out of bed, drive to a church building, serve in the nursery, or give money.  What they really want is us.  They want our faith, our words, our hope, our love, our encouragement, our enthusiasm, and our guidance.

People hunger for personal experiences that build up their faith.  If these personal experiences are not possible, they want true stories that feel like personal experiences.  In a manner of speaking, a good story allows us to be their emotional avatar, causing them to see, feel, taste, hear, and smell our experiences as if they lived it themselves.

Telling personal stories breaks through the invented stories of people so they can see who we really are beneath the surface.  So, let’s be transparent.  Let’s be real.  Let’s share great stories.  Let’s show people who we really are and in turn, they’ll care more about what we really have to say.