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    Paris and Thanksgiving

    Posted on November 25, 2015 by Paul | 0 Comments | Leave a Comment

    Dear Friends,

    I just returned from a few days in Paris.  After a grand celebration of our Dutch worship album in Holland and Mission Worship in England, I decided to make the short flight from London to Paris to see my youngest daughter. No need to describe the joy I felt when I hugged her.  A photo will do.

    Since her apartment is only a few blocks from where some of the horrific events took place, we visited both areas to reflect and mourn with others who were lighting candles, leaving flowers and saying prayers. Thousands of people including UK Prime minister David Cameron and France’s President Hollande visited the sites as well.  Shocking events like these force you to think about your response.  The “first out of the gate” reaction may be one of anger, fear, or revenge.  But after a few days, you have a chance to give a more thoughtful response, tempered by prayer and reflection.

    Many of you read my earlier message about the Bataclan (here’s a link to the article online).  More than 7,000 people downloaded the free songs that we gave away as our first response to the events in Paris.  My personal follow up response will be when I’ll be with my family in Philadelphia celebrating Thanksgiving Day.  Even if you live outside of the USA, I ask you to join me this week in expressing your gratitude to God – grateful for family, forgiveness, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing Jesus.

    Often during our Leadworship Workshops (next one in Ocala, FL on February 19-20, 2016.  Join us!) we invite husbands and wives to hold hands and pray for their relationship.  We pray for relationships between teams, worship pastors and senior pastors. I love that I’m serving a God of redemption. As I walked by the devastation on Boulevard Voltaire yesterday, I realized I want to have a third response.  Whenever the building has been repaired and re-opened, I want to return to the Bataclan.  I can’t wait to have another worship night there, a time of redemption. We’ll sing Matt Redman’s song:

    Blessed be Your name. On the road marked with suffering.  Though there’s pain in the offering.  Blessed be Your name.

    May all of you experience God’s peace during the holidays.

     

     

    Le Bataclan

    Posted on November 16, 2015 by Paul | 27 Comments | Leave a Comment

    As I was driving to the airport on a rainy Seattle day, I received a text message from my daughter who is studying in Paris.  It simply said “I’m in my apartment and I’m okay”.

    I had just finished worshiping with 1000 fellow believers that morning.  After checking my phone for news, the preliminary reports about the horrible events that took place in Paris started trickling in.
    Less than 6 months earlier, the entire Bataclan theatre had been full also as in the photo above.  We had gathered there with French worshipers to worship the only true God of Peace. It was an electrifying worship night that I remember vividly.  If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know France has a special place in my heart.  My grandparents came from Paris, my parents still spoke French with each other occasionally, and after visiting France a few years ago, I fell in love with the country of my ancestors.  I’ve met some precious believers there who’ve quickly become life friends. Last year, my daughter moved to Paris to study French.  And we’ve recorded 2 French worship albums that I know have encouraged French speaking believers, both in and outside of France.
    Just last year, I was much closer to a similarly tragic event.  We had just finished a tour of Asia, ending the journey with an amazing celebration in Kuala Lumpur. Few things are more joyful to me than worshiping God together with believers in other nations. As the band flew home, I had decided to join my manager and bass player for a 2-day stopover in Beijing before flying home.  My manager’s daughter had just moved there to study Chinese for a year.
    So on February 24, we boarded Malaysian Airlines flight MH 360 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Just 12 days later, a Malaysian airliner flew that exact same route and disappeared forever.
    In this broken world, tragedy can strike us in what seems like the most random moments.  We can miss it by just a few miles, like my daughter did, or miss it by a few days, as I did in February 2014.
    Today we grieve with those that have lost their loved ones in an event that was meant to cause pain and fear.  Though we can’t avoid the pain, thoughts of fear I won’t entertain.  I’ve dedicated my life to worshiping a God of love and kindness and there is no room for fear.
    If you know anyone in your family, your church, or your circle of friends and acquaintances that speaks French, I want to give you a gift of encouragement.  At the bottom of this message, you will find a link.  It contains 14 free worship songs, the entire French Worship Album “Glorieux”, that you are free to give away, email to others. Let songs of worship be our answer to any thoughts of fear that might want to intrude our minds.
    I am determined to respond to the events in Paris with a message of encouragement, peace, joy, and faith in a God who sees our pain and decides to be with us in our spirit as we journey through life.
    Peace,

     

     

    Link for a free download of the album “Glorieux”:

    https://goo.gl/gYvIFl

     

    Leadworship Workshop Feedback

    Posted on July 11, 2013 by Paul | 3 Comments | Leave a Comment

    This spring we hosted several Leadworship Workshops. Thousands of worship leaders and team members have joined us for these 24-hour “up close and personal” worship intensives. Allow me to share some of their comments with you:

    Just a note of thanks for all that you and the team did for our church. Everyone was really stoked afterward and ready to go back and “Infect” the church at home with the energy they received. I attended the Leading Worship workshop and the Electric Guitar workshop. Both were excellent. I told Ben Gowell that his workshop was perfect for where I am right now with the guitar. The workshop lengths were perfect. We had free flowing Q&A and enough time to be exposed to way more than we could assimilate. The registration fee was very reasonable. It was low enough for our whole team to attend. God bless you and the team of presenters and workers and their families”.

    We are so grateful on many levels. The workshop was fantastic and the worship was so refreshing. As a worship team we don’t get the opportunity to be on the other side of the fence very often. There are so many ways the conference influenced our group and we were immediately able to implement some of them….our worship the following Sunday morning was GREAT!!”.

    We also really appreciate you for making your music available to the church. What a blessing to be able to get your music and other helpful videos and tips easily and with no charge. Thank you also for the reminder of how important it is to be in prayer and the Word“.

    “The conference was amazing! Our worship team learned so much and honestly it was refreshing to be the ones in the congregation being filled and ministered to. Our team already picked up things that we used the next Sunday morning and could see a difference in! Thank you for following Gods desires and I can’t wait to attend next year!”


     

    “I’m a pastor of a small church of 80 and my small team would never have been able to go to most worship conferences. Thank you so much for doing something so helpful. Your format and cost was perfect for what we needed. The leadworship.com workshop was amazing and please do it again!”

     

     

    “I came to the first Leadworship Workshop a few years ago and took so much away that I didn’t think it could get better, wrong! I took so many notes on my phone that my battery went dead. God is so amazing how He moves and my worship team was so amazed that Paul is so “normal”. We were so taken away by the concert and then the information that was given out, wow! My drummer and soundman couldn’t stop talking about all the things they learned. I had one talking in one ear and one in the other and that was all worth it, just in that :-) . I was so encouraged to see them so excited to get to church Sunday morning so they could use what they learned.

    Our church was blessed enough to plant a seed in another worship team in town and bring one of it’s members. He never had been to anything like this and was writing notes the entire time. I know he will bless his praise team and church with what you all brought.

    You all do so much for worship that a few paragraphs could not contain the gratitude I feel. Paul said that he was trying to cram 20 years into a little over an hour but he did GREAT! Sure, I would have loved to pick his brain more but what he gave was so fitting to what my team and I needed.

    I could go on and on but to sum it up, thank you so much for allowing God to use you and lives are changed because of your obedience. Looking forward to next year.”

    Read this blog entry about the conference from Kenny Innes from Houston.

    Glorieux – New French Worship CD – July 2013

    Posted on June 26, 2013 by Paul | 2 Comments | Leave a Comment

    Lire le communiqué de presse français ici
    Read the English press release here

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We are thrilled to share with you the release of “Glorieux”, our second worship CD entirely in French.

    This project was only possible because of the hard work and dedication of our dear friends in Quebec, France, and elsewhere. Special thanks to Louange Collective.

    We hope you will join us in worship with these 14 songs with vocals by Paul & David Baloche, Matt Marvane, Pierre Nicolas, Dan Luiten, Tabitha Lemaire, André and Lynne-Marie Favreau, Joel Auge, and others.

     

    Listen to audio samples of the songs here:

    01. Glorieux
    02. Tu Nous A Sauvés
    03. Tout Mon Espoir
    04. Roi Des Cieux
    05. Cet Amour
    06. Nous Sommes Sauves
    07. Par Le Don De La Croix
    08. Être Près De Toi
    09. Voici Le Jour
    10. Oh Seigneur
    11. Vois Donc Le Seigneur
    12. Règne En Moi
    13. Merci Pour La Croix
    14. Alleluia

    We’ve also produced a FREE companion songbook, complete with all the lead sheets.  Download the FREE songbook here.

    We hope this CD will be a encouragement to all our French friends.

    Paul Baloche

    Love in Action – Papua New Guinea

    Posted on February 8, 2012 by Paul | 33 Comments | Leave a Comment

    When I travel to lead worship in places other than my home church, I feel privileged to meet people who tell me amazing life stories about God changing their lives.  Occasionally, I hear an extraordinary story, one that moves me to tears.

    Not too long ago, I was in Edmonton, Canada, at the Breakforth conference.  After a songwriting session, a young woman came up to me and showed me some beautiful photos from Papua New Guinea.  She had been involved in medical work in several villages.  She told me how singing and songwriting had become an integral part of activities the villagers were involved in.  Then, a few days later, she emailed me the story behind the story….

    Dear Mr. Baloche,

    I realized that I didn’t explain the story about the child with the painted face.

     

    The child with the painted face’s name is David, but it wasn’t that originally. He actually didn’t really have a name. See, he was born with Cerebral Palsy, and couldn’t move his limbs and doesn’t know how to talk. When his mother had him, the village thought he was born that way because he was cursed, and wanted to drown him in the river to lift the curse. His mother refused to kill him. She was the second of her husband’s three wives and was cast out of the family because they were afraid all their children would be cursed because of her act of defiance against the spirits.

    So she was cast out of the village, and had to care for herself and her son across one of the rivers in a very small hut. No one would speak to her or interact with her, and when we arrived at the village they warned us not to cross the river because they thought we would be cursed too if we helped her.  It’s sadly not an uncommon occurrence.

    So I ignored the villager’s protests and concerns and traveled across the river to see what I could do for her. When I arrived, even she was afraid to let me see her son because she believed he was cursed as well. When I convinced her it would be okay for me to see him and discovered he had CP and there was nothing I could do to cure him, I spent some time talking to his mother about her situation. The little boy was so helpless and small, and I was so proud of her for choosing to take care of him despite what she lost. She clearly loved him, but it was obviously hard for her.

    I told her – and the other curious villagers starting to arrive to see if I’d be cursed – about how it was a medical condition, not a curse, that made him the way he was, as well as how it doesn’t mean he is stupid or unable to learn. You could tell just by looking into his eyes that he knew exactly what was going on. It was hard to convince them all though. They kept getting upset and insisting that even if it wasn’t a curse he was still useless and just took food and water they had so little of to begin with. They said it would be better for him to die to save the rest of the village even just one more meal. If you knew how little food they have you’d understand that this kind of thinking really isn’t as callous and terrible as it sounds. It broke my heart to see their desperation and to look into that beautiful face and into his mother’s tearful eyes and not know how to explain the value of this precious child to God’s eyes and plans.

    So I did what I always seem to do when I’m at a loss for words. I started singing.

    “Open the Eyes of My Heart” was the only song that came to me on the spot, so I sang it as I exercised his limbs… and then, the next thing I knew, he was singing along in harmony. He couldn’t say the words, but he hit every note. The whole village stared in amazement. He had the sweetest little voice. And his eyes were so incredibly bright.

    So I kept singing with him, song after song… and in the end it saved his life. It’s amazing what God chooses to use. I couldn’t do anything medically, but a simple song convinced the entire village that this boy was special. They were all touched by his singing, and I talked to them for hours about how God loves him and every single one of them, and He gave this boy this beautiful gift.

    Now that little boy and his mother live in the center of the village, a place of honor, and he helps with patients. I somehow got the idea that when I was treating people who were in a lot of pain or were frightened that he could sing to them to keep them calm… and it worked.  They call on him for everything, and he sings all the time now. He always looks so determined and so happy when someone asks if he can sing for them.

    His mother gladly carries him all over the village, and though he’s still learning how to speak, he can answer most questions with different signals. That’s when we named him David. Everyone said he needed a good name, a special name. So I told them about the warrior king David, and how he would write music and sing songs. His mother had become a Christian, and I believe that he believes in Jesus too. When I told him the story he kept signaling “yes” over and over, so we named him David, to remind him that he’s a prince in God’s kingdom, and that his songs are very special to God as well.

    I have so many stories where music was able to do what I couldn’t, and I hope it really encourages you, Paul, that God is using your music to all purposes, not just here in North America, but even in faraway places. :)

     

    Beware of the stage

    Posted on May 27, 2010 by Paul | 29 Comments | Leave a Comment

    CMS 2010 reflectionWithin our American Idol/Rock Star culture, often the goal is all about having–and keeping–the spotlight. As Christians, we belong to a least-is-the-greatest kingdom that pronounces the exact opposite, and yet worship leaders must regularly wrestle with the dynamics of being onstage in front of crowds.

    Even the typical “worship service” setup (platform, microphones, spotlights, etc.), for example, forces its leaders to walk dangerously close to those “rock star” elements while making sure the attention stays solely on God. There are many things that we can do to help us from being infected by our performance culture and as always we find timeless wisdom in the ancient text of scripture.

    There is a Priestly model described in 1 Chronicles as “ministry to the Lord”. The Levites didn’t “lead people” in worship but instead were charged with the task of ‘singing praise to God both day and night, in the temple. They sang to the Invisible God – an audience of One. How often do we minister to God in private? Ideally, worship leading is publicly modeling what we have been doing privately. A healthy habit is to “practice” worship throughout the week by creating some alone time with God and by singing songs and prayers to Him. Often I will go into my church sanctuary by myself or with a few core members of my team and we’ll read scripture out loud, especially psalms, which is the vocabulary of worship. We’ll begin to play guitar or keyboard very simply to create a worshipful atmosphere while speaking and singing out psalms and heart-felt prayers. It may feel slightly forced at first, perhaps mechanical, but if you persist in “showing up” to bless the Lord in private, you will begin to sense more of His presence and authority in your outward, public ministry.

    The other aspect of our ministry is Pastoral. Guitar players and singers are “a dime a dozen’ as the saying goes. But those who will give their time and talents in service to God and His people are rare. Jesus asked Peter, “do you love me?” Peter replied, “Yes Lord”. “feed my sheep.” Ask The Lord to give you HIS heart for the community that you serve. Before you dismiss your team from rehearsal, have them come to the front of the stage and look over the empty seats. Ask them to imagine the people who will be sitting there this coming week and encourage your team to pray for the individuals and families who will be showing up in those seats. This is a powerful exercise to help you and your team cultivate God’s heart and love for the people you serve.

    I would encourage you to lean toward more of a conversational tone in your leading style as you begin your service. People don’t like being yelled at, manipulated, or artificially hyped up. Whether you lead fifty people, three hundred, or more than a thousand, aim for being as authentic and sincere as you can. We don’t have to be overly sanguine. People respond best when they sense someone being themselves. In fact I used to always pray something like this under my breathe before I walked on the platform. “Lord, at the risk of being boring, please give me the courage to be ‘who I am in You’– nothing more, nothing less.” We all battle our insecurities in different ways but practicing our ministry to The Lord and praying for the people we serve will take us a long way in distinguishing between performance and effective ministry.

    Let’s determine to finish well by helping facilitate a lifelong conversation and sense of community between God and the people He has called us to serve.

    Paul

    This article first appeared on www.worshipcentral.org

    Worship in times of sorrow

    Posted on May 11, 2010 by Paul | 8 Comments | Leave a Comment

    Paul blog reflection 5-2010Some of the hardest yet most inspiring times of worship occur during funerals. The raw emotions of sadness and loss are mixed with a sense of hope and eternal perspective.

    The book of Ecclesiastes says, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart” (7:2 NIV).

    In our fast-paced culture, funerals give us the rare occasion to reflect on the brevity of life and how each of our days are numbered. There is a sense of “coming to terms” with reality that our life on this earth will end. As Christians we find assurance in the promise of God’s Word that Jesus Christ did indeed die for the remission of our sins and rose again with the invitation to live forever through Him and with Him.

    Songs of worship can be the most encouraging aspect of a funeral service or a time of intense grief. Part of my role as a worship pastor is to show up and “pastor” those who are grieving. Several times last year I was called upon to lead worship during memorial or graveside services. Silence can be powerful. Stillness consoling. Yet when a simple chorus or hymn begins with a guitar or human voice, you can feel something change in the air. Timely words sung at the right moment can bring a wave of comfort and release His faithful presence.

    “Blessed be Your name when the road’s marked with suffering, when there’s pain in the offering, blessed be Your name.” “Open the eyes of my heart Lord, I want to see you.” “I can only imagine …..I will rise when He calls my name, no more sorrow, no more pain.” These are just a few of the songs that have served the moment and brought hope to those who have lost loved ones.

    Sometimes we aren’t sure how to bring comfort in situations where someone is fighting an illness or recovering in some way. Often my wife and I have gone to someone’s bedside in the hospital or at their home and simply sang over them. With sensitivity to the moment, we pray for them and ask if they mind if we sing quietly and worship in their room. Some of my most profound moments with God have been during these times as tears flow and faith is released in prayer and song.

    Scripture is filled with passages that exemplify praise in the midst of pain, promises of joy as we walk through profound sorrow.

    “Why are you so downcast, oh my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God,” (Ps 42:5-6a).

    “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me … my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Ps 23).

    Shortly before a crazed gunman murdered her, Virginia Tech student Lauren McCain wrote in her diary, “Show me Your purpose for me at Tech, and on this earth. But, if You choose not to, I will still praise you and walk where You lead, not because I am selfless, or holy, or determined to sacrifice myself for what is right but because You are the delight of my heart; and I cannot live without You.”

    Lord, give us all that same heart as we seek to console others in their time of mourning. For one day we will wish for someone to sing over us and help us to worship in the midst of our sorrow.

    This article appeared in Worship Leader Magazine.  To subscribe:http://www.worshipleader.com/subscribe

    Bob Kauflin’s review of “Glorious”

    Posted on April 5, 2010 by Paul | 3 Comments | Leave a Comment

    Glorious Reflection CD Cover blog

    Bob Kauflin: I reviewed Paul Baloche’s new album, “Glorious”. I emailed Paul a few questions which he was kind enough to answer. As long as I’ve known Paul he has always been gracious and  humble. His songs are sung across the world, yet he consistently encourages those around him, laughs at himself, and directs people’s hearts to the glory of  Jesus Christ. He’s also been serving in his local church for the past 20 years. So grateful for his example of humility. Here’s the interview:

    http://www.worshipmatters.com/2009/11/24/paul-baloche-talks-about-his-new-album-glorious/

    Leadworship Workshop Feedback

    Posted on March 1, 2010 by Paul | 1 Comment | Leave a Comment

    The last weekend in February, we hosted a Leadworship Workshop.  More than 600 worship leaders and team members joined us for this 24-hour “up close and personal” worship intensive.  Allow me to share some of their comments with you:

    Just a note of thanks for all that you and the team did for our church.  Everyone was really stoked afterward and ready to go back and “Infect” the church at home with the energy they received.  I attended the Leading Worship workshop and the Electric Guitar workshop.  Both were excellent.  I told Ben Gowell that his workshop was perfect for where I am right now with the guitar.  The workshop lengths were perfect. We had free flowing Q&A and enough time to be exposed to way more than we could assimilate. The registration fee was very reasonable.  It was low enough for our whole team to attend. God bless you and the team of presenters and workers and their families”.

    We are so grateful on many levels.  The workshop was fantastic and the worship was so refreshing.  As a worship team we don’t get the opportunity to be on the other side of the fence very often. There are so many ways the conference influenced our group and we were immediately able to implement some of them….our worship the following Sunday morning was GREAT!!”.

    We also really appreciate you for making your music available to the church.  What a blessing to be able to get your music and other helpful videos and tips easily and with no charge.  Thank you also for the reminder of how important it is to be in prayer and the Word“.

    “The conference was amazing! Our worship team learned so much and honestly it was refreshing to be the ones in the congregation being filled and ministered to. Our team already picked up things that we used the next Sunday morning and could see a difference in! Thank you for following Gods desires and I can’t wait to attend next year!”


     

    “I’m a pastor of a small church of 80 and my small team would never have been able to go to most worship conferences. Thank you so much for doing something so helpful. Your format and cost was perfect for what we needed. The leadworship.com workshop was amazing and please do it again!”

     

     

    “I came to the first Leadworship Workshop a few years ago and took so much away that I didn’t think it could get better, wrong!  I took so many notes on my phone that my battery went dead. God is so amazing how He moves and my worship team was so amazed that Paul is so “normal”.  We were so taken away by the concert and then the information that was given out, wow!  My drummer and soundman couldn’t stop talking about all the things they learned.  I had one talking in one ear and one in the other and that was all worth it, just in that :-) . I was so encouraged to see them so excited to get to church Sunday morning so they could use what they learned.

    Our church was blessed enough to plant a seed in another worship team in town and bring one of it’s members. He never had been to anything like this and was writing notes the entire time. I know he will bless his praise team and church with what you all brought.

    You all do so much for worship that a few paragraphs could not contain the gratitude I feel. Paul said that he was trying to cram 20 years into a little over an hour but he did GREAT!  Sure, I would have loved to pick his brain more but what he gave was so fitting to what my team and I needed.

    I could go on and on but to sum it up, thank you so much for allowing God to use you and lives are changed because of your obedience. Looking forward to next year.”

    Read this blog entry about the conference from Kenny Innes from Houston.

    Paul Baloche interview in Sweetwater Catalog

    Posted on February 4, 2010 by Paul | 1 Comment | Leave a Comment

    Sweetwater Catalog Reflection

    It’s All About the Experience

    Paul Baloche on how the right attitude, technology, and people maximize the message

    By Mark Hutchins

    (You can also read this article with all the photos here)

    You have 20-plus years of experience as a worship leader. What place do you think technology should have in worship — from services to musical performances?

    All technology needs to serve the goal of helping to create an environment that makes it easier for people to connect with God. Technology, when done well, can really enhance the experience. It’s almost the same thing as songwriting; it’s a fine line where, when you’re writing a worship song, you want the congregation singing the song to feel like it’s a natural, organic prayer that they’re singing to God. But if you cross the line where the song is just drawing all the attention to itself, then it’s not necessarily accomplishing the goal of helping people draw near to God.

    In the Gospels, Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” I was thinking about that in terms of technology. We want to engage our audience; we want them to participate and sing and not just observe. We want our congregations to participate and not get to a place where they’re just coming to church and watching the “professionals” onstage do their thing. So, when it comes to projecting lyrics and images or mixing the sound, technology has the potential to be a powerful help in creating this environment that visually and aurally helps people connect with God — with their senses. Lighting can also help create an atmosphere that quietly helps people let their guard down, get beyond the hassles of life, and focus their hearts and minds on God.

    How has the progression of technology affected your performances?

    For years, I was a “wedge guy” using onstage wedge monitor speakers. I think wedges can still function fine. But as a vocalist, when you’re onstage and it’s loud and the crowd is singing, it really is reassuring to have a good in-ear monitoring system. It allows me to relax more, to not fight my way through a set because I can’t hear and I’m a little bit unsure about my pitch. It gives me security. That just helps me do a better job of trying to prayerfully lead people in a more effective time of worship.

    What technical challenges do you and other worship leaders face these days?

    A lot of worship teams aren’t aware of how important it is to get a good monitor mix going before they lead worship. Reminding singers and musicians to take a little time to make sure their monitors are properly dialed in can really affect the entire service. The singers need to be able to hear the hi-hat and the snare. The bass player needs to be able to hear the kick, the snare, and the hi-hat. The hi-hat is so important for that subdivision, and to lock everybody in. A lot of times, I’ll go over to my singer’s monitor, and I realize he or she can’t hear the drums. And I’ll go, “Man, you guys need drums!” If you’re using an in-ear monitor system, it’s important for worship leaders to make sure there’s an audience mic somewhere, picking up the audience so you can dial some of that in to the in-ear monitor mix, because in-ears tend to really isolate what you can hear. On one hand it’s beautiful, since you can hear your own pitch quite well, but you lose the leading aspect or the sense of community if you can’t hear the congregation singing or responding.

    Your primary instrument is the acoustic guitar. Has the acoustic guitar become the contemporary worship instrument?

    I would say that worship music has stylistically tended to follow some of the trends of our culture. And I’m talking style here, not content. The acoustic guitar has always been a pretty strong factor in pop music, and I would say it’s always going to have a strong place in worship. But I also would say that electronic keyboards over the years have made it so easy for people to lead from a piano, without having to cart around a heavy, bulky instrument. The acoustic guitar will always have a prominent place in worship, but the electric guitar is catching up quickly. It’s not uncommon to see folks lead with a Strat or a Tele these days.

    So many churches and worship teams have begun to incorporate loops and backing tracks into performances. What’s your take?

    My road band incorporates loops, or stems – a drum loop, a keyboard pad. I find that loops don’t necessarily inhibit your flexibility or spontaneity; you can do the song, and after the song’s over you can always linger at the end or start another chorus. The key is discerning the moment. In worship, it’s really important for the worship leader or the team members to try to diagnose what’s going to best serve this situation. And then, if you feel that loops and VJ and images and lights are going to serve it well, then by all means use them. But there may be some situations where less is more. The key to technology is to not become overly dependent on it. Let it serve you by giving you more choices in your tool kit.

    Any advice for newer worship leaders or leaders who want to continue to move their programs forward?

    I would say, go slow. Don’t feel like you have to go out and buy all this stuff overnight. Add things incrementally. As you add, you need to learn how to use it. There are lots of good conferences available out there. Maybe there’s a church in your area with a bigger budget and a really developed program. Make an appointment with that worship pastor. Say, “I’m from ‘Church ABC’ down the road here, and it’s obvious that you guys have such great technology, and we’re trying to grow in that area. Can we come and sit in on one of your rehearsals and watch your tech do some things?” You need to find somebody who’s a few steps ahead of you and just humble yourself and ask if you can glean from them.

    You’ve worked with Sweetwater for quite some time. Why the long relationship?

    I was thrilled with the opportunity to do this interview because I remember way back when Sweetwater just started and they had this teeny little catalog and one of the first websites. It’s been amazing to watch Sweetwater grow over the years. I’ve bought a lot gear from them. It’s quite a success story, and I think it has a lot to do with the attitude about serving — about educating, equipping, and encouraging. The whole Sweetwater vibe, to me, is about serving. They just kind of get that — to serve and to answer questions — and they’re not just in it to make a quick buck. I think Sweetwater has earned the trust of the music community because they almost approach their business like ministry.

    Thanks so much for speaking with us, Paul. Any closing thoughts?

    From the sales people who sell the equipment to the tech guys who use the equipment to the worship leader and the worship team, we all have to ask ourselves, “Are there things we can do to better serve the people God has called us to serve?” That’s a fundamental value that runs through all our roles. I think everything seems to fall in line if we just make it our priority to serve as best we can.

    Paul Baloche on making your tech person an integral part of the worship group

    For years it used to be sort of the band and the worship team, and then there were sort of these tech people who were sort of their own thing. Somebody needs to initiate bringing everyone together, making it all one team. Either the tech people need to reach out to the worship leader and say, “We want to be more connected to what you guys are doing,” or, if I’m talking to worship leaders, I put it on them: “As a worship leader and a worship team, you need to initiate this connection with your tech people and make sure they’re involved spiritually and relationally — that they get your heart and that they have an understanding of what you and your senior pastor are trying to accomplish.” A tech person can make or break it, period. Let’s face it: the worship leader can be on his knees praying all week, prepared spiritually, prepared musically by rehearsing the band. The pastor prayerfully studied for the sermon, and yet all that has to filter through the hands and the ears of that tech person. Pretty amazing when you think about it. Tech people really have to have a sense of how essential their role is in making sure that they’re plugged in and part of the vision of the entire team.

    Paul’s signal chain

    I use a McPherson acoustic guitar with an L.R. Baggs pickup under the saddle. I use Elixir strings and an amazing Elixir cable. That goes into a BOSS TU-3 tuner, and then I come out of that into an L.R. Baggs Para Acoustic DI. I’ve also used a Radial JDI. Coming out of the DI, I go into a mixing board. Electric guitar stuff: I’ve used a Telecaster into a Tube Screamer into a Vox AC30 or a Fender Blues Junior amp for smaller gigs — that’s great for smaller rooms. As far as live vocal mics go, I love the SM58. It’s amazing to hear all the great mics that have come out, and I am willing to use them here and there, but live, I tend to fall back on the 58 a lot of the time.

    On the studio side, I upgraded to Pro Tools 8. I use it more for demos at home. But when it’s time to cut serious tracks in the studio, it’s typically on the Pro Tools HD system. I like the RODE NTK mic for vocals, and I’ll run that through an Avalon preamp. We use Apogee converters.

    Paul Baloche’s latest album, Glorious, is available now.