40 episodes

This is the Ad Lib Music podcast. Have you been looking for someone to walk alongside you in your leadership journey? We love worship leaders! Ad Lib Music is an organization of worship coaches that is deeply committed to eradicate isolation and burnout so that you bear much fruit. Part of our mission is to give you resources, and THIS is the Worship Fertilizer from Ad Lib Music. http://AdLibMusic.com

Worship Fertilizer from Ad Lib Music Dave Helmuth

    • Christianity
    • 5.0, 5 Ratings

This is the Ad Lib Music podcast. Have you been looking for someone to walk alongside you in your leadership journey? We love worship leaders! Ad Lib Music is an organization of worship coaches that is deeply committed to eradicate isolation and burnout so that you bear much fruit. Part of our mission is to give you resources, and THIS is the Worship Fertilizer from Ad Lib Music. http://AdLibMusic.com

    233 What is Your Lid?

    233 What is Your Lid?


    I’ve been getting up at 4:30 AM the last couple of weeks to spend quiet, uninterrupted time writing and editing my past Fertilizers.

    I’m putting them into a book to publish. You’ll notice this is the 233rd Fertilizer I’ve written. I started in 2009.

    I’m going through each one and painstakingly and cruelly editing them. Well, that’s a bit dramatic, and it’s pretty enjoyable to do. I cringe occasionally, but I like revisiting most of what I’m seeing. And some of it I just love!

    But I’m not doing it alone. For a mere $139 per year, I’ve hired Grammarly to help me improve my writing skills. Ok, so it’s just an app that scores your document, finds errors, and makes suggestions. But it’s making me a better writer. (See, I usually would’ve written, “It’s actually making me a better writer,” but I’m used to Grammarly telling me that “actually” is overused or unnecessary.)

    Turns out, I have a problem with creating tautologies. A tautology is when you say the same thing twice. Like “My own life,” or “he always over-exaggerates.” or “I want to see him personally.”

    I also say “that” a lot. So after I’ve gone through the whole document, I search for instances of the word “that” and try to reword the sentences.

    I like to add “just” to things. Not quite as often as your average twenty-something in their prayers, but… And Grammarly knows just how to make me change it. The prompt asks, “Do you want to sound more confident?” Ugh! Of course, I do, so I remove it. (See, there’s no “just” before “remove”?)

    There’s a cool feature that grades your paper with a classic 0-100 score. Most of the Fertilizers start with a score in the 80’s, and I love working the post until it scores s99 or 100. It’s a little game I play.

    Here’s how you can use this.

    With the Great Reset we’re experiencing, take some time (get up early if necessary) and evaluate your leadership skill.

    Think about your interactions with team members and ponder how you can improve them.
    Imagine yourself as an unchurched person or a new believer and listen to the things you say on the live stream.
    Watch it again with no audio and look for your physical quirks.
    Send the link to another worship leader and ask them to (lovingly) tell you two things they like and two things you could improve.
    If you can listen back one track at a time, solo your instrument and check for sloppiness or a lack of musicality.
    Think of a change you’ve wanted to make. What’s stopping it? How is the way you lead, contributing to the delay?
    Read (or re-read) John Maxwell’s classic The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership book.
    Sign up for a free coaching session to finally find out what they are like
    Do an audit of your songs. Find the ones you’ve only scheduled once in the past year and consider removing them. By looking at the top five songs you’ve led, what is the general theme you seem to go back to? (And here’s the most valuable question: why is that theme central for you?)

    Make a game out of it. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Work to be better.

    Maxwell’s first law, the Law of the Lid, states: “leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his or her potential.”

    This means you want to work to “raise your lid” or take off the limits you’ve place on yourself. You may be a fantastic musician, but if you can’t lead people, you won’t be a very effective worship leader. You might love people, but if you don’t know how to create change, your effectiveness is capped.

    • 8 min
    232 The Great Reset

    232 The Great Reset


    Maybe we feel disoriented because God is trying to reorient us.

    As churches, we’ve been forced to rethink virtually everything about our weekly gathering rhythms.

    Naturally, we feel a growing anticipation for when we can meet again. Once this storm has past, what will you restart and what will you put to rest?

    And what if we don’t look at it as "when we come back" but "what God is inviting us into?" This is such a time of unusual opportunity. We must take the time to ask this question.

    "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)

    "Jesus responded, "Why do you keep looking backward to your past and have second thoughts about following me? When you turn back you are useless to God’s kingdom realm." (Luke 9:62 TPT)

    Can you mow a straight line if you keep talking to your neighbor as you look back over your shoulder?

    So take a moment to reflect: what was Sunday really about?

    Gathered worship
    Fundraising (don’t hate me)

    You can read the Fertilizer called "Why do we Gather?" here to jumpstart your thinking.

    Here are some further questions for your team:

    What do you miss most about gathering? Why do you miss that? What scriptural model, design, or narrative does that desire come from? (this will either help strengthen it or help you let it go)
    How is the Church better positioned to be the Light of the World with these limitations?
    What are the benefits of physically gathering on a weekend to worship? (List them specifically and comprehensively)
    What energy have we been over-investing or under-investing in planning the hour on Sundays?
    How has this season kickstarted the church (versus just the leaders)? How can we re-tool to continue this healthy shift?
    What is one thing that we’re sure needs to stop? What sacred cows do we need to grill? (things/ministries we used to do that we thought could never end, but now have been paused)
    Where is our greatest opportunity for sharing the gospel?
    How do finances shape what you do when you gather?
    How was the way we were doing ministry failing to make strong, radical disciples? How would we shape ministry to more fully do that?
    How do our gatherings and ministries love, serve, and lead in ways that are scriptural and Spirit-inspired in the context of our emotionally-driven world?
    How can the Church be more unified, not with the world but, for the sake of the world, with Herself?
    How has your worship ministry failed or succeeded in training your congregation to be homes of worship? What can you do to strengthen that (beyond the helpful idea of sending them videos of you doing a song)?

    Seize the opportunity given us! Let’s get in sync with the Lord’s perspective and purpose in this time. We ask Him together to reshape, realign, and reset us for His desire!

    And this would be a great time to join the other worship leaders who are resetting their next decade with a round of coaching. Having someone to talk with who is outside of your ministry context is so helpful! We’re offering a free session to leaders who haven’t tried it yet. Just schedule a time by clicking on https://adlibmusic.com/schedule-a-call.

    • 13 min
    229 Control

    229 Control


    “You tend to feel in control of your life when our wills are in harmony.” - God (via Sarah Young)

    Control. Remember that feeling?

    Life in sync. Options. Gatherings. Freedom. Routines.

    Poof, eh?!

    As my wife read our devotional of the day, my heart perked up. …I can have a feeling of control simply by spending energy in aligning my will with the Father’s? Wow!

    The context for the quote that Sarah wrote in 2004 says:
    “On some days your will and Mine flow smoothly together. You tend to feel in control of your life when our wills are in harmony. On other days you feel as if you are swimming upstream, against the current of My purposes. When that happens, stop and seek My face. The opposition you feel may be from Me, or it may be from the evil one. Talk with Me about what you are experiencing. Let My Spirit guide you through treacherous waters.”

    Now, in quarantine, the application is likely obvious. But what about when this blows over and life feels normal again?

    And the grind of ministry ramps up
    Your drummer shows up late again
    Your vision is ever so slightly different than your pastor’s
    You don’t quite know what songs to pick
    You don’t feel supported by your audio tech
    The congregation “just stands there”
    You can’t get the right feel for the song at rehearsal
    You don’t have a bass player
    You question whether you have what it takes to be a worship leader
    The vocalists don’t know how to sing the harmony
    The team doesn’t respond to the PCO invite
    The church bathroom is overstocked with TP

    You know, normal life. (Sorry, I just had to add that last one)

    What would it look like in those moments when you feel out of control, to stop and seek His face. Tell Him what you’re experiencing and be guided by the Holy Spirit?

    For each of the examples above (or the ones your mind drifted to), what would it look like to ask the Father to align your will with His to bring a sense of peace, of control?

    And what I love about this truth is that there’s this massive freedom we walk in when completely trusting Him. So much so that rather than even asking for situations to change, we begin channeling all our attention and focus on asking for His will to be done. It’s the freedom of letting go and trusting God in the truest way.

    I love and hate moments like the one we’re in. I hate it because it’s hard and I had plans! I love it because we’re in a global classroom of the Spirit. Not everyone knows it, but God is awakening His Bride and teaching us to pay attention.

    Let Your kingdom come, Lord Jesus! Let Your will be one!


    ps. As a bonus, here’s a short, encouraging video: https://www.facebook.com/lifecenteronline/videos/1312623769125284/
    pps. Such a beautiful surrender…Control.

    • 5 min
    219 Take it or Leave it

    219 Take it or Leave it


    I was leading worship and I felt like the congregation could take it or leave it. 💔

    I mean, several people were deeply connecting with God, but I couldn’t shake this feeling like the American consumerism had taken hold.

    One woman stood there singing pleasantly, holding her cup of coffee.

    And that’s pretty common. I’ve done it myself.

    I’m not judging folks. I don’t know what’s going on in their hearts.

    But when people are having an encounter, you can tell. I know how to read body language.

    I get to lead worship in 10-20 different churches a year, so I see a pretty broad spectrum. And a fully engaged congregation is…a refreshing experience every now and then. But this just felt different, starker. I felt…caught off guard.

    But what to do?

    I was processing this with one of our overseers, and he said very plainly "Disciple them in worship."

    See, I was serving at a historically "obviously worshiping" church, but we’d had lots of transition and a ton of new folks. It was time to sprinkle some teaching into our leading.

    And I’m certainly not complaining. It’s our job as worship teams to disciple our congregations in worship. If they aren’t learning to be a worshiping congregation, it’s our fault.

    Here’s the response I’m suggesting:

    Be a worshiper in your private life
    See it as your role to disciple others in worship
    Don’t settle for typical Sunday morning
    Show up prepared

    Be a worshiper in your private life
    Get the full story in Fertilizer #216, but nothing has a greater impact on your effectiveness as a worship leader as the health of your own worshiping life. Nothing.

    See it as your role to disciple others in worship
    You’re not a filler, a warmer-upper, an entertainer, a rally-er, a singer. If anything, you’re a trainer, a discipler. But this isn’t an add-on to your identity. It’s not another hat you have to wear. This is your core role. You must see everything you’re doing through this lens.

    Don’t settle for typical Sunday morning
    Don’t settle for engagement when you can have encounter. Actually meeting with God and allowing Him to transform us with His gospel and His spirit is our main goal for gathering. No ear-tickling, please. (2 Timothy 4:3 NASB)

    Show up prepared
    You’ve planned your songs, but did you plan your bombs? (Dan Wilt explains what I mean here: https://www.worshiptraining.com/media/bam-worship-teaching-bombs-and-how-to-use-them …it’ll keep you from sermonizing.) I spend lots of time on Saturday evenings and early Sunday mornings thinking about what I’m going to say to help the congregation "get it." How will I activate them? What scripture will I read? How will I say things so they stay off of autopilot? What will I bring that actually disciples them in their worshiping life, by experience and understanding? How can I cooperate with the Holy Spirit and be in alignment with what the Father is doing?

    So declare the WORTHship of the LORD, lead your congregation to actually meet with God (Psalm 42:2), and reignite your passion to disciple your congregation in worship.

    - Dave

    • 16 min
    218 Angels on the Road

    218 Angels on the Road


    Disclaimer: This is NOT a post about Amy Grant’s “Angels” song. Look it up, young people.

    In Costa Rica, I am pleasantly surprised at how kind drivers are. They let each other in to traffic. They honk, wave, or flash their lights to give you the right of way.

    ​There’s this kindness built into their culture.

    ​And as I’m driving and someone in front of me lets someone in, I’m thinking, “Why would you do that?!”

    ​But if I look up the street 100 feet, I’ll inevitably notice that I’m not really losing out because there’s traffic up ahead anyway. I would’ve stopped soon anyway. And it’s like this all the time.

    ​So it didn’t cost me anything, but it was kind. And in my (United States of) American way of thinking, I’m just so efficient, so ready to get there as quickly as I can. I’m trying to be productive, to get something done here! I want to be as expedient as possible.

    ​Because of the relational culture here, there are priorities in the culture other than just being efficient, than just getting the job done.

    ​I’m kinda impressed and I bet it feels nice to be kind and make someone’s moment by expressing that kindness. Especially if you don’t just do it once as an experiment, but “as a way of doing things.” I bet it feels nice to live that way.

    ​And what if you thought that way in your worship team, at your rehearsals? Have you already been making the application?

    I’m going to be kind to someone here.
    I’m not going to be so rushed, so task oriented.
    I’m going to be kind to my team mates by asking how they’re doing and actually giving them space for a real answer.
    I’m going to be relational and loving.
    I’m going to be a little less focused on productivity and efficiency, getting there the fastest way possible.
    I’m going to take time to pray together when someone shares that they are not doing so well.

    ​But back to driving in Costa Rica, there is one important caveat, one exception to the kindness.


    ​You know those dashed or solid lines between lanes? Motorcyclists consider those lines to be their lane…in between other cars.

    ​And if you’re stopped for any reason, they maze around your car literally only inches from taking out a mirror, scuffing your bumper, or dinging your doors. I’m not just talking about passing you, but turning in front of you and the car ahead of you. Snakes!

    ​(Spanish lesson for the day alert) They are atrevidos! It means bold or daring, but insolent or rude would be more fitting.

    ​And we all have “motorcyclists” on our teams…or have been them ourselves. People who act like the rules of kindness and order don’t apply.

    ​But our teams need to be safe places. Sometimes that means we need to be more relational, less efficient.

    ​And if you’re on a team that’s naturally wired more relational (and less efficient), do be like the driver behind the driver that’s being kind. That’s been me saying, “Come on, can’t you hurry up?! Why are you letting them out? Why are you being so kind?!” (Honest confessions)

    ​Don’t be that person. Get with the kind culture and enjoy your time together. Have fun. It’s a great road we get to share together! ​

    - Dave

    • 12 min
    217 Or Just Be Random and Chaotic

    217 Or Just Be Random and Chaotic


    I just learned the other day that one of the team members at one of my former churches took a break from the team and never came back. She’s at another church now.

    I was so sad to hear that. And even though I’m sure there were other reasons, I couldn’t help but think that if we had only had a better system, she wouldn’t have burned out. She was always cheerful to serve, did a great job, and volunteered to help if no one else was available. Yet, I knew inside that it stressed her to serve and that I wanted to care for her.

    I just didn’t have any accountability or intentionality in the way that I scheduled to make sure my people were serving at a livable pace for the long term.

    But I do remember serving somewhere that had great systems. It was 2008 and I look back on it with fondness, really: my thirteen months as a shift supervisor at Starbucks #13636, or as my friend Jeremy calls it “The Mermaid.”

    I’d most often ride my bicycle to work at 5:15 AM and wait for Liz, Chris, or another partner (aka “Starbucks employee”) to show up. We had to open the store at 6:00, so we’d hustle for those 30 minutes getting the coffee on, the pastries unwrapped, and counting in all the cash registers.

    I’d go throughout my shift bantering with partners, serving customers, and complaining about how last night’s partners didn’t do this or that very well.

    There were lots of great systems and tools that our employer had created for us. They literally have thought of everything and addressed it. One such system was the Daily Coverage Report.

    I know, it sounds earth-shattering.

    Ok, it sounds mind-numbing. But stick with me for a sec.

    The DCR (as we called it) had lots of helpful info on it:

    Who was working that day
    What time they start
    What time their lunch or 10-minute break was
    How many partners were scheduled per each half hour, including if we were over/under-staffed
    How many hours each partner was scheduled for that week

    As partners, we often used it to see who we should text if they hadn’t showed up yet, or we’d fight about how so-and-so (Becky!) was scheduled for more hours than we were.

    As supervisors and managers, this was not only a clear communication tool, it gave us details about how efficiently we were running the store. It allowed us to send someone home early if it was slow and they wanted to go anyway.

    But this isn’t about Starbucks, though. It’s about you and how you lead your worship ministry.

    The reality is that our most valuable resource is our team, our people.

    Do you know the condition of your flock? (Proverbs 27:23) Do you have any system that helps minimize burnout from overuse or disengagement from under-use? Can you see a report that shows you how this may be happening?

    You might be advanced Planning Center users, able to whip out a scheduling report at a moment’s notice. Or you may have 5 people on your team who serve every week.

    The thing is this: you may have scheduled a perfect month, but have you scheduled livable years? In other words, we can all withstand a typical “Christmas Eve month” schedule, but can we do 12 or 36 of those in a row?

    So, a simple question: What would it look like if you had a DCR for your team? How can you implement accountability an intentionality into your scheduling so that your team is healthy and cared for?

    - Dave
    ps. Now once again as simply a fan of Starbucks, I wrote this with a Pike Place pour-over at my preferred store at the Paseo de las Flores. :)

    • 14 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
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6Hoovers ,

Good insight

Pretty cool podcast, a lot of good info regarding issues and questions that worship leaders face. Keep up the good work

SunshineSequoia ,

Super Practical And Helpful

I’m so grateful for the podcast version of a newsletter I’ve come to anticipate Wednesday mornings in my inbox!

I just got done listening to the podcast, “Practicing is a Discipline That Sets You Free” And I was challenged again to think more about what I do in personal practice vs rehearsal with my team. As a new worship pastor leading a team at a new church plant, I have been painfully aware of my need to know my music thoroughly, and to understand the flow. But lately I think I have tended to slack when I have delegated the leading of a particular song to another, and I find I don’t practice that song as much. Then at rehearsal I’m not harmonizing well or I’m awkward in my lead ins.

This episode reminded me gently but practically, that time spent practicing isn’t only about me but about my team too. If it’s possible to practice daily as a musician/vocalist, then it’s possible to do the same as a Worship Pastor/vocalist.

Thanks Dave! My team will listen to this at our next rehearsal!

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