The MxU Worship Podcast
February 27, 2023

“Work-Life Balance” as a Worship Leader with Brian Darnell

In this episode, Stephen Brewster talks with Brian Darnell. Brian is the Worship Leader Director at Grace Church in Greenville, South Carolina. Listen as we discuss the reality of what a “work-life balance” looks like for worship leaders and worship pastors at churches. We also took time to dive into what it looks like to disciple people as worship leaders.

Grace Church Worship


The MxU Worship Podcast Episode 7

Jeff Sandstrom: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the M X U Worship podcast hosted by Stephen Brewster. Each episode features great conversations between Stephen and all kinds of worship leaders from the most prolific songwriters, from prominent churches, to folks you may have never heard of. Either way, we hope that these resources and conversations will encourage, equip, and empower you to be the best worship leader you can.

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Stephen Brewster: Welcome to the M X U Worship podcast. My name’s Steve Brewster. I’m gonna be your host today and I am excited for you to hear from Brian Darnell from Greenville, South Carolina Grace Church. This guy is an amazing leader, leads a a church with 10 campuses and I really, really believe that you’re gonna learn something today.

So I hope you’re ready. Get your notebook out, get ready cuz. Here we go. A great conversation with Brian.[00:01:00]

Today I wanna introduce you to my friend Brian Darnell. Brian, how you doing today, man?

Brian Darnell: Doing well, excited. Awesome. Tell us a little bit about

Stephen Brewster: yourself and your church and kind of what you’re doing right

Brian Darnell: now. That’s great. Yeah. My name’s Brian Darnell. I’m a worship leader in Greenville, South Carolina, which is, we call it the upstate.

And we’re a multi-site church. We have 10 campuses plus a a campus in Espanol. . I have been a part of this church since I was about 18 years old. Wow. I came as an intern in college and I’m 33 now. So been a part of this church since then. I have three girls that are nine, seven and four, and so that occupies a good bit of my time.

Yeah, no doubt. Count them. Keeping our family together. But then I’m a worship leader at our Pelham Road campus, which is essentially where our church started from and grew from. So ask a little bit about who we are. We’re a you know, like most churches, we’re a discipleship oriented church. Yep. Share teaching across our campuses.

And then [00:02:00] I get to play the role of working with all of our worship leaders and our AV crew that serves at those campuses and picking songs, content, helping write music for our church as well. And really help with, along with a team, set the direction for what is worship and singing. Music and bands and all that at Grace Church.

So it’s a, it’s a great opportunity and excited to be a part of this today. Yeah, man.

Stephen Brewster: That sounds awesome. Okay, so I have so many questions just off of your introduction. First, how do you balance three kids and a family and being a worship pastor? Because like Mo, most of the people who are listening to our podcast today are worship pastors, right?

And they, or they’re volunteer worship leaders or they’re somehow involved in worship ministry. . You know, I remember when I was doing full-time creative pastoring. A lot of times the biggest question I would have is, how do you create balance? How do you, how do you be a good dad and, and be a good pastor?

What are maybe some things that you’ve discovered or uncovered [00:03:00] that have

Brian Darnell: helped you do that better? That’s a great question. And I would say the first thing is just accept that balance is not a reality , right? So you can’t fully balance all of it. It is more than you know, you might be able to handle on your own, which is why we’re so reliant upon God.

To intervene in all for hundred, a hundred percent here to lead us. So if you’re looking for a perfect balance, for most of us, it’s just not possible. But it just means our hands have to be open to what God asked for us in a season. And so I have three girls and my wife plays a huge role in me being able to do what I do.

Because she’s, it’s not just, I have a job as a worship leader and she is managing her home. She actually is a part of me getting to be on our worship staff. That’s so good. Going to rehearsals and showing up early, and she brings the kids. On Sunday mornings without me, and she handles our home while I get to go lead worship.

And so it’s not the most attractive role. Like I get to stand up front and sing and [00:04:00] she gets to take the kids to church. But helping our, our, you know, mission as a family is this is what God has for us right now. And so the role she gets to play is really helping our family have the stability it needs so that I can go.

What I’m doing and serve our church. And so it’s a missional approach, I’d say. And I tell you, it’s, you can’t administer, you can’t ever fully. Not bring your work home with you like it’s a, it’s fully a part of your life. But to be able to have the freedom, like my wife and I have a dialogue to where she is, she has the freedom to tell me, Hey, we need some time.

Or, Hey, you’re very distracted. You’ve been very distracted this week with work. And for me to be able to. again, be open-handed and receive that from her and her not feel like she can’t, she can’t give me that kind of direction and let me know when I’m, when I’m obviously being distracted in some weeks I’m like, Hey, I, this is gonna be a bad week.

It’s, we have a lot of services. We’re, we have retreats, we have lots of planning. We’re gonna be [00:05:00] doing, I’m gonna be m i a a little bit this week, but next week is our fam is for our family. And I structure my schedule ahead of time so that I have more time. I’ll take a, take some mornings off and we’ll go do something as a family.

But it’s a, it’s very intentional and strategic for you to be able to do this well for the long run. Right? Cuz your family is connected. So that’s probably more than what you were asking for, but No, that is

Stephen Brewster: gold man. That is gold. So how did you guys realize you needed to have a conversation to set this up?

Or was it something that happened organically? Like how did you create such clarity in,

Brian Darnell: in the roles. Yeah, well most of it was not anything we came up with. It’s folks that have been discipling and leading us who have been doing ministry for a long time, so it’s coming under the direction they’re giving us, even when we didn’t fully understand the need of it.

Like when you’re first married and you have plenty of time, right. And you’re not stretched in, you think you’re busy, but you’re really not that busy . Right. Totally. Affo saying, Hey, y’all need to have these conversations. You [00:06:00] need to Hey, it can’t just be Brian. On mission to lead worship for our church.

Like they care enough about not just me, they care about my wife as well, and we have to be, you know, we have to be functioning well as a team. And so that direction was given to us early and obviously we’ve had good seasons, we’ve had more difficult seasons, we’re not quite communicating. And but I would say most of that has come from folks up above us that are caring for.

So it’s why community’s so important in all of this and not being alone, having folks that, whether it’s through your church or avenues like this, where you’re getting good direction and insight from people that have been doing ministry for a while. So, cuz I wouldn’t have known the need for it when I first started ministry cause it’s totally, it’s exciting.

You’re pumped up, you’re ready. You got this cool opportunity to be a worship leader and you’re not thinking about, hey, five years from now. You know, what’s this gonna look like? Right? Having kids and how do we go ahead and instill some things into the rhythms and even roles in our family. And so, and my wife really, I mean, she’s a saint in all of it because she allows me this opportunity.

She actually gets to sing on the [00:07:00] worship team with me as a volunteer. Oh, that’s cool. But most of the time she’s, she’s not, she’s helping our family, so That’s awesome.

Stephen Brewster: Well that, I mean, if nothing, if we don’t even talk about anything else, that is just amazing. And probably, I, I, I wish someone would’ve had that conversation with me when I was first getting into ministry.

It would’ve saved a lot of, a lot of arguments and heartache for sure. So you’re part of helping kind of choose what songs get sung at your church, kind of crafting the worship culture of your church. Where do you go to

Brian Darnell: find. I would, I mean, we have a bunch of playlists that we look at, so I have playlists on Spotify.

Spotify’s our favorite stream service, not to do it just to plug for Spotify, but it is what I use. And so there. And what are some of those lists, if you don’t mind me asking? Your release radar. So if you’re listening to worship and Christian ccm, you know, your release radar is going to pop stuff up every Friday with new music.

There’s a new Christian what’s it called? Friday New Christian Music Playlist. A lot of stuff gets dropped on, but then [00:08:00] I’ll go find other churches. Across the country or even other countries, and they have their own playlists made of songs that they’re singing. Mm-hmm. What I was looking at this morning is Village village Church, village Worship.

Mm-hmm. , they have, they put their songs that they post, you can go on their websites. A lot of times I’ll go on church’s websites and I’ll see the songs they’re singing or even the songs that they have on their, maybe pre-service playlist or reflection playlists. And then I’ll email I’ll email, reach out to worship leaders.

Different churches and just ask, Hey, what are you excited about singing? So it’s, so, it’s very much a multi-tiered approach of just seeing what other folks are singing. Cuz you know this, but there’s such a, there’s such a bank of songs, you know, there’s music Yeah. Totally. At all time. And you can’t teach all of them.

But if you see, hey, there’s a, here’s a list of about 10 songs that I’ve never even listened to yet, or I never even thought that those songs could work for us. But if that church is doing. Maybe we could consider it as well. Yeah. So, and I’m asking our college students what they’re [00:09:00] listening to. . Really?

Yeah. That’s what they’re excited about because we have a lot of college students around here too, so That’s

Stephen Brewster: awesome. What’s how do you decide if a song is working in your church or not?

Brian Darnell: So we have pretty open dialogue with our worship leaders. We meet every week and get feedback from how they think the songs are working at their campuses.

And so we have campuses that are very college heavy, that are in maybe a college town in Anderson, South Carolina. And then the campus that I’m at has mostly young and maybe middle-aged families. Engineers, so not as many young folks at our campus. And so some songs are probably gonna feel better to us or worse to us than they do at other campuses.

And so it’s getting feedback from our worship leaders and really it’s watching to see, Hey, are people singing ? Because for us, that’s the biggest litmus test is if people can’t sing along to it, even if we love it. You know, even if we teach a song, we think it’s amazing. Sounds great. We’re really watching getting feedback from our folks and you know, how well they’re singing it.

So not just how much we [00:10:00] love being able to play it cuz we love the song, but we need our folks to be able to and willing to sing it. So yeah.

Stephen Brewster: That’s awesome. I mean, , every church is reliant on wor on volunteers to help them accomplish what they’re doing. And I know volunteerism is a big part of your church and what you guys do.

What how do you find volunteers in, for your church? Like where do you go to find

Brian Darnell: these people? Yeah, it’s the that’s the golden question, man. , everybody’s trying to find more volunteers and in music and even av it’s such a skill specific, right? It’s not like holding the door. That’s right. Cuz you have to have the competency of being able to play the instruments, but you also have the character to be able to stand up front, front and represent our church well.

And so there’s a lot of ways, a lot of it is, I call it grassroots. So it’s our folks that are already volunteers going and find. That that are, they’re friends with, they’re in community group with that they know play an instrument and they’re recruiting them. So our volunteers are actually very active in helping us recruit.

But then I’ll you know, I’ll ask from the [00:11:00] stage, maybe once every two to three months I’ll say Hey, we have tons of opportunities for musicians. And some of you kind of, you know, you play guitar a little bit or you sing a little bit, you haven’t really felt like you could do it. Hey, come give it a.

We’ll be honest with you, we’ll tell you if you can do it or not, and if not, then we’ll help you find somewhere else to serve. But I think making sure it’s always in front of our congregation that we have opportunities for people to serve in this way. And we talk about, I mean, serving, especially serving in worship is a part of our discipleship.

So it’s not just. A box and I need to check to be a part of Grace Church, serving is an active part of your discipleship as a follower of Christ. And so we want to not just say there’s opportunities, we need to create opportunities within our teams. And so at my campus, we probably have 15 different bands on a weekend, which is a lot of musicians.

And so we’re always asking folks and. You know, word of mouth is the biggest draw. I will, you know, sometimes I couldn’t find a bass [00:12:00] player on the weekend and I could go get our bass player to play every week, or I could restructure the band and not have a bass player on the stage. And I’ll say from the stage, Hey guys, we, you know, hey, you can see we’re missing.

We’re missing a bass player. Some one of somebody out here, y’all, you can play bass good enough to come give it a shot. And we need. So that’s awesome and that’s awesome. So it’s a lot of, it’s a lot of those kind of moments. So I’ve, I’ve loved the attention that you guys put on discipleship. What are some of the ways that you care for your team?

Let’s see. I would say, We, so like our, our worship teams, we make sure we emphasize like we’re not necessarily a community group, right? Cuz we have most of our discipleship, the core of it comes through our small groups. Yeah. But then we expect our volunteers to be in one of those small groups and being cared for.

So that being said, we have a very open relationship with our team, [00:13:00] so, Obviously we’re showing up and rehearsing on a Wednesday night, but we’re engaging one another on a personal level and you know, I know that, hey, this just happened with our drummer. They just had this medical situation happen in their family.

I’m calling a few of our musicians and we’re going over to see them together. Wow. That’s awesome. I have a few of our musicians and AV folks that I even task with. Hey, I need y’all to help me lead the team because I can’t lead a. You know, a hundred, 150 volunteers by myself, right? So a few of our key volunteers, musicians, AV folks, we actually meet, we talk, and I, they actually help me.

Let’s say when a new volunteer’s coming on the team, I will send this guy who I trust, who’s a leader, to go meet with them instead of just me. Right. And so they’re connecting with that person. You know, if I have a guy that’s obviously there’s, there, there seems to be something off the last few times he’s come and served, maybe not prepared or maybe just down.

I’ll ask, you know, some, one of our guys to go, Hey, would you go just grab coffee with him? [00:14:00] Sometimes he, he’s doing, yeah. And so I’d say that’s the more you know, organic version of it. And then throughout the year we will. We’ll do once a year we do something we call worship culture that we stole from.

I believe Watermark Church. It’s something that they would do with their teams, but we just get all of our worship volunteers together from all campuses and we’ll cast vision and we’ll sing songs together. We might record some music while they’re there and we’ll kind of re-up. You know what, what our mission is as worship team, who we are.

Yeah. Why we’re doing this. So we’ll have things like that. And then once in a while I’ll let’s say on, on a Sunday, we have several services. Yeah. And so sometimes I’ll have the team stay in for one of the teachings and I’ll lead us through communion together. Oh, that’s cool. And or I’ll I’ll share, you know, something God’s been teaching me, or I’ll have somebody on the team get up in the green room meeting and share a little bit of, of what God’s doing.

So, That, that’s a few examples of what we do. Yeah. I would say you have to kind of get into it and see the more organic version of it. [00:15:00] We’re not necessarily, you know, doing bible studies together and meeting out outside of the Wednesday practice sessions together. Yeah. It’s more organic and so I love that.

I love that.

Stephen Brewster: So it’s interesting. As a culture, we’ve tried to move past covid and, and, and that season, that’s obviously was a hard season for anyone in ministry, but I think a lot of the, I think a lot of the, there’s a lot of residue left in with people, you know, whether it’s mentally or emotionally or even like a, a change in rhythm.

Coming back to church and, and coming back to serving at church, how have you guys navigated a, a

Brian Darnell: post covid? Wow. Big question, man. , this is, you know, on several fronts. Here’s what, what I would say, and if any of our any of our volunteers ever listened to this, we ha we were incredibly blown away how our worship and AV volunteers, we, we did not lose them.[00:16:00]

Even That’s awesome. Whether it got busy or not. During Covid, they actually probably doubled their efforts because we added more services through covid, so outdoor tent services while doing stuff inside. And so we actually asked more of our volunteers and they stuck it out. They stayed through, you know, the, the complicated nature of, Hey, are we wearing a mask?

Are we not wearing a mask? Are we meeting, are we not meeting? , all the, you know, the inconsistency over those, over that year and a half, two years, whatever, whatever it was, you know, our folks really stepped out at the plate and, and served our church really well. And so it, it was incredible to watch. Now, on the back end of that, what we’ve seen with our like I said, because our volunteers stayed through it, we really haven’t lost a ton of folks on the service side of things.

What we noticed is folks that were coming irregularly, this is a bigger church conversation more than is just, just singing and worship, right? But we noticed folks that weren’t really coming regularly or even giving regularly. Those fell off. And so we lost a, a, a decent [00:17:00] percentage of our church of people that were attending.

But the folks that were were engaged before covid have stuck it out and are still part of our church. Like our giving did not drop even though we lost a significant percentage of people. Wow. Which is fascinating. Just shows you the people that were Yeah. Already were the ones really carrying the weight for our church anyways, so Right.

We, one of the harder things to navigate was just we do, we don’t do a live streamed service. We record our teaching. Our teaching. Gotcha. and post that on the weekends up on the screens. And so one of the interesting decisions was, is moving from a virtual livestream service for folks that are staying home.

Mm-hmm. . And that was probably the biggest decision around worship that we had to make. So we did not wanna become, we did not want folks to get comfortable with, you know, I come to church twice a month and then I’m gonna go to my lake house and just watch it from there. Just watch it. Right, right. Cause we feel very strongly that God wants us to.

And Covid was a comp was [00:18:00] complicated and we had to navigate it. But on this side of it, we know God wants us to gather, right? It’s in Hebrews, do not proceed to gather the saints. So we did not want to create and enable an opportunity for folks to just disengage with being here in person, but while also needing to really create a resource for the folks that really needed it.

Folks that do need to stay home that are at higher risk. And so on this side of it, it was shutting down our live streamed version of our services and really only offering it to folks that really needed it. And then our, our pastors across our campuses, it mean they needed to go engage the folks that didn’t need it and care for them well.

Right. For the person that has the disease or a chronic condition that Covid was really risky for them, we need to go engage them and love them and provide this resource. But for the folks that aren’t that engaged and want to come to services once or twice a month. And then just watch it on the couch when it’s convenient for them.

We did not want to continue to enable that, if that makes sense. Not that, not that livestream is bad, I’m [00:19:00] just saying for what we were, what we felt like we needed to do is to encourage people to come back and be together, be in fellowship and community on Sunday mornings. And so that was probably the biggest decision.

And so navigating that on this end is kind of the reality that we’re living in now and we’ve. , you know, we have a bunch of new folks that are coming to our church. We have had, cuz we’re in Greenville, South Carolina, we’ve had many folks from out west and up north. Mm-hmm. that are to Greenville. And so our church is growing with new folks and it’s been exciting.

So that, that’s so exciting, right.

Stephen Brewster: Like that even coming through something so traumatic as, as what we went through as a really, as a world, as a you. As a culture to see, to see that people are returning and, and maybe not all the same

Brian Darnell: people, but, but

Stephen Brewster: in it still people like, there’s, there’s growth and That’s right.

You know, I love, I love that verse in Hebrews where, because it’s funny, I mean, I do think that a global pandemic gives you a chance to innovate a little [00:20:00] bit in how you do church. Like we’ve done church the same way for about 60 to a hundred years. That’s right. That’s right. Getting the ability to do something free and new and innovative is awesome, but we can never forget the gathering of, of the saints in the community.

You know, it’s so, so, so

Brian Darnell: important. And I tell you the value on singing, we realized how much we missed it. There’s something about not being able to do it for months. Yeah. When we got tied together, our people were genuinely excited, not just about being together, but about singing. Yeah. We’re singing with masks on, and then we finally get to take the masks off and.

You just hear an eruption of noise in the room as people are . So yeah, I think you re-upped the importance of it and how it edifies each other, how we edify each other when we sing over. And so it was an exciting, it’s been exciting, difficult, but I’m excited for what God’s done and our folks through it.


Stephen Brewster: man, that is so, so awesome. Well, so as a. , you know, you’re, you’re a worship leader leading in a, in a [00:21:00] multi-site church. A lot of people that are listening to this pod podcast probably don’t have multiple sites. You’ve also been there for 18 years, so you’ve been there through the growth of, of your church.

If you could rewind back to 18 years as old serving on this team. That’s right. What, what, what are some things that you know now that you wish you knew back? Oh man,

Brian Darnell: I wish I cared more about the people that God had put under, put under my care. Yeah. About the opportunities that were given to me. Mm-hmm.

and I wish that I had, and as a part of that, I wish I had focused more on my character mm-hmm. as a follower of Jesus than again about the opportunities and the role that I got to play. Yep. And that was being, You know, discipled into me. But I couldn’t help but think, man, I’m, I’m running on cloud nine. I have this awesome job.

I love these people. I love this church. I don’t wanna lose this. I want to continue to grow and have more and more opportunity to do this. And so it [00:22:00] created a really, for about 10 years, and I’ve had to work through this as a man, as a, you know, as a, as a leader, and min. Of not allowing the opportunity to be upfront and be the worship leader to define who I am and my identity.

And so if I could go back to talk to myself at 18 years old, it would be to say God has a mystical way of lining up opportunities and roles based on how he’s wired you up and your giftings. If we would just work on our. If we would spend daily time walking in a, not just reading the scriptures, but obeying the scriptures and instilling that to myself and in, in our family, I, that would be the biggest thing that I would say is to not be over overly excited and glamorized by the opportunity to be a worship leader and kind of get that fulfilled rather than actually become a solid believer.

Yeah. So that when I’m 30 years, The opportunities that now are on my shoulders and the [00:23:00] responsibilities I have, I actually have the depth and the substance to bear up under the pressure that God has given me. Right. That make sense? Totally. It does. About CS Lewis, the way he describes heaven and the weightiness of, I don’t know if you’ve read the Great Divorce.

It’s been incredible. Yeah, it’s been incredible imagery of me, of how the the folks that aren’t quite in heaven are this kind of wisp or vapor. Or mm-hmm. shadow and then the, the weightiness and the substance of those that are in heaven that are following Jesus. Yeah. Think about an imagery for my soul in my, in my early and mid twenties and just right back and I could say, Hey, don’t, you know, this is, you’re not that big of a deal.

Just follow God, grow in your faith, and then let him provide those opportunities. Yeah, man, that’s so good. It confuses your motivation. So I want to be a good dad. I want to be a good husband. I want to be a good leader of those of the staff that, that are under me. And I want to be a good worship [00:24:00] leader, not because I really care about those people, but because I need it to look good so that I can have more opportunity and I can get better and be seen better.

And it’s just a fallen way to think about it and God had to break me of that and reinvigorate a passion for. Getting to lead worship and getting to care for the people that he’s put under me, so, wow. That is

Stephen Brewster: so, so good.

Brian Darnell: Tell me a little bit about,

Stephen Brewster: You, you guys have started to write songs, original songs.

What, what motivated you to start writing songs? What inspired you to start writing songs and what’s the process of that for your.

Brian Darnell: Yeah, I’d love to share some of that. So it was very it was kind of random early on. So I’d say we started writing seven or eight years ago. There was me and one other guy who’s one of our drummers and worship leaders, and we, you know, we felt like, hey, we should at least.

Try , right? This could be important for our church. Now think about Colossians three is one of the obviously verses [00:25:00] that we all think about when we think about worship. But in verse 16, it says, let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all the wisdom that he gives through the Psalms, hymns, and songs from the spirit, singing to God with gratitude.

And I can’t help but think about how God’s given us music to act to. To teach and admonish one. And so when we started writing music, it was how can we write songs that are pulling from the scriptures and helping to instill these values, instill these ideas, and help us to continue to communicate and apply the truth of the scriptures that we’re studying into our songs.

And so it’s been a very di I mean, it’s been a difficult process of figuring out what’s good, cuz none of. Really have a background in writing music. Right. So we just it’s not very official and there’s nobody here really has writing in their job description . Right. So it just started with a couple of us writing songs and getting feedback from worship leaders, from our congregation.

And it was interesting to see how much our church [00:26:00] latched onto the songs that we wrote. And they’re not, not that they’re great songs, it’s just something about, Hey, our worship leader wrote this and thought about us and wrote this for us. Right. And it was, So it, it didn’t necessarily have to be a great song, , right?

Right. It just needed to follow the scriptures and be helpful language for us. And then because it was from us to our church, they latched onto it and have really taken up the mantle for us and hopefully they’re helpful lyrics. So that was more early on. And now we have several of our worship leaders who are involved in that.

And we all write on our own and then we’ll send, you know, A little melody or chorus idea, or we use a doc that everybody can kind of dump their songs in. If we find a few that we like, that we think are helpful, we’ll get some guys together. And we really do it in communities, so we do it. Mm-hmm. as a team.

So it’s not like I’m writing a song and then submitting it, saying this is what we’re singing this week. It’s, I have, you know, 80% of the song. And then two or three other guys helped. Haunted in. [00:27:00] And I’d say for those that are writing one of the more difficult things, if you’re, if you’re very creative and you have ideas and you get attached to what you’re writing, the ability to open, be open-handed and not take what you’ve written too seriously and be too attached to it, to let other people haunted in and make it better has been a huge part.

Yeah, I have a song that’s probably 50 or 60% of what it could be. But if I’m too attached to that melody or to the way I said that, cause I think it’s witty, right? And it doesn’t actually become what it could have been. Right. And so having other folk, other guys spend time with me helping haunted in and make it work.

But then sure, Joe, if we write 20 songs for our church, you know, maybe 12 of them actually hit with our. I think that’s music as a whole. So we’re right. Trying to write enough to where we can actually weed out the songs that aren’t really working and have some that do work. So, so now, yeah, it’s more of a team approach.

We have a few of us that do it more regularly, but we’re not, you know, I’m not spending time on it every day. Like some do, I’m [00:28:00] probably spending a block of time a week until we have a few songs built up. Then we’ll start building moment. Spending more time on the song. Most of it is, we’d say we’re defined and directed by the scriptures as a church.

And so we wanna write songs that do that. We wanna write songs that take the scriptures and either help give us language to say those scriptures in a, in a unique and compelling way, or give us words that help us apply that scripture, if that makes. Yeah. It’s so good. Yeah, so, so, so good. Yeah, so we just, we wanna do that.

A lot of times I think in singing or if you’re in a congregation singing when you’ve heard teaching. So we do, most of our hunt say this, but we do most of our singing actually after we study God’s word together. So we’ll have our teaching and then we’ll do three or four songs sometimes. Oh, that’s interesting.

Yeah. So we want to use that time to actually help apply, respond to what we’ve heard. So the teaching. Kind of fills us up and gets this thinking process and God begins to speak and then we give people time and we use the songs to build [00:29:00] off of that teaching. You know, sometimes more specifically. And then sometimes it’s like, okay, because of that, here’s what we’re gonna sing, right?

Yeah. Because of this that God did, now we’re gonna sing about his character and be thankful, you know, so it’s kind of building off of that, giving people time to respond. So, so yeah. So we want our songs to actually help give us language when a lot of times you don’t have words to say, right? Telling me something, I’m feeling something, I don’t know what to say.

Right? So what songs goo the songs give us something to. , right, that we’re saying to God. We’re also saying it and preaching it to ourselves, and it becomes a part of who we are, and hopefully that’s amazing, informative as the words that we’re studying in scriptures. Wow.

Stephen Brewster: How did you guys come up with that model?

Has that always been the

Brian Darnell: model of your church? Yeah, as long as I’ve teaching first and music second. That’s right. Yeah. I mean, that’s the benefit of the, the, the folks that started Grace Church is they had the benefit of doing what they wanted to from the beginning. And so that was one of the things that I don’t know exactly where it came from in the beginning, but as far long as [00:30:00] I’ve been here, it’s been a, a pretty critical part of how we build and structure.

Liturgy of our services is yeah. So it’s always been we want, and I think it’s more, it was just practical. It’s, Hey, when I sat under this much teaching, It’s helpful to have some space before we just sing a song and we’re out the door. It gives folks the just a rhythm of, Hey, I have some time. Now, a lot of times I won’t even stand them up af for the first song after the teaching.

We’ll just have ’em say, Hey, y’all sit. Continue to think about what God’s doing, what you heard, and maybe these words that we’re singing here will help you in that. But hey, just take some time before we stand up and start singing together. So we’ll do that a lot of times. And I think it’s been a helpful, it’s not the right way.

It’s just, it’s been helpful for our, our body and it’s been a good rhythm for us to, yeah. Help, help process. Not all of us are quick processors, so That’s so

Stephen Brewster: interesting. And you know, I’ve, I I do believe you’re, I mean, it’s, you’re so smart and it’s so wise. [00:31:00] Music has always been that, right? Like the greatest songs, the songs that mean the most to you say something that you don’t know how to say yourself.

Right, right. Right. Worship songs and even non-war songs like music and the art of music a lot of times can help us articulate something we don’t know how to say. Yeah. And so, , what a, what a fascinating idea of mu moving our music to That’s right. Support our message. That’s right. And you know, I would guess, and correct me if I’m wrong, but when you guys are writing songs, you’re probably writing songs from the ministry of your church and from Right, kind of the narrative of your church.

So you’re now accompanying a message with a four minute version of that message that’s in a

Brian Darnell: melody that’s. That’s awesome. It’s either helping to continue to tease out the idea from the teaching or it’s the next application, right? Yeah. So it’s, it’s doing one of those things. And so we’re writing songs like, we’re in the book of Daniel right now, and so we’re thinking about, Hey, are there any, is there anything we could write based on Daniel’s life or have we written [00:32:00] anything in our bank that we could.

We could use for this series. And then I know what we’re teaching next spring. And so I’m already thinking on, you know, hey, are, are there some ideas? There’s some scriptures even. We just wanna sit down. So we spent a couple hours last week with three of us, and we looked at our series for next spring and we opened up the several scriptures that we might be using and we said, Hey, let’s, let’s see what God does.

Let’s see. Yeah, let’s see if anything comes to us and we can start writing. Sometimes it. You know, sometimes it doesn’t, but if that’s okay, there’s a lot of other good music out there that we can go listen to. So one of the applications, example of that would be when Covid first hit back in April, March of March, April of 2020.

You know, it was a big I think crucible moment for a lot of churches. And I knew for me personally, what it was gonna mean for our family. And then for our churches, all these decisions are being made and folks are on every political side. There can be. Passionate about things. So I wrote a song that actually helped me process, Hey, this is a moment for us to decide is our [00:33:00] faith real or not?

Wow. And it also felt like that’s the kind of decision that our church was making. That’s what we were even teaching about during that series. And so sitting at a piano you know, 80% again of a song came to me that applied to that moment. Yeah. And hopefully be helpful to the church at some point.

So that’s just Oh, good. How some of that works. So good.

Stephen Brewster: All right, so tell me one thing again, remember that our, our, our listeners, you know, they, they cover a range of worship leaders from a volunteer in a church of 30 people to an amazing leader who’s leading 10 campuses, worship culture. Right? What would be the one piece of advice that you would advise any of those worship leaders anywhere on that spectrum to help them be a little bit better next week

Brian Darnell: than they were this week?

It’s a great, it’s a great question. Here’s what I’d say. I think this goes back to a little bit what I said earlier when you asked me about what could I tell myself at 18 [00:34:00] years old. Yeah, yeah. I think a lot of times we can get excited about the what of mm-hmm. , what songs, this is what I like. This is what would make our service great.

This is a new, exciting thing, which are all important decisions to make, right? But to be grounded to why do we, why do we have this platform to lead worship? What is it, you know, why has God put us in this position and ask ourselves going into the weekend? What do the people that God has put under my care this weekend, what do they.

not, what can I do? What can I do that’s compelling? What what songs can we sing that’ll really hit that, that are awesome? What’s the witty thing? I can say what’ll be impressive? Even if we’re not saying those words in our head, right? Why? Why has God put us in this space together? And what, and if there is a what, it’s what do, what do my people need from me this [00:35:00] weekend that God has for?

Right. Make sense? Yeah, totally. Being willing to reorient and ask that question and slow down and, and think, okay, I’m not that important. Sometimes they don’t need a lot from me. They need me to lead the songs. Right. And sometimes God’s doing something and he’s speaking to me and giving me a word for them, and I’m willing to receive it, and it’s about what they need and not what I want to say.

Yep. So what, not just, I, I wanna sing these awesome songs, but actually what they need is to sing something like this that’s d. Yep. And so just being willing to take a pause and, and care enough about the folks that God’s put under your care to. So good. Not be self-promoting and not just do what you want to do and slow down, allow God to.

Because I think the spirit doesn’t just move on the Sunday morning when we’re leading worship. The Spirit moves on Wednesday morning when we’re working on songs. When you’re thinking about your band and thinking about, you know, what scriptures we’re gonna read or what direction or exoration I might give, I think the spirit moves in all of those moments.

He’s with [00:36:00] us. Yeah. And so open to hear what he has for us and what our people need.

Stephen Brewster: That’s awesome. Brian. Thanks for your time today. Thanks for being on our, on our little show and that’s great. Uh, Just pouring into pouring into the lives and hearts of other worship leaders, it means, means so much. You take the time to do this.

Brian Darnell: It’s an honor to get to be a part of it. Thankful. Awesome.

Stephen Brewster: Well, I was definitely minister to through that conversation. Some of the things that Brian said that really we were amazing to me and things that I wish I would’ve learned earlier in

Brian Darnell: life. For sure.

Stephen Brewster: The balance is not a reality, and I think a lot of times we know that, but, and we sometimes maybe even use that as an ex, as an excuse to not be balanced.

But the reality is when we over index in one direction, we have to correct in the other direction in order to recreate the balance. And so when Brian was talking about one week, he might be m. In the next week, he re reorients his schedule to spend some more time with his family. [00:37:00] That helps balance out the imbalance that we live in, in ministry in.

I also loved Brian’s focus for dis discipleship community. It was really, really awesome to hear how many times he brought people back to doing things together. And I would just encourage you today as you’re working with your team, try to bring more people around. It’s a great way to develop. It’s a great way to help influence.

It’s a great way to pass culture through your organization. That conversation was so fun. I learned a lot. I hope you did too. If the conversation meant anything to you, I would love it. If you would take five seconds, share this with one person, shoot ’em a text, and tell ’em to go listen to this podcast and send ’em a link.

Thank you so much. We will be back next week with another great conversation. I can’t wait to see you. Make sure you tune in.