Tools of the Trade by Rod Ellis


(from Dennis) This month at ChurchMusicToday.Net we will be looking at “tools of the trade” that the contributors use each week at their place of ministry. Each contributor will share three tools of the trade they use each week in their ministry (other than the Bible and a hymnal).  We are privileged to have a guest blog post in this series from Worship Coach, Rod Ellis.  Read his post and then learn more about him at the close of the post.


Three of the resources I use most are Facebook, PraiseCharts and People.

1) Facebook can steal a lot of time, so we have to be careful. But the very fact that can take so much time means that many of our people spend a lot of time there. (If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest country in the world!) So if you and I want to build community with those in our town, our church, and our worship ministry, it may be helpful to spend some of our time on Facebook. Here are just three of the ways you and I can use FB effectively.
a) Notice what’s going on in people’s lives and minister to them, either online or in person. I often send prayer-messages electronically. And when I see folks in person, I can ask how a particular part of their story is unfolding. Of course I know this bit of their story because of our connection on Facebook.
b) Create a “group” for each group you lead. Then you can send messages, update statuses, and encourage community among the folks in that group/choir/etc. I have also shared excerpts from texts we were singing to help the folks in that ensemble to connect with that they’re singing/leading.
c) Shine brightly in a dark place. I’m not sure about you, but I have hundreds of FB friends who are far from God or running that direction. So I share scripture verses that stand out to me, quotes I find compelling from whatever I’m reading, and my own thoughts that may encourage people toward/forward in their faith-journey.

2) PraiseCharts can be a superb tool for the right group. Most of the songs I led while at Memorial BC in Frankfort, KY started out as “covers” of CD recordings–whether by Chris Tomlin or someone less recognizable. But some of the folks on my team needed print music while others played totally by ear (and memory). Still others preferred a lead sheet or chord sheet. Thousands of worship songs are available through PraiseCharts ( with what is needed for all of those people and more: full orchestrations, click tracks, etc. Again, one of my favorite parts of the way PraiseCharts works is that I can upload a recording to a worship planning tool (like Planning Center Online or Worship Planning) so people hear the same recording as the print music being used.

One more note about PraiseCharts, spend some time getting to know the pricing structure. If you want to buy orchestrations so you can use a high school clarinet player or college violinist or the occasional brass group, it can be expensive to do so one song at a time. But it can be very cost effective using a membership level that fits your needs.

3) The last resource I employ a great deal is the people around me. I seek input in every way I can imagine. I work to develop a culture where people want to make suggestions and requests. I ask people things like “what connects your heart with the heart of God?” (Notice how vastly different that question is from “what is your favorite song?”)

If I want to use drama, I see if I can find actors, builders, writers, etc. If I want to use video, I look for tech-savvy people, photographers, etc. If I want to assemble a chamber choir to do a classical piece of music, I ask those I know that would be interested and ask them who else I should ask. If I want to use community instrumentalists to play in my rhythm section or orchestra, I try to connect with people who can connect me with people.

The best part of getting people plugged in is that their service fulfills their purpose, just like our service fulfills ours. Fulfill is the best word I know, because I’m convinced this is one of many ways the truth of scripture is demonstrated: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)


Thanks, Rod, for sharing your talents with our site!  Since 2012, Rod has served as a Worship Coach.  From his website:

I’d love to serve lots of local churches, helping them have vibrant worship gatherings that are Christ-centered, Church-encouraging, and Community-transforming.  You’ve read the statistics. And they’re troubling.  In small towns and large cities the church is missing the mark.  Your church has to be more than just good. Your church must be great.  Our God is great, he deserves our best. We don’t have to be perfect, but If it can be better it ought to be.  I love the church and in more than twenty years of ministry I have seen the inner workings of churches in all shapes and sizes.  I believe God is leading me to take the learnings and the failings of these two decades and come alongside churches like yours.  Through a collaborative strategic planning process and relational coaching I can mentor and equip your worship leader.

Areas of focus:
–Process/Systems. From creative ideas, through rehearsals and to execution. The time to wonder if the music is ready is not during the call to worship.
–Coaching. Pastoral teams on self-leadership, worship pastors in areas for improvement, the worship pastor/senior pastor relationship.
–Strategy. Creative teams/production teams, personnel committees. Placement services.

Check out Rod’s contact info:

Blog –
Facebook –
Twitter – @WorshipCoach
Website –


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