Have you ever had a conversation with a four year old? If you have you know how fascinating it can be, if not, let me give you a little insight. It might go something like this:

“Hi my name is Thatcher! What's your name?”
“Do you like Legos? I have a lot of Star Wars Legos.”
“You know what? I have a dog! Her name is BoomBoom.”
“My mommy is going to get me some ice cream! Do you know my mommy?”
“My favorite is chocolate with sprinkles!”
“Uh, What's your name again?”
“Hey! Look what I can do!”
“BoomBoom likes ice cream, too. Sometimes she licks it off my hands.”
“I have a big box of toys at my house. Wanna come over and play with me?”
“Oh, I gotta go now. Will you be here tomorrow? I'll bring my Legos so we can play! Ok, bye!”

By the end of the “conversation” you are exhausted, know more than you want to know about Thatcher and need to go sit somewhere in silence and decompress.

Sometimes I think that is what it feels like in our worship services. Sure, you have put in good rehearsal time with your team and feel like you are really tight musically, but your songs have no common thread or theme that tie them together or to the rest of the service. It is very easy to want to play your favorite songs all the time, but when we do that our services can feel a little like the conversation with Thatcher. Random, scattered and leaving the congregation with nothing more than a "Best Of" collection of Top 40 worship songs.

I want to encourage you to give a little more thought to your worship set than “What are my favorite songs this week?” One easy way to give the whole service a common thread is to find out what the message is about or what scripture is being used that week. That way you can find songs that complement, enhance or even give a different perspective to what the pastor is speaking on. The congregation may or may not be aware that everything that morning had a common theme, but that's ok, that is where we leave it up to the Holy Spirit! I'll bet, though, that sometime later that week someone will start singing a song you played on Sunday morning and be reminded of one of the points from the message. It's cool how God works that way!

Now, I know that not all pastors plan out their messages far enough in advance to give you time to plan a set that coincides with his message. (I have worked with many pastors that never knew what they were speaking on until the night before!) That does not, however, give you an excuse to not plan a cohesive song set. You can put together a set that talks about God's love, or trusting in Him, or different postures of worship or anything you feel God putting on your heart that week. Many times God has a way of tying things together anyway! (He is pretty cool like that!)

If you have any questions or need help putting together set lists with a common theme or topic, or just want someone to talk to about leading worship, please let me know I am here to help! You can contact me by email justin@justingravesband.com
Ok, I'm going to go have ice cream with Thatcher and BoomBoom now!

A little over 9 years ago when Michelle and I found out we were going to have a baby, we joked that we would have the kid who didn't like music or entertaining. Boy were we wrong! There is not a minute that Gabriella isn't singing or dancing! Gabi is an amazing gift from God and He has blessed her with a huge personality, incredible talent and a passion for people. She is a light that brings joy and a smile to the face of everyone she meets.  

Even at the young age of 9 Gabi is such an incredible part of our ministry to kids and families. She has also begun to use her gifts to encourage people and share God's love through her own acting and singing. She, with her mother's help, has started a fun, little video blog each Monday where she takes a Bible verse and talks about how we can apply it to our lives. Here is her latest "Monday Minute."

Remember, God has given each one of us special and unique gifts and it doesn't matter how old or young you are, God can use you! All you have to do is be available! God can use you at your school, office, home or neighborhood...wherever you are! 

If you haven't already, you can follow Gabi and her journey on Facebook and Instagram (both of which are run and monitored by Michelle, not Gabi) to keep up to date on her latest projects and one of these days you will be able to say "I knew her when..."

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AuthorJustin Graves

What an amazing Summer! We have had a blast leading worship for two camps in Oklahoma a VBS in Austin, several Family Worship Nights and many different Sunday morning church services. I know there is still a little bit of Summer left, but I couldn't wait to share this with you! I wanted to give you a little peek into what we get to experience when we lead worship for kids.
 When Tarrytown UMC talked to us last year about leading the music for their VBS this year, they told us that they were going to write their own curriculum. As we talked about the theme and what the daily lessons were going to be, we offered to write music to go with each day. We had a blast writing these songs and even stepped outside of our box a bit and wrote a hip/hop song! 
We wanted to share with you the joy we get from hearing the kids sing these songs. Here is short video from VBS! 

We sure had a blast with those kiddos! I'm glad you got to hear their sweet voices! 
Just as a side note, Michelle did an amazing job creating and leading the motions for all the songs. She is so creative and a wonderful leader! I am proud to be on her team! 

Thanks for hanging out with me today! If you would like to purchase or hear any of our new songs you can go to www.JustinGravesBand.com/store. I know you will love them and want to sing them at the top of your lungs too! I hope you have a great weekend! 

 

I wanted to take a few minutes this week and let you know about an amazing company based right here in San Antonio that is making a global impact. Our good friends, Lisa and Louis deBonoPaula, have created a unique product that is being used in elementary schools, churches and businesses around the world. Spirit Sticks are a small, simple and lasting way to encourage participation, reward success and serve as a reminder of achievement. 
We have created Spirit Sticks and key rings unique to JGB and use the sale of these items to help fund our I Am Courageous ministry's donation of encouraging and uplifting music to kids fighting life threatening disease. 
Take a moment and watch this short video that will give you a little insight to where Spirit Sticks came from and the desire to create a fun, unique and memorable product.

You can purchase the JGB Spirit Sticks at any of our live events or on our website www.JustinGravesBand.com/store and to learn more about how to place a custom order for your school, church or business visit www.SpiritMonkey.com  Thanks for hanging out with me today!
(On a side note, I am the one who produced and created this video for Spirit Monkey! If you need a simple video to highlight your ministry or business, feel free to contact me! Justin@JustinGravesBand.com)

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AuthorJustin Graves

Considering the crazy challenge I have ahead of me this weekend (see blog "Over the Edge"), I had to stop for a minute today to share something very cool. We received an email the other day telling us that there is a church near Manchester, England that is using our song “Strong and Courageous” with their children's ministry! This is not the first time we have received an email like this, but most of the time I forget to share this exciting news! We also know of a kid's ministry in Russia, ministries in Cambodia and the Philippines, churches in Australia and people all across the U.S. who are using and singing this song! How crazy is that!?!

We never imagined what we thought was just a silly little song written for a Sunday morning would have such an impact. We receive emails and notes through Facebook fairly often letting us know how this song has helped a child or family going through a tough situation. People tell us that this has become their family theme song, that it has helped them through a difficult time, or that it has encouraged them to overcome something that they didn't think they could conquer.

It is such an incredible blessing to know that people are using our music and, even though we may not know where, that God is using our songs to uplift, encourage and impact lives all across the globe.

If you don't know our song “Strong and Courageous” or just want to hear it again check out the video below!

We would love to hear how "Strong and Courageous" has encouraged you! Please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page and tell us your story!

Thanks for hanging out with me today!  

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AuthorJustin Graves
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Summer is upon us, and with Summer comes all the fun of camps, VBS and tons of exciting opportunities to teach kids about Jesus. One of our favorite ways to engage kids is through music. No matter what age a person is, music speaks to the soul. We have all seen the video of the kid in the car seat when her favorite song, “Gangnam Style” comes on. (If you haven't, click here, it's pretty funny.) Yes, this is a silly example, but it shows us how much influential music is even at a young age.

So, this Summer as we prepare to engage the kids at camp through music, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your time with them.

  1. Have a PLAN
    If you want to make sure that you keep everybody's attention, make sure you know what you are doing when you get up there. People, especially kids, can usually tell if you are just making it up as you go. When you are unprepared and are choosing songs on the fly there is potential for “dead air” which can lead to loosing people's attention. If you come prepared, you will be able to execute with excellence and confidence and have a great time while leading!

  2. Have a PURPOSE
    Music is a valuable teaching tool and we should use it effectively! There are a ton of fun songs out there, but since we have just a limited amount of time in front of the kids don't spend valuable time singing songs like “Pharaoh Pharaoh” or others like that. You can sing those songs out on the rec field or at lunch or at the pool. There are plenty of fun action songs that also teach Scripture and Biblical truths. Let's use the time we have in front of the kids to teach them about God's Love and plant the Word of God deep in their heart!

  3. Have a POSSE
    Your posse is your team and the other adults / sponsors in the room. It is almost impossible to engage every kid from the stage, so, it is important to have your team of leaders among the kids, singing and doing the actions with you. If your kids see all the adults sitting in the back talking and not paying attention what behavior do you think they will model? It is also up to you to convey to the other leaders how important it is that they participate! When the adults can get out of their comfort zones, have fun and be silly, the kids will too!

Those are just a few easy things to remember as you are leading worship for kids this Summer. It's not rocket science but it does take a little planning an a whole lot of teamwork!

Let me know your thoughts and if you have any other tips you would like to share! Leave them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Thanks for hanging out with me today!  

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AuthorJustin Graves

Yep! Here is a great depiction of the Resurrection Story told with Legos! I pray that this will be a simple reminder of Jesus love and what He did for us on the cross. This video is a little longer than I usually share, but well worth it! Enjoy!

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AuthorJustin Graves

    Children are fascinating creatures. One minute they can be playing with their toys without a care in the world, then the next minute they can say something like:
"When I grow up I don't want to get married because I don't want to have to cook for somebody else."
Or like my friend, who shaves his head and has no hair, whose son asked:
"Dad, where are you?"
"In the front room. Why?"
"Oh, I heard the hair dryer and thought you were drying your hair."

    Kids can make you laugh, cry and confuse you all at the same time. But to see how they trust completely and love unconditionally makes me think about my relationship with God.  My daughter has no doubt that I will protect her and love her no matter what.  She knows that I always want what is best for her.  Even when I have to discipline her she knows that I still love her.

     So why do I hold back when it comes to my relationship with God?  I can't tell you how many times I have felt God saying "It's OK I've got you!" and still I try to do it on my own.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:3 that we should all have the faith of a child, to trust and know that no matter what our Heavenly Father always wants what is best for us and will love us no matter what.  Sure, we may not always understand why things happen the way they do or how things will work out in the end, but we can always know that He will be right beside us through it all.

    Gabi never has to wonder if her daddy loves her or will be there for her. I pray that I can RE-learn to have unconditional trust and faith in God, just like a child.

Posted
AuthorJustin Graves