Today is the official publication day for Worship Leading Essentials. So I thought it would be a good opportunity to do a quick post on the story so far. In other words how the book went from a collection of ideas that I had to an actual physical papery thing you can hold and read!
The first seeds of the book go back many years. In fact worship was very much a part of my journey to becoming a Christian in the first place, as you can read in the first chapter of the book. The genuine heart worship I saw at St Michael’s in York drew me into the worship of Jesus. Leading worship myself followed a little later, and has been a well of God’s blessing in my life, whether I’ve been leading in church, in small groups, or in my own family.
But it was seeing my sons start to play in the church worship group, and then being asked to lead worship, that made me start to think about a training guide or manual. Most times it seems little training is given to worship leaders, unless they are willing to sign up for a year course at a Bible school for example (a great option, but it won’t be suitable for most). In general my impression was that a new worship leader would get some advice at the beginning from the worship team leader or worship pastor, and maybe a bit of feedback the first time they led worship, but that would be all.
I felt strongly that we could be more serious or intentional about training up new worship leaders. And I looked for a book that would help, but I couldn’t find one. So when I had the opportunity in 2019 to give some serious time to writing, I began to pray and ask God if this was the book he wanted me to write. Through 2019 I actually wasn’t sure and worked quite a bit on three different book projects.
But towards the end of the year, I felt clearly that the book on worship leading was the one He wanted me to write. I’d done quite a bit of research by that stage, reading a lot of the best books on worship and worship leading that I could find. But although there are plenty of great books out there, including from the best-known worship leaders and Christian songwriters, I still didn’t find the worship leader’s training guide that I thought would make a great resource for local churches. So I focussed my attention on that one book.
And in a way the pandemic that hit in 2020 helped me. The part-time paid work I had been doing came to an end, and I was free to concentrate on writing pretty well every day, subject to the usual family commitments etc. So by Summer 2020 the book was more or less finished. I should say finished thanks to the help of a number of friends and family members who read chapters for me, and gave me fantastic feedback and lots of useful ideas for improvements.
At that point, events occurred that impacted the book significantly. A good friend of ours, Bishop Desire Mukanirwa the bishop of Goma in Congo (DRC), caught Covid, and tragically passed away in July. We had visited him and seen the tremendous work of his charity ASDIG which helps some of the most disadvantaged in one of the poorest countries on Earth. And he had stayed in our house back in 2018 with his wife Claudaline.
Following Desire’s death, I was involved in some Zoom meetings with various churches and others that had been involved with Desire and Goma, with the goal of providing support to Claudaline and their four children, all of whom were in education. The Archbishop of Canterbury was also taking a very active interest, as he had been a personal friend of Desire’s, visiting Goma at least twice. We had various ideas for raising funds, and one of mine was to offer the proceeds of my book, at the same time suggesting to Archbishop Justin that it might be more successful if he were able to write a Foreword for it. He graciously agreed to do this, and by September 2020 I had the Foreword.
The book is dedicated to the memory of Bishop Desire, and all my profits from my copies, and all royalties from the publisher, will be shared equally between Desire’s family and his charity ASDIG.
I am sure that having Justin Welby’s name associated with the book helped in persuading my agent, Tony Collins, to take it on, and ultimately in convincing Instant Apostle to sign a contract with me to publish it, which they did in June 2021. Instant Apostle proposed publishing in February 2022, outlining a schedule which they have kept to faithfully.
I knew there was a process involved in publishing a book, but I wasn’t really aware of how thorough it was. I had already made some changes to the book following comments from Tony Collins. Once the publisher received the manuscript, they assigned a copy editor, the wonderful Sheila Jacobs. Sheila went through the book with a fine toothcomb, ensuring that a lot of minor details were sorted, and all quotations and references thoroughly identified. At the same time I had to apply for licences to use the song lyrics quoted in the book.
After Sheila finished, the publisher Nicki herself had a few more queries, resulting in several further amendments being made. And even then the book went out to two proofreaders for final checking! At the same time the publishers were working on the cover design, which involved both imagery and artwork issues, as well as deciding exactly which descriptions and endorsements would appear on the back cover. As I joked to another author, it’s a bit like having a baby, except it takes three times as long!
So many people have been part of this long process. I want to thank every one of them, all those who gave me feedback on the text, everyone at the publisher and my agent Tony, all those who were kind enough to take time to write endorsements, and all the friends and family, especially my wonderful wife, without whose help the project would never have been completed.
My prayer for the book is simple: that God would take it and use it for His glory; that churches and leaders would see the book as a valuable resource to help them in training up a new generation of worship leaders; and that ultimately we all would enjoy richer times of worship, sung worship and every other sort of worship, that would glorify Jesus and give us a foretaste of Heaven itself, where we long to be.