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Worship Leading
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Ministry and Marriage

Jenn Johnson, Brian Johnson, Hannah McClure, Paul McClure, Melissa Helser, Jonathan David Helser, Kari Jobe Carnes , and Cody Carnes

00:29:50 · Worship Leading

In this lesson watch as these worship-leading-couples talk about the lessons the've learned living and leading with one another.

Ministry and Marriage

How did you start leading worship together?

Jenn: Brian was leading worship when I came here, we slowly started leading together in youth group.

Brian:  asked her to marry me on after worship.

Hannah: My dad started a church and I was playing bass and Paul was playing drums.  

Paul: We held that rhythm section.  Our first song we did together I completely forgot the chords and lyrics.

Jonathan: Me and Melissa met at a ministry school, learning how to do ministry.  First year we were married, we had a summer camp; didn’t lead worship together; somewhere in those 7 years, we started leading worship; we didn’t see that in the cards.

Cody: Kari and I met at church; hired me to be in her band; we actually became really good friends for a couple of years; we did what we do now; we were very kindred; we didn’t have an idea of dating for a few years; all of a sudden, a page turned and whoa, this is gonna be awesome.  We dated for 6 months, engaged for 3 and married.


Is there a difference from leading before marriage or after?

Paul: We’re probably a lot nicer to each other before marriage.

Jonathan: You can check your wife out when you’re married.

Kari: We flow better.  Hearing the voice of the Lord together; that has just gotten stronger; I kinda know what he’s thinking; I can jump in; I know when he’s going to do a prophetic song and I know when I can jump in.


What's advantage to leading worship being married?

Hannah: More time, in general; we went from forgetting words to being able to read each other; what happens off stage really shows on stage.

Melissa: When you’re married, you’re building trust 24/7.  It’s why you want relationship with the people you’re leading with.  You’re always building a deeper well and can draw from that well.

Jonathan: Your spouse in marriage becomes a mirror for you; you see the good and the funny parts.  Driving home, you can ask “how was that?” Spiritual and practical level.  Working on stuff together.  Being able to talk about the moment in the car right after; to encourage.  Always have permission to speak in; practically and musically.


What do find are the biggest challenges?

Melissa: Getting negative feedback.  On the other side of trust, you’re most sensitive; if I have something I want to sing and Jonathan just keeps going, it’s easy for me to think “he didn’t want me to sing.” Honesty and beauty don’t start with leading worship; you want to cultivate that in your relationships.  It can be sensitive for sure.

Brian: Such a real question for us.  It took us awhile how to figure out that dynamic; we’re strong personalities; opposite but strong.  Not easily moved.  We had to figure out roles; God given roles.  Not based on emotion; but God given.  We learned early on, I usually make the set list, practically; I’ll ask when my wife feels something, she’s usually right.  

Jenn: It’s important to know who’s the leader; the prophetic world is meant to feel and submit; but I know at the end of the day I know he’s to lead the set; but I know he’s sensitive to what God is saying.

Brian: “If I’m the leader, I’m in charge” but that’s not the case.  Bow to humility; I know my wife is hearing from God in ways that I’m not hearing; I need to honor the point; when she feels something, I need to give that space.  That weight sometimes feels like me and against God.


Do you all feel like you have that? Do you have a leader or are you both even?

Kari: Because I was an artist before Cody, we had to learn how to marry the two together.  I had to learn how to champion what was on his life.

How is that process for you Cody?

Cody: It can be a challenge; but it highlighted the importance of who we are, with the Father, because a lot of people put weird things on you - is it competitive?  We are uniquely who God created us to be; but you have to have that identity before you step on the stage. Weird things happen when your identity isn’t grounded in who God says you are.  The church needs you to step up and do what God created you to do.  I don’t ever want to do things apart.

Melissa: For me and Jonathan, we are both very strong; we lead a community back in NC, I take the lead pastorally because that’s what I have a passion; but because it’s effortless for me, I definitely am a stronger leader; but when we’re on a stage, this man loves to sing and lead.We’ve given into the balance; I’m leading worship because of him and he’s leading community because of me; we’ve given into that tension; not forcing each other.I don’t have to be Jonathan, I have to be myself; that’s very pastoral in a worship leading moment.

Jonathan: When God sets up a team, we’re wonderfully ungifted; we need one another; it’s incredible to support each other; learn from one another.

Paul: A win for one of us is a win for both of us; you think when you get married, you think comparison goes away, but it can still be there.

Hannah: I actually compared myself to Paul in our first years of marriage;  I didn’t think I was a good leader because I didn’t lead like he did; be strong in the Lord and be secure; insecurity was volatile when we’d lead because I was insecure when i’d sing; we’d always fight about it.  Be strong in your identity before leading in your marriage.


What happens when your spouse can't sing?

Brian: The longer you put off a conversation, the worse it gets.  The encouraging thing is, it’s never going to be perfect.  It’s hard, but the outcome is so good compared to if you hold onto and don’t say it.

Melissa: It’s important as a spouse; ask the Lord; is this something that’s in our future? Is this an invitation from the Lord? You can take voice lessons; there is some value to asking the Lord: is this for us?  I don’t burn for leading worship like he does, but I’ve grown to love it; in my desire, I’ve grown in my gifting.  Ask the Lord for the invitation.


How do you lead worship if you're upset?

Brian: You do it.

Jenn: I would struggle feeling connected to him; especially on Sunday; good bad or ugly, the second you walk on this stage, it’s not about the problem.

Jonathan: First one at the cross wins.  This marriage preaches the gospel louder than anything we do; learning how to go to the cross and breaking agreements with those thoughts from the enemy.