Saturday, April 29, 2017

Tuning Your Heart to Worship: A Worshipper's Journey through the Psalms Devotional

I'm excited to announce that my latest book, Tuning Your Heart to Worship: A Worshipper's Journey through the Psalm's Devotional is set to be released on November 6, 2017. 

Publisher's Description
What is worship exactly? Let author and worship leader Lavon Gray, in his book Tuning Your Heart to Worship, take you on a 100-day theological journey into the heart of worship with one of the most soul-inspiring writers of all time—King David. To grow in your understanding of what true worship looks like in the heart of a believer, each daily devotion traces the theology of worship through a specific Scripture passage and includes the author’s personal experiences and insights supporting the theological truths surrounding our acts of worship


“May I commend to you Dr. Lavon Gray’s newest book based on the book of Psalms.  This wonderful resource centered on my “favorite” book of the Bible is devotional in nature and highly practical in format.  Using real-world experience and anecdotes, along with solid scriptural principles, Dr. Gray helps modern day believers apply God’s Word to daily issues.  It is refreshing and genuine.  This book will become one of your favorites!”
Dr. Frank S. Page, President and Chief Executive Officer
Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, Nashville, Tennessee

“Spending time with Lavon Gray has been a life enriching experience for me as a local church Worship Pastor. He not only loves God but his love for church worship is contagious. Turning Your Heart to Worship is a daily guide to help us enter into a fresh daily experience with God. Lavon has captured the essence of worship through the Psalms and this book will be a source of encouragement to all that read it.”
Ray Jones, Worship Pastor
Community Bible Church, San Antonio, Texas

Let's Talk It Over - It All Begins with Worship

What do these events have in common?
  • The Day of Pentecost (30 AD)
  • The Reformation (1517)
  • The First Great Awakening (1727-1750)
  • The Jesus Movement (1965-1979)
First, all were incredible movements of God where He showed up in undeniable ways!
Acts 2 records that on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on Jerusalem, over 3,000 people were saved—and the world was never the same!
In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church birthing Protestantism and forever changing the face of Christianity.
During the First Great Awakening, thousands flocked to hear the preaching of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. In New England alone, an estimated 50,000 plus people came to faith.
Finally, beginning in the late 1960s, “The Jesus Movement” reached an estimated 300,000 with the gospel and changed the way churches approached an entire generation.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know By Heart
There are LOTS of great books available to help us on our Christian journey. There are few that are potentially life transforming. If you only buy one book this year...and commit to put into practice its contents...this is the book. The Kindle version is less than $7 and will be the best money you spend today!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Where Are You?

Your Role in the Ministry of Presence
On the evening of April 14, 1865, John Parker was assigned the seemingly inconsequential task of guarding the entrance to a private box at the local theater. Although a veteran officer with the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, Parker left his post that night and visited a nearby tavern. With the door left unguarded, John Wilkes Booth entered the Presidential Box at Ford’s Theater and fired a single shot into the head of President Abraham Lincoln, immediately altering the course of American history.

As the winds from Hurricane Isabel swept across Arlington National Cemetery on September 18, 2003, Sergeant First Class Fredrick Geary, and other members of “The Old Guard” assigned to stand watch over the Tomb of the Unknowns, faced a dilemma: would they remain at their assigned post in the onslaught of the storm or seek shelter until the danger subsided?
In their case commitment trumped convenience. During that storm-filled Thursday night, surrounded by lightning strikes and falling trees, Geary and his fellow guards never faltered. Soaked to the bone in the driving rain, they would continue their renowned 24-hour a day, back-and-forth march of 21 steps in honor of their fallen comrades within the tomb.  Steve Vogel of the Washington Post captured the spirit of the sentinels when he stated, “It reminded all that their lone walk before a marble sarcophagus was not merely a job, but a calling and honor not to be easily cast aside or abandoned for momentary convenience.”

Friday, October 9, 2015

20 Quotes on Worship

“The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in
God which made David dance.”
C.S. Lewis

“God is to be praised with the voice, and the heart should go therewith in holy
Charles H. Spurgeon

“Worship is an it-is-well-with-my-soul experience.” –
Robert Webber

“Without worship, we go about miserable.”
A. W. Tozer

“‘A glimpse of God will save you. To gaze at Him will sanctify you.”
Manley Beasley

“We only learn to behave ourselves in the presence of God.”
C. S. Lewis

Thursday, October 8, 2015

11 Surprising Ways To Address Millennials’ Exodus From The Church (That Might Actually Work)

Another week, another poll highlighting Millennials’ exodus from the church. Yes, the stats are alarming. And, yes, I am one of those Millennials. A prototypical Millennial. Prototypical meaning I fit most of the labels. I love coffee. Ok, it’s really an addiction. I am connected to social media, resistant towards 9-5 office jobs, and obsessed with Apple products. These labels don’t apply to all Millennials. We are difficult to categorize, which is, ironically, another label.
I grew up in church. I know the Christian jargon. And although I never officially left the church, I “checked out” for several years. So, I empathize with Millennials who grew up in church and decided to leave.
I only mention my journey because, in some ways, I am the Millennial who left the church. I understand the mindset. I feel the pain of wanting more. More Jesus. More intimacy. I struggle to understand why the church is content with mediocrity. Why the church often uses the Bible as a battering ram and a rulebook. And why the church isn’t more concerned with justice. I get it.
So, when I read the latest poll detailing Millennials’ leaving the church, I am puzzled. Too many church leaders believe the answer to Millennials leaving the church is an equation with the following variables:
church program + Millennial value = church full of Millennials
For example, the answer might be a coffee shop in the foyer, trading in hymnals for worship music (or vice-versa), or trading in regular-fit jeans for paint-on jeans (or vice-versa). But for me, and for the Millennials I know, coffee shops, worship styles, and attire won’t bring Millennials back. The responses I hear from Millennials are much less mathematical and much more spiritual.
The following 11 points flow from the desires God placed within my heart and the desires of those Millennials I talk with often. Maybe you will relate. Here we go.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The 10 Most Influential Churches of the Last Century

One of my former bosses at Liberty University, Dr. Elmer Towns's recently released a new book, The Ten Most Influential Churches of the Last Century. Warren Bird and Ed Stetzer wrote the following foreword that gives an overview of the content. As Stetzer points out, while we may not "agree with everything that each of these churches did (or do), their influence is hard to deny."
At some level, all Christians want their churches to be influential in carrying out the work of God. One pathway to increased influence is a road we often overlook—the one behind us.

Looking back can be good. It can give us wisdom and perspective. It can also help us look forward to what God is doing next in your churches and ours.

This helpful book looks back at ten historic spiritual shifts of the last century and identifies a church closest to the center of each one. You may not have heard of these pioneering churches and their leaders, but we suspect you have been influenced by them far more than you realize. And we strongly suspect that after reading each of their stories, you’ll be glad you did—and you’ll have a better perspective on your own church and how God is at work in and around it.

It is hard to imagine anyone more qualified to identify and describe these trends and the personalities behind them than our friend, mentor, coauthor and fellow researcher Elmer Towns. Starting in the 1960s he became the nation’s leading figure in creating “top 10” lists and narratives about influential churches. Both of us have a shelf full of his books and magazine articles that we’ve underlined and dog-eared, gaining important insights about where we’ve come from and therefore where we’re headed.

His motive in this book is to help expand your impact. As he was formulating the idea for this book, emailing us with his thoughts, it was very clear that he believes the most influential churches in the last 100 years can motivate every church to become a church of greater influence. Even his title, The Ten Most Influential Churches of the Past Century, is designed to capture people’s attention and help them become more influential.

At some level, all Christians want their churches to be influential in carrying out the work of God.

Overview of the Top Ten
The first chapter is about the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement. Even if you don’t identify with that approach to Christianity, you need to know that roughly one in four people globally who claim to follow Jesus Christ identify with it. That explosive growth has occurred in just over 100 years. The Pentecostal movement began with a few churches (usually on the other side of the tracks) that appealed to a marginal population. Mainstream Christianity labeled them such terms as fanatical or excessive. Some called them weird or heretical—or much worse.

It all went viral when a 1906 revival broke out in an Azusa Street mission church located among the poor in Los Angeles. Visitors came from all over the world to be touched by the Holy Spirit, and then went back launching Pentecostal/Charismatic denominations/movements that in turn touched the world. Today, some of the largest congregations in the world are Pentecostal driven (see Warren’s list at

A second greatest phenomenon in the last 100 years has been the explosive growth of house churches in Communist China. When the bamboo curtain slammed down in 1958, many Westerners thought the light of Christianity would be extinguished and all the missionary work for hundreds of years would be lost.

However, we’ve learned in recent decades that one of the greatest church movements in the world has been the underground church in China, multiplying exponentially without foreign mission supervision, Western missionaries, seminaries, denominational structure, or even buildings. They have none of the physical assets we find in American Christianity, yet the world marvels at what God has done.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Building a Balanced Worship Ministry

In the opening session of our Doctor of Worship Studies (DWS) intensive this week at Liberty University, I taught a session asking the question, "What Does a Balanced Worship Ministry Look Like?" Many of our worship ministries are out of balance because we place too much emphasis on music and worship methodologies. The end result: music becomes a 'Golden Calf' replacing God as the object of our worship.

If your worship ministry is going to be balanced, it will require:

  1. Teamwork across Ministry Areas - "Silo" approaches to ministry no longer work. The worship ministry must intentionally integrate other ministry leaders to build balanced ministry approaches (i.e., students, children, missions, education, etc.). "For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." - Romans 12:4-5
  2. Protecting Your FamilyWe must set boundaries to protect our families in relation to time, energy and focus. You may be "successful" in your ministry, but is your family getting a Purple Heart? "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." - I Timothy 5:8
  3. A Broad Musical Palette - We live in a culture that is defined by diversity. How diverse are you? In order to build unity, we must understand and appreciate musical diversity...and know how to use it! "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." - Ephesians 4:2-5

Thom Rainer: Six Reasons Some Churches Are Moving Back to One Worship Style

Thom Rainer recently published a blog post outlining six reasons he has observed that are driving many churches to move away from multiple worship styles. These include:
  1. Multiple worship styles created an “us versus them” mentality. Worship wars did not really end with multiple approaches. In some churches the conflicts were exacerbated because those of different preferences did not interact with each other.
  2. The church did not have the resources to do multiple styles with quality. In many churches, inadequate resources meant one or all of the services suffered. It was deemed better to put all the resources toward one style of worship.
  3. The church moved from multiple services to one service. I heard from a number of pastors who have led their churches back to just one service, a move that naturally necessitates one style. Some did so to engender a greater sense of community; others did so due to excessive space in the worship center.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hungry for Worship Named 2014 Editor's Pick

Hungry for Worship: Challenges and Solutions for Today's Church (New Hope) was recently named by Worship Leader Magazine as an Editor's Pick for "2014 Best of Worship Books." Dr. Page and I are extremely humbled by this recognition and are thankful for the reception of Hungry for Worship.
"It is the mission of Worship Leader magazine to help church leaders shine a light on the triune God of the universe, so their communities are stirred to sing of his glory. The products we present in the Best of the Best are not the end result, but they represent an important aspect of communicating in a modern world. The mission is to lead people to Jesus. What should we use to accomplish this task? Anything and everything we can."                            – Jeremy Armstrong, Managing Editor

Other books receiving this recognition include:
  • Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven, John Eliot Gardiner (Knoph)
  • For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship, Daniel Block (Baker Academic Publishers)
  • Holy Communion in the Piety of the Reformed Church, Hughes Oliphant Old (Tolle Lege Press)
  • John:The Gospel of Wisdom, Michael Card (IVP)
  • Look and Live: Behold the Soul-Stirring, Sin-Destroying Glory of Christ, Matt Papa (Bethany House)
  • Shaping the Prayers of the People: The Art of Intercession, Samuel Wells and Abigail Kocher (Eerdmans)
  • The Beginner's Guide to Worshiping God, Gary Kinnaman (Bethany House)
  • The Case for the Psalms: Why They Are Essential, N.T. Wright (HarperOne)
  • The One Voice that Matters: What Worship Leaders Need to Hear from Their Shepherd, Jeanelle Reider (NCC Publishing)
  • The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work, Leonard Sweet (Tyndale Momentum)
  • Worship and the Word: A Bible Study, Pamela Haddix (DPZ Technology)
You can check out the full issue at the following link: