2018

Mt. Gilead Scholastic and Artistic Institute
The Center recently had the opportunity to work alongside of the Mt. Gilead Scholastic and Artistic Institute (MGSA) in Coy, Alabama. MGSA provides faith-based arts and scholastic training for children.
Ties That Bind
Animate participants come from different backgrounds. These are the ties that bind us together.
Chocolate. Ashes. Guns.
Christians woke up on February 14, 2018, believing the clash between the Hallmark calendar and the liturgical calendar was a crisis. And then, before our eyes, a real crisis happened. Again. This time, in Parkland Florida.  

2017

What I'd Tell My 13-year old Self
As I think back on my journey that led me here, there are a few things I wish I would have known. If I had the opportunity to have a conversation with my 13-year-old self, here are a few things I would say...
Technology and Worship
How do we incorporate technology into our worship gatherings? How do you continue to grow volunteers while championing the benefits of technology in ministry?
New Research About Teens, Social Media, and What They Need from Us
My friend Eric, a local youth pastor, recently told me how a Ping-Pong table was revolutionizing his youth group.
Praying the Headlines: Las Vegas Shooting
Looking for resources to help your teenagers process the tragic events in Las Vegas this week? Look at this example from one congregation and use it in your context.
Rest in Peace, anima
I’m the son of funeral directors - it’s the family business. I started playing for funerals in 5th grade, and well, I haven’t stopped since then.
Four Essentials for Student Worship Leaders
Often times student worship leaders are the spiritual leaders of a student ministry. If you are a student worship leader, are you leading others the way that you should?
Rockstars and Worship Leaders
God is not looking to advance his kingdom with faces on posters, he is advancing it with those who are on their knees. In the economy of heaven weakness is power and humility is strength.
Personal Gifts
When members of the body of Christ come together and engage their diverse personal gifts of the Spirit, they can unite the community and help it to flourish as each person gives of themselves in a way they feel passionately about.
Pastoral Care
The people singing in the pews are journeying through various seasons of life. How does the worship leader best serve as pastor to those walking through different stages?
Leading People
As someone who thinks a lot about leading song in the church, I've wondered: What kind of leader will best lead music in the church? What leadership qualities will they embody?
Lessons from Working Animate
A week as an Animate staffer is incredibly rewarding. The people you meet, the stories you pick up, and the times of worship together are like no other. Here are four qualities of leadership that I’ve learned through my summers working at Animate.
Put On The Spot
Approximately half an hour before the worship service my youth pastor put his arm on my shoulder, showed me the order and said, “I put you down for sharing your testimony tonight, so you’ll have a few minutes before the sermon.” WHAT?! You did, what?!
Dear Artists...
I know the church is a confusing place for you. They don’t know what to do with the journey you’ve been called to. Most churches don’t have any kind of art culture. And if they do, it is bound up in creating easy-to-understand-beautiful-things and trying not to offend anyone. I get it. I’ve been there.
Give A Witness
In order to give a witness you must have seen something first. Have you seen the work of Jesus in your life? Do you remember meeting him and experiencing him and being loved and forgiven and accepted by Jesus? Witness that.
Forum to Center
If you’ve been with us from the beginning, you most likely have noticed our name change. What was the purpose?
Can We Worship Through Projection?
Overhead projectors and early projection practices were usually a means to an end–getting words in front of us so we could sing. But the conversation, as well as the programs, have grown and developed to the point where we need to ask ourselves a question: do we see projection as a means to worship, or as part of worship?
Demystifying Creative Worship
There is a mystique around creative writing that makes writers feel obligated to tap into something ecstatic, supernatural or other before they are allowed to compose.
Robes and Fake Beards Not Allowed
Robes and fake beards don’t help us understand Scripture. They don’t help us identify with the humanity of the characters. They’re a further reminder that so much in the Bible is alien and weird.
Ministry Musings: Worship and Culture
We live in a culture that has many misconceptions of who God is and what God does. Picturing God accurately is important because the way we view God informs our relationship with him.
Everybody, Shoes Off
Do you imagine your youth swinging from the rafters? A pastor recently used this image with me.
Good Feelings
How often do we equate an experience of God with good feelings?
Hometown Knowledge
I realized in that moment that I never learned the name of that street. In fact, I didn’t know the names to most of the streets.
Keep it Simple
I’ve noticed an encouraging trend in churches. More and more, youth are participating in leading worship.
Idol Smashing
Kevin was jealous. I should have seen it coming. How naïve I was!
Sunday School Lessons in Prayer
Remember Moses, Samson, and David? Remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? These stories captivated us as children.

2016

The Consequences of Worship Leadership
There are consequences to having student worship leaders.
The Pursuit of Excellence
As a worship leader what does it mean to pursue excellence?
Worship Playlist
Today we have immense control over our music. With the advent of the MP3 player we can skip, shuffle, delete, and mix genres.
Praying The Headlines
It’s no surprise – students are attracted to visual media. Images from television, video games, mobile phones, and the internet saturate their days and nights.
What I’ve Learned About Teaching Teens From Chase // Part Four
Recently a minister and friend on staff at my church made a statement in front of students that began a conversation about the role of women in the church.
What I’ve Learned About Teaching Teens From Chase // Part Three
Chase sometimes wears a bowtie to church, and when he does, it always catches my eye. From where I lead the service, I can see him only out of the corner of my eye. There are times I have to avoid looking over there, like when I’m leading the choir.
What I’ve Learned About Teaching Teens From Chase // Part Two
It began for me at a conversation over breakfast. Chase’s parents had okayed he and I meeting for breakfast, so we sat down at the table, ordered our orange juices (fresh squeezed), and began to talk.
What I’ve Learned About Teaching Teens From Chase // Part One
I’m relatively new at working with teenagers. Yet, as a 32 year old minister who’s inherited a student choir with a history of over 40 years, I’m constantly discovering so much about myself, my church, and the students I serve.
What I’m Learning About Teaching Worship: Pondering Best Practices // Part Two
Here are some thoughts, practices, philosophies, and methods I’ve been pondering as I attempt to teach worship to college students well.
What I’m Learning About Teaching Worship: Pondering Best Practices // Part One
Here are some thoughts, practices, philosophies, and methods I’ve been pondering as I attempt to teach worship to college students well.
Teaching Worship Leadership // Part Two
Learning involves decentered notions of mastery and pedagogy.
Teaching Worship Leadership // Part One
Jean Lave, a social anthropologist, and Etienne Wenger, an educational theorist, in Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation locate the development of knowledge, skills, and identity in activity over time involving changing participation in sociocultural practices and interaction with practitioners of varying levels of mastery leading toward full participation in the community of practice.
What We’re Learning About Teaching Teens
One Bread, One Cup has been around in one form or its present form for about 22 years. We have changed over time, and so have teens.
What I’ve Learned From Teaching Worship To Youth
Teenagers in my world see worship as primarily two things: music and a sermon.
What I’ve Learned Teaching Worship In A Christian School
My first legit job teaching worship as a for-credit-course took place in Tianjin, China; a city of 10 million near Beijing. The student body of the Tianjin International School was comprised primarily of Korean expat children following their fathers who worked for companies like LG and Samsung, pulling down six figure salaries. Matt Gaines
Praying In Unique Ways
We’ve put together three ways you can pray with teenagers. We used these during worship at Animate, our summer program in worship, theology, and the arts, and we found ourselves in meaningful conversations after worship based on the words we prayed together.
What I Learned About Teaching Teens
By the time I get teenagers at ages 17-18, the preponderance of their formal experiences of learning have been, at best, disconnected from what they consider important and, at worst, actively alienating or oppressive.
Animate // Question and Answers
who can attend? Individuals and Teams. Animate is open to any student who has completed 8th grade through 12th grade and is interested in exploring worship, theology and the arts.
Animate Philosophy
Mentoring young people for faithful worship ministry in the twenty-first century lies at the heart of the Animate philosophy.
Teenagers + Worship + Disconnect
Between the ages of 12 to 18, teenagers encounter many different types of worship practices.
Teenagers + The Worship Mall
This week, I’m tackling a third observation about teenagers and worship: Teenagers have always lived in (and are learning to navigate) a pluralistic liturgical landscape.
Teenagers + Generational Segregation
Two weeks ago, I offered ten observations on teenagers and worship. I also vowed to say more about those ten observations in upcoming posts.
Anima's Pillars
Ground and grow. Ground and grow. That’s the mantra the anima staff has been repeating since we went off the grid last Fall to examine who we are and where we are going.
Teenagers + Adults + Worship
In a post last week, I offered ten observations on teenagers and worship. I also vowed to say more about those ten observations in upcoming posts. So, here’s a bit more to unpack the first observation: Worship gatherings that teenagers participate in are the product of adult planning and leadership.
Anima's Mission
Empowering teenagers to connect their imagination, creativity, and enthusiasm to the power and possibilities inherent in worship and the arts.
10 Observations on Teenagers and Worship
As of late, I’ve spent quite a bit of time watching the ways teenagers engage (or fail to engage) worship in the church. Some of the work has been formal, some informal, but I’ve made a few observations along the way.