Monthly Archives: July 2021

How Healthy Is Your Music Ministry? w Richie Allen – S1E9

Before diving into the deep end of this episode, I wanted to again extend an invitation to you to participate in the upcoming “Episode of Encouragement”.  This show, which will serve as the Season 1 finale, will give you the opportunity to be a blessing to everyone involved in music ministry around the world and across time.

God calls us to build each other up, so the “Episode of Encouragement” will give you the opportunity to do it by recording a word of encouragement you’d like to share with others.  Record an mp3 of your encouragement, affirmation, a special scripture, a prayer, or maybe even a tip to help a team or guitarist to play better, practice more efficiently, or connect with God during a service.  Whatever God puts on your heart, put it in a recording and email it to me: .


I’ve got one of those smart watches that tells me what my heart rate is, how many steps I’ve taken, how much exercise I’ve done, and a whole bunch of other stuff I can’t figure out how to use.  I’m grateful for it, though, because I can get a pretty quick idea what’s out of whack if I don’t feel right.

As far as I know, they haven’t come out with a smart watch with a band that can stretch around a music ministry team yet, but thankfully, I don’t think we’ll need one, because we’ve our friend Richie Allen!

Richie Allen is a worshipper, coach and pastor with over 28 years of experience in executive, creative and music ministry at well-established churches and highly-successful church plants (you will not believe the story about his church-planting experience!).  During our conversation, Richie shared some general observations about music ministry across our faith, as well as some very specific advice for worshippers who are playing guitar on music ministry teams.  This is another one of those “maybe I should take some notes” kind of episodes…

I did want to zoom in on one thing that Richie shared, and it pertained to Psalm 19:14.  I’m not going to spoil the treasure he drops concerning that particular verse, but I want to encourage you to spend time unpacking the chapter.  Upon considering it myself, I noticed that the psalm reminded me of a perfectly-crafted Sunday morning set. It moves from the exhilarating declaration of God’s identity and attributes, into the extoling the value and worthiness of His commandments, and finally into bridging a deeply personal plea for forgiveness and the ramifications of that forgiveness.  If you’re looking for a place to worship, Psalm 19 is the spot!


It’s all about “Mission: Perfect Pick” around here, as we are going to find the best plectrum on the planet!  Yes, I said WE.   And yes, you’ll be compensated for your participation!  Well, one of you will, at least. 🙂

I talk all about what’s happening during the show, but I also said I’d explain it here in the show notes, so here goes:

For Finding the Finalists

  1. You’re going to need to follow @godguitarsandgear on Instagram.
  2. From July 27 through August 2, I’ll be posting pics of each tested pick.  Watch for them, decide which pick you like and like that post.
  3. I’m going to factor fan faves into the grading, so your vote will help me determine which pick I pick to be the Perfect Pick.

Crowning the Winner

  1. On August 3, Ep10 will drop, and in that episode, I’ll announce the three finalists.  That same day, I’ll also post a photo of those finalists on Instagram.  Look for that post, and comment on which pick will win.
  2. When I choose the winner, I’ll go through that post and jot down a list of everyone who picked the winning pick.
  3. After I make sure they’re following the show, I’ll put the handles in a hat and draw one winner.
  4. I’ll buy the winner a pack of the winning picks!  (Yes, I’d love to buy you a lifetime supply or something like that, but this show’s marketing budget is right around $0.)

Looking forward to getting everybody’s take on the different picks in the shootout, and I cannot wait to pick the Perfect Pick!


I am SO EXCITED to have Unspoken’s Zachery Smith on the show!  He’s an amazing guitarist, a fabulous guy, and he loves the Lord like CRAZY.  You don’t want to miss the cool stories, the great insight and the killer tips he shares with me.  But if you’re looking for the first guest to ace Quick Hitters, don’t hold your breath.


Ty Caskey – Ty wrote and performed the God, Guitars & Gear theme, and he also cranked out all that cool guitar wizardry that pops throughout each episode.  Connect with Ty:

  1. Instagram ( @tycaskeymusic )
  2. YouTube ( Ty Caskey )
  3. Spotify ( Ty Caskey )

Ambient Trails – AT does the well, ambient trails you hear in the background of every episode.  Hear more Ambient Trails on Instagram ( @ambienttrails )


So When Do I Get To Worship? with Brandon Oaks – S1E8


A little while ago, I was on the “Line 6 Helix and Pod Go Worship Users” Facebook page, and a member named Jeff Miller shared this:

“I love playing on Sundays and helping the congregation to worship. I am blessed that the Lord is willing to use me in His ministry. However, I get so focused on the part I am playing and thinking about the next part coming up, making sure I am not too loud during the down moments, then add listening to the click, the cues, listening to the vocalist making sure they aren’t in a different place. Sometimes I don’t feel like I get a chance to worship, how do others focus on all those things and get to worship too?”

It was a big – and critically important – topic and question.  I know that, through my own experience, as well as through talking with Michelle Nezat (Episode 4) and Zach Neese (Episode 7), that worship not only can, but should, happen whenever and wherever you are in your day, not just on the stage.  But I wanted to get some help in not only providing specific ways to integrate worship into a guitarist’s regimen while preparing to make their offering in church.  And there was no better guy I knew to do this than Brandon Oaks.


Brandon’s currently the worship pastor at Ocean Church in Cape Coral, FL, and he is a former music leader at International House of Prayer.  Brandon shared an exercise he calls “singing scripture” – which makes sense, because that’s exactly what you do.  The concept is a simple one, but it’s extremely powerful, and one that WILL bring you into a place of worship during your practice time.  And here’s the bonus – when you feel comfortable doing it by yourself, you can teach it to your team, and then you can integrate into a special event with your entire church!  Bottom line – this won’t just help you worship God…it will help everybody!

I also had to talk with Brandon about his music, because he has released some very inspirational songs.  His most recent release, “Father of Lights”, really struck a chord (no pun intended, I promise) with me and I have a feeling it could really become a powerful song for congregations to sing.  Brandon shared the scripture behind the song and the compelling messages contained within it.  I really encourage you to check it out…here’s the Spotify link:

Brandon Oaks: Father of Lights on Spotify


You and me…we have a mission.  Well, actually I have a mission, and you’ve been drafted. 🙂  For years, I’ve been trying to find a pick that has the perfect combination of tone, firmness, hold and lifespan.  Now, with your help, it is time to successfully execute “Mission: Perfect Pick”. I have scoured music store shelves, clicked on countless Facebook ads, and scrolled through an infinite number of Amazon listings to sample picks of all shapes, sizes, materials, thicknesses and price points, all to find it.  The one.  THE Perfect Pick.

I’ve used Dunlops and Fenders over the years, but I decided to explore some different brands for this mission; I’m currently comparing offering from Thalia, HotPicks, Graphtech, Fred Kelly Picks, Howling Monkey Picks, Common Fibers and Timbre Gear.  But I want to try more, and I need your suggestions.  Reply to Mission: Perfect Pick posts on Instagram and Facebook, or just email me what you like – .  But do it quick, because I’ll have to get them ordered, delivered, and then test them.  Thanks!  Your country owes you for your service.


I’ve decided to join forces with you on a very special upcoming episode.  Since God calls us to build each other up, and we all know we could use it, I want to team up with you to have an “Episode of Encouragement”.  I need you to RECORD a word of encouragement you’d like to share with others who are participating in music ministry around the world.  We all know it’s not easy, but it would mean a lot to HEAR that we’re not alone, and our spiritual siblings are speaking truth into us, lifting us up in prayer, and are willing to go to the mat for us.

This episode has the potential to have a huge impact, but it can’t happen at all without you.  Record an mp3 of your encouragement, affirmation, a special scripture, a prayer, or maybe even a tip to help a team or guitarist to play better, practice more efficiently, or connect with God during a service.  Whatever God puts on your heart, put it in a recording and email it to me: .  I’m hoping to publish the “Episode of Encouragement” soon, so please follow the Spirit’s call on this one and send something in as soon as you can.


Ty Caskey – Ty wrote and performed the God, Guitars & Gear theme, and he also cranked out all that cool guitar wizardry that pops throughout each episode.  Connect with Ty:

  1. Instagram ( @tycaskeymusic )
  2. YouTube ( Ty Caskey )
  3. Spotify ( Ty Caskey )

Ambient Trails – AT does the well, ambient trails you hear in the background of every episode.  Hear more Ambient Trails on Instagram ( @ambienttrails )

BONUS! Pickin’ and Grinnin’ with Zach Neese

This is God, Guitars & Gear, as you know, and we always put God first.  Well, on the last episode with Zach Neese, Zach and Chris got so deep into talking God, that Chris totally forgot ask him about guitar!  Well, Zach reminded him about it, and Chris did get some very interesting audio with Zach enjoying his #1 fiddle.  Hope you enjoy this little bonus!

How WE Must Worship The King w Zach Neese – S1E7

We’re now into the second half of Season One here at God, Guitars & Gear, and we’re doing it in style.  If you’re one of the 100,000+ that owns How To Worship A King, you know that worshipping God is serious business.  Furthermore, you know that Zach Neese doesn’t pull any punches in those pages.


Zach joins Chris on the show this week, and there aren’t any punches pulled here, either.  Zach shares a multitude of scripturally-based truths about the good, the bad and the ugly concerning our what we have titled “worship.”  During the conversation, Zach addresses:

  1. The truth behind one’s calling
  2. The modern church’s biggest problem
  3. The link between music ministry and marketing, and what it has caused
  4. The battle between submitting our culture to the Word of God vs. submitting the Word of God to our culture
  5. What worship REALLY means, its relation to living in service to and ministry to God, His kingship and the gospel
  6. A lead electric guitar part vs. God’s prophetic word through a lead electric guitar part
  7. How to change the worship culture of your team and church
  8. A CRITICAL call to action for everyone involved in music ministry

And a whole lot more than that.

Simply stated, you must listen to this episode.  Better yet, listen actively, take notes, hit the rewind button, pray about what the Spirit is speaking to your heart through Zach.  Last, but not least, share this episode with anyone and everyone you can.  If you know anyone in music ministry, it’s a guarantee that they’ll benefit from it.


On the next episode, we’re going to be addressing a topic broached by listener Jeff Miller regarding the act of worship, and the best time to do it.  But we’re not going to dive in alone; we’ll be joined by Brandon Oaks, Worship Pastor at Ocean Church in Cape Coral/Estero, FL.  Brandon’s got some great ways to worship with your heart and your guitar, wherever you are.


BIG thanks to listener Chris Foster, who took a moment to send along a very encouraging email to .  It’s kind words like his that keep the fire burning for all of us.  Thanks for being a worshipper and encourager, Chris!

Overdrive Covers Over A Multitude of Sins – S1E6

In our lives, as well as in our playing, we goof up.  Shocking revelation there, but its true.  In this episode we look at lots of things that can be improved.  Yeah, it’s kind of like God, Guitars & Gear’s version of Home Improvement.  Well, except that Chris isn’t as funny as Tim “The Toolman” Taylor, and we don’t have an odd guy peeking over the fence at us.


Overdrive effects may be the calling card of this episode, but the title shifts us toward something much more important: scripture dealing with our suffering.  Peter wrote his first letter to churches scattered across a wide region where persecution was taking place in an intensifying manner.  Recognizing this, he shares some inspired guidelines for the church family in I Peter 4:7-11.

“The end of all things is near.  Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.  If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.  Amen.”

Peter is sharing with those churches, and us, what we need to do to stick together when standing against an outside world that berates, insults, humiliates, abuses, blocks, deletes, cancels and ostracizes us…or even worse.  Chris goes into some detail about each encouragement, and he also shares how these things can be employed in a music ministry team setting.  Here are 6 tips for you:

  1. Do you have people on your team who seem to know just how to cause problems for you?  Keep your mind clear and stay controlled so you can pray about the situation and your relationship with them.
  2. Do you have somebody on your team that causes problems, division or other issues for the entire team? Love them deeply and actively.
  3. Is your team disconnected or do you know of certain members who feel isolated? Be the one to welcome people, and let them know they’re welcome.
  4. Are you struggling with how things are happening with you on the team? Remember that it’s not about you, it’s about serving God and the bride of Christ.
  5. Are you at the point of letting somebody have it? Even if you’re right, administer God’s grace…the same grace He’s given you when He could have let you have it.
  6. Are you unsure what to do with anything (or everything) happening in your church’s music ministry? Say what God would say, do what God would do.

The world is against us, family…we’ve got to stick together or we’ll fall apart.  Be thankful we have a loving God who, through Peter, showed us how to do it.


One of the biggest “sins” we face as a music ministry team is playing over each other.  Because of the way most teams operate, we practice separately, and rehearse only briefly prior to playing for service.  The result can often be an end product that is actually less than the sum of its parts, and may wind up being a distraction for the congregation.

Jason Brown, contributor for, penned a brilliant article called, “The Game-Changing Secret That Will Make Your Band Sound Better”.  In it, Jason introduces “The Fraction Principle”, a simple formula to keep everyone in their lane and maximizing the beauty and impact of the music we’re charged to share for God’s glorification.  Chris does his best to explain the idea, complete with basic math as it relates to pizza.  Just listen…you’ll get it.  He also shared some tips directly from Jason’s piece that you could apply right away to help your music ministry team sound better.  Here are a few:

  • An acoustic guitarist shouldn’t strum all the time—they should stick to simpler downstrokes, occasional strumming, light finger picking, etc.
  • Electric guitarists shouldn’t strum chords the same as the acoustic guitarist, nor should they belt out riffs all the time.
  • A bassist shouldn’t play busy melodies and licks all the time, if ever—they should embrace consistent, repetitive patterns that lock in tightly with the drums.

Be sure to listen to get more tips and insight…but if you really want to dig in, check out the article for yourself.


Alex Strabala set the stage for this discussion back in Episode 3 when he talked about overdrives being the foundation of a player’s tone.  We picked up on that point this week by bringing back Ty “The Pedal Guy” Caskey to dig deep in the dirt…the dirty, grimy, greasy, lovely sound of overdrive.  Ty delivers a great explanation of what overdrive actually is, how it works, how to stack overdrives, and breaks down the different types of overdrives you can employ to find exactly the tone you want.   Chris even managed to get Ty to offer some specific pedal recommendations spanning different price points to get you shopping for just the right thing.

Ty has done YouTube reviews on a few of the pedals he mentioned…just click on the name to watch the vid!

Benson Preamp

Earthquaker Devices Plumes

JHS Morning Glory (vs Danelectro The Breakdown)


The next episode of “God, Guitars & Gear” is one for the ages.  Chris will be joined by Zach Neese, author of the ground-breaking book, How To Worship A King.  Their conversation covers several issues critical to everyone in the church, most notably those of us in music ministry.  We can guarantee you will be challenged, encouraged, convicted, and moved.

We can’t stress enough how important this episode is; if there was ever an episode of “God, Guitars & Gear” to share, this will be the one.  Mark Tuesday, July 13 on your calendar and prepare for a life-changing experience.