Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Meet a Cageless Bird: Joel Case

Melissa and I met Joel Case five years ago this autumn.  We first met him at a worship gathering in his hometown of Boston. I will never forget the first time we heard Joel lead worship. From the first note he sang, we could feel the destiny in our friendship with Joel.

Later that year, Joel applied for the 2009 "18 Inch Journey." It was our second year of running our school, so Joel was only one of eleven students. I can't put into words what an incredible summer we had with Joel.  We truly fell in love with Joel's heart and knew that he was going to run with us in the future.  As the school was coming to a close, we invited Joel to come and do an internship with us. He joyfully said yes and made the big move to Sophia, NC.

In the first week of Joel's internship, we found out that he was not only an amazing worshiper, but he was also an incredible drummer.  Melissa and I had been asking the Lord to send us an amazing drummer for years and suddenly the answer was right in front of us. One of the highlights of Joel's internship was the privilege of traveling the world playing drums with us and then getting to play drums on our two albums "On the Shores" and "Endless Ocean, Bottomless Sea." We couldn't have dreamed of a more incredible drummer and a faithful friend.

After his internship, Joel joined us on staff and has been here the last four years. Joel does much more than play drums with us. He is a dynamic leader at our schools, he is pioneering new sounds in our studio, he is a worship leader in our community and most of all he is a man knows that he is the Fathers Beloved.

We couldn't have pulled off this new album "Live at Home" without Joel's creativity, musicianship, technical skills and hard work.  Joel's song on the album is titled the "Lord is My Light." He wrote this song while he was a student in the "18 Inch Journey" and his song has become an anthem of our community. Joel's songs have the ability to take you into the presence of the Lord from the first note. Check out his video recorded live from our house and you will know what I am talking about. You can see it below or at

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Live at Home - Videos

Over the next nine weeks we will be releasing a new video from our project Cageless Birds “Live at Home.”  Each Tuesday we will release a new video leading up to the album release on Jan. 24-25th.

"Live at Home" is the first creative adventure of our collective Cageless Birds. The idea for this album was born one day when Melissa and I were dreaming out loud together. We fell into one of those moments where beautiful "what if" thoughts started cascading upon one another. Our conversation sounded something like this....

"What if we recorded an album in our house?....”
“What if invite everyone in our band to record one of their songs for the album?....”
“What if we recorded the whole album in one week?....”
“What if we videoed each song so that everyone could see what's happening in this community?....”
“What if we made this project a true story and didn't overdub or gloss over the mistakes?....”
“What if we let it be a real live album?....”

One of us said ‘this is crazy’ and both of us said ‘let's do it.’  And so we did.  We are very excited to share with you the nine videos and ten-song album that came from pursuing all of our ‘what if’ thoughts.  Please visit for more.

Jonathan & Melissa

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cageless Birds Website is Here!

We are absolutely thrilled to announce that we have launched the website for our new music and arts collective:

Our first endeavor as a community is a live worship album called "LIVE AT HOME" that we recorded in our living room last December. We will be releasing live videos for each song leading up to the album release this coming January.

In addition, we will be hosting six

Thank you for all of your prayer and support as we grow, and we look forward to sharing more with you this fall!

Friday, October 18, 2013

A night of Worship with John Mark and Sarah McMillan

Fifteen years ago, John Mark McMillan, Melissa and I attended a school of worship together. We were a bunch of wild and passionate teenagers who had some incredibly squeaky voices and were just stumbling into this thing called worship. The leader of our school was more than just a teacher, he was a true spiritual father.  Just like a wise gardener can see a harvest in the smallest seed, this father saw the greatness hidden in our young hearts.  I will never forget the moment when he stopped in the middle of his teaching and spoke over us, "You are going to write songs that thousands are going to sing." When I heard those words I thought it seemed too good to be true.  Here we are 15 years later and the words of this father have come to pass. I have stood on the shores of nations thousands of miles away and heard the lyrics and melodies of my friend John Mark being sung by a generation.  Join us on October 19th at the Carolina theater in Greensboro, NC as we share the stage with John Mark and his lovely wife Sarah. Not only are these two of my favorite songwriters and worship leaders in the world, they are also my very dear friends. Its going to be more than an event,  but a celebration of friendship and family.  For more information please go to

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Opening Dinner

The Opening Dinner of the 18 Inch Journey (a 60 day heart school) is essential to who we are.  As a community, we spend a substantial amount of face time around the table.  From everyday dinners to birthday celebrations, we gather around the table year round. 

It’s fitting that we begin every 18 Inch Journey around the table.  

On June 1, we welcomed our 31 new students to their place at the table.  It’s always a joy to see the fresh faces as they eagerly walk up the hill to the Farmhouse.  We assign each student to a specific table and designate their place with a special name tag.  Recently, we expanded the kitchen in the Farmhouse and it is our joy to cook meals.  Jonathan and Melissa opened the night by welcoming the students.  Then the first of four small groups read their declarations over the students.  We enjoyed each course of the meal followed by declarations.  After dessert and the last group of declarations, the students introduced themselves and shared what they’re looking to get out of the 18 Inch Journey.  We ended the night by praying over each student and agreeing with the plans of the Father for this summer.

A summer in the woods can change your life.  The gluten free chocolate cake from Linda Helser can help.  Jesus made breakfast for His boys on the beach and emphasized the importance of meals with many stories in scripture centered around food.  He spent time around food and modeled family time around the dinner table.  We believe a generation will find their identity as sons and daughters when they find their place at the table.  The table is not just a place for your cup and plate.  The table is a place for stories and a place where brothers and sisters share their hearts.  So we began at the table on June 1 and we will continue to spend many more meals around the table.  The journey from the head to the heart begins with the invitation to find our place at the table.  May we taste and see that the Lord is good and in so tasting find ours identities in Him.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New Podcast: "Brave Worship"

We just released a new podcast today from a message I shared at a worship conference in Boulder, Colorado called "Resound." The "Resound Conference" was a lot of fun, but the friendships we formed there were much better than any event.  I am convinced that the best part of the kingdom of God is friendship.  Forever will never be long enough to come to the end of our friendship with God and the friendships that begin here on earth.  You can find out more about Resound crew and the amazing things they are doing at at  We just confirmed that we will be at the next Resound conference on Nov. 22-23, 2013.

You can download our latest podcast at by clicking here

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Endless Ocean, Bottomless Sea

     This week we released our new album "Endless Ocean, Bottomless Sea."  This is a double disc album of the extended versions of "On the Shores."  If you have heard "On the Shores," you have only stood on the edge of what happened in the studio when this music was recorded.  We titled this new album, "Endless Ocean, Bottomless Sea" because these are the moments that happened when we stepped off the shores and into the much more.

     This album is more than just a new project for us; it is an invitation to step into more of God's heart.  The title "Endless Ocean, Bottomless Sea" is a phrase that encapsulates the passion of our lives.

      Fourteen years ago I had a dream that began with me standing on the shores of an ocean.  As I looked into the sea, I saw Jesus standing in the water with a smile on His face.  With an irresistible love in His eyes, he motioned for me to come into the deep with Him.  Before I stepped into the water, I looked over my shoulder and saw a generation of young people behind me on the shore.  They followed me into the water until we disappeared into the ocean of His love.

     This is our vision and the bigger dream of our music: That a generation would leave the shores of fear and religion and follow Jesus into His endless love.

     We are more than just songwriters and artists, for the last 14 years Melissa and I have been co-leading “A place for the Heart" with my Mom and Dad. We do much more than just travel and play gigs. We are leading schools, internships and doing kingdom community year-round. The band that plays with us are more than just musicians, they are full time staff with us, giving their lives to disciple this generation.  Every album that we have sold has gone to support this dream.

     Last summer students traveled from five nations and over a dozen states to take part in our school "The 18 inch Journey." This year we have already accepted students from over ten nations and have had such a flood of applications for our school, we will have had to turn away many potential students due to the lack of space. A generation is truly standing on the shores looking for more and we need more space to host them. Last year we built a new kitchen, worship space and art studio for our school. As of right now we have paid off over half of the $140,000 dollar budget and only have $60,000 left. We are believing that we can clear this debt quickly, so we can start building even more space for this coming generation. 

     We are looking for those who want to dream with us. We are a small ministry dreaming big dreams, and we need your support to make these dreams reality.  Every album that you buy and any support you give will go toward this vision:

  That a generation would leave the shores of fear and religion and follow Jesus into His endless love.

Click Here to Support this Vision

Click here to Purchase the New Album 

Jonathan David Helser

Friday, March 1, 2013

Getting Ready

     It is a wonderful thing to make music that you love.  It is even more wonderful to make that music with people you love.  Jonathan and I are releasing a new CD tomorrow called  Endless Ocean Bottomless Sea.  It is the extended versions of the album On The Shores that we released last February.  We are so excited about these songs getting into the hands of worshipers that long for the more.  As usual, we throw a big release party/night of worship.  We have been rehearsing in our studio these last weeks feeling the beautiful anticipation and excitement growing with every practice.  We are so privileged to have a band of musicians that have traveled to the deep with us and continue to long for the more.  Come join us at the Carolina Theatre tomorrow night as we get lost in the deep love of Jesus.

Cheers to Joel Case,  Jake Stevens, Molly Skaggs, Chris Miller, and Luke Skaggs we are making beautiful music that makes the Father smile.  The 1000 people coming tomorrow night have no idea whats in store for there hearts, waves of melodies saturated with love

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Album coming on March 2nd

     On March 2nd we release our new album, "Endless Ocean, Bottomless Sea" at the Carolina Theater in Greensboro, NC.  You can order tickets for the release now online. If you pre order a album/ticket combo you can be one of the few to receive the album two weeks before the release. Orders will ship by Feb. 11.  We only have 1,000 tickets available and last year we sold out at the "On the Shores Release." So you better order soon.  We also have one of my favorite bands in the world "Songs of Water" opening the evening.

Click here to Pre Order the Album and order tickets