Saturday, 18 June 2011

Creativity, Finance, Tensions and Hearing the Voice of God

I'm turning 30 this year and sometimes I can't help but feel that I should be a lot further on in life than I am. I'm going to be honest about how I've got to where I've got and I hope you find wisdom in what I say and you find it helpful for choices you make in the future, particularly if you're young and wanting to pursue music and worship leading specifically as a potential source of income. I hope I raise some thought-provoking questions in you.

Being good at creative stuff is a real blessing. I thank God that He's used me and my songs in our church during my time in Exeter. It's been such a joy to lead people in Spirit and Truth filled worship. I love being a musician in my two jobs in church and prison.

But for me sometimes I feel it's also been somewhat of a stumbling block. I'm sure there are other guys out there, particularly young worship leaders for who this is true. It's a passion and a thrill and it's all you want to do, but it doesn't pay well if you're at my level which is a 'not quite good enough' to do it full time kind of level. You can feel like you're getting led up the garden path and at the end of it find yourself in a place of disillusionment and financial lack.

For the past five years I have sacrificed financially to do what I do and it's been tough for me and my family, but I have been following what I genuinely felt God was calling me to for this season, which is to equip the Church with worship music, and as a result I've found jobs that have allowed me to do that and allowed me to grow in my gifting. I'm now at point where my priorities have to change. It could be so easy to look back now and label the choices we made as unwise or foolish.

But what do you do with the fact that we very definitely heard God call us to stay and build His Church in Exeter? You can't ignore His voice. I have a degree in French and German which elsewhere might get me a better job, but in the South West is about as useful as putting mudguards on a tortoise. (I do wish I had done something vocational at university). The moment Anna and I decided to stay in Exeter we knew it was going to be tough and that we wouldn't be able to use our full academic gift sets. We knew God had called us here, we couldn't ignore Him and that meant sacrifice. So in the end I guess I've ended up doing the other thing that I'm good at – music.

People often challenge me as to whether being in Exeter and doing what I'm doing is the right thing. I believe it was right to stay here. We've achieved more than I could have ever hoped or dreamed of. I don't regret living here or having focussed on developing my gifting in a way that meant sacrificing. By the grace of God our marriage is good, we have a roof over our heads, two wonderful little boys, we belong to an amazing church with passionate, loving leadership and we've had the privilege of building God's kingdom in a very deep and powerful way.

Things do have to change now in employment priorities and we've known that for a while. We know we've made financial mistakes and could have been a lot wiser at certain points.

But what I think I'm trying to say is this: When God calls you to follow and obey, He can often also call you to sacrifice. Just because things have been difficult or unwise from a worldly perspective doesn't mean that you're in the wrong place. Wisdom is dynamic and teaches us through all sorts of situations. Listen out for her voice. Listen to the Spirit and look for Jesus. If it looks to you like He will call you to a vocation and region that will mean you're financially blessed then that's wonderful. But if He calls you to a life that means that you'll never buy a house but only rent for the rest of your life then that's wonderful too. Just listen for His voice and obey when He speaks.

To finish I'll leave you with something Leonard Ravenhill once said about John Wesley:

John died in 1791, converted at 35. Turn that round it makes 53. Add them together it makes 88. Because he was saved at 35, preached for 53 years. And you know what he left when he died? He left a handful of books, a faded Geneva gown that he preached in all over England, six silver spoons somebody gave him, six pound notes, “give one to each of the poor men that carry me to my grave.” And that’s all he left: six pound notes, six silver spoons, a handful of books, a Geneva gown and ah… there's something else... what was it, the other thing? Oh, I know, something else... he left, the Methodist Church

He could have died as rich as your famous TV preacher Sunday. Sure he made money, and he built orphanages. Sure he made money, he printed bibles. Sure he made money. He compiled, with Charles, the Methodist hymnbook and look at his orphanages.
And he died worth about thirty dollars.

He printed bibles. He printed hymnbooks. He financed missionaries to go across the earth. That’s the way to use your money. You think of the reward. Why, in God’s name, do you think it says don’t lay up treasure on earth? Lay up treasure in heaven.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


I broke my arm yesterday. It's painful, but to be honest I thought it would hurt more than it did. Maybe I'm just extraordinarily tough. It's my first proper break (apart from 2 or 3 toes) and it came at a time when I was just beginning to think I was related to David Dunn (Bruce Willis) from the film Unbreakable.

Now this could be just hugely inconvenient or it could be a chance to learn and grow big time. I've no idea how long I'll be out of action, but I'm seeing a bone specialist on Monday so please pray that they give me a good prognosis.

In terms of having two sons under 18 months old, one of those being newborn, my wife was not over the moon to hear the news.

As a musician this is a hammer blow. All of my work-life revolves around my musical ability and a dodgy arm/wrist is not going to help.

I'm sure that it's not the wisest idea to go around the prisons I work in in a plaster cast either.

What's very frustrating is that I've been in a fairly rich period of songwriting and have been inspired for our church's upcoming series on humility and for a sermon series in Acts that starts in the Autumn. I've finished 3 songs that I'm excited about using congregationally in the past 2 weeks!

I'm also hoping to record an Ephesians based album before the end of the Summer which I hope won't be set back by this – I'll be posting more details on what that entails shortly and how you might be able to help.

There are all sorts of ways that this could hinder me...


According to Romans 8:28 God can work this to my benefit because I love Him and I'm called according to His purposes. Maybe this is a time that God has given me to focus on something different. Maybe I need to check that my heart is correctly aligned and moving Godwards and not idolwards.

I've certainly not been reading enough recently so I'll be looking forward to doing more of that.

You know what, I'm quite looking forward to pursuing God with little or no musical agenda.

I think this is going to be a good few weeks.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Are You Listening?

During my time running music workshops in prison I've come across some extraordinarily talented men. If you get locked up with a guitar for most of the day for a few years I think you could expect to get quite good.

I've also come across guys who have the potential to become extremely talented but whose attitudes are starting to stifle / have stifled their gifting slightly.

I've also seen those who probably will never be musically brilliant but seem to think that their drumming ability is in the same league as John Bonham or that they can nail guitar solos like Jimi Hendrix.

The first kind generally have the following in common: They lap up correction and advice. They watch like hawks for different and new techniques. They are self-correcting. They listen to themselves and are always picking out flaws, never really satisfied. The sky is the limit with this type of musician.

The second kind have the following in common: They don't listen all the time. They interrupt. They don't think they need to heed the whole advice and correction. They often start attempting to play something before you've finished playing it to them. They listen to themselves and are generally happy with how they're playing and content to leave things as they are. Above average. They can slip backwards towards the third kind.

The third kind have the following in common: They listened at first. They had to in order to get playing. Somewhere along the road they decided that they knew best. They don't listen anymore. Not to others, not to themselves. Any correction is seen as an attack on their character. They play the same stuff over and over again, overconfidently and sloppily. These guys drive everyone else in the room with them MAD. They get kicked out of the band.

As a guy who falls into the 2nd category (and slipping back into the 3rd category) said to me as I tried to teach him a part after 3 or 4 failed attempts to play a song correctly (alongside a cocky unwillingness to play without chords in front of him), 

“Don't worry, I'll pick it up. I play by ear, I do.”

Me - “mmm, kind of...”

Are you still listening?

Shut up and listen.

Friday, 20 May 2011


My iPhone is amazing. Or is it?

I've just reached the end of a 2 year contract (that's the only way I could afford it – which says something about my attitude when I got it), and I'm glad to say I won't be upgrading to an iPhone 4 or any other smart phone for that matter. I've gone back to basics. I got a Nokia on O2 Simplicity. It's vastly cheaper and I've opted against having any data bolt-ons so I can't download anything – no games, no apps, no emails. Nothing. Just simple phone, camera, text.

It feels great.

A recent BBC article talked about Apple and other superbrands provoking reactions in the same areas of the brain as religious imagery does for those of faith. It would appear that Apple have led a lot of us in worship, and for me it's time to repent of naively following and to prise myself from the clutches of the Mac Monster.

After all, the joy that possessing a piece of Apple hardware brings is nothing compared to the joy of spending time with our Maker and Sustainer. It's nothing but a very cheap, albeit monetarily expensive, imitation.

When I bought into the contract I bought into the lie that my life would become more interesting, happier and easier. I might look sharp on the outside with my beautiful accessory, but on the inside it's blunted me. For all the extra information and knowledge at my fingertips, I feel like I know less – I certainly don't know God as well as I used to. It's far too easy to spend that spare 10 minutes playing Angry Birds or looking for apps that will 'improve' my life rather than praying – and if I was more keen to play than pray, surely that means I loved my iPhone more than I love Jesus! (Makes you feel sick doesn't it?) Too easy to be more consumed with a piece of plastic, glass and metal, than to talk with the flesh and bone people made in the image of God who are in the same room as you. (Apologies to you if I was ever so rude as to appear to be more interested in my iPhone than in you – how utterly ludicrous).

I think I realised in the last 5-6 months of my contract that so much of Apple is about the visual. It's so much about image. It does look pretty cool to put an iPhone down next to your MacBook. But to me, it seemed that the more time I spent with it, the less it offered in reality. Much like a golden calf, giving the appearance of value on the outside, but inanimate, dead and lifeless. Your iPhone isn't going to save you. It could kill you though.

I'm sure if Moses had come down from Mount Sinai and found me with my iPhone he would have gone berserk.

Some of you might disagree with me completely. You might feel that a smart phone has changed your life for the better, and you might have more self-control than I do. Remember though, it is only a cheap, earthly imitation of how God can change your life eternally. Don't let it blunt you like it did me. And whatever you do, don't let an inanimate Apple lead you in worship. Give yourself to the living God.

I'm not really into conspiracy theories, but what's even more terrifying is the logo. Fruit with a chunk missing. Promising the consumer knowledge. Familiar? ;o)

Monday, 16 May 2011

Finish it.

Below are the lyrics to a song I wrote towards the end of last year. I absolutely loved penning this – it was great to contemplate Jesus' cross up close again.

One issue though. It could have done with a much stronger melody with some bigger hooks to do the words justice. The tune just wasn't that interesting. And it's too ingrained in my head now for me to get away from it.

So I was wondering...

Does anyone want to have a crack at finishing it for me? Try not to change the words. However, if you don't feel the lyrical meter fits the tune you've developed then adjust the words, but try to only change unimportant words or joining words. If you have a copy of the original tune that I wrote, try not to listen to it. If you want to though, maybe you could have a go at improving the hooks.

You can download a recording here:

And the original lyrics and chords here:

Apologies for the slow and basic recording.

If you want to have a go either email me a recording at or post a link to your version below. If you come up with a version that I think brings the best out of the lyrics then it's game on. I'm not one for fussing over royalties and all that and I'm sure we could agree something. It's more important for me that the truth in this song gets out there and impacts people's lives and leads them to Christ.

If you like the original as my wife does, or have been using it already and find it works fine, then please feel free to still use it in its original format.

I hear a voice cry from the Cross,
Of the Christ who left His throne,
From eternity of the Trinity
Now forsaken and alone.
He is made my guilt
He is made my shame
He is made my every sin.
In the great exchange He is my disgrace,
As I'm made innocent.

How vast the love that keeps Him there,
How determined is His hand.
For the ones He saves are the ones who hate
And despise His every plan.
Yet the joy that waits
In His Father's house
Is His strength this awful day,
For eternally will His enemies
Be the trophies of his grace.

'It is finished!' thus is His final cry,
As He breathes His dying breath,
And my sin He takes down to the grave,
As would I have done in death.
Yet no match is sin
For His righteousness,
As in life He overcame.
Jesus' life is His, both to take and give
And in rising, lives to reign!

Oh to join the the voices of Heaven's choirs
Crying 'Worthy is the Lamb!'
Glory, blessing, honour and might be Yours.
May Your praises never end!
You who once were slain,
Who were made our sin,
Now the Praise of Heaven and Earth.
Jesus, now the name above every name,
And the King of endless worth.

Lyrics Matt Giles © 2010 Honeycomb Music Publishing Ltd

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Epic Worship Leading Event

The people are gathered. The stage is set. The sound check is done. The lights come up. Are you ready to lead? Nerves anyone?

I became a Dad again on Monday, as Theo Judah, with impeccable timing, burst into the world at 3.33pm. We've now got two boys under 18 months old and a lot of fun and hard work on our hands! Anna, my wife, is doing exceptionally well considering she had a caesarean section!

Anyway, in getting married and having kids, I have brought to my door, the biggest, most challenging, most joy-filled and anguish-wrought worship event I could ever have hope to lead.

Let me explain myself.

Romans 12:1-2 is for me the definition of worship for someone who loves Jesus.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Worship is continuous and is an attitude. It doesn't begin at 10am on a Sunday and end at
10.45am. It doesn't start again at 7.30pm on Wednesday evening and end at 8.00pm. Technically it starts the instant you're born and then doesn't stop. We're all worshippers. What or who we choose to worship is a different matter. Every moment of the day I'm serving somebody's purposes, be they my own or my 'gods' ' or God's. Obviously I want my worship to be Christ-wards.

Having this attitude and leading in this attitude – for that's what lead worshippers should do – should begin at and be evident at home first and foremost – for husbands and fathers in particular – it is our calling.

When I married Anna, according to Ephesians 5: 22-33, I became responsible for loving her as Christ loves the Church and leading her in the above. I am the head of her as Christ is the head of His body, the Church. Christ gave Himself up to enable the Church to worship God. According to Paul in Ephesians, when she's around me, she should be being nourished and cherished in a way that sanctifies her and produces worship as seen in the above passage.

When we decided to have kids I was also charged with Ephesians 6: 4 – 'Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.'

I, as husband and father, am accountable before God for how I lead my wife and sons to Him. Therefore, I must seek to lead them in every moment. I am to sacrifice and serve with every breath in a way that will point them to Christ. Husbands and fathers, we are all worship leaders whether we like it or not. We are called by Christ to be worship leaders! That means we have to be! This is responsibility that we cannot shirk or refuse. God has sovereignly appointed us as worship leaders for our households.

God has made me very aware in the past few days and weeks, that in the same way as when I get up to lead worship musically on a Sunday when all eyes and ears are on me as to what the next move is, that I now have 3 pairs of eyes watching and 3 pairs of ears listening for how next to seek and pursue God 24/7. What an enormous responsibility!

Maybe if I can lead my family well in worship then I can start to think about giving direction to people's lives in a musical and lyrical level and perhaps more in the house of God. - 1 Timothy 3: 5 – 'For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?'

The people are gathered. The stage is set. The sound check is done. The lights come up. Husband, Father, are you ready to lead?

Wow, what an event! :-s

Friday, 6 May 2011

We Are Your Church

Oops, I didn't mean to leave it that long since the last blog! A lot has happened in the past three weeks – the biggest thing for me being the death of David Wilkerson. Wilkerson hugely inspired my walk with Jesus in my early 20s. His sermon 'A call to anguish' absolutely blows me away every time I listen to it - and I've listened to it a lot! His passion for Christ, the Church and the lost is something that I desire to emulate in my life. I would have loved to have met him. Guess I'll have to wait 'til glory now. What a man.

Dave Bish has been challenging me for a while to write a song with something of the jealousy of God in it and His passion for the church. That coupled with the test of trying to write something from Ephesians 5 has produced the song I'm posting here right now. It's kind of an Ephesians 5 / Hosea 1 & 2 song really, with a hint of Romans 7.

I tried it out last night at our Church Together prayer & family news meeting. I thought it went pretty well, although I've ended up changing a few bits melodically since then and recorded it quickly this afternoon. It's just guitar and vocal but you'll get the idea. I felt it was great to be able to praise God collectively as His future Bride. By the way that's my beautiful bride in the picture - thought it would help with the 'Bride' imagery. ;-)

It's the last bit of recording I'll get to do for a while probably. We've got our 2nd baby arriving on Monday via C-Section and I'll have my hands full for a few weeks!

Anyway, hope you enjoy the song. If you want to use it – go ahead and I hope it serves you well!
Once we were not Your people,
We shunned Your love and turned the other way.
Adulterers with our idols,
Content to live in squalor and disgrace.

But You who are love and mercy
- No sea can quench Your jealous, raging flame -
Have given Yourself to redeem us,
Your death has brought us back to You again.

Now we shall be Your spotless Bride;
You washed us with Your blood.

We are Your Church, O God,
Forever You will be our glory,
We adore You
For You have rescued us,
Your faithfulness has bound us to You,
Now we love You, Jesus.

What idol could bring us freedom?
They offer nothing more than sin and death.
The cross of Christ is our ransom
And frees us to His love and righteousness.

The death we died in Christ
Has bound us fully to His life.

The Spirit and the Bride say 'Come to us, won't You come to us?'
The Spirit and the Bride say 'Come, Lord Jesus!'
The Spirit and the Bride say 'Come to us, won't You come to us?'
The Spirit and the Bride say 'Come, Lord Jesus! Come, Lord Jesus!
Come, Lord Jesus! Come, Lord Jesus!'

Thursday, 14 April 2011

WE are what WE sing

The implications of singing to God are far wider-reaching than we could ever imagine. My friend Dave Bish at recently pushed an excellent article my way by Steven R Guthrie entitled 'The Song-Shaped Soul'. It's a study of singing as a spiritual discipline, with particular focus on a letter from early church father Athanasius to his friend Marcellinus on the benefits of reading the Psalms and singing.

Quite often we see singing and music as means of expression of what's within us. If I'm feeling down I'll listen to something that suits my mood and allows me to draw it out. I probably should beat myself out of such a mood with some happy hardcore, but in the moment I feel I want something to identify with how I'm feeling.

In my line of work, using music in prison as a means of reducing re-offending is particularly powerful. With those we've worked with post-release we've seen a 75% reduction in re-offending rates, which is an incredible statistic. Music and singing undoubtedly has a profound effect on people. Very often we link our success as a charity to the power music lends to inmates as a means of communicating and expressing what they have within.

However, among Athanasius' main points is the outcome of singing the Psalms as being IM-PRESSION rather than EX-PRESSION. Guthrie uses some stunning short statements in relation to singing the Psalms and its act of impression upon the soul. I can't help but see them applying across the board in other forms of singing and music.

'Singing is an act of imitation. It is im-pression rather than ex-pression'.
'Like children playing dress-up, we are formed by the words as we 'wear them'.
'We do not just say words, we inhabit them'.
'Song not only carries the words inside us; it also carries us to the in-side of the words'.
'When one sings, however, reason, emotion, physical sense and desire come alongside one another, each contributing something essential to the experience of music. As we sing, we become a harmony.'

He also quotes the philosopher Roger Scruton; 'when we respond to a piece of music 'a kind of gravitational field is created, which shapes the emotional life of the one who enters it. We move for a while along the orbit of a formalized emotion and practice its steps.' Music allows us to take the posture of the words that we're singing.

For me, as a regular member of the public, doing what I do in prison, as a worship leader, and as a member of the Body of Christ, this potentially has an enormous impact on what I/we sing and listen to...

If I'm simply feeding a state of depression in listening to depressing music, that can't be healthy. If I'm in prison with psychopathic tendencies, surely it's not the best idea to be singing death metal or anarchistic punk?!

If this is true, that singing through its impression on the soul could create identity, then also for the Church, and in my role as a worship leader where I'm looking to develop a corporate response to the glory of God and to lead people into an encounter with Him, I surely need to be using songs that will feed us with truth and develop a 'body/bride identity'. Paul talks in Ephesians 5:19 about 'addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with Your heart'. What an incredible responsibility we have! We are to impress upon ourselves and each other the truth in Scripture, hymns and spiritual songs. Singing as a Church not only shapes us individually but corporately. What a wonderful opportunity to develop ourselves into the Bride and Body of Christ. Might I suggest that the soul of the Body of Christ is best shaped through songs that tell of the mind of Christ, and that the Bride of Christ might best build her identity through tales of the passion of her future Husband.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Songwriter's block? Encountering Ephesians...

I'm kind of out of songwriting season at the moment - it's been a while since I finished anything anyway. We just moved house, we've got one 16 month old boy and another baby due in 4 weeks, time is short and I just don't have the space or energy to throw myself into it. On Mondays I get about an hour at lunchtime on my own to sit at a piano in Exeter Prison and be creative, but that's about it.

Last year was my most productive ever for songwriting. I think partly due to having a real focal point for it. As a church we've been studying Ephesians for the past year and Andy, Stu (pastors) and myself (creative director) decided at the start that I should be writing songs alongside it. It has been the most enjoyable experience of writing songs that I've ever had. Digging deep into Scripture and building what are pretty much sermons in song format has blessed both me and hopefully the congregation too. I feel that it has offered something so much more enriching and stable than writing thematically on attributes of God, letting the Word shape us rather than us shaping Word, and has encouraged a sense of momentum for our church.

What I really enjoyed about it though, and why I think it was so productive an exercise, is that it was more dependent on me burrowing in Scripture and pulling out what I found and putting it into poetry than on my songwriting ability. It pretty much got me out of the songwriter's block dilemma.

Trouble is, we've just about come to the end now. I've gone ahead of the preachers and written one or two for Ephesians 6 which we'll reach in a few weeks. (I think I got to chapter 6 quickly because I didn't quite know where to start a congregational song on complementarianism from Ephesians chapter 5 (although I guess I could base it around the Trinity?)).

My problems are as follows:
  1. I've so loved writing to this model that I'd now find it hard to write differently.
  2. If I did continue following this model then I'd have to wait for the church's next series to start writing again.
  3. The church's next series is Acts. Narrative. Uh-oh.

I see my options as being the following:
  1. Start my own little side project on something else by Paul.
  2. Write some more Ephesians songs.
  3. Stop being legalistic and write thematically. ;-)
  4. Tidy up those I've written and focus on recording them. (I got some really helpful and encouraging feedback from a very experienced hand the other day on improving the songs I've written).

To be honest, I think this is going to be a season for completing and finishing. I think I've got another two or three Ephesians songs left to be written, for which I've got tunes but no lyrics. It's going to be a case of ploughing the same passages again. After all, God can speak and highlight different things to us from the same passages time after time after time. Ephesians is so rich in truth I could spend years in here. There's adoption as sons, predestination, redemption, the forgiveness of sins and unification of all things under Christ as an eternal purpose in Eph 1:3-10 alone! Wow!

And then I wait for the test of writing songs around the truth found in the narrative of Acts.


Tuesday, 5 April 2011

God of Victory

I bought the Village Church album God of Victory the day it came out. The whole album.

It's the first Christian album that I've bought in a while. These days it's easy to listen to stuff all the way through on Spotify and gauge whether you think it's worth investing in or not.

See, I've bought so many worship albums before that haven't appealed to me as a worship leader that I feel I have to check out new ones completely before I get them. Otherwise financially I might be a bad steward! The last whole album that I really enjoyed was the excellent Red Letter album that I got through Noise Trade. It's a regular for my 3 hour round trip from Exeter to Shepton Mallet prison on Wednesdays.

When I buy worship music, I try to buy for the benefit of our congregation (although I'm not sure how well Red Letter's stuff would work in our setting). That's why I love it when local churches or people with local church priorities put albums together. I love that Sovereign Grace have released lead sheets for their latest offering, Risen, in congregation-friendly keys. Good move SGM.

I'm also looking for fresh and healthy lyrics. So many songs I hear these days are spoilt by what I call 'throw-away' lines (ones that are just there to fill the gaps) or those wo-o-oh bits that appear to be so popular. I mean come on, if you're going to write a good hook you could at least put some fantastic scriptural words to it so that people have more chance of taking them away and reflecting on them! It seems a bit wasteful. (Rant over, sorry.)

I didn't listen to God of Victory on Spotify. I listened to a couple of the 30 second clips of the album on iTunes and bit the hook. And this is one fish that was happy to be caught. I instantly knew that I would be in safe hands. I think I could have made a call on it without listening to any of it prior to purchase. I love listening to Matt Chandler (The Village Church) preaching – he's always biblically sound, encouraging and exhorting. You know that it's rubbed off on Michael Bleecker and the others behind this album.

The lyrics are great. This songwriting team has worked so well together. Lines like 'All things in me call for my rejection; all things in You plead my acceptance' in the song 'To the cross I cling' totally do it for me. I love the contrasts of the first verse of the song 'God of Victory' and then later – 'O may my sin be bitter, so Christ will be sweet'. Amen to that. That's what I'm looking for – lyrics I can say amen to. And lyrics that lead me to a heart connection with my Saviour in truth. 'Glorious Day' in particular brings me closer to Jesus. I love the exhortation to the Church to respond in 'O God of our Salvation' and I love the intimacy and truth of Lauren Chandler's 'You are Faithful'. This is an album that draws you in with a great deal of truth enabling you to meet and see Jesus, and then actually turns that into a heart connection with Him. That's what I'm looking for.

A quick note on the production and musical side of things. I think I was expecting it to fit that regular local church mould. I'm not sure what I mean by that, but you might – as in is it original? Do you know what? - I think it is. In terms of chord usage, structure and musical style, my team could learn to play a lot of these songs quickly (another beautiful thing about a local church album), but it still feels fresh. It doesn't feel squeaky clean like so much of the Nashville sound that a lot of people try to replicate, but the production and playing is impeccable. I can't quite put my finger on it. It shouldn't be new, but it is. It is fresh.

I've listened to it again and again and again and I'm not bored. There are so many good tracks.

I love it. Great job guys - you've just blessed me, my family and our church, and most importantly, God.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Knowing Where You're Going

It was great to gather the worship leaders in our church yesterday evening. Over the past few weeks I've been trying to create a resource that will run on a near monthly basis to help develop both experienced and inexperienced worship leaders in our church, going through basic and more specific areas that need development in our church context. Last night was the start...

The aim of last night was to get our guys and girls clear on what the role of a lead worshipper is – from why we gather together to sing songs, to what it is to be 'led into' the presence of God, as well as looking at leading ourselves, our responsibilities in leading and defining spiritual leadership in our context.

Part of the evening's discussion involved purpose statements around the following question.
In less than 40 words, how would you describe your role as a lead worshipper?

What would you write?

It was fantastic to share our passion and vision for God's people together and such a blessing to have so many in our team who are excited about introducing and connecting others to Jesus through music and encouraging a corporate response to Him as His bride, the Church. I'm really looking forward to our next session together as a team in which we'll be practically examining how as worship leaders we can be vocal and direct, encouraging and motivating the church...

The takeaway section from this week was to write a visionary statement looking at leading ourselves to Christ and then leading the church (which will probably need a few more words)...

What do I want to see God do in my life (in terms of encountering and engaging with Him)? What do I want to see happen amongst those in our church as a result of our times enjoying God together?

I want to know that all of the guys and girls that I oversee in the team are focussed and on a mission to glorify God with the gifts He has given them.

I'll leave you with my wife's purpose statement...

To first be an authentic worshipper - then to introduce people to Jesus and the Father, facilitating the work of Spirit in order to encounter and engage with God for His glory and our joy.

I love my wife. I find the way she has used God, glory and joy in the same sentence to be very, very, very attractive.