the baby and the bathwater


beauty
September 27, 2007, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

beauty: the quality that gives pleasure to the mind or senses and is associated with such properties as harmony of form or color, excellence of artistry, truthfulness, and originality.

Approximately 60 seconds after I proposed to Susie we were in the jewellers shop buying the ring. I thought it was quite a quick decision, really, when you consider how much we were going to spend and considering how long the ring was going to have to last. But then, as Susie has explained to me many times since, I had been ridiculously dull and slow and hesitant in asking, and so she had had many weeks to do her research. We brought the ring, and it now rests on the third finger of her left hand and reminds me of the day that I made the second best decision of my life.

My wife is from Ireland. I love her, and my two girls and the life we share together. She is gorgeous, and thoughtful, and far more godly than I am. The ring we bought that day was a gold ring, with an emerald, and two small diamonds – one on either side. And I love the choice she made when she picked it out. It is a beautiful ring. But beautiful as it is, it will never outshine the beauty of the one who wears it.

Every now and then, you come across someone, normally in the celebrity world, who has just got engaged, and whose ring is under the spotlight. We find out how much it cost, how big it is, how many carats, and we are led to believe that it is the biggest, brightest, shiniest, most expensive ring of it’s kind, and how that means it is perfectly fitting for the celebrity who wears it. Now I truly think that no ring, however expensive, could ever outshine my wife. I’m sure every husband would say the same. But I do think that there would become a point when a ring became so big, so significant, so expensive, so consuming of my attention, that it would start to be a distraction.

There is something about the word ‘beauty’ that seems to indicate purity, integrity, a quality that can’t be manufactured or imitated. And in my mind, true beauty comes above all through depth. It is understated but not forceful, pure but impassionable. It shines but doesn’t glare. It speaks of fragility but not weakness, originality but not arrogance. When I sense God shining through people, this is what I think I see.

Beauty.

Not a brash, pretty, attention seeking attractiveness. But an integrity, a truthfulness, an originality, an understated quality that says far more about the One shining though them, than about the individual themselves.

Beauty.

Now I’m slightly worried about all of this. I’m worried that I may lose credibility amongst my mates. Because I actually want to encourage us worship leaders to aspire to the quality of beauty in our lives – firstly through a closeness to God, and secondly through an intentional arrangement of our actions so as to give maximum possibility that God alone will be glorified. You see one of the dangers I face as a worship leader is that I can get carried away with achieving technical excellence, or recording a great album, or producing outstanding visual presentations. I can start to marvel at the quality of my vocal improvisations, or my clever way of transitioning between songs. But whereas all these things are highly commendable, they can, if not handled carefully, become a distraction. They can come over as slightly forced, slightly glaring, slightly arrogant. And then if I’m not careful, they will start to take people’s attention away from the One who is true beauty. And even if we distract people for only a moment, the danger is that we snatch a little of the glory that God is due, and claim it for ourselves.

One of my heroes in worship leading is a friend called Scott Underwood. The very first time I led worship at New Wine, Scott guided me though it. I remember the first night. I was nearly physically sick with nervousness as we sat in a side room preparing to lead worship. And as we sat there, him changing his guitar strings and chatting comfortably, and me biting my fingernails and fretting stressfully, he said this to me: “Neil, our job as worship leaders is just to get people to focus on Jesus, and then leave them there as long as possible”

It’s an incredible thing, worship. And it’s an incredible, humbling responsibility we have to help people connect with, and gaze upon the Beautiful One. Let’s not get in the way.

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tolerance
September 21, 2007, 8:19 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

tolerance: the allowance of the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance

There’s a saying that I came across a few years ago, a phrase that has really stuck with me, one that I have found relevant in a multitude of circumstances and situations. And it’s this: ‘You deserve what you tolerate’

You deserve what you tolerate.

It’s quite an uncomfortable phrase isn’t it?

It sort of puts quite a lot of emphasis on us, on our willingness to make decisions and bear the consequences of them. And it’s also not that black and white. It seems to suggest that there is a whole range of options for us in any situation, none that maybe particularly right or wrong, but all of which bring with them a range of consequences. And we don’t like that sort of responsibility really.

If, when she has some spare time, I let my daughter watch telly for too long rather than go out and play with her friends in the street, then it may make life slightly easier for me, and for her, for that moment. She has a nice time watching Doctor Who, and I get a bit of peace and quiet allowing me to create another dubious blog article.

Now actually, there is nothing wrong with watching TV. And despite what many psychologists tell us these day, I reckon it’s quite O.K. to watch it for a few hours at a time without becoming totally relationally dysfunctional. I do it from time to time. (Ok so I’ve set myself up perfectly there…). And I also think that it’s O.K. to let your children watch T.V. for a few hours at a time occasionally. Let’s face it, after a week at school, numerous children’s clubs and homework, who wouldn’t let their kidz slouch on the sofa for a while in front of the box on a Saturday morning? But if I let my daughter watch it too long, too often, a few things happen. Firstly she begins to believe that this is what her spare time is for. Secondly, it becomes harder and harder for me to change her view of spare time, should I want to. And thirdly she finds it all the more difficult to get back into the ‘playing with friends in the street’ mode. Which means that when I ask her to turn off the T.V. and do something more interesting, I have a battle on my hands. I have made a decision, to which there are consequences. I have tolerated something, and I deserve the result.

I deserve what I tolerate.

I got this press release on e-mail recently. I have removed the actual names.

“One of the world’s leading contemporary hymn writers will return to the place that inspired his latest album – the highly successful XXX (some concert venue), in XXX (somewhere in the UK). XXX (the worship leader) – who goes back to the venue this autumn for XXX (a conference) – named his new studio recording XXX (the latest album), partly in recognition of this venue. For it was there that he presented some of his latest material to a massive 8,500-strong audience. The impact of that moment was remarkable. Since then, XXX (the worship leader) and his fellow worship leaders have been numbered among the likes of Coldplay and Snow Patrol for drawing such big crowds.”

Now we could discuss endlessly the ‘right-ness’ or ‘wrong-ness’ of using such language such as this. We could talk about the need to make commercial decisions and make sure we are being wise stewards of money invested in albums and so on. And actually I’ve got some strong opinions on all of this – but that’s maybe for another time. But even if we can get to the point of justifying the use of such language (which I doubt – I mean let’s face it, when has worship been about ‘presenting material’??), there are still, very probably, some consequences. In fact, every time we are tolerant of something, there are consequences to bear.

Every time we put an album out into the market place with a big picture of a good looking worship leader on the front, we have to spend more time explaining to our youth that worship isn’t about giving profile and adulation to a gifted individual, but about giving profile and adulation to a Holy God.

We deserve what we tolerate.

Each time we put on a worship concert with an international worship leader, we have to work hard to re-establish in our local church that worship is primarily about the way we respond to God in our hearts rather than an experience delivered by a skilled musical performance.

We deserve what we tolerate.

Each time we put out a CD that claims to be ‘the best ever worship songs’ we have to work harder to convince songwriters in our own local churches that it is serving your own congregation, writing songs for your own local church that counts, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t ever get a song on a worship album.

We deserve what we tolerate.

Every time we put out a ‘live’ worship album that has had every wrong note, tempo inaccuracy and out of tune harmony removed and the sound of any congregation taken out from it, we have to work harder to explain to our congregations that worship is more to do with the united and untidy song of worshippers, rather than the neat and polished sound of a band and worship leader.

We deserve what we tolerate.

Every time we put a press release out that talks about a worship leader as being a draw for big crowds, then we have to work harder to re-establish that it is God alone who is due glory, and honour, and worship in this world.

We deserve what we tolerate.

It’s not that any of these things may be entirely wrong in themselves. It’s just that we have to bear the consequences of our tolerance of them. I listen to worship CD’s, even ones with pretty pictures of pretty worship leaders on the front. I like some live worship cd’s. Especially the ones with me on them (O.K. that was a joke). And I reckon I could go to the odd ‘worship concert’ and enjoy it. But the problem is that all theses things are becoming so high profile, so common, so much the focus of attention, that many people are now beginning to think that this is what worship is all about.

And it isn’t.

I had a sabbatical a couple of years ago. It was a hugely generous gesture on the part of my church for which I am so grateful. Whilst on my sabbatical I managed to visit a few churches that I had heard about. And I wanted to go and see for myself what God was doing there. One of these churches was a large church in London. The presentation of the worship was, in all honestly, nearly as good as any secular gig I’ve been to (O.K. so I haven’t been to one since 1981). It had great lighting, a very good band, and awesome visual presentations. I have to say I loved it in so many ways. I had no problem with any of the ‘glitz and glamour’. And I truly encountered God and was able to worship Him with some abandon.

Was the whole thing riddled with theological inconsistencies? Yes, I think it was. Did it fully embody the values I adhere to in worship and church? No, it certainly didn’t. Would I feel happy taking my children there and be comfortable that it was a good part of their spiritual formation? No, I wouldn’t. Am I happy that the place was full of young people who could otherwise have been in the pubs and clubs that day? Yes I am. Do I think that the worship team were operating with a heart for God and a desire to honour Him? Yes, I do. Could I worship God myself? Absolutely yes.

You see it’s not that easy. It’s not black and white. It would be so much easier if it was. But more and more I’m discovering that leadership is not so much about choosing between black and white, but about searching my way through an ever increasing number of shades of grey.

Looking at it one way, you could say, “Anything goes. Because of God’s immense generosity and grace, we don’t have to dissect and scrutinize every action to see if it will pass muster.” But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well. (1 Corinthians 10:23, The Message)

I don’t want to ‘just get by’. I want to live well. But more than this, I want the people, the church that I help lead to live well too. And so for me, the question that we, as leaders, need to be asking is not “Is all of this ok?” but “Is all of this the best way?”.



sing
September 18, 2007, 11:04 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

sing: to utter with musical modulations of the voice; to escort or accompany with singing; to proclaim enthusiastically; to bring, send, put, etc., with or by singing; to chant or intone; to tell or praise in verse or song.

We all have our songs, our heart cries to God. We sing them in our cars, our homes, on the way to work. We sing them through pain and through joy. Sometimes they are audible and beautiful to the human ear. Often they may be silent, or lack musical expertise. But to God they are all treasured, and they are at the heart of the way He wishes to relate to His people: God Himself sings over us, and we sing back, responding as best we can to His overtures of love.

But so often our individual songs can feel inadequate, our acts of praise can feel isolated and faint. We may feel limited in our ability to articulate what we want to say to God, frustrated by the lack of colour in our words, disappointed by any sense of immediate impact in the Kingdom. However precious to God our own individual voices are we long to be part of a greater song. And that is why, since the birth of the church, worshippers have sought each other out. We find that when our individual heart cries come together, when our personal descriptions of God’s character as He has revealed Himself to us combine, they produce something altogether stronger, louder and more courageous.

Some weeks ago I was enjoying being part of the congregation, loving the worship being led by one of my team, excited by hearing the passion and enthusiasm of the worshippers around me, and through it all, encountering God myself as I sang. And then just for a few moments I stopped singing. And out of the combined sound of the 500 hundred or so singers that were there that evening, I began to hear some individual songs stand out. Behind me to my right I heard someone proclaiming God’s power and glory. Just behind me I sensed a more painful cry, a lament of someone struggling through difficulty. Another voice seemed to be pouring out pure love and devotion to Jesus. They were all singing roughly the same words, and nearly the same tune. But the different heart cries of those individual voices shone through, and it was as though a bigger, more glorious, more beautiful picture of God was being painted before my eyes. And I found myself being urged on to sing louder, to lift my hands higher, to rejoice with more faith and maybe slightly more understanding.

I don’t know what you think a worship leader is trying to do. For me it is clearly not about pushing the next great song, about performing to people, about speaking clever words over people, or meeting album sales, or impressing people with technical ability.

But for me, the role of the worship leader is to draw together all the individual voices and intentions in the room, to gather together all the heart cries of all the people present –

those who are going through good times;
those who are hurting;
those who have just lost a loved one;
those for whom the very act of opening their mouths to sing that day causes pain;
those who have never known God work so powerfully in their lives that week;
those who feel God is a thousand miles away;
those who are dealing with a terminal illness;
those who are going through a relationship break up;
those who are struggling because they aren’t married;
those who are excited because they have just got married;
those who’s children are causing them pain;
those who may have come to know Jesus only that day.

The role of the worship leader when he plugs in his guitar and counts in the band is to gather all those voices together. And whereas in isolation each one expresses some small part of God’s character, some small piece of the picture of who God is, gathered together they give a far more glorious expression of His wonder and completeness:

the Creator;
the Eternal Father;
the Faithful One;
the Source Of Life;
the Comforter;
the Sovereign King;
the Healer;
the Saviour;
the Redeemer.

And suddenly those voices that may have previously felt somewhat inadequate begin to find their strength.

I’ve often wondered what Paul means when he urges us to ‘speak to one another with psalms hymns and spiritual songs’. The thought of turning to my neighbour in church on a Sunday and singing some sort of cheesy ‘Jesus loves you’ ditty leaves me cold. In fact I remember singing a song, many years ago, which had the line ‘Jesus stand among us at the meeting of our eyes’ and being encouraged by the worship leader to look around at my mates in the congregation whilst I sung it. This sort of thing doesn’t really work for me. But what does work is finding my own feeble voice joining together with many other feeble voices, and being encouraged and inspired and urged on in my worship. What does work for me is having my picture of God enlarged by the expressions of worship in the voices around me.

But that’s not the end of it. As we saints on earth gather and sing our songs together in what may be a few short moments, we join with the multitudes of saints in heaven, with the thousands on thousands of angels singing a song that goes through all eternity. They sing ‘worthy is the lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.’

Now I’m not sure that I would recognise an angel if it stood up in front of me and slapped me round the face. I’m a little dull like that. But every now and then as I worship, it’s as though a little window of my heart opens up, and i get a faint glimpse of what may be happening in the heavens. Every now and then we feel the breeze a little stronger on our faces and we know we are part of something much more powerful and glorious than our earthly status allows us to fully see.

But even though we may not see it all, we know that as us saints below begin to join with the saints above, not only does the song seem to get even stronger, but the powers of darkness begin to be defeated. The weaponry of the evil one begins to be dismantled because the people of God are saying ‘whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in, we won’t let that stop us praising God’. They are saying ‘God He rules, God He reigns’. And then God begins to shine brighter – the very songs that express our wonder of Him reflect His glory back to Him. And then we see more of Him, and we encounter Him in greater power. People who have come into the church for the very first time encounter God for the very first time, fall on their knees, and proclaim Him Lord.

This is the true mystery, and the crowning glory, of worship. In the same moment that God meets the broken hearted and gives them peace, meets the weary and gives them rest, meets the hungry and satisfies them, meets those in pain and gives them hope, meets the downtrodden and gives them dignity; in the same moment God shows His Fatherhood to these people in a tender and compassionate way, His awesome power is released into the most fierce battle in the universe: the battle over lost souls, the battle of light and darkness; the battle of good and evil.

And all because we decided to come to church that day and sing.

(thanks to Brian Howell and Naomi Lippett for their help in putting this article together)



presence
September 13, 2007, 4:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

presence:

the state or fact of being present, as with others or in a place; attendance or company; immediate vicinity; proximity; the quality or manner of a person’s bearing; personal appearance or bearing; of noteworthy appearance or compelling personality; a divine or supernatural spirit felt to be present:

What does the presence of God look like?

in Genesis 1 it hovered over the waters;
in Exodus 3 it was a burning bush;
in Numbers 9 it was a cloud that moved from place to place
in Isaiah 3 it is described as glorious
in Psalm 89 it is described as light
in Hosea 6 it is described as sweet spring rain
in Naham 1 the earth trembled at it
in Psalm 5 the arrogant couldn’t stand in it
in Acts 10 people listened to the voice of God in it
in Isaiah 26 people in agony cried out in it
in Leviticus 9 and 10 God’s fire came out of it
in Psalm 9 nations were judged in it
in 1 Thesselonians 3 people found joy in it
in Joshua 18 and 19 people made big decisions in it
in Psalm 18 hailstones and thunderbolts flew out from it
in 1 John 3 people found rest in it
in Psalm 41 those with integrity were allowed to remain in it

Samuel grew up in it

in Psalm 90 people were convicted of their sins by it
in Deuteronomy 27 people rejoiced in it
in Jeremiah 23 the disobedient were thrown from it
in Luke 1 the angel Gabriel stood in it and spoke of good news
in Deuteronomy 19 disputes were settled by men standing within it
in 2 Kings 17 those who worshipped false idols were removed from it
in Hosea 6 the injured and wounded were revived in it
in Genesis 27 people blessed other people in it
in Ezekiel 46 people worshipped in it
in Deuteronomy 4 people were led by it
in Deuteronomy 18 people served in it
in 1 Chronicles 29 people ate and drank in it with great joy
in 1 Thessalonians 3 people’s hearts were strengthened in it
in 2 Chronicles 6 people made their requests to God in it
in Psalm 31 people found shelter in it
in Psalm 16 people found pleasure in it

John had the dream to end all dreams in it

in Deuteronomy 12 people brought their gifts into it
in Deuteronomy 16 people made sacrifices in it
in 2 Peter 2 angels watched what they said in it
in 2 Chronicles 20 people cried out in distress in it
in Deuteronomy 29 people made promises in it
in Lamenations 2 people poured out their hearts in it
in 2 Chronicles 34 God listened to the cries of his people in it
in Psalm 139 David found it would be everywhere he went
in 1 Chorinthians the unbelievers fell down and worshipped because of it
in Habakkuck 2 people were silent before it
in 2 Samuel 6 David danced with abandon before it.

In Psalm 84 we learn that a moment in it is better than anything else the world has to offer.

And one day all the saints will worship in it.

Forever.

How exciting is that?

When we come together to worship, we expect that we will meet with God. And when that happens, we all have our idea of what that looks like. And maybe that is a problem. Maybe we need to relax those ideas. Increase our expectation that he will meet us, but be more open to what things will look like when he does.



treasure
September 11, 2007, 7:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

treasure: [verb] to retain carefully; to regard or treat as precious; cherish

guard what has been entrusted to your care (1 Tim 6:20)

My life is littered with the precious things God has entrusted to me. My family, my home, my friends, my Avalon guitar. And one of the things God has entrusted me with is the leading of worship for my church. And I have come to treasure it.

Of course, I know it’s not me, it is God working through me. I know it’s not my ministry it is God’s ministry. And I know that I am only entrusted with it for as long as God deems that it is beneficial to his purposes. But while he entrusts me with it I will look after it, cherish it, guard it, retain it carefully, treat it as precious.

Treasure it.

But this type of treasuring means holding onto it lightly. In fact, it probably only continues to have power whilst I hold onto it with the gentlest of pressure. Clasp it, and I risk suffocating it, risk it becoming ineffectual. Hold onto it too tightly and it will soon start to take on the form on a idol, stealing the glory that God alone is due.

And as a worship leader myself, I need to know that this gift that I treasure is entirely for God’s glory. Any desire to bring glory, or reputation, or adulation onto myself is not treasuring it, it is exploiting it. In fact it is in the complete disregard for my own personal gain that I display the greatest level of treasuring, and that God gets the greatest measure of Glory.

God requires us to treasure what he has entrusted to us. Not seek earthly treasure from it.

And one of the things I am learning is that, because I am involved in something that has such huge potential to bless the church, I need to be so so careful with it. I need to try and be whiter than white as I operate in it. I need to seek to minimise the chance that anything I do could be seen as self-seeking or self-promoting through it. The high profile that comes with it demands a proportionately greater level of thought and care. And I know I probably fail miserably.

Every time I get preoccupied with the number of cd sales I could make, I stop treasuring my gift and start to idolise it. Every time I hope for a higher place on the CCLI chart for one of my songs, I stop treasuring my gift and start to idolise it. Every time I manoeuvre myself into a place to be asked to lead worship at a particular conference, I stop treasuring my gift and start to idolise it. Every time I say ‘no’ to leading worship at an event purely because it isn’t high profile enough, I stop treasuring my gift and start to idolise it.

I recently bought a new car. Well not entirely new, but nearly new. We inherited a little money, and as our old car was on it’s last legs, we decided to buy something that would last us for a long time. Now you need to know something about me. In my twenties, I was your archetypal bachelor. Playing footfall, going to the football, beers, curry, sports car, the works. Then over the last twenty years this has been slowly chipped away at. I am now married, have 2.4 children (well 2 really – it just seems like more) have a respectable job and live in a three bed semi in a tree lined cul-de-sac. And the purchase of this new car complimented this image perfectly.

Yes, I brought a Mondeo.

Can you believe it? But actually it’s quite a nice car. Jeremy Clarkeson thinks so too, apparently. And when we got it, I decided I needed to really look after it. Clean it regularly, clear out all the rubbish which accumulates remarkably quickly from the aforesaid wife and 2.4 children. And so I do. But my wife, with her ‘holier than thou’ Christian face on, says I am idolising it. I try and explain that I am just looking after it, but it won’t change her mind. She tells all our friends I’m in love with a Mondeo. It’s so hurtful.

It seems that even with a boring family car, it’s really easy to mistake treasuring for idolatry. The line is fine.

And think there is so much that we worship leaders do in the name of worship these days that, despite every good motive on our part, could be perceived as idolatry. We only need to look at some of our marketing, our concert tours, our photos on our albums, our press releases, to see this may be happening. And this gives us a huge problem. Because as soon as we are perceived to be self-seeking we will cease to be able to serve our churches properly.

And maybe the bathwater has got so murky in this respect that the baby has every right to shout ‘foul’.

And maybe what we worship leaders need to do is become a little more faceless, a little more local, a little more in the background, a little more in awe of the one who has entrusted this amazing thing to us.



loss
September 8, 2007, 12:26 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

loss: detriment, disadvantage, or deprivation from failure to keep, have, or get; something that is lost; the state of being deprived of or of being without something that one has had; death, or the fact of being dead; failure to make good use of something.

I’m quite excited. Next Saturday, one of my songs is being used at an event in Kings College, Cambridge. A 100 strong choir, the organ, the great setting with it’s great acoustics. I would love to be able to go, but it looks like that won’t be possible, as I have a busy week, followed by a busy Sunday, and it looks like Saturday will be my only real family time. Now I’m not telling you about this to self promote myself (well, probably not), I’m telling you because I love to hear that sort of music, to that sort of standard, in that sort of setting. It’s potentially a beautiful sound that can capture our senses and set our hearts on God, and to hear one my songs being used in that way would be incredible.

Now I realise my confession that I like choir and organ music will probably destroy any sense of coolness or street credibility that I like to think I may have had. After all, I am a worship leader, and we’re not meant to like this sort of stuff.

But actually I think that beautiful music such as this has been a sad loss to the wider church. The organ as an instrument is awesome. The range of sounds and tones it can produce is incredible. It has great musical power than can reflect the majesty of God. It has exquisite delicacy that can reflect the gentleness of God. Just one person and one instrument can produce a range of sounds and melodies and harmonies that can gather the largest of congregations together for an encounter with God in song. And a choir seems to mirror and complement the sound of an organ so well.

It’s a loss to the church.

OK, so it still exists in some places and some contexts in the UK. But not a huge number, and certainly not in the depth or quality that used to serve the church in this country for so many years. And sadly, most contexts where it operates to a good standard tend to be civic, state events or cathedrals. [now just for clarification, I am commenting on my own country and context. i don’t know enough about other countries and other contexts to comment]

So why?

Why has something that used to serve the church so incredibly become something that is now viewed by so many people in the church primarily (though not exclusively) as an art form, and has become something that seems to more closely represent the death and the irrelevance of the church, rather than the life and the vitality of the church?

Well one possibility is that God just moved on, as he can do in his sovereignty, ensuring we listen to him and follow his voice. Just as in the desert times. And if that is the case, those of us who are set on his purposes, and seeking his kingdom would probably shrug our shoulders and say ‘that’s life’ and move on with it. Those of us who were organists (and I have been one!) would probably be content to learn the drums, or the guitar, or the pan pipes to help the church worship (ok so I lied about the pan-pipes).

Another possibility is that our culture changed around us, and so the style of music employed by the church with organ and choir became something that failed to capture the hearts of the masses. And so rather than lose touch with our culture, we needed to change our style of music in order to stay relevant. And again, we would probably be sad that the church has had to follow the culture, rather than shape the culture, but would not hang on to the old wineskins for the sake of the mission of the church.

But what if there was another reason.

What if it was our own fault?

What if we had made this music an idol? What if we had made it sacred. What if we had not been a good steward of it’s power. What if we had used it to serve our own purposes rather than serving the church. What if we had tried to steal some glory from the God who won’t share his glory out. What if we had started to do too many international choir tours that promoted ourselves above God. What if our own identities had become so wrapped up in it that we had lost the ability to hear the voice of god.

What if, because of our own stupidity, God just gently, silently, removed his hand of blessing from it?



the baby and the bathwater
September 7, 2007, 8:59 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

So yes, I have entered the world of blogging.

And because I am ‘Mr Cheese’ I have a cheesy name for the blog. But there is a point (there always isn’t there).

What I want to do on this site is make some observations and write some articles on worship: partly because it’s good for (me) us to work hard at articulating truth – so often we blame the inadequacy of language in formulating argument – but actually, language IS the argument – and so we need to quickly get over that excuse – but also because I am beginning to sense God is speaking to the wider church on the whole area of worship (well, he would, wouldn’t he. he is God after all, and it is his church). And I think we need to review some of what we are doing and maybe make some tweeks here and there or maybe dismantle some things (either clean up or throw out the bath water) to make sure that this whole worship thing continues to serve the church (the baby)*.

Get it?

I told you it was cheesy.

The other reason I want to start a blog is that I have found myself clogging up other people’s blogs with my ranting, and so I want to release them from having their own sites corrupted by my own deliberations. But I do want to point you to a couple of sites of worship leaders who I think are beginning to ask similar questions. ‘Daily Health Scare’ (David Gate) and NaomiLippett.co.uk (Nae Lippett).

So over the next little while, I’ll be looking at some of the issues that I think need either cleaning up or throwing out. They are my own personal views and as my finite understanding of theology is changing all the time as I hopefully understand more about a hugely awesome and infinite God, I may say some things and then change my mind later. But that’s because I hope my mind is open. Some of it may make you laugh. Some of it may make you scream. But most of it will probably show just how little I know or understand.

And I don’t mind if you disagree. That’s what debate is about.

* please note, I have ammended this sentence as one or two people said my original one was confusing. I agree with them.