the baby and the bathwater

January 30, 2008, 8:09 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

input: the power or energy supplied to a machine

I was just about ready to do an article giving my considered opinion on the general content and approach of most worship training I have been to, and most books on worship that I have read recently.

Then I suddenly realised that I haven’t actually been to any worship training recently.

Or read any books.

OK so I’ve done a few seminars and workshops myself recently. But to be honest I’m not sure they were any good either. Not many people turned up. But then again I wasn’t doing a seminar on ‘how-to-write-a-hit-song-and-make-loads-of-money-whilst-at-the-same-time-remaining-
humble-and-not-really-being-concerned-about-the-money’. And I wasn’t doing a seminar on ‘how-to-make-your-band-sound-like-U2-whilst-remaining-strangely-unaffected-by-the-worldwide-fame’. And I had left the seminar on ‘how-to-make-a-big-brother-type-video-and-post-it-on-the-net-
whilst-recording-my-album-all-for-the-sake-of-encouraging-other-people-and-not-promoting-myself-at-all’ to someone else. So it was my own fault really. Should have chosen my subject matter more carefully. I did it on holiness, mystery and creativity. Schoolboy error….

Now where was I?

Oh yes, the quality of worship seminars and books.

You see my good friend, Naomi Lippett emailed me (as well a few other more qualified worship leaders than me) and asked what I would recommend to train up a number of young worship leaders in her church.

And that got me thinking about what influences I have had over the years.

Now I’ve been around the block a few times. I started leading worship, if you can call it that, when I was around 15 in the YPF. For those of you born this side of the 80’s, the YPF was the young people’s fellowship at church. I started by playing songs like ‘Do Lord, or Do Lord’ – you know the one about the arky arky, and ‘in nineteen hundred and sixty six there comes a new theology’ amongst others. I then moved on to university and played songs like ‘majesty’. Kendrick appeared and we were all asking Jesus to Shine, or talked about going out with joy. Then I moved on to my first big proper church we were being still, for the presence of the lord was there, and we sung about our problems disappearing – until we realised that they somehow remained. And of course we were still asking Jesus to shine.

Then I moved onto my second big church and we started to sing about the mountains and the seas, the river (which was here, of course), the fire, and the banqueting table. Soon after, thankfully, we stopped asking Jesus to shine, and the river was no longer here, but we had started to notice that the mountains were trembling and the dancers were dancing, and that we were all so happy, and we quite liked that. It was then that it all started rising up and falling down once again, and after a while we were all so sorry what we had made it. But then we seemed to get over being sorry about what we had made it and it all started again.

And I have been reflecting what actually encouraged me, what took me along the journey. And I think, actually, I have to say I come from the school of hard knocks when it comes to my worship leader training and development. No hang-around-in-coffee-shops-and-write-a-few-lines-of-a-song-no-one-will-ever-sing worship leader retreats for me. There was no ‘worship central’. In fact there was not even a ‘worship-on-the-rubbish-looking-industrial-estate-on-the-edge-of-town’ when I was in my informative years. I taught myself guitar (ok so no surprise there). And there was no ‘teach-yourself-cheesy-worshipful-facial-expressions’ dvd course in ten easy steps (for only £99.99). In fact there was no dvd at all. BetaMax video was the height of technological advances in those days….by ‘eck it were hard…..

But actually, there has been very little worship training, conferences or books on worship that have really made much of an impact – at least that I can remember. So what I am going to do over the next few posts is look at the things that I can recall as significant for me. I’ll let you know what I replied to Lippett, and maybe think of a few more things along the way!


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I’m looking forward to what you write about this, but in the meantime I just had to say how much I loved your description of the evolution of worship songs over the last however many years it’s been since you were 15.

Of course musical taste changes, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing if songs that are culturally appropriate at one time cease to be so after a while. But how many of the songs of 20 years ago, or 10 years ago, do you still consider singable from a theological standpoint? If it’s not many, then that raises some rather scary questions, I think.

Comment by Ruth

I can honestly say that all the songs I refer to in that post are ones I am theologically happy with…bar the one! And some I still sing loads too. It is really just being a bit tongue in cheek…

And in case you were really wondering I was 15 some 19 years ago.

Comment by Neil Bennetts

Like Ruth, I’ll watch this with interest. Being a self taught guitarist and thrust into worship leading at the deep end I sometimes wonder just what support/training there is around, or what the quality of the various “you must come on this amazing worship academy / retreat” are like or even what they offer. Me, I pick a few songs from the few I know I can play (a list that is slowly getting bigger) and try and steer clear of anything that has “copyright 197X…. or earlier that the pastor thinks might be a good idea to fit in (there are a few exceptions but these tend to be modern interpretations).

So let your pen flow Neil….

Comment by Christopher

Oh yes- I was there too! But is there something here about the nature of the songs we use reflecting where the Spirit/church is at that moment in time. (and fashions- GK jumpers!)And of course there is still a place to reuse some of the ‘old’ (very old) stuff, hymns etc, that still speak volumes theologically today. Looking forward to your next words on this- and songs ! jen x

Comment by Hallmum

Well done those who spotted it. 29 years ago, not 19!!

Comment by Neil Bennetts

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