the baby and the bathwater

HeartHeadHands Day
June 4, 2008, 9:07 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

We have just held our annual heartheadhands day for worship leaders, and I thought I would post the notes of my seminar. Here are the first two sections. The third will be in a separate post.


God created us to live intimately with Him. This intimacy was broken by the fall. Ever since then God’s story has been one of finding was that intimacy can be restored without compramising His holiness. Man’s journey has been one of attempting to respond to God’s overtures, and is typified by periods of intimacy and periods of distance.

Gathered worship is a gift to us from God to help us in that journey. The intimacy that we experience in Gathered worship echoes into the rest of our lives. Those who go for intimacy in worship tend to be those who live day-by-day close to God.

Intimacy is closeness to God, encounter with God. It was a key value of John Wimber, and New Wine, and Trinity Cheltenham. We should be presence-shaped people – people who’s lives are lived out of a place of encounter with Him.

Intimacy is at God’s invitation but our instigation. It is God’s intended state, but not our natural state. My experience is that it takes perseverance either personally or as a church to grow in it. God never doesn’t want it – what is important is the way we go for it. Draw near to God and He will draw near to You.

Intimacy is an intention of our hearts. It is not a musical style or an emotional feeling. We need to develop in our churches a culture of Intended Intimacy – whether that’s in our main celebrations, alpha, kidz church, small groups.

Intimacy does not mean irreverence. Intimacy and Reverence are two sides of the same coin. The more I draw near to God the more I am compelled to bow down before Him. The more I see what He is like, His Holiness, His sovereignty, the more I am compelled to draw near to Him. True worship should reflect both. The friendship of the lord is reserved for those who fear Him.

Intimacy as a shared experience. When we gather together for worship, we each bring our own heart cry, our own expression of God and what He is doing in our lives. Joined together in song those heart cries paint a bigger, more glorious picture of who God is. – we are singing to one another with pslams hymns and spiritual songs and spuring one another on into intimacy with God. That is something to be celebrated. It’s why we should not stop gathering together for worship.

Intimacy results in unscripted encounter. We should anticipate that. There is a journey that we head off on, and so often the destination is not revealed until we get there. We need to learn to listen to the Holy Spirit and learn how he speaks to us and leads us in these times. We need to ‘pick our moments’ for unscripted worship – being sure that it is what the Holy Spirit wants rather than a default position.


God is a creative God. Everyone is creative. When we explore the sounds and harmonies and colours around us, we are just doing what we were created to do. Creativity in worship is not about trying to evoke a response, but about trying to reveal the character and nature of God.

Worship around the world is very un-diverse generally. Good, but not very diverse. The reason may be that we are not seeking our own identity in worship.

Most worship leaders have an identity crisis. We try and take on the identity of other worship leaders of church streams. Other identities can help, can be a starting point, but should not replace seeking our own identity.

If we, individually as churches, spent more time seeking out our own identity in worship, generally things would become more diverse. Success in worship, all too often, is measured by how well we mimic someone else.

Generally as a church worldwide (at least in the developed world) we have become saturated in resources but thin on leadership and inspiration.

We can establish Identity through adventure. I want my daughters to spend lots of time exploring life, rather than being served up things by TV or computer games, as I think this will help them understand their own identity. Same for us in church – we are far more likely to establish our identity if we have adventures on the way.

Trinity has had many adventures – whether through different types of services, different locations, developing it’s own record label and publishing house to name a few. We are not perfect, but at least we are trying to be just what God wants us to be in worship (at considerable cost!)

Trinity Identity would tend to include – theological depth, musical richness. Our worship leaders use restrained intervention (speaking, shouting, encouraging the prophetic). We tend to think of ourselves as conductors conducting an orchestra rather than lead singers of rock bands. We are radio 2.


7 Comments so far
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“Most worship leaders have an identity crisis. We try and take on the identity of other worship leaders of church streams…

If we, individually as churches, spent more time seeking out our own identity in worship, generally things would become more diverse.”

Too right!
I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, especially in my own situ, regarding church growth and encouragement … I’m starting to realise that by identifying a church’s unique identity and leading a congregation towards embracing that identity, great things will be seen.
I try so hard to be ‘me’ as I lead others, and I sincerely hope I manage it!

Comment by The Real Chris Marsh

Thanks Chris for your comment.


bring it on!

Comment by Neil Bennetts

Bennetts you never cease to amaze me. You have a great wrestling heart. Way to go on the verbal diarrhoea on Dan’s site – I’m sure he will love that!! lol! Keep going dude and typing those creative, wise and challening words in cyber space!

Comment by Lipso

I think you are so both on the same page . . .we need both your voices out there!!!

Comment by Lipso

thanks lispo lipson or whatever you are called now!

sounds like we are….quite a big language difference though (ie it took me 5 readings before I understood what it meant!).


Comment by Neil Bennetts

slow but you get there in the end . . . good work old man!
you been on dan’s blog the last two days and seen the conversation about Lakeland? Would like to hear your thoughts dude …

Comment by lipsy!

Solid thoughts Neil I’m sure it was a rewarding seminar to par take in.

AS I was reading I remembered something I heard Doug Pagit say about the gospel in terms of an invitation to participate in Gods great re-creating of creation and I felt like there is a great similarity between this idea of participating in God, his nature and activity and the idea of intimacy in the Wimber influenced movements

Comment by Matt Wilson

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