the baby and the bathwater

The diary of an international worship leader aged 43 3/4
July 1, 2008, 3:47 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Recently I’ve been reading the odd blog of international worship leaders, and I quite like the look of an international worship leader ministry. So I’ve decided to go on an international ministry trip and record my own travels.

And tomorrow I start with a trip to Swedleburg.


It’s early in the morning and we’re just about to leave for the airport. I am really looking forward to my international ministry trip to Swedleburg.

I must admit, I am slightly confused, though, as I’ve done a search on google and i can’t seem to see any publicity about my appearances over the next week. There must be something wrong with my internet connection or something, because normally someone with an international ministry would cause quite a stir in the countries they visit. I must try and sort that out once I get back home. Any way, my flights have been pre booked for me by the conference hosts. That really helps, because someone of my reputation and standing is really too busy to get involved with such details. I’ve also heard so many other people with international ministries talk about how the Lord generously upgrades flights to first class, so I’m really quite hopeful of a very relaxed journey.

In the last few moments I have before we leave I ask the Lord for some specific words of knowledge for the country of Swedleburg. It really is such a huge burden and responsibility for international worship leaders, and I begin to understand how much of the spiritual health of that nation rests upon my shoulders. It’s quite humbling really.


Well what a journey yesterday was.

We arrived at the airport to find the check in queue was huge. I tried to find the fast track desk for international worship leaders, but it seems that some member of staff must have been off ill or something so we had to join the queue with everyone else. In many ways that had hidden blessings, particularly for all the others in the queue. It must have made quite a statement about how humble I was, and they seemed really glad that someone of such fame was brushing shoulders with them. I must admit, however, that I felt a little bit of righteous anger rising up in me when I reached the check in desk and was asked to take 2 kilos out of my suitcase because it was over weight.

Of course, I then took some photos of my guitar in the airport, because it is so important to be able to communicate to people at a later stage the fine line someone like me treads between humble worship leader and famous rock star. Hopefully these pictures will be able to inspire people to be like me.

Unfortunately there was no upgrade to first class. Apparently there are no first class seats on Whine-air flights. Ah well, it is character building. It took us another hour to get through security. When our flight was called, we went through the ‘priority boarding’ queue, as clearly that was something an international worship leader should expect. However, the lady turned us away and said we weren’t eligible for priority boarding. I did tell her that I was an international worship leader, and I think she was quite impressed as she said ‘congratulations’ with a sense of awe in her voice. At least I think it was awe, but I can’t be quite sure. But she was unfortunately unable to let us through. This was all character building of course, and I think I will use my story when I give my talk tomorrow at the conference, a talk that I have called ‘famous but humble’. I think that may help illustrate things quite well.

We arrived in Swedleburg late in the afternoon and was dumbstruck by the beauty of the country. The roads were clear, the sky was blue, the sea was clean and sparkling. And everywhere we went people were helpful and friendly. The conference hosts were generous beyond belief and we arrived in a rustic house right by the sea close to the church where the conference was held. We have a family room for me, my wife and two girls. We unpacked and walked the 20 yrds to the sea front and took in the wonderful fresh air, and outstanding views. We had a really warm feeling inside as we looked forward to the week ahead.

I chatted to my wife about the seminar ‘famous but humble’ that I am giving tomorrow. She confused me when she suggested that it was interesting that I was talking about things that I had no experience of. I’m not sure what she meant, and assumed that she was tired after our day’s travels, and I don’t want to spoil the moment.


12 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Oozing with sarcasm…

Love it.

Comment by Andy

brilliant! hoping there’s another installment to come

Comment by Mark

Fantastic !

Comment by Rich Johnson

Thank you so much for all you contribute to Trinity and the songs you have written that have blessed others in helping them respond to God in worship.

But I really struggle with articles like this. Why go to all this effort?

I too am concerned by the ‘industry’ of worship but I am wound up almost as much by articles like this which have a really destructive and critical feel to them.

Let’s just get on with serving and putting into practice our worship values rather than always pointing holes in others.

I don’t want to be defined by what I don’t like but by what I do like and which I want to get on with demonstrating in my life and ministry.

Comment by Anonymous

Dear Anonymous

Your comments are taken on board. It would be great to know who you are though!!

I hope my blog is fundamentally about what I believe – I certainly have tried to make sure most of the articles are of that nature (in fact i think around 80+% have no critical content as such.

But if we are in Christian leadership, and we sense that God is being robbed of glory by the actions of people, industries or organisations, however well inten tioned, then we should be prepared to stand up and be counted.

The world is full of people who critisise people without offering anything constructive as a way forward.

I, too, am actually very concerned about a lot of the worship industry. And in response I think I need to both critisise what I see, but also put forward constructive, creative alternatives. That has been my intention with this blog. And I am really happy to have my name attached to such debate and opinion.

And I have also very practically put my money where my mouth is on this – removing myself from some of the excesses of the industry – at some personal cost, both financially and relationally – at least trying to have some integrity.

And anyway, this article, in the main, is a dig at me and my own attitudes. Yes I am 43 3/4, yes I have just got back from Swedleburg, and yes I struggle with all the contradictory feelings and motivations contained in the article.

I also think it’s funny.

Comment by Neil Bennetts

Neil – that is one of the funniest things i have read in a long long time! Also packs a serious punch. Sweet! I normally hate blogs, but you keep me coming back for more…although I do have to ask – who is your ghost author? You are never this funny in real life!

Comment by Paul Ox

are you really only 43?

Comment by David Gate

physical age is 43.

in terms of wisdom and insight, far far older.

Comment by Neil Bennetts

you guys crack me up…

it’s like listening to Little and Large…

Comment by Andy

Is that a reflection on my slightly robust stature, or dave’s diminutive height…?

Comment by Neil Bennetts

Is Swedleburg a real country? I did a degree in Geography and never coloured in that country…

I wish I was famous enough to do that seminar… it beats doing the relationships talk with teenagers any day.

Comment by Chris


Swedleburg is very real. It’s just that educational standards have slipped so much in recent years.


Comment by Neil Bennetts

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