the baby and the bathwater


Saving Grace
June 17, 2009, 1:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Saving Grace high res

I thought I would write and let you know about a new project that New Wine have been working on. In my mind, this represents a really positive step forward in the development of New Wine worship.

New Wine has always had a rich heritage in worship, believing that an encounter with God is central to the activity of His Kingdom. Over recent years, God seems to have brought together more and more songwriters within the New Wine network and it’s circle of friends who are writing great songs for their churches, and in our desire to catch the movement of God’s Spirit amongst us, we have, for the first time, brought some of these new songs together in a studio project. It was quite a few years ago when Eoghan Heaslip and myself began to sense that this was something that was on God’s heart for us. Making it happen has taken a while, but we are so excited that, through our partnership with Survivor Records, it has finally become a reality, and this first album brings together 10 worship leaders from across the network who are so much part of our worshipping life together.

Worship leaders and songwriters appearing on ‘Saving Grace’ will be Eoghan Heaslip, Neil Bennetts, Nicole Brown, Pete James, David Gate, Nick Herbert, Jules Woodbridge, Nick Herbert and Nikki Rogers. We are also excited that David Ruis has also been able to be part of the project for this year. Songs include: the title track Saving Grace (Bennetts/Heaslip), Here on Earth (Ruis/Heaslip), Bones (Gate), Rescuer (Herbert/Parks), Stronger (Morgan), You are here (Bennetts/Heaslip), and The way that You Father me (Gate/Heaslip)

Some one once said that if you want to travel quickly you should travel alone, but if you want to travel a long way, you should travel together. Saving Grace is an album that is birthed out of many people worshipping together, serving together, writing together and singing together, and in many ways it is a small but hopefully significant part of a long journey that we are all sharing as co-workers in the Kingdom of God.

Saving Grace is full of songs written to be sung in church. Produced by Nathan Nockels (Tomlin, Redman) and Joe Baldridge (Brenton Brown) we hope it will be a great sounding album, with fantastic musicianship and creative arrangements. But most of all we hope that the songs on it will spark in other worshippers a greater passion for God and for His Kingdom.

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Searching for more in worship
June 5, 2009, 12:47 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Our staff team spent a day away recently at a retreat centre near to Cheltenham and we were really fortunate to have Barry Kissell come and speak and minister to us. Many of you may know Barry from his New Wine days – he used to host the event with David Pytches in the 90’s and his humorous style and pinpoint prophetic accuracy were (and still are) legendary.

One of the things Barry spoke about was worship, and he talked about the worship we read about in the Old Testament and how the presence of God seemed to be so intense, especially in the events surrounding the dedication of the temple. In a very heartfelt way he was saying that, much as he thought the worship in many churches was great, that, actually, he was looking for more. That he was searching for more in our worship in our churches. There was something that both resonated and frustrated me about the words. Resonated, because there are probably many of us worship leaders around at the moment that are echoing the same thoughts – that we are in many ways unsatisfied with what the status quo is in worship. Frustrated because I wanted to know what the answer was, what the ‘more’ was.

Over lunch I had the brief chance to ask Barry a bit more of what he had touched on in the session, and asked him what he thought the ‘more’ was or how the ‘more’ could be grasped. Unfortunately, time didn’t permit a long conversation but in many ways he said that often he sees things prophetically and doesn’t always have the finished, unpacked, sorted out explanations. And in one sense, this added to the sense of frustration!

But, as I reflected on the day and, in particular, those comments, I became aware that actually, one mark of true worshippers is that they are always on a journey for more; That they are, in many ways, unsatisfied in what they have of God and are always searching for more of Him. You see, there is tendency in many people in our churches to sit and wait for ‘the next big thing in worship’ as though it will somehow fall into our laps and make everything more colourful, more exciting and more presence-filled. And actually, I am not sure that this will ever happen. I think our journey as worshippers is more about a constant dissatisfaction that drives us deeper into the cloud of His presence, searching for Him, searching for His glory, searching for His presence, searching for His favour. And it seems to me that if there is a problem in our churches, if there is something that is causing us to falter in our worship, it is because we have stopped pressing into God and we are too much of the mind that we should just wait around until He does something.

So, for one, I am comfortable with the dissatisfaction, because it keeps me running, keeps me singing.

What about you?