Saturday 23 June 2012

God Love Church Worship

Christianity is not about what we do as much as what we allow Jesus Christ to do in us.
It is not about what I am but what He has made me.
And it is not about who I am but who I am when I am in Him. Jesus said :John 15:4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

The greatest act of love the world will ever know is what Jesus did for me. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Doubt and fear, are the great deception used by the devil to separate us from God's love. Many times (over 60 times in my bible) and to many different people In old and new testament it is said: Do not fear or: fear not.

Communion brings me to the place where Jesus gave up all he had and all He was in order to rescue me from the disaster that was awaiting me. He took upon Himself all that I deserved in order that I might enjoy all that He has.
Thank you Jesus for the broken body and the spilled precious blood; for the principal thing called LOVE. Amen.


Friday 22 June 2012

Am I Too Old to Lead Worship?

It occurs to me when I walk into most Pentecostal churches and the music is playing and the team is up the front doing their "stuff" that the average age of those presenting the worship is mid- to late twenties. (At least they all look very young to an over- forty -year-old!). I look at this sight and it causes me to ponder: Am I too old to lead worship? 

The First time I was Too Old

The first time I ever felt like I was too old was about ten or twelve years ago. My wife and I had just made a decision that it was time to leave the church which we had been a part of for the past 5 years to help a friend launch a new church at another end of town. 
Our friend was in his early twenties and he gathered around him a number of other young people as well as some  middle aged couples (of which we were a part). 
I initially joined our young friend to help with the worship team, and though he frequently asked me to play guitar for him, he only once asked me to lead the Worship. This "rejection" of my abilities and anointing really messed with my head and brought much self-doubt into my thinking. I felt all of a sudden that the Worship Leading ship had sailed, and I wasn't on it, I was too old. 
The thought of being too old when I was just about to turn forty, really shook my confidence. I became very unsure of myself and what God had planned for me for the rest of my life. I couldn't believe that I could be dropped so quickly and so unceremoniously from being a Worship Leader one week to a has-been the next.  

I’m Not Ready, I’m Not Too Old!

I went to God on this matter and complained bitterly. Surely this wasn't the end? Surely I wasn't to be relegated to the pews for the next 60 years without any musical input? (I plan to live to at least 100). 
God showed me that he wasn't finished with me yet. One of my favourite Worship Leaders in the world is Robin Mark of Revival in Belfast fame. I have a number of his records and was privileged some years ago to attend a meeting in which he led Worship. God showed me that he is one of a number of Worship leaders in the world who have been around a while and fall among the Not-so-young.  This was greatly encouraging to me, especially at that time. 

It was in the midst of my turmoil that I visited a local Anglican church one afternoon and the priest asked me if I would be interested in helping him out with the music once in a while. His only musician had busted up with her husband and left the church and he was desperate. Well, we were an answer to each other's prayers. He had a need for a musician and I needed an outlet. I said I would love to help him out. The next week I turned up and did the music for him and for the first time in a while I felt truly appreciated for what I brought to that church. The priest came to me at the end of the service and said:" That was great Erick! I really would like you to pray about coming to help us out once a month to do the music at our church. "  My response was that I wouldn't have to pray about that, I would love to come and help once a month! "In that case," he said, "I would like you to pray about coming once a fortnight!" We were hooked! I had instantly gone from being retired to being the main event. Not only that, but we were a package deal. My wife is a singer as are our daughters. One of them played keyboards and in time our son joined the team to play drums. Moreover, we had gone from being the oldest people in the Church to the youngest.  God is Good! 

I became the music director at that church and we saw the church double in size over the next 5 years, with many young families joining our  fellowship. It was a great time for us as a family and for me personally as a worship leader. We were more than tolerated, we were celebrated!  

The Next Step in The Journey

Why do I tell this story? For this reason: if you feel like you are too old to lead worship, God may just be preparing you for the next place. Worship leading is not about age, it is about relevance. If you can bring the anointing to the fellowship, using songs that appeal to all generations across the church, including some of the great new songs that are constantly being released then you are not too old to lead worship. 

Let me say here too, in my humble opinion, worship leading is not about conforming to and following the latest trends in what songs are being recently released. It is about following YOUR anointing. I said before we are to remain relevant to our audience/ congregation. But this mustn’t be constrained to the latest releases. A good friend of mine is music director of a large church with 7 music teams and worship-leaders. He tells me the one thing that keeps the worship fresh and alive in his church is the variety that each individual worship-leader brings.  Not one of the worship leaders is a copy of anyone else. Each one brings something unique. That is God. He gives each of us a unique set of fingerprints. He wants us to be different, that's how He created us. Let's use that individuality to His glory in leading worship too. 

When are you too old? When you decide you are...And I figure on leaving that decision until I'm in my late eighties. 

Have a great week. 


Sunday 10 June 2012

When is it too loud?

When it's too loud

Years ago when I was in a Christian rock and roll band, we used to have a saying :" if it's too loud, you're too old. "
it's a funny saying and for a rock band it's probably right. However, As a worshipleader I'm not sure it fits in the music service.

When we lead worship, we have the amazing opportunity to bring people into the very presence of God. This is our calling, our priestly responsibility and our privilege.
When we lead people in worship, there is a number of essentials that go into the mix to make for a great worship service.

The Essential Mix

Prayer and preparation are on the top of the list.When I lead worship,  I spend a number of hours in prayer and preparation. I give myself to reading God's word and there are a number of devotionals I love to read. During this time I pray about the songs that I am going to do for that meeting.
Another important ingredient is great unity in the band. At practice and on the day of the service, it's important that we have a like mindedness and a singleness of purpose. This includes every member of the team: drummer, bass guitar, lead and rhythm instruments, vocalists and the sound man/woman. Unity is imperative to a great worship team. Scripture says that when we have unity, God commands the blessing.
Song choice and good flow from song to song is also very important, as is knowing when to modulate, when to have light and shade (loud and quiet).

The last thing I want to mention here is the reason for and the theme of this blog.
I visited a Church recently and while I enjoyed the service, in the worship I was "confronted" by a wall of sound. While the music was good and the mix was balanced, it felt more like I was at a concert than at a worship service. As I observed the band and the interaction with the congregation I couldn't help it think that something was missing.

Worship involves everyone

Worship in a church service should be a corporate event. That means that everyone should be involved in the worship, the band and the congregation. I could not hear any of the congregation singing. Come to think of it, I couldn't hear my own wife. Her lips were moving but I couldn't hear her. If you are in worship and you can't hear the congregation, it's too loud.
It's important to have a good sound balance coming from your front of house. If its too soft you have no control of the intensity of your mix and people can't hear you. If its too loud, people can't hear themselves, and that doesn't lend itself to great corporate worship.

Everyone involved in the production of the Worship service is important and a good mix is vital to the success of each service. 

For more help on this subject and many others, check out our website and free weekly worship leaders podcast on 

Have a great week!


Friday 8 June 2012

What do you believe in?

I am becoming increasingly aware of the amount of religious material available to us in recent years.
When I say religious, I don't mean Christian; I mean things of every other religion on the world. Buddhist, Islam, New Age, eastern philosophies, the list goes on. All are being seen as "fashionable" , rather than religious as such.  I can't walk into a garden centre or landscape supplier without being bombarded with Buddhist statues and shrines, or down a weekend market without walking past a fortune teller or two, healing crystals, incense... It's all there!

 The Shrinking Church?

One would have to agree that if there is a supply it would follow that there is a demand.
And yet it appears that church attendance is waning especially in the western countries, and people are increasingly dissatisfied with what is "on offer" in the main stream churches today.
 It causes me to wonder: if churches are on the decrease because people are increasingly claiming to be Atheists (Denying the existence of God) or Agnostic (having no formal belief system or religion); and yet there is an increase of all the eastern and new-age religions, what do we really believe?
This also leads me to think that while people may say they are atheist or Agnostic, they still have a need to believe in something or someone higher than themselves.

The Need to Believe

I have heard it said that in each human being is created the need to search for its creator. We all have a "built-in God seeker" as it were. Some people choose to ignore it (atheism) others seek it out in human relationships, philosophies, religions of all types, etc. we all need to belong, be loved and be valued. This is how we are wired.
I am disturbed by the fact that people are leaving the church and the Christian faith in search for the Truth.   Jesus said: "I am the way, the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father but through me. " (John 14:6). Why are we leaving the truth in search for Him?
My thinking is that Christianity is not considered fashionable, in fact many people (especially young people) think it is definitely old-fashioned. They also see it as boring, and the "churches are just full of hypocrites". We are guilty of not showing people the Truth. In fact, we have made church a social organisation that is relevant only for a certain section of our community. An Anglican priest once told me about his church that it is fast becoming a boutique religion, suitable only for a dying group of people.  In other words, he was saying that he feared that the church has lost its relevance.
Now I want to be absolutely clear here that in no way do I believe that every church and church organisation is in decline and no longer relevant. There are some large churches that really are impacting our community and society in a very positive way, and making a real difference in people's lives.
Jesus said "You will know the Truth, and the Truth will make you free" (John 8:32).

Do you really know what you believe?

My challenge is that knowing what you believe is about studying it in intimate detail; seeking out the paths to better understanding what you believe.
I know my wife. I spend time with her, have conversations with her, hold her hand and kiss her, I listen to her (not often enough she says) and hear her thoughts, opinions, values, fears, and passions. Spending quality time with her makes me know her. Because I invest time in our relationship, I feel I truly do know her.
My concern is that as Christians, we do not spend enough quality time getting to know our saviour. We make no time for intimacy, and through a lack of this knowledge we actually miss out on God's amazing best for our lives.
If we don't know our Saviour, who also happens to be the creator of the universe, then how can we actually know what we believe?

Carnality has taken hold in the church.

I was talking to a dear friend and mentor about this recently, and she raised this subject with me as a great concern. As Christians, we are not separated anymore, she said, we have so much of the world in the church, it is difficult to differentiate us from the world. The result is that we just don't appeal to people who are looking for truth and belonging.
Romans 8:6 "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His."
Here is a warning that what we have been rescued from, we are not to allow back into our lives.
Being separated from the world does not mean we are exclusive from the world, but that we set the standard that people should aspire to.
This means being above reproach! Christians should have greater levels of integrity than anyone else. Christians should know what our faith demands of us, and how the Holy Spirit helps us to achieve that.
Our faith is about relationship with the Creator of the Universe; the Saviour of humankind. We have the Answer living in us! If we really know what we believe, we know that!

I mentioned integrity. Sadly I think this is a quality that is missing in many Christians today. We just don’t walk the talk. I said before, we should be setting the standard. What was it that attracted early seekers to the church? They were different. The Bible says: “together they had all things in common.” Together. Unity. Blessing. There is great reward in intimate relationship with Jesus, but there is also a cost.

You can't give what you don't have.

 If you don't have it in you, you can't give it out.  What we believe should not only affect who we are, but also influence those we come in contact with us.  If I don't know what I believe, how can I share it with others; either verbally or by example?
This is an important question. However, a more pertinent question is: if you don't know what you believe, where will you spend eternity?
The last thing I want my God to say when I stand before Him is “Depart from Me, I never knew you”
Food for thought?

Have a great week!