My blogging journey from the beginning for those who are interested. Each week I will include one of those original blogs from Martin Scott’s Perspective site. February 4th 2010 and the blogging began. Never did this before, but what therapy, what a joy, what a chronicling of a journey that never ends. In many ways things have developed, but it is good to see where we come from to appreciate where we are. All in the healing. Enjoy or endure…
I do miss some things, sometimes…
When I think about all the stuff that used to go on personally in church life I have to admit there are some things that every now and again I miss. It was not all 100% bad. Maybe 90%, but there were some things I really enjoyed about the magic roundabout of local church. I miss preaching so often. I love preaching (updated 13/10/13-can honestly say I do not enjoy this so much today, much prefer talking about stuff over a table one on one, but can be found doing a preach every now and again). I enjoy it from the place of meditating on something, to studying, to speaking. I love nothing more than sharing something that causes people to grow in their faith and walk with God. It is probably a pride issue that needs dealing with, and has been I can tell you, but I love communicating. When I was in local church life I was preaching on average three times a week, now I am lucky (can I say that?) to preach three times a year!!! God dealt with me over that. I realise my pulpit hogging was so often the cork in the bottle for so many people. Even though I loved nothing more than giving others a go. Another thing I miss is a good rousing sing and ‘praise and worship’ time. Especially with a group who love nothing more than letting it all go in the Spirit and spontaneity. Singing in tongues, prophesying, praying, a great charismatic party!!! There are times I miss that. Although while I was at Greenbelt last year I was excited to see a ‘major’ worship leader there. Went along and the crowd got going, got into the swing, hands in the air etc. After 20 minutes I was so bored. Maybe I was not missing it as much as I thought.
Worship leaders are not Biblical
I have had this sort of love/hate relationship with contemporary and traditional worship for a long time now. I just came into the church as a 15 year old to witness the hymn book burning in my local Pentecostal church. The radical and revolutionary overhead projector was now at the front of the church. And even more incredible someone was allowed to play a guitar during worship. There were chorus’s that we could clap along to. It was all happy. What I find really funny though up until today is that even though the hymn books were burned no one dared touch the church organ!!! It had to sit unplayed in the front of the church forever and ever amen. At first the pastor or elders would still oversee or coordinate the worship, but overtime the guitar player was allowed to choose his own songs. This was the beginning of the slippery slope to having worship leaders. Professional unpaid leaders of our songs and meetings. Most had guitars, some played piano, and the church loved them.
Then came the charismatic conferences. Church people from hymn singing churches went along and were introduced for the first time to worship leaders that actually wrote their own songs. Graham Kendrick, Chris Bowater, Dave Bilborough, Dales and Wales Bible week. They wanted to take these songs home either to scare their hymn loving pastors or to introduce these ‘new’ songs. Tapes and vinyl were released at the conferences (remember them pop-pickers). The demand for worship music had begun. What is now a multi-million pound business operation had started rolling, and it would roll totally out of control.
As young people we loved the freedom of worship. They even gave space for spontaneity and prayer and spiritual gifts. But the years rolled by and this whole area became what it tried to replace. Traditional, predictable and controlled by a few individuals. Another position had been created and people love position. But nobody asked if it was Biblical, really. Where in the Bible does it mention a worship leader? Of course everyone would say David was the example, but even on closer inspection there I do not think he ever carried a title or position in worship. He just lived worship.
Who would have thought that something so seemingly freeing to many would actually become a trap to many more. What happened to the verses
each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. 1Cor 14:26
speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs Eph 5:19
Worship and gatherings that should have been carried by the whosoever was now carried by the few. Instead of coming together to contribute we became spectators, joining in with the worship leaders favourite songs. Fast ones followed by slow ones, a recipe for total success. We had now replaced a hymn prayer sandwich with a chorus roll, and neither were very nutritious. Very little room for contribution or spontaneity. Singing other people’s expression of love for God rather than our own. A song from Hillsongs has little to do with the expression here in the Valleys, but we sing-along anyway. Good tune, great music, so professional. Now we have versions of Darlene here in Wales, with choir in tow. There was a parody song called Everyone sounds like Coldplay now, in church it is everyone sounds like Matt Redman, where is the spontaneity? Where is the sound of where we are? Why are we so lazy in expressing our own worship?
Worship is journey
I have always loved the something new and different. I loved Chris Bowater when I first came across him. Such an amazing heart. I was challenged and blessed by Kevin Prosch as he burst into spontaneous worship with more instruments than at a Genesis concert. When delirious? sung Obsession I wept and God moved on my heart. It is amazing how God always seems to bless even when we are so far from where we should be. He cannot help himself. I have been in gatherings here in Wales of the wild and prophetic with the guys from Antioch, Llanelli and Sarah Trinder and Carl Hickling from Pontllanfraith. Have lapped up the minstrel that is Godfrey Birtell. But have longed for more or is it less? Less from the front and more from amongst. I once asked our musicians in Tonyrefail to not play for a few weeks and we worshipped together with no leader or props. Those times were amazing, unpredictable and so full of God. But it led to the musicians wanting out as I was not using them!!! Worship leaders? What is it all about anyway?
Worship is finding His worth in all things that surround us. I longed for God to raise up 24 hour houses of prayer and praise across Wales. I now realise that that is not a building or a place, it is us as believers, we are the houses, we are God’s house of prayer and praise in this land. Now I do not need the crowd to praise and worship because I strive to be a worshipper 24/7. I see God in the mountains and valleys of the Rhondda and I am in Awe. I see him in the rain and the snow and the sunshine. I see him in my kids as I watch them grow and play football. I see Him in my wife as she loves and forgives a silly old man like me. I see Him in films and in TV programmes. I hear Him in music all the time. I worship as I listen to bands like Sigur Ros, Efterklang, U2 and singers like Maria Mckee, Nick Cave and Johnny Cash. I worship and praise as I journey in all I see and hear. And sometimes you may catch me singing a chorus and blessing the Lord O My Soul.
True worshippers will worship in spirit and in truth.
Sunday worship made me a hypocrite. Singing stuff I never intended doing or expressing what someone else had felt. It was never the worship of our own hearts, or at least very rarely. No room for Him and no room for everyone to bring their gift. Now there is all the room of the world. The roof has been lifted off, the time restrictions are gone, no one is telling us what to sing. Now we can worship him in spirit and in truth. In honesty and integrity of our own heart before an amazing God. Does that mean we will not gather to sing hymns or worship? Of course not, we will gather but instead of the few leading us in worship, we will all come with our own offering and who knows what those times will look like or where they will go. It is time to stop worshipping worship and become the worshippers he always wanted us to be.