Resources for Worship Leaders

I just want to flag up a brilliant website for all those that lead sung worship in church or CU, write lyrics, in a worship band or love sung worship in church. This website was created by Olly Knight who was a staff worker with UCCF and he regularly leads sung worship at UCCF Forum and his Newfrontiers church in Canterbury.

Check out his website here: http://www.worshipjesus.co.uk

And the resource page is brilliant with lots on the theology of worship, how to write lyrics and how to lead worship.

I really love singing the songs he writes because they are very trinitarian and soaked in the Gospel! This is worth checking out.

Here is a video with more info:

Introverts at a Conference

NWA1Something I learnt when I became a Christian was that Christians like to go away into the middle of nowhere, spend most hours of the day with people who they may or may not know, sit in meetings together, sing songs together and share rooms together and all this fueled by coffee and cake with not a bit of vitamin C in sight. It seems a bit odd at first glance.

However from my experience conferences are fun and exciting. Especially when you get to hang out with your friends, hear brilliant teaching and share in fellowship with brothers and sisters all around the world.

But for the introvert, conferences can cause a slight flutter of nerves and sweaty palms. The idea of spending a week or more surrounded by people for most the day or sitting in large meetings can be overwhelming. And I often feel like that.

Part of my job is to go to a lot of conferences. So I had to find a way to cope with them so that I wouldn’t shrivel up inside and retreat to my “happy place” every time I am in a social situation where I have to talk “small talk”. So here is my personal mini-guide on how an introvert can survive a conference:

1. Pray – I get quite anxious before a conference and I try to think up 100 diseases I could catch so that I would have a good excuse not to go. So I have to cling on to the verse that I need to cast all my anxieties on to him because he cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). The Lord does care for me and he doesn’t want me to worry about this conference, so a good pray and then several thousand repeated prayers because I am dull of heart, tends to help.

2. Don’t Expect to Speak to Everyone – Having conversations with everyone will tire you out, so don’t place those expectations on yourself. You will have someone on stage saying that you need to make sure you are sociable and speak to everyone. But that may look different for you – you don’t have to be a social butterfly, going from one conversation to another with a flap of your wings. You may find you have a couple of close friends you stick to throughout the week and then a couple of others outside your friendship group that you invest in from time to time. And that is OK. Those relationships will be more meaningful. I have found that through this approach I have deepened a lot of my friendships at work.

3. Take Time Out – Rest. Don’t go to everything. If you need time out and itnextleaders means missing a talk or going to bed early, than do it. And don’t feel guilty about it. At a conference I sometimes feel like I am back at school with my pleated skirt and oversized blazer and I have to go to every lesson for the fear of being told off. A conference is not school. We are now adults. We don’t have to go to everything. We can choose what we go to. And praise the Lord I don’t have to wear that blazer anymore!

4. Rejoice in our Extroverted Friends – Praise the Lord for our extroverted friends. You see them going from one person to another, creating connections, being influential having streams of conversations. Praise the Lord that they are different to you. Don’t be jealous. They are just different to you and you are making connections in different ways to them.

5. Rest Afterwards – Thankfully I get time off in lieu for being at a conference. After a conference I often feel exhausted and drained so if you can rest afterwards then do! Don’t feel guilty having time out and away from people after a conference.

6. Go out of your Comfort Place – Being an introvert is not excuse to hide away for all of the conference and not speak to anyone! It’s not an excuse to not make any connections with people or make an effort. We need to push out of our comfort zone – meet new people, make conversation even if its hard, create connections and be interested in people. Chances are you will meet people from all different walks of life, with various struggles, cultures and ideas. They are exciting to get to know.

So there you go, a small list of how I survive a conference as an introvert. Please do add any of your own advice in my comments as I am always interested to learn in this area.

Stewarding, Strife and Smiles

stewardingSpending a week stewarding was a rather interesting experience. Armed with hi-vis jackets, smiles and hand waving gestures to move people into their seats proved to bring out the best and worst in people.

It was an interesting exercise in watching how people react when you tell them what to do or where to sit.

You think that being at a Christian conference everything should be sweet and fluffy like marshmallows with cinnamon sprinkled on top. But our hearts are deceptive. And the sinful nature wages war in our souls.

When our comfort and desires are threatened by a first world problem of sitting in a seat that wasn’t our first choice it can cause great sparks and grumbling. Annoyance flares up and as a steward trying to help people get to their seats it was somewhat disheartening to see people angry at you because they are not sitting in the seat of their choosing. (However there were some with good reasons to want to sit somewhere else: bad neck, back etc)

But I am no innocent party here. My heart began dripping with frustration as people ignored and muttered as they filed into their seats. It was hard not to get angry and not to shout.

I noticed how I wanted control and was annoyed when people didn’t listen. As I reflect on this now i’ve observed that our hearts love comfort and control.

We like to be comfortably in control and in control of our comfort.

Anything that threatens this brings out a nasty side of us. It’s heart issue, deep down we want our own way, we want our comfort and we will do our utmost to preserve these two things because we love ourselves.

There were other people who were a delight. Smiles and nods. Going where they were asked without a problem. They were easier to love. They were a joy to serve.

Again my heart deceives me. It’s easy to love the lovable. It’s easy to serve the joyful ones. It was harder to love the grumblers and mumbles. It was harder to smile at the frowns and frustrations. Isn’t that true of life? We place people on a scale of how worthy they are to be served and loved? If they are low on that scale then we scorn and our serving is sour at best and extinct at worst. But if they are charming and pleasant then we will bend over backwards because they are deserving.

Jesus calls us to love our enemies. But these people aren’t my enemies. They are brothers and sisters and yet I have placed them on a scale of how deserving they are of my love and service. The heart is a crooked device!

It is odd that such a first world problem of where people sit could bring about these reflections. Because in reality who cares where you sit? In the grand scheme of life and eternity it doesn’t matter whether someone got the seat they wanted or whether they sat in the seat I told them to. It is just curious that our and most certainly my heart should react in these strange ways.

I am so glad that Jesus has a pure heart and loved the despised and unlovely. He loved his enemies and all those undeserving. He did not hold on to his comfort but gladly gave it up.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8, ESV)

6 Questions for Christian Leaders

communityRecently I have been thinking about what it means to be a good leader. There are many good books about leadership, lots about vision and authority. We need those books to motivate us. But I was thinking the other day about the weak things of leadership that God works through, the humble things, the things that people don’t always see. I have been thinking about my time as a leader in doing student work and I have gathered some of my thoughts together onto this blog post. I am going to ask 6 questions. Mostly asking 6 questions of myself, but I hope it will help you too.

1. Are you on your knees in prayer?

Leaders who don’t think they need to pray are probably not leading well. When I don’t pray I know I am not leading well and I am consumed with the worries of the world.

Prayer is the Christians vital breath. If you are a leader of CU or small group then the best place you can be is daily on your knees in prayer. Pray for your committee, for the CU, for your small group, for your church and for yourself. When you feel discouraged, sad, unmotivated then come and prayer to our Father who knows we are weary and can fill us with His Spirit. Come to the throne room of God and seek the Father through His Son, come and enjoy Him, come and cast your anxieties on him, come and rejoice when things are going well, come and weep into his bosom when things are hard. As a leader why would you not settle your gaze on Christ through prayer? There is no better place to be. You don’t always have to pray on your own, although its good for your soul if you do spend some time doing that. But prayer in community is encouraging. So come and bid for others to join you.

2. Do you weep for the lost and the broken?

I was astounded when looking at Acts 20:17-38 about how much Paul cries. Paul is filled with tears, tears through sharing the Gospel, tears through correcting others, tears over other Christians and churches. Paul weeps. As leaders we can be full of tears. As leaders we can weep over the lost and the broken. A few times I have seen an elder in my church stand up and through tears he speaks about the Gospel or speaks about the lost. Its powerful. It shows great sincerity and shows what you care for from the heart. Are you a leader that weeps for the lost? Imagine if you stood up in front of your friends and had tears in your eyes because your coursemates don’t know Jesus. Or because your friend is suffering. I want to be a leader who isn’t afraid to cry.

3. Do you admit you are weak?

Most the time as leaders we think we have to be strong all the time. We feel like we have to live up to expectations that are just not realistic and if we carry on with this superman approach we will just burn out. Leaders need to admit their weak, they need to admit that they get weary and they need rest. When as leaders we admit that we are weak then we will rely on God more, we will allow him to minister to our hearts, we will come to him in humbleness and weakness, we will be far more patient with those around us who are weak also. Remember Moses was weak and the Lord used him. Don’t be afraid to show your weakness or that you are dependant. The world tells us that we should be individual, but we know that as Christians we are utterly dependant on Jesus and on each other (the church).

4. Do you tell the Gospel to yourself daily?

Whats the first thing we mreading-bibleust do with the Gospel? Believe it. Daily we need to minister the Gospel to ourselves. We have to get into scripture and read about Jesus. We are a forgetful people and it’s the reminder of what Jesus has done for us and who we are in Christ that will warm and remind our hearts again. Do you tell yourself the good news of Jesus Christ everyday? Do you joyfully seek read the scriptures and drink deeply from the well of God? When the devil tells you lies, do you tell yourself the truth? You need to. As a leader you need to tell the Gospel to yourself.

5. Do you have a friend telling you the Gospel daily?

Church community is so important. We need to tell each other the Gospel daily. As a leader you will spend most your time pouring out all you have and its easy to get proud or discouraged. So you need to have other Christians telling you about Jesus. Do you have friends pointing you to the cross? You need them. You need honest friends who won’t be afraid to rebuke you and then minister the balm of the Gospel to your wounds. Do you have a friend telling you the Gospel daily? I have a group of friends that do this and I need them to do that for my sanity and growth in Jesus. Find friends who wont flatter you, but will be honest and speak of Christ to you.

6. Do you care about numbers or people?

It’s tempting to mark your success by numbers. I get sucked into this often. If your success is based on the number of people coming to events or the number of people who you have shared the Gospel with then you will be discouraged quickly. Let your ministry not be about numbers. Let it be about people. Who cares how many people came to an event? Lets work with who came and minister to them. Lets love people not numbers. Your ministry will be more enjoyable.

Those are just some of my thoughts. I know there are probably lots more and there are loads I have missed out on. But these are the things I have been thinking about. I would love to hear what you think and any more questions you would add to this!

Winning Hearts for Christ

heartbeatI woke up this morning with a cold heart. Post mission week blues. I couldn’t bring myself to do much and so I put on some talks because a friend (Emily) said I should listen to this guy John Hindley. After listening to two of the talks I found my heart warmed again as he spoke about Christ. He not only reminded my of the love of Christ but that Christ is The Truth and sin is a result of not loving Jesus.

So if you are feeling weary, cold, distant and rubbish. Come and listen to these talks. Just listen and allow your heart to be won to Christ again.

Winning hearts to Christ Part 1a and 1b

Part 2 – The truth is a person

Part 3 – Preaching to the heart

Part 4 – Beauty wins the heart