Sunday, September 24, 2006

more on 'out there'

I was asked a great Q today that I thought might be helpful for you to have a look at too. Here is the comment...

'Would love to know more about how you guys go about doing this. Are you training your people in how to talk/pray with people? Are you just walking up to people and asking them while they are shopping and etc? Or is there a part of town where there's a high contingency of people living on the "streets" that are more open to prayer. Just wondering how that might play out here in the States...I live in the middle of suburbia where you're lucky to get eye contact from people passing by!'

Our town doesn't have the 'obvious' poor - there's no one living on the streets for example - but there are definitely people really struggling!!

So, it's into this context that we started doing healing on the streets every week almost two years ago. There is an area of town that is just outside the town hall - it's called the 'Diamond', and it's just an open space surrounded by shops. The team simply goes there, sets up 6 chairs in a row, and puts up a banner with the word healing on it. There's a small PA system that we use to tell stories of how God has already healed people, and some of the conditions they've been healed from. Then the guys on the team invite anyone who is sick to come and take a seat where they'll be prayed for. Other members of the team stand around the edges handing out leaflets that explain what we're doing, and give details of the church. It's amazing to watch pretty reserved people come and take a seat. It's even more amazing to watch their faces as they get healed!!!

We do train the team members in praying for the sick, and following it through - we never like to claim someone's been healed until they have it verified for example - because we live in a small town (there are only 25k in Coleraine), people do tend to come back and let us know how they are a week or more after they've been prayed for... they also come back to get more prayer if they've not been healed too.

If you'd like to hear some of the stories, why not check out:'s a website that we've just set up to share some of what's happening on the streets. It's incredible what God has been doing - and it's wonderful to see people get healed, and some of them come to know Jesus too! It's life changing!!!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

out there

Today a bunch of people from our church are heading down South to Sligo. They are going to pray for the sick on the streets of the town - the same as we do every Saturday right here in Coleraine.

I still can hardly believe how many people get healed on the streets - it has really strengthened the conviction in me, that this is part of what Jesus meant when he gave us the great commission, and yet somewhere along the line, we brought it back inside the church, waiting for the lost to come to us.

I was thinking about the scripture where Jesus said the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few - I remember praying for years that God would send revival (I still long for that), but I honestly thought that 'they' would come to us, when all along Jesus was saying for US to go to them.

As we continue to pray for people to encounter God right where they are - doing their shopping, or out for a coffee - we're finding that God is already very much at work out there. Reaping the harvest just requires going into the field and rolling up our slieves - how exciting is that?!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

LEADING WORSHIP: putting an arrangement together

It's been a while since I wrote about leading worship - so I thought this might be helpful.

I think that arranging a song is one of the most exciting things about leading worship (apart from actually getting to see people express their hearts to God!) The reason is, that you can take a song that people have heard a hundred times before, and breath new life into it, just by the way you play it. It's also one of the most daunting things too - because where do you begin?

Here are some thoughts that might help you get started on the road of creativity again....

When I choose a song, I play it over a few times by myself. I'm trying to find hooky rifs that I can play on the piano that might freshen it up a little, and I'm looking for a 'feel' or 'vibe' that might suit it. Then I take it to the band and say very roughly what I'm looking for - sometimes, I just don't know until we start to play it together.

As a band, we play it through a couple of times, and each time through, I'll be telling the guys individually what I'm liking (maybe the bass player has hit on a great line, or I love what the drummer is doing in a certain place), and we build from there. Once we've got the general idea, we start thinking about 'shape' - in other words, the layout of the song as we are going to play it - where we are putting the verses, where we'll sing choruses, and how many etc... and we write down a rough guide, or 'road map' down the side of the chord sheet so that we don't forget. It also means that we can start thinking through 'light and shade', the dynamics of how we are going to play, and then write it in on our road map too... (it's amazing how many things you forget unless you write them down :)

Some things to watch out for are, be careful not to overplay - it can sound pretty messy if everyone plays everything from the beginning to the end of a song. Maybe you could come in at different parts of the song (the bass coming in on the pre chorus for example, with the hi-hat during the chorus, and then full drums in verse 2) - or, if it's a really big song, everyone coming in at the beginning, and then cutting right back for the first verse. There are so many ways to do things. My advice is to listen to songs you really love, and try and think about how they have been recorded - where do instruments play, how do they play, when do they drop out... The other thing - especially in leading worship - is to remember that the arrangement must serve the song - if it's too creative, the congregation might just miss the reason why you've put all the work in - they might get totally distracted by the band, and forget that it's all about reconnection with God.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

SONGWRITING: don't quit just yet

I just finished a teaching day on songwriting. I love teaching about writing - it's wonderful to see people really catch that they can do it too!!!

It reminded me again how important it is to keep going with a song (and with writing in general) even when things are not quite working out.

There's a song I've been working on - on and off - for the last five years. I started it when Sophie was just a baby, and only ever got the first verse. At various times I've picked it up again and tried a new idea to see if I can take it forward.

Just yesterday I thought I'd have another go. For the first time in all those years I had a completely different idea and wrote a pre chorus for it and a chorus. Whilst I haven't finished the lyrics yet, it is THE most wonderful feeling to have finally found what I was looking for in this song. I just wanted to encourage you too - don't worry how long it takes - the finished song is still waiting for you to find it... keep going just a little longer - you might be surprised how close it is!

Monday, September 11, 2006

a little plug for UNPLUGGED ;)

It's coming up to our third day of training for small group worship leaders - Saturday 16th in Porstewart Presbyterian Church Halls. As it is drawing so near, I thought I'd do a shameless plug!!

If you live anywhere near enough to come, and you think you might be interested - why not call +44 (0) 28 70 833335 (the offices of the Causeway Coast Vineyard), and book in.

It only costs £10 for the day, and includes lunch and a full set of notes from the day.

This time around we are spending the day looking at song writing. There will be two teaching sessions in the morning, and then you'll have the opportunity to play a song and have it critiqued - a lot less painful than it sounds (hopefully :)

I'd love to see you there!!!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

just a thought

I had a thought this morning that I wanted to share. I was thinking about the lonely road of leadership - John Wimber used to say that volunteering to lead was like volunteering to be ugly! - thankfully it's only true sometimes :)

Sometimes the expectations of others can really throw us off track - whether we find ourselves in leadership or not!! The truth is that if we are going to follow the Lord with all our hearts, we have to learn to 'appropriately disappoint' people - and it's usually other Christians. It feels horrible. But the deal is this - God has captured our hearts to carry out the mission He has given us while we are on the earth. We have got to be single minded in this, and we've got to do it to the very best of the ability we've been given - not running rough shod over those around us, but not allowing ourselves to be knocked off course when we encounter criticism. Being understood doesn't always come with the territory.

I long, just like you, to hear the words 'well done' on my first day of eternity - so I'm going to try and run the race with my eye on the prize.