Just got back from Belfast. Deb, Joe and I travelled over at 7am for a Vineyard Churches regional day. There was some great teaching from Trent Vineyard's pastors, John and Debbie Wright. And the chance to catch up with some friends. As the flight is only 30 minutes, we flew back afterwards and were home by 8pm.
Yesterday I drove down to Sheffield (about 300 miles) to see Springsteen and the Seeger sessions band. As I was going alone and driving straight back after the gig, it was about as close as I get to a personal retreat. I really love going off on long drives, and boy did it do me some good. Here's how it went.
4.5 hours driving through rain, roadworks and scenery (same again back) 1 hour sitting in traffic near the venue 30 frantic minutes trying to find an inch of spare concrete to park on, ended up having to "improvise" a new space. Well figured that after driving for so long there was no way I was missing this. An inspiring 2 and a half hours followed watching an 18 strong band have fun, work with a passionate and excited audience in a natural and non contrived way. Then during the acoustic section whilst Bruce sang, "The River" and "Devil's and Dust" realising that the passage from Acts about God pouring His Spirit out on "all flesh" was true, and some of the most anointed worship leaders aren't actually in the church, or even Christians. There are guys out there who have "something" as the world would call it but just don't know what "it" is. If you disgree theologically with what I just stated then read the passage again about "ALL flesh" , just some don't know what they got or use it for the wrong things.
Warning: opinion ahead..before you jump to conclusions, those of you that don't know me very well, understand that none of this is judgemental or proud, just opinion.
Anyway I'm refreshed, reinvigorated and a little chagrined. Why the last word? Well as I stood there last night while Bruce sang, "The River" I watched 12000 people being lead in a passionate, authentic emotional connection. Then, he sang about unemployment and the loss in industry in "Youngtown", dedicating it to the people of Sheffield, mentioning the steel industry, he spoke straight into the heart of the pain and loss of that city. Anyone with a "spritual antenna" could feel this. Besides what was going on a the gig I think that God is all over Sheffield as a city, I felt it as I drove in and out.
Now why am I saying this? It suddenly struck me that in an effort to fit the mould, or a trend or the latest thinking. Us worship leaders can become stale and sanitised. Although I'm against "cheerleading" and slick performance in worship times I think some of us (me included) need some freeing up to be passionate and gritty and authentic again. We should be leading the world in this stuff not just changing the lyrics and churning out a pale imitation. I think if worship is a lifestyle (which it is) then those of us who were wired to be musicians need to stop being afraid of expressing our God given gifts. If we're being authentic then it WILL be accessible, sometimes I wonder if we insult the intelligence of the congregation. Last night I saw extended, simple songs, banjo solos, phat sax and tuba solos, ad lib singing etc., and not once did the audience "lose track" or disengage. It's all about the heart after all, so I'm making a commitment to being authentic to who God made me to be rather than what I think the rest of the church expects of me. I think I'll serve better that way, and I'll be more effective. So, who's with me.....
It's been a while since I posted, lots going on. Deb is now back at work 3 days a week, so that means I'm looking after Joe during the day then doing some guitar lessons in the evening. I'm at a real crossroads career wise at the moment, really because I need to be around for Joe and I need to free up the evenings and weekends for church stuff. With that in mind I'm winding down the teaching and going online. I used to be a graphic designer, and my degree consisted of video production, performance art and photography. It's about time I used these skills and my old ambition to write (I used to want to be a journalist). In the next few weeks I'll be developing a subscription based guitar tuition site, with articles, videos and podcasts. I'll let you know how that goes. I'm also trying to set up some "School of Rock" style workshops in primary schools, should be fun.