I've been leading worship for 25 years. My background of Christian music came from youth praise onwards. At the age of 16 I was trusted to lead worship; this has no set pattern; it was completely breaking new ground. The leadership at that time encouraged me in the songs I was writing.
People like Gerald Coates and John Noble imparted some important facts into me as a young worship leader... Learning the meaning of Grace; learning to enjoy God and the most important fact: God was on the move.
Remember Jeremiah and the wine skins. If wine is kept in the same wine skins for too long it starts to taste bad. It needs to be moved into new skins. God is always moving us on.
God wants to take you on in your skill, but also take you on as you are. He's more concerned about us than our skill. God wants us to grow alongside our ministry; we may go through mountains and valleys. Remember that things grow in valleys.
God wants our worship to be radical. In my church we use decks, video screens, percussion etc. but all this is an expression of what is appropriate to people. What is on the inside is important, the outside is much less important.
Jesus asked his disciples - "Who do you think I am?". The disciples gave theological answers. Jesus pressed them further as to what they meant and it was Peter who expressed who Jesus was. Peter, a man who often got things wrong.
Spike Milligan phoned one night from a dinner party to ask me about a CD of mine. "Are you an evangelical Christian?" he asked. "Yes." I replied. He then asked "Are you a vegetarian?", "No" I said, "then what about All hail the lamb?". Basically Spike had missed the point. He'd listened to the words but missed the point. God wants us to understand more of him. The grace of God linked to the understanding of worship and creativity. We then can express our uniqueness.
In Matthew 3 when Jesus was baptised the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit fell. We must understand that it's not what we create or do that's important. It is important that we're loved and cherished by God. Jesuss savoured the moment and remembered when things were difficult. God wants to affirm us.
If our ministry is growing then we must get sustenance from God. When we had subsidence in our house the insurance company were 98% sure that it was caused by tree roots outside our house. Our roots in God need to be so deep that they affect what is around us. RT Kendall told of a survey amongst church ministers which revealed that an average minister spends 4 minutes a day in prayer.
There are four stages to growth:
We need to know that we're totally accepted by God for who we actually are. As we discover who we really are there is a release in creativity.
Jesus sustained himself by going away with the disciples to pray and relax.
Jesus began to articulate who he was. He knew who is was. In Romans it talks about the battle with flesh and the new self. God is interested in the new self. Matt Redman for example; within 3 or 4 years launched into ministry. God prophesied a new man.
God doesn't call us to be successful, but fruitful. We need to give ourselves wholeheartedly.
Look after depth and God will look after breadth. We need to do the best with what God has given us now. As musicians we're to be servants of the Kingdom. God want's us to use our fruits and break into new styles. Not just percussion but also classical as well. Something new is happening in the classical realm.
Jazz musicians, who's definition is spontaneous and free, set a breakthrough there. God wants to release more of his prophetic in us because it will spill out into the world. Release of mime and music... it's what will be breaking in this generation. God wants to raise up a group of people that will communicate with the world.
Pat, my wife, has been doing lots of choral work with Christians. But she has also worked with non-Christians and this is touching many people. The Wades started as a local black gospel choir - we need to interface with the world. We have the opportunities to influence if only we'd look for them.
The Levites (creative people / musicians) left the city and camped outside. We must ensure that the creative people in our church are not excluded. We need that prophetic voice in the church, not being rejected by the church. Remember, God created all wacky things. In the deepest valleys under the sea, places that we cannot see... God's creation is still there. Just because we don't recognise something it doesn't mean that we cannot worship through it.