Last Saturday a small group from the church set off from Haywards Heath station, at the bleary-eyed time of 7.48am to catch the train to Luton. Upon arrival we hailed a taxi which took us to Stopsley Baptist church, which was hosting the ‘2013 Engage Worship Day’ a self styled event of inspiring, training up and resourcing.
Engage Worship is a fresh expression of MWF (Music and Worship Foundation) and it aims to resource local churches for creative, innovative and world-changing worship.
The day kicked off with some great worship and singing courtesy of Sam and Sara Hargreaves and the band. Sam and Sara head up Engage Worship and have written songs such as ‘Come, you thankful people come’ ‘Jesus, lead us to the Father’ and ‘Let us kneel at Calvary’. The variety of music and singing was reflected in the variety of people who attended; different ages, races and denominations all worshipping God together and coming to learn about exciting and creative ways to be using our skills to worship and praise God.
The morning’s programme included planning and leading services, band rehearsing, orchestral ideas, worship tech, art, vocals, PA techniques and guitar skills. While the afternoon sessions where done in the format of what Engage call ‘Count Me in’, this required everyone joining a group, whether that’s a percussive band, a Gospel-style choir, a scratch-orchestra, a group of artists or by expressing yourself through creative writing. The result that followed was an act of worship which incorporated each person’s own gifting into a unified service of praise. It was really great to see everyone working together using their skills to praise God. This expressed in a small way the kind of unity in worship I think we see in Acts chapter 2:
‘All the believers were together and had everything in common. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’
These five years were a vital stage in the spread of Christianity, and they have much to teach us:
v A key moment: as the Gospel reaches Europe for the first time, and so would eventually come to Britain and even Sussex!
v A key strategy: as Paul establishes bases in the major cities of Athens (the intellectual capital), in Corinth (the commercial capital) and Ephesus (the religious capital). From here the gospel would spread out into the surrounding areas.
v A key lesson: we’ll see the way in which Paul had to work out how the Gospel could cross cultural boundaries, reaching folk who knew little or nothing about the scriptures or what God had done for his people.
We too live at a time when many people know little of the background to the good news about Jesus, so these events will challenge us to think about how we can effectively share our faith and bring the Kingdom of God to a post-Christian generation. At Thessalonica Paul and his team were accused of ‘turning the world upside down’ (Acts 17.6); could that accusation be made against us, I wonder?
The sermons in our morning services this term follow on from what Ian Coffey spoke about at our Ashburnham Weekend last September. We join Paul (and his companions Silas, Timothy and Luke) as they cross over from Asia into Europe. We will be following them in their travels and work through Greece and Turkey. We share in the good times and the bad experiences they had. We will be covering Acts chapters 15 to 20; why not take the opportunity to read these chapters through, perhaps with an atlas to follow their route.