God’s Word is Powerful – Psalm 61

Bible 101, Life, Sola Panel

The birth of your first child is always momentous. For me, it was also scary. We were expecting twins, and the labour did not proceed well. Karyn was wheeled off for an emergency caesarean, with me running alongside. I was then left standing at the thick red line by the nurses’ station. And the door closed. (more…)

Review: Outreach and the Artist


Con Campbell is a man of diverse talents: he is a respected jazz musician, a world class New Testament scholar, and a gifted communicator. He was an artist before he was a Christian. All these things make him one of the best people I can think of to write a book on evangelism and the artist. (more…)

The role of singing in the life of the church


Now there are all sorts of reasons why Christianity is a singing faith; for the practice of making melody to the Lord, and of hymn singing in particular, has many purposes. My intention in this article is to focus specifically on congregational singing and to open up its three principal purposes. (more…)

TWIST Reaction 2

Everyday Ministry, Sola Panel

From all that he said, from what others have told me, and from my brief personal conversation with him, Bob Kauflin seems like a thoughtful, humble, godly man, who loves Jesus and the gospel, and is conservative and Calvinist in his theological convictions. My second reaction to the TWIST pastor’s conference was simply one of appreciation: the material that Bob Kauflin presented was insightful, well-delivered, and stimulating. (more…)

An unexpected TWIST

Life, Sola Panel

If you had told me 10 years ago when I was on the Board of Emu Music that in 2011 we’d be putting on a TWIST music conference for pastors and inviting the ‘Director of Worship Development’ from a major charismatic US church to be the keynote speaker… well I’d have been a little surprised, to say the least. (more…)

How sweet the sound


Not so long ago I was part of a church that regularly went and visited a local nursing home, and on occasion ran a church service in one of the lounge rooms. This was for the residents who were unable to get out and go to church on their own, or even accompanied. These occasional services consisted of a number of hymns, a short talk, some prayer, and afternoon tea. It was quite lovely, and there were a number of residents who obviously looked forward to it all month (we could only go every four weeks or so). (more…)

Hymn of the month

Everyday Ministry, Sola Panel


(Updated with correct link to ‘To God Be the Glory’ and link to Sandy’s post on ‘Amazing Grace’.)

Nothing gets a debate going like opinions on church music. But here’s an idea that’s found very little resistance at church; instead, it’s received lots of support: the hymn of the month.

The idea originally came from Covenant Life Church (founded by CJ Mahaney and now pastored by Josh Harris). Rather than relying just on contemporary songs, they saw value in hymns that have proven themselves over generations as true and powerful. They also saw memorizing hymns as one way to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col 3:16). They used a different hymn over 10 months, providing a brief background to each hymn and also making a recording of these hymns available for MP3 download on a free or “pay what you think it is worth basis”.


Why we don’t sing

Life, Sola Panel


Sandy, I am delighted of course that you are with me on so many things. And I hope you will also be pleased to know that I am with you completely on the goodness and value of singing. (In fact, the only thing I wouldn’t be with you on is the need for that ‘but’ at the beginning of your second paragraph. But let’s not quibble.)

As for why we don’t sing more or better, and in particular why your men aren’t singing, I think the Bible also points us to the answer.


When they won’t smile or even sing

Life, Sola Panel

Okay, Tony, I’m with you on not calling our singing the ‘worship time’. I’m with you on not even calling our church gathering the ‘worship service’. I’m with you on wanting to avoid mere emotionalism. In fact, I also know you believe the emotions (or better, the affections) matter.

But I believe singing is important.

I believe the Bible says it’s important.


Rightly handling the words

Everyday Ministry

Andrew Malone raises some pertinent questions about how we treat the words of congregational songs.

Song words used to be fixed in our hymnbooks or on overhead transparencies. If you wanted to modernize “Thou o’er death hast won” or paraphrase how God is “ineffably sublime”, you had to petition your denomination for a whole new publication. Today, everyone can publish whatever and whenever they like. We cut and paste lyrics into pew bulletins and, increasingly, into the latest data projection package.

With this shift into self-publishing, we seem to have decided that all lyrics are public domain. At least, where I come from, if you don’t like the theology of something, you simply change the offending word or phrase as easily as you might change its font or colour. We want to be a little bit Hillsong, but baulk at singing to “the darling of heaven”. We adore the popular triumphalism of ‘In Christ Alone’, but are hesitant to commend its theology that on the cross “Glory died”. We subtly cross the line from being a publisher to being a co-writer with the professionals.


10 ways to discourage your husband in ministry


Thank you to Carmelina and Karen for their excellent article ‘10 ways to discourage your husband in ministry’. Speaking in the negative gave so much more scope for explaining what encouragement looks like—and it also gave us a chance to laugh at ourselves. I appreciated it. Thank you! (more…)