Worship Team Culture - Alfred Nygren, Stockholm, Sweden

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This summer at New Wine, Alfred Nygren gave a brilliant talk on worship team culture. By kind permission of Alfred, we have produced the talk in note form here. Alfred is the Worship Pastor of City Church, Stockholm, and heads up the worship for New Wine Sweden. 

Love and Honour

More than anything we are family. We receive each other as a gift from God. 

We chose to commit to one another and to the church. It affects how we commit to practice, Sundays, and other gatherings. You are missed if your not there.

We build together. The way we speak and our attitudes are shaping the culture we get. We are intentional in how we build. 

Identity Restoration

We are a community where we view one another for who we are in Christ. Our Identity is not based on temporary failures but rather in the fact that Jesus has a plan and a purpose for our lives. 

That affects how we handle sin and failure. We support and restore. The failures are not our identity. 

It also affects how we confront sin. We refuse to see each other locked up in a prison we don’t belong in. We lead each other in to freedom. 

Relational Growth

We long for more and we journey together. We look for the gold in one another and we cheer each other on as we contend to see the kingdom come in our lives and our community. 

We are on a journey for more and its a journey done together. You play a significant role in the story of the Kingdom in our church and in our city.

We believe that we serve the church best when we do it with close friends that celebrate our victories and share our pain. 

Prayer and Worship

We cant lead people to a place where we have not been ourself. We win victories in the secret place and share it with the church.

The best thing you can do is to make Jesus your number one priority and passion and love. Letting him love and transform you is the best gift you can give to the church.  

We always long for things we have not seen yet. So we seek him alone and together because we know that the presence of Jesus changes everything 

Kingdom Reality

We refuse to settle with less of a dream than to see His Kingdom come. Therefore we cultivate a culture that reminds us of our need to be led and empowered by the Spirit. 

Worship is more than songs we sing. Its a meeting point between heaven and earth that has consequences among us. We always go after more. More healing, more deliverance, more salvations. More of the manifested presence of King Jesus.

Missional Living

Our worship is our response to the goodness, grace and beauty of Jesus. But when the person searching for hope enters the room its our privilege to lead them to Christ. 

We practice, pray and fine tune with the purpose of helping people encounter Jesus. If we loose our heart for the lost we have moved away from part of our purpose. We serve for the glory of God and for the salvation of the lost. 

We nourish our love for the broken, the hurting, the lost and we make it our great joy to introduce them to King Jesus.

Servanthood Leadership

Its not about us. We serve the church. Facilitate encounter. Lead people to Jesus. Its our privilege to see Jesus move amongst us. 

We are parts of a body, a family. You play a significant role even on Sunday when you don’t lead from the stage. We support each other. Worshiping our hearts out to glorify Jesus and pave a way for others breakthrough.

Our constant prayer is: God give us hearts that love your church and that long for more. 

 

 

Where is Yahweh?

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When Solomon’s Temple had been completed, the presence of God entered the building and the Israelites bowed down/worshipped (1 Kings 8);

so...

in their rhythms of life, Israelites would go regularly to the Temple, into God’s presence, and bow down/worship (Psalm 95);

Then Yahweh left the Temple (Exodus 10).

But then the wise men realised Yahweh was back and asked.....

Where is the king (Jesus/Temple) that we may go and worship/bow down to him (Matthew 2)

And then later......

Jesus told the Samaritan woman that people would no longer need to go to the Temple to bow down/worship (John 4);

which is why....

Mary the prostitute came into the presence of Jesus/Temple and bowed down/worshipped (John11) ;

and eventually.....

the disciples drew near to Jesus/Temple and bowed down/worshipped in his presence (Matthew 28);

but then....

Jesus had said that he would rebuild the Temple within three days (Mark 14);

which explains why after pentecost....

people came amongst the People/Church/Temple and bowed down/worshipped and declared  ‘God is here’ (1 Corinthians 14)

……...............

Worship revolves around the presence of God, not the other way around.

Answering the question ‘where is Yahweh?’ is the starting point to our understanding of worship throughout scripture. 

When we understand WHERE GOD IS in the texts we read, suddenly EVERYTHING STARTS TO MAKES SENCE.

God is here and we are loved. Jesus has done it.

When the 'One Day' became the 'Every Day'

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A couple of years ago I sat in this spot, looked at the big building down the road, and imagined what it must be like for an Israelite, looking towards Solomon's Temple, and know that Yahweh literally dwelt there.

The sense of anticipation that every few months I would get to go in. The thirsting for communion with Yahweh that would be enjoyed in worship when I got there. The giving of sacrifices that would enable my relationship with Yahweh to be consummated. The 'one day' that would be better than the many days I spent outside, sat here, looking at the building down the road.

And then the day would arrive. And as we journeyed to the Temple we would get to sing the songs that our forefathers sang as they had journeyed there in times gone by. And we would get close...oh so close...to Yahweh himself...and when we got there we would fall on our knees, and sing some more songs that Kings and Priests had written that allowed them, and now us, to attend to God's presence in the Temple. And then we would leave - the building and His presence and the priests that had facilitated it all - refreshed and forgiven and ready for life.

There would have been a frustration too. That the rest of our days would be spent knowing that God was with us, but hidden from us. That the rest of the year would be marked by a sense of absence rather than presence. And that even on those days we got to go there, we still only got so far.... we never got to get as close as the priests, let alone the High Priest.

If we are not careful, we, as the NT church, can still frame worship in the same way as the Israelites. God is assumed to be distant, only accessible in certain places and at certain times, or through certain gifted people or anointed songs, that we can only get 'so far' into his presence without those people, those songs, that building, that conference. Yet when we do this, we have underestimated all that Jesus has achieved for us. We have collapsed all that Jesus has done for us back in to a time, a place, a song, an experience, a day. We pull back from the wide open spaces that His work has won for us.

We forget that in Jesus, the 'there' has become 'here', the 'them' has become 'us', the 'absence' has become 'presence': the 'one day' has become the 'every day'.

We are the New Temple. He is here. We are loved. Jesus has done it.

Where are they now? - Susie Woodbridge (aka Zanna)

This is the first in a number of posts celebrating the faithfulness of some of the people I have had the good fortune to stand alongside and cheer on over the years: a way of rejoicing in the success of others, and of encouraging still others to go with their dreams.

In this post, we catch up with Susie Woodbridge, a familiar name for those of us who have been connected with New Wine in recent years, not only with Susie's worship leading, but with her contribution to the songs we are singing - in particular the song "Spirit Fall".

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Where do you live at the moment, why do you love being there, and what are you up to?

Currently, I live in Los Angeles. I've been volunteering as the director of worship at a church plant (Bread LA) for just under two years, and helping out with pretty much anything else that's needed - classic church plant life.

I love LA, and not just for the sun! It's a city that promises many opportunities to those who make their way here - which also means it's inundated with people searching for something bigger, better, shinier. Overall, one of the things I've mostly loved is encouraging authenticity and honesty in myself and anyone I've met here, because it's hard to come by. 

How did your first release come about? What other recordings have you been involved with?

I became part of the New Wine Worship band when I was 19, and so was naturally involved in summer conference recordings, songwriting retreats and album releases every year until I moved here. That's also how I met Bubba McCarthy and Willie Weeks who co-wrote and produced my Zanna EP 'On Repeat' with me - who are working with amazing artists now, including John Newman and Matt Redman (respectively). They're flipping awesome guys. 

Tell us a little bit about your journey and a worship leader, musician, singer and songwriter. Who have been your main influences?

I've been leading worship and writing songs for over 10 years now, and I've had a lot of experienced people in both the Christian and mainstream contexts encourage me every step of the way. During that time I've led worship in London and in the US, attended songwriting retreats with New Wine and Integrity, worked for Warner Music UK, and been in studio sessions with Universal Music. 

If you take opportunities, more opportunities arise. My influences are pretty diverse; I listen to a lot of United Pursuit, and at the same time, Kendrick Lamar? Maybe all of that influences how I write; if so I'm okay with it. 

What are you hoping that your songs and recordings will contribute to people who listen to them.

I want to write songs that people connect with - whether that is a worship song that enables someone to have an experience of God, or whether it's a non-worship song that taps into a normal human emotion. I feel like every songwriter wants that.

How do you keep yourself sharp creatively?

A couple of things: I think it's good to listen to a variety of different music, so you don't get stuck in a rut stylistically; to stay away from social media when you're trying to write, because social media kills creativity (drastic but true, dm me for details); to engage with your emotions so you can write something honest and real; and to go for it - push the boundaries, write an unexpected melody, write a lyric that's not been written - it doesn't matter if it's weird. 

What would you say are your biggest dreams at the moment? Where do you hope to be in 10 years time and what do you want to be doing.

Songwriting is the thing that gives me the most life, whether it's for myself or for other artists! I'm connected with a lot of producers and writers in LA, and approaching some new things with management over here, and would love to use these gifts to the greatest of my ability.

As for 10 years, I'm open to pretty much whatever God has for me. He's the best at that stuff.

The Shekinah-Spirit and Worship

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Songs don’t bring the glory down, they sing the glory back

The Spirit within the Church has taken the place of the Shekinah within the Temple. When we have such a theology of the renewed Temple we are observing the foundation of all that might be said about...worship.

- NT Wright

The challenge we face as a contemporary worship movement isn't that we will find the 'new sound' or the 'next thing' in worship, but that we will fail to appreciate just how much Jesus' cross (death, resurrection, ascension) has actually already achieved for us and the church.

God is present by His Spirit, in glory, in us, with us. Because of Jesus.

And if our starting point is that God is here and we are loved, then our whole posture in worship changes and our striving ceases. Celebrity is replaced by community and stage presence is replaced by 'here-with-us' presence. The glory of leaders fades in comparison of the glory of God in our fellow worshippers' "unveiled faces".

Songs don't bring the glory down but sing the glory back - to God and his people and the world we live in. The Shekinah doesn't signal his approval of our worship by "turning up" when we sing the right songs in the right way. He is here already, closer than we think, in-us-with-us inspiring our worship from the start. The God-with-us Spirit-Shekinah is both the initiator and recipient of our worship.

Worship revolves around the presence of God, not the other way around. Just as in the Temple, so in the Church, where two or three are gathered, He is here. Moses stepped into the cloud. Now the cloud has stepped into us. This is our inheritance, our gift, our birthright, the reason we now have to worship.

God is Here and We Are Loved

Be still. Stop striving. Let go. Relax. Stop trying to impress.
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Activity can so often be the enemy of worship.

We all know that over active lives mean that times of worship are squeezed out, even by noble work and serving our community.

Yet maybe the activity OF worship can be equally unhelpful. Where we feel we need to strive. Ramp it up. Increase production levels. Fight our way into the presence of God. Impress him with our energy and enthusiasm in a way that means he can’t help but “show up”.

No wonder so many worship leaders end up tired, exhausted, burnt out. No wonder so many worshippers become disillusioned by singing.

But what if there was a different starting point?

What if God was already here, and we were already loved, and that he doesn’t need impressing, and we don’t need to battle our way in?

How would that change the health of our worship and the health of our worship leaders?

Be still. Stop striving. Let go. Relax. Stop trying to impress.

God is here.

We are loved.