Developing Accountable Relationships
Below is a list of statements which can be used when we come together to develop our accountable relationships. How we use the list can vary. We could go down one statement at a time and see what comes up and pray into each area. Alternatively we might read the whole list and pray about the one statement through which God is ringing a loud bell here and now.
Each member of the group speaks while the rest listen. In listening we are listening not only to the person but also for what we believe God is saying. We then pray for this individual out of what we hear.
'Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.' Psalm 139:23-24.
Do I make enough space for prayer?
Do I pursue intimacy with Jesus?
Do I keep my perspective?
Do I still have a passion for Jesus?
Do I have a vision for my life?
Do I still feel pleasure?
Do I study the Bible for me?
Do I have a vision for my church/group?
Am I seeking evidence of God's power in my life/ministry?
Do I model what I teach?
Am I teachable and accountable?
Am I available and approachable?
Do I listen well?
Do I make myself vulnerable to others?
Am I leading with a servant heart?
Do I keep my promises?
Do I give in to pressure?
Is the quality of spiritual life in my church/group growing?
Is my family happy?
Am I taking enough rest?
Am I sleeping properly?
Do I manage money well?
Am I eating properly? Am I mentoring my leaders?
Am I dying to success?
Am I dying to anger?
Do I love the flock?
Am I ministering grace?
Am I keeping my cutting edge?
Am I walking with integrity?
Am I moving in the power of the Spirit?
Do I manage my time well?
Am I decisive and confident?
Am I making/maintaining relationships with non-Christians?
Am I willing to take risks?
Am I willing to make sacrifices?
Do I preach for a response?
Do I practice hospitality?
Is my church/group growing in numbers?
How is my health?
Anointing in the public place
Developing this principle of the presence of God drawing people to himself we can look to worship in public places rather than in church. Once we are able to discern anointing in our church worship it is then possible to learn how to have anointed worship using either secular songs or instrumentals as well as Christian songs. I believe God will raise up worshippers who will be able to take anointed worship into the public arena of bars, the music charts and on the streets. Because the content of these songs does not get in the way, those outside of church will be caught up in the presence of God while listening to what they perceive to be music.
An example of Christian music being used in a public setting is when the Welsh Rugby Union team play a home game in Cardiff. On these occasions the crowd invariably sing 'Guide me O thou great Jehova.' This may be a throw back to the Welsh revivals at the turn of the last century, but I believe that there is something more profound happening here than hearty singing. Somehow I believe the people are, to a greater or lesser extent, getting caught up in the presence of God.
In terms of music which is not overtly Christian being used in public in a sense the possibilities are endless. Personally I have heard of the song 'Stand by me' being sung at a karaoke event where the presence of God filled a bar!
Whatever the context I do believe God is calling some people to this kind of ministry, to spread the fragrance of Christ outside of the churches, through worship, whether this is in public performance or within the music industry itself. This is about us being salt and light in the communities in which we live and moving towards the people instead of asking them to come to us in church.
Anointed worship enables us to Lament
Again I believe that part of worship being evangelistic is for us to engage in grievous questioning or lament.
U2 have written a version of Psalm 40 which they simply call '40. 1 The chorus has the line 'how long to sing this song?' echoing the heart cry of the Psalm of lament. At the 'Live Aid' concert at Wembley in 1985 the crowd there were singing '40' long before U2 went on stage. The following year at the Nelson Mandela birthday concert in Wembley the crowd were singing '40,' and U2 were not even playing. However, this song had become something of an anthem at both concerts because the people were able to express their heart cry for justice in the face of gross injustice, in the words of a psalm. The people made in the image of their creator, with a sense of eternity in their hearts, were in touch with the pain in the heart of God as well as their own pain, because of the injustice of famine and apartheid respectively. They were able to express this in the words of a lament which came from God himself!
It is worth noting at this point that in charismatic circles, the lament is notable for its absence. The Anglican Lectionary too tends to miss the Psalms of lament, except during Lent. Yet roughly one third of the Psalms are laments, and while people like the Iona Community have written material which is helpful in this area, we rarely hear laments in services which come from the Charismatic or Evangelical traditions. This can cause us to lead the people in worship which they cannot own. A lack of lament may produce in the Christian church, a sense of denial. It also means that when we sing songs of praise to God we may inadvertently focus on the insider rather than the outsider. Non-Christians do not usually praise God. However, they do lament. They live in a broken world and are often more aware of the pain in that world, than those in the church. By worshipping in a way that excludes the outsider we can be in danger of excluding the seeking stranger like the Jews trading in the temple courts of the Gentiles.
In the music group style of worship, laments tend to work better when they are written in a minor key. 'We have sung our songs of victory' 2 by Stuart Townend being a good example of this. 'Who can sound the depths of Sorrow,' 3 by Graham Kendrick, though not in a minor key, does use some helpful chord sequences which aid lament. The Iona Community and Taize have also produced material which is useful in this area. I believe that laments can be used at any place on the worship journey.
1 U2, Live 'Under a blood red sky', Island Records, 1983, Track 8.
2 Stuart Townend. We have sung our songs of victory. (How long) Kingsway Thankyou Music. 1997.
3 Graham Kendrick. Who can sound the depths of sorrow. Make Way Music. 1988.