Lessons I Have Learned From Converge

Last night, the various Converge facilitators and leaders met for a debrief. It was a great time reflecting on the highlights, things we could change and do better, but above all reflecting on God’s faithfulness in taking the church in the city one step towards fulfilling Jesus’ prayer for unity.

In that same reflective mode, I want to share in this post some of the things I personally learnt through my involvement in Converge.

1. God’s grace is sufficient

God’s grace redeemed us, and God’s grace continues to empower us! As I shared in my previous post, the grace of God strengthens us in our weakness and allows us to take our limitations in our stride.

Just a couple of days before the Day of Worship, I had taken the day off work to do a bit of last minute planning, only to wake up with the beginnings of a cough and sore throat! I mentally did the math and realised the worst of it was going to surface on Saturday itself – i.e. the Day of Worship! And then I did some more maths and figured out that I would have to sing for nearly five hours on the day! I didn’t like where this equation was heading.

As all good mature Christians do, I started freaking out. And then I started doing some positive confession. And then I tried to expel as much phlegm as I possibly could (perhaps that last point was a bit of overshare!). Despite all my efforts, I woke up early on Saturday morning with a bad cough and a clogged up throat.

What was quite amazing however was that whenever I sang, my voice held up. I didn’t cough and sputter throughout both sessions and during the entire 5 hours of singing. As soon as I stopped however, I started to cough again.

The fact that my voice held up could only have been by the grace of God. His grace truly was sufficient!

2. Great worship doesn’t depend on the best musicians; it requires competent musicians who can play well together and are united in purpose.

As we were sharing our thoughts post-Converge, Gabriel Tan (one of the worship leaders during the morning session) made an interesting comment. He was actually the only professional musician in our group. This is what he said:

We’re ALL not music superstars. Just adequate musicians who like The Beatles, somehow managed to work REALLY REALLY well together. I’ve played in worship bands full of killer church musicians (MDs, worship pastors) before, and trust me, those times were good but no where near where we were at yesterday. The want to just offer whatever little we have to God, coupled with zero egos, makes for a very powerful thing.

Amen to that! Which leads me to my next point.

3. God blesses our unity with His flow of life.

Psalm 133 says that when believers dwell together in unity, that is where God ordains eternal life!

One of the most amazing phenomenon that happened during the “Hear the Nations Worship” night was the number of people who came in off the streets to observe, and even, participate in our worship.

This was something I only found out about later. To be frank, I was on stage most of the night and feeling quite tired. We struggled with some of the musical elements so I felt a touch discouraged. But Wendy and Bobby who were standing at the door greeted streams of people who came in off the streets, drawn to the sound of united worship. Some even asked whether we do this every Saturday night!

In the mid-1990’s, Sally Morgenthaler introduced the idea of “worship evangelism”. Her thesis was that seekers were spiritually hungry. But the church was just rolling out worship that was tantamount to slick, consumer-focussed productions. She says essentially that when the church returns to authentic worship anchored in truth, then the seekers will come.

I had never had a real chance to test that theory, and I assumed that 20 years later, that thesis had simply “moved on” as a relic of worship theology. During Converge, I saw some substance to the thesis. Worship evangelism is alive and well! Seekers are still hungry for the presence of God, and it is for the church to be a royal priesthood, ministering and mediating God’s presence to a lost world.

4. You can never overprepare

Working with two different bands during Converge, I observed two staggeringly different phenomena. At the risk of oversimplifying, in one band, we rehearsed everything to a tee. We worked out the intros and outros, variations in the drum beats, “power pauses” etc. In the other band, everyone was happy to go with the flow.

I said to Clement our drummer that I was more used to just getting the feel of a song right, rather than trying to plan every single part of the song. Clem responded by saying that it was better to overprepare, so that at least if you needed to do something like an outro, you could – rather than to not prepare it and not be able to do it. That made a lot of common sense.

Put another way: if it’s not in your bag, you can’t pull it out and use it. By not preparing, we are restricting ourselves.

On Pentecost Sunday, I was invited to lead a 5 minute worship slot during the Global Day of Prayer. I was handed a runsheet that spanned over 10 pages. It was astoundingly brilliant, so much so that I have kept it as a souvenir to remind myself of the power of planning. The entire two and a half hours was planned down to the minute, with different stage managers ushering different prayer leaders onto the stage at just the right time and the video and projection all lining up perfectly.

I was really inspired to be a more thorough organiser!

5. You don’t get out of your depth, you just gain more height

All throughout the planning stages of Converge, I felt horribly out of my depth. I had never been involved in anything like this before, I was not even leading worship in my church, and yet I was asked to bring together worship ministries to deliver an entire day of worship.

(I still feel horribly out of my depth to this day!)

One of the things Wendy Yapp said to me was that I was never out of my depth, rather I had learnt to jump higher. There is such wisdom in that thought!

I have pondered this a lot more since Converge finished. I suppose what Wendy was saying was that our depth is what anchors us in the first place. Without depth of character, we would easily fall. But depth allows us to reach higher than we have reached before. And sure, we might feel a bit of vertigo, but ultimately, we are secure in God’s purposes.

6. From celebratory unity to functional unity to visible unity

One last thought: Converge is an essential move of God in this city because it operates at the level of functional unity.

For years now, the city of Perth has had an event called “Church Together” during which hundreds of different churches would gather on a particular day to worship together and hear a message. Beyond that however, very little relationship is formed (except perhaps between the people who work together “on stage”). This is a species of celebratory unity. Celebratory unity is important because it inspires us to dream big about the possibilities of unity. However, it is only a first step.

Converge occupies the important grassroots level of functional or relational unity. Most of us involved in Converge weren’t leaders in any churches, just ordinary Christians who felt called by God to be instruments of unity in this city. We worked at a relational level to span church, denominational and ministry boundaries.

I believe that one day, there will be a convergence of celebratory and functional unity to bring visible unity to the church in the city. Then the church will truly be an answer to Jesus’ high priestly prayer, that as we are one, the world will know that Jesus was sent of the Father. May that day come during our lifetime!

One of the Craziest Weekends Ever

I would have to describe it as one of the craziest weekends ever.

It began with an 8 am start for the Asian worship session of Converge 2012, kicking off an entire day of non-stop worship for the city of Perth with different teams coming in to lead worship at Wesley Church, right in the heart of the city.

It was a wake-up call for the city of Perth, probably because Clement played his drums ultra loud and Darren pumped up his amp. The acoustics of Wesley Church probably amplified everything by a factor of 4. But it’s a sound of praise that needed to be heard in the city.

Even though there was probably only about 40 or so people attending, there was a real sense of the presence of God as we worshipped. The band (consisting of worshippers and musicians from different churches) just flowed together beautifully, like we had played together for years instead of having only had a couple of rehearsals beforehand. It was an inexplicable synergy between the team members, all of whom are friends and worshippers I deeply admire.

I didn’t realise it at the time, but the music was also being pumped out through external speakers. We were filling the streets of the city of Perth with the praises of God!

After an extended time of free worship, we began to pray (as it was Pentecost) for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all the different churches represented by the people who were in attendance. Clem started prophesying on the drums, which I interpreted as the sound of breakthrough for our churches – that God would bring fresh anointing, strength, vision and growth.

We ended with the prophetic song “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble”. I really sensed that spiritual mountains were shaken that morning. I sensed that the darkness over the city was trembling because the saints had joined in one song. The darkness was trembling because all the streams were flowing as one river: the Catholics, Charismatics, Uniting Church, Presbyterians and Anglicans. The brokenness of the church was being washed away.

After that session, quite a number of people came up to me to say that they thought something quite special happened that morning. As Pastor Yoy describes it, heaven and earth had converged.

Clem was especially blessed. It was his birthday and the Lord marked him with favour. You will see in the picture above that as we were praying, the cross at Wesley cast a shadow across his back. What a picture (thanks to Darren!).

After the session, we gathered outside the church to celebrate Clem’s birthday and Wendy Yapp had us wrap the week’s knitting (which was symbolic of the knitting together of prayer) around us and then around the building. The knitting went about half way around the church. Here’s a picture of the band “knit together”:

Here are some photos of some of us spreading the knitting around the church:

After that, the sound of war cries and congas filled the church as the African team led by Arlene Gregory began to worship. It was vibrant in colour, sound and spirit.

We came back in the evening for the last session of the Day of Worship called “Hear the Nations Worship”. During the session, we wove into our worship elements of Gospel-style (led by Stephanie Truscott), Messianic (led by Kathy Susnjar) and African worship (led by Arlene), declaring the words of Revelation 5 that every tongue, tribe and nation will be represented before the throne of God. We finished the evening singing How Great is Our God in English, Indonesian, Chinese, Tagalog and Zulu.

Here is a picture we took at the end of the evening:

We were told later that tens of people were coming into the church throughout the evening, drawn to the sound of praise!

After that night, I was exhausted.

But the weekend was not over yet. As I was attending the Friday night session of Converge, Patrick Chen of Zion Praise Harvest invited me to lead a worship slot during the Global Day of Prayer (on Pentecost Sunday), which his church was hosting. He was bringing together 35 to 40 different churches and ministries to participate. I was told to pick a song, get to the service half an hour earlier to do a sound check and… that was it. Mentally, I couldn’t picture it.

So I just chose the song “Come Holy Spirit”, a song I love and I thought captured the Pentecost theme.

When I got to the meeting this afternoon, I was given a runsheet that had planned the meeting (incorporating the 35 odd ministries) right down to the minute. Zion’s administration and planning skills are second to none.

But it was amazing how God orchestrated unity even though I came into the picture quite late in the piece. It just so happened that I was given the slot just before the Transformation session, the opening Scripture passage of which was Luke 4 (“the Spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me”). The song I had chosen (quite in isolation of the planning) fit perfectly. I was amazed at how God brought unity even in the programming!

So it’s been an amazing, action-packed weekend.

When I went to Global Day of Prayer, I was asked “what ministry do you represent?” It seemed that everyone had come representing a church, intercessory ministry, marketplace ministry or some other organisation. I didn’t really know what to say. I couldn’t say I was representing my church because I wasn’t even part of the church worship team.

In the end, I just left it as “Lester Ong”.

As we were preparing for Converge, I had said to the different worship teams that we shouldn’t see ourselves as working towards the end of Converge; rather, we should see Converge as a time for the birthing of new destinies. And I think that’s probably where God is leading me. This Converge weekend has been the beginning of something. There is not yet any designation for it. It doesn’t have a cool ministry name, logo or constitution. It is the beginning of worshippers gathering together to lift up the name of Jesus in the city of Perth and for no other name. I can’t wait to see what that will look like.

Another Awesome Rehearsal

I just got back this evening rehearsing with the band for Converge “Hear the Nations Worship” night. It was another time of refreshing in God’s presence.

I came to the rehearsal with quite a great deal of stress. I was busy at work, but also busy trying to finalise everything for Converge and my mind was in a million different places. And then I caught a cold. So I took today off work (it should have been sick leave!) to try to organise the songlist for our rehearsal. I also thought I would spend some time with the dog as well as she was starting to feel neglected with all our busyness and filled-out schedules.

But it was like all the stress melted away as we worshipped. We began just by simply praying together which really helped us maintain our focus. After a couple of tricky fast songs (which required a good deal of concentration) we came to the turning point when we started Stephanie Truscott’s gospel worship set. There’s something about gospel music that just gets your toe tapping and body moving. And I sensed that God began to imbue us with a sense of freedom as we sang “I’m So Glad, Jesus Set Me Free”.

As we started worshipping to “Beautiful Saviour” there was just a wonderful overlay of vocals singing the names of God and I just felt like I was spirited away into another realm. It felt like the song that never ends. As we went back into the bridge “I could sing forever, Jesus I love You”, we’d be hit a with a new wave of praise bubbling over.

It was such a beautiful time.

I really am blessed to be serving with such a wonderful and anointed team.

So let me introduce you to the team facilitating the Converge Day of Worship Finale (sorry I forgot to take a photo this time):

// Worship leaders: Me, Pastor Yoy Alberastine (Faith Community Church/Sonlife Church), Shaw Cheong and Stephanie Truscott MOSAIC Church)
// Vocals: Me, Pastor Yoy, Shaw, Stephanie, Ling, Wai Kin Wong (Full Gospel Assembly)
// Bass: Jon Teoh (FCC) (he just joined us tonight and he’s awesome!)
// MD and keys: Daryl Tan (Firstlight)
// Electric Guitar: Chris Mayne (Lifestreams Church)
// Drums: Ash Tie (New Covenant Community)

And here is the mega songlist in case you are preparing:

// Ancient of Days
// You are Good (Israel Houghton)
// Hosanna (Brooke Fraser)
// You’ll Come
// I See the Lord
// I Exalt Thee
// Gospel Worship with Stephanie Truscott
// Messianic Worship with Kathy Susnjar
// Beautiful Saviour
// Worthy is the Lamb
// You Deserve the Glory
// Shout to the Lord
// African Worship with Arlene Gregory
// We Speak to Nations
// How Great is Our God World Edition (in English, Mandarin, Malay, Tagalog and Zulu)

I think the last song is a significant prophetic enactment and prefigurement of what will happen at the end of time when the nations gather before the worthy Lamb who was slain, giving Him glory, honour, power, wisdom, strength and blessing.

I’m really looking forward to Saturday!

Sushi and the Art of Worship Leading

Over the weekend, I watched a documentary about the world’s greatest sushi chef called Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Whilst I like to stay on top of food trends, this was the first time I had ever heard of Jiro Ono.

Jiro is an 85 year old sushi master who owns a 10-seater restaurant in the Ginza subway station in Japan. Week in, week out, he repeats the same routine of sushi making. He doesn’t like to take holidays. He only takes a break to attend emergencies, such as funerals. His whole life is consumed by the obsession of making sushi and to constantly make better sushi.

Which is why his is the only sushi restaurant to ever be awarded three Michelin stars. And yet, there is no wine list, five-star table service or even a washroom inside his restaurant. Patrons may book up to 12 months in advance to sit there for half an hour to eat 20 pieces of sushi per sitting at the equivalent cost of $300. This makes Jiro’s restaurant the most expensive Michelin star restaurant in the world.

Until I watched this film, I never thought of sushi-making as an art form. But in Jiro’s mind, what he creates today needs to be continually surpassed by what he creates tomorrow.

After 50 years of relentlessly pursuing his craft, he says “I will continue to climb trying to reach the top… but no one knows where the top is… Even at my age, in my work, I haven’t reached perfection.”

What does Jiro’s sushi dream have to do with worship leading?

Having watched the documentary, I was impressed with this lesson: never think that you have arrived because there’s always more to learn. It is a posture of humility which is the foundation of great leadership.

Last year, I left a church in which I was serving for over 20 years. In that time, I was deeply involved in the leadership of the worship ministry. I have to admit that when you are in a very secure position for a long period of time, you can become quite arrogant. In a way, I thought that I had it all figured out. I thought I was one of the most competent worship leaders in church. Okay, I never said this out loud, because that would be pride. But inwardly, that was probably the attitude that I had.

In the last few weeks, I have discovered things that have shaken me from my lofty heights.

I now attend Faith Community Church. And the level of musicianship is awe-inspiring. Last night, as part of the support acts for Jayesslee’s Perth concert, some of the FCC worship team performed some songs and I had to say, I thought their performances rivalled the main act! And I thought, wow, these guys haven’t even reached their peak yet and they are going to be the next generation leaders of FCC’s worship ministry!

And then, there is Converge. I have had the privilege to work with some musicians and worship leaders from other churches and they are absolutely out of this world.

And I have been humbled. I don’t think I would even dare place myself anymore on the higher end of the bell curve. Somewhere in the middle is probably more fitting. Definitely, what I have learnt from working with other churches is that it changes your perspective. There are always going to be worship leaders better than you! If nothing else, working with other churches inspires you to look beyond your own church world, to realise there is so much more out there and so much more you need to learn!

I think that as worship leaders, we cannot ever rest on our laurels. We need to keep learning, improving, climbing the mountain as it were and understanding that we never know where the top is. If we approach our ministry heart first (not skill first!) then we will always be in relentless pursuit of excellence and improvement.

1 Cor 3:9 ff (MSG) says this:

…You are God’s house. Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn’t, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won’t be torn out; you’ll survive—but just barely.

What sort of materials are you building with? Good quality, excellent materials, or second-best materials of inferior quality? We may not ever become the best, but we definitely should be offering to God our best. His sacrifice deserves at least that much.

If I’m still leading worship when I’m 85, I hope that I’d be able to say that I’m still climbing, not knowing where the top will be.

If Only All Rehearsals Were Like Today’s

I have just come back from an amazing rehearsal with the Converge Asian Worship band at the Hen House rehearsal studios.

It was an interesting evening. As I was collecting the six pizzas for the band, Darren had gotten to the studio early and sent me a picture of the studio. Apparently, one of the walls was painted with a fairly confronting mural of a topless female angel. I wasn’t really sure how the team would feel about it, so I was stressing out a bit.

To my relief, we all laughed it off and thought it was a pretty funny situation, almost slighty ironic. But for the protection of the wider church, I don’t think I’ll post a picture of the room. Here is a “safer” picture of Darren, Yvonne and Ling on the “clean” side of the room.

And here’s another shot taken at the end of the rehearsal of the whole team, courtesy of Darren Woon (from Lto R: Darren Woon, me, Jun Wee, Gabriel Tan, Addie Choon, Derwin Bong, Yoy Alberastine, Yvonne Mohan, Ling Chua, Clement Ch’ng), and also taken from the “clean” side of the room.

I did come with plenty of faith however, to the extent that I thought that maybe, just maybe, as we were worshipping, the mural might supernaturally melt and all the other bands in the surrounding studios would come and see. They would be amazed and say “what God is this who dissolves unholy murals?” and we would then lead them to Christ.

Okay, so that didn’t eventuate, but every now and then, as we were deep in worship, I would just peek out of the corner of my eyes just to see whether perhaps some of the paint might start to come off.

Anyway, after we had eaten some pizza and introduced ourselves to each other, I told the band that it was great to work with anointed worship musicians whom I have admired and for whom I have the highest esteem. In fact, when I looked at the band, I realised that I had worked with most of the musos and singers before and I had longed to work with them again – so today was the opportunity!

I then wondered what it would be like if Converge wasn’t what we were working towards? What if, like Pentecost, it was the birth of something? What if it was the beginning of more times of worship together across churches, at a grassroots level? What if it sparked a movement of passionate worshippers and psalmists joining together across the city?

With that thought, we started running through the 15 songs on our songlist.

One of the songs which Derwin had chosen was “One Thirst” by Jeremy Riddle (good choice, Derwin!). When I first heard that song earlier last week, something had clicked and I somehow knew that that song would capture the heart of what we were trying to do.

Most of the band were pretty unfamiliar with that song, however. As we listened to it on my iPhone, Pastor Yoy said that we should approach it more pensively and prayerfully, almost in an “IHOP” style. What he said rightly set the tone for that song.

As Derwin began to lead that song, the music started to take on a life of its own and the various worship leaders began to sing over the top of the song. We must have gone for about half an hour of the most amazing worship I’ve experienced for a long time. It was like we were soaking up the presence of God and God’s weighty glory somehow descended. Alas though, no melting mural. Instead, we just experienced wave after wave of God’s presence as intercession and prophetic singing flowed.

In times like these, you are just too scared to do anything because you don’t want to be the one responsible for ruining the move of God. That was how real the presence of God felt. I understand more why the “fear of God” is associated with His presence.

And Yoy began to pray that there would be a convergence of psalmists, priests and prophets in this city.

And I prayed that as the church stood in visible unity, there would be a breakthrough atmosphere in our city that would affect our society and transform its values. That all our churches would experience the intensity of God’s presence that we experienced just then.

I don’t think we really wanted to stop.

And I wondered if it would be like this on the actual day itself. I wondered whether our worship would keep flowing like a mighty torrent that can’t be stopped. Whether God would break free from our programs. Whether the whole day would just be seamless. Whether the other bands that came on the day would simply fold into this one. Whether worship would just start and never end. Whether Pentecost would really come like it did at Azusa Street and change the face of the church and the city all at once.

If only all rehearsals were like this one. If only all worship services were like this one! I can feel the mountains tremble, the singers roar. I can sense the time of jubilee coming, when all the streams flow as one river, when the brokenness and fragmentation of the church are washed away, and young and old will turn to Jesus. Tonight didn’t feel like just another rehearsal. It was a prayerful prying open of the windows of heaven over our city.

Converge 2012 – One Heart, One Voice

It’s been a pretty full-on couple of months for me helping out with the Converge organising committee. Never in my life would I have thought that I’d be trying to bring in worship teams from all over the city for the one purpose of exalting the name of Jesus over our City.

There have been times when I have wondered whether we could ever get teams from different churches to lead worship from morning to night, but I am glad to say that between Wendy Yapp, Shaw, Judy and myself and a good deal of help from the Lord, we’ve finally gotten there!

Last week, I was still looking for an African team. I tried calling one guy but never got any response. Then out of the blue, Stephanie Truscott called me and said that Arlene Gregory (who was experienced in leading African worship) really wanted to participate. Within minutes of hanging up the phone on Stephanie, Arlene called me and asked if she could bring a team! I didn’t even need to do anything, but God orchestrated it all!

The idea of bringing worship teams together from different churches in the city is spiritually significant.

Romans 15:5-7 (NIV) says:

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Check out the Message version:

May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!

So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!

This is why we are calling the Converge Day of Worship on 26 May 2012 “One Heart, One Voice”. As I have said before in previous posts, throughout history, the Church has found reason to divide itself over worship styles and theologies. And yet, Jesus was determined that His church would be one to glorify the Father. As Paul puts it, may we be as “one heart and one voice” to glorify God.

In this sense, God is not just exalted in the songs we sing and the words we say. He is also exalted (and moreso) when the body of Christ can look past their differences and unite, for no other sake than for the sake of unity and the glory of His name.

So my prayer for Converge 2012, and for the Day of Worship, is that the church may join together as one big choir, not just our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to God.

Check out the program that’s just about to be released (the fruit of the labour of many people on the organising committee over the last couple of months)

Converge Flyer

We’ve got an African team led by Arlene Gregory, Flame Ministries, an Indigenous Team led by Eric Wynne, Salvation Army, Stephanie Truscott and the Garments of Praise doing American Gospel, Without Walls, Indonesian Worship led by Aflame Community Church and two inter-church teams as well! It’ll be an awesome day!

Converge 2012 Day of Worship on Saturday 26 May 2012 – Save the Date

I’m excited about the Converge 2012 Day of Worship.  From 6 am to 10 pm, teams from different churches will gather to exalt the name of Jesus in the centre of Perth at the historic Wesley Church. 

We’ve got on board teams from a wide-spectrum of the church, including an American Gospel team, the Salvation Army, Flame Catholic Youth and the Nations Worship Team.  We’ve only got a couple of slots left to fill!

It will be a day of joining our hearts across denominational and methodological lines in concerted praise in answer to Jesus’ prayer:  that we might be one so the world will know.

Put down the date 26 May 2012 in your diary.  Invite your churches, cell groups, friends and family to witness and participate in the unity of the body of Christ in the city through worship.  The day’s program will be released shortly so watch this space!

Nations Worship

Converge 2012 is going to culminate in an evening of “Nations Worship”. I was just thinking about what that night might look like. Could it look like this?

Except of course, it would be representative of the church of Perth with worship leaders and singers from the Indigenous church, Korean church, African church, Indonesian church and Asian church. It would be a prophetic declaration of praise that prefigures the day when every tongue, tribe and nation will gather around the throne of God in worship!

Converge 2012: Knit Together

It’s been amazing how God has led me here.

About 7 years ago, I met Pastor Yoy Alberastine in a cafe to talk about worship and the city. We must have sat there for about 4 hours just dreaming about what it would be like if worship leaders across the city connected together. The spiritual implications would be huge. Yoy had some personal involvement in something like this in the Love Singapore movement, but could it be done in Perth?

As things go, I got too busy with my own ministry to even pursue that dream. The dream got shelved like those books you buy but never get around to reading, but every now and then it catches your eye as a gentle reminder that it’s still there.

Last year, I had the privilege of being part of the Commonwealth Prayer Initiative which saw a huge number of churches get together in a 24/7 prayer movement (known as Converge) over the week that CHOGM came to Perth. It was a foretaste of what could be achieved when the church of Perth stands in unity.

This year, I found myself on the organising committee of Converge 2012 to help organise the program for one of the days: an entire day devoted to worship and magnifying God in the city. On the one hand, I’m excited because it’s like God reminding me to finally dust off that dream and start getting into it. But to say I’m daunted by the task is to put it mildly.

The theme for this year’s Converge is “Knit Together”. It takes its inspiration from Colossians 2:2:

[For my concern is] that their hearts may be braced (comforted, cheered, and encouraged) as they are knit together in love, that they may come to have all the abounding wealth and blessings of assured conviction of understanding, and that they may become progressively more intimately acquainted with and may know more definitely and accurately and thoroughly that mystic secret of God, [which is] Christ (the Anointed One).

True unity in the church can only be achieved when the hearts of God’s people are “knit together”; intertwined. It is the key not only to abounding wealth and blessings (which in this context is secondary), but ultimately to knowing and being intimately acquainted with Christ. As John says, we can’t really say we love God unless we love our brothers and sisters.

Christ and His grace is the mystery of God hidden through the ages, but revealed through His body – the church. Paul says in Ephesians 3:8ff:

Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms…

Through the church, united and knit together, God displays His manifold wisdom to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realm.

I believe that as the church joins together in apostolic worship and intercession, God will make a statement to the spiritual realm of this city that Perth belongs to Jesus and that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church.

So seven years later, it seems that God is leading me to take steps of faith towards seeing the dream of the church being united in worship. It’s not going to take just one event to make it happen, but at least the process has started and the future is glorious.