Come See a Test that Told Me Everything About Myself

I’m not a big fan of psychometric testing. They always seem to ask too many questions about too many details and you never quite know what, or how, to answer. But I recently did a test as part of Metro Worship Academy’s Interpersonal Relationships Module and I was blown away by the results. It was as if the someone was exercising the gift of knowledge about me – accurately!

The FIRO-B test measures your interpersonal needs in three areas:

  1. Inclusion: the need to form new relationships and to associate with others;
  2. Control: which is about decision making, influence and authority; and
  3. Affection: the need to form emotional ties and the extent of closeness with people.

The test measures your expressed need (ie the extent you initiate the behaviour) and your wanted needs (the extent to which you want or will accept that behaviour from others) in relation to each of the three areas of need.

Here are my results!

Overall Interpersonal Needs

  • “Your involvement with others is sometimes a source of satisfaction, but it depends on the people and the context”
  • “You work most effectively alone, or with others when the objectives are focused”
  • “You probably enjoy work that involves concentration on data or ideas and occasional discussions with or presentation to others”
  • You probably consider yourself more introverted than extroverted.”

Total Expressed vs Total Wanted Behaviours

  • “You prefer to wait and see what others will do before taking action. In some situations you may feel inhibited from doing or expressing what you want. You value reliability in others because it helps you predict how they will behave and therefore how you should act.”

Total Needs

  • “In a new situation you are likely to focus on understanding the order and structure of the organisation or of the situation. You will want to know who is in charge, how decisions are made, rules and policies, and the priorities of the various tasks. Once you are comfortable in the Control area, you may then concentrate on satisfying or expressing your needs for Inclusion and Affection.”

Patterns of Need Fulfillment for Inclusion

  • “You prefer working with a small group of people”
  • “You find recognition less important than accomplishment”
  • “You need time alone to do your best work”

Patterns of Need Fulfillment for Control

  • “You may accept direction from those in authority”
  • “You may not be interested in gaining influence.”
  • “You are a loyal and cooperative member of the organisation”
  • “You like to perform your work according to standard operating procedures”
  • “You may be frustrated by inconsistencies”
  • “You may feel the need to check your decisions with others”

Patterns of Need Fulfillment for Affection

  • “You may have difficulty saying no to requests to take on more work.”
  • “You may avoid conflicts yourself but be willing to help others resolve theirs.”
  • “You may attempt to gain closeness with others by managing undesirable projects.”

Leadership

You will strive to be leader who:

  • “integrates divergent interests”
  • “shares decisions”
  • “uses democratic decision-making processes”
  • “is able to build a sense of ownership”
  • “wants to have a noticeable impact, to leave your mark”
  • “likes to be viewed as a popular leader”
  • “is gratified by public recognition”

Yup, all of the above describes me to a tee. I’m just wondering how answering 20 short questions gave the marker such remarkable insight into my inner psyche.

What really set me free about the test however was what Michael Battersby taught the class about how to apply the FIRO-B results. Too often, we often see certain personality traits as weaknesses that need to be built on and improved. But Michael taught us that in fact, the results are simply descriptions of our needs – they are part of the way we were created and we shouldn’t feel bad about them. Rather, they help us understand why certain things give us a sense of satisfaction or dissatisfaction and how to modify our environment and expectations.  But it doesn’t mean that we are less of a person because we are wired a particular way!

In a worship team context, there are usually different personalities and temperaments. Some of them can be quite extreme. It’s what you get for hanging with artistic people. So I want to encourage you to get to know your team. Understand what makes them tick and what ticks them off. And let’s see if we can accommodate each other’s expectations. But also let others know what our expectations are, like my need for control and structure! You’ll make a better team!

So what sort of leader are you anyway? Feel free to share!

Worship: The Centre of Existence

It’s been a while since I last posted. Life has just gotten really busy. But I recently had to do some assignments for Metro Worship Academy. I haven’t written assignments in years! My friend Kelwin says that they should call them “adventures”, rather than “assignments”. We will see…

In an interview with the Canberra Times[1], former lead singer of KISS, Gene Simmons, professing to once being religious, reveals his objection to the worship of the Christian God. “Why,” he asks, “would this God who is very non-human want to hear his name repeated? … Now that’s a really frail characteristic.”

Simmons view discloses a perverted understanding of worship by projecting a human trait on a Being who is beyond and before created things. God’s passion for His own glory is in fact at the very core what it means to worship.

Harold Best calls it the “centre of existence”:

Worship is at once about who we are, about who or what our god is and about how we choose to live…. [A]t this very moment, and for as long as this world endures, everybody inhabiting it is bowing down and serving something or someone.[2]

The question then is: who or what do we choose to worship? Simmons failed to understand that, by virtue of His being God, God necessarily must exalt His name and glory above anything else and that “His first and central love is Himself”.[3] This singular fact is the foundation and fountainhead of created order: for the individual, society, the nations and the cosmos.  Giglio observes:

When God makes His glory the centre of all things and the center of our affections, he gives us Himself – the very best gift He could give us, and the ultimate expression of His love.[4]

In other words, it is only when we understand the centrality of God in our universe that we can fully realise our personal destiny and the destiny of our cities and nations, undergirded by the love and generosity of God in His divine mission to reconcile all things to Himself.[5]

God’s desire and passion for His own glory, manifested in His goal of reconciling all things to Himself led to Jesus’ death on the cross, which is also for Christians, the starting point of our worship.  Paul says this:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.[6]

To offer our bodies suggests that worship must be an all-consuming, continuous act (in other words, “worship as a lifestyle”) but the use of the word “offer” (in the present continuous tense) requires a direct act, a sacrifice. In one sense, whole-life worship can be very much an unconscious reflection of the way we have chosen to live, manifested in our daily choices and actions. But there is also a place for direct, intense adoration and praise.  James Macdonald observes:

We are frequently told that making a meal for your family or cleaning your car or helping your neighbour are all acts of worship. When these acts are the outgrowth of our love for God and done to demonstrate that love, I would agree that they are “worshipful”…. Worship is the actual act of ascribing worthy directly to God. Worshipful actions may do this indirectly, but when the Bible commands and commends worship as our highest expression, it is not talking about anything other than direct, intention, Vertical outpouring of adoration.[7]

So in light of this, the question we ask is: how do we worship? We must understand that worship begins with the heart, from our affections. God is not focussed on “outward appearance … but the Lord looks at the heart”[8]. Jesus puts it another way: God is seeking worship that is “in spirit and truth”[9], that is, worship that is initiated within our spirit by the Holy Spirit, and worship that expresses (and is consistent with) an inner reality.[10]  That does not mean that outward expressions are not important, for indeed the actions of worship themselves (singing, kneeling, bowing, raised hands, clapping, shouting) hold great spiritual significance[11]. The point is that outward expressions originate in inward attitude.

The result? Worship transforms us. We become like what we worship.  The Psalmist says that “those who make [idols] will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.”[12]  Hibbert observes that “worship not only changes our inner lives, it also affects the expression of our faith and service to God in the world around us”.[13] God uses us to change our community and cities, but in the midst of worship, God also supernaturally and metaphysically brings about transformation on the earth.

In Revelations 5, John has a vision of the Lamb who was slain, encircled by the 24 elders, standing as the answer to the question: who is worthy to open the scroll? As the elders worshipped with the harp and the bowl of incense (signifying prayer), the Lamb began to open the seals of the scroll. The scroll represents a will and testament, by which God bequeaths His divine destiny to the earth and all creation.  Through the means of worship therefore, God ultimately reconciles all things to Himself to the praise of His jealously-guarded glory.

 

[1] Peter Karp, Untitled Article, Canberra Times, 12 September 1999.

[2] Harold Best Unceasing Worship (Downer’s Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2003) p 17.

[3] Louie Giglio I Am Not But I Know I Am (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2005) p 162.

[4] Id, p 165.

[5] Paul states in Colossians 1:19, 20 (NIV) that “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Christ], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Note: all Scripture references are to the New International Version unless otherwise stated).

[6] Romans 12:1.

[7] James MacDonald Vertical Church (Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2012) p 168-169.

[8] 1 Samuel 16:7.

[9] John 4:23,24.

[10] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance #225: “alethia”. The word translated as “truth”, according to Strong, means “signifying the realty lying at the basis of an appearance” and also “sincerity and integrity of character”.

[11] An analysis of the various expressions of worship and their significance are beyond the scope of this post.

[12] Psalm 135:18.

[13] Vivien Hibbert Prophetic Worship (Michigan: Baker Books, 1998) p 147. 

Book Review: Future Worship by Lamar Boschman

One of the assignments I have to complete as part of the Metro Worship Academy is a book review. Students were given a select list of texts on worship to read and review. I chose Lamar Boschman’s Future Worship because it is one of the key texts which have shaped my own views on worship practice. So I am killing two birds with one stone: I’m recommending an important book to those who read this blog (particularly if you are a worship leader) that will help you understand the intersection of worship and culture. And I’m also completing an assessment item at the same time. Win!


Future Worship

I have long considered Lamar Boschman one of the pioneers of the modern praise and worship movement. Not only did Boschman model church worship expression through his worship leadership, he also provided, as a teacher, the much needed Biblical blueprint that laid the foundation for the movement.

I first read Boschman’s Future Worship (Ventura: Renew Books, 1999) some years ago. Reading it again recently, with many more years of ministry experience under my belt, I was confronted by just how many of Boschman’s predictions about the coming shape of worship in the new millennium were beginning to be realised.

Blending references from theologians, philosophers and futurists (just so you know that this is going to be a meaty book), Boschman begins with an indictment on the current state of worship in many churches: overly plastic, image-conscious and performance-based worship that has fomented consumerism, dislocation and spiritual disconnectedness. In his wry style, he states:

Today, worship is too often a cacophonous, raucous, aerobic dance class. People stand on platforms and command you to do stuff that you would never do in any rational moment of your life… like turning to the total stranger next to you and screaming, MY NAME IS BRADLEY AND I’M A JESUS POWER RANGER! (pp 41-42)

But yet, there is hope. After all Future Worship is not just about the present, it is about learning the lessons of the past so we can paint a glorious future.

And so, the theme of birth pangs and contractions dominate: the idea that perhaps, the disillusionment and unsettledness is the result of the conflict between a dying era and one that is struggling to be born. Boschman states (at 48):

While most people may not describe that succinctly or eloquently, most are aware of a prevailing and bewildering sense of confusion and ambiguity. What they may not possess, however, is a sense of perspective about it: these things are merely the beginnings of birth pangs…. A new world is being born.

For students of worship, Boschman puts the modern worship movement in its historical context like no other book on worship (except perhaps say Robert Webber’s Worship Old and New). Boschman provides a sweeping analysis of communications media (from the oral tradition, to the printed word, to the electronic age and finally to the new digital revolution) and how they have shaped the development of the church’s worship expression and its core values. He tells us how we got to where we are. And then, importantly, he tells us to look beyond the familiarities of the past towards new frontiers of possibilities.

In the past 20 years, church (and its worship) has changed. Churches are becoming more “post-modern” and “emergent” even though they may resist those labels.

But the key point in Boschman’s analysis is that the new digital age is facilitating a convergence of the best elements of the preceding ages. He states (at 164):

A crucial part of this unhindered Church of the future is the principle of convergence – the recognition and blending of various strengths of worship found in the oral, print and electronic ages of the Church.

Personality cults are beginning to fade into the background as even the most insignificant of voices are given expression and validity through the digital platform. Communities are reaching beyond denominational, racial and geographical lines as members of the body of Christ connect and network across cyberspace towards truly realising the vision of a church universal. The rigidities of time are being overthrown. Even ancient kinships (as Boschman puts it) are being rekindled.

This is the new worship revolution. As another prophetic worshipper once put it, it is where “all the streams flow as one river / To wash away our brokenness” (Martin Smith, “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble”).

From the Archives: Next Generational Leadership

It’s actually been a while since my last blog post. In the last couple of months, I have had many ministry opportunities come my way which have kept me pretty busy (hence the radio silence), including taking up a bigger role in my home church. This evening, I was working on an assignment as part of my course of study at Metro Worship Academy and I was writing a book review on Lamar Boschman’s Future Worship. As I was getting distracted reading through my blog (and considering what it means when Boschman talks about the birth of a new worship culture), I came across this post on “Next Generational Leadership”. I was again struck by the relevance of what I wrote here last year to my current journey some months later. So I’m regurgitating this post because for me, it has taken on new meaning in a new context. Especially when I again see the great pool of talent in the generation of leaders that are coming after me.

I was off work today, recovering from a cold, and I spent a good deal of the day devouring Ross Parsley’s new book, Messy Church. Yesterday, I suggested that everyone should get a copy of it. See my post here.

I’m about halfway through the book and what Parsley is advocating is to see the church and its mission through an entirely new lens: the church, not as a well-oiled corporate machine, but as family, where life reigns over structure, relationship reigns over protocol. And where there is life, there is usually mess. But it’s okay for church to be messy.

I couldn’t agree more.

Part of the appeal of this book is that many of the lessons learnt were forged in the context of worship ministry, when Parsley was the worship pastor of New Life Church. It is interesting to see how worship ministry is often the place where a lot of the issues of church are often played out most sharply.

As I read this book, I saw a lot of my own philosophies of worship ministry being articulated, and articulated well.

In 2010, when I was one of the worship ministry leaders setting up a new satellite service planted by my then church, one of the things I was keen to do was to involve and grow the next generation of leaders. My co-leader and I decided to establish what we called a “Think Tank”, a group of emerging leaders in the worship ministry who would bring fresh and innovative ideas into worship ministry, but who would also get the opportunity to work alongside, and to glean from, more seasoned leaders. I even challenged some of them that in two years’ time, they could take over my job and I would remain to stand alongside them, rather than to lead them.

Parsley presses the need for a multigenerational approach to ministry, which he calls the “family worship table”. The key is to invite the younger generation to the table, because freshness and innovation lay with that generation. He says:

“The family worship table” was a way to describe our multigenerational approach that would help every age-group embrace people at different points on the age continuum….

The commitment to use Sundays as a gathering place for the “family worship table” began when I started thinking about how to integrate fresh faces and young hearts into the leadership of worship at New Life Church. We made a shift in our church to remain musically relevant, and I struggled to get people to understand what we were doing. New Life had always been a charismatic church theologically, but our style and culture had stagnated. We were thriving spiritually but hadn’t progressed in our expression artistically or musically…. The church continued to grow, and we built the foundations of a successful worship ministry with strong musicians and biblical teaching, but we weren’t moving culturally at the speed we needed to. I recruited some young college graduates to inject life into our ministry and help chart the course ahead….

Slowly, we began to change and experience genuine multigenerational worship. New Life was a thriving and healthy church, but as we began to change musically and artistically, the process uncovered some poor attitudes and selfishness in some who had been there for a while. Some of the family did not want to invite the kids to the table. They wanted them to stay at their own kids’ table.

Parsley goes on to make a pretty bold claim: “Young people create the culture of our tables, our churches, and our country… Our job as parents is to raise them – to influence them and give them our hearts”.

My own experience agrees with this statement. The older I get, and the longer I have been in worship ministry, the more I realise how “uncool” I’m becoming. Even using the word “uncool” betrays my lack of “coolness”. Young people interact and integrate with, and influence, culture in a way I can’t even begin to grasp. Some of the guys in our “Think Tank” were actually “back seat driving” our worship culture by telling me to listen to new songs and to deploy them in our worship sets. In the end, our ministry owed a lot to the young people for pushing us all forward.

However, we are often like Eliab (David’s older brother) and Saul. When Goliath stood there day after day, taunting the armies of Israel, Saul was paralysed, with no new strategies for victory. In comes David the young punk to deliver some cheese to his brothers. And Eliab tells him (with a great deal of indignation perhaps), “Shouldn’t you be back home looking after the sheep?” When David finally gets to confront Goliath, Saul gives his armour to David: ill-fitting, heavy and speaking of old methods and paradigms. Instead, David rejects the old, and launches an assault that is completely innovative (but birthed by God): a sling and a smooth-stone to the forehead of the giant.

Many of us who have been in the game a long time are reluctant to hand control over to the young, because in our minds, they are tempestuous upstarts who lack credible experience. If we let them play, we become like Saul, forcing old paradigms and old wineskins in the hope of somehow containing the new flow of the Spirit and the new wine.

By the way, anyone who thinks that we don’t need to keep renewing our worship expression stands on dangerously tenuous ground. We simply can’t keep singing the songs that are 20 years old and expect the next generation to connect with them. Personally, I love the songs of the 90s because they were the songs I was first taught as a young Christian. But stylistically, they mean nothing to the present generation. They simply make the church look old and weary. Of course, there can be space for blending of old and new (I often like to throw in an old song into every worship set) but if we don’t keep moving forward, as they say, we are actually moving backward.

Parsley goes on to say:

Wouldn’t it be incredible if we could take the maturity, wisdom and resources of age and put them together with the energy, enthusiasm, and creativity of youth? Our churches would be an unstoppable force in our communities….

Creating opportunities for young and inexperienced leaders is one of the most effective tools we have to continue to make the church dynamic and relevant in our culture. Helping young leaders is extremely challenging because it demands accountability, it involves some risk, and it can be downright messy; but it is indispensable to a church that is committed to longevity.”

I don’t think the question we should ask is whether our young people are ready. If we ask that, we will always conclude that they are not. The question is whether the older generation is ready to stand alongside the youth, to nurture them, to father them, to guide them and to create safe spaces for them to take risks and push established boundaries.

So, this is a call for worship ministry leaders to participate in the “family worship table”, to build up the next generation of leaders of our churches and ministries.

Will it work? I believe that the results speak for themselves. New Life Church and Desperation Band, through Parsley’s leadership, remains one of the cutting edge forces in the worship landscape today, producing worship music that is relevant, edgy and yet congregation-friendly. And that sort of legacy can be ours too.