Worship Sunday 2016

Worship, even at its most subliminal, is at the core of Christian discipleship and the purpose of the church. It must be because worship is about giving God utmost priority.

Tozer once said:

Worship of the loving God is man’s whole reason for existence. That is why we are born and that is why we are born again from above. That is why we were created and that is why we have been recreated. That is why there was a genesis at the beginning, and that is why there is a re-genesis, called regeneration.

That is also why there is a church. The Christian church exists to worship God first of all. Everything else must come second or third or fourth or fifth.

I am really blessed to be a part of a church that believes not only in expressing worship, but also bringing it to the forefront of our overt consciousness.

Over the last month, Faith Community Church devoted three entire weeks to the teaching and application of the theology of worship. I had the honour of preaching the first message in the series, The Priests We Were Destined to Be. Pastor Dave Wong then preached the second message on The Power of a Praising Heart.

The series culminated in Worship Sunday, which took place last Sunday – an entire church service devoted to worship.

We decided to run the service as four movements, each beginning with a monologue by a worship leader exemplifying a particular theme of worship. And, rather than just singing for one and a half hours, each movement featured its own unique posture and praise expression.

Here is how the service played out.

Introduction

Scripture reading: Psalm 97:1-10

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Dance item performed by banner team:  “I Exalt Thee” (E-F-G)

What was significant about the dance item was that it was a prophetic symbol of God’s restoration of the family altar, as three generations of a family, led by the grandmother, danced together in worship.

Movement 1: Worship celebrates with exuberant praise

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Monologue by Dave

Endless Praise (A)

Alive (C)

Movement 2: Worship is magnified by His grace

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Monologue by Lydia

Broken Vessels (G)

O Praise the Name (Anastasis) (A)

Holy Communion

Exhortation by Ps Jon Quay

Song Item: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us (D) with contemporary dance by Stephanie Khoo

The eucharist

Movement 3: Worship calls us to intimacy

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Monologue by Sunray

Sinking Deep (D)

Scripture readings ministering God’s love

I Lay Me Down (A) Kneeling in worship

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Offering

Christ is Enough (A) with dance

Movement 4: Worship exalts a sovereign God

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Monologue by Lester

No Other Name (E) Corporate prayer for the nations

Spontaneous prophetic word and response

Hosanna (E-F-G-A)

Benediction by Pastor Benny Ho

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Pastor Benny reminded us from James 1:26,27 that after the service ends and we leave the building, true worship is lived out by our having a controlled tongue, a caring heart and a consecrated life.

It was a remarkable Sunday, one which I think many of us will remember for a long time to come; a Sunday which has really lifted the watermark of worship in the church; where the ceiling has now become the floor of the next level.

I am so grateful to serve with the amazing team of musicians who facilitated the service, the dancers, stage designers, lighting and AV team.

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Back row: Addie Choon (MD/bass), Joash Ang (electric guitar), Caleb Leong (drums), Ps Dave Wong (worship leader/acoustic guitar), Tae Kim (vocals), Ansen Soon (sound), Sam Ng (keyboard), me (worship leader)

Front row: Sunray Zheng (worship leader), Luke Tan (electric guitar), Delany See (keyboard), Lydia Ling (worship leader)

Here is the text of my monologue “Worship Exalts a Sovereign God”

Even as we have leaned in
And intimately encountered a God of love, grace and mercy,
We experience a simultaneous outward compulsion
To take this love, grace and mercy
To the ends of the earth.

As the eyes of the prophet Isaiah saw the Lord
Seated on the throne
His heart was gripped by the question:
“Who would go for Us?”

True worship emanates from a heart surrendered to God
But resonates, beats in rhythm with
His intense desire and longing that none should perish.

We encounter His love in worship gathered,
We carry His grace and presence in worship scattered;
We are transformed in worship gathered,
We transform our world in worship scattered;
We are discipled in worship gathered,
We disciple nations in worship scattered.

The Psalmist says
God’s love is meteoric
His loyalty astronomic
His purpose titanic
His verdicts oceanic
Yet in His largeness
Nothing gets lost
No one gets lost

In this world so tumultuous
Full of fear, hatred, violence, killing and death
We have a God who is still sitting on the throne
Who reigns over all things
Who has been given the name over all names

Fire still goes before Him
Mountains melt like wax at the sound of His voice
The haughtiest of hearts are humbled by His greatness
Kings cast their crowns at the sight of His majesty and splendour

Our God is still on the throne!

And one day
The kingdoms of this world
Will become the kingdom of our Lord and King
And He will reign forever and ever!

Let’s together in worship exalt our sovereign God,
Lift up your eyes church
He is our King of Kings and our Lord of Lords!

Here is the recording of the service in three parts.

Part 1

 

Part 2

 

Part 3

May you be inspired to take your personal worship to the next level!

Photo credits: Joseph Siew

Worship Sunday Videos

At the risk of sounding self-indulgent, I have actually been listening to the recordings of Worship Sunday and watching some of the video clips of it. A lot. Like nearly every day this week.

One of the things that happens when you’re leading worship is that you often don’t get much of a chance to get carried away by the moment because you try to make sure the set flows well; you are listening out for how people are responding etc. In fact, during the first set of Worship Sunday, because we were trying something so different, I was actually so nervous that my left hand was shaking (no, I don’t think it’s one of those Pentecostal, Holy-Spirit-just-came-upon-you induced kind of shaking – it was purely nerves. So much so that I had to keep the mic in my right hand).

So it was just refreshing to listen to the recordings again and be ministered to as I listened to what took place on Sunday. And then to watch the video was something else! I was truly captured by the atmosphere of the first set, especially being able to hear the congregation’s voices rising up above the sound system.

For those of you who couldn’t be there, here are some video snippets from Worship Sunday, thanks to Shirley Seah!

This video shows the beginning of Set One as the auditorium was blacked out and a video started playing with various definitions of worship fading in and out before the cross was illuminated and we went into the first song “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”.

This next clip is of that moment just after the Set One finished and the chairperson, Ps Jon Quay came up. At that moment, a fresh wave of spontaneous singing swept over the congregation.

This final clip is of the song “In Christ Alone” led by Ps Yoy and the full band during Set Two. It was incredibly intense!

Hope you guys are as blessed watching these as I was!

Worship Sunday 2014

Worship Sunday 1

I really love the direction that Faith Community Church has been heading in as Ps Benny has been leading us into the intentional disciplemaking blueprint. What I love about it is that we are culture-setting in a way which affects our own values and at the same time, seeing some visible changes in the way we do church.

The holy-moley Christians don’t like cosmetics much. They emphasise on heart. And to some extent, rightly so, because the Lord always looks at the heart first.  But heart usually expresses itself in outward appearances. So, as long as we get the order right, I say “why not both?”

We have been blessed in recent months with the appointment of an awesome couple, David and Mary Lynn, who are looking after media, production and Sunday services. These guys are consummate professionals who serve hard! Under their stewardship, our church services have been looking more and more, well, amazing.

So when it came to Worship Sunday, Dave, Susan and I sat down to brainstorm a creative way of carrying a worship-focused message. We decided to put together a special time of worship, where there would be no visible human worship leader, emphasising the point that Jesus is the ultimate worship leader and that each member of the congregation has a responsibility to bring their own offering of praise to God.

This morning’s service started with a video setting out different theological definitions of worship. The video finished with Paul’s powerful statement in 1 Cor 2:2:

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

In verse 1, Paul says that “I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.” In the context of a worship service, it could be said that we did not come with beautiful melodies and superior musical abilities. Instead, our focus was Jesus and Him crucified.

As the video ended, the piano faded in. And then, in the midst of complete darkness, a 3 metre-tall suspended cross was illuminated in the middle of the stage. Apart from the piano, there were no musicians.

Before the service started, six singers with mics were planted within the congregation, as a spiritual statement that indeed there was no worship leader in any position of prominence, but rather, there was only one giant thousand voice choir to bring a God-honouring sung offering as they were confronted with nothing but the cross. And so, we began to sing.

Even before the first song started, tears were already streaming down the faces of some of the people who had gathered. It was a holy moment, not because of the really cool-looking cross, but because we were taken in our mind’s eye to Calvary’s cross, on which our Saviour hung to redeem our worship for the Father.

I don’t think our church has ever sung louder than this morning. Sometimes, the band and singers can do all the worship for us. But this morning, as all the props of worship were stripped away, we were left with passionate hearts overflowing with love for God. Broken, imperfect hearts. But hearts hungry for His presence.

Even after we finished the last song of this opening set, there was a wave of spontaneous singing that washed over the congregation.

And then, after the offering was taken, Ps Benny came up to introduce our preacher, Dave Wong. Dave grew up in FCC, and at the age of 23, took up the role of Worship Director. I love that Ps Benny has a vision to raise up the next generation of leaders in our midst and even in the last year, we have seen more and more young leaders come up to take the pulpit.

Today was Dave’s first time preaching in the main service. Dave is a guy full of depth and conviction. He taught today that worship is not about the music (although music is part of worship) but about offering ourselves as living sacrifices. He said that right perspective makes for right worship; that worship doesn’t flow from a knowledge of God, but from a revelation of God.

When Dave was done, a full band came up on stage for an extended time of worship. When we get the emphasis right, putting on a full band is like adding fuel to the flame. It brings an added extravagance and bigness to our individual and corporate praise offering.

In putting together the band, I was mindful that it should be intergenerational, so I asked for worship leaders from different zones in the church to co-lead with me: Tae from Kinetics, Joe from Vibe, Diana from Young Adults and Ps Yoy from the Adult Zone. That richness of the different generations merging together exploded in passionate praise.

Not only were there tears, dancing, bowing, clapping and shouting, but I even heard a report of one person being “slain in the Spirit” and being instantly healed of a shoulder injury!

So why did we have such an awesome time of worship this morning? Yes, it was because we put together an interesting, confronting program. It was because the musos and singers worked hard to make sure we played and sang well. It was because of the beautiful staging. It was because the Word of God through our preacher brought forth revelation. It was because we had sown heart-felt prayers over the weeks into this morning. But above all, it was because of God’s presence sovereignly converging with all these elements. Each of these things built and encouraged faith in us to expect God to move and turned our focus to Him.

And God’s showing up made all the difference.

Here is this morning’s setlist:

Set One

// When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (D-E)
// Worthy is the Lamb (A)
// How Great Thou Art (A-Bb)

Set Two

// In Christ Alone Medley (C-D) (Diana/Yoy)
// You Alone (A) (Me)
// Jesus Son of God (A) (Tae)
// Christ is Enough (A) (Joe)
// You are Good (A) (Yoy)

Here are the recordings for Set One and Set Two.

I want to take this opportunity to thank and honour the leadership of FCC for entrusting us to do something different; to the amazing singers and band members: (Vocals) Yoy, Diana, Tae, Joe, Sunray; (MD) Luke; (Guitars) Luke, Kelvin, Mark; (Bass) Addie; (Drums) Caleb; (Keys) Delany, Sam Ng; (Sound) Senny, Sam Oh; and (AV) May; Ps Jon for his sensitive chairing; Dave Wong for his amazing leadership of the Worship Ministry; and of course David and Mary Lynn for the amazing production.

May God continue to take our worship to the next level as we encamp around His presence!