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Welcome to the 13th Family Worship Newsletter, 31 January 2000
Previous newsletters are available on the website archives at
With relentless "Humour spots" in-between every item...
FW Site stats
Recent site additions
Story behind the song - Lion King special
Contemporary worship trends
FW Site Stats
Visitors to the site have averaged around 400 a day through January
Subscribers are now up to around 1,100 - welcome to new subscribers.
Recent site additions
The FW website was one year old in January, and to celebrate it's first birthday, the site has been given a whole new look and feel. The page background and design is simpler and cleaner, and the new graphics in yellow and black have a contemporary "scribble" theme. Do visit the site and send me an email if you have strong feelings on the new look - positive or otherwise. My children love it, but I'm always nervous about change, so check it out and reassure me...!
The song-by-email service has been so well used over the past year that it's been a huge task to keep up with demand. We're very pleased, therefore, that as mentioned in the last newsletter, the facility is now fully automated, which means that the emails containing lyrics, guitar chords, sheet music, audio files, etc. will be sent to you within a few minutes of the request being made. Also available for the first time are lyric files in Powerpoint format for those hi-tech churches using song
rojection facilities. (Still available for the rest of us who remain in the lower-tech 20th century are lyrics masters for copying onto overhead transparencies...)
Try the new facility out at
LION KING SPECIAL
An interesting new addition to the site in January has been the Lion King section - see the story behind the songs below, and visit the section at
How are your new year resolutions coming along? Do your knees buckle but your belt won't? For those who have blown the diet already, here are a few helpful thoughts on exercise:
I don't exercise at all. If God meant us to touch our toes, he would have put them further up our body.
If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country.
I have flabby thighs, but fortunately my stomach covers them.
My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was 60.
She's 93 now and we have no idea where she's got to!
We're putting the finishing touches to the first batch of pages in the new Songwriter's Showcase section, and are very excited about the quality and diversity of the songs that have been submitted so far. The first pages will be available towards the end of February at
Some people have asked what happened to the musician series of jokes that ran last year for a few months, and the truth is that having exhausted my supply of drummer, guitarist, viola player, etc. jokes, I had not come across any new ones for a while. This month, however, I'm re-launching the series with a well-deserved barrage aimed at jazz musicians. (If you have any good musician jokes, please email me!)
How do you make a million dollars playing jazz?
Start with two million
How many jazz musicians does it take to change a light bulb?
None - jazz musicians can't afford light bulbs
OR "Don't worry about the changes. We'll fake it!"
Son: Mother, I want to grow up and be a jazz musician
Mother: Now son, you have to pick one or the other - you can't do both...
A Jazz musician was told by his doctor, "I am very sorry to tell you that you have only one more year to live."
The Jazz musician replied, "Oh great - what am I going to live on for a whole year?"
Story behind the song...
Just added to the FW website are 3 songs which are alternative versions of some of the most popular songs from the Lion King. When the Disney movie first came out a few years ago, it was a big hit with children The release of the video, then Lion King 2, and finally the stage show on Broadway and now in London, have all kept the story and music fresh.
When we were launching a new children's club in London, we were looking for songs that would be accessible to children from a non-church background, but that would also convey a christian message. One of the team, Simon Matthews, hit on the idea of putting some alternative lyrics to "Just can't wait to be King", and re-wrote it as "I just can't wait to see the King" - lyrics that overtly focused on Jesus. Children absolutely loved it, and a simple dance routine added to the fun. Two more songs were modified: "Circle of Life" became "Giver of Life" and "Can you feel the love" became "Can you feel His love".
Whilst the philosophy and message of the original Lion King is somewhat wishy washy, and certainly not christian in its ethos, these alternative versions take something that most children already love, and add a positive, truthful message - a winning combination.
Check out the alternative versions at http://www.familyworship.org.uk/lion_king.htm
There was once a young man who, in his youth, expressed his desire become a great writer.
When asked to define "great" he said, "I want to write things that the whole world will read, things that people will react to on a truly emotional level, that will make them laugh, cry, and howl in pain and anger!"
He now works for Microsoft, writing error messages.
Contemporary worship - trends
This month's main article is an interview with Ian Mizen. Ian is part of one of the UK's hardest-working (and quietly very successful) contemporary christian bands, "Brown Bear Music", also manages the office for Graham Kendrick, so has an excellent broad perspective on worship trends in the UK and elsewhere.
1. Is it important to have worship that is "culturally relevant"?
Yes and no! The most important thing is to have worship that is in 'spirit and truth' and any form of worship is worth very little if it does not fall into this category. However if we are to be able to express our worship, thanks, adoration and praise to God it is generally easier to do this in a way that we are used to and comfortable with. It is also helpful to be able to understand what you are singing. When we first started leading worship at the Bear (a youth church in South East London)
we soon discovered that the young people from unchurched backgrounds did not have a clue what some of the songs that we were singing meant. Phrases such as 'worthy is the Lamb that was slain' convey little or no meaning to those without some kind of church background. In response to this problem we started to write songs that were 'lyrically relevant' the people we were trying to lead.
2. Is that more important for younger people than older, and for non-Christians than Christians?
Most people think that it is more important for young people because style (especially musical style) is very important in youth culture and I believe we must provide opportunities for younger Christians to express their worship to God. However in my experience I would say that young people often seem more willing to go with the flow and worship in whatever setting they find themselves in - whether it's a thumping drum & bass youth meeting or a more traditional service -than adults who often find it more difficult to adapt to a new style and end up grumbling about the noise and flashing flights!
In one sense it's impossible to be culturally relevant to non-Christians because of course they come from all sorts of backgrounds and cultures. However I do think we need to make the gospel accessible and understandable to people, this does not mean watering it down but faithfully retelling the story using today's language and communication tools. The answer to the age-old question, 'is church for the saved or the yet to be saved' is of course BOTH and therefore it's a tough job for worship leaders to lead their congregation in praise and worship in a way that attracts people who don't yet know Jesus. I guess if we are attracting the presence of God in our worship then people will be drawn in and their musical tastes are hardly going to be a stumbling block to them !
3. What advice would you give a church that is struggling to introduce new songs and styles where there may be some resistance from some church members?
Communicate. People need to know that their views and preferences are valued and that it's not a battle between the new and old but there is room for both and that a mixture of the two will enhance the worship life of the church greatly. This may seem a very simplistic view but it's right!
4. What's wrong with the old hymns?!
Nothing! Most of them are fantastic and we still use them a lot at our church. It's all about balance.
5. Is it more important to have a style of worship that keeps youth from leaving the church, or attracts new youth to join?
The answer to Q3 covers this but I will add that recently a student with no church background came to one of our worship meetings. At the end he was so excited by the music and 'vibe' of the evening that he was desperate to find out when the next one was taking place. After a few visits he joined a cell group and shortly after committed his life to Christ.
We were just being ourselves, worshipping in a a way that is natural to us (this generally involves loud guitars, drums, samplers,etc!) and not trying to be evangelistic or trendy. I think the Holy Spirit can work through us best when we are being true to who we are and opening ourselves up to Him to flow through us. Perhaps this is worship in spirit and truth?
6. Where do you see worship music in 5 year's time?
Over the past ten years we have seen worship music diversify greatly. My guess is that this will continue over the next few years. Society is becoming more fragmented and it is almost inevitable that as churches grow out of different areas of our society that the style of worship will reflect those differences. I don't think that this is anything to be afraid of and in fact it helps to generate more grassroots songwriters and worship leaders rather than relying on the international superstars we have relied on up to now.
We are united in following Jesus but this does not mean that we all have to like the same kind of music, sing the same songs or speak the same jargon. As Christians we often settle for the lowest common denominator in terms of musical style in order to encourage unity. The sad thing about this is that we end up with very little room for creativity in the church. Perhaps it's time we really embraced the concept of 'unity in diversity' and celebrate the vast range of music and arts that God has given us and offer our worship to our creator through all of them.
Many thanks to Ian Mizen for sharing these helpful thoughts and perspectives.
You can check out Brown Bear Music at http://www.brownbearmusic.co.uk
and download their songs from http://www.mp3.com/brownbearmusic
Their albums are now also available in the USA for the first time from http://www.riveroflifecbs.com
Notice in a church bulletin: The Lord loveth a cheerful giver.
However, He also accepteth from a grouch.
One of my best friends is a brilliant singer-songwriter from New Zealand, now based in the UK, David Lyle Morris. David has been writing songs for many years now, and has been faithfully plugging away, playing worship and evangelistic concerts in the UK, Finland, Ireland, and other parts of Europe. He tells me that it was several years before any publishers showed an interest in any of his songs, and in that situation, the temptation to give up can be strong. However, he has persevered, and a number of his songs have recently been picked up and widely used, and one song in particular, "Revealer of mysteries" has been on the main playlist at UK christian radio station, Premier, for several weeks now. In April David will be recording a live album of worship with Kingsway, which should be out in the Summer.
David has been a huge encouragement to me, and one vital lesson that any aspiring songwriter could learn from his experience is the value of perseverance, hard work, and a dedication to follow a vision. In the secular environment, songwriters and musicians are told that they have to "believe in themselves". As christians, we have a much better alternative, which is to believe that Christ dwells in us, and to believe that the same power that raised him from the dead is also at work in us. That creative power is a sustaining thing, and whatever it is that you are called to, whether it is to write songs or something completely different, do it faithfully, with all of your heart, and don't give up!
You can hear one of David's songs that was used on FW2, "Let us run with perseverance" at http://www.familyworship.org.uk/songs.htm
and a number of his songs are now at http://www.mp3.com/davidlylemorris
For those who speed when driving, a few hymns for you:
45 mph.................God Will Take Care of You
55 mph.................Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
65 mph.................Nearer My God to Thee
75 mph.................Nearer Still Nearer
85 mph.................This World Is Not My Home
95 mph.................Lord, I'm Coming Home
and over 100 mph.......Precious Memories
Don't forget to check out the newly-released Millennium Chorus, featuring an amazing line up of vocalists, singing some of the best new contemporary christian songs I've heard in a long time...
If you have a website that you would like us to cover in future newsletters, please email
River of Life Discount Christian Bookstore, US distributors for the Family Worship resources are online with a great site featuring an ever-increasing range of worship recordings, songbooks, etc. (including soon, for the first time in the USA, Brown Bear Music) Check it out at
Don't forget that Family Worship, as well as loads of other "grass roots level" ministries are featured in the christian sections of mp3.com - http://www.mp3.com/familyworship
and new this month, http://www.mp3.com/davidlylemorris
This newsletter is written by Mike Burn and is published by Family Worship Resources, part of Ichthus Christian Fellowship, London, UK Copyright 2000, Mike Burn. Inclusion of links and quotations does not imply full endorsement of the contents. The newsletter may be forwarded or reproduced in full or in part providing that the source is acknowledged.
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