Back to Archives    Back to FW Home

Tip - rather than spend time online reading this, select all the text (Ctrl A), copy it (Ctrl C) and then paste it (Ctrl V) into a blank document in your word processer (eg. Word, Microsoft Works or Wordperfect) and then read it offline at your leisure. Or, we've formatted the page with a blank background and no graphics to make it quick and easy to print.

Issue 1, January 1999

Dear friend

Welcome to the first ever Family Worship Newsletter, and thanks for being a
"founder subscriber". Now, if you're anything like me, the first thing you
check for on e-mail newsletters is the jokes or humour section, so the good
news is that there is a Humour spot in-between every other section. Is that
over the top? Only you can decide...

FW Site stats
Recent additions
Coming soon
What is the right model for church services?
Story behind the song
Songwriters' encouragement
Check it out...
Founder subscriber special offer
Newsletter information

FW Site stats
Since its launch 3 weeks ago on Jan 4, the site has recorded 550 visits,
from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, USA, Sweden, Australia, South
Africa, Germany, Finland, Netherlands, Singapore, Norway, Canada...and
rather a lot from Tonga (can anyone explain the Tonga connection to me?!).
Special thanks to who featured the site as their
"link of the week" Around one in ten visitors sign up for the newsletter,
and the most popular pages are the Songs page, the Kids page (now be honest
- did you visit it despite the strictly kids-only warning? Really, some
people have no self-control...), and the How to... page

Humour spot
Why was the Pharaoh's daughter such a shrewd business-woman?
She managed to extract a prophet from the bulrushes.

Recent additions
Depending when you last visited the site, you may not have seen the
following updates which have recently been made:

1. Lyrics page (   - contains
lyrics to all the FW songs (43 recorded to date), sorted by album. There is
also a RichTextFormat file available for download (which takes a few
seconds only) containing all the songs. You can easily cut and paste
individual songs into your word processing software to make acetate
masters, songsheets, etc.

2. Bible search ( - this is
a nifty programme provided by (the only chrisitan site in the
world's top 50 most-visited sites) which allows you to search for any
passage, word or phrase, in several different versions and languages. We
initially added this feature to enable children visiting the kids-only page
to look up the passage in the "Bible hero of the week" section, but it's
proved equally popular with adults. Incidentally, we're in urgent need of
some good jokes (as opposed to my bad jokes) from children, so if you have
children, get them to log on to   and send in their

3. Writer profiles added for Dave Morris and Judy Bailey (

4. How to...children's workers
( This now features one new
article, and a link to a fantastic site from South Africa (see "Check it
out..." below)

5. Songs - we've added one full song (Jesus, thank you for the cross) in
MP3 format, available as a download, which gives "near CD" quality. (If
you're looking for a fresh song for Easter, then this song could definitely
be worth checking out...) If you don't have an MP3 player, then you can get
a free one from - but it's far more confusing than
RealAudio (and I thought that was bad enough) as there are dozens of
players to choose from. The difference is that MP3 doesn't stream (or if it
does, I don't know how) so you have to download the file, and because of
the higher playback quality, it's much bigger than a RealAudio file.

Humour spot
Technical definitions: Keyboard - device for entering errors into a
Question - what is the plural of a computer mouse?

Coming soon
We will be adding music for free download and viewing online (guitar chords
only, or full piano score including guitar chords) over the next few weeks.
We will also be adding a "Song by e-mail" feature, where you will be able
to request individual songs to be sent to you by e-mail, selecting options
to receive, lyrics, guitar chords, full score, RealAudio file, and acetate
master, in the format of your choice (MS Word, Works, WordPerfect, RTF,
etc.) This will be ideal if you want to try out a particular song. Again
this will be free, but will be limited to one song per album per week,
mainly to ease our administration, but also to act as a gentle incentive to
encourage you to order the albums and songbooks! (A reminder that FW is non
profit making - no individuals benefit financially from the ministry - and
any surplus is ploughed back into future resources)

Humour spot
From genuine "Dear Pastor" letters from children...
Dear Pastor - do only good people go to heaven? I would like to know,
because then I will know that my brother won't be there...

What is the "right model" for church services?
An article in the Times newspaper (a UK daily broadsheet, with tabloid
tinges) ran an article last year suggesting that one of the reasons for
declining attendance in the Church of England (ie. Anglican denomination)
in the UK on a Sunday morning was the increasing trend for churches to put
on "Family Services", or "All-age worship" services, perhaps once a month,
where the children and youth stayed in for the whole service, rather than
going to their separate groups. The article concluded that by trying to be
all things to all people, ie. trying to please children and adults in the
same service, they were failing to do either.

Now whilst the article had a hard cynical edge (and whilst I prefer to use
the bible rather than a newspaper to decide how to model worship and church
life), it did make me think long and hard, and to re-evaluate whether what
I believed to be the ideal for worship, ie. all ages and stages worshipping
together, was in fact the best thing to aim for. To cut a long story short,
after studying the bible, and reading whatever I could find from other
worship leaders and church leaders, and discussing it with others, I came
to the conclusion that we really could and should be able to worship
together, in a way that would please God, and bless all those

If that is the case, then why does it sometimes seem such a struggle to put
it into practice? And, what are the implications for our church structures
and organisation? These are some of the issues that will be tackled in
forthcoming newsletters, but to give the conclusion before the detail :

- The starting premise should be that no one age-group is any less, nor any
more, important than another - all should be equally valued and included,
from the new-born baby to the oldest and wisest.
- There is no right or wrong model in terms of Sunday School, children's
church, etc. - it's important to hear from God what is the right model for
the present situation in your church right now, and it may be different
from what has been done in the past, or what may be done in the future, but
it needs to be right for the moment.
- Separate times of worship and teaching can have great value, and should
not necessarily be abandoned in the search of effective all-age worship
- There may be a cost (in terms of initial resistance and dis-satisfaction)
in trying to implement effective all-age worship, but it should be a cost
worth paying in the long term.
- All those involved in leading the church, from the pastor and team to the
worship leaders, from the children's workers to the cell group leaders,
should be in agreement on the vision and strategy. Regular and honest
communication can help to avoid many problems.
- The vision should be shared with the church congregation, and the
reasons behind any changes to be made should be given and explained fully.
- Stick with any changes for long enough to fully establish whether they
have been effective, but be prepared to re-evaluate regularly, and act
accordingly. There's nothing worse than not being prepared to admit that we
got it wrong or made a mistake.

Finally, for any annoyed or despondent Anglicans reading this, the
punchline is that attendance in the UK at last year's Christmas services
were the highest for many years, so perhaps the article was wrong after

Please e-mail ( with details of how worship
is structured in your church, and what has worked well, or not, in your

Future articles will include: "What about the yuff" (= youth, for those of
you not from South London, or saaf lunden) - is a separate Youth Church
necessary, ideal, or counter-productive? "What's wrong with the old hymns"
(well, nothing...) and "The role of parents in teaching children to

Humour spot
How many worship leaders does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one -
they just hold the bulb, and let the world revolve around them.

Story behind the song
Each month we'll feature one of the FW songs, and ask the writer to explain
what the inspiration for the song was, how it came to be written, and will
answer the world's most commonly asked chicken and egg question to
songwriters: What came first - the music or the lyrics, or both? Some of
the stories are frivolous and fun, some are painful and profound, and all
are unique.

This month, the story behind the second most widely-used FW song - I'm
singing your praise, Lord (FW1) - and this definitely falls in the
frivolous category...

In 1993 we were on a family holiday in the south of France, staying with
some friends in their house in a small village on the edge of the Pyrenees.
Our second daughter, Sophie, who was 4 at the time had just had a tumble
down the stone staircase, and whilst she wasn't hurt badly, she was shaken,
and crying. She came into the room where I was sitting playing the guitar,
and in an attempt to cheer her up, I started making up some words to the
chords I was strumming: "Slip, sliding away, slip sliding away, I'm falling
down the stairs, I'm slip sliding away"  I'd like to be able to say that
she stopped crying straight away, but hazy as my memory is, it's far more
likely that she went to find her Mum for some proper comfort ! In the
meanwhile, the chord progression and melody stuck with me, and eventually
evolved into the song "I'm singing your praise, Lord". You'll be pleased to
hear that I have resisted the temptation, even in my most dry and barren
times, to push my other daughters down the stairs in order to provide
inspiration for more songs..

Next month we ask Audrey Traynor for the story behind "I'm so excited" and
will find out what the connection is with a vacuum cleaner.

Humour spot
OCR bloopers (OCR is Optical Character Recognition, which enables you to
scan text into a computer and have the words "recognised", limited only by
the quality of the original text, the resolution of your scanner, and the
size of your computer memory, all of which are pretty limited in my case,
with the following genuine results)  Family Worship = Funnily Wunhip.  I'm
singing your praise, Lord = I'm singing your price, Lard.

Songwriters encouragement
One aim of FW is to encourage songwriters at a "grass roots" level in the
church to develop and use their gifting. When I first started writing
songs, I would look around in the chrisitan bookshop at all the recordings
and songbooks already available, and think "why I am bothering - there are
so many people already writing songs that can do it much better than I
can."  Aside from getting over the important issue of motivation (ie. Why
are you writing? Is it to promote yourself, or to bless others and to bring
glory to God?), there are two good reasons for continuing to write:

1. The local consideration. If you write songs with the simple aim of
blessing your local church, (and don't worry about whether they will ever
find their way out into the national or international scene), then it's my
belief that your songs will often have a prophetic element that will
certainly apply to where you are at that point in time, and may well then
have a wider applicability. Some of the best advice given to me when I
started writing was "blossom where you're planted"

2. The eternal consideration. Eternity is long enough to sing all the
worship songs ever written several times over, so if you write a song with
the aim of bringing pleasure to God, then it will never be wasted, even if
you're the only person on earth who ever sings it now.

Humour spot
Why do bagpipe players walk while they're playing?   To get away from the

Check it out...
A Manual for Children's Ministry:
This is an excellent paper, written by Mark Tittley from South Africa, with
several sections, including Understanding Children, Worship for Children,
Children and Divorce, and many others.

Humour spot  (sorry - last one)
Doctor, doctor, I keep thinking that I'm God!
Oh dear, how did that start?
Well, first I created the heavens and the earth, and then...

Newsletter information
This newsletter is written by Mike Burn and is published by Family Worship
Resources, part of Ichthus Christian Fellowship, London, UK . Copyright
1999, 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.

To subscribe, send an e-mail to with
subject blank, and subscribe in the content, or go to

To unsubscribe send an e-mail to with
subject blank, and unsubscribe in the content

Send comments or queries, or suggested articles or links for inclusion in
future newsletters to

Thanks for reading, and if you've made it this far, or even if you just
skipped to the end before hitting delete, blessings to you in Jesus' name

Back to Archives

    Back to FW Home