Chad’s India Trip updates

Version 2
The team!!

June 21, 2016

The team left Bethel at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, June 21st, for India!


June 22, 2016

  • Update from Pastor Andrew: Hello everyone from Delhi! We all are alive, but a bit sleep deprived. Sharon met us when we arrived at the YWCA here and we ate breakfast and now showing getting clean before we go explore the city. Be in prayer for Abby as her luggage did not make it here. 😦 Be in prayer for tomorrow too. We have an early train to catch tomorrow too. Praises: Tired but attitudes are great. Great weather. AC in our rooms. Our team is excited to get to our retreat and meet everyone. Thanks for praying everyone. Update hopefully in another 24 hours.


June 23, 2016

  • Picture of Chad and Will posted today in India


June 24, 2016

  • Update from Pastor Andrew – Good morning from Musoorie. Internet is very poor and hard to connect to. I apologize for delaying a bit in our communication. Thursday was a crazy day. Most of us slept ok that night but the jet lag took a lot out of us. We woke up around 5:00am and loaded into our van and we were off to the train station. Arriving there about 30 minutes later we were surrounded by men grabbing bags and fighting each other for Sharon’s bag. Sharon just laughed and said “Isn’t this just exciting” and she had the biggest smile. For her it might have been but maybe not the word our kids would use. The train station was packed with people. Everything, the people, sounds, smells, vehicles are different. Sharon told us this is how it would be for us. Every street corner, every new road would be something new for us and that is completely true! Kids peeing in the road, street vendors, dirty, beauty and the TRAFFIC! I can’t go into details until we get back. It makes my driving look perfect! We took a 6 hour train ride up to Derha dun and that actually was pretty fun. They gave us tea and cookies, breakfast, tea and cookies again. Traveling the countryside did show the beauty of the this country and as we arrived in Derha dun it sat at the base of a huge mountain. The Himalayas. So, parents where this retreat center is having to be top 3 most beautiful places I have ever seen. The drive up the mountain was just amazing and unreal. The height and valleys and villages just perched on top was so cool. We are now at the retreat center and it is an old but big building. Build sometime in the 30’s if I am remembering right. Beds are ok, temperature is PERFECT!!! Last night we had a short session where they blessed and welcomed us, sang and had fun. Kids went to bed pretty quick after that. In our debriefing meeting everyone was struggling to stay awake. Today it officially starts! Sessions, games, worship-everything. Continue to pray for our health. All have been pretty well. Ambar and I were horribly carsick on the way up here but after she threw up- all better! Haha. Pray that this retreat is a blessing to everyone. I will try and update again tomorrow if possible.

June 25, 2016

  • Update from Sam Mall: Talked to Sharon this morning. The retreat is going well. Everyone seems to be  enjoying. Small groups really bonded with games and interaction. Enthusiastic sharing of testimonies. Saturday night dramatic climax happened with superb worship, singing, and dancing. Our tonight (their Sunday am) worship is expected to be awesome. Monday activity will include baptism celebration also. Hardships, limited amenities, monkey invasion on campus did not dampen the enthusiasm. Overall report is very uplifting.  Thanks for praying.  Couple of delegates were not well and needed some medical care. Our team is doing well. – Sam

June 27, 2016

  • Another update from Sam:  This morning I talked to Sharon again.  The team is down the mountain at a hotel with relatively better amenities  compared to the retreat center.  They came through safe and sound away from the monkeys. The monkeys are noisy and amusing. But as it is with all wild life, they can be unpredictable and appear unfriendly (not always cute) at times. Our team has done their part in building some good memories of God’s grace for many young people and leaders alike. They had a fellowship meal and a visit with Tree of Life team this evening (Our morning). I look forward to their first hand report of the experience and the trip.  Let us pray them home safe and sound.
  • Here are some pics of the monkeys that visited the retreat center they were at:


June 28, 2016

Lots of updates today!! They are back in area with better wi-fi:

  • Update from Sharon Mall:

    Written two days ago…we are now down the mountain and having some down time before heading back to Delhi. Tomorrow I take the team to a city of temples and pilgrimage on the Ganges where they can get some more understanding of Hinduism. This city is famous as the city where the Beatles went many years ago. Tomorrow evening we take the train to Delhi.  Keep praying still much ahead. So far it has been an amazing trip. The verse Lauren gave me when I left has been so significant. John 7:38.

    Dear Friends,

    Greetings from the beautiful Himalayas! We just closed an amazing youth retreat here…that was definitely an Ephesians 3:20 retreat! The teaching, worship, fellowship and games were awesome. The Indian youth and American youth mixed well. Today was closing day with pictures and send off in different directions in North India. As we sent them off we knew they had been filled up, refreshed, and were overflowing. We pray that from these young people Rivers of Living Water will flow to the parched places of India.

    The youth travel team that came with me is healthy and enjoying experiencing a new culture and making new friends. Today After lunch we went on a hike to the top of a mountain where there are Tibetan prayer flags. The view was awesome.

    Tomorrow one of the Indian youth is following the Lord in the waters of obedience. Our group will leave here after breakfast and do a bit more sightseeing and then head down the mountain to a very cold mountain stream. I am so thankful to be here because we have known this girl since she was a baby. In fact, Sam and I personally sponsor her schooling. She calls us grandma and grandpa in Hindi. She has one more year of high school left. She has become quite a young godly leader. Isn’t God amazing…to allow me to be here at this special time!

    Well, monkeys are jumping on the roof now. That has also been entertaining!

    I have several more days with the youth. They leave early Friday morning. I will visit network friends in Delhi then fly back to Kolkata for a couple of closing days.   …

    Please continue to pray. Much is still on the agenda. Pray also for Sam and for stability for my Dad. I will leave India in July 4th night. Thanks for partnering to bring freedom and release to captives.
    When you celebrate the 4th—Pray for true freedom for all who are oppressed!

    Love and prayers!

  • Some pictures sent from Chad (text and Facebook)
A selfie from India
The team!


June 29, 2016

  • Update from Sam Mall:  Talked to Sharon today,
    After getting done in Dehradun with a fellowship dinner with TOL families, the team had a good rest and in the morning they went to Rishikesh for a visit. They were able to visit with some of the retreat youth on their turf and in their fellowship setting. They  were able to develop friendships and witness the real life experiences of young believers and their families in the field. The very presence and  sharing to bring encouragement they ministered God’s grace as a team. They also did some sight seeing in the area and got to dip their toes in the river Ganges (No swim).  They visited the holy city of Haridwar (Look it up on Google) by the river Ganges and saw some of the temples and the city sites on the way to the train station where they boarded their train for Delhi. I talked to Sharon and Pastor Andrew before they got to the train. I talked again with Sharon while they were already on the train and as they reached the next stop on the way to Delhi. They sounded great and thus far healthy and positive. Today late morning our time (11pm for them)they arrived in Delhi and resting now in real time. till may be 9:00pm for us). Some last minute closure and shopping outing is scheduled while we are asleep here tonight.  The team will be ready to go to the airport to catch their flight home.  Please pray them through with safe travel and return entry. First hand rendition of the journey with juicy tidbits and personal touches will be upon us soon. – Sam Mall


Song Discovery Creative Conference – “God Still Speaks”

This past week, I attended the Song Discovery Creative Conference in Nashville, put on the by the good folks at Worship Leader Magazine.  This is the first time they have held this type of conference, expanding the Song Discovery in the Round conference to include tracks for authors and visual artists the year. Since I’ve been writing more CD reviews and articles recently, I focused on the track for authors, although some of my workshops were from the songwriting and visual artist track.  I found this conference to be very  purposeful, worthwhile and real. Here’s just a few of the highlights.

Thursday Morning Worship and General Session

Darrell Harris – The conference started in a way I didn’t expect, although was a welcome change. Instead of starting with an upbeat song or video, Darrell started off with a short devotional on how we are to imitate Christ in our imagining and creating.

Cindy Morgan – Cindy led us in a time of worship with her band, which consisted of Cindy on keys/guitar, along with percussion, mandolin, violin, and banjouke (I think that’s what she called it!)

Chuck Fromm – Chuck is on staff at Worship Leader, and introduced the theme for the conference, which is “God Still Speaks”, which you can see in the banner on top!

Ian Morgan Cron – Ian is an Episcopal priest and author, and his talk was definitely “interesting”.  He started by taking us through a prayer of sound and silence, chanting “Shalom” in unison, then harmony, then silence.  It was quite awkward, and not my favorite part of the conference. But, I understood what he was trying to do.  He talked about how God speaks to us in the silence, and the importance of going deeper with our relationship with the Lord by listening to Him in the silence to discover our real selves. If we want to create good art, it needs to come out of that place of silence with the Lord, and not out of all the noise around us.

Thursday General Author Session

Pete Wilson – Pete is the pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, and spoke to the authors about some things he’s learned in his experience as an author.

  • If you have writer’s block, think of it more as being “empty” than being “blocked”
    • Find things that fill you up (movies, playing with kids, etc) and do that, then go back and try again
  • Write in such a way that opens closed doors
  • Write in community
    • God uses community to push us
  • Don’t write for the critics
    • Don’t confuse who you are with what you create
    • Don’t look to your accomplishments to get your self-worth
    • Our value is not based on performance, and doesn’t decline as we fail
    • To protect against that, visualize the people you are writing for and write for them
  • Create for His glory, not your approval
    • Our writing is an act of worship, not something we do to gain approval

Thursday Afternoon Workshops

“Above the Fold – Writing for Mass Media”Jeremy Armstrong
Jeremy is the managing editor for Worship Leader Magazine, and in this workshop he talked about writing for magazines. He gave tips, as an editor, about how to increase the chances of having your submission considered, and not just deleted from the inbox.

  • Things to avoid
    • Cutesy, too eloquent
    • Insporational pieces, over-personalized stories, poorly crafted blog entries, scholarly pieces, sloppy work
  • What to submit
    • The word “submission” in the subject line
    • Articles that are exclusive to you that would be helpful to others
    • How-to articles
    • Check his editorial schedule, and submit things on a topic of an upcoming article

“Inspiring Creativity” – Jennie Lee Riddle

Songwriter Jennie Lee Riddle shared some of her thoughts with other songwriters on how to inspire your creativity. Some interesting things she mentioned:

  • She rarely listens to music.  To avoid the chance of copying someone else, she rarely listens to music in her genre.
  • Push yourself, write lyrics outside your genre, work on your craft, practice and write with metronome
  • People inspire her – she writes about what and who God directs her to see with her eyes.
  • Our creativity should be a servant for the church, not for ourselves

Thursday evening Night of Worship
Definitely another highlight of the conference, the Worship Night on Thursday was a wonderful time of celebration and praise.  Michael W. Smith hosted the evening with performances by Michael Farren, Jennie Lee Riddle, All Sons & Daughters, Meredith Andrews, Tommy Walker and more.

Revelation Song
Jennie Lee Riddle singing "Revelation Song" with Michael Farren on guitar and Michael W. Smith on piano

Friday Morning General Session

Steve McPherson – Steve is the head of the publishing department at Hillsong Church.  He had a fascinating story of how he got involved with the worship department at Hillsong.

  • Power of knowing the purpose of your art
    • “Art is to make clear the beautiful” – to bring the beauty of God into clear view for people to see and worship
  • Power of knowing the direction of your art
    • We are uniquely gifted to write songs for our church at this time.
    • If we’re going to write songs for the church, we need to direct our art with the church in mind. Know who God has called you to serve
  • Power of surrendering your art
    • Our desire for Him needs to be greater than our desire for art
    • Serve your local church without thinking of career path
    • Your lifestyle offstage is more important to your relevancy than what you wear on stage
  • Power of combining your art
    • Bring your unique voice and art and combine it with others at your church for greater impact
  • The Stewardship of our Art
  • Mentoring

Friday Afternoon Workshops

“Improving Your Voice”Chance Scoggins – Chance is a vocal instructor and professional singer in Nashville, and he gave a very helpful workshop on how a good singer can become a great singer.

  • A good singer knows his voice; a great singer will take the opportunity to take his voice and stretch it
    • Find the brightest part of your voice, and the darkest part of your voice; where does your voice sound best?
    • Smile when you sing – it will immediately make your voice sound better
    • Find the most important word in each phrase, and emphasize it
  • A good singer sings with phrases; a great singer intentionally starts and ends phrases
    • Don’t sing the chorus, then the verse, etc..; sing this word, then the next word, then the next…
  • A good singer expresses the heart of the lyric; a great singer expresses the lyrics from their own heart
  • A good singer communicates with their voice; a great singer communicates with their voice, mind and body
  • A good singer conveys confidence; a great singer is confident
    • Be confident in your calling
  • A good singer does their very best; a great singer understands that it will take work to be excellent

“Writing for the Web” – Jeremy Armstrong
In this session, Jeremy focused on writing for the web, instead of in magazines.

  • Decide your strategy – will your site by a dynamic place of action, or an online brochure for events
  • Understand the goal of online reader – to find useful information as quick as possible
  • Highlighted words, different size fonts, action-oriented, meaningful headings and sub-headings, bulleted lists, 1 idea per paragraph

Friday Afternoon Closing Session

Israel Houghton – Israel Houghton closed out the conference with an encouraging talk to us as creatives. A few key points:

  • Good production is not worship
  • If a cake is really, really good, you don’t even need the icing. Cameras, lights, etc… are icing. It’s not about the icing.
  • The more time we spend worshipping alone off the stage, the better we will be as worshippers on the stage
  • We always should remember we “get to” lead worship, not “got to”.
  • Keep our focus on pleasing the King, not the people

Overall, this was an excellent conference! It was great to see so many people that I’ve met either online or at previous conferences. It’s always good to be challenged, stretched, renewed and reminded of why we do what we do.  Thanks to Suzie and all the others who worked so hard to organize it!

Sunday Recap – April 22, 2012

Contemporary Services

  • “You Are Holy (Prince of Peace)” (Mark Imboden and Tammi Rhoton)
    • It’s been a long time since we’ve done this song, but I like to pull it out from time to time. Nice song to open with.
  • “Where The Spirit of the Lord Is” (Christy Nockels, Nathan Nockels, Chris Tomlin)
    • I pulled this song out since it fit so well with our theme. I like the song, but I’m not sure it’s the best one for congregational use. I remember that now from when we introduced it a while back. It seems like it should be an easy song for people to sing, but for some reason, people have not engaged with the song any time we’ve done it.
  • “Victory” (Cody Carnes)
    • This is a great song from Gateway Worship! Again, it fit with our theme of freedom in Christ, and so fun to play and sing!
  • “I Am Free”(Jon Egan)
    • I know this isn’t a new song, by any means, but it was the first time we’ve done the song at Bethel.  With the click track from Praise Charts, this was a great way to end the service! I was a bit worried about the high range of the song, but doing it in C helped.  The only tricky part was coordinating the vamp section with the click.

What a great morning! We’re going through a series on Galatians, and we focused this morning on freedom in Christ.  We also had a baptism service at the end and 6 people were baptized! Elisha’s testimony was so powerful, and truly an example of how God changes lives.

Linked Files
Planning Center details


Cafe Connection Service

Zack led the team in the Cafe this week and picked out some great songs.

Linked Files
Planning Center Details


Traditional Service

  • O Worship The King
  • His Name Is Wonderful
  • There’s Something About That Name
  • Blessed Be The Name
  • I Will Sing of My Redeemer

Linked Files
Planning Center Details


This post is part of the Sunday Setlist at The Worship Community, where worship leaders share recaps and setlists from this past weekend.  I’m heading to the Song Discovery Creative Conference this week, so Zack will be leading the teams this next week! Hope you had a great week!

Sunday Recap – April 15, 2012

Contemporary Services

I guess it was a Matt Redman kind of morning! I didn’t realize until I typed this all out that our second set, “10,000 Reasons” and “You Alone Can Rescue”, was written by the same duo! Jake did a great job on the mandolin solo for “10,000 Reasons”!  This was the week after Easter, and I’m not exactly sure why, but my voice was shot! For the early service there was hardly anything.  God is faithful, though, and my voice lasted through all 3 services.  I was so grateful for the rest of the team today!  You can watch the video of this service and also see the Planning Center details.

Cafe Connection Service

We had four songs planned, but ended up doing only three.  This was the service my voice was still not there, so thanks for Brenda and Denise for stepping up and taking the lead!

Traditional Service

  • “Blessed Assurance”
  • “God of Grace and God of Glory”
  • “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust and Obey”
  • “Be Thou My Vision”
  • “My Jesus I Love Thee”
  • “Rejoice the Lord Is King”

Since I was leading in the Cafe, Cherry led the team in here from the piano today. It was great to have Paul and Annette back from wintering down south! You can watch the video of this service and see the Planning Center details.

This post is part of the Sunday Setlist blog at The Worship Community, where worship leaders share their recaps and setlists from this past weekend’s services. Hope you had a great Sunday!

Sunday Recap – April 1, 2012

Your Great Name – Easter Musical

This morning, we presented the Easter worship musical Your Great Name: A Worship Event Lifting Up the Name of Jesus in both of our morning worship services.  We had a choir of about 50 people, along with several soloists and a duet, along with a worship leader lead us in worship.  About once a year, usually in the Spring, we put together a choir made up of volunteers from the church to present a musical.

Everyone did a super job today!  This particular musical was put together by Gary Rhodes, and published by Lillenas Music.  Songs this morning included:

  • “Jesus Saves” (Tim Hughes)
  • “Rise Up” (Josh Moore)
  • “Lord Almighty” (Kristian Stanfill)
  • “No One Higher” (Steve Fee)
  • “The Stand” (Joel Houston)
  • “Your Great Name” (Michael Neale & Krissy Nordhoff)
  • “Because He Lives”
  • “O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” (Bob Kauflin)
  • “Always” (Kristian Stanfill)
  • “O The Blood” (Thomas Miller)
  • “Revelation Song” (Jennie Lee Riddle)
  • “God Be Praised” (David Moore)
  • “Oh What A Day” (Mark Altrogge)
  • “It Is Finished” (Matt Papa and Jennie Lee Riddle)

We used an accompaniment DVD, which had the split-track accompaniment along with all of the lyrics and videos on the screen. We encouraged the congregation to sing along and worship with us, rather than just watch.  Everything went smoothly, the choir and everyone did a super job! You can watch the video of the service.

Several years ago, we decided to present our “Easter” musical on Palm Sunday, rather than on Easter. We want to make our Easter Services have the same feel as one of our regular services throughout the year. Since we only have a musical like this about once a year, we would rather do it on a week like this, and then next week we’ll have a message from our pastor along with our worship teams and worship choir lead the music, as we do throughout the rest of the year.

This post is part of the Sunday Setlist blog at The Worship Community, where worship leaders share their setlists and a recap of worship services from this weekend.

Sunday Recap – March 25, 2012

Contemporary Services

We had another powerful morning of worship at Bethel today, as we once again focused on the cross.  Pastor Tim has been leading us in our journey to Easter by taking a close-up look at the events surrounding the death of Christ by both reading the Word, but also getting a visual reminder by watching it in movie form from the book of Matthew.  We started the service with “Here For You” which worked great as a call to worship, helping people focus their thoughts and be reminder why wer were there. We moved right in the upbeat song of praise “Awesome Is The Lord Most High”.   Just before the message, we introduced a new song from Paul Baloche’s The Same Love project called “All Because of the Cross”.  It was a perfect lead in to the message about why Christ had to die.  The song combines the familiar words of “Nothing But the Blood” on the verses, a new chorus, and ends with a bridge that hints at the old familiar chorus “O the Blood Of Jesus”. Combine all those elements with some really interesting rhythms and chord choices, and you have a great song! I got several comments after the service how much people liked the new song, which doesn’t always happen.  You can watch a video of this service and also see the Planning Center details.

Cafe Connection Service

Zack led the Cafe worship team this morning, and did a great job! It was kind of a stressful morning today because our church hosted a men’s homeless shelter this past week, and this morning they were still there up until an hour before the service started. We had to transform our Family Life Center from homeless shelter into Cafe very quickly! But, with a lot of help, it went fine. It made me truly have compassion on those people who need to set up their teams equipment every week! You can see the Planning Center details for this service.

Traditional Service

  • “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
  • “To God Be The Glory”
  • “I Will Praise Him”
  • “Were You There?”
  • “Calvary Covers it All”

We had a special guest in all of our services today; Dr. Dwight Perry, the Executive Minister for Converge Great Lakes, was here for a short greeting in each service. Our church is part of Converge Great Lakes, also known as the Great Lakes Baptist Conference, which is part of the Converge Worldwide (Baptist General Conference).  You can watch the video of this service and see the Planning Center details.

This post is part of the Sunday Setlist blog at The Worship Community, where worship leaders share setlists and recaps from today’s services. Thanks for reading, and I hope you had a great morning as well!

Sunday Recap – March 18, 2012

Contemporary Service

We had a powerful morning of worship at Bethel, with a special emphasis on remembering the crucifixion.  We’re continuing to tweak the order of service to get the flow just right.  We introduced a new song this week from the new Passion album White Flag called “Jesus Son Of God”. I  first heard this song while watching the livestream of the Passion conference recently in Atlanta.  As I was listening to it back then I thought to myself that as soon as that song became available, we’d use it. The timing worked out perfectly since we’re in a series on the cross!  I also included something new this week. A team from our church recently attended the Pulse Arts & Worship Conference in Madison, WI.  We were challenged there to continue to look for new ways to incorporate the arts into our worship. One of the ladies on our team who went to the conference had written a poem about the cross, which she read as a transition between two of our songs. I thought it worked really well! You can watch the video of this service and see the Planning Center details.

Cafe Connection Service

Zack led the team this week in the Cafe. I love this service! It’s such a cool atmosphere and setting for this worship service, and there is such a sense of community building week to week. You can see the Planning Center details for this service.

Traditional Service

  • Praise To The Lord the Almighty
  • How Firm A Foundation
  • He Lifted Me
  • When I Survey The Wondrous Cross
  • Redeemed

The theme was also on the cross in this service, and Pastor Tim has been using the visual Bible from the book of Matthew to give people a visual reminder of the story of the cross. It’s been effective, but I was there was a newer visual Bible DVD to use that didn’t look quite so outdated.  For some, though, it’s the first time seeing something like this.  You can see the video of this service.

This post is part of the Sunday Setlists log at The Worship Community, where worship leaders share setlists and recaps from this weekend. Thanks for reading!

Sunday Recap – February 12, 2012

Contemporary Services

This was quite an eventful morning! Ever have one of those mornings where almost nothing goes as planned, yet somehow it all works out? Well we experienced that this morning. This set list above didn’t happen in either service, although  it was the plan.   We had four very beautiful baby dedications in each service, and instead of the eight minutes we had planned, it turned out to be closer to 15. So, needless to say we adjusted our service accordingly, and cut a song in each service.  How do you handle things like baby dedications in your services? Everyone did a great job today, though! We had the worship choir sing along with the team and band, so the energy level was very high!  “Great I Am” is such a powerful song! If you haven’t tried this one yet, you need to at least listen to it. We had Jared Anderson at our church last October, and ever since then our church has embraced this song as a vehicle to just bask in the greatness and power of God. “You Are Good” was a newer song for us this morning – a great new upbeat song of praise from Bethel Live. You can watch the video of this service and see the Planning Center details.

Cafe Connection Service

Marv led the team in the Cafe this morning, and picked some great songs to along with our theme of “The Grace Factor”.  Pastor Tim had an excellent sermon on grace, and we even had our own baby dedication in the Cafe – a first!  You can see the Planning Center details for this service.

Traditional Service

  • This Is My Father’s World
  • Fairest Lord Jesus
  • Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
  • All That Thrills My Soul
  • Grace Greater Than Our Sin
  • Wonderful Grace Of Jesus

There are so many great hymns about God’s grace that it was hard to pick, but I had to include the last one – so fun to sing!  You can see the Planning Center details and the video for this service.

This post is part of the Sunday Setlists blog at The Worship Community, where worship leaders share their setlists and service ideas from today.  I included a pic below that I took this morning before everything got started.  Thanks for reading, and I hope your services went great today!

My view for this morning.

Sunday Recap – February 5, 2012

Contemporary Services

We had a great morning at Bethel, and one of the coolest things was the band today was made up primarily of high school students! They all did a super job! We introduced “Like An Avalance” today for the first time as a special before communion. Bekah and Sheri did super!  We had quite  a bit of trouble with our camera system today, which was unfortunate. I think we have everything worked out, so we should be good for next week, but we only were able to broadcast 1 service today, instead of all of them.  This was the first day that WorshipStream had added the chat feature to our streaming, so I was looking forward to seeing how that worked.  You can’t see the video for this service, since the cameras weren’t working, but you can see the Planning Center details.

Cafe Connection Service

You can see the Planning Center details for this service.

Traditional Service

  • “I Sing the Mighty Power of God”
  • “He Hideth My Soul”
  • “We Are Called to Be God’s People”
  • “Behold the Lamb (Communion Song)” (Keith and Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend)
  • “There Is A Fountain Flowed With Blood”

The cameras worked for this service today, so you can see the video of this service and also see the Planning Center details.

This post is part of the Sunday Setlists blog at The Worship Community, where worship leaders share recaps and setlists from today’s services.

Desiring God Conference for Pastors – Day Three

Day Three at the Desiring God conference was a shorter day, but a great way to end the conference! Overall, this was a good conference. The theme was woven into all of the sessions, but it seemed like it might have been a bit overdone, or stretched a bit too far.

Today was probably my favorite day, with a session by Ramez Attalah with a focus on evangelism, and then a panel discussion with questions from the audience.

Ramez Atallah

“Pastoring with Vision, Creativity, and Courage in Hard Places”by Ramez Atallah

What a great session! This was one of my favorite sessions in the whole conference.  Ramez is serving as the general secretary of the Bible Society of Egypt and shared some great insights on what is happening in Egypt right now, as well as a detailed history of Christianity in Egypt and finally some leadership principles we can gain from his experience.

He started with a fascinating story of how John Mark was the first missionary to Egypt in AD 43, after he had been written off by Paul.  He shared how Egyptians were involved with the spread of Christianity at the Council of Nicea, and other important contributions.  John Mark went back to Egypt but was martyred there.  Even though Egypt was one of the first Christian nations, the country eventually became mostly Muslim, with now only about 10% Christian.

A Scottish missionary, Rev. John Hogg, came to Egypt to revive the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt back in the 19th century. He wasn’t received well by the Coptic church, thinking he was coming to force their religion on them.  There was a man named Tanassah that the Coptics had hoped would argue against the missionaries for them, because back then the priests in that church were not well educated, but he actually hosted them in his home, and began to support the missionaries. He was excommunicated from the orthodox church, and became the first elder in the new Protestant church.  Tanassah became a missionary and his goal was to regain the orthodox church.

The Coptic church saw what the Protestant church was doing to reach the people, especially with the kids, and decided to host their own Sunday School, a new concept for them! They needed teachers, so they had their brightest students actually open and read the Bible themselves, another new concept, in order to teach the kids. These Sunday School teaches eventually became revived and made alive through the Scriptures and the Orthodox church had its own revival through them. So the two churches – the Protestant and the Orthodox churches existed separately, but side by side, as it is to this day.

Ramez then told his story about how he grew up in Egypt in a small Episcopal church, but had no relationship with Jesus. His grandfather took hold of him and plotted a course for his life, since his grandfather had no sons of his own, only daughters. He wanted his grandson to carry on the family business of engineering.  Because of turmoil in Egypt he fled to Canada with his grandparents when he was 16. His grandfather soon died, and grandmother left the country, so he was left alone to fend for himself there.  He went to college there, was saved while there, and began to work with InterVarsity reaching the campus for Christ. He had a burden, though, for Egypt. So 18 years later, went back to Egypt with his wife (American turned Canadian) and two children.

He had a burden to reach the youth of the Protestant church there by the use of inductive Bible study. By God’s grace, he ended up being accepted in both the Coptic and Protestant churches, and allowed to teach them how to study the Bible, and my doing that, many people were saved.  He eventually became the director of the Bible Society in Egypt and works to this day distributing tracts and Bibles to people there, reaching that country for Christ.  He shared some very creative ways they work within the laws there to accomplis this task.   He spoke of the recent revolutions there in Egypt, and how now the people that are the most in danger are the moderate Muslims; the Christians will probably be left alone, but yet many want to emigrate and many already have left.

Then he connected the dots for us, and shared the big picture of how God works.  When he went back to Egypt, he found a family picture, and in it was his great-grandfather. He was holding a Bible, which was quite unusual in that day. He shared with us that he discovered his great-grandfather was none other than Tanassah, the man who had helped start the Protestant churched in Egypt many years ago, and was one of the first missionaries there to reach the orthodox church.  God’s plan wasn’t for him to be the heir of his grandfather and take over his business. It was to be the heir of his great-grandfather, Tanassah, and spread the news of Christ to both Protestants and the Orthodox church. Amazing!

He then shared five leadership principles he has learned through his life. He said effective leaders have:

  1. Vision which empowers others
  2. Trust in God’s sovereignty which gives meaning to seeming failures
  3. Creativity which transforms obstacles into opportunities
  4. Faith which respects people who are eccentric and/or marginal
  5. Humility which allows them to be mission-oriented rather than gift-oriented
    • About this, he said that some have a sense that we need to be fulfilled by using our gifts, but God never promised that we would be in a place where we can use all our gifts.
    • God calls us to a mission, and then asks us to muster any gifts or skills we need to accomplish that mission. We may have to say “no” to other gifts we have.
    • Where God has put me is more important than the gifts He has given me. He develops the gifts/skills in you to accomplish the task He has called you to.
    • Don’t run after your gifts, run after God’s calling for you life

He concluded with an amazing story of a garbage village in Egypt; a village that is actually built on a garbage dump, and all the families there are garbage workers. They live among the garbage. It’s a very dirty place, and people living there feel like they themselves are garbage. His wife, Rebecca, felt a burden to reach that community, and along with the Coptic priest that was assigned to that area, began to work on reaching that village for Christ.  Amazing things happened! A church was built, a school came to be, and kids and families were reached for Christ. The housing and public services improved.

The priest wanted to build a cathedral, so he excavated the mountain right next to this village, and built a huge cave church. It has now become the largest church in all of  the Middle East, seating about 15,000! On 11/11/11, they held a service combining Christians from both the Protestant and Orthodox churches for a time of worship in these cave churches. Over 50,000 people were there lifting up the name of Christ amidst this time of turmoil in Egypt. At one point during this 12 hour “Night of Prayer and Return to God”, this huge crowd shouted the name of Jesus for 10 minutes straight!  This was an amazing story of God’s redemption and how He is at work all around the world!

Cave Church

“Q & A Panel” with all the speakers

This final session brought back all of the speakers for one last time to answer questions submitted by conference attendees.  There were several questions that asked the speakers to dive deeper into topics they brought up in earlier talks, and some other general questions.  Several of the questions dealt with this main topic of masculinity in the church, like “What is Biblical femininity?”, “Advice for fathers of daughters?”, and “Disciplining Foster Children?”.

One of the questions that received the most time was “How to balance strictness with grace?” which led to a good discussion between John Piper and Doug Wilson, mainly, about the role of anger in discipline.  Wilson maintained that when you are angry at your child for what he/she has done, you are not then qualified to discipline them. You need to wait until emotions have settled before carrying out discipline, so as to avoid disciplining out of anger. Piper didn’t disagree with that, but just added that it’s good for kids sometimes to see the righteous anger that should accompany severe infractions of the family rules, such as disrespecting mom.  All agreed that anger itself is not bad, but that there needed to be control and it should not be motivation for discipline.

The next line of questioning had to do with worship, which I was glad to hear.  Doug Wilson was asked to clarify a point he made about how corporate worship is an attack on the culture. His main point there was that when we gather to worship the Father, we are basically saying to the leaders of this world that there is a higher power that you have to answer to. They don’t want to hear that, and it is threatening to them.  There was also a question about how music lyrics now can be somewhat “feminine”, and how to reconcile that with our discussion about masculinity in the church. Piper acknowledged that, and said there needs to be a balance. There should be a strong feel to worship, but we also need to realize that it is masculine to be emotionally engaged about the love of the King.

The session wrapped up with questions about who you should have around you to challenge you and help you move along in your walk, and finally encouragement to fathers who have grown children or older kids and who have not been good fathers so far that it’s not too late to change, or to fix relationships.  We just need to be honest with kids, acknowledge what we’ve done wrong, and keep walking into tough situations, not away from.