Resource. Recover. Re-ignite.

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Red Online Worship History Course with Dan Wilt


This is part of the end project with Essentials Red course.

Resource – Recover – Re-ignite

What Winston Churchill said of us is true: ‘We shape our buildings and after our buildings shape us”.

Over the years, our church building has seen many walls knocked down, literally, to create more space for growth.

As we have studied the Language of Space, it is obvious where we now gather needs attention

Another strong theme is that I want this to reflect a deeper desire, that over time, our liturgy again will be strengthened and enriched being the living ‘work of the people’. For example, we are seeing momentum of confidence and expression with our artists so we want to invite their gifts to continue to rise among us.


So, this project is a simple tool and part of a bigger plan.

My hope is that this will be a step which may inspire reclaiming our interaction with God in prayer expressions through visual art and beyond.


1. Resource

Step 1. Offer this as a resource.

  • It ties together different languages of worship which need to be reclaimed in our church. (prayer, art, Scripture).
  • It will go on our website (to be used in personal devotion, or offered to small groups).
  • It will also be available to our worship leaders (one slide could be used, for example maybe during a worship gathering)

2. Recover

Step 2: Print slides to go up in our Prayer Room.

  • We have a space set aside for prayer in our building.
  • Our hope was that it would be filled with different expressions of prayer. I would love that space to inspire our hearts, and enlarge our vision in prayer.
  • Our visual artists are currently offering their gifts towards a labyrinth experience for Easter, so after that is finished I will invite/enlist their ideas/gifts to bring for the Prayer Room.

3. Re-ignite

Step 3: I anticipate a further step might be to have a night together with artists, to widen the invitation to bring other elements of expression to our gathered worship space.


If anyone has any thoughts to add, or tips to contribute, please let me know.


Concluding thoughts for Essentials Red

708451_hourglass_3 For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Red Online Worship History Course with Dan Wilt



We all have marked, memorable moments which have shaped and sustained our personal history in the journey of aligning our life with Jesus.  

Being inclined to easily forget, we intentionally re-visit the Story we are in, to regain the impact and meaning.

Our living worship demands constant remembrance and recovery of the ideas and events that have shaped us.

So too, we will find history and tradition guiding our communal worship compass towards our future.

It calls us to REMEMBER and RECOVER the wisdom enfolded in worship from past days.

We RE-ENTER the power of daily/weekly/yearly and lifetime patterns which inform and invite us into the rhythms of God’s creation.

We RE-INVIGORATE the value and importance of physical environment, aesthetics and architecture with the understanding that it can powerfully augment our heart expression in worship.

We REDISCOVER the truth that the substance of our prayer frames what we believe. Prayer is to be rediscovered, both the heartfelt expressions of spontaneous prayer as well as the riches of written and established prayers from past and present.

We RE-INTEGRATE the public reading Scripture, as we prayerfully consider creative ways to reclaim its importance by bringing it back from the margins into the centre.

We RECALL the significance of sacraments which Jesus initiated and invited us to participate in. We anticipate the Holy Spirit revealing the mystery beyond words, as found in the symbolic actions in Eucharist and in Baptism.

We RE-ENACT these symbolic actions, knowing they convey the significant power of that event into the present.

We RECOVER the power of art and music as soul languages, which allow bridges of access and windows to the soul. In doing so, we participate in reflections of God’s heart, both to and through us.

We RE-CREATE many intentional opportunities to retell His-story, and engage hearts in refreshed ways in our day. We collaborate in recognition that these windows of beauty open up infinite ways for us to meet with God.

We seek to REGAIN ground lost, both in past and present worship expression.

We set our hearts on creating many opportunities to explore and RE-PRESENT the Story, in diverse languages and with unceasing devotion to God our Father.


*This is a summary of the 5 weeks and my next blog entry will be a creative project pulling out an example of some of the above.

Essentials Red, Week 3

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Red Online Worship History Course with Dan Wilt


Vincent Donavon, in his book, Christianity Rediscovered reveals insights about rediscovering the gospel as he lived among the Masai in Tanzania. He was on a voyage of discovery about how to communicate being a follower of Christ to a people who had no pre-conceived notions of the good news of Jesus. He wrestled with things like the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, and how to connect that meaningfully for the Masai people.

His journey with them, led him to say “Do not try to call them back to where they were and do not try to call them to where you are, as beautiful as that place may seem to you. You must have the courage to go with them to a place neither you or they have been before!“.1

This provides such a framework for me as I consider the Language of Baptism and the Eucharist, as I think that many of us come to the Table, so to speak, with many preconceived notions.

“Preserving tradition is done by driving to the heart of it to understand its significance, and then by doing our best to represent it in our own context.”2.

Reading of the history and ‘tradition’ that has grown up around these two sacraments, I realise we need both courage to go with our people to a place we have never been before, but also to constantly be on the voyage of discovery with them to re-invest, re-frame and re-connect with the meaning of Baptism and the Eucharist. Re-enactment has to be filled with meaning and connection.

 A sacrament “… is literally a “sacred action,” an activity that declares an inward reality, reclaims a pivotal act or idea and invites the participant into the saving power of the past event through reenactment.” 3.


When it comes to re-enactment of the past, Jonny Baker has over the years, given me many signposts in the journey of working with the traditions and liturgies of the Church, giving an anchor in our fast changing culture. He is one of the courageous who I see navigating that in creative and often playful ways.4.


This week in our online classroom, I see there are other courageous hearts across the world reflecting on and reaching forward towards being prophetically faithful to two significant sacraments in following Jesus. For many of us, we have just arrived in our ‘Africa’ and are learning the language and just beginning our journey. Others of us are laying down our preconcieved ideas to re-frame a language that has become so familiar to us but needs reconnection. It’s a journey of discovery to reclaim meaning in our own hearts and with the people we are travelling with.

[1] Donavon, Vincent. Christianity Rediscovered, Fides/Claretian Press, Chicago, 1978

[3] Wilt, Dan. ESSENTIALS IN WORSHIP HISTORY: The Language Of Baptism: Essentials Red, St Stephen’s University, 2009  p23

Essentials Red Week 2

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Red Online Worship History Course with Dan Wilt

“The rule of prayer determines the rule of belief. In other words, how and what we pray or sing will tend to shape what we believe, as well as working the other way around.[1]


Spontaneous public praying is something our church community is re-learning. I celebrate the different opportunities and contexts that this is coming.


We have also set aside a dedicated space in our building for prayer.

Right now it’s called the Prayer Room, but I’m aware that it has not yet become that.

I am reminded that we need to be intentional in that endeavour. There’s so much potential there. I have been inspired by hearing what other Vineyard churches around the world are doing in the rich conversation that is going on around the Languages of Prayer and Scripture in our Essentials Red classroom this week.  It has unloaded an array of incredible expressions from our classmates from around the world.


Dan Wilt reminded us that “across worship history, we also experience many creative writers, leaders and orators documenting the prayers they are praying for those they lead in the present and for posterity to come”[2].


We were pointed towards documented prayers such as St Patrick’s Breastplate and St Symeon’s prayer.

“The people of God have filled their prayer language not only with theological riches across the ages, but also with the riches of their own perspectives, personalities, times and places. We have the same potential to write meaningful prayers today – prayers that could last far beyond our lifetimes in our usefulness for worship.”[3]


In the last two years, I personally have found inspiration through Crafted Prayer. [4]  


It can be a prayer intentionally crafted in response to the season God has you in, or the word He is speaking to us, or maybe a new place He is leading us into.

It brings in the intentionality, the deliberateness that lingers with the beauty of crafting a prayer, a song, a sermon, any of the auditory offerings we know.


We have to learn to be still, how to worship, how to be thankful and then listen, write down key words and phrases and get a sense of objective.  Then look at the key words and phrases and begin to put them in the form of a prayer.  Scripture or pictures may come, so we then build those in.


I have seen this become a significant tool for my own prayer life, as well as for intentional praying for our church community. It becomes not only fuel and focus but also empowerment.


“The prayer that brings about union with God is not the active prayer of petitions and requests. It is the contemplative prayer; the prayer of a heart that is fully open to God. In the prayer of the heart we contemplate the world that will come and call upon God to empower that world now in the way we live”.[5]

[1] Wilt, Dan. ESSENTIALS IN WORSHIP HISTORY: The Language Of Prayer: Essentials Red, St Stephen’s University, 2009

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[5] Webber, Robert E. Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year. (Michigan: Baker Books, 2004), p.66



Let it speak (Essentials Red 09)

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Red Online Worship History Course with Dan Wilt


St Patrick's Cathedral


As we engage with thoughts about the language of Time and Space in our first week of Essentials Red, we are thinking about:


What roles landscapes, architecture, atmosphere played in cultivating a living worship expression in each age? Do buildings, spaces and physical locations have any influence on us in our offerings of devotion to God?

Christians throughout time have seen space as part of their physical worship expression.


Compared to many cities of the world, we only have a few cathedrals in our city. This amazing statement seen in the picture above is found at one of them. I was reminded of it as I’ve moved through the content of RED this week. This Cathedral speaks in our city, drawing our attention to God.

It speaks a language from a people who were…”expressing their faith in God, and supporting the faith of the people.” [1] 

If we miss the heart behind why this grand space was originally created, then this welcome to point us to that reminder of its presence.

Dan Wilt says that “space is meant to amplify something that is happening in the human heart.”[2]

This dedication and message is an impressive invitation to say ‘let it speak to you…” It serves partly to remind us, that this is more than a building overshadowing our city, should we forget the intention of those who built it.

It has caused me to wonder what ‘statement’ of welcome and invitation would I write if I was to capture the ‘work’ of my heart and hands surrounding the activity of my life of worship?

What could we write to point towards God as a reminder in the years to come, of what is being built, crafted, shaped for His glory as a community?

What would you write if you were to leave an inscription such as this?


Postscript: Matt’s post seems a top reflection to add off the back of this.

1. Dan Wilt: ESSENTIALS IN WORSHIP HISTORY: The Language Of Space

2. Dan Wilt: Video : Week 1 The Languages of Time and Space 2