Bren McLean


by on Feb.02, 2015, under Worship

Yesterday, we commenced a new series at St Paul’s titled, THE VICTOR.

The Victor slides


This is a 9 week series on the book of Revelation. There are matching bible studies and over that period we hope to get a glimpse of what John saw, Jesus crucified, risen, ascended, in charge, THE VICTOR.

We were also blessed to have Dr Paul Barnett share on Saturday morning.


Dr Barnett is an ancient historian, New Testament scholar and former Anglican bishop. It was brilliant to hear him demystify Revelation and disarm some of the fears people have trying to understand John’s apocalyptic letter.

For more on Dr Barnett’s insights on Revelation, check out:

On a personal note, I love sport. I will watch almost anything involving a ball and 2 or more athletes and last weekend was a sporting marathon. Champions were crowned in Soccer, Rugby League, Tennis, American Football, but let’s be clear…

NO victory in the history of the world holds as much significance as the battle Jesus won over sin and death! Christ is THE VICTOR and by God’s grace we share in the victory.

For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”

Revelation 19:7-8

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by on Oct.15, 2014, under Worship

The GMA Dove Awards are an annual event, honoring outstanding achievements and excellence in Gospel music.

The winners for 2014 were announced in Nashville recently and there are quite a few familiar names.


Below are a list of the winners in some of the top categories:

Song of the Year – Oceans (Hillsong)

Songwriter of the Year – Chris Tomlin

Artist of the Year – Hillsong UNITED

Contemporary Album – Fading West (Switchfoot)

Praise & Worship Album – Majestic (Kari Jobe)

Inspirational Film – God’s Not Dead


Hillsong UNITED were awarded five Dove Awards, including top song and top artist. Congratulations to these faithful men and women from ‘down under’! I am fortunate enough to know some of the team members personally and have always found them to be humble, hard working and generous with their time. Their passion to equip the local church cannot be denied.

For a complete list of the Dove’s for 2014, go to:

Artists such as Redman and Tomlin have been contributing to the modern hymnal since the late 90’s. Seven of the TOP 25 SONGS reported to CCLI are by these guys, proving their ability to craft congregational songs that edify the church. What an achievement!

Hillsong have made an increasing contribution to church music and currently have five songs in the TOP 25. Will all of these songs stand the test of time? Some will, but I suspect most will fade into obscurity due to their lack of scriptural depth, which stirs the soul.

What congregational songs have been well received by your church this year?


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by on Oct.13, 2014, under Worship

Yesterday was the start of the St Paul’s annual Vision Series. A preaching series leading up to vision Sunday, where people are given an opportunity to commit their time, talent and treasures for ministry next year.

Vision Series slide 1

Over 1,300 people attended across 4 service’s which is a fantastic start. Very encouraging!

The theme for this year is “WE SEE A CHURCH…”, based on the St Paul’s vision statement:

Vision 2014

This is displayed in the church foyer on a large piece of perspex (1m x 2m). It is an impressive version of the vision statement that is easily visible to everyone who enters the building.

John Gray launched the vision series with an inspiring message based on Deuteronomy 6. As people passionate about Jesus, we are to:

  1. Love God with all our heart, soul and strength, and
  2. Love others

(Jesus also refers to these commands in Matthew 22:34-40.)

To help us reflect on these, the creative team prepared these two pieces:

  1. A moving video interview with David Crowe
  2. A beautiful cover of Depths (Marty Sampson) by Niki Shepherd:



Songs for Sunday 12 October 2014:

1. Yours Alone (CityAlight)

2. We See A Church (CityAlight) – new song composed by 9 writers specifically for the vision series

3. When I Survey The Wondrous Cross (Hughes)


Thank you to all who served on the day to make it so special, particularly Luke Davie for his leadership of the creative team for this series. A gifted man who has been a blessing to the young adults community for ages, now serving the wider church.

Bible studies and a devotional have also been prepared for the series, so that we can journey together as a fellowship of believers.

Wherever we go, let’s be known as people who are passionate about Jesus and others.


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by on Sep.22, 2014, under Worship


There is a phenomenon in Christian circles known as ‘the paradox of the platform’. I have been meditating on this for some time now and would like to share TEN TENSIONS relating to serving in church:

1. Serving v Starring

The world says it’s all about YOU. That YOU are the star, the most important person in the world.

It’s true, YOU are important, but we are pointing people to Jesus


2. Excellence v Perfection

God deserves our best, but no one’s perfect.

Aim for excellent, which I define as doing the best that you can with the resources that you have


3. Speaking v Listening

This is simple. Pray for the wisdom to know when to speak and when to shut up ;-0


4. Planned v Spontaneous

These are not mutually exclusive. The Spirit expects us to plan and to be spontaneous and works during both


5. Safety v Risky

The safe road can lead to mediocrity.

Try new things. Be adventurous. You have permission to fail. Just be sure to learn from your mistakes


6. Unity in diversity

How is that possible?

Paul talks about the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. There are different gifts but one Spirit


7. Young v Old

We need both!

Aim for a healthy balance of experience and youthful enthusiasm (refer number 6)


8. Working ON v Working IN ministry

Leaders, sometimes it’s just easier to do everything yourself. This approach to ministry has limitations and can lead to burnout.

The Old Testament gives us a great example of leadership. Moses needed help, so Jethro advised him to delegate decisions to capable leaders (Exodus 18)

At St. Paul’s, our philosophy on effective leadership is ‘Discover – Develop – Deploy’.

ie. Finding leaders – Training leaders – Empowering leaders


9. Apple v Android

Ha. I don’t want to get into that argument, both are great tools with heaps of apps for communication and ministry


10. Traditional v ‘Contemporvant’

The ‘worship wars’ have been raging for decades. Much has already been written on the tension between traditional and contemporary/relevant, so I’m just saying the secret is to contextualize.

Keller describes contextualization (Center Church book) with great insight as understanding who the audience is and then communicating the gospel in ways that relate to them. This will be different for every church.

Just remember, the old pipe organ was once ‘contemporvant’! This parody from North Point is a funny take on the modern church service. It is meant to amuse rather than offend.



Fortunately, the intensity of these tensions (or opposing forces) is directly related to the condition of your heart. Someone with a strong sense of their identity in Christ, will be focused on Him and their desire to point people to Jesus rather than themselves.

And here’s the sobering part, God knows the spiritual condition of your heart.

heart check up

Look at Amos 5:21-24. God had serious words for Israel because their motives were not pure. They were corrupted by the world and their own selfish desires.

I would hate for God to describe me (or our service’s) like that!



Worship leaders, how do you respond when you’re asked to sing back up? Or cut a song?

Musicians, what if you’re asked to play less? Or not serve next month?

Creatives, what if you’ve run out of time for the video or drama you’ve spent hours working on?


Is it about you, or Him?

Friends, Jesus is the only way to be reconciled with the Father (John 14:6). So it is Jesus who deserves all the praise and honor and glory for ever (Revelation 5:12-13).

With the help of the Spirit, you can successfully manage the ‘paradox of the platform’.


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by on Sep.08, 2014, under Worship


Yesterday was a wonderful celebration at St Paul’s and the creative team pulled out all the stops. As a father of 4, I really enjoyed the day and am grateful for the variety of gifts and talents that we have at spch.

NOTE – It’s not often you get to see and hear a Harley motorcycle in church!

Below is the song list for the day:

1. The Love Of The Father (CityAlight)

2. 10,000 Reasons (Redman)

3. How Great Thou Art (Chorus only)

4. How Deep The Father’s Love (Townend)


John Gray then preached from 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16. John had 3 main points on being a dad:

  1. Breathe courage into your kids
  2. Comfort and persuade your kids
  3. Urge/insist your kids


Following the sermon, the band played the Casting Crowns song, Courageous. Featured in the movie of the same title, it reminds dads to take courage as leaders of the family:


The drama team also presented a skit titled, Guide To Being A Dad. It was a light-hearted take on the practice of dad jokes. I watched it on 3 occasions and was laughing out loud each time!

It was an edited script originally created by Idiots of Ants. Unfortunately, I can’t share the link here as it’s a little risque (refer YouTube).

Props to Justin, Keith, Pat and Matt for their willingness to perform and poke a bit of fun at the topic.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and granddads! Children are a gift from God and BOTH parents (with the support of family and close friends) are charged with the responsibility of guiding them in the ways of the Lord (Proverbs 22:6).


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by on Aug.16, 2014, under Worship

Bob K

Last Sunday, we had the privilege of hosting Bob Kauflin from Sovereign Grace Ministries at 3 of our services. Bob spoke powerfully on the topic, ‘The Fight For Joy’ (Psalms 42 & 43).

Have you ever felt hopeless? Ever wondered where God is sometimes?

Bob’s message reminded us that God alone is our hope in the fight for joy.

I also had the opportunity to interview Bob and ask about his family and ministry. During this time, Bob also shared on how a GOOD song can help us to understand who God is and what our proper response should be. The way he unpacked Vikki Cook’s, ‘Before The Throne Of God Above’ (2:00) is a must see!!!


Below is the setlist at St Paul’s for 10 August 2014:

1. Nothing But The Blood (CityAlight)

2. Oh The Mighty Hand (CityAlight)

3. Broken Vessels (Hillsong)

4. It Is Well With My Soul (Traditional)


It was a huge honour to have Bob at St Paul’s Castle Hill.

Personally, I have benefited greatly from Bob’s ministry. His book, Worship Matters is the best resource for creatives and I’m excited to hear there is a follow up due for release in 2015!


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by on Jul.02, 2014, under Worship



Title of the new Hillsong album and theme for Hillsong Conference 2014.

I am really enjoying conference so far and the songs on this album are being well received by the 20,000 strong crowd. Released this week it will deservedly top the charts in a number of countries around the globe.

I say deservedly because No Other Name is probably the most Christ-focused album Hillsong have ever produced, with songs such as:

* I Believe (The Apostles Creed)
* Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)
* No Other Name (but Jesus)
* Calvary
* Thank You Jesus
* Our Father (The Lord’s Prayer)

Note – Standout tracks in bold

The title track sets the tone and the Creed is such a bold choice of song. Songwriters Fielding and Crocker took up a challenge that John Dickson made on Twitter, resulting in a powerful congregational song for Christians of all persuasions ;-)

You can see the influence Pastor Robert Fergusson is having on the lyrics. Nowadays, there seems to be greater clarity and a stronger biblical foundation than some of their earlier compositions.

Some evangelicals will still have a problem with the songs from Hillsong, which is a shame. These songs are a great resource, with the power to draw people nearer to Christ.


I look forward to introducing a few of these songs at St Paul’s in the coming months. Which songs will work at your church?

Coincidentally, Trevor Hodge was inspired by the same theme back in 2011. It is also a powerful song, encouraging us to lift up the name of Jesus, the name above all names (Philippians 2:9-11):


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by on Jun.26, 2014, under Worship


Last Saturday (21 June), St Paul’s hosted the annual SHINE CONFERENCE. About 170 people from 20 churches gathered to be united, equipped and inspired as brothers and sisters in Christ.

It was a fantastic day. Praise God for the sense of community and fellowship amongst the delegates.

What a blessing it was to have guest speaker, Oscar Muriu encouraging us.

Oscar 3

Below are some of the key points from Oscar’s talk:

David v Goliath (1 Samuel 17)

1. We are in a spiritual battle against the devil

2. Don’t be surprised when you face persecution

3. The creative arts are a powerful tool to communicate the gospel

4. Artists are the new evangelists

5. Do you have the courage to fight today’s battles with tools that work?


Oscar’s talk is not available yet, but you can watch his talk from Compassion Sunday (22 June 2014) here:


Worship in song was lead skillfully and passionately by the CityAlight team.



After morning tea, delegates heard 4 short talks:

John Gray, Oscar Muriu, Nikki Fletcher and Jonny Robinson all spoke powerfully on different aspects of ministry.










Jonny spoke specifically about the Yours Alone album project, which will be available from 13 July!









The album contains 10 songs, 9 originals and a great cover of the classic hymn, Nothing But The Blood Of Jesus. Over 50 songs were considered for the project and we can’t wait to share these songs with the church!

After lunch it was time for the workshops. Delegates had 8 to choose from over 2 sessions and feedback was very positive. I couldn’t have asked for more from any of the presenters. As I moved around the rooms, it was clear that people were engaged and eager to learn.

Finally, a big shout out to all the volunteers who made the day such a success. Thank you! Dave Watson and Jim Monk went beyond the call of duty again, lending equipment as well as running the production sessions.

God willing, SHINE will continue to grow and more and more creative artists will continue to be united, equipped and inspired, in the name of Jesus.

#SHINE2015 promises to be an even bigger and better day , so stay tuned for all of the details.


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by on Jun.09, 2014, under Church Life, Communications

Last week, I attended the Faithfulness In Service 2014 conference. FIS is run by the PSU and held every 3 year’s to assist Anglican clergy and lay leaders in addressing current issues.

One of the standout talks was titled ‘Using Electronic Communications Wisely In Ministry’.


Presented by Reverend Nigel Fortescue, we got 10 tips for communicating wisely:

1. Plug in!

Regardless of your age, you must have email, smartphone, great website, Facebook

Possibly a blog and twitter

Don’t multitask. It takes discipline and shows respect for those you are with

‘Unplug’ on your day off. Preserve rest time

2. Understand the tools

Learn the rules of each platform

Learn the pros and cons of each platform

Protect your privacy

3. There is no delete key!

Your posts are permanent and can be used against you

Think twice before you press enter

Plagiarism is now easier

4. Use the electronic to enhance the personal

Electronic communication is a powerful tool

It is also high risk. Things can easily be misinterpreted

5. Don’t use the electronic to escape the personal

Some things need to be said in person

6. Stay in control

You be the master (not the slave) and use electronic communication as a tool

Reply to texts and messages

Society is adapting slowly to the dangers (eg. Cyber bullying)

7. Love those who resist electronic communications

Some people will not adopt technology

8. Create a policy to follow

Have guidelines for your church/organisation

9. Speak to and listen to the congregation

10. Act your age!

Be yourself online

We also watched a video clip made by Colin Buchanan. A parody song titled ‘Be My Friend’, it cleverly mocks the sort of ‘friendships’ that can be found on Facebook:

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by on Jun.07, 2014, under Church Life, Worship

shine web

Here are 5 reasons you should attend the upcoming SHINE CONFERENCE at St Paul’s, Castle Hill:

1. To be UNITED as brothers and sisters in Christ

It is a powerful gathering when 200+ creatives and church leaders from all over NSW, from a variety of churches and denomimations unite in the name of Jesus


2. To be EQUIPPED for ministry

Apart from guest speaker Oscar Muriu, there are a number of short talks and workshops to choose from. We want to help build up the wider church by sharing the resources that God has blessed us with


3. To be INSPIRED for ministry

You will see and hear things presented by leaders who are committed to excellence. Some can be copied or adapted for ministry at your church


4. Because it is affordable

SHINE is not a profit making venture. Rego prices are kept as low as possible (particularly for students and groups) so that whole teams can be encouraged to attend


5. Because it is local

If you live in Sydney, Castle Hill is no more than 50 minutes away. There is ample parking and great barista coffee!


We hope to see you at SHINE on Saturday 21 June, 2014. Check out the website for more information and to register.

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