Bren McLean


by on Oct.28, 2015, under Church Life


I love my job! I have been the Creative Minister at St Paul’s for 8 year’s now, leading an awesome team of volunteers.

Eight year’s doesn’t sound like a long time, but research suggests it is. Over that time I have seen programs and apps come and go. They all promise to save you time and money, but few deliver.

In my opinion, here are my Top 7 apps for ministry:

  1. Bible Study (Olive Tree) – Bible reading/study app
  2. Evernote – Organise notes that sync across all devices
  3. Feedly – Blog reader
  4. Good Reader – View pdf’s
  5. Planning Center (PCO) – Plan services, schedule volunteers and more
  6. ProPresenter – Projection/presentation software
  7. Spotify – Free radio

Why 7? Well, 7 seems like the perfect number. What would you add/replace?

For a more through list, check out the ProPreacher blog, ‘the absolute best iPad apps for pastors‘.

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by on Oct.19, 2015, under Worship

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

The winners for 2015 were announced in Nashville last night and below are some of the winners…


Song of the Year – How Can it Be (Lauren Daigle)

Songwriter of the Year – Matt Maher

Artist of the Year – Lecrae

Worship Album of the Year – No Other Name (Hillsong)


Worship Song of the Year – Because He Lives (Matt Maher)

Rock Song of the Year – Good To Be Alive (Skillet)

It’s encouraging to see a few fresh names in the winners circle. For a complete list of the Dove’s for 2015, go to:

Congratulations to all the winners. Your hard work and God given gifts have been recognised by your peers. May God continue to equip and use you for His glory!

Finally, a shout out to our local brothers and sisters from Hillsong Church! Your music is inspiring a growing number of churches and worshipers. I look forward to seeing the Hillsong movie when it is released later this year.

From the Hills to every corner of the planet, let’s lift up the name of Jesus, for there is ‘no other name’ by which we can be saved.



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by on Aug.19, 2015, under Personal


I have known about the ministry of Compassion for years. I have watched the videos and seen from afar the poverty that exists in many parts of the world. Well, I have now witnessed first hand the abject poverty that affects so many people due to a severe lack of water, food and shelter.

In July, I was part of a mission team from St Paul’s that spent 14 days in Kenya. We were escorted by local representatives of Compassion to a number of child development projects all over the country. These CDP’s partner with a church to provide spiritual as well as physical nourishment to the most needy of kids.

The climate was hot and dry. The land dusty and underdeveloped. We also visited a number of slums, including Kibera (the largest in Kenya) and I was shocked by the living conditions. Slums are heavily populated urban settlements characterised by substandard housing, sanitation, water, electricity and other basic services.


Walking around, I felt a sense of helplessness. I was shell-shocked and confused as to why there is such an imbalance of wealth. Why is the west so much more privileged than here? God was increasing the capacity of my heart to be compassionate, which took me on an emotional roller coaster. It was life changing. I knew poverty was a complex issue so meditated on what the bible says about it. I know there was a time when humanity was in perfect harmony with God and creation, but the Fall changed all that. Sin and death entered the world bringing all sorts of suffering and persecution. It’s just not fair! But one day Jesus will return to liberate those who trust in Him, reconciling us with the Father.

But what can we I in the meantime? God just wants me to love them like Jesus. To care for the least, the last and the lost.

In Deuteronomy 15, Moses tells Israel that they will be blessed with enough resources for everyone (v4). Moses then says that “there will always be poor in the land” (v11). This reality, echoed in Matthew 26:11 is a result of the Fall.

God works through us to help the children (and in turn families and communities), one at a time. Compassion really are releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. But despite the poverty and the suffering, I met so many beautiful, contented people who dearly love Jesus. Boys and girls, men and women, young and old, who hope for more, and are trusting that Jesus will provide their every need. Children were proudly able to quote memory verses like:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:3

I was overwhelmed to tears by their joy and enthusiasm each time we were welcomed. The kids, parents and staff were always so grateful for the ‘visitors’ and were proud to be praying for us. Wow! Their generosity with so little and love for others was inspirational.

The take home message is, like us, they genuinely seek relationship. While a visit from their sponsor was fantastic, letter writing is a powerful communication tool and something that I will be doing more regularly now.

Below are some of my highlights from the trip:

  • Meeting Cindarella (one of our sponsor children) at Life Spring Chapel. We then travelled a short distance to Sinai Slum where she lives with her mum

Kenya - Cindarella

  • Driving through the Great Rift Valley. It was a treacherous road with a breath-taking view

Inline image 1

  • Visiting the Maasai Mara safari park. We were fortunate enough to see ‘the big five’, as well as giraffe, hippo, ostrich, impala, gazelle, warthog, monkey and cheetah. This was a welcome and relaxing break from the mission trip


  • Meeting a Maasai Warrior. It was fascinating talking to Joshua as we hiked around Kilima Camp

  • Sharing the experience with 17 legends, including my wife and 2/4 kids. It was a blessing to spend 14 days travelling with such a warm and friendly team


Finally, I would like to thank God for the ministry of Compassion. I can vouch for the great work they are doing not just in Kenya, but all over the world and pray that more and more people will be blessed by the opportunity to sponsor and be sponsored.

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CCLI – TOP 10 SONGS 2015

by on May.28, 2015, under Worship

Christian Copyright Licencing International (CCLI) was established to provide churches, organisations and individuals with simple, affordable solutions to complex copyright issues.


Licences include Church Copyright, Music Reproduction and Church Video. CCLI also have a great service called SongSelect, where practically any song can be downloaded and transposed into any key!

Another helpful service is lists of the most popular songs being reported by churches. Below is the TOP 10 songs in Australia:

1. 10,000 Reasons – Redman, Myrin

2. This I Believe (The Creed) – Fielding, Crocker

3. Oceans – Houston, Crocker, Ligthelm

4. How Great is Our God – Tomlin, Reeves, Cash

5. Cornerstone – Mote, Liljero, Myrin, Morgan

6. Amazing Grace (My Chains) – Tomlin, Newton, Giglio

7. Broken Vessels – Houston, Myrin

8. Holy Spirit – Torwalt, Torwalt

9. This is Amazing Grace – Riddle, Farro, Wickham

10. Our God  – Redman, Tomlin, Myrin, Reeves

TOP 25 in USA

These songs will be familiar to most churches. As a Creative Minister, I love to see churches writing their own songs and being inspired by the great composing skills of people such as Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Ben Fielding, Stuart Townend and co.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Colossians 3:16-17

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Ministry: Burned Out Or Burned In

by on May.05, 2015, under Leadership

Burnout“Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.”

(New York Times August 1 2010)

What a disturbing state of affairs! Men and women who are called by God (more often than not) to care and shepherd others, have been unable to sustain their vocation.

What causes this sort of mental, physical and spiritual deterioration? Here are my top 4 reasons:

  1. Distance from God

Jesus is the vine and He wants us to be connected to Him (John 15:5). How else will we bear fruit, or survive “the slings and arrows” of a broken world.

  1. All work, no play

Some people work more than 10-12 hours, 6-7 days per week, all in the name of ‘ministry’. Friends, this is just not sustainable.

Even God took a rest after six days of creating! The Sabbath (atleast one day per week) has always been reserved as a rest day, a chance to stop, take stock and be revitalised for another busy week

  1. Inability to delegate

Sometimes it’s just easier to do everything yourself. This approach to ministry has limitations and inadvertently leads to burnout.

The Old Testament gives us a great example of someone who learnt this lesson. Moses needed help, so Jethro advised him to identify capable leaders who could handle most of the disputes that Israel had (Exodus 18).

At St. Paul’s, our philosophy on effective leadership is

Discover – Develop – Deploy

Ie. Finding leaders; Training leaders; Empowering leaders

  1. Unrealistic expectations

Years ago I realised that it was impossible to please everybody all of the time. I would run myself ragged trying to. Now, I’m just happy if most of the people are pleased most of the time. Ha

After 7 years in ministry, I can honestly say that I still LOVE my job. Sure, it has its ups and downs, and some functions of the job can be tedious, but overall it is highly stimulating and rewarding. The creative team consists of over 100 gifted creatives, faithfully serving a congregation of over 1400 people. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.” (Luke 12:48).


  1. Prayerfully work out what is a sustainable number of hours that you can work each week

  2. Block out times in your diary/calendar for non-work related activities. Eg. rest, reading, family time etc

  3. Find a mentor who will help to keep you accountable and healthy to “finish the race”

The web is full of statistics about the clergy and burnout. Here are some resources that help you not to become another statistic:

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by on Apr.07, 2015, under Church Life

Easter is the most important festival on the Christian calendar. It represents the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and every year we celebrate these significant events that occurred over 2,000 years ago.

Below is an overview of the services at St Paul’s this Easter:

Easter FB


Sermon – It WAS a Good Friday

Bible Reading – John 19:1-37

Songs –

1. Our God (Tomlin)

2. Jesus Paid it All (Stanfill)

3. Man of Sorrows (Hillsong)

4. Jerusalem (CityAlight)

Creative Video:

We also shared in Communion together.



Sermon – Emptiness Never Felt So Full

Bible Reading – John 20:1-18

Songs –

1. Mighty Warrior (Elevation)

2. Once For All (CityAlight)

3. Christ is Enough (Hillsong)

4. Praise the Saviour (CityAlight)

We also shared in Communion together.

Over 2100 people attended our services this year and God was honoured as we gathered together to celebrate the victory we have in Jesus.

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

John 20:31

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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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