Bren McLean

Archive for September, 2012

LES MISERABLES – live singing

by on Sep.28, 2012, under Personal


The latest adaptation of Victor Hugo’s stage musical, Les Miserables hits the screens at the end of the year. Directed by Tom Hooper, it stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and Sacha Baron Cohen.


What makes this version extraordinary is the singing is being recorded live. Actors in a musical usually mime to a pre-recorded track, but for authenticity the creators have decided to do it this way:


This follows a trend for bands to record live albums with little or no over dubbing. Will we see this risky practice continue? What will it do to production values? Time will tell…

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by on Sep.27, 2012, under Worship


SHINE is an annual music conference for creatives in the church. Designed for volunteers in all areas of the creative arts (music, production, drama, etc) our vision is to:

UNITE – people from all denominations with all types of gifts

EQUIP – with high quality, relevant training & resources

INSPIRE – encouraging people take back relevant ideas & resources to their church


Some passages that have inspired the SHINE organisers are:

“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever”.

Daniel 12:3

“You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Romans 12:1-2

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness”, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

2 Corinthians 4:6-7

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe, as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.”

Philippians 2:14-16


Over the years we have been blessed to have international speakers such as Mike Raiter, Darlene Zschech and Robert Fergusson.

Next year is no exception. On Saturday 15 June you will see and hear the best speakers, leaders and musicians available so that in the name of Jesus, we can continue to:




Online ticketing will be managed by the guys at Halo Music. Visit our webpage to register for updates about SHINE 2013 as they become available.


“Let the word 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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by on Sep.26, 2012, under Worship

A few people have asked about the source and the meaning of my slogan, “pursuing excellence, not perfection”.

The phrase is inspired by a chapter in Rory Noland’s classic book, THE HEART OF THE ARTIST. If you haven’t heard of it, this is a must read for creatives and worship leaders.
Noland clearly addresses the ideas of excellence and perfection, and what the bible says about these standards.

So, what exactly IS ‘excellence’?
The dictionary defines excellence as “the fact or state of excelling; superiority; eminence”. This can be a demoralising statement, so I prefer to use a more practical definition:
“doing our absolute best with the resources that we have been blessed with”.

The resources I’m referring to are TIME, TALENTS (skills) and TREASURES (funds). This means excellence will look different everywhere we go.

Example 1:
Compare the ability of say a schoolboys football team, with that of the national squad.
They are worlds apart, but I believe they can both play with excellence WHEN they are best utilising the resources that they have

Compare the look and feel of a small community church, with that of a mega-church.
They are also worlds apart, but I believe they have moments of excellence WHEN they steward well the resources that God has given them

NOTE – Whenever we talk about excellence in the church, these points must be made first, unless it is assumed to be known:

1. It’s all about Jesus. Nothing should undermine the truth of the gospel and the fact that like Paul, “we preach Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23), for the forgiveness of sins
2. God is sovereign. Only God, by His Spirit can transform a persons heart (John 16:8)

The next question is then, “How should we communicate the message of the gospel”?
Truthfully, faithfully, enthusiastically, ABSOLUTELY!!!
We should also communicate the gospel of Jesus with clarity, with relevance and with excellence. I say this not to take away from the fact that God is sovereign. We are his hands and feet though and act out of humble obedience to the Lord. It IS utter foolishness to think that anything we do can save a soul.

Why should we strive for ‘excellence’?
Because God deserves our best (Philippians 4:8); we are instructed to work hard (Colossians 3:23-24).
There are also numerous passages that talk about God wanting our “first fruits”, and to sing and play skillfully. Without a biblical understanding of excellence, mediocrity can set in.

The key here is “What is your motivation”? It is a matter of the heart, so we have to serve with a desire to honor God, not men. It would be meaningless to pursue excellence, just for the sake of creative pride or worldly ambition. That is idolatry because we would be worshiping something other than God (eg. vehicles for the gospel such as music, technology etc).
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees harshly for doing things just to be seen (eg. Matthew 23).

What is YOUR motivation for doing things? Whether it’s at home, work, or church, do you bring your best, with a genuine desire to glorify God?
I pray that your answer is a resounding YES, so that at the end of the day you may hear the most beautiful words to come “well done, good and faithful servant”.

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by on Sep.24, 2012, under Worship

Below is the spch setlist for 23 September 2012.

10am (UNITE! Family Service):

1. Everlasting God (Brenton Brown)

2. 10,000 Reasons (Matt Redman)

3. I Believe In Jesus (Hillsong Kids)

Reading – Psalm 127

4. Makes Me Wanna Dance (Citipointe Kids)


1. Our God Is Love (Hillsong)

2. Desert Song (Brooke Fraser)

3. So Merciful (spch)

Reading – 2 Corinthians 11:16 – 12:10

4. Our God (Chris Tomlin)


This is a weekly post, as part of the Sunday Setlists initiative:

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by on Sep.24, 2012, under Church Life


A Christian panel of experts were assembled in front of an audience on Tuesday 26th June, 2012 to answer the big questions facing Australian contemporary society when it comes to marriage. Have you see the Defining Marriage webcast?

Host Karl Faase (Snr Min, Gymea Baptist Church) was joined by:

John Anderson (former Deputy PM)

Patrick Parkinson (specialist in family law, child protection)

Patricia Weerakoon (sexologist) – always intriguing

Allan Meyer (pastor and author)

Helen Meyer (educator and counsellor)


The program runs for about 77 minutes and is informative and engaging. Well done to the ACL for their strong stance in support of the biblical definition of marriage.

And for a brief overview of what the Australian Marriage Act (1961) says, this 2 minute clip is great!



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by on Sep.19, 2012, under Worship

Downunder is a division of Ministry Inc. They release quality Christian singles and compilation albums through the iChristian Digital distribution service.

Downunder 2012 features 32 tracks, including hits by Prachute Band, C3 Oxford Falls, as well as a Hillsong mash up.

‘So We Would Know Our God’ even made the cut. It’s a favourite song not just at spch, but all over the country.

Here’s a video preview of the album tracks:

Check out Downunder 2012. It’s awesome value for only $16!

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by on Sep.18, 2012, under Worship

The Jam Academy (JAMA) is an initiative of spch. JAMA offers the best possible music tuition to the Hills area and helps to put St Paul’s as a church IN the community and ON the map. Founded by Row Tombs in 2011, Jonny Robinson is now building on Row ‘s vision for the academy.

Tuition can be found in:

Piano, Guitar, Voice, Bass, Drums, Sax, Flute, Clarinet, Violin

Lessons can be either individual or in a group and the teachers are amazingly talented, Godly men and women with a wealth of experience.

If you live around the Hills, and want to develop the creative gifts that God has given you, check out JAMA!

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by on Sep.17, 2012, under Worship

Below is the spch setlist for 16 September 2012.


1. Happy Day (Tim Hughes)

2. Forever Reign (Hillsong)

3. Mercy Falls (spch)

Reading – Hebrews 10:19-25

4. Cornerstone (Hillsong)


1. You (Hillsong)

2. From The Inside Out (Hillsong)

3. Take My Life (Chris Tomlin)

Reading – Matthew 25:35-40

ITEM – Love Them Like Jesus (Casting Crowns)

4. Be Thou My Vision (Ascend The Hill)

This is a weekly post, as part of the Sunday Setlists initiative:

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by on Sep.12, 2012, under Church Life

Dear Creative Directors/Pastors,

How far in advance do you know the church preaching schedule? A week? A month? A term? A year?

From a programmers point of view, the more time the better! Teams need to meet to choose and rehearse songs, dramas, video, staging etc.

But how much time do we need? It’s a fine balance between:

1. SHORT – Being flexible enough to respond to the Spirit’s guiding, and

2. LONG – Having sufficient time to plan and prepare ‘excellent’ services, for the glory of God

This week, I received the Preaching Schedule for spch for 2013! Senior Pastor, John Gray has been meeting with the lead Pastors to determine the biblical teaching and themes that in God’s wisdom, we should be presenting to the congregation next year. No doubt there will be (and should be) some tweaking, but it is SOOO helpful to have insight into this stuff so far in advance.

How far in advance do YOU receive the preaching schedule? Talk to your Pastor and together, work on what is best for your situation.

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by on Sep.11, 2012, under Leadership

The Global Leadership Summit (GLS) exists to transform Christian leaders around the world with an injection of vision, skill development and inspiration for the sake of the local church.

Willow Creek Community Church host the GLS each year. Senior Pastor, Bill Hybels and Associate Jim Mellado are the driving force behind the event.

The GLS is now presented in over 40 languages, in 90 countries! Video presentations of key speakers are sent around the globe, impacting some 140,000 delegates. Some leaders in poor and disadvantaged areas even receive sponsorship, so that they might impact their local communities.

This year, spch is hosting the GLS in Sydney: 19-20 October 2012.

We are honoured to partner with the Willow Creek team, to host such a profound leadership event. God wants us to keep growing and developing our gifts. If you learn one thing at the GLS for ministry, it’s been a good investment!

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