Bren McLean

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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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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