Tag Archives: HBC

Wedding in Matakana

Matt and Ursula - Photo by Peter Somervell via Facebook
Yesterday I got the day off work and spent the day with Cheryl, E and others at a wedding. What a beautiful day!

Matt and Ursula (her mum’s an active member at HBC) were a neat picture of Christ and His Church (Eph 5:31-32). Was nice that many friends and family flew over from the UK to be a part. There were many personal touches that we enjoyed and appreciated such as bluebirds on the stationery, guests signing the English flag, bride and groom making their entrance to everyone blowing bubbles, the warm and touching speeches by the parents and the groomsmen.

Another neat thing was that we carpooled up to Matakana (90 minutes drive from East Auckland) with Peter and Francelle and enjoyed two hours of conversation with them – so valuable! Peter presented a concise but sharp message from Gen 2:25 and Colossians 3:12-19, it was very personalised to the wedding couple and so wonderful to see two followers of Jesus making a commitment to image the gospel “till death do us part”.

I also had the privilege of leading a few songs during the ceremony (yes, we had that song I don’t like, but that’s OK!). The best part for me was watching Matt and Ursula sing, and really just joining in with their sung worship. I think when a bride and groom are singing passionately to Jesus with thankful hearts, it speaks volumes, especially in front of family and friends who aren’t Christians.

E was quiet during the service but oh so fidgety – Cheryl had to stop E from pulling the hair of people in front of her, touching their jackets etc. At the receptions, decided for lunch she didn’t want anything but chips either… so we ended her meal early. She got to see real horses (the wedding was held on a country park), a real fireplace, and lots of bubbles!

Love weddings – stressful but beautiful!

HBC Service Redux: 6 February 2011

Here’s a recap of the service and the songs we chose this past weekend at Howick Baptist Church (You can find links to the set lists of this church and many other churches each week at theworshipcommunity.com). You can also read through previous HBC service recaps here.

Order of Service

(worship leader: William Chong)

1. Glorious and Mighty – Joe Sczebel, Todd Twining. We used this as a more restrained (musically) opening song, followed by two other songs on the theme of who God is and His story. From the first word, the church was singing very strongly (even though there were a lot of visitors, more on that later). We did have a time of prayer as the first item, which maybe helped to focus our attentions and minds on our time as the gathered church.
2. Everlasting – Brian Doerkson, Matt Unruh. Luke gave us a hand on trumpet this morning with some clear melody leads – appreciated those.
3. By Faith – Keith and Kristyn Getty, Stuart Townend.

Announcements, Pastoral Prayer – Our senior pastor Peter Somervell introduced our church’s missions focus for the month, HCJB Global, and led the church in a pastoral prayer for a number of folk in our church family. I know for the music team we’re thinking in particular of Mana who’s looking after her mum for the next couple of weeks.

Scripture reading – Psalms 5 and 6. I found it really helpful to meditate on these two Psalms this week. An unexpected blessing of using the systematic reading has been that I’ve considered and meditated on psalms which I normally wouldn’t have considered due to my own preferences and inclinations. This morning Francelle read them with a real motherly passion and sensitivity.

4. Blessed Be Your Name – Matt Redman. This modern classic is a great way to respond in praise to God even while reflecting on “the road marked with suffering, though there’s pain in the offering”. Christians don’t worship in a Pleasantville vacuum.

Sermon: Women in the Church Part 2: Dealing with the Difficulties (1 Tim 2:11-15) – Peter Somervell. Peter finished off a three-part series on women in the church, dealing with the application of this difficult text in various church ministries. There were some pertinent points on the role of the worship leader that we can hopefully flesh out in more detail over time. It’s worth noting that all of us up the front, male or female, to some degree need to model to the congregation passionate corporate worship. I’m heartened and encouraged by my sisters in Christ that serve faithfully each week in the music ministry and do a great job in edifying the HBC family.

5. O Great God – Bob Kauflin. We finished our time by reminding each other of God’s greatness, His work in rescuing us, and His ongoing work in refining us.

  • We had quite a difficult practice on Thursday – I had given Rob the night off on sound duties, but I think the rest of the team as a result found the lack of foldbacks hard to work with. I remember several times feeling that we couldn’t really hear each others’ beats that well (particularly in “Everlasting” where we were practising a change of tempo at the start). Oh yes and it was a pretty humid night too… but God is faithful even in the midst of difficulties as it helps remind us of our need to depend on His Spirit in all we plan and do.
  • Poor Rob didn’t have an easy job on Sunday either: some ongoing problems with sound issues on the bass amp and a host of little tweaks meant that by the time he was finally ready to check the band’s mix through the auditorium speakers… we’d already finished our practice! By God’s grace everything clicked together, pretty much from the first words onwards, but it would have been quite a nervous time leading up to it!
  • Even though we had about 15-20 families away for a weekend fishing/camping retreat, they were all replaced on Sunday morning by a large number of new visitors and families – the church auditorium was still full! I always appreciate the faithful ministry of the hospitality and welcome teams, especially on mornings like this. Praise the Lord for His work in building His church!

HBC Service Redux: 30 January 2011

Here’s a recap of the service and the songs we chose this past weekend at Howick Baptist Church (You can find links to the set lists of this church and many other churches each week at theworshipcommunity.com). You can also read through previous HBC service recaps here.

Order of Service

(worship leader: Simon Newbould)

1. Come Now Is The Time to Worship – Brian Doerkson. Instrumentation this morning included Simon on guitar, Mandy with a strong piano line, flute, and a group of singers to help support the vocal line.

2. Faithful One – Brian Doerkson. Simon bridged into this song with a prayer while keeping his guitar chords going, which was definitely something we haven’t done in awhile. On the one hand when done right (playing and praying) it can help to smooth the transition between different songs and help the congregation to stay focused on what they’ve been praising the Lord about. On the other hand it can be a big distraction to people that aren’t used to having music and someone’s voice competing for the listener’s attention. In the time I’ve been at HBC, it hasn’t been a common practice to have the music carry through while someone’s praying – but it’s standard fare during the corporate praise at many other churches. What are your thoughts?

Announcements, Intercessory Prayer – Associate pastor Joe Fleener led the church in a pastoral prayer for a number of folk in our church family. It’s a good practice that helps us to remember one another in prayer and thanksgiving.

3. Purify My Heart – Brian Doerkson. This is a great song that reminds us about God’s role in refining us to be more and more holy: “set apart for You my Master, ready to do Your will.” The concept of refining, removing impurities, and the refiner’s fire is found in several scripture passages (Mal 2:17-3:6, Zech 13:9, 1 Pet 1:7) – it’d be great for these to be explained next time we do this song, or another one that uses this metaphor.

4. Psalm 23 (The Lord’s My Shepherd/I Will Trust) – Stuart Townend. We had planned this song for the previous week but Peter went a bit overtime, so Simon carried it over to this week.

Scripture reading – Psalms 3 and 4. We’ve started a systematic reading through the Psalms during our morning services, which seems to be going well so far (our Associate Pastor Joe Fleener previously shared some articles outlining the value of a systematic public reading of scripture). The Psalms in particular provide us with a good glimpse of authentic worship – one where the writers are relating to God in times of distress as well as delight.

5. All Is Well – Robin Mark. I thought the choice of this song and “Faithful One” linked very well with the two psalms just read – grounding our hope in times of trouble of the faithfulness and strength of the LORD. Nice one Simon!

6. How Great is our God – Chris Tomlin. Bit ironic that we were singing this the same time as Chris Tomlin himself would have been leading this same song at the Parachute festival this weekend!

Sermon: Women in the Church Part 2: Dealing with the Difficulties (1 Tim 2:11-15) – Peter Somervell. Peter continues a series carefully explaining and teaching this controversial passage. I appreciated how he was actively trying to not go beyond what the text says, yet clearly explaining also what the text does teach.

7. Soli Deo Gloria – Mark Altrogge. A great closing song to remind us to stay gospel-centred, and “to God alone be glory in Jesus Christ” for everything. I appreciated the liveliness the team put into this song, which isn’t always easy when you’re lighter on band instruments (such as bass and drum players!) I did get a comment that perhaps number of times the last line was repeated (“in Jesus Christ” five times) was more than necessary. I definitely don’t think there should be a rule against repeating lines as it’s something you find in a number of the Psalms (Psalm 118, Psalm 136). On a topic like this, a good question to ask might be: “Is this thought worth repeating?”. For example, repeating a single word like “come” will quickly lose its meaning to the regular worshipper, whereas a profound truth (e.g., “to God alone be glory, in Jesus Christ!”) certainly benefits from being emphasised a number of times!

Overall, enjoyed Sunday, and appreciated Simon’s service leading (his first one since returning from his holiday in the UK). To top it all off, we had a great time hanging out with church family at a picnic following the service.

– William

HBC Service Redux: 23 January 2011

Here’s a recap of the service and the songs we chose this past weekend at Howick Baptist Church (You can find links to the set lists of this church and many other churches each week at theworshipcommunity.com). You can also read through previous HBC service recaps here.

Order of Service

(worship leader: William Chong)

Bible reading – Psalms 1 and 2. It was Chichi’s first time as the reader, and I enjoyed listening to his dulcet, melodious voice. Once you get accustomed to the African accent, his steady and soothing pace helped to bring the text alive. Before he came up for the reading, I had a go and trying to explain to the church a summarised “big idea” of these psalms (taken from my notes):

As Chichi comes up let’s set the scene. First we have a psalm, or song, that tells us there are only two ways to live: according to God’s way, the way the righteous, or our own way, the way of the wicked. The next psalm that flows on has a prophetic tone – it tells the future – and it gave the Israelites who sang it many years ago a glimpse of the LORD’s own Anointed King, as a reminder that God’s way of redemption is to one day bring a King to this world, to judge and to rule over it.

1. Crown Him With Many Crowns – Matthew Bridges, Godfrey Thring. Musically, we opted for a simplified Enfield/Resolved arrangement: first introduced at STAND 2010, the church sings it quite comfortably now, which is encouraging! There’s a fascinating story behind this hymn: six verses were penned in 1851 by Matthew Bridges, an eventual Roman Catholic. 20 years later, an Anglican clergyman Godfrey Thring didn’t like how Catholic some of the verses sounded and so wrote six different verses! Most hymnals today have a mix of verses from both these authors (perhaps an object lesson of God using trouble for His good a la Romans 8:28!) The imagery of “crowning him with many crowns” is taken straight from Rev 19:11-21, a passage very thematically similar to the description of the Messiah King in Psalm 2.

2. Glories of Calvary – Steve and Vikki Cook. I prefaced the singing of this song with the following:

‘He lives that death may die.’ Let’s continue to sing now of the glories of Calvary, which was the place 2000 years ago where all this happened.”

This was an example of a deliberate attempt on my part to be clearer in the terms I used when speaking, since observing this done well at YLC 2011, and when we visited St Johns Latimer earlier this month. I think many Christians wouldn’t know what the “Calvary” in “The Glories of Calvary” means! It’s an important lesson I want to learn and develop this year as a worship leader: that in an age where less and less people actually come to church with a knowledge of Christian vocabulary (eg. Calvary, Christ, sin, atonement, the Bible, God’s Word, blessing), briefly defining and explaining these terms would be a big help to those who don’t quite know what they mean. We shouldn’t assume everyone speaks Christianese – particularly those we’re trying to reach out to in our communities.

3. Shout to the Lord – Darlene Zschech. I didn’t plan this myself: as we were singing through the chorus, the words: “Power and majesty praise to the King!” really resonated in my mind, particularly in light of Chichi’s reading of Psalms 1 and 2 earlier. I often find great joy in seeing how these unexpected links between scripture and song appear in ways we as worship leaders never fully anticipate. One caveat with using the couple of Hillsong-related songs at HBC is that I generally seek to clarify any unclear phrasing – this is good practice with any worship song really, but I find myself doing this more with Hillsong ones that we do use (there are others where it’s too difficult to sing through without needing to clarify most of the lines!) One way I did it time around it was to note during prayer, for example, that “the promise I have in you” (last line of the chorus) is that as believers redeemed by Jesus’s atoning work on the cross, we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17a). I think doing this helps to prevent us from filling that definition gap ourselves apart from scripture (eg, what’s the promise?).

4. Psalm 62 – Aaron Keyes and Stuart Townend. The church have really learnt this song quite quickly since the first time we tried it: and the words are great, they come straight from Psalm 62.

5. Speak O Lord – Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. In light of Peter starting a three-part series on 1 Tim 2:11-15 – a controversial text in today’s society, culture, and church environment – this song helped us all to focus on the purpose of God’s Word:

That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes for Your glory.

Sermon: 1 Timothy 2:11-15. Our senior pastor Peter Somervell got straight back into the 1 Timothy preaching series. This message was an overview of the issues that come along with the interpretation and application of this difficult text: should women be silent in church? Is Paul teaching salvation by childbearing? What does Adam and Eve have to do with women in church? Peter promised to explain all this and more over three messages. I’m thankful to be under the leadership of a pastor that’s not afraid to faithfully teach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27)…. even the difficult ones!


A couple of notable challenges in this service which needed an extra measure of God’s grace(!) to accomplish:

  • Due to the nature of the text Peter was teaching on, it was very difficult to think of how to choose songs that might fit with the theme of the passage. In instances like these, an important role the music can play is to simply proclaim the gospel through the songs we sing and what we say in between. So much of the song choices went that way. This article and the related comments offer some good discussion about whether our songs should harmonise with the sermon or not.
  • There was just *a lot* going on today!! In addition to what’s listed, we had a baby dedication, a members meeting, a time of announcements… we ended about 25 minutes later than usual! The music team had prepped a closing song but in hindsight, we could have almost taken out one of the songs in the middle set, to be more helpful in keeping the service punctual.
  • I’m still getting comments that my electroacoustic guitar still doesn’t come through the speakers at all… and my effects pedal is not really cooperating (causing lots of static and noise when plugged into the speaker system). I may have to go spend some money on a real pedal….

A busy service – but one full of wonder and mercy found from worshipping and praising the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords!

– William

HBC Service Redux: 16 January 2011

Here’s a recap of the service and the songs we chose this past weekend at Howick Baptist Church (You can find links to the set lists of this church and many other churches each week at theworshipcommunity.com). You can also read through previous HBC service recaps here.

Order of Service

(worship leader: Jon Scanlan)

1. Indescribable – Laura Story. Praising God as “all powerful, untamable” is normally a fantastic way to start the service. Funnily though the church seemed quite hesitant in their singing to begin with. Perhaps it was the lyric operator who was distracted and failed to put up the words in time through the first verse and chorus, maybe it was a bit of lingering “holiday singing”, or perhaps the instrumentation (solo acoustic guitar/piano and drums) was on the light side to accompany the majesty of the words.

2. Let Your Kingdom Come – Bob Kauflin. If the church were quiet on the previous song, they were LOUD on this one! Easy to sing and quite well-known and enthusiastically sung now. I think we introduced it midway through last year and it’s a great way to refocus our hearts on His glorious cause, that “Jesus Christ be known wherever we are”.

3. Be Unto Your Name (We Are A Moment) – Robin Mark. Played during the offering. There are some fantastic vocal harmonies that can be done on this song, so that was great to hear – appreciated the effort Kat and Ray put into those to expand the overall sound. With the key change it goes fairly high (too high for most men) but it’s one of those songs where you’ll give it a go anyways because you’re singing straight from scripture (Rev 4:8, Rev 5:12):

Holy, holy, Lord God Almighty
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!

4. Give Thanks – Henry Smith. An old classic from the late 70’s – we’d probably need to work at the musical arrangement so it doesn’t also sound like it’s from the 70’s! But a simple and singable way to encourage thankfulness (which was one of the points in the message today).

5. Salvation’s Song (Loved Before the Dawn of Time) – Stuart Townend. We introduced it for the first time in October, and since then our worship leaders have loved the richness of the words and the beautiful music. I was very encouraged by the care Jon took with this song to space the music’s dynamics and instrumentation over the length of this song. By the time we got to the bridge, the whole church was ready to belt out:

Singing glory honour wisdom power
To the Lamb upon the throne
Hallelujah I will lift Him high!

Craig (one of our worship leaders) made a good suggestion that we could probably try it in a higher key next time. Most of the song is in quite a low range, though I guess the trouble is that in the bridge it goes well into the high reaches of a singer’s range too!

Sermon: Colossians 1:9-14. Our associate pastor Joe Fleener continued a preaching series through the book of Colossians, examining the question: “What is God’s will for my life?” The answer, thankfully, is found in the Bible!

You can listen or watch the entire message for free here.

6. Oh the Mercy of God – Geoff Bullock. The third verse of this song links quite closely with the next part of Colossians 1:15-20, which speaks of the deity of Christ:

Oh the glory of God expressed in His Son
His image and likeness revealed to us all
The plan of the ages completed in Christ
That we be presented perfected in Him

And it’s all “to the praise of His glorious grace”!


– William