It’s been a little while since I’ve written, and as usual, CrossRoad has been busy church-hopping. We love what we do! What a great honour to lead so many different people at different churches in worship week by week.
Cancelled gigs are always a disappointment, and when one of our August services was cancelled we suddenly had a few empty weeks ahead. So we phoned around to see if anyone would take us on at the last minute, and it so happened that a small church around the corner from us jumped at our invitation.
That church was Dalpark Presbyterian Church, now shepherded by an old friend of ours, Philip Stoneman. Philip actually played drums with as on one our very early gigs – 2009 I think – before Jonathan or Kevin had arrived in the picture. Funny how these things work out!
We arrived early to set up, as usual, and were all set up and ready to go when the people arrived around 9 o clock. Now, this church has a small building at this point, and all our equipment set up in the front seemed like it might be overkill. But the people sang along loudly, and we felt right at home. The advantage of a small building is that there’s no separation between us and the congregation, and so we all sang as one family. Awesome stuff.
We played songs from our Rock of Ages album, and I did the Never Again talk. As we were packing up, one of the congregation members came and told me how much that talk resonated with them as an addict. Thank you Lord, I thought as they walked off, thank you that this old song can still touch people so deeply.
The next Sunday we were in Kevin’s home town – Springs! We played Trinity Methodist Springs years ago on a Friday night, but had never played in a service until this point. We decided to play our Walking With the King set, and boy, God just worked in those songs. Wow.
We played both morning services, and once again, “Hammer No More” was the hit both times. We are so looking forward to getting to the US to sing that song with Doug Ray. That’ll be just about as good as it gets!!
September came around and we were off to Pretoria, to Willows Methodist for the first time. What a beautiful church! And great people, we were really blessed to spend the morning with them.
We did our usual Rock of Ages set with the Never Again talk at both morning services. I was a bit worried before the early morning service, when some older faces came in and settled right near the front. Oh boy, is Rock of Ages gonna chase them out? I thought to myself! But I don’t know why I think that anymore, because they always just seem to get it, and they sing along and praise from the heart, and I’m always ashamed for doubting.
We’re excited to be going back to Willows for some Christmas carols on 4 Dec, 19h00. Hope to see you Pretorians there!
Next, we were back at St Andrew’s Presbyterian in Germiston. This is a special church for me – one of the first places I did my Never Again talk was at a men’s breakfast there, and I love going back.
This time we sang songs from our A New Beginning album. No talk or sermon, just songs and stories. One of those occasions where the music does the talking! Rich’s “Picking Up the Pieces” was the highlight for me. So many broken people out there, and this was just a reminder to bring our brokenness to the Saviour, and lay it down before the cross of hope.
In early October we were back at Alberton Methodist Church to play at the men’s breakfast (where there are usually as many ladies as men!). This was an exciting occasion for us – Rich had been working on a talk based on his song “Come Unto Me” for a while, and this was his first time sharing it. We’d been praying over it for some time, fully expectant that God would work through him and touch each person there.
We were flying through our set of songs, and halfway through “You Walked a Mile in My Shoes“, the power cut! And this was no Eskom drill. Just about the whole of Alberton was out. We hung around, waiting, waiting… and finally Rich picked up is acoustic, sang the song himself, and then gave the talk. Intimate, gentle and personal – no fancy sound or gimmicks. In fact, probably just the way God intended it! Tears were shed as Rich went through lines like “My child, I count every breath that you take”, “My child, do you know that I’m always here for you”… and so many others. Powerful stuff.
Afterwards Rich reflected that it was a good thing he was doing the talk – my keyboard was useless with no electricity – his guitar was the only acoustic instrument, and so that was the only way we could have made it work when the power went.
Our next stop was an old favourite of ours – Emseni Methodist. This is an older congregation, and there had always been a concern that our music might not quite be received too well. So, for the last few years, whenever we’ve played at a morning service at Emseni we’ve really kept things low key, with gentle drums and acoustic guitars.
But this time Derek said “go for it! Do what you do.” And so we arrived, set up and belted out “Rock of Ages” with all the enthusiasm we could find. We sang “To God be the Glory”, “We Wanna See Jesus Lifted High” and “Lord I Lift Your Name on High” and the people sang along loudly! We boogied to “Sinner’s Blues”. Rich sang a deeply emotional “Come Unto Me”. I sang and spoke about grace and love until my throat went dry in my “Never Again” talk. And we all rose and sang “How Great Thou Art” and lifted that thatch roof to close.
Man. All I can say is in our years of doing these songs, we’ve rarely felt what we did this service. Something incredible happened on this Sunday. I can’t put my finger on it – God ALWAYS works in these songs, but somehow He went further this time… It was as if there were strongholds that were broken. Chains that broke free.
All glory to God. We can’t wait to go back next year!
At the end of October we had the chance to take a step back and reflect on what we do and why we do it, when we led a workshop for the worship teams at Trinity Methodist Linden. We spent the whole day at the church, playing the morning service, presenting the workshop, and then ending off at the evening service. Great day!
Now in my own experience, if I have to prepare a sermon, sometime the person the sermon speaks to the most is me.
And it was the same with this workshop. Rich and I sat and worked on the content, and as we sat on the Sunday and led the Trinity leaders through the material, there was a sense in which God was growing us too.
The workshop consisted of 2 sessions: the first, It’s Not About the Music, where we spoke of the spiritual side of the calling; and the second, It Is About the Music, where we shared some tips for bands and music ideas etc etc.
This is something we’ll be hoping to do more of in 2017. Please contact us if you’d be interested in having us do this at your church! We’d love to share the knowledge we’ve gained over the years with whoever wants to hear it.
And so we head into Christmas carols season! We’d love for you to join us on one of these dates:
27 Nov: Genesis Family Church, Kempton Park, 09:00
27 Nov: Brackenhurst Methodist Church, 18:00
4 Dec: Primrose Methodist Church 09:30
4 Dec: Willows Methodist Church, 19:00
5 Dec: St Catherine’s School, 18:30
10 December: Home carols, 18:00
11 December: Boksburg North Methodist, 09:00
11 December: Hillside Methodist, 18:00
16 December: Heidelberg Methodist, 18:00
Cheers everyone, God bless!