By Simon Lee, Lead Minister, NEW Beginnings Uniting Church
Towards the end of 2017 NEW Beginnings Uniting Church (NBU), in Cronulla NSW, felt it was important for the health of our church that we should be not only singing songs in worship that have represented our faith heritage, but also songs that represent who we are now, our faith now and the action of God in our midst. Songs that are a true reflection of who we are in the love of God.
We have been singing songs written by other churches and individuals for generations, but we have not been singing songs written from our own voice as a church. The church felt it was important that we embark on a new period in our life, one marked by the writing and producing of new worship music. Music written by our church, for our church and for the wider church.
The first song written by NEW Beginnings Worship “My God who can” began with the idea of writing a song that would unite us as a community of God. At this time we decided to combine our “traditional” and “contemporary” services into one combined service. One of the main differences between the two services was the music (hymns and worship songs), and how good would it be to write a new song for the first service together as an expression of this new beginning for all of us. “NEW Beginnings” is the name of our church (it expresses the new life we have in Jesus when we accept Him as Lord and Saviour) and the combined service would also be a new beginning for all of us, a challenge to accept a mix of music and an opportunity to move forward in God together.
The chorus of “My God who can” began with the idea of not looking back to what we had before but looking forward to what God would do in our midst, looking to all of God’s goodness before us. Our response is to lift our hands to Him, reaching out in faith and being completely absorbed in praising Him, God, the great “I am”, referring to the name God gave Moses at the burning bush and the way Jesus referred to Himself in the Gospels.
Music and singing have always been and will continue to be an important and vital part of our worship and church life. On average about half of the time we spend in worship is singing, this is a significant amount of time. We express our faith through song. Music taps into our emotions and engages our memories. Often it is a song that has been sung in church that is going through our heads as we leave the church for the rest of our week.
We realised that if we were to continue to engage with a new generation of the church we would need new music for this new generation. We need new music to give life to our church, and at the same time we need to reclaim the songs of old in a fresh way.
This need for new music was highlight when a past member of the church visited a little over a year ago. They had not been back to our church for at least 20 years, and as they were leaving the service they said, it was a nice service, but the songs that you sang were the same songs we sang over 20 years ago. Nothing had changed in 20 years.
NEW Beginnings Worship (the name for the music production of New Beginnings Uniting Church) has released their first album, “We Are” in July 2018, containing 5 new worship songs. This is just the first steps for NEW Beginnings Worship with a commitment to continue to write new music for the church. The songs from the album are available through iTunes, Spotify, Google Play etc. so that the music can be used within the wider church.
We have made the lyrics, chord sheets, and lyric videos available on the NEW Beginnings Uniting Church website for free, all that we ask is that you drop us an email that you have used the music. This is very helpful in having the music available through CCLI, as we need to demonstrate that churches are using the music.
The album name “We Are” reflects that we are God’s masterpiece, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10 NLT
Caleb Ravesteyn, Worship Pastor at NBU, has been leading the writing and production of the music. There is a big step from leading worship each week and singing the songs that we have written to recording them for everybody to hear. It can be humbling to think that somebody on the other side of the world is listening to your music and using it in worship. One of the biggest decisions that we had to make was what additional equipment was needed to effectively record these new songs. NBU had been recording their service each week for many years, so even though this was an evolution of what we already do, it required a little bit of new equipment to make the job of recording easier and more professional. Extra equipment that we purchased included a dedicated computer for the Digital Audio Workstation software, a digital interface and new vocal microphone (designed for recording not live production). Everything else we already used each week during worship. The ability to purchase this new equipment is an indication of the support that the leadership of the church has given to the worship team, this project and the ongoing ministry of creativity and worship in our church.
We have been blessed with people willing to help bring these worship songs to life. Musicians, song writers, singers, photographer, motion graphic artist, website development, cinematographer, people willing to provide constructive feedback, family and friends. Without the support of all these people, the church and the continued inspiration of God, these worship songs would have just remained a good idea and would not have been produced. One of the great aspects of NBU is that we encourage everybody to get involved and use their talents for the glory and benefit of God. It is not so much about how good you are, but about your openness for the leading of God in your life. This openness and encouragement means that the music is a little raw but that also gives an authentic honesty to the songs.
NEW Beginnings Worship is looking forward to where God is going to take us in the future. This may include a live worship recording in the new year, collaboration with other churches or individuals on worship song writing and recording. If you are interested in collaborating please contact us.
Here are some links to the worship music resources from NEW Beginnings Worship. We will update these resources as we produce new resources for the church.
NBU Website: https://www.nbu.org.au/lyrics