Merenna and Matt on Registration
We arrived and made our way over to register, and there was Merenna, who I know from the London Olympic Burn back in the summer of 2012, and Matt, who I met in Norwich with the Fire & Fragrance team. It makes an event seem especially welcome when those signing you in are people you’ve worshipped together with heart and soul.
The Helsers Leading Worship As A Couple
Me and Taryn have been listening to Jonathan and Melissa Helser’s album Endless Ocean, Bottomless Sea for the last couple of months. So it was cool to see them leading worship in person. But what was especially cool is that they are a married couple leading together, both doing their thing with ferocious passion and conviction. Like Taryn and I aspire to do!
Steffany’s Flashing Eyes
The first night in the Big Tent, with worship being led by Sean Feucht, Steffany Gretzinger, Amanda Cook and the Bethel Music team. Steffany’s album is another we’ve been listening to recently, its raw heart-bare songs of undone lovesick passion for the heart of God providing the soundtrack for all of our summer travels. But there was a moment as they were leading the assembled thousands in worship, and Steffany was dancing in shameless abandon before the Lord, when suddenly she paused, to share a word with the rest of us. The band stopped. The fire blazed in her eyes.
Her words were clear and simple (I paraphrase them now): ‘This is the one moment that all of us here have to worship together — this side of the veil. When we get to the other side, then we can worship Him together forever. But I believe there’s something unique that God wants to do, right here, with all of us, right now. So don’t hold back! Let’s give Him everything we’ve got!‘ And we did!
And as we did God spoke to me. About Elisha and the arrows, and about how I was like the king, and leading the R&R DTS was like him striking the ground with the arrows. It felt like a warning not to stop doing this costly annual leading a nine-month DTS after just three (which would be after this upcoming DTS–which has been the thought). But it felt also like a promise that if we can press on to do five or six, then we will see phenomenal breakthrough.
Lucy Grimble and her Band
You can listen to some of Lucy Grimble‘s music on YouTube, and it will give you a bit of a sense of her distinctively jubilant and soulful sound. But at David’s Tent she was playing with a band of black gospel singers and musicians: three other singers, and the funkiest keyboard player you’ve ever seen. They were fantastic, each of them sounded amazing, and they combined an authentic sense of reverent worship with pure unadulterated fun. So Good.
‘Light A Candle for North Iraq’
As well as the Big Tent filled with seventy-hours of worship, there were a number of other tents, including one filled with stands where you could connect with various minstries. At one of these, I met Kelsey, who is about to go to North Iraq where for the next two years (at least) she will be a missionary with Burn 24/7, gathering a community that worships Jesus, and bringing the light of the knowledge of the glory of God into the darkness of the world’s most contested war zone. As someone who has heard a lot of exhortations about going to the ‘hardest and darkest’ places of the earth, I was overwhelmed with a sense of astonished privilege to meet someone who refusing to let those words be mere rhetoric. We were able to pray for each other, and it was a real encouragement to feel like we are in this together, simply obeying what God has called each of us to do, both part of this movement of worshippers following Him wherever He leads.
Sean Feucht’s Heart For England
Most of the big names leading worship were American, and none more American than Burn 24/7 founder Sean Feucht, with his gleeful talk of being photographed with an AK47 in one hand and a guitar in the other while in that same Iraqi war-zone to which Kelsey is going long-term. But it was such a blessing to see the servant-hearted humility with which these American musicians came, declaring the greatness of God’s plans and purposes over Britain. I was particularly encouraged by listening to Sean in one of the afternoon break-out sessions, as he spoke about how he feels Britain is uniquely important in a number of ways: its Christian heritage of revival and reformation (this one I know), the way the international breadth of the Commonwealth means that the worship movement in Britain has a particular power to connect with the nations, and the impact that raising up worship and prayer in Britain will have on breaking the power of radical jihad (since a significant number of Muslims in Britain are being drawn into violent Islamism).
Awakening the Dawn
The main reason we were at David’s Tent is that we were signed up to lead one of the 24/3 worship slots. We were given the 5.20-6.40 am slot on the Sunday morning — the exact time that the sun was rising. And we played a set made up completely of our own songs, that have been inspired as we’ve spent time worshipping over these last couple of years. I was buzzing with a sense of anticipation, and couldn’t help but cry out for awakening — not just of the dawn, but of the nation!
Out in the Fields
Still buzzing with joy after that early morning opportunity to lead worship, I then took a guitar, opened up the hatchback of our car, and just sat there worshipping out in the field where the cars were parked. Watching as people walked up from the campsite towards the Big Tent, I was struck afresh by the idea of David, communing with the Lord in the fields, praying for the ark of the covenant to be returned to its rightful place. “Lord, remember David…” (Psalm 132).
Jonathan Helser’s Wisdom
Being 24/3 musicians, we were invited to a special Q&A in the break-out tent with some of the main musicians. And I was given the chance to ask the final question, which I asked about discipleship and worship, about pursuing excellence while releasing and encouraging everyone no matter what level you’re at. Jonathan Helser had a few things to reply,, which all seemed like God intended them to pierce me directly — he (not knowing my name) used the example of ‘Peter’, who was promised the keys to the kingdom, and in the next moment rebuked by Jesus. But one thing in particular stood out, and it was this phrase: “conflict is the price we pay for intimacy in community”.
The Volunteer’s Booth
On the final evening, apparently there was gloriously powerful moment of intercession, as Danny Calaghan talked about being set free from an orphan spirit and released to understand the Father heart of God–not just for himself, but for the nation. But we had slipped back to the tent, so we missed that. Instead though, we ran into a dozen of the David’s Tent volunteers, singing their hearts out in their booth next to the campsite, far away from any of the action happening onstage in the Big Tent. It was amazingly liberating and a reminder of the simple heart of worship to see that the glory of God was just as (perhaps more!) present there as in the midst of several thousand worshippers being led by the world-famous musicians.
Just so you know, tickets for next year’s David’s Tent are already on sale.