On this site you will find an entire library of original articles on worship renewal and relevant resources to help in the processes of worship renewal.
The articles in the Worship Renewal Center Library propose three roads to Revival:
- The Renewal of the Private Prayer
- The Biblical Reformation of Public Worship
- The Way of the Fiery Heart–Revival!
(For more detail on these three roads go to: https://stevephifer.com/the-justice-of-my-cause/)
Four Key Values lie at the heart of these articles:
- Worship Renewal: You will find information on the Renewal of Christian Spirituality, the Biblical Reformation of Pubic Worship, and the Revival of the People of God as worshipers and witnesses.
- Integrity: Another term for “Integrity” would be “spirituality.”
- Artistry: Artistry refers to the careful presentation of the worship arts by the people of God in worship, discipleship and ministry.
- Ministry: Worship leading and the joys and challenges of worship leadership are explored in these articles.
Three helpful series of articles suitable for sharing with those you love and lead:
- Fire and Form: A weekly series on the practical, biblical theology of public worship.
- In the Secret Place: A practical series on the power of personal prayer.
- The Path of Life Devotions: Undated daily readings with Scriptures, a prayer and a song. (for a dated online devotional, go to: www.PathofLifeDevotions.com)
You will also find worship renewal materials and how to acquire them:
- Enter In…A seminar presenting a biblical vision for worship,
- In the Secret Place A seminar presenting a practical method for private worship,
- Generation to Generation A seminar on inclusive public worship,
- A City on a Hill A seminar on Arts Ministry in the local Church,
- A Heart of Praise A two-part teaching for worship teams, choirs, and orchestras, and
- Worship that Pleases God A major book on Worship in Spirit and Truth,
There’s lots here for you from someone who cares deeply about these spiritual matters.
Some come on in and take a look around!
My Journey to Worship Renewal
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Ps 16:11 NKJV
The “life is a road” metaphor is an ancient one, but it still works. We are “here” and we are trying get “there.” Each day is a step; sometimes a step forward, sometimes back and sometimes we simply mark time. If we are following Jesus, the road we are travelling can be called “the Path of Life.”
In my case, this is the road to worship renewal. This is my passion, my cause, my mission. I have been walking this path all my life, really. I grew up with the constant awareness of a spiritual heritage—my grandfather was in the first generation of leaders in my denomination. I was told the mantle of leadership would someday fall on my generation. How would we respond? Where would we take the church? What road would we choose?
The Path of My Life
After nearly a decade of teaching music in public schools and in the church, I became a worship leader in 1980, at the ripe old age of 30. The early 1980’s were the initial years of what historians call the “Praise and Worship Movement” which grew out of the Jesus Movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The Path of Life for me was the perfect storm of opportunity—a major renewal movement when I was in my 30’s—a crucial time in anyone’s life. I felt the mantle of leadership fall heavily on my shoulders. I was hungry for true worship and I felt the immense responsibility of the worship pastorate. To be an effective worship leader is to be a student of worship. I turned for guidance to the Bible. I knew there had to be more to leading worship than just finding good songs. I asked the Lord to open the Scriptures to me and to open my heart to Him.
Fast Forward to the New Century
Now in my 50’s, I began the doctor of worship studies program with Bob Webber at the
Institute for Worship Studies. The program led me to another season of eye-opening study
and heart-stirring relationships. The path of life for me grew wider and richer and I joined
many fellow travelers already on the way from “here to there.” My vision for worship
leadership grew beyond the boundaries of my background and my heart was enriched by the
centuries of prayer and worship tradition to which each of us is a rightful heir.
One of the smartest things I ever did
One of the smartest things I ever did was take a typing course my senior year in high school. I knew I wanted to write and one of my favorite writers, William Saroyan, used a typewriter, so I learned to use one, too. A portable typewriter served me well into the 1980’s when I bought a Brother portable that let me see 11 characters before they were printed on the page—a computerized miracle. In the late 1980’s computers replaced IBM electric typewriters at the office. I arose at 4:30 every morning to go to the church and use my secretary’s pre-windows “DOS” computer to write a book on worship. In the early 1990’s I bought my first real computer, a lightning fast 286, with a 13 inch monitor, 40 megabytes of ram, an 80 megabyte hard drive and a dot matrix printer. My passion for writing was finding a new place to walk on this pathway. I wanted to be a voice for worship renewal. By the time of laptops and computers in every room of the house, I had collected lots of research on the subject.
When I learned the classic Judeo-Christian spirituality of using the scriptures as the basis and content of daily prayer, a major worship renewal began for me as a private worshiper. One of the Three Songs of Isaiah found in The Book of Common Prayer has this phrase: “Your gates will always be open; by day or night they will never be shut.” Each time I prayed this verse, I was stirred deeply by the possibility of collecting all I had written making it available to all who wanted to access it. A college president suggested to me one day that I should start my own ministry of worship renewal.
I began to organize the accumulated work I had done over the years and found that everything fit into at least one of three subject areas:
- Theology—what the Bible says about how we should think about worship,
- Doxology—how we should actually lead worship and how believers should worship, and
- Spirituality—how we should live our lives as praise and worship.
I had enough content to be considered an expert on worship renewal. The leader of a missions organization asked me to write a column on worship theology. I called it Fire and Form—Spirit-led Worship. Now there were four streams for what I called The Worship Renewal Center.
Enter Vern Sanders and CREATOR Magazine
Enter Creator and my friend and mentor Vern Sanders. We worked together to make this information and inspiration available to the church at large through a website called TheWorshipRenewalCenter. I posted over 100 articles on that website and CreatorMagazine.com. Now that site has expanded into stevephifer.com.
What will you find here? Using the Wesleyan Quadrilateral as a model, we use four filters to select the information found on the website:
- What does the Bible say?
- What do Christian history and tradition tell us?
- What is the experience of our peers?
- What would reason, led by Spirit of God, dictate for us to do?
At stevephifer.com you can explore the manifold dimensions of worship renewal with me “day or night.” There will be a new “Path of Life” devotion every morning and a new column on the Fire and Form of worship renewal each week. Soon, almost 100 other articles will be there on the Theology of worship, the Doxology of leading worship and the Spirituality of the worship lifestyle.
Last year, during a time of testing, I composed an opening page for the website. It was an attempt to crystallize my passion, my mission, my cause. Now it serves as personal manifesto. It sprang from a promise from Psalm 37. In a dark time, feeling there was no longer a place for me in the work of the Kingdom, this promise was a constant beacon:
“Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence as clear as the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.”(from Psalm 37)
I have committed everything to the Lord and he is helping me. Through the cross and by His Spirit He has given me an innocent heart and a just cause. Soon the glory of the Lord will rise over His church as we set our hearts to seek His face.
Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.
Ps 24:3-6 NIV
From Here to There
I hope you are interested in walking this worship renewal “path of life” with me. Along the way, we will be renewed by His presence and at the end of the road we will find joy forevermore at His right hand. I am confident we can get from “here to there.”
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved