Episode | February 13, 2023

Transcript for Luke Hellenbronth’s Episode of The Walk

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Joshua Swanson: Welcome to The Walk; a devotionals podcast for worshipers.

Our guest in this episode is Luke Hellebronth, who currently oversees worship and Gas Street Music at Gas Street Church in Birmingham, and he’s an internationally known worship leader and songwriter, and he brings a word today about re-wilding your worship experience. 

Here we go.

Luke Hellebronth: Hey, well, it’s so good to be, uh, joining you guys today on this, uh, amazing, uh, worship, uh, ministry and, uh, resource. And I just prayed that what I share, uh, just really, um, impacts you and is seasoned, um, with, uh, the Word of God and God’s spirit is over this. So, uh, here we go. 

A key word for us on our journey of worship, our church Gas Street in Birmingham has been re-wilding And it really captures the heart of what it means to live in the wide open space, you know, that we read about in scripture, uh, this place that’s wild and uninhibited and free of the constraints of expectation or prescription. You know, uh, surrendering and observing, um, you know, resetting and recalibrating and slowly but surely rediscovering. 

A few years we were, uh, inspired by this dramatic transformation that happened to a huge, um, estate or I guess ranch if you’re listening to this in the States. Um, and, um, the people who owned this land, uh, was about a three and a half thousand-acre estate. They undertook, um, the task of re-wilding the land. This rewinding project that was actually happening, uh, in this, uh, area in England or West Sussex, you know, involved, um, reintroducing wildlife. Removing, uh, fences and boundaries, um, halting the use of, of chemicals, you know, manmade things and letting go of control.

And the result was that life returned to the earth, life returned to this piece of land, you know, where, uh, things had kind of been dying, uh, life, uh, returned. It was, you know, when uh, the people who owned the land stopped curating and organizing it, and they took a step back and, and let things just be and let things go that, that the nature was able to flourish. And now when people visit, this land, now that this process has happened and is happening, um, the first thing that people are kind of struck by is like the noise and the low level like surround sound of, of insects and, um, countless different bird songs, you know, various species and types of birds that have returned to the land now that it’s like free and able to be what it was always meant to be. And, you know, the very air, like if you go on this land, it seems like it’s being recolonized with, uh, what it was always meant to be, like the sounds of the past. 

And we were so struck by this story that we wanted this, for the life of our church. We, we felt like we wanted to like, grab hold of these principles, um, and draw them into the worship life of, of, um, our community and our city. Really this like, inspired us to the point where it, it began our own process, I guess, of taking down, you know, figurative, uh, fences and allowing this like the uprising of fresh, um, unprepared songs, you know, born really out of this, uh, organic space, this spontaneous space, moments for worship just to live and.

And so we set about relinquishing all of our preconceptions and, and parameters and embracing, um, sometimes the discomfort and the discipline of letting go. You know, and doing so we started exploring, um, this beautiful wilderness space, you know, that, that St. Paul speaks of, uh, in two, 2 Corinthians 6, I love this in the message, you know, where Paul, um, he encourages Christians in the, uh, in this passage to enter this wide open, spacious life. To live openly and expansively.

And so we began having more times of worship and prayer that that weren’t hindered by a set agenda. Or, you know, a time clock on the back of the wall. Um, you know, we would set up a band or a group of musicians in the round and have some microphones available, kind of, um, there set up for different people just to come up and share what they felt the Lord was doing in their life, what they, what they were seeing this the Holy Spirit do.

And so different people would come up and share songs and words and pitches. And what we realized, um, was that we were, uh, as we were creating this space, we were, uh, setting the table. We were inviting people in their own way, in their own lives into this spacious place. You know, as a team,we represent the cultural and generational diversity of, of both our city and church community.

And we went about unearthing these, uh, natural songs of God’s people, you know, rooted in the soil and the story of our city and reflecting, I guess then our heart for, uh, the people of Birmingham, yet don’t, don’t yet know God, you know, haven’t yet fully experienced the truth and love and freedom and healing, uh, of God.

And so, uh, we wanted to open up this space to hear the new song, you know, that we also read about in the Psalms, I guess, as well. And we started hearing from not just a select few on stage or on a platform, but from childcare assistants, lawyers, bankers, nurses, teachers, firefighters, leadership, consultants, you know, and more.

And it was so alive, so messy, uh, raw and real. And, uh, reminds me of this phrase that, you know, I’ve, I’ve often seen, quoted and heard, you know, on YouTube clips of John Wimber who talked about, you know, being neat and tidy in the graveyard, but alive and messy in the nursery. And, uh, having two young kids on my own as well, I know that sometimes, you know, I want a neat and tidy house, but, when I, uh, when I look at the mess and the fun that my, my kids have created, um, you know, brings me joy, it brings joy to me, uh, to my heart as, as their father. And I just, I sense that over this process as well, that as we re-wild that we, we, we see and we hear the father’s joy.

Re-wilding was, was actually originally given to us as a prophetic word, um, prior to 2020. And then this thing called COVID hit, and it took on a whole new, uh, meaning, uh, it was weightier. It felt more significant. You know, and with the whole world, um, we experienced, uh, a love here, what, the author Zadie Smith describes as a “global humbling.” And, uh, you know, we were locked down the whole world, right?

And, uh, that probably brings back memories, maybe some pain even as you’re listening to this or some, you know, some real kind of, um, tough times that we went through and, um, you know, all of us locked down around the world. We were, we were forced into this moment of slowing and, and stopping, awaiting, reflecting, you know, um, accepting that we are powerless. Um, and, uh, I guess ideally positioning in man in many ways to listen to God’s voice again. 

During this time, we had been thinking that we wanted to release our first project as well as, as Gas Street Music. And symbolically, like it was in many ways, like a, a fallow year was like, felt empty, you know? Uh, we were figuring out what to do and it was a year of stepping back and allowing the seeds of, of God’s Kingdom just to, to germinate, you know, to use some of this re-wilding.

And of course, this global pandemic, had an impact, on the whole process of recording. You know, you might be listening to this, uh, you know, in your church in the middle of trying to record some songs and you know how difficult that process is in itself. And this global pandemic had a real impact, um, on the recording process, you know, uh, and, and the team lent on their faith.

I remember it being such a time of like, stretch, and we were so uh utterly reliant on God and, um. So we lent into our faith and, this conviction to overcome these challenges, uh, grew in us. And if anything, it just only served to further underline the necessity of surrender, you know, which we know worship is all about.

So for us, re-wilding was this process, um, by which we actually found the songs, you know, embracing the risk and mess of being unplanned and following the Spirit’s lead. Um, it it, it was the way that we were actually gonna unearth these songs. 

And this had come actually as well from something that we were kind of growing in over the years. We’d, we’d come, uh, up to Birmingham to plant this church. I’m from a church called Holy Trinity Brompton in London, which some of you guys might have heard of, um, uh, the Alpha Course and, and Worship Central. And we’d started these nights of just free worship and prayer and called Kingdom Come and they’ve become, in essence, like the heartbeat of what we do in our church now here in Birmingham. 

You know, it’s like the, um, the, the kind of ecosystem where we, we set just time aside, like no agenda. We want to hear God’s voice. We, we wanted our first EP, which was actually called Re-wilding, to carry the um, anticipation of the hearing, like the rising song of hearts that were tuned into the voice of the Holy Spirit, you know, being led by him. And as a result then passionately expressing their devotion with honesty, with a rawness, with a, with a reality to it. 

So I, I’d love to see more worshipers seeking simply to make space for the Spirit of God to do a new thing in people’s hearts and minds. You know, sounds of unscheduled, unpredictable, unhurried moments that reveal wonder and awe at who God is.

Joshua Swanson: When we come back, Luke encourages listeners to make space in our worship expressions so that we can experience the presence of God and allow him to do new things in our hearts and minds. 

But first, I wanted to quickly thank Soldiers for Faith who’s the sponsor of this episode. It’s a very special ministry motivated by the words of Philip.

Come and see. It’s from John one. When Jesus is calling his disciples, they provide methods to come and see the Lord. From their call-in Bible studies, to their special needs ministry, and their at-home concert experience, everything they do is motivated by a call to bring people to come and see the Lord. I’d invite our listeners to join other believers seeking Biblical truths and guidance through the Holy Spirit, by checking out soldiersforfaith.com for more details. We’ll put the link in the show notes on worshipleader.com, so be sure to check it out there. But again, soldiersforfaith.com. 

Okay, back to Luke.

Luke Hellebronth: So as we just land, uh, this together. I want to read out 2 Corinthians 6:11-13. I’m gonna use the Message translation here, um, from Eugene Peterson. 

St. Paul saying this to us. “Dear Dear Corinthians,” and we can kind of just, uh, slot ourselves into that address. “I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can, and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively.” 

And I dunno about you, but like, uh, I, I listen to that or I read that and I’m like, “yes and amen.” Uh, I want to jump into that river, you know? And even though the river of God that we read about in Ezekiel, I don’t want to be, you know, ankle deep or knee deep. I want to dive all the way in head to toe. I want to experience the fullness and uh, the life of the Spirit. 

And so I want to just charge you guys listening to this, to ask again, like to pray the oldest prayer in the church, which is, “come Holy Spirit.” It’s in many ways, like the most traditional, uh, church prayer we can pray. “Come Holy Spirit,” even if you’re listening to this in the car right now, or your, uh, your room at home, wherever you are, your, uh, office at, uh, your workplace. Come Holy Spirit and fill me, again, with your life giving presence and be bold.

You know, if you’re listening to this and you’re a worship leader, worship pastor of the worship life of your local church, be bold and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about the way in which you could embrace the re-wilding process, uh, in your own life and the life of your church. And I believe as you pray, “come Holy Spirit” over all of these things that you will experience the fullness of God, the wide open, spacious life that’s expansive and full of God’s life, freedom, healing, and salvation.


Joshua Swanson: Amen. indeed. I am ready to rest in the presence of the Holy Spirit, interrupt my worship experiences, I pray. Let’s all just take a beat at the end of this episode and pray that the Holy Spirit comes while we listen to one of Luke’s recent songs called Foundations. 

As Always, special thanks to Matt McCarty for producing and editing today’s episode. Jacob Fairclough produced our theme song. The Walk is brought to you by Worship Leader and you can find out more about worship leader at www.worshipleader.com. I’m Joshua Swanson. Here’s Foundations.