S4W.com: How did you get started in Worship Ministry?

Robin Mark: I was part of a small Bible Study group back, would you believe, in 1984. I just realized that’s 20 years ago! Oh no! I was only 10 years old! [laughing]

Anyway, we used to have a rock ‘n’ roll band, a very poor quality rock ‘n’ roll band. And I was of no impress at all in worshiping. We were very late behind the world in terms of like the renewal movement, Vineyard, and all that. We were basically just getting into Graham Kendrick stuff at that time about 4 years after the English. And so the band came to a gracious and timely end, to be honest. Yes, a merciful end. It was mercy killing of the highest order. So, we stopped, and I began playing guitar and started to lead worship more in our small sort of house group. And I started to write the odd song. When you’ve got 13 or 14 people, you get a really quick response. If they don’t like it they just say ‘Yuk, that’s an awful song.’ Or they own it and sing it. And so that was really where it started. I had no interest or purpose other than just worshiping with the guys.

S4W.com: What is the greatest challenge you face in ministry at Christian Fellowship Church, there in Belfast?

Mark: The greatest challenge at the minute is that it’s a church that was born out of the renewal movement, an independent, non-denominational church with 800 members. What we do and what happened to us was radical worship, having a band a service that’s an hour and half long, a sermon that lasts half of an hour, not 10 minutes. All that stuff is so new, and we grew with it and it was exciting and all the gifts of the spirit, like words of prophecy, healing and stuff like that was all just so radical. Well now there’s a generation grown up in our church, and it’s not radical because it’s what they’re used to and I think that is the biggest challenge. The biggest challenge is praying. We can’t do anything about it, but pray like mad that a new generation will be inspired or suddenly catch that spark that God is a God that constantly changes. He’s still the same, but He brings us through change, and changes what we do and encourages us to change and make things dynamic. Just to get a generation to capture again the excitement that we had, and not to be a one or two-generation church, one that’s stuck in a pattern that was vibrant in the past.

S4W.com: Here in America, we talk about blended worship and the challenging of connecting with people from such diverse backgrounds. In Belfast, what kind of church traditions are you dealing with?

Mark: I’d say 95% or more are still, you know, a lot of the Catholic churches would still be in Vatican One; Vatican Two was sort of a revision of it. They’re still in the old style Mass. Lots of the Church of Ireland, which is the Anglican Church. Then there is the Presbyterian Church, which has the same structure of service that they’ve had for years. So there are very few new churches as such of any size. Ours is the second largest church in Belfast. The largest church is a big Pentecostal one.

S4W.com: Really? Because I figured the Catholic churches would be among the largest there.

Mark: Well they would be larger. The congregation size is typically 400 or 500. And there are a lot of churches…. So, our tradition is very traditional. We are unusual. A church like ours that has worship style like ours of that size is almost unique. There’s a couple in Dublin that are like ours, and some small Vineyard churches with 60 to 80 members. Nothing of the large super churches that you have in the U.S.

S4W.com: So are you guys are charting your own path in worship or trying to incorporate traditional elements or what?