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Worship Without Limits: The Place of Supernatural Access to God's Presence and Power
by Philip Renner
Learn More | Meet Philip Renner
When I was six years old, my mother and father moved our family to the former Soviet Union. That’s where I grew up—first in Riga, Latvia, and then in Moscow, Russia. That part of the world is where I cut my teeth in the ministry, went to school, made friends, married my wife, and became the father of two beautiful daughters.
Those years in the former USSR also created the context for the opening chapters of my life as a worshipper and eventually a worship leader. What I have learned about worship—the essence and practicalities of it—has been quietly forged in the heart of a young man growing up on the frontlines of the mission field. It has been an indescribable journey and one I’m excited to share with you in this book.
Considering the cultural differences, my story may be quite different from yours, but we all have one thing in common—because of Jesus, we have equal access to God’s presence through worship. You may not have had the opportunity to see the world like I did as a young boy, but you have the same access to the Father as I do. The same blood that grants me access grants you access, and the same Spirit who taught me how to worship can teach you! You don’t have to grow up in ministry or even in a Christian home to learn how to become a true worshipper. You can celebrate the Father’s love and power through His presence in worship, just because you are a child of God.
One of my earliest memories of experiencing the presence of God through worship happened when I was just five years old. About a year prior to our move overseas, I remember watching my mom sing as she led hundreds of congregations across the United States in worship. Her stunning voice was so loud that I would cover my ears with my hands in the middle of service! Yet in my little boy’s heart, I knew people were being touched by God as she projected her operatic voice. Hearing the clapping and testimonies that followed set a fire in my heart to do the same.
As a child, I would often shut the door to my room and pretend to lead people in worship, just like I saw my mother do in the churches we visited. I would pace back and forth in my room, looking at the imaginary crowd and instructing them to lift their hands. How exciting this was for a child with an active imagination! Little did I know then how by pretending to be a worship leader I was actually acting out the dreams in my heart. God’s call was evident on my life even from an early age.
Growing up, I continually heard my parents tell me, “Son, you’re a leader. You’ll do something great for the Kingdom of God.” Those words were spoken over me time and time again throughout my childhood and teen years. Finally, those words began to bring a harvest when I turned fifteen.
By that time, my parents were wrapping up their work in Latvia and turning the church over to the next pastor. We had been in Latvia for nine years where my parents, Rick and Denise, had launched the first Christian TV program in the Soviet Union and pioneered a church. Thousands of people were saved and healed as a result of their ministry in that nation. I remember seeing the stacks of letters that continually poured into the office from all over the Russian-speaking community. We received so much mail that I could literally jump into the piles of letters and swim through them as if they were kiddy pools! Rick Renner Ministries was making an amazing impact on that former atheistic corner of the world.
Because I was still young during our time in Latvia, I wasn’t able to help in the ministry as much as my older brother Paul. I remember watching him serve in every capacity in the church. He carried sound equipment, worked the sound equipment, and played drums. Paul was so busy helping my parents, and I often wondered when it would be my turn to serve in a more grown-up way.
MY TIME HAD COME
When we moved to Moscow to launch Moscow Good News Church, I had my opportunity. For several years prior, my parents had been growing the church in Latvia. When they turned the leadership over to the associate pastor, we moved to Russia to start the church pioneering process all over again. Since Moscow Good News Church was in its infant stages, it needed a lot of volunteers. And at age fifteen, I was more than willing to step in and help. This was my chance! My time to begin doing what I was called to do had come. In my excitement, I was willing to do anything to serve.
Going to the office and picking up sound equipment at 5 a.m. was so much fun. Looking back at it now, I wouldn’t trade those early days of serving in the ministry for anything. Setting up and tearing down every Sunday was part of serving the Lord—and I enjoyed it. I also started carrying the sound equipment, which I considered a great honor. As I was faithful in the little God had given me, more opportunities began coming my way.
Soon, I began to play the trumpet in worship and sing from time to time. In fact, by the time I started singing, I was still playing the trumpet and carrying sound equipment! I was faithful with the little I had, and God continued to add to my plate.
Eventually, I became the youth praise and worship leader. Leading the youth in this capacity became my passion. And just as when I was younger, I began to imagine myself leading thousands of youth in worship all around the world.
At times, I became impatient waiting to see the manifestation of my dreams. I had a huge vision in my heart, but it seemed it was taking a long time to get there! One day God spoke three words to my spirit that changed my life forever—later, better, and different. Those words strengthened me and allowed me to focus on the call. I knew God’s best was yet to come!
During that time of leading worship for the youth in my dad’s church, God touched my heart in a very special way. I began to love the youth even more, and they eventually started calling me “pastor.” Although I loved these young people and felt called to them, I did not think that meant I would become a youth pastor. In fact, I said I would never be the youth pastor! But God had a sense of humor. By the time I was twenty-one, I became the youth pastor of Moscow Good News Church.
The season of youth pastoring was a wonderful time in my life. God taught me many principles that I still implement in ministry today. I learned about the power of fasting and prayer, which have become critical pillars in both my personal and public life. I also learned the importance of discipleship. My heart began to burn for the youth to know God. I wanted to create a culture in our youth group that would facilitate worship and creativity. I encouraged our young people to begin writing their own worship music. As a result, our youth began tapping into the presence of God in a fresh new way.
GOD OPENS UNEXPECTED DOORS IN RUSSIA
It was during this time of youth pastoring when God opened the door for me to evangelize and write music for artists who were influential on Russian music television. This was quite an unexpected twist in my life, but I prayed for God to use me to speak to those in the music world. God answered my prayer, but in a completely different way than I had imagined. I used to think the Lord would use me as a youth speaker or playing music with my band, but God set the stage differently.
I soon became the writer and vocal producer for some wellknown Russian artists. Instead of writing about the worldly things they were used to, I wrote about God’s standard of morality. In place of sex, I wrote about faithfulness. Instead of hopelessness, I wrote about hope. And guess what? The people I worked with loved it! They didn’t know a Christian could be professional, arrive to work on time, work hard, and be a good friend. My witness—through my words and my character—shined brightly for Jesus. And through this avenue, I had many opportunities to talk to professionals in the Russian music industry about the Lord.
When musicians, writers, and producers would start smoking weed in the green room, I would just get out my Bible and start reading. They would ask me what I was doing, and I would reply, “Your source of inspiration, hope, and fun is from drugs—my Source is the Word of God!” Amazingly, these professionals in the world respected me for my boldness and sincerity. They used less profanity around me and didn’t tell perverted jokes when I was there. God allowed me to be an influence for righteousness in their lives.
While I was youth pastoring and writing for Russian musicians, I began to write original songs from my personal time with the Lord. After God dropped a message into my spirit, I would first preach it, and then I would sing it. This eventually became the usual pattern of ministry during those early years. I studied hard for the message I was to preach and then just sang what was on my heart.
After a while, I began noticing that people were most affected by the music I was singing. They were ministered to by the preaching as well, but their greatest response was always to the worship. Eventually, this started to ring a bell as I realized my strongest area of anointing was in worship. So, I began to focus more and more on sharpening that particular ministry tool.
My team, Renner Worship, launched our music ministry in a way only God could orchestrate. We finished our worship album with all original songs in Russian and gave it away on social media as a gift to the Russian people. Over the New Year’s holiday that year, our songs went viral online. I went to bed one night after posting just eleven worship songs and woke up the next morning to find our songs had been shared thousands of times to churches and groups of all sizes across Russia and Russian-speaking countries. Pretty soon, I began receiving invitations from all over Russia to minister in the Word and worship. My itinerate schedule became so busy that it was hard to continue being a youth pastor. I resigned from my position at the church and passed the youth ministry on to my associate youth pastor.
Before I knew what was happening, we were traveling nine months out of the year to the majority of the former Soviet Union—making regular trips to Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia. For two years, we saw God do wonderful things. While on the road, our three-hour worship set was followed by demonstrations of the gifts of the Spirit. Many people were being born again, healed, and changed in the presence of God. We saw thousands of people jumping up and down praising God one moment and then laying on their faces before the Lord an hour later. Those nights with the band leading worship across Russian-speaking countries were powerful experiences I’ll never forget.
When we traveled, various praise and worship teams from the churches we visited asked us to teach them how to lead worship and write their own songs. So, in addition to leading worship on the stage, we began to lead worship workshops for the churches. Before long, these church teams were writing their own original music! While we started out as one of the only worship movements in Russia, God began raising up other teams and songs wherever our ministry went. What began as a young worship leader traveling Russia with his band turned out to be a catalyst for multiple worship movements all over the former Soviet Union.
GOD STIRS MY HEART FOR THE UNITED STATES
As you can imagine, I was excited and content with all the doors God was opening for me and my ministry in the Russian-speaking community. The ministry there was growing very quickly when suddenly opportunities began to arise to go to the US. My team and I were excited about these new invitations, so we decided to embark on this new adventure.
When I first went to the States, a burden for revival and supernatural worship began to arise inside me. At the time, it didn’t make any sense. Why would I want to leave the wonderful work God was doing in Russia to start all over again in the USA? But as time passed on, that burden for America wouldn’t leave; it continued to grow stronger and stronger inside me. Finally, in obedience to the call of God, my wife, children, and I moved to the US. Just as in 1992, America had sown the seed of my parents into the harvest fields of Russia, so now God was using Russia to sow the seeds of my family into the harvest fields of America.
As I travel the US, singing, teaching, leading worship, and training others, I long to see God’s people rise up in this nation. I want to see the gifts of the Holy Spirit freely operate in church services. I believe there will be a great outpouring through worship right here in the USA. I do not believe that America could sow missionaries for 200 years all around the world and not reap a bountiful harvest. I believe the greatest move of God is right in front of us. As Christians, we need to be prepared for the work God wants to do; as worship leaders, we need to be able to cooperate fully with the Holy Spirit as He ushers in His greatest work in these last days.
In order to strengthen you as a worshipper and worship leader, I have written this book as a tool to help you prepare for the work God is calling us to in the days ahead. Through my journey as a worship leader, youth pastor, musician, speaker, and writer, I’ve learned some valuable lessons in Russia that can aptly apply in the United States—and throughout the world. True worship is not defined by a geographic location or a certain people group, but by a genuine heart that is hungry for the presence of God. When we learn to apply both spiritual and practical principles to worship, we can truly have worship without limits and freely enjoy the powerful moving of God’s Spirit in our midst.
God is continually moving strong worldwide, and I believe He is about to move in an amazing way here in the United States. The future for His Church in America and elsewhere is bright indeed! God is pushing us forward, and I am honored to be part of that push through teaching, preaching, missions, and evangelism wherever I go. When I am not traveling, speaking, and leading worship events on behalf of Philip Renner Ministries, I am honored to serve as worship pastor at Millennial Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, under Pastor Paul Brady. Here in this house we are praying in revival and pressing into the spirit to see a great outpouring of God’s Spirit. God is always with me, as He is with you! Together, we can lead a generation of worshippers into the glorious presence of the Lord.
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