10 Questions with Stewart McIlrath

10 Questions with Stewart McIlrath

Bukit Bintang, Malaysia

There is nothing I love more than seeing people pouring their hearts out to God in song

We sit down with Stewart McIlrath, Worship Pastor at HTBB church, and find out more about him and his story, his ministry and his passion:


How did you come to work for HTBB?

I was previously working in London at a Holy Trinity Brompton church plant. However, I began to sense that God was going to bring about a shift in what I was doing. I shared with a friend what I felt and little did I know that the same friend, who was involved in the HTBB plant, had felt God saying I was the right person for the Worship Pastor job!  


What is your biggest passion?

Definitely worship. There is nothing I love more than seeing people pouring their hearts out to God in song, experiencing His love and goodness and seeing the Spirit of God do incredible things while in that place of worship. 


Who or what inspires you?

The Mussenden Temple in Northern Ireland. It’s a small, circular building with a dome roof, built in 1785 and perched right on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the ocean with the most incredible view. I am always inspired when I visit that place!   


If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want to take with you?

Apart from the holy answer (my Bible), I would definitely take a large supply of Coca Cola, my iPod and my favourite pillow which I have had for years! 


What do you feel God has planned for you and your ministry going forward?

I feel that God is really blessing worship in Malaysia, particularly as a vehicle in bringing unity between different churches. I sense we will see a new release of creativity amongst Christians in this part of the world with worship songs being birthed in the local church.   


What do you think Christians today need to hear most?

I think Christians need to know how much their Father in heaven loves us unconditionally, that we don’t need to constantly earn His love.  


What has God been teaching you lately?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about perseverance, particularly in the context of Hebrews 12. God is reminding me at the minute to persevere, to always fix my eyes on Him and to constantly be “throwing off” anything which is not helpful in my relationship with Him.  


What is currently at the top of your playlist?

“Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran and “Joy of Nothing” by Foy Vance.  


Favourite food?

It has got to be steak and chips with pepper sauce!


Personal highlight of 2014?

2014 has been an incredible year for me! Apart from moving to Malaysia and beginning to work for HTBB, it would have to be getting engaged in April to my beautiful Fiancée, Abi!

Stew McIlrath is from Northern Ireland and recently took up the role of Worship Pastor at Holy Trinity Bukit Bintang. He studied Music at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland and felt God calling him into full time worship leading after many years serving in his church. He trained for one year at the Worship Central Academy based at HTB London, where he was mentored by Tim Hughes, and studied Theology at St Mellitus Theological College. Stew went on to work as the Worship Pastor at St George's Holborn, an HTB plant based in Central London, for three years. Stew also spends time helping to co-ordinate Worship Central in Malaysia, connecting and equipping worship teams across the region. 

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Sheela's Story

Sheela's Story

The idea of running Alpha in the workplace honestly stemmed from a practical reason – late working hours were a barrier to my colleagues being able to attend Alpha at church. It made sense to bring Alpha to the workplace for those who were interested to give it a go.

I remember feeling quite nervous and unsure the first time we ran it back in 2014. I didn’t know what to expect or if anyone would even turn up! ‘Ye of little faith’ I remember a friend saying to me when we ended up with a solid group of about 20 in that first round. Since then, we’ve run Alpha four times - sometimes with larger groups, sometimes with smaller groups - but each experience has never failed to be just as amazing.

The most interesting aspect for me about running Alpha in our workplace was the immediate connection that people made from having something fundamental in common – where they work. There was little need for breaking the ice and discussions took off from day 1 with guests feeling comfortable sharing their thoughts and perspectives.

Alpha in the workplace complements what the church is doing by reaching out to a community that might not have been able to be reached. So many of us know that being out there in the corporate world trying to make it in the great rat race can get tiring and it’s only a matter of time before one begins to ask “Is there more to life that this?” – which is a question that was on the minds of our guests when they came. Alpha provided that safe space for conversations that might not have taken place otherwise.

The most memorable account from a guest for me comes from a guy who had attended our first ever run of Alpha. Post-Alpha, he told us that while was hesitant initially about the whole idea, eventually the weekly sessions became a place of refuge for him in the busyness of work. He said that it was a truly unexpected experience - “Work is what I had associated with stress and a lack of peace but through Alpha, work became a place I found hope, peace and faith.”

It’s not smooth sailing all the time but it is stories like this and many more of that nature that remind me that even if it’s for one person each round, it’s still worth it. And I’d just love to encourage anyone who’s thinking about it to just give it a go! The training and material make the process really simple to get started. Your adventure of a lifetime in running Alpha is just around the corner… trust me, it’s worth it!

Work is what I had associated with stress and a lack of peace but through Alpha, work became a place I found hope, peace and faith.
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